Forty feet beneath the surface of the Atlantic, I found myself lying on patch of white sand at the edge of a reef. I was blowing bubble rings with my regulator, watching them surge upward, seeing how long until they burst. During the last set, a pair of blacktip sharks cruised overhead, curious about the stupid diver wasting his air. I couldn't help but think of the 1971 Corvette Stingray and its "shark gill" intakes... 40 feet underwater. What a dweeb.
Sharks really are perfect animals, both graceful and efficient. They're also fairly benign creatures... until you piss them off.
Enter a spoiled rich kid. Clad in the best gear, he treated everything and everyone with the same disrespect only money can buy.
I had told everyone in my dive group not to mess with the marine life or each other. I guess he thought it didn't apply to him.
I watched as he prodded a small reef shark with a fiberglass pole. I could tell it was getting angry as its dorsal and pectoral fins arched and its body became rigid. The rich kid made a grab for its tail and tried to drag it back to the group. The shark folded itself in half and bit him square on the left nipple, refusing to let go. It was sort of comical as he tried to pull the fish from his boob; I didn't know skin could stretch that far.
As far as I was concerned, the punk deserved it. Perhaps he would learn something here.
I'm pretty sure the same punk was tailing me last night. I was driving the new Audi A5, minding my own business in the Zen-like trance really good cars induce. The Sirius satellite radio has a few Trance music stations that make for great driving music. A Mitsubishi Eclipse had been dicing it up behind me, going from one side of the freeway to the other like a racer heating his tires. He lodged two feet from my rear bumper and stayed there, NASCAR-style. I wasn't in the far left lane but still, I figured I'd just move outta the way and let this Bozo bug out. As he flew past he flicked me the finger.
Ten years ago I would have done something, probably stupid. Today, I'd rather stay in my groove and just ignore it.
Ten minutes later I begin to merge onto the cloverleaf off-ramp. Out of nowhere comes Mr. Eclipse. I get a good look at his car this time. It (how do I say this inoffensively?) is "riced-out," wearing rocker panel tattoos, huge lipped wheels and a rock-like suspension. He flips me the bird... again. I let him pass just as we begin the long, decreasing-radius turn.
I had been playing with the Audi's Dynamic Suspension system, toggling from comfort to dynamic to sport and back again. At the touch of a button the Audi's demeanor changes considerably. The car feels 25 percent stiffer and the headlamps' oscillations become markedly tighter. The steering and throttle maps become more responsive, more aggressive. If this car were a shark, you could tell it was ready to fight, its body rigid and unyielding.
Mr. Eclipse is oblivious as I follow, slowly reeling him in, getting closer. He's getting flustered as his engine screams and yet his car fails to pull away. His Eclipse is bouncing now, sort of skipping over the pavement. I'm fairly certain his spring rates have overwhelmed the shocks, a typical mismatched setup designed for looks rather than performance. I stay in position for a few more seconds-I'm going to give the guy a serious haircut. The Audi is unflappable, bored even; the tires are barely whispering. The Mitsu, however, appears to be fumbling on ice, screaming bloody murder. I drop back just before he throws it away.
The whole exercise lasted maybe ten seconds. As the road straightens, he stays in the right lane, barely doing the speed limit. He's looking straight ahead with eyes as big as his oversized wheels. Perhaps he learned something here.