Sunday, July 30, 2006

When You're In The Water, You're In Their World

In case anyone is wondering, I won't be leaving the house between 8 and 10 PM for the next week. And don't call me either.


It's Shark Week on the Discovery Channel, and I fucking love Shark Week. I love it so much that when my brother (who also loves Shark Week) called at 7:58 tonight to remind me that Shark Week started at 8:00, he was not surprised to learn I'd had it marked on my calendar for over a month. I love it despite the fact that I am absolutely terrified of sharks and frequently have nightmares about being eaten by them. I love Shark Week even though the good folks at Discovery insist upon kicking it off every damn year with a barely modified version of last year's same damn "World's Ten Deadliest Sharks" program, which I watched a while ago between calls to and from my brother to exchange snarky "up next. . .the hammerhead" and "ooh, do you think the tiger shark is number three?" comments.

See, we already know about the world's ten deadliest sharks, because they're the same damn world's ten deadliest sharks as last year, with the same damn interviews of the same damn dorky guy from the International Shark Attack File. And yet we keep watching.

Because sharks are fucking awesome! And because we're afraid they're gonna eat us!

Some of us, namely myself, are fairly obsessed with this possibility. At one point, our refrigerator at the beach was plastered with articles we'd clipped from newspapers and magazines about how to avoid shark attacks. These articles offered such ingenious tips as "don't swim in areas where sharks are known to congregate." Eventually, my mom got sick of these inane shark attack avoidance tips and took down everything except a list entitled "What Are The Odds?," which indicates that your odds of getting attacked by a shark (1 in 3,700,000) are much slimmer than your odds of, say, drowning in a bathtub (1 in 11,000) or of being killed by an intimate partner (1 in 1800).

People love to quote statistics like this, but these people are stupid. Because here's how statistics work: some crazy statistician takes the number of people in the world and divides it by the number of reported shark attacks or bathtub drownings or intimate partner killings to get an average that's supposed to comfort me -- a girl who rarely takes baths (showers, yes; baths, no), does not currently have an "intimate partner," and spends three months out of the year in the ocean. Where sharks live!

Sure, I could stay out of the ocean, but you're talking about a girl who loves swimming in the ocean so much she once described it as better than sex. To her boyfriend. And, ten years and several intimate partners later, she stands by that characterization.

Where were we? Oh yeah, Shark Week. Bonus points for anyone who can identify the world's deadliest shark featured above. My brother is automatically disqualified, as is anyone who guesses the Great White. Everyone knows the Great White is only the world's second deadliest shark, and that its attacks on humans are merely sad cases of mistaken identity that afterwards keep the Great White up nights. Poor little sharky.


Brian said...

I think the list needs to be modified so that the Great White is number three and the Tiger is number two...

Actually, slot number one should be a tie between the Tiger and the Bull. Because they're both equal oppurtunity, 'I will chomp the shit out of you regardless of what are' - ish feeders.

Megan said...

Way to ruin the game.

The Great White IS sadly misunderstood, though. It's not their fault if all you surfer dudes look JUST like tasty little seals.

vikkitikkitavi said...

Saw a reef shark when I was snorkeling once and it scared the bejeebus out of me. I immediately got out of the water. Everyone else laughed at me but I didn't care.

lulu said...

Have you read "Close to Shore: A True Story of Terror in an Age of Innocence"
by Michael Capuzzo

It's pretty fascinating--sharks and Victorian culture in one book.

Megan said...

V-The Reef shark is only like number 6! That being said, I too would have gotten out of the water.

L-Is that the book Jaws was based on? I haven't read it, but I'll check it out.

lulu said...

Jaws is loosely based on it I think. It was interesting, although the beginning moved a little slow.

He does a nice job of weaving the story and shark information together.

Unclejbird said...

Shark Week? I had no idea. I need to upgrade my cable.

Who remembers the shark attacks in Virginia Beach and N.C. (Frisco?) the weekend before Sept. 11, 2001? Nobody. Then we thought we knew what an "attack" was.