I returned from Bermuda with a fairly predictable clutch of souvenirs. I brought home coconut liqueur available only in Bermuda, assorted fragrances sold at low, low prices, some British stuff (in honor of Tony Blair – a stand-up guy), a couple calendars that feature pictures of Bermuda’s pink-sand beaches and the obligatory dirt-cheap tobacco products (as compared to the price of $58.00 for a carton of smokes in New Jersey). I also brought home an interesting piece of coral, which cost me nothing. The only problem is that the coral was embedded in the bottom of my right foot.
I picked up this special gift as a result of renting one of these. After blasting around at high speed with my friends who also rented these water rockets (and reliving my motorcycle days of the sixties, sort of), we stopped at a tiny island for a rest and a swim in the crystal clear Bermuda water. In dismounting the contraption, I managed to step directly on a piece of coral, giving myself three small cuts on the bottom of my foot. Not wanting to whine about cutting my foot and looking like a big baaaaaby, I pretended that it didn’t hurt and did the beach thing without saying the “oooches” and “ouches” that I wanted to say each time I stepped on my right foot.
The exhilaration of the speed of the return trip made me forget about my cut foot. Upon arriving at the place where we rented the wave runners, we were directed to approach the pontoon dock one at a time so that the attendant could get the rider onto the pontoon dock and run the wave runner up onto the dock to await the next group of crazy renters. I was the last to execute this maneuver.
I pulled the Jet Ski a few feet from the pontoon dock, and the attendant pulled it against the dock (at least I though he did), so I could get off. When it was time to step from the wave runner to the pontoon dock, I put my weight on my recently cut foot (the one still on the wave runner), causing me to immediately to try to readjust my weight so as to take some of the weight off my “oooch, ouch” foot.
So, now I had my good foot on the dock and my “oooch, ouch” foot on the wave runner. That’s when I realized that the attendant really didn’t have the wave runner held tightly against the dock, or perhaps he did, but my “ooch, ouch” weight shift loosened his grip. Anyway, the wave runner began to drift away from the dock, taking my “ooch, ouch” foot with it, along with my right leg, which is, of course, attached to my “ooch, ouch” foot. I recalled Popeye’s Olive Oyl being in a similar predicament (Ooooh, Popeye!). However, in the cartoon, Olive’s legs stretched like rubber between the dock and the boat. Mine, unfortunately, did not.
When my legs could not spread any more, I simply gave up and gracefully (as gracefully as possible, anyway) plunged into the water, much to the delight of my friends, the attendant and the group of crazies waiting for their turn to smoke up $105 riding one of these babies.
I swam in the direction of the dock, but the attendant told me to stay away from the dock because there was no ladder and the dock was covered with sharp barnacles. Great. Just what I need. More cuts. I wondered why no ladder. Was I the only clod who ever fell into the drink while trying to get off one of these things?
“Climb onto the back of the wave runner!” shouted the attendant over the collective laughter of the group, as he once again pulled the craft close to the dock. Let me tell you. Climbing onto the back of that thing is much easier said than done. Maybe an 18 year old would be able to effortlessly do it, but dragging my 50+ year old, ample carcass onto the bobbing and shifting wave runner was not easy. However, fear of further embarrassment fueled my successful effort.
Once out of the water, I realized that my foot hurt like hell. I was most concerned about the possibility of infection, as I recalled that coral is comprised of lots of little dead animals. I pictured the unpleasant prospect of some of the not-quite-dead ones taking up residence in my bloodstream and starting a family. When I returned to the ship, I cleaned the cuts, applied some antibiotic ointment and some band-aids, and remained vigilant for subtle signs of infection, such as raging fever and convulsions.
The raging fever and convulsions did not appear, and the discomfort was tolerable. Besides, I was determined that it would not screw up the rest of the trip, and frankly it did not. However, after I arrived home, I noticed that two of the three cuts had stopped hurting and were healing nicely, but the smallest of the three hurt like a son of a bitch when I stepped a certain way on my foot. I had attributed this to the cut’s being directly under the ball of my foot.
It is now two weeks since I cut my foot, and the two large cuts are just about healed, but that one little bastard still hurt like hell. As a result of this I have not been able to do my customary three or four mile walk in the mornings, which has made me sluggish and grumpy. In addition, other body parts were beginning to hurt as a result of adjusting my gait so as to avoid stepping on the “oooch, ouch” spot. As the infamous “They” always say, “When your feet hurt, EVERYTHING hurts.” It’s true.
This morning, while applying the antibiotic gook to my foot, I felt a hard thing scrape against my finger. The careful cutting away of some dead skin and the deft use of a pair of eyebrow tweezers produced a piece of coral from the bottom of my foot that was the size of an average fingernail clipping. The relief was instantaneous. Life was good again.
It was a piece of Bermuda I would just as soon have left behind.
Anyone for a nice long walk?