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Hey starting here with Pt. 2 is cool, really, we take what we can get.
But the literal sidesplitting really got started yesterday in Pt. 1.   So if you are inclined, you can begin with those and just keep going.  Same title under Alleged Humor:  [Friday Pt. 1]  [Sat. Pt. 2]  [Today] [Mon. Pt. 4].      LINKS AT BOTTOM
    To recap, part one of this diary concluded yesterday with my fall on a Key West staircase,  resulting in a cracked rib, of which I remained blissfully unaware.  Any slight thoracic stiffness the following morning was no different from that encountered every day, just attempting to extract myself from our extremely low to the ground, vintage sports car. No point in attempting to replicate the accompanying sound here.
Ft. Zachary Taylor Park & Beach
    Today’s installment details how that particular oversight of the injury was corrected during the snorkeling episode of our adventure.
     The following morning is when things really started to take a little turn for the worse.   There was a slight but distinctive twinge in the lower right “ribular” area, that I attributed to just having slept funny on an unfamiliar mattress.                                                                       At a certain age, you can become accustomed to the possibility of seriously injuring yourself just sleeping.  However, nothing was to interfere with the “sub”lime experience to which I had personaly been looking forward the entire trip – a self-guided family snorkeling adventure in the beach waters off of Fort Zachary Taylor State Park.  I felt eminently rough and ready.

Diarist's re-creation of Cinnamon
Bay wardrobe malfunction.
     If borderline public indecency could not stop me from immensely enjoying a previous snorkeling encounter years ago at Cinnamon Bay, on St. John, in the U.S.Virgin Islands, a little discomfort now would certainly be no obstacle. At that earlier time, in polo shirt and slacks, on the boat half way there, it was alarming to discover I had neglected to pack a pair of swim trunks -- quite possibly almost as integral to that type of activity as the snorkel itself, and, if you ask me, several spots ahead of the mask or fins.

     This is the kind of financial decision one makes while still paying off a graduate school student loan.  Assuming the purchase of replacement trunks at the small island’s, top of the line, Rockefeller-owned, Caneel Bay Resort, would be prohibitively pricey, I threw both caution and genitals to the wind, self-consciously completing the mission in nothing more than a mask, snorkel, and startlingly bright, subsequently semi-translucent, white Jockey briefs. The fish were, nonetheless marvelously unoffended, and the other snorkelers just pretended not to notice.

     At Fort Zachary Taylor, one can gear up with a rented mask, snorkel and swim fin ensemble for the day, at a cost of only $13 U.S. The only other provision would be the deposit of some form of photo ID pending the return of all items. You would not think this would prove problematical.  You would be marginally incorrect, forgetting to factor in compulsive and unnecessary overpreparation.

Diarist's foolproof Ziploc
beach  security system.
    Anticipating all of us being in and under the water for a considerable period, with no one to monitor our beach belongings, I had decided no one would take any wallets or purses – the secret procedure of sequestering valuables in the toe of a pair of beach-bound sneakers having been divulged without authorization by Edward Snowden many years earlier.  Instead I felt prepared for any contingency with the single credit card and fifty dollars I had wrapped in a plastic Ziploc bag that would rest safe and secure in my swimsuit pocket as I snorkeled along.  It is a little known fact that while Rolex watches have been known to remain waterproof to a depth of 100 metres, a foot or two below the surface will, under normal circumstances, represents no challenge for a Ziploc bag.

     Fortunately, with no picture ID, the beach vendor agreed to accept the hotel room key attached to my leg with its elastic loop as collateral.  The system of integrated Ziplocery also worked like a charm as I removed the thirteen dollar snorkeling fee and we set up our land claim on a stretch of the sparsely populated beach.  As it soon became apparent, anyone could have openly displayed the Hope Diamond unattended with only marginal chance of theft.

Key West cheese cracker gulls, one of the
world's least endangered species, photobombed
by Key West rooster.  (Haley Burke photo)
    Having made the mistake of feeding one of our packaged cheddar cheese snack crackers  to a herring gull patrolling the immediate water’s edge, we are then forced to fend off a resultant flock of some 20-25 more, Tippi Hedren-like, as the girls mutter variations of the all too familiar “Moron, now you’ve done it!” objurgation.

     This is a good time to head out into the surf toward the small offshore breakwater where my new buddy the beach vendor has assure all the fish await. My companions had by now decided to decline the opportunity – and one suspects it may not have had anything to do with the expenditure of an additional $26, since I more than had that covered in see-through plastic.

     The very existence of the parallel breakwaters is itself a mystery, since there is little surf or wave action to defend against anywhere on Key West, due to the world’s third largest coral reef barrier system surrounding several miles out.  Assisted no doubt by cooperative sunken vessel hunks.  Seven miles out, that is the premiere snorkeling destination – presuming the additional time and $40/per for the catamaran sail.

