Hey starting here with Pt. 2 is cool, really, we take what we can get.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.
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
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.
Bay wardrobe malfunction.
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.
beach security system.
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.
world's least endangered species, photobombed
by Key West rooster. (Haley Burke photo)
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.
physical danger lurks in the waters
just offshore. (Haley Burke photo)
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.
(Haley Burke photo)
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.
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.
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.
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.
preservation.wordpress.com via NPR)
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.
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.