“Filled with excessive and single-minded zeal” is the definition of the word fanatical. This word encompasses completely how I feel about sharks. My love affair with these misunderstood giants of the sea started many years ago…
When I was little, my mom babysat two girls that lived on our street. They were both a few years older than me and I thought they were the two most fabulous females ever to walk the earth. I mimicked how they talked and dressed and had they asked me to jump off a cliff or rob a bank or steal my mom’s van, I totally would have. I was desperate for their approval.
I remember one summer afternoon, the girls told me about this super scary movie they saw about this rogue shark that swam around the ocean and ate a bunch of people. The girls went on in great detail about how this murderous shark ate grown-ups and kids and even a dog. A DOG! I was horrified, but also intrigued. I knew in my heart that I needed to see this movie.
For years, I relentlessly asked my parents to watch Jaws and I finally broke them when I was eight years old. I vividly remember hearing that menacing dun dun evil shark music for the first time. My stomach clenched in sheer terror. That movie deeply affected me. Swimming in my backyard pool was no longer a pleasurable activity. I was never completely confident there wasn’t a great white lurking in the deep end. Forget about swimming in lakes or rivers. Even picturesque streams and creeks posed the threat of a bloody blitz attack.
Somewhere in the midst of being completely horrified by sharks, I found myself becoming more and more enamored of them. My brother was an avid National Geographic reader and I would delight in finding an issue devoted to great whites, hammerheads or bull sharks.
Over time my perceptions about sharks changed and I realized that they weren’t the murderous, human devouring monsters of my nightmares. In fact, sharks usually eat people by mistake. Have you ever bought fat free cheese without noticing and then you go to have a little cheese and cracker snack and your cheese tastes all rubbery and wonky and then you think it’s expired and then you check the paper and you’re like ewww this is fat free cheese? Or have you ever mistaken a can of club soda for a can of cream soda and taken a big slug and then been repulsed by the taste in your mouth? That’s how I imagine sharks feel when they eat people. They’re all expecting a feast of delicious seal or tuna or yummy plankton and instead they get a rank human.
People often ask me if I would ever swim with sharks and my answer is a firm no. I’ll save the cage diving for the hardcore FINatics . See what I did there?
What I really want to do is fly to South Africa and get on a boat and go to Seal Island and watch the great whites breach out of the water. Have you seen this? It’s insane. They just jump out of the ocean. They’re all like, “What’s up? Just jumping out of the ocean over here. No big deal. I’m a shark, it’s what I do. Later”. In case you’ve never seen this, check it out here…
I will now end this post with one of the most poignant quotes of our time. These words really resonate with me and I do my best to abide by them…
“Live every week like it’s Shark Week” – Tracy Morgan