     High stepping forward in the fins quite possibly not designed for land transport, I pause briefly to consider that Lloyd Bridges as scuba diver Mike Nelson in the 1950s “Seahunt” TV series may quite possibly have been the greatest voiceover actor of all time.  Or maybe after that guy who did the play by play for the Hindenburg disaster, which wasn’t really acting.
Intrepid diarist, unaware of what
physical danger lurks in the waters
just offshore. (Haley Burke photo)
                                                                    Entering the water, you immediately and unexpectedly sink shinbone deep into about a foot of loose white sand.  You feel embraced rather than alarmed. Due to the aforementioned absence of any surf activity, there are no natural beaches on Key West. Every grain of sand had to be trucked in. Apparently they had located some mine producing the most non-porous masses, and perhaps even water-repellant variety, accounting for the fluffy white lightness enveloping the beachgoer like an avuncular mass of Styrofoam packing pellets.

     This amply compensates for the winter water temperature, and there is, of course, again, none of the unending wave action, cold-stressing the skin surface every few seconds.  That, of course, resulting in the customary tippy-toe choreography, hopping up and down, quite often at crotch level, until the bather is more fully acclimatized.                                                       C’mon, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

     Further out, standing chest deep, I bend at the waist to plunge the mask below the water surface and immediately spot about a two-and-a-half-foot fish with stylishly conservative broad taupe and grey stripes.  It is suspended motionless about half way down, three feet directly in front of me. To my good fortune, perhaps it had not been made fully aware of the sea-life-designated breakwater gulag approximately 40 yards farther out. Or maybe it may not have been as long as two-and-a-half feet -- vertical stripes being so slimming and all.

The fish realizes he has nothing to fear from immobile snorkler, and invokes Florida  "stand your ground" law,
(Haley Burke photo)
    Regardless, aware this single encounter itself represented an inadequate return on thirteen dollars, I then ease forward into the traditional prone, water surface snorkeling position.  This is as far as I get.   Immediately, I am fully immobilized by a sharp pain in the lower back, head still down and snorkel sniffing. Both the fish and I are now equally motionless.  It is a complete floatoff.

     This would be the impact fracture of the lower rib cage I had not identified until that moment from the previous day’s tumble.  My analytical nature begins to ponder whether I am now mere flotsam and the fish jetsam, or visa versa.

    It turns out the true nature of my injury may have  been masked by, of all things, poor posture.  

    Take a moment to notice how I appear slightly hunched over in our accompanying obligatory Key West photo beneath the Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville bar sign. This is not a conscious reaction to back injury. It has become my customary carriage in recent years, both stationary and moving.  It has been a constant source of reprimand on Colorado Rockies hikes, during assorted horse-related outings, family visits from sea to shining sea, and even in extended shopping mall excursions.  In short, any gathering where one or more of our offspring may be provided an opportunity, to visibly and vocally lament the perceived ongoing spinal deterioration of a formerly relatively robust father figure.                                                                      
     They refuse to accept the protestation that I find the attitude extremely comfortable in those situations.  Apparently, especially on vacation, if asked to take a position on anything, my preference would be pseudo-fetal. The negative reaction to which would almost instantaneously eliminate the possibility of anything like “missionary” for the duration and frequently beyond.

    I have been image-scanned for osteoporosis, judiciously omitting answers on the questionnaire clearly directed at the more traditional subjects, such as  as to whether or not I had gone through menopause and, if not, when was my last menstruation? I passed with flying colors. Contrast this with the momentary delight my lovely spouse recently experienced after having dropped three or four pounds – only to be subjected to my speculation it may have all been most likely just bone loss. Sometimes I don’t know when to leave well enough alone.

    Somehow managing to gain an upright purchase on the sea floor, I slowly wend my way shoreward.  To the consternation of many, I am manifesting a quite definite starboard tilt. The true difficulty in a safe landing presents itself, when, once again I sink into the shoreline with approximately a foot of sand now weighing down and virtually entrapping each of the huge yellow flippers my feet still sport.  Being unable to bend down and remove them, for a brief portion of the struggle I become the living impersonation of one of those inflatable clown punching bag figures we used to have as kids. The ones where, when you punch them to the ground, they automatically fall “up” again.

    Eventually making it to shore, I opine it had to be a rib fracture, clearly identifiable by me from two confirmed rib fracture  prior experiences, one of which will also be chronicled in detail for your amusement tomorrow (Sunday), in Part 3 of this series, which you can look for under the same title.  

     Our daughter Haley, a neurologist and, currently, teaching fellow in arguably the country’s number one program in pain management, then gives me a poke, asking, “Does that hurt?”

