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So as we made our way down into the inky depths, it was both strange and comforting to see a hotel come into view, to be able to look in the portholes and see our warm and inviting living quarters, lights on, pillows fluffed, warm towels at the ready. But just then a black glove seized my throat! Struggling, I could see a shiny steel knife cutting my air hose! I spun madly around and saw.... Sorry. That was Lloyd Bridges's trip to the Keys.
The lodge sits on pillars, so guests swim under it and pop up into it through a four-by six-foot moon pool. The air pressure keeps the water out and the guests dry, as it would in an empty glass forced upside down into a tub of water. We had arrived, feeling safe and happy. Safe and happy, that is, until Carla, our instructor, said, "I'll be going now."
I'll be going now?
It was going to be just us, alone undersea, left at the mercy of the deep? We eyed the open portal of the moon pool and wondered what was to keep your average troubled-youth shark from leaping into the lodge through the moon pool, devouring us like petits fours and slipping back into the depths, full. Absolutely nothing, we decided.
Still, this was easily the nicest underwater hotel we'd ever been in, for it provided stereos and VCRs in both of the bedrooms and the same in the common room. Our hoped-for tackiness was nowhere to be found: not a single lamp made of sea netting or a single starfish alarm clock. Alas, we made the best of it. We watched Creature from the Black Lagoon (what else?) and microwaved our six-course lobster dinner, which was included in the price of the suite ($295). Everything was all right, except for our uneasy feeling that at any moment lobsters might begin picketing the portholes.
All in all, you can't help but relax in an underwater hotel, what with the soothing gurgle of the moon pool, the gentle pattern of the currents, and the grouper and angel-fish dallying by, glancing at you as they go wherever they are going. That's when you come to the odd realization that you are in the aquarium and they are the keepers of the tank.
Grouper: Hey, new humans in the tank tonight!
Angel fish: Cool!
Grouper: I'll go tell the shark.
The next morning Mr. Monney told us we were two of only 4,000 people in the world to have spent the night at Jules' Undersea Lodge. However, he said, we would not go down in history with other overnight aquanauts at Jules' who had 1) gotten Domino's to deliver a pizza down there, 2) called all over Florida until they found a scuba-diving stripper to come down for a birthday (No, no, no! Leave the flippers on!) or 3) set a world record for most days undersea—69. The last was done by Rick Presley, who, I should note, suspiciously resembles Mr. Limpet.