Newbie, welcome. Welcome to the inside.

What’s the matter? You look like hell. Pardon? No, you’re wrong there, Newbie, that’s not because you’ve actually fallen into hell. We’ve already considered this kind of comment. Hell would be falling into the belly of a sexagenarian IBS sufferer who hits the Pepto-Bismol bottle too often. Hell is more acidic. Hell is not this.

You’ll survive if you want to, Newbie.

Rule No. 1 is that you keep your feet dry, Newbie, because if you catch pneumonia, there’s not much we can do for you. We have only one doctor, a shaman swallowed off the east coast of Venezuela. Though his healing handiwork with shrimp feces is reverential, Shaman the Man (as he has been dubbed) doesn’t speak a word of any language anyone else knows. Thus, many a sore throat has been mistakenly combated with the Venezuelan natives’ cure for constipation. We cannot, however, attempt to correct Shaman, for he is very testy. The psychological trauma for our good doctor has been terrible, as he believes this is the South American equivalent of living in the gastrointestinal tract of Poseidon. So, if you want to avoid a medicinal roulette, where all side effects are potentially bowel-evacuating, you’ll keep your feet dry, Newbie.

Also, find some place to keep a tally. Marking the time will help keep you sane. My tally is about eye level on the west wall of the lower part of the esophagus. It looks like this:


Each one of those marks represents a period of 10 years. The mathematically minded among us have suspicions that dwelling in our Shamu might actually counteract the effects of time. Sextus Aquarius, an estranged and ancient Roman sailor whom we haven’t had the heart to inform about the obliteration of his entire culture, is certain this hypothesis is correct. However, recently quaffed New Englander Katie, an avid Fast Food Nation fan, posits that our longer life spans are just a result of a better diet. You can make up your own mind, but I guess the moral is that you might be here for a while so make yourself comfortable.

Wherever you decide to keep your tally, Newbie, take my advice: don’t do it there. “There” is where the bile is. “There” is the acid that will melt the organs off your bones. “There” is also where the public latrine is. We call it the stream of latrine, Newbie, the shitera riviera. Never forget, the stomach is a gaseous, explosive, and utterly nauseating place. When his gut starts talking, we run for the hilly duodenum.

I must say it was funny to hear you complaining earlier, Newbie. And by “funny” I mean abjectly pathetic. If you think it’s bad now, wait till your first blowhole, his first surfacing with you on board. Colloquially speaking, it will eff you up, Newbie. This entire place turns into a pressure cooker, set to Kill. Or, actually, maybe it’s more like getting all the windows blown out on an airplane. Truthfully, I don’t remember how to analogize very well, since I haven’t been on the outside in years. Let’s just say, with this timeless simile, that it’s like someone trying to suck your brains out through your ass.

Painful, Newbie. And very, very calamitous.

I checked the schedule. Plankton-gathering duty for you is at 4 and we all meet for dinner at 6:30. It takes a while to fill all the pockets of our special plankton-gathering cargo pants, which we got from the Old Navy child models who fell in off their private motorboats. Unfortunately, none of them are still with us. But their clothes have exhibited a surprising durability, in spite of their bright dapperness.

Anyway, to get the time, Newbie, you’ll have to go to the guy with the kinetic watch. It’s never run out of batteries; he just has to shake it and it starts working again. Kinetic power. See? Seemingly pointless things get put to good use in this place. If only there were more things in the deep sea for a sperm whale to swallow. In terms of quantity of things to swallow, the sea is nothing like a frat house, Newbie.

All in all, you’ll get along just fine in here if you follow the rules. Of course, there are more, but we think it’s best to start you off easy. Just remember never to despair, Newbie. Like we said, it’s not the worst place in the world, but sometimes things do get a little hairy. Don’t ever, ever expect anyone to feel bad for you, though. They won’t. Not ever. There are some people in the world that nobody ever thinks about.

Newbie, now you’re one of them.