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Escaping the Zombie/Penguins on the Dock

June 7, 2012

‘Let’s jump in from the dock’ sounded like a good enough suggestion.  The rest of the scuba divers were already bobbing in the sea like clumsy seals.  And though the weather was oppressively hot, it was still better to get soaked all at once than in incremental little gasps.  I followed my friend across the burning sand, wetsuit on at half mast, my torso and arms free of the rubber, my waist snugly ensorcelled by the flipper-like skin.  The dock was crawling with people, sitting, standing, and jumping in the Red Sea with huge splashes.  As I stepped onto the dock’s splintery surface, I noticed something critical: the people on the dock were all men.  And as I joined their midst, their heads swiveled as one to stare at me.

Penguins. Taken in Cape Town, South Africa in 2009.

Ostensibly ignoring them, I maintained a measured pace, closely following my (male) friend across this suddenly vast dock.  I wove my way around the men folk, not touching any of them. Slowly, as if in a trance, they followed my moving body with their predatory, yet blank, eyes.  Their arms twitched and raised.  They didn’t make a sound, just stood, silent watchers.  It was like being in the middle of an army of beach zombies, except that these ones were fixated on boobs, not brains.  I subtly increased my pace as they shuffled and hemmed me in, pushing each other to get closer to me.  I couldn’t decide now if they were more like zombies or penguins on a cliff side, shoving each other until one penguin falls into the sea.  All so the other penguins could watch it with rapt attention; would the fallen penguin become a leopard seal’s lunch?

My friend jumped into the water, having reached the end of the wooden planking.  Almost running, I leapt in after him.  Splash!  As I came back up to the surface (quickly due to the buoyant nature of my wetsuit), I was aware that five or so of the men on the dock had jumped in right after me.  I was pursued.  As I swam away from my unwanted fan club of penguins/zombies, I zipped my wetsuit up all the way, so my bikini and skin was fully covered, with only my face and hands exposed.  Huffing slightly, I reached the safety of the expat divers.  I turned around and saw that the entranced menfolk were now treading water around the dock, not having dared to follow me all the way.  But they were still facing me and still staring fixedly with dark, emotionless eyes.

“The wetsuit is on, the show is over!” I called out, empty bravado in English, mostly to reassure myself and my fellow scuba divers that I was not cowed by the experience.  I resolutely turned my back on the dock and its occupants.  I couldn’t stop the Arab men from staring at me, but I could stop myself from seeing them do so.

The divers were grinning.  “We weren’t sure you were going to make it!” an Israeli joked.  Another diver, a tiny Asian girl who had the sense to stay the hell away from that dock, said, “We had even money on whether you’d get in the water before one of them groped you or pushed you in.”  A fat American laughed.  “They looked like wolves, about to bring down a deer, dear.”  Floating on my back, slowing my heart rate, and staring up at the sun, I contradicted him.  “Not wolves.  Boob zombies, or maybe penguins.”

Surprisingly, I didn’t have to explain myself.  Everyone understood perfectly.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jonathan M. permalink
    June 8, 2012 3:32 AM

    We give thanks that a full-body wetsuit is such excellent protection against Middle Eastern flesh-eating bacteria. On land, they call it an Abaya. NOWHERE in the Koran is this type of dress mandated. It comes out of tribal protection of women from marauding beduoin seeking to capture wives. It’s not religious — its cultural — from the primitive period of desert tribes — and it will change only when Arab women are strong enough to demand it. In the meantime, laughing at the zombie penguins is probably the best policy — so long as you don’t forget to wear your full-body rubbers.

  2. June 15, 2012 10:58 AM

    Yep, zombies are the ideal metaphor here.

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