Here’s some unsolicited advice from my conscience to yours.
If you’ve got to use Psychology Today as a reason for doing something – in this case, overcoming a perfectly reasonable fear of marine life with a documented tendency to rip flesh from bones when presented the opportunity – chances are good that your original mindset was the correct one.
But as it turns out, the more I clicked and swiped through an article written by a guy claiming to be a professor at Otterbein University, the more swigs I took of the digital Kool-Aid he was serving.
“The best way to overcome fear is to experience it fully,” Noam Shpancer, Ph.D, wrote, “and repeatedly.”
Looking back, that was probably the point at which I really should have looked up Otterbein’s current accreditation status and pulled the remote control from between the sofa cushions.
Instead, I grabbed my “Outdoor Adventures” cape and made a daredevil phone call.
A brief consultation with gravelly voiced Chris at the ’Tween Waters Inn marina indicated that the destination of choice to procure a “personal watercraft” – that’s commonly “Jet Ski” to you and me, but it turns out the folks at Kawasaki are a little sensitive about their trademarks – was YOLO Watersports, whose spot on Andy Rosse Lane puts it precisely 1.2 miles from the resort’s front door.
It also turns out that YOLO offers “WaveRunner” excursions – “WaveRunner,” it seems, is Yamaha’s version of what I’d always labeled a Kawasaki “Jet Ski” (seriously, who can keep this stuff straight?) – in which hearty riders hop aboard for a two-hour tour that’ll skim them across the Gulf past North Captiva Island, up and around the tip of Cayo Costa State Park, then back down through Pine Island Sound before crossing back to the Gulf through Redfish Pass and returning to good ol’ dry land.
And with all that as pre-information, here’s another unsolicited conscience tip.
As you’re sitting behind your steering wheel trying to gather queasy innards into one courageous ball before heading off on your excursion, do not under any circumstances Google the words “sharks,” “Gulf of Mexico” and “Southwest Florida” as a collective phrase. It’ll only make things worse.
Nevertheless, while land-based “crotch rockets” are indeed a scourge of local interstates and school zones, the kind that can do 50 mph while running shotgun to dolphins and tarpon are worth risking the amputations, broken bones, burns, concussions, spinal cord injuries, brain injuries and wrongful death that personal watercraft-chasing legal firms (look it up, they’re a thing) suggest are commonplace.
And truth told, by the time you’ve buried the speedometer needle in the red, no one will hear you scream like a terrified kindergartner every time you think you see something resembling a fin anyway.
That reminds me, I need to give Dr. Shpancer a call to thank him.
And now that I think about it, well… I’ve still got this thing about dentists.