If you find yourself going to bars, and being able to talk about a dive for a time longer than the dive it-self lasted, this is also a subtle sign of the onset of diving addiction.
Another sign your diving is reaching an addictive level is if when you sit down at a bar, and start talking about diving, people around you start making little ‘I’m going to hang-stab-kill myself’ mimes. You, my friend, are not only approaching diving addiction, but worse – becoming a diving bore. (A diving bore is a whole other affliction, and there are 12-step programs for this, too). Even more alarming evidence of dive addiction is if you sit down at a bar, start expounding about your last dive, only to discover hours later that nobody has been there to listen. Bad sign.
I myself have spent many an evening in bars going on for hours on the subtleties of equipment configuration. Embarrassing? Yes, but true. Sometimes I wonder if there is a connection between this, and bars seeming to empty-out just as I arrive.
Other signs of diving addiction is the inability to hold your breath. Ever. Why? Because it’s just wrong, and no diver holds his breath. Or, automatically breathing out when you walk up stairs. Or clearing your ears before going down in an elevator. Other common scuba-addiction signs include getting out of bed in the morning doing a back-roll. Showing up at your neighbor’s pool during the off-season in full dive gear hoping to log some bottom time. Or showering in full dive gear regalia. I figured it out: I spent more time at decompression than at college. In fact, just spending time doing that meant I was a dive addict. I had affectionate little names for the fish I’d see on dives, and knew their favorite hiding places. If I didn’t have a regulator stuffed in my mouth, I’d talk to them. However, I did have entire conversations with them using diver signals, and swear I saw some identifying my photo on fish id charts.
Some otherwise normal people begin to show signs of scuba-obsession early in their diving careers, while for others this obsession takes awhile to surface (pun intended). Sooner or later, there is usually a point when a diver realizes his scuba hobby has ceased to be a recreational activity and has become a lifestyle. For me, it was when I looked at my closet and a whole rack of suits with names like Armani, Dolce&Gabbana and Hugo Boss had been pushed aside for another line of suits prominently displayed with names like Body Glove, IST and Cressi. Meanwhile, a floor rack of expensive shoes had been replaced with neoprene booties and socks, as well as dive fins.
Have you ever smelled used neoprene? It has a definite aroma, and my apartment had begun to smell like an old wetsuit. The smell had begun to leach on to my clothes. Whereas I used to proudly emanate the dulcet scents of Polo and Chanel, now it was Eau de Neoprene. When I walked down the street, people would take a whiff, part like the Red Sea, and make retching noises. All that in and of itself does not mean you are diving-addicted. But here’s what does: when you like the smell. I did, I admit it – I was sick.
I am the first to admit that scuba diving can rapidly become an obsession. I know it did for me. One month I was a dazzling urbanite living in New York, going to concerts, ballgames, bars and fancy restaurants, and the next month I bought a car for the sole purpose of diving, and was spending all my time (and money) driving out to the middle of Pennsylvania every weekend to dive in a cold, dark quarry. A quarry, for God’s sake! A dazzling urbanite does not spend his weekends in a quarry.
Signs of diving addiction are different for everyone, but most of us have some story of the ridiculous, and sometimes embarrassing, over-the-top sick things we have done for diving. Finally, I gave in to my addiction, moved to Hawaii and became a full-time dive instructor.
Sometimes, you’ve just got to stand up and admit it: “My name is Michael and I am a diving addict.”
By Michael McQueen, Content Manager, Seavenger.com