Chillin' in the Bachelor Pod - Life as a Dolphin

Photo by Tovin Lapan

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So this is what it's like.

It's a golden retriever 2.0. Aquaman's best friend. And talk about a chick magnet, my God! The ladies love these rubbery, squeaky, mischievous things. Big smiles and gleeful laughs follow their every trick, or playful flip of the fin. If I could only learn how to decipher their high pitched language, I'd chill with the dolphins at Happy Hour or watch the game on Sunday with them. These are some charming creatures for sure.

Yea, yea, the dolphin trainer at Dolphins Plus in Key Largo told us all about how smart they are, and how their sonar works (did you know they can tell if you are pregnant or have a metal pin in your hip?), and how they manipulate air sacs in their blow hole to make those noises (no vocal chords). We've all heard it before. But did you know that the hombres in the dolphin squad travel in a “bachelor pod?” That's right, because dolphins like to spread the seed and are not monogamous, the lads like to travel around in packs prowling for that lady dolphin with just the right tint of gray in her dorsal fin.

Dolphins are their own people ... uh fish ... I mean mammals. If the trainer is yapping away in their ear and they see something cool, like a blowfish in a death match with a squid, they go and check it out, trainer (the man) be damned!

Photo by Tovin Lapan

Sometimes, even when they aren't hungry, a fella dolphin will hunt down a big juicy fish just so he can pop up and ride along the surface thrashing the fish around in its mouth to show the ladies how cool he is. It's just like a guy strutting down Ocean Drive sporting a $20,000 diamond-studded Rolex when he's already got a $50 Casio that works just fine.

After an hour of hearing about dolphins and going over the ground rules for interaction, the trainers finally took us over to get in the water with the dolphins. And wouldn't you know it, the 9 feett-long, 600-pound little buggers got cooler all the time. First of all, they are in complete control. All of the belly rubbing, hand-to-fin shaking, hoop jumping, and rides on their backs are done on their terms – otherwise they bite, the trainer informed us. After every single trick the dolphins got a fishy treat, it's like if you got a $20 bonus after every task you completed in the office. Not to shabby.

Like many kids of my generation, I wanted to be a marine biologist. I was sure of it when I was 10 years old. I swam, I loved the ocean, and I was fascinated by sea life, especially the mammals. I read books about dolphins and whales, I would cut out pictures in magazines like National Geographic and collect them in a folder. I doodled fish, crustaceans, and orcas in school. I lobbied for my parents to take us on a vacation to Australia so I could see the Great Barrier Reef – they declined. Alas, my dreams of having my own research vessel and a sugar mamma financier like Steve Zissou in the Life Aquatic faded away just like astronaut and garbage man (just think of how much cool shit they must find!).

But that one afternoon with the dolphins in Key Largo gave me a taste of what could have been. I walked out of there imagining my life that never was, chillin' with the “bachelor pod” drinking seaweeditas and cruising the marina for babes that just can't get enough of those cute dolphin tricks. Screw being a marine biologist, I want to be reincarnated as a dolphin. -- Tovin Lapan

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