For those who do not know, this week (that of August 5) is Shark Week. Today, as Casey and her boyfriend PJ join Dave and me on the beach in Weekapaug, from the safety of the sand, we chat about the previous night’s show and scan the expanse of ink-blue water in search of dorsal fins or ominous shadows.
“Jaws” came out soon after I graduated from Trinity College. I’d spent the summers of my freshman and sophomore year working on Martha’s Vineyard, which is also the setting of the movie. One of the minor characters, a young guy who enjoys a drunken romp on the beach with a shapely blond who gets chomped by a great white early in the story, also went to Trinity. Two too many parallels for me, and I was shaken. Shaken to the extent that, to this day, I never swim underwater without some anxiety and the “Jaws” theme drumming in my head, and I never go into the water without first surveying the seas before me. “That won’t help you, Mom,” says Casey. Chock full of info from last night’s show, she adds, “They’re fast. They come right up beneath you. You’ll never see it coming.”
Great. Thanks Case.
Dave nibbles pistachio nuts, grins maniacally, and flips the shells into the breeze, trying to land them on his daughter. Relaxation is not Dave’s forte and if there is not a game of some sort in play, he creates one. “Pistachio Provocation” is a favorite and he is endlessly entertained by Casey’s good-natured annoyance as shells catch in her hair, skip off her arm, and settle on her stomach. “You’re a child Dad. ” she says with a snort. “Beyond irritating.”
That’ll stop him. Not. For Dave, such an admonition is bait, if you will, akin to the scent of seal to a shark.
I have no love of sharks and wish no one a maiming by those gruesome teeth, but those numbers really piss me off. “Whenever animals kill humans, they are branded vicious killers and hunted down. What about the innocents we slaughter every day, all the pigs, calves, chickens and baby lambs?”
There is a pained silence. Buzzkill. I’ve turned a little enlightenment into a soapbox moment, but still, I think I have a point.
With sighs, we turn to gaze out to sea where we spot movement, a swimmer, as it turns out. With our eyes, we follow her path as vigorous strokes propel her toward the horizon. Finally she swings left for a lengthy lap along the shore. With admiring nods, we applaud the woman’s courage and style, but decide her bold embrace of the sea indicates she is probably not spending evenings enthralled by tales of the gaping maw of the megaladon on PBS.