I don’t have a grand list of phobias. But of the things I fear, I’m pretty sure sharks top the list. As a child of the seventies, Jaws really did me in. I love going to the beach and being in the ocean, but constantly find myself scanning the horizon for a fin. I have been deep-sea fishing and enjoyed it even when I heard the eerie music in my mind and braced for the impact from the imaginary megalodon shark about to ram us from underneath.
I’ve been reading the book, In Harm’s Way, which is about the sinking of the USS Indianapolis during World War II. A few years ago a survivor of the event, Edgar Harrell, spoke at my children’s school on Veteran’s Day. His story was amazing. If you don’t know what happened, the ship was sunk by a torpedo and since they were on a covert mission, no one knew to rescue them. This led to the largest recorded shark massacre in history. While I am fascinated by the situation, it leads to all kinds of issues. Could I survive such an event? Take the sharks out of the picture, am I ready to float in the ocean for days?
Then I remembered! I have been trained to use my pants as a flotation device thanks to the Uncle Sam. That was over twenty-five years ago, though… can I still do it?
I decided to test my skill. After all, I fly over the ocean sometimes, I might need to use this someday. It pays to be prepared. The weather is perfect – why not? To my closet to fetch a pair of dungarees. In order to do this right, I have to be wearing them. If I survive the wreck, I won’t have my carry-on. Into the pool I go fully clothed.
First observation, it is hard to tread water with shoes on. You would think they would be an aid as paddles (especially my size 13’s), yet they tend to be more of an anchor.
Second, it is difficult to stay afloat and remove your shoes. Always wear slip-on shoes or flip-flops if there is a high probability of emergency flotation.
Third, taking off your pants in the water can lead to some rollovers – it is tricky to both hold your nose and disrobe.
Forth, tying off your pant legs is fairly easy. Inflating them while staying topside is not. I am not asthmatic, but I must have the lung capacity of a baby armadillo.
Fifth, you should always wear a Jethro Clampett belt. I am ditching leather for rope immediately. That will be the only way to secure the waist tight enough to hold air.
I am happy to tell you that should I ever find myself in the ocean with pants, I will likely live to tell about it unless I see a circling fin. The trial was a complete success. Quite proud of myself, I exited the pool and would like to share just a few more observations. Unlike me, you should probably choose a friend, relative or close neighbor’s pool, not a nearby community pool. The reason for this is you will find wet pants that have been used as a flotation device are nearly impossible to untie and put back on, which makes for a disquieting two-mile walk home.
Oh, and you should probably notify the police or get a permit as if you are having a fireworks display or parade. They take a dim view to a wet, pantless man walking home late at night.