     As I reply in the affirmative, but that it is not that bad, she suggests we might consider dropping in on a Key West emergency room, since, by medical ethics, it would be frowned upon for her to prescribe anything stronger than Tylenol for a relative. [This is the daughter who was thanked, and whose hand had been shaken, several years ago by President Obama, while she was one of the doctors in attendance on a 48 hr. shift at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, the weekend of the "Batman" theater shooting.  Me, the best she could do was Tylenol.]

    However, from previous experiences, the circumstances of which you can read about here manana, I am aware there is absolutely nothing they do for a cracked rib, except letting it heal on its own, while one copes as best as possible.  Furthermore, I am unprepared to waste a full day of our vacation in an emergency room, potentially spending more than the entire rest of the trip on that type of extravagence.  I opt for the Tylenol, only wondering if it comes in Key lime.

    I manage to retrieve the hotel key upon surrendering the snorkeling gear to the vendor’s stand about 400 uncomfortable feet toward the parking lot path. This is the precise moment when I realize my swim trunk pocket is now absent the sandwich bag-wrapped credit card and what remained of fifty dollars. I only knew I had those valuables with me when  paying the $2.50 admission to the gate attendant and then the snorkel-mask-flipper keeper.

    As soon as I hobble back down to the family beach towel encampment and break this news, all three of us commence going through every single article of street clothing any of us had been wearing, every bag and item carried with us, in the event I may have somehow transferred custody of the valuables.  All then commence hand scraping through the seemingly endless beach soil like Steve McQueen, Jim Garner and Charles Bronson in “The Great Escape.”

    Whence begins the chorus of, “What did you do with it? Can you remember when you last had it? This is another fine mess you’ve gotten us into, Ollie.” Why does this always happen?"  My wife introduces my son Tyler's pet theory, “You’ve got to start living healthier so you can get off those statins, they’re screwing up your memory.”  Without acknowledging  that theory may still be questionable, our doctor in residence, an avid mountain hiker, meticulously retraces my steps to the beach vendor stand like an albino Namibian bushman.  This is to no avail.   I am then left to ponder the minor distinction between the designations moron, idiot and imbecile, while securing a rake from the beach vendor to further fruitlessly professionalize our exploratory dig.

Battle of Bataan (bricksandmortar
preservation.wordpress.com  via NPR)
    Eventually surrendering to the inevitable, our sorry troika wordlessly trudges toward the path through the parking lot, knowing we at least still possessed the clothing stickers granting free passage aboard the tour trolley back to our hotel. All the while, I am fully aware and apprehensive that a new round of reproachment would accompany any potentially soothing in-room spa treatment that awaited.

    Then, just as we reach the end of the beach path, Laura appears to spring into the equivalent of defcon 5.  There is a call on her cell phone. The caller inquires as to whether anyone in our party might be missing a plastic Ziploc bag containing a credit card and a certain amount currency. His kid had found it floating in the ocean a few feet offshore. I am not making this up.

      It seems my starboard tilt attempting to make landfall had, unbeknownst to me, ejected the valuables from my swim trunks. Fortunately the plastic bag bubble had retained sufficient buoyancy to keep the contents afloat until stumbled upon by the young lad.  It is an almost Robinson Crusoe moment of a polyethylene terephthalate nature.

    Equally fortunate, the third content of the bag had been a sheet I had prepared, containing our hotel phone number, the cell numbers of all in our party and others whom we needed to contact throughout the Key West stay.

     The gentleman had first tried the number listed for  my brand new Samsung Galaxy 4S recent extravagance.  This had remained in the hotel room, because, among all the miracle apps it was designed to accommodate one of them, from all evidence, was  not adjusting to my ineptness in the simple act of just re-charging with a USB connection to our kid’s laptop.

    Laura’s cell was next on the list. After determining our precise location, the man arrives and turns over the still encased credit card and money, adamantly refusing any reward.  All he would accept from the missus was a genuinely extended hug, along with the information that he had, in fact, also saved her husband’s sorry ass.

    “See, things sometimes turn out for the best,” I volunteer, to absolutely no discernable visible or verbal reaction.  

DISCLAIMER:  Please not interpret the accentuation on the negative this far as any indication this wasn’t overall a great experience in Key West.  After all, you’ve already been told I’m in this mostly for the stories.  With Chilean Sea Bass going for upwards of $25/lb., half that amount to get up close and personal with even a single two-and-a-half foot fish still seems like a pretty good bargain.  
    However in grading my personal performance, after our visit to the Hemingway House you can read about in our fourth and final installment Monday, the others have insisted on giving it an “Old Man and the C-.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     THE FULL SERIES (all same title)
Part 1  (the hotel breakfast tumble/proprioception part)  Fri. 2/28
Part 2 (the snorkel part)  Sat. 3/1
Part 3 (sofa relocation/Arthur Loew/Oscar Levant part) Sun. 3/2
Part 4 (floss toss, district court, KW travel) Mon. 3/3.                                                        
Poll

