“I love pink,” Andy declares as he parades around the boat in a bright pink towel, then drops it conveniently in front of most of the people in the boat waiting to take their turn at the step-off platform as he points to Denis, my Nitrox instructor for the day. A mild-mannered French Canadian, Denis is built like a wrestler and strangely apologetic for the coarse things that slip out sometimes.
But he is overshadowed by Andy (most people are anyway), who struts around like a peacock with an extra long tail. Yobbish, full of showmanship and bravado, bluntly hilarious and attention deficit, Andy—the owner of Andy Scuba Diving—makes himself the life of the party. In fact, he’s 50 shades of pink: the towel, his mobile, diving socks, laptop cover and bag are proud advertisements for breast awareness day, a cause he’s obliviously championing. A lot of it is faux affection; the rest of it is what I suspect, wish-fulfilment.
“Because real men love pink. And stop perving me.”
Denis shakes his head in denial and points at me instead. I nod and point at myself and Andy brightens immediately, moving to throw his arm around me. Thereafter, I’m referred to as his ‘little beauty’ or ‘the beautiful one’, probably used when he’s forgotten my name. Throughout the day, I’m regaled with tales of his broken camera casing, a 16km marathon he’s going to undertake with his wife, ‘Scubaman’ the new superhero (done by puffing up his scuba suit) and his pride of having freed a manta ray from a fishing net.
The first day of scuba to Racha Noi and Yai is a tiring and bewildering (but fun) one, filled with yobbish, male ‘jokes’ about cock rings, flirtatious come-ons and lots of touches (all voluntarily given by Andy and Denis). I told them I liked big things, innocently in reference to sea creatures, which they all promptly misconstrued with many winks and grins. The dives themselves aren’t as stressful as I thought they’d be, burdened with course expectations and theory. Denis was encouraging and quick to praise which I naturally found suspicious because of my own paranoid nature. Yet the boat, packed with several dive groups from different dive companies, was a little too crowded for my liking, an experience which I hope, wouldn’t be repeated on Wednesday’s dive to Phi Phi.
Andy ended the trip by kissing my hand almost reverently. I laughed at that extravagant display and told him what he wanted to hear—that I had a brilliant day.