I spend a lot of time thinking about sharks.
Let me rephrase. For a guy who lives in the middle of Ohio, doesn’t travel much, and never goes into the ocean, I spend a lot of time thinking about sharks.
Yes, it’s all because of Jaws, but, more than fear, Jaws inspired in me a lifelong fascination with sharks. Can’t get enough of ‘em. Love to learn about claspers and the ampullae of Lorenzini and all that. Look those up and thank me later. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clasper http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ampullae_of_Lorenzini
I should also clarify that in addition to thinking about sharks, I think a lot about being eaten by a shark. Now, the Washington Post just published an article about this and here are the latest numbers: “Last year, 80 unprovoked shark strikes took place worldwide: Seven resulted in deaths, including one in California. Fifty-three strikes took place in U.S. waters, nearly half of them off Florida.”
That’s more than enough to justify my anti-frolicking-in-the-surf stance. By the way, this is also a guy who loves to fish from the shore when we vacation in the Outer Banks. And while I’m safely fishing from the beach, I intently follow all the swimmers just waiting for one of them to do that horrible jerking thing right before they’re tugged under in a gush of froth and blood.
I know I have a better chance of being felled by a wheat penny dropped from the Empire State Building than I do of being attacked by a shark, but I’m not interested in the numbers really. Shark attacks are inevitable. They are inevitable because people go into the ocean, and there are sharks in the ocean. If sharks were found in Crate and Barrel, people would be attacked while they were shopping for sofas and flatware.
So, a couple times a year I will see the inevitable news story about someone being bitten and/or killed by a shark. I then eagerly post the story on Facebook and Twitter with an added, and I’m paraphrasing, “I told you so.” Whenever I post these shark-attack stories, beach-lovers and saltwater-swimming enthusiasts everywhere comment to the effect that I’m an idiot; that these attacks are so rare I have nothing to worry about; that more people die in car accidents every year than they do by shark attacks, and so on and so forth.
But this is the reasoning of people who, if they were fictional, would end up dead first in a horror movie.
First of all, their argument doesn’t hold up. Let me see if I have this right: More people are killed by cars than sharks, so why aren’t I afraid of cars? That's their reasoning? Well, for one, a car won't fucking eat you.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. OK, it’s unlikely, I get it, but why play that particular lottery? We play the good lottery, the big cash payout, change-your-life lottery, because despite the astronomical odds we just might win millions of dollars. But why play the bad, possibly decapitated, lose-your-life lottery? The odds are equally astronomical but if you win this one --- you get eaten by a shark. Congrats. You're a torso.
That’s ridiculous. If you absolutely insist, by some misguided logic, on playing some variation of lethal lottery, why not play the golf-club-in-a-thunderstorm lottery. At least you're in one piece when that one's over.
But, just for kicks, let’s examine this car-shark argument a bit closer. First of all, as I've mentioned, a car won’t eat you. It’s not like you’re walking down the street and suddenly a car swerves off the road, grabs you in its grill and starts thrashing back and forth, tearing off a huge piece of you before casually pulling back onto the road and driving away.
Furthermore, for this shark-car analogy to actually make any sense, we’d have to be driving sharks. And, well, now that’s just Crazy Talk.
The bottom line is that because automobiles are manmade and because they're one of the most common things we see on a daily basis, they just don't inspire terror. We spend a lot more time in the presence of cars than sharks, so of course we're more likely to be killed by a car. In any event, I would rather die in a car accident than by shark attack. In other words, I’d rather die by blunt force trauma than by being crushed and torn apart in the gaping maw of a ruthless carnivore.
Here’s another, different way of looking at the problem. Why risk it because we may just have it coming... Humans kill more than 100 million sharks a year for no good reason, so maybe shark attacks, which are on the rise globally, are just the animals’ way of trying to even the score. I may be scared shitless of them, but I’m definitely on the sharks' side. I'm with them. Absolutely, I would attack someone if I was a shark too. With pleasure. I’d be like – “look at this guy - dicking around in my territory, swimming, splashing, flailing around like an idiot with his dopey limbs and tacky board shorts. What balls on this guy – killing 100 million of us every year for soup and he comes into my ocean? Screw this guy.” Then wham, I’d clamp down on his ribs.
Just a little food for thought. And, now, for your reading pleasure - a brief history of shark attacks.