I guess that mom felt bad about what happened and decided to spend some money ($60) to assuage some of that guilt, so she popped for me to take some scuba lessons at college. I was super excited about that. I had all these dreams about going to the Caribbean and diving underwater and seeing colorful fishes and shells and blue, blue water going on forever. It would be a dream come true for me if only I could learn how to dive. Plus, it would be worth one full physical education credit to pass the course and you had to be able to swim to graduate, and this course would ensure one met that requirement also.
So, I showed up at the school’s Olympic sized pool, and to get into the course one had to swim a kilometer without stopping, in other words, 20 lengths of the 50 meter pool. That was not a problem for me so long as it was not timed. With all of my synchronized swimming training, I was certainly not the fastest, but surely the most graceful swimmer in the pool. A huge number of swimmers started, and many finished. More swimmers finished than they expected, because the class was huge, with 50 students, and the number of students to teachers was ten to one. I made the distance without any trouble whatsoever; it was just a good workout.
The class was broken up into pool and class time. We would learn something in class and then go and do it in the pool. We chose buddies and I got paired up with a guy named Doug. I was pretty happy with him, as he was blond and really cute. He had a swimmer’s body and his hair was naturally blond, thick and lustrous, and he had a full soft beard. He wasn’t really very tall though, at about average height.
I enjoyed the course and it was pretty easy. I remember the first time we put our tanks on and submerged to the bottom of the pool. It was just so cool to sit on the bottom and be in the water able to breathe and look around at everyone. My thought was, okay, take me to the Caribbean, I am ready to see those fish!
Swimming with the tanks on was a rush. They were very heavy for me. Consider when you only weigh 100 pounds and you have these tanks on your back. Then try to swim on the surface. The tanks kept turning me turtle, so that my belly was up in the air. It took lots of arm movement to keep the tanks up. Plus, when we learned entries, the one where you do a flip into the water, I didn’t realize that the momentum of the tanks would spin me so fast. That was interesting.
I had one close call during the course. Doug and I were doing an exercise where you have to dive to the bottom, take off all of your equipment, come to the top, then go back down again, put all of your equipment back on and resurface. So, I go back down to put my equipment back on and somehow I put my tank on backwards. Now my regulator is not on the side it is supposed to be on. So I reach for it with my right hand and it is not there. So I give Doug my out of air signal because I would like to buddy breathe, and he gives me a confused look, because he can see my regulator on my left and doesn’t understand why I can’t find it. So, there we are at a stalemate. I am signaling out of air and he is looking confused. Thank god we weren’t in too deep a water, because I just surfaced, exhaling as I rose through the water. Okay, so he wasn’t a very good dive buddy. But, he did ask me out.
So we went out. I don’t remember what we did, but we ended up in his dorm room, making out. His roommate was also there with his girlfriend. We could hear them really getting down to it and maybe even having sex. Doug and I were kissing. His beard was really soft and I was getting very turned on and thinking that this could go further. He was feeling my body through my clothes. Then he said, “You know, it is a good thing that I am a gentleman, or you could be in big trouble right here.”
I just sighed. I thought to myself, yeah, I suppose I could be. So, we wrapped it up and never went out again. What did it take to get these guys to see that I wanted to have sex? That I didn’t want to be a good girl all the time. I don’t know. I guess I didn’t love him. So I just gave up on him.
One day as I was returning to my dorm and walking up the many flights of stairs to my room, a tough looking guy called out to me from above, “Hey! Tiffany stiffed me on my shit! Where the fuck is she?” I was terrified. But not for long. A male voice came up from not far below me and said, “You leave Sue alone. She’s a nice girl and doesn’t know anything about that shit.” Then he looked down at my face and smiled at me.
It was Ray, my floor’s Resident Assistant who just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Ray was very tall and thin and was a very successful African American miler. He used to say things like all he needed to do was clip his toe nails, put on his sneakers and he was ready to race. He came up even with me on the stairs and put his arm around me and we walked together to my room. He was such a nice guy. I just couldn’t figure out why he didn’t do anything about my roommates dealing drugs if he knew about it. He must have known as he had just seen this episode. It was a conundrum. At least he stood up for me this time. That was good of him.
Back at scuba, we were told that our open water dive was going to be in Skaneateles Lake before the ice melted. We were going to rent wet suits, cut through the ice and do our dive. Shit. No way, I thought. It just wasn’t worth it to me to get my card by freezing my butt off like that. I had heard that the wet suits didn’t fit small bodies like mine so well. So asked if I could still get a good grade if I didn’t do the open water dive and they assured me that I could. So, I opted out of it and got a B in the course figuring that later in life, when I was in the Bahamas I could get my card in no time in balmy aquamarine waters.
Skaneatles Lake in Winter
I completed the course and found out later that one person had burst and ear drum surfacing too quickly and not clearing their ears properly. Scuba is really dangerous if one is not careful.