Sunday, February 3, 2013

Aquaman to the Rescue!

Aquaman has been home for a very long time. Of course, he was gone for a very long time - so it typically evens out. He was on a boat for 2 months in the fall. But now he's been home for 3 months. That's one month too long.

Being on land for so long does things to Aquaman. Not good things. I think his gills begin to dry out and that makes him cranky. He has been ready to go back out for two months, but that doesn't matter when there are no fishermen leaving to go fishing. If they aren't fishing, he's not. So he had to take matters into his own hands.

He has a buddy down in South Texas who called him for help with a rescue.

Not a dolphin rescue.

Not a whale rescue (we actually were part of that in Alaska once).

A scientific instrument rescue.

It seems this professor had deployed several, very expensive instruments off the coast of Texas. They collect data. They ping. Or something. He went to retrieve them after a certain period of time. They weren't there. Did I mention they're expensive? And collect important data? The first rescue attempt involved the professor's graduate students. They are young, inexperienced, and don't like diving in cold water. The rescue attempt failed.

Aquaman to the rescue. He got the call on his iPhone - and the nature of this call made me think he totally needs a special Aquaman phone. Shaped like a Trident or something. With a porpoise vocalizing instead of a regular ring tone. Or a ginormous vibrate setting like a dolphin emitting sonar.

Because it's a long drive and Aquaman hates to drive anything but a boat, he decided to take the bus.

This decision involved me watching Aquaman pack what most people would consider enough stuff to survive the Appalachian Trail solo for a year. To give you some idea, I'll just let you know that Aquaman travels with a foldable pole spear. It is impressive. It has a harness that straps to his thigh when he's diving. (Aquaman. Spear. Harness. Thigh. Oh my. I might need to be alone for a moment.) But he was only going for a few days - or so he promised. He knows he overpacks. He has embraced it. He is always prepared.

I had to take him downtown to the bus stop. This made us nostalgic for our college years when we were at separate Texas A&M campuses - he in Galveston, me at main campus in College Station. Neither of us had a car our Freshman year, so we took the bus to see each other on the weekends when we couldn't bum rides from friends. This coincided with the time period when Aquaman decided to grow his hair long. Not coincidentally, this was also the time in our lives when we got offered a lot of drugs. That's what you get when you pair a young guy with a ponytail and bus stations. Even when you're not being offered drugs, bus stations can be strange places. We had some sketchy bus rides in Venezuela during graduate school. These were disorienting, all night rides where the bus stops in the middle of nowhere and Yanomami Indians get on. Or when the bus stops at a roadside stand and you're so hungry you eat an entire roasted chicken and steamed yucca. And when the bus ride's over the back side of your jeans are black from the stained seat. And at the terminal in Caracas your friend gets her wallet stolen right out of the zipper compartment on her backpack while she's walking through a crowd and never feels a thing. Or when your sister takes the bus and has the man in the seat next to her ask, "Wanna see somethin'?" You know that's not going to end well.

This time was no exception. Aquaman admitted he was a bit nervous. This was an all night trip from North to South Texas on a Friday night. Would it be just as sketchy as we remembered it twenty years before? Significantly worse? Aquaman hoisted his overloaded pack on his back, grabbed his duffel bag, and disappeared into the terminal.

I got lost three times on the way back home. Aquaman got two seats all to himself on his all-night drive to Brownsville. He texted me the next morning to let me know he'd made it safe and sound. "No one bothered you?" I asked.


"No weirdos? No strangers insisting on telling you their life story? Nothing?"

"Well, I did have a front row seat to a porno."

Ah. There it is. "What????!!!!!"

"A couple next to me were going at it all night. Pretty sure there was penetration."

That sounds more like the Greyhound I know and love. "Next best thing to being molested yourself, I guess," was my reply.

So off he went to retrieve the instruments. It went well. He found all but two. But he's not giving up. He's going back today to try and find those.

I'm sure there was some chemical reaction, some equilibrium of the ocean world restored when Aquaman touched the water again. Not to mention some happy scientists who will get to analyze that data and deploy those instruments in future studies. It's kinda neat to be married to someone who has such passion for what he does.

And you never know what he'll see on that bus ride back.

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