I love sharks. I love shark movies. I follow tagged sharks on Twitter. I think Shark Week is one of the greatest television feats in history. Great whites are my favorite, they are stealth killers, a “perfect engine- an eating machine” as Hooper says in Jaws. Sharks are real life living monsters with all the authentic proportions of something the Ancient Greeks could have imagined, a mammoth jaw filled with jagged teeth and dead eyes as black as the devil’s heart. They are living myth. Plus, they have the kind of size that makes dinosaurs so irresistible.
And I CANNOT get enough of them, which is weird because most aspects of my life are riddled with anxieties. You would think that someone who would drive miles out of her way to avoid a left turn at a busy intersection would not take a fancy to the sleek nightmare fuel that is the Great White, but you would be wrong.
I love them. They embody my fears like no other creature on the planet, the lurking, the incredible speed, and a badass theme song. A shark could be ten yards away from a swimmer and that swimmer wouldn’t know it until his legs are the side of fries with the shark’s seal burger. That’s the kind of scenario I envision in each and every mundane encounter in my life. Disaster is always seconds away!
The difference with sharks and why I hold them dear to my heart is the fact that they are contained. In my landlocked Midwest state it’s so easy to avoid sharks. Unlike cancer, and bullies who might convince my children to commit suicide, and gun violence, and the opioid epidemic, and the painful changes of globalization, and drunk drivers, and tooth decay, and ageing, and stock market crashes, and tick borne diseases- I can exercise my control over this fear. All I have to do is stay the hell out of the water! It’s such a wondrous simplicity. It is so easy to talk myself out of this fear. In fact, as I write this with my back to the window and my feet dangling off my chair, I am confident that I will not be eaten by a Great White. My loved ones who are out of sight are still safely on land, and they won’t be eaten by a Great White either.
The thought of the shark actually makes me happy. I have fear and I have control. What a wonderful, singular situation.
Happy Shark Week. Happy trails to you, Mary Lee, you beautiful, awe- inspiring, scary as hell monster.