There are a few well-established facts in life, upon which everyone agrees.
One is: There are some people who should not wear wetsuits.
Another is: I am one of those.
I know this because last week a wetsuit almost killed me.
During a recent trip to San Diego, I had decided that I would go boogie boarding. In the same way that miniature golf is designed for those who cannot play regular golf, boogie boarding was created for those who cannot surf. Since the Pacific Ocean is approximately two degrees above freezing this time of year, I knew I needed a wetsuit and decided on a style that slips on like a long sleeved tee-shirt.
I found one at the Navy Exchange and took it into the dressing room to make sure it fit. I got it about half way on when I realized I needed a larger size.
Next, I realized that I could not get it off.
Over the next few minutes, I managed to wedge my forearm under the suit until it was stuck. Then I tried to pull it over my head but only managed to get it far enough to cover my mouth and nose so that I could not breathe.
At times like this, when a person is near death, the mind begins to flash through various thoughts and images. The one I remember between panic attacks was an image of the front page of the local paper saying, “Cartoonist found suffocated in Navy Exchange dressing room.” The accompanying photo – well, let me say it is difficult to say which would be the most horrifying part of the image – the neoprene covered head or the pale, pear-shaped belly that was left exposed.
That was enough to give me one last shot of adrenaline to pull the thing off.
After recovering my composure, I found another one in a larger size and tried it on. It fit like a glove and slid easily on and off. Relieved, I looked in the mirror to see what I looked like in a form-fitting suit.
I could have died.