A Regular Jacques Cousteau

Scuba diving must be one of the only activities in the world where you constantly have to tell someone how much you weigh. Seriously, I had about five guys ask me my weight this weekend---getting fitted for the wet suit, getting fixed up with all the equipment---and it's not even that I minded so much, it's just one of those questions you don't really ever expect to be asked outright. What's your name? Sure. Where are you from? Yep, get it all the time. But how much do you weigh? I mean, when was the last time someone asked you that? It's like being asked how much you get paid.

And here's the thing: you're going to lie about it, aren't you? I mean, I did. Only by a couple of pounds, but still. And then it occurred to me, about an hour later when I was underwater, that maybe they needed my weight for a very good reason, and maybe my slight fudging of the numbers would be responsible for me turning up dead on the ocean floor this week in the Bahamas. Would it have been worth it, I mused, to suffer some sort of lung expansion injury, as long as Buck in the dive shop was under the impression that I was still at my college weight? I decided not. Hey, I might be a liar, but at least I've got my priorities in order.

Anyway, it seemed not to make a difference in the end, because I sank and swam with the best of them during my sixteen hours of training this weekend, and oh man, I loved scuba diving. Rather, I loved what I saw of scuba diving, which was pretty much only the bottom of the swimming pool at this point---I'm now certified to scuba dive in, uh,  any swimming pool in the world! Break out the champagne!---but still, I loved it, and if we're honest, I really didn't think I would. I thought I'd get panicky and weirded out, that I wouldn't be able to do the techniques right, that the whole thing would flummox me. And yes, it flummoxed me a little bit at first, but oh, that moment, where you go down to the bottom of the pool for the first time, and you're sitting on the floor of the deep end, ten feet down, and you're breathing, and you're thinking sweet fancy Moses, I'M BREATHING! BUT I'M ALSO UNDERWATER! WHAT THE HELL!, well, goodness gracious, that is just the best feeling in the world.

(I wore the two-piece, by the way, in case you're wondering, and so did the other five girls in the class, so thank you for convincing me that I didn't need to run out and buy something new just to tread water for ten minutes and swim lengths. Turns out Thoreau was right about all enterprises requiring new clothes.)

Did you know, by the way, about DAN?  DAN is the Divers Alert Network and when you sign up for their membership and insurance, they basically have your back anytime you dive. Need to be helicoptered to a recompression chamber off the coast of Australia? Call DAN. Bitten by a shark in Belize? Call DAN. Had an accident on the dive boat and need to get home fast with that severed limb in your lap? Call DAN. DAN will help! DAN will know what to do!

So our instructor was explaining all this---yup, doesn't matter if it's two o'clock in the morning, DAN will still accept your collect call!---but he either hadn't told us what the acronym stood for yet or I hadn't been listening. And so all I could think of---as I squinted incredulously at him---was "who the hell is this Dan guy? And why is he so nice? And why does everyone have his number? How can I get Dan's number? He seems like a stand-up dude!"

(Sadly, Dan does not actually exist. Otherwise I'd be setting him up with all my single friends.)

My flight leaves Tuesday night and at this point, I think I'm feeling surprisingly well-prepared.  I've done my sixteen hours of dive training, I've done my final exam (ninety percent, baby, which is...uh...five questions wrong, BUT FIVE QUESTIONS OUT OF FIFTY) (also, seriously, who knew there would be a FINAL EXAM in Scuba School?), and I'm fully confident that I would know how to share my air supply with you if you were to ask me a hundred feet under the ocean. I've bought an underwater camera for the trip, along with some Coppertone SPORT! sunscreen in a blue bottle---which is very exciting for me since I don't normally buy anything with SPORT! in the title, being that I am not really a SPORT! kind of person at all---and also a large bottle of Advil and some waterproof mascara.

Also purchased on this emergency last-minute Target trip on Sunday night (could you tell it was a trip of the emergency last-minute kind?) was a ten-dollar backpack for carrying my gear (upon closer inspection, I think it might actually be Hannah Montana brand, but still, TEN DOLLARS), a new shampoo that smells of coconuts (am I the only person that themes my hair care products to my vacations?), and a multitude of snacks, including Goldfish crackers, granola bars, and jelly beans. I even have a newly-acquired spray tan, which means I might be the only person in the world to arrive in the Bahamas more tan than when I leave.

So, uh, I guess I'm ready to dive. Wish me luck.

1
Houseofjules
Aug 11, 2008

GOOD LUCK! Can't wait to see photos... and yes, if DAN was an actual guy, that would rock.
Jules
House of Jules

2
Camels & Chocolate
Aug 11, 2008

You were the best SCUBA Buddy anyone could ask for, I mean you didn't even let me drown when we had to do a shared air ascent (though I wasn't nearly as kind to you when we crisscrossed; um, about that, SORRY).

And also extremely thorough, in your post SCUBA research. I mean, here I was tonight still thinking DAN was a person! (I kid you not.)(I'm kind of sad to find out he's merely an organization.)(Um, did you sign up for his coverage, btw?)

SO excited! I think I bought out Trader Joe's.

3
Rhi
Aug 12, 2008

Awww. I kind of had a crush on Dan. Then? BUBBLE BURSTED. Hmmph!

