It Happens Every Summer

Today is the beginning of the Discovery Channel’s SHARK WEEK. I’ve been a fan of this week of summer since they began it, though it used to air closer to my birthday, in mid-August, rather than at the end of July. I guess they figured out that no one’s around in August – it’s sort of the desert of the calendar.

As I write this, I’m watching footage of divers swimming with giant manta rays off the coast of Baja California Sur. The narrator has a slight…not a lisp exactly…but he speaks as if his tongue and teeth are too large for his mouth.

I don’t know WHY I’m drawn to sharks. Maybe because I feel the pull of the ocean in my blood, maybe because they’re such elegant creatures. Simple. Direct. They don’t go through any great machinations, they just swim, eat, and breed. It’s sort of refreshing.

There is, of course, the element of horror mythology. Sharks are scary in a primal way, because being eaten is one of the worst ways we can imagine meeting death. Especially when you’re being eaten alive.

And then, I feel for sharks because people seem to always want to kill them, and I always root for the underdog, even if the underdog is really a fish. They’re animals. It’s not like they’re sitting off-shore going, “Hmm, let’s go snack on people today.” It’s pretty obvious that they wouldn’t be sinking their teeth into human flesh if we weren’t taking over, and destroying, their environment.

But anyway, it’s Shark Week, beginning today, and that means a week of fascination and of wishing my pool was really wet entry to the ocean, and of being inspired by endless hours of silvery fish swimming across a blue screen.

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