General, and later President, Zachary Taylor was

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (14+ / 0-)

    In Les Miserable, YOU HEAR: Do you hear the distant drums? It is the future that they bring when tomorrow comes! I HEAR: Do you hear the distant drums? Today’s the day the teddybears have their Piiiiic-nic !

    by Roger Burke on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 03:19:31 PM PST

  •  Well written and entertaining, Roger! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Roger Burke, mrsgoo, Youffraita, Sylv

    Will trade sig line for beer or for rum and coke, if it is Friday.

    by theBreeze on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 04:11:03 PM PST

  •  What a hoot!! Looking forward to the next (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hey338Too, Roger Burke, Youffraita, Sylv

    installment. You seem like a nice fellow to vacation with ;)

    if a habitat is flooded, the improvement for target fishes increases by an infinite percentage...because a habitat suitability index that is even a tiny fraction of 1 is still infinitely higher than zero, which is the suitability of dry land to fishes.

    by mrsgoo on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 04:26:27 PM PST

  •  Tipped and Rec'd for after having read your diary, (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Roger Burke, mrsgoo, Youffraita, Sylv

    I was laughing so hard I felt a pain in my side as well!

    Hope it's not what you got!  I didn't fall off my chair:  At least I don't think so.

    The Keys are a great place to scuba and snorkel and I trust you had a great time doing i despite your "misfortunes".

    “My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that, and I intend to end up there." - Rumi

    by LamontCranston on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 05:16:06 PM PST

    •  Thanks, In Boston a lot of the pols were, well... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Youffraita, Tinfoil Hat, Sylv

      just rascals.  We had a wonderful one on the Governor's Council named Sonny McDonough.  The only responsiblity the Governor's Council ever had, was to make recommendations to the Governor for judicial appointments.
      In one election Sonny was debating a young good government type for election to his seat on the council.

      Sonny's best line in the debate was.  "You're  not smart enough to be on the Governor's Council.  You just spent $10,000 running for an office that pays nothing.  Anybody here can tell you, I could have gotten you a judgeship for only $5,000."

      Sonny was elected year after year, and didn't even live in Massachusetts most of the time.  He spent at least 10 months a year at his place in Marathon Florida -- the Key right next to Key West.  The last time he was reelected he pulled two airline tickets out of his pocket, waved them and declared, "I take this election as a mandate from the people of Massachusetts to go back to Marathon Florida!!"

      In Les Miserable, YOU HEAR: Do you hear the distant drums? It is the future that they bring when tomorrow comes! I HEAR: Do you hear the distant drums? Today’s the day the teddybears have their Piiiiic-nic !

      by Roger Burke on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 09:27:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It might eliminate some of the story's excitement, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mrsgoo, Youffraita, Sylv

    but you might want to purchase a waterproof wallet that hangs from a lanyard around your neck.  Beats the possibility that a sea bass will be charging rum drinks with your credit card.

    If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? When I am only for myself, then what am "I"? And if not now, when?

    by betorah on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 07:01:12 PM PST

    •  LOL (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mrsgoo, Youffraita, Sylv

      I'm still trying to figure out, if every wallet has a secret pocket, how much of a secret could that be?

      In Les Miserable, YOU HEAR: Do you hear the distant drums? It is the future that they bring when tomorrow comes! I HEAR: Do you hear the distant drums? Today’s the day the teddybears have their Piiiiic-nic !

      by Roger Burke on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 09:15:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I know from experience a wallet and water do not (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Youffraita, Sylv

        mix. Many moons ago, my BFF GF and her friend came out to CA from TX. Her friend had been diagnosed w/a brain tumor. We were out to party. The SO at the time took our houseboat to Windmill Cove About closing time - the three of us attempted to make our way down the dock to the boat. About half way down the dock, we realized that the BFF's friend was hammered and we attempted to carry her. We were all tall girls. The dock was narrow. Guess who ended up in the drink at 2am?

        Bless her. She passed about a year after. But we sure had fun. And so what! that I needed to dry out my entire purse/wallet for days.

        And the other cool thing about Windmill Cove - I met my hubbie there a few years later.

        if a habitat is flooded, the improvement for target fishes increases by an infinite percentage...because a habitat suitability index that is even a tiny fraction of 1 is still infinitely higher than zero, which is the suitability of dry land to fishes.

        by mrsgoo on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 10:27:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I clicked the link. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sylv

          As it says, Windmill Cove does look like a great place to "gas up." Thanks.

          In Les Miserable, YOU HEAR: Do you hear the distant drums? It is the future that they bring when tomorrow comes! I HEAR: Do you hear the distant drums? Today’s the day the teddybears have their Piiiiic-nic !

          by Roger Burke on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 04:33:37 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Absolutely love your writing! (0+ / 0-)

    Now off to read the next installment.

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