Close Encounters of the Great White Kind

The first time I saw the movie Jaws was during a family vacation in Ocean City, New Jersey. I don’t know whose brilliant idea it was to let an impressionable 12-year-old girl watch a scary movie about a killer shark while vacationing down the shore, but lets just say I didn’t step foot in the ocean the rest of the week. By the following summer I was able to pull myself together, realize it was only a movie and enjoy the ocean the way I always had.

My husband Chris, however, was profoundly more affected. Thanks to the imagination of Peter Benchley and the movie-making genius of Steven Spielberg, he has to this day an irrational fear of sharks.  Chris is normally a level headed, phlegmatic kind of guy. Except when it comes to the ocean and sharks. He will go in the ocean, but he always makes sure he is never the furthest one out since, according to Peter Benchley and Steven Spielberg, sharks only attack the lone swimmer who is foolish enough to swim out past everyone else.

“See, I can swim out further than anybody.”

“GULP! That’ll teach you”, the great white says to himself.”

Apparently pride not only goeth before a fall, but a shark attack as well.

Christ won’t float on a raft on his stomach in the ocean because as we also learn in Jaws this is a fatal mistake. Chris also won’t float on a raft on his stomach in a pool because he doesn’t want to get in the habit and absentmindedly do it in the ocean.

Sharks are apparently not only attracted to prideful swimmers, lazy floaters on rubber rafts, but to blood as well, yet another handy tip we learn from the movie Jaws. Every time we are at the beach my husband asks me the same question “You don’t have your period today, do you?  If the answer is yes, he refuses to go in the ocean with me for fear a restless shark will smell blood and attack. I ask him if he is going to take a poll of every woman on the beach. Maybe he could convince the Ocean city Beach Patrol to post signs dividing the swimmers into menstruating and non-menstruating sections of the ocean. I can just see David Hasselhoff now:

“Excuse me, ma’am, but I can see from the tell-tale pimple on your chin and your obviously dour mood that you are menstruating. I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to swim over there with the other menstruating women.”

I have learned to accept this irrational fear my husband has, and no longer make fun of him for it. Nobody’s perfect and we all have our little quirks. But sometimes, when we’re at the beach and he asks me if I have my period and I do, I’ll say ”no”, just to prove him wrong. Which I certainly hope he is.