This Is Not an Olive

Nah, Bentley's too skinny for lunch

I’ve been reading a guide to the Bahamas, and in it is more than one reference to the “gin-clear” waters. Somehow it pleases me to think of the ocean as one giant cocktail, and since I favor both the martini and the gin-and-tonic, I like to drink that concept up.

I spent a year living on a speck of a Micronesian island, whose waters were gin-clear as well, sometimes up to 200-foot visibility. Considering that there are scads of engulfingly beautiful corals, impossibly bright, darting fish and impressively large aquatic beasts there, it was perhaps less a cocktail than a massive, boundless aquarium tended by benign, giving gods who thought “more is always better.”

One of the first times I went snorkeling there, a large ray winged its slow, flapping way about four feet underneath me, just above a raised coral ledge. My girlfriend Alice, who was watching nearby, thought I handled that exceedingly well, since the ray’s wingspan was probably seven feet, and I’d only seen such things on television. I did appear to handle it calmly, but that was because my brain froze when I realized that a large creature from the big blue had decided to synchronize its swim with me—I was incapable of movement.

Shark Sightings Are Good for Thinning the Blood
Frozen movement wasn’t the case on another snorkeling occasion, when a six-foot reef shark appeared about 15 feet away from us and then actually veered in our direction for a moment. Seeing a top-of-the-food-chain predator suddenly appear and actually nose my way shot me backward in the water about ten feet, as though I was wearing a jet pack. Alice was behind me, and thus I pushed her vigorously back as well. It was only later that I explained, when she expressed gratitude for protecting her from the shark, that I had no clue she was behind me. The hero exposed. (By the way, reef sharks are generally pretty well-behaved, but tell that to my exploding heart.)

Anyway, the reason I’m again contemplating gin-clear waters is that Alice and I are heading to the Bahamas to house-sit for a couple of months on the island of Eleuthera. It’s not exactly a pleasure trip, because we’re going to try and keep our regular contract work schedules, but I’m sure pleasures will be had. Some gin too. And I’m going to try to find my inner Bill Bryson too—he’s in there somewhere.

Bonus Halloween Treat (Well, More of a Trick)
Squidoo is publishing a series of magazines, and one of them is about Halloween. I wrote a little piece about some of my own Halloween doings—kids, don’t try this at home.

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8 thoughts on “This Is Not an Olive

  1. Ah yes, this brings back good memories of (not encountering any sting rays or sharks during) my snorkeling adventures in the Great Barrier Reef.

    You kids have a grand time in that boundless, gin-and-tonic-filled aquarium!

    PS Reading your Halloween article confirms it: If anyone can make antisocial behavior seem adorable, it’s you, Tom.

  2. Rick, if you do want to stop by the Bahamas, I’ll prepare a Goombay Smash for you, which is one of the island’s signature drinks. A couple of those will put us both in alternative time zones.

  3. Annie, I hope to make it out to the GBR some day, so I can decide for myself if it’s so great. (I mean, do they have good parking?)

    As for my juvenile juvenility, my goodness, there is a mad blindness in youth sometimes. Thank god there weren’t deeper consequences from our craziness. Now I just throw apples at cars, not pumpkins.

    Thanks for the well wishes in our temporary island home.

  4. Thanks Joel. I may send the dry form of the gin, but you’ll remember how to ingest it from all that blotter acid that you took in high school. I’ll send pictures too. And sand.

  5. Jodi, I hope I’m up to the challenge. it’s a sweaty job too but luckily that big blue ocean is just a moment away. I’ll see it for myself in a couple of days.

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