Feb 25, 2019

A Fat Man in A Scuba Suit

All rights Reserved © 2015 Thomas W. Day

Way back when I was about half as old as I am now, I used to hang out at a great scuba diving location in Baja called La Bufadora ("the blowhole") about forty miles south of Ensenada. When I got a weekend off or a three or four day "weekend," I'd often load up our VW Westfalia van or my 1973 Toyota Hilux pickup or even a motorcycle with scuba and snorkeling gear and head for the boarder. Sometimes with family in tow, often on my own. On one of those trips, I found myself with a neighbor on the cliffs of La Bufadora. He was a sixty-something year-old guy from San Francisco who was trying to rekindle something he'd lost in the last thirty years. His story was that he'd been a skinny college kid attending the University of California at San Diego when he first took up scuba diving. Now, he was a 300+ pound old man with a variety of physical ailments, the usual old fat guy's lack of flexibility and strength, and he'd recently become divorced, retired, and had lost a carload of money in the 1987 Black Monday stock market crash. So, he bought some scuba gear (including the largest chunk of neoprene I've ever seen fashioned into something like a wetsuit ), rented a car, drove to Mexico, and planned to recover some of his mojo in the chilly waters of Baja. 
I may never lose the mental image he created when he struggled into that giant wetsuit, put on fins and a mask and strapped on a dive tank, and waddled and stumbled down the rocks toward the ocean. About half-way to the water, his tank and weights overwhelmed him, so abandoned about 80 pounds of his load on the hillside. His diving trip turned into a snorkeling swim. Without the bandana of weights on his belt, that huge wetsuit was like trying to swim with a Zodiac strapped to his back. He didn't have nearly enough weight to sink his flotilla of a wetsuit. So, he splashed around in a circle for a while, trying to get submerged enough to pretend he was still a diver, wearing himself out and completely frustrating any hopes of mojo salvaging. After an hour of disappointment, he gave it up, struggled back up the hill to the campground, kicked off his gear, put on a parrothead shirt and some baggy shorts, and headed for Tijuana where he hoped to find some indiscriminate Mexican hookers or a strip club to help him forget his troubles. He abandoned his dive gear in my campground while I was out spear fishing and since most of it was useless to me I left it for someone else to claim when I headed back home. 
fat_man_scubaLike most of my generation, I'm struggling with my own weight and have been for at least twenty years. Desk jobs, too much Minnesota food seasoned with a total lack of interest in winter sports, a lot of fat genes, and the usual sluggish metabolism that comes with being almost seventy-years-old has made me a bigger man than I'd like to be. 

When I'm riding my WR250X, I get way too many "man, that's a small bike" comments. Geared up and ready to ride, I feel a lot like that San Francisco guy in his neoprene tent. The WR250 is not a small bike. Lots of people consider it to be too tall to ride. Its 56 inch wheelbase is far from strung-out, but it's not short. In fact, it's about the same wheelbase as the Kawasaki Ninja 500R, Buell's 1125R, Suzuki's SV 650, KTM's RC8R, and a collection of "not small" motorcycles. The problem is one of perspective. The bike looks small compared to the fat guy riding it. 
Back in their glory days, Jethro Tull recorded a song that has stuck with me for forty years, "Don't want to be a fat man, people would say that I was just good fun. I don't want to be a fat man. I have not the patience to ignore all that." It turns out that I have way too much patience for all that, but like Tull's "Fat Man" I am a little worried that people might say I'm "just good fun." I would kinda like to do something about putting my 250 back into proper perspective, too. 
2015 was the summer of my current discontent with the status of my waistline and, more specifically, the girth of my belly. One complication that came with moving to Red Wing is that we have a viciously excellent bakery downtown. Sugar is the enemy of all of us. A fair number of scientists have concluded that sugar ought to be relabeled as a poison and regulated accordingly. Most of the major health problems Americans face--"cancer, obesity, type II diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease"--are linked to sugar intake. The one I'm concerned with, at the moment, is obesity. In particular, my own oversized belly. So, I'm reading the labels of everything I buy and trying to buy as much stuff without labels (raw materials) as I can convince myself to mess with. My wife and I are trying to up our protein, fiber, green leafy vegetables,

All of this because I don't want to be Little Feat's "Fat Man in the Bathtub." In fact, I don't want any songs written about me although I'd accept one line from Little Feat, "All I want in this life of mine is some good clean fun." I can get that from more places than being the fat man stuck in the bathtub moaning about his girlfriend and what she's up to. I wouldn't mind looking proportionally correct relative to my all time favorite motorcycle, my Yamaha WR250X, too.


  1. I realized I was getting old (I am turning 63 soon) the moment I started reading food labels.

    1. Yep, I started doing that about the same time. Didn't seem to help, though.

  2. Hahaha - thoughtful post and one that as a 71 year old, I have empathy with! The weight is under control at 72 kg thanks to my wife's healthy cooking, but I appear to have shrunk with age and now stand at 5'7 " in imperial units. This is pretty frustrating as a lot of bikes I'd like to try would require a stepladder or platform shoes from the 70's. Alas, none left in the back of the cupboard. Undeterred, I'm off tomorrow to test ride a Duke 790 in an attempt to recapture my hooligan youth. It has a narrow seat so might just about be ok!

    1. I'd like to claim that Minnesota winters have defeated any weight control plan I can fabricate, but I think I just like food too much. Winter doesn't help, though. I refuse to check my height.


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