Jumping The Shark

OK, so this week has been pretty busy, I’m exhausted, and around midnight last night, I had still had nothing in mind to write about. Then, just as I was drifting off to sleep, a voice in my head said, “Sharks are so cool.” I woke Ken up and said, “In the morning, remind me that I need to write about sharks.” He was like, “Sharks. Right.” But then I wrote it down myself because I knew he wouldn’t remember; in fact, I just asked him a minute ago to remind me what I told him last night and he said, “Glass. You were going to write about glass.” Unfortunately, I am nowhere near as obsessed with glass as I am with sharks. And I know that sounds weird, living nowhere near an ocean as I do, but I’ve had a thing for sharks ever since I was little and we were in England, where we watched some fishermen inspect their haul and throw all the dogfish back in the water.

“What are those?” I asked. “They’re so CUTE!”

“They’re dogfish,” my mother said. “They’re like tiny sharks.”

And I was like, if this is how adorable a TINY shark is, imagine how majorly awesome a HUGE shark would be!! So this week, in honour of sharks, here are my top 5 Shark Moments, in chronological order:

1) When I was around 9, my grandmother offered to take me to the movies in another city, which involved a very long bus trip. This was in the days when the cinemas were on Main Street instead of in a strip mall or a ‘cineplex’. When we got there, there were two movie theatres on the same block. One was playing “Blazing Saddles”, the G rated comedy she was SUPPOSED to take me to see. The other theatre was playing “Jaws”. I begged her instead to take me to see “Jaws”, although I didn’t have to try to hard—my gran was one of those ‘laissez-faire’ English people, and her response was “Whatevs. Don’t tell yer mam.” If you’ve ever seen “Jaws”, you’ll know that by the end of the first minute, I was absolutely terrified. But after a little while, the terror turned into fascination, and by the end of the movie, I was kind of cheering for the shark, especially after that woman slapped Sheriff Brody, and I was like, “It’s not his fault—maybe you shouldn’t have let your kid swim in shark-infested waters—it’s not like he didn’t TRY to warn you. And don’t be blaming the shark either—he’s just doing what sharks DO.” By the time the movie finished, when the shark makes its first real appearance, I was in love. Later that week, I saw in the TV guide that there was a movie on about a shark, and I begged my mom to stay up late and watch it. She was confused but reluctantly agreed. Then the movie started:

Me: When will we see the shark?
Mom: What shark?
Me: The movie is about a lone shark. Like Jaws.
Mom: (laughing) Uh no—it’s about a ‘loan shark’. That’s a man you borrow money from, and if you don’t pay him back, he breaks your legs.
Me: What?! I’m going to bed.

2) The next year, when I was 10, my brother and I were absolutely fanatical about this novelty record that had just been released called “Santa Jaws”. It was a collection of Christmas carols, all rewritten to include sharks. Our favourite was “God rest ye merry gentlemen/You’re not so merry now./The seaside signs said not to swim/But you swam anyhow.” It was brilliant. I just looked it up, and you can listen to it on Youtube (here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELZGHmrF9pA )

3) When Kate was little, I somehow transferred my love of sharks to her. When she was about 5, she had her heart set on dressing up like a shark for Hallowe’en. But try finding a shark costume anywhere—apparently the costume people think it’s OK to dress up like vampires, zombies, or culturally inappropriate Indigenous princesses, but sharks? They’re just too scary. The best I could do was find a dolphin costume, to whose mouth I stapled sharp, cardboard teeth. Kate was only 5, so she didn’t know any different, but I was like, “Aw man—that dorsal fin is all wrong. I hope the other kids don’t make fun of her.” She still got lots of candy, despite the dorsal fin debacle.

4) A few years ago, I bought myself a shark puppet. It was on sale at the local store, and I brought it home and named it Marcelle. Whenever our previous dog Titus was getting too hyper, I would put it on and speak to him in a deep, sharky voice:

Titus: There’s food! Food on the coffeetable! This is the best day ever—wheeee!!!
Marcelle: SIT DOWN.
Titus: Whuh—who are you?
Marcelle: I’m your worst nightmare. It’s time to be a good boy. Now, SIT!
Titus: (sitting) I don’t think this is ecologically accurate—
Marcelle: No food for you!

Eventually, I gave Marcelle to a colleague’s little boy. He was just too hard on Titus. I eventually replaced Marcelle with a small stuffed shark that I named Brian. Then we got Atlas:

Atlas: Mine!
Me: No, you can’t have him.
Atlas: But I want him. I will eat him.
Me: Not if he eats you first, buddy.

So I had to put Brian on a high shelf out of Atlas’s reach, for his own good.

5) I saw Sharkwater, that documentary about sharks, and it made me cry. Then I travelled with my parents to Turks and Caicos, and my dad and I went snorkeling. The tour took us out to a place called Stingray Cove, where they had a lot of little stingrays that for some reason, they wanted you to hold and kiss. So we did, until suddenly, the tour guide yelled, “Shark!” And I was like “Ooh, where?!”  Turns out they were small lemon sharks, who grow quite big and can be very aggressive towards stingrays. I thought it was the best thing ever, but the tour guides were all upset because they make their livelihood taking people out to kiss the stingrays, and didn’t want the sharks to hurt them.

So there I was, standing waist-deep in water with my underwater camera, trying to get a picture of a shark, with these local guys all yelling at me to ‘Get out of the water!’ and ‘Stop encouraging the sharks!’  and ‘You’re going to get bit, crazy Canadian lady!’ I DID get a blurry picture of one of them before it suddenly occurred to me that, despite my tremendous sympathy for them, a shark might not know the difference between my leg and a stingray. And they already have a bad enough reputation without the headline “Ungrateful shark eats Canadian shark ally.”

