Monday, July 14, 2008

When I was out running along the beach last weekend, I spotted out in the ocean -- several dolphins frolicking close to the shore. Yes, I was sure they were dolphins and not sharks. I could tell from their fin size and bottle noses and I didn't hear any score by John Williams.

It reminded me of the time I went on a whale-watching trip with my dad. Some marine biology tour hosted the expedition, and it sounded really cool -- they take you out on some big boat off Long Island and we get to pull up close to a bunch of humpbacks or gray whales or I dunno, sperms or Moby Dicks or some other blowholy thing seamen are into.

I sound a little disenchanted now, because they didn't cater at all to the tourists who paid to be on this excursion. They'd steer the front of the boat up close to the big beasties, but we were gated off to the stern -- like steerage on a cruise ship -- relegated to a rare observation and blurry Loch Ness Monster type photos.

On a more positive note, maybe we were helping to fund some kind of important oceanic research. And it meant more time for me and my dad to hang out. We had just gotten back from our arctic trip and thought we'd do more manly adventurous things together. But the ol' man usually drove me nuts with his so-called worldly wisdom, when in fact most of what he knew was from skimming his issues of National Geographic.

In fact, I had a little more experience about surviving at sea, having gone SCUBA-diving several times during family trips to the Caribbean. So when Pops said he thought lying down would ease his nausea, I had to advise him that it would have the opposite effect. The best way to get your sea legs is to sit up and stare out at the horizon. Not the whales. Nuke the whales. Stare at the horizon.

But what did his kid know, right?

I wish I had a photo of Dad about five minutes later when he had shivered his timbers. He looked about as gray as the humpbacks. I felt bad for him, but inside I whalin' with vindicated laughter.


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