The Thin Veneer of Civilisation

The veneer of civilisation is awfully thin. Scratch it deep enough, and we are all animals. This fact was illustrated to me today on Snorkeller's Reef. One of my competitor's in collecting wayward golf balls out of the ocean, is an erudite, mannered European -- a Dutchman. He is cultured and polite.

I had made his acquaintance at the beach, and it was about a month or so before we both collectively realised that both of us were chasing the same quarry -- golf balls in the ocean. Because he is retired and I am not, when he discovered me collecting in what he considered his back yard, he always beat me to the punch. I invariably met him coming from the reef with his stash. However I had a secret weapon -- he can't free dive as deep as me, and there is a spot where the balls funnel down into a bowl that is between 18 and 24 feet deep, depending on the tide. He can't get down that far, and left them for me. It was a good compromise, but we still tried to beat each other to the reef.

When we encountered each other, we would have pleasantries, but all the while, we were scoping each other out. We tried to ignore the fact that we were both after the same thing. Once when he beat me to the punch, and made a real score, he left a golf ball under my shirt on the beach. I would do the same thing to him. It wasn't kindness, it was a very gentle backhand mocking -- ha ha I got the balls today.

Then a wonderful thing happened for both of us. He got a girlfriend. She was Dutch as well, and he travelled to Europe to woo her. That left Golf Ball reef all to me. Then he had to go to the Netherland Antilles to wind up a family owned shipping business. I got used to not sharing the harvest.

Well, the girlfriend is now domiciled in his home in this tropical paradise, and he has started bringing her to golf ball reef. The competition is in full swing. Only two things motivate us -- fear and greed. We are both afraid that the other will get to the reef first, and when we get there, we are greedy and want all of the balls for the picking.

Tonight was the telling point. We both arrived at the reef at the same time. He did not bother to stop to talk like he usually does. He donned his snorkel stuff and beat me into the water. You could tell that it was another fear/greed situation. Would he be afraid to show me his favourite spots, or would his greed for golf balls overcome his secrets of his hotspots. Greed overcame fear. He jumped into the water and went straight for the booty.

I got a measly 4 golf balls today. I didn't stick around to see how many he got. I was amazed at my reaction of feeling cheated. The veneer of civilisation is indeed thin. But not in the picture. I love Georgian Colonial architecture, and this place is intensely beautiful. The Lovely One and I ate a wonderful civilised lunch on the second storey wrap-around balcony, where we had a view of the sea. In spite of my animal nature, I like civilised things as well.

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