4
Kristen
Aug 12, 2008

Regarding the themed hair products -- for our honeymoon to the Bahamas, I got the Back to Basics Coconut, uh, Mango? or something, and now, anytime we want to recreate that mood, I'll pick up that conditioner and it's like we're instantly back there, lounging on the beach drunk on pina coladas. I know, conditioner as aphrodisiac isn't quite normal, but who wants to be normal, anyway?

5
Debbie
Aug 12, 2008

I certified in Costa Rica in December last year and I have never been more flummoxed about anything in my life. Holy cow, I was freaking out in the pool! Once I got to the bottom of the ocean - you know, where all the ACTUAL danger is - I was totally fine. Now that I think about it, though, I am sort of terrified to go diving ever again. The DANGER! But it's actually really, really amazing to sit on the ocean floor for the first time. We saw HUGE manta rays, dolphins, and mooray eels, and all I could think of was Flotsam and Jetsom (Little Mermaid, anyone?)

Tips: if you need to burp or cough, you can do that into the regulator. AND DO, AS OFTEN AS NECESSARY, because if you don't, you'll wind up freaking out (like my husband) because you are 50 feet below and need to vomit. Yeah, that was funny.

Have fun!

6
Anne in SC
Aug 12, 2008

So glad you liked it - being underwater while breathing is something else! I can't wait to hear about how you like being in the ocean.

Back when I was certified (and it has been years even since I have gone diving) we didn't have a DAN to look out for us. Wonder if it's really worth the money? Especially since a real Dan won't show up for you.

7
Teej
Aug 12, 2008

Have fun! I'm inspired by the fact that you loved diving. I haven't done it, have only done snorkeling and that experience freaked me the hell out. I had a very hard time believing that I was not going to inhale water through the snorkel -- shouldn't those things be longer? -- so I couldn't relax. But diving... you don't have to always make sure a little plastic tube is sticking into the clear air. Maybe I could get with that. Hm.

8
Dianna
Aug 12, 2008

Cingratulations on passing the diving final! I think I might have to learn how to dive now too, it's always looked like fun. Have a great (work) trip! How does that pan out exactly, a work trip in the Bahamas?!?!?

9
Marcheline
Aug 12, 2008

Um... you forgot to mention the part where they taught you what to do when you encounter Bahamian sharks. Is there sign language involved, or do you just do the silent scream?

- M

10
jill
Aug 12, 2008

yay, have a blast! and even though you put it in caps (a nice hint) i kept thinking "wow, is this dan guy the only one who works for this insurance group? weird."

11
geeky
Aug 12, 2008

I use coconut shampoo year round because the smell makes me almost think I'm at the beach when I'm really just standing in my shower :)

12
Sensibly Sassy
Aug 12, 2008

GOOD LUCK!

13
ali
Aug 12, 2008

you guys are going to have the best time.
*jealous*

14
KT
Aug 12, 2008

Congrats on completing the class! My boyfriend and I took an intro to scuba diving class when we were in Hawaii. We had to do a few technique things before we were able to go down 40 feet and I completely freaked out when we had to take the regulator out of our mouths and clear it. Thankfully I was able to do it and boy was it worth it! We are hoping to do the entire certification weekend before we go to Cancun in January! Have a great time!

15
Soulmoxie
Aug 12, 2008

You've totally inspired me to dive. I have been scared shitless of it since...a long time. But, I'm totally going for it...

16
slynnro
Aug 12, 2008

Have fun! We are going to Great Exuma in May. Can't wait!

17
Moose
Aug 12, 2008

Now that you know how to breathe underwater, the only thing left is a space mission to Mars. AWESOME.

18
Kerri Anne
Aug 12, 2008

I'm excited to see your Underwater Scuba Adventure pictures! The underwater pics my friends and I took when we were snorkeling in Hawaii years ago are still some of my favorites from the trip.

19
Colleen Snell
Aug 12, 2008

Cracking up about the DAN bit. I was thinking that, too!

20
Velma
Aug 12, 2008

You are going to have a great trip! Many of my friends have become certified over the years, and they have all stuck with it and still love to dive. Hope you get some good photos!

21
superblondgirl
Aug 12, 2008

I like Dan, he sounds swell.
And I really want to try scuba diving but am also far too scared - my sister is certified, and her boyfriend is so certified that he is doing it for the COAST GUARD, which is about as scuba-certified as you can get, I think. But me? I am a poor swimmer and get Nervous Under Water. Though breathing, that I'm quite good at.

22
metalia
Aug 12, 2008

Ooh! Have a great time! I've always wanted to try scuba diving, and seeing as the only things I know about it have been gleaned from Tori and Dean's reality show (SHUT UP), I can't wait to hear a first-person account from someone I actually know.

23
Gretchen
Aug 12, 2008

Weight disclosure rule, unless pregnant = Underdisclose by 5 lbs. That accounts for most scale discrepancies. If pregnant = All rules off. Tell them you don't know, not to tell you the reading if they weigh you, and possibly burst into tears.

Oh, and DAN is one of Ben's best friends. Or used to be, until I forbade him to dive anymore because of the family counting on his upstairs.

24
Gretchen
Aug 12, 2008

Shit. I mean HIM upstairs, because HIS upstairs (in a diving context) just sounds crotch-related.

25
Kelly @ Love Well
Aug 13, 2008

If you thought diving in a pool was cool, just you wait. The blue waters of the Caribbean, the fish, the coral. FREAKIN' AMAZING.

Can't wait to hear about your trip.