BY DARREN DONALDSON – ILLUSTRATION BY SAM MORTON
Every year, I meet my good buddies, Harry and Justin, in Cabo. There is usually some level of shenanigans and calamity by the end of the trip, but what is a guy’s trip without some level of irresponsibility? Justin is an accomplished boat captain and Harry a famous marine artist. Both guys have eccentricities that keep things interesting to say the least, but I love them both.
On day two of our most recent debacle, I mean “fishing trip,” I decided that we should all go diving as a way to pass the time until the cantina reopened. Posing the idea to my buddies, you would have thought I asked them to run a marathon. The look on both of their faces said no before a word was spoken, but after a lot of ball-busting, they agreed. As it turns out, Harry had never been diving before, and Justin may have still been drunk. Regardless, we were in Mexico, and greenbacks go far. One hundred dollars later, we were “certified.”
I should have known something was up when Harry took off his shoe to try on the flippers. I noticed his big toe was wrapped in a luggage tag with blood oozing out—you know, the sticker they put on your checked bags? “What in the hell is going on with your toe, Harry?,” I asked.
With a chuckle and slight stutter he said, “You know when y’all went home last night and I stayed out? Well… when I was leaving, someone randomly threw a wine glass at me. In the darkness, I stepped on a piece of the shattered glass. This is all I had to use as a band aid.”
At that moment, the already suspicious guide, looked over and in his broken English said, “Hey amigo, that’s no bueno. You have to get that fixed before we leave.” By some miracle, he had a first aid kit. That cost an extra 20 bucks.
With that behind us, we hopped on the boat headed to a great spot with sea lions and rays. I thought this would be perfect for Harry since he has spent the better part of his life painting underwater scenes, but had never seen them in person.
Looking over to my right, I caught a glimpse of Justin.
Justin was beginning to turn white with a twinge of fear in his eyes. I had never suspected he would have any issues, besides the five Pacificos he drank while waiting on Harry to have his toe reattached, but there seemed to be something up. “You ok, bro?,” I asked. “Yeah, yeah” he chattered. Looking back over to my left, I noticed Harry spark up a cigarette surrounded by the oxygen tanks (Not sure if that is a fire hazard, but I wasn’t prepared to find out.) “Hey man, we are about to get in, maybe you should put that out.” I said. “Nah man, I got this. I am a Marine,” he responded. (Again, not sure about what that had to do with anything, Harry had just admitted he never been diving before… but I let it slide.)
We were about to dive in, and all that needed to happen was for us all to sink down with the guide, show him we could do some very basic things, and off we would go. At that moment, I could see our guide looking slightly concerned, but,I chalked it up to the joint he was smoking on the way out. (As you can tell, we were right on track for the calamity portion of our adventure…)
With four splashes, out of the boat we went. I sank to the sandy bottom when I looked up and noticed something wasn’t right. There was a lot of splashing and flailing on the surface including our guide. Swimming back, I breached the surface into a circus. Harry’s mask was too loose and was filling with water, and Justin, the Captain, revealed that swimming wasn’t his strong suit. Clinging to a buoy for dear life, he was screaming, Harry was now sinking, and the guide, high as a kite, was doing his best to save them both.
After getting Harry safe, he swam over to Justin who had stubbornly decided just to stay clinging to the buoy until we returned, which was a sight to see all in itself. Getting Harry situated was another issue. He was now on the bottom and looking at his fogged-up goggles, I could see the waterline just below his eyes.
“What a sh*t-show, “I thought, but after 20 minutes of underwater instruction, we were paddling off.
At the end of it all, we resurfaced and to our surprise, two young college girls had come to rescue Justin and, in that effort, fell victim to his flirtation. “Hey guys, meet Crystal and Jill. Would you believe some guy last night at the cantina asked to paint them nude in some sort of a mermaid love scene?” At which point I looked over at Harry (who was now doing his best to keep his water filled mask on) and sarcastically squawked, “Random wine glass, eh…?”