Anyway, there you have it. Sharks. Because glass is dumb.

61 thoughts on “Jumping The Shark

  1. I’ve never had a chance to see a shark since I’ve never been to the ocean before. Though I’ve heard they can occasionally make their way upriver if it empties into a sea, like the Mississippi River I live near. The locals would probably just think it’s a large catfish…

    Shark costumes shouldn’t be too hard to find anymore. Just as unicorns and llamas have become the animals all girls’ accessories are themed around, so have dinosaurs and sharks become the popular boys spirit animal. At some point, though, even sharks will probably jump the shark and become passe again…

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  2. We took our little kids to a CA theme park and took the ride where Jaws is supposed to jump up and scare you.  It was so fake looking they just laughed.  I like glass😅

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPhone

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  3. I love sharks too! Fascinated by and terrified of them, which clearly makes no sense, especially when you remember I live in the middle of England (a good few hours from the sea) and we don’t get ANY dangerous sharks in our waters. Mind you, we have a pretty big seal population so maybe it’s just a matter of time before the Great Whites figure out where they’re hiding.
    I was just a bit too young to see Jaws in the cinema but there was a comic in the UK that ripped off a lot of movie tropes of the mid-70s, called Action. And they had a strip called Hook Jaw about a Great White with a big fishing hook sticking out of his throat. And they’d often have the centre pages in colour (the rest was b&w) and Hook Jaw was usually in there chomping through people or disembowelling them with his handy hook. Lots of red ink. I was about 7 and subsequently scarred for life. Here’s a pic – https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-irpkMAz5ODk/WNqlEy-787I/AAAAAAAAzjk/EQgvOTuTORcBaL2qJ3_XiVTNHxR9yB8eQCLcB/s1600/hookjaw.jpg
    The first time I watched Jaws I was cacking myself – but I loved it. It’s still probably my favourite film. If it’s on, I just have to watch it.
    One of my fun shark facts is that their teeth may have have evolved from their scales. They are proper ancient creatures, appearing before trees and hit peak evolution before the dinosaurs had properly got going.
    Anyhoo, what the hell does “Jumping the Shark” actually mean and where did it come from?

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    • My favourite fact about sharks is that they can’t stop swimming so they sleep while they’re moving. I didn’t know that about their teeth, although I know that if they lose one, another grows into its place. I just bought Jaws on DVD–a good day to watch a shark movie I think! “Jumping the shark” apparently means “to describe an episode of a television comedy with a gimmick or unlikely occurrence desperately attempting to keep viewers’ interest.” I had to look it up–I actually used it because it had the word shark in it lol!

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  4. Oh, your fascination with sharks fascinates me! My youngest was obsessed with sharks and dinosaurs for ever. He had tons of stuffed shark animals, one in particular he named, Sharky. I still have it, and every year during National Geographic’s channel “Shark Week” he still comes over to watch it with me, he’s 26 now, lol. I think that costume you made Kate is an awesome idea! I hope you took pictures.

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  5. I share your love of sharks! I loved this post, Suzanne. After seeing Jaws, I didn’t go in the ocean for 15 years. Then I became a scuba diver… go figure. I’ve been on two shark dives and have patted silky sharks. In truth, most sharks are shy and more afraid of us than we are of them. We had to bait the water with fish guts to attract them and keep them around. You would LOVE it. 😀

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  6. Wow! You are so much braver than I was when seeing Jaws for the first time. I was six years old and wanted to see it for my 6th birthday. I ran screaming from the theater after the first few minutes. Now, I absolutely love the humor/horror shark films–like Sharknado–and recently, I saw the movie Santa Jaws–(I think that’s what it was called)–and it was so much fun. Cheers!

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  7. Until you introduced me to Santa Jaws my favorite thing about sharks was that Peter Benchley had a complete turnaround when he learned how ecologically important and generally cool sharks are, and regretted writing Jaws. He even became a fierce advocate for ecological conservation. Although Jaws is still a great movie and you had a really cool grandmother.
    And I also really like stingrays, which I know is weird, but they’re fascinating animals. I went to Sea World once and fed stingrays, which wasn’t exactly exciting–their mouths are underneath so I couldn’t see it–but they hung out while eating and it gave me a chance to really look at them.
    Also there’s this which was my favorite shark joke before I learned about Santa Jaws:

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  8. “Dorsal fin debacle.” Poor Kate! In not-at-all shark-related news, you and I have nearly identical bedding (of course we do!), but ours leans toward orange and yellow. High five for your style and another terrific Sunday read.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. When I was in Mexico, a bunch of drunken men started screaming ‘SHARK,’ and after shitting my bathing suit, I swam to shore and refrained from going back in. There was no shark (they were just a-holes), but it has haunted me since. That said, I believe sharks are beautiful, and I would absolutely love to meet one in its natural habitat, peer into its eyes, and appreciate its soulful beauty…without getting eaten, of course.

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  10. When I first started reading I was taken back to when my grandmother took me and my sisters to the show for the first time. The theater was right on Main Street as you described. She took us to see Charlotte’s Web .I think it was a few years later when we saw Jaw’s.
    I also thought about my granddaughter playing in our pond last summer and singing “Baby shark” I had no idea what she was singing so my daughter had to explain that there is a kids show called “Baby Shark”.
    Glass dumb? Maybe not if it contains your favorite beverage. 🙂

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  11. I LOVE that your Grandmother took you to see Jaws, Grandmas are so cool. Mine let me stay up late one night babysitting and watch Mars Attacks, I was so terrified but loved being ‘naughty’ and staying up late so much that I sat through it all and didn’t sleep a wink!

    Liked by 1 person

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