The one time I tried snorkeling / by laurel

No, that's not me. It's my sister.

A few years ago (3-4 tops), I went to Hawaii for the first time with my parents. We went to the island of Oahu, and since I was new to the whole tropical island vacation thing, I was under the impression that in order to be considered a real Hawaiian person (R.H.P.), one must participate in more than a few activities to prove one's propensity for Hawaiian behavior such as kicking back and hanging loose. Activities included attending a luau, wearing a lei, drinking an unlimited amount of mai tais at said luau, eating pineapple for every meal, and snorkeling. 

I've never been an enormous fan of aquatic activity. I like floating, provided that I have assistance in the form of an inner tube or other floatation device that typically sells for $50 at Costco. I like treading water sometimes. I'll get my feet wet at the beach. Occasionally, when no one is looking, I'll even swim. I know a few different strokes. But on the whole, water and I have never really been all too compatible, a fact which Water and I have spoken about and have determined, "I'm okay if you are."

But I thought, you know, snorkeling is a classic Tropical Vacation Activity. I like animals. I like the zoo. I like viewing creatures in their natural habitat, and The Little Mermaid is my favorite Disney movie, which means I'm also okay with our aquatic friends down under (the sea, that is). So I strapped on my mask and shimmied into my flippers and waddled into the Pacific Ocean thinking, perhaps, I'd see a mermaid that day. As soon as my face hit the water I grew increasingly concerned over how unnatural it all seemed. I don't know what I expected, but I suppose I thought I'd at least hear Oscar-winning music being composed down there and I was most disappointed and unnerved that the only thing I could hear aside from the crushing pressure of the ocean depths (5 inches from the surface) was the sound of my breathing. Well, that and the sound of my heart gasping for fear of exploding and shooting bloody arteries through my nose. 

All this, mind you, was within the first 30 seconds of submerging myself in the water. 

So I flippered about the shallow parts and got used to breathing without giving myself an aneurism. It was going (PUN ALERT!) swimmingly; I was one with the sea. My flippers were an extension of my legs and I plundered on, slipping noiselessly through the saltwater, thoroughly enjoying myself until--




A fish, not more than the size of my outstretched palm and pale yellow/white in color slipped by, 2 feet in front of my face. My lungs seized and I sucked my mask up into my sinus cavity in sheer panic. FISH? THEY NEVER TOLD ME THAT FISH WERE INVITED TO THIS SEA PARTY. The possibilities of what could happen (fish nibbling off my limbs, eels eating away at my face, death by ravenous octopus) flashed through my head as my breathing did all the talking for me: WHOO--EEEE-GHHHHHHWHOOO-EEEEEE-GGHHHHWHOO-WHOO-EEEE

Abort! Abandon Ship! Turn this mother loving ship around and get the hell out of the ocean! I immediately spun around and used my flippers to propel me back to shore, splashing messily onto the sand, flippers spraying water in all directions, my mask still suctioned to my face. 

It's about that time I realized I'm not a fan of fish. As Ham put it this weekend, "They don't blink. It's not natural."*

And this, I agree, has been the longest introductory anecdote in the history of mankind, because the point of this post was not to regale you with stories of how I'm a lilly-livered pussywillow. Rather, I'd like to introduce you to a site I discovered recently. A site whose quick wit has put me in stitches multiple times, and no more than with the following post, about sea cucumbers. The basic schtick is that they rate animals. They give animals a grade. A+. That sort of thing. And in short, it's absolutely brilliant. 

Here's a quote:

"Choosing to defecate its own organs as a defense technique is surprising and would appear, prima facie, to be much less useful than, say, actually doing something. Apparently the goal is to make a predator, no matter how famished, sick to its stomach and lose its appetite. Failing that, shooting its very own guts out of its very own anus is just so pathetic that even the hardest of predatory fish will give it an awkward pat on the back before making up an excuse to just get the hell out of there."

*I will point out that Ham's statement of unnaturalness was in direct response to why he won't eat fish, because they don't blink, and I,  while hating our aquatic frenemies of the deep in their  natural habitat, will gladly eat them with nary a thought of their zombie-ish unblinking eyes. I'm just saying.