August 17, 2009


When I swim in the ocean here in Southern California, I have to combat my Midwest tendencies to fear sharks in the water. Lots of people have this fear. It’s all Jaws-related. Even the Pacific’s gentle telepathic reassurances that she will protect me don’t totally erase my fear of sharks. But this swimming season, I have done pretty well, swimming out past where my feet can touch the bottom, trusting the mighty sea, and never being let down. Then I took my 5-year-old niece to the beach recently and while she was running from the tide on shore and screaming with glee, I waded out into the water. A young man with bronzed skin and a boogie board standing with his girlfriend stopped me. “Hey man, I wouldn’t go out there,” he said. “I’ve never said this to anyone before,” he continued, “but there’s a shark out there.”

“C’mon,” I said while my niece screamed and eluded another wave racing toward her.

“I’m from California,” he said, “I’m a beach bum. I’m always here. But I was out there just now and saw this huge shadow swim right next to me. For real..”

His girlfriend was really pretty..

“Will you protect me?” I telepathically asked the ocean.

“You will be protected,” she answered.

I shrugged to the young man, caught a look of shock in his girlfriend’s eyes and had one of my most pleasant swims. From the water I listened to my niece shriek with joy on shore and, after dunking my head underwater to see for massive, fast-moving shadows coming my way, heard the ocean laughing hysterically at me.


Love, Evolution, and Resilience said...

Oh this is beautiful, and she wasn't laughing at you, she was laughing at the beach bum. (or maybe it was you).

Wine and Words said...

Hell no, HELL NO. California born and raised and still I have a healthy respect for the ocean. I ask the ocean, "will you protect me?"


I can shriek with joy in a lake where I belong.