“WE’RE GONNA NEED A BIGGER BOAT” – by Alison Grambs

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Every summer Americans gather ’round the television set to take in the Discovery Channel’s annual broadcast of Shark Week – a week replete with shows focusing on, appropriately enough, sharks. From hour-long specials on the science of shark behavior (“that shark didn’t mean anything bad when it chewed that tourist up in South Africa. It was merely investigating…”) to extensive interviews with shark attack victims (“Um, yeah, dude, I looked down from my surfboard and saw these like, giant three rows of teeth and this like, eye as black as a doll’s eye coming up at me, dude, and I was like, dude, that thing just took my foot off!”) the arrival of Shark Week has always been something I eagerly anticipate. For I react to news involving someone getting mangled by a shark with the same enthusiasm some people react to hearing there is a sale on marijuana at the local drug dealer’s den. After all, my favorite movie of all time is “Jaws”; and I have the six foot Great White replica shark dangling over my bed to prove it.

This summer, however, I was not able to drum up my usual excitement for Shark Week – not even for the episodes that featured footage of actual shark attacks and gruesome photos of semi-masticated limbs. Such a lack of interest on my behalf was odd, and perturbed me to no end. Had I suddenly gone soft? Had the video feed of that recent fatal attack on that pretty young girl in Brazil robbed me of my lifelong ghoulish fascination with man-eaters (“No, no. They’re not maneaters. They are simply eating people by mistake because people look like injured seals when they’re flapping around on the surface of the water… injured seals wearing Neoprene diving suits and flippers, of course. But injured seals just the same.“)

And then it occurred to me. The reason I had a sudden lack of interest in Shark Week is because, different from last year, this year I know someone who was actually attacked by a shark. Trust me, bearing witness to anything so vicious changes a person from the inside out.

If you saw my husband, you’d never know he had been bitten by a shark.

In the middle of our livingroom.

It was Thanksgiving Day 2012. We were up early that morning, preparing to take our annual jaunt over to Central Park West with my parents to watch the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade live. A family tradition. But my husband, a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan, was a bit cranky that morning. As it was, our Thanksgiving Day plans meant he would be missing part of the game, and no matter how much I tried to explain that he’d simply have to sacrifice the game in order to honor the holiday properly with a real sit-down dinner (“Did the Native Americans and the Pilgrims watch TV during Thanksgiving??? Noooooooo.“) Tommy could not be consoled. HIs life was over, he declared. There was no reason to live anymore.

Yes, my forty-three year old husband stomped around our diminutive Manhattan apartment throwing what I can only describe as a child-like tantrum. Apparently, it wasn’t enough that we were taping the game and he could watch it later. And no, it wasn’t enough that in other years, his beloved wife had released him from Thanksgiving Day duty entirely so he could fly off to Dallas to watch, in person, the Thanksgiving Day game in Cowboys Stadium. None of that mattered. He had been betrayed, and I was going to pay the consequences by being forced to watch this grown man mope all day when we were supposed to be paying homage to our original settlers. Settlers who battled Small Pox, starvation, and, most likely, a lack of cable television.

“Grow up!” I shouted at Tommy as his tantrum grew exponentially and he threatened to protest this travesty of justice by not attending the parade with me.

More stomping, some cursing and a few tossed objects in the air followed in suit. And just when I was about to call one of those 1-800-WE-SUE-U numbers to hire a cheap divorce attorney, it happened.

Tommy, who is very tall, and happens to have a rather large head, made the mistake of relocating his tantrum from the center of our living room to the perimeter of our living room where, dangling from a heavy duty hook and line of extra-strength fishing line, hangs a very large, very wide set of very real jaws from the mouth of a once very alive, now very dead, very big Bull Shark.  The jaws were a gift from Tommy a few years ago, and while we both acknowledged that hanging them from our ceiling might, one day, result in the untimely death of someone, we just assumed that someone would be a house guest, not one of us.

So, there went Tommy’s giant head, crashing into the giant jaws of the Bull Shark. Hard. The silence was deafening as my injured husband stumbled back, clutching his forehead momentarily, and then releasing his grip to reveal a substantial amount of blood dripping from a substantially sized cut in his otherwise perfect forehead.

“ARE YOU OKAY?” I squealed, my voice registering somewhere between a concerned squeak and a stifled laugh.

No, Tommy was not okay. He had been bitten by a Bull Shark.

Out of what had to be hundreds of very large, very sharp teeth in that set of Bull shark jaws, one of them had managed to do enough damage that, for a moment, we thought Tommy might need stitches. But oh, how to explain to the already overwhelmed medical staff at the New York Hospital Emergency Room that we were there because my husband had been bitten by a shark… in our living room? We couldn’t take the risk of being tossed out, or tossed into the lunatic wing at Bellevue. Instead, Tommy did what a manly man does when attacked by a shark in his living room. He went out to CVS and purchased about five hundred totally unnecessary First Aid products and proceeded to whimper and moan all day about how much pain he was in.  Yes, according to my husband, the sufferings of the Native American community over the centuries pales in comparison to the pain he sustained on the day of that brutal indoors shark attack on Thanksgiving Day 2012.

As for me, I had to make that embarrassing call to my folks explaining that we’d have to watch the Macy’s Day parade on television because, well, “Tommy was bitten by a shark…” And that Mom would have to make sure to have bandages and disinfectant and a shrink on hand during  dinner just in case the millimeter- sized bite mark on Tommy’s forehead began oozing  weird pus – or he started experiencing a bout of fin-related PTSD.

So, yeah, I guess Shark Week drums up a bit of a bad memory for me now. And I can’t quite get as giddy about someone getting attacked by a shark as I used to because I know too well how quickly those monsters of the deep can snuff out a life (or an eyebrow)… in one’s own living room.  

Did I remove the Bull Shark jaws from our ceiling?  Hell, no!  If after what happened, the putz can’t learn to duck when he walks through that part of our living room, frankly, he deserves to get bitten again.  Did I remove the six-foot Great White Shark replica that hangs over our bed?  Hell, no!  As far as I’m concerned, we all have to die sometime.  If that Great White Shark falls onto our bed and takes us out in the middle of the night, so be it.  Quint went out like a man, and so shall we.

Oh, and before you feel all sorry for my husband, know this:  Tommy ended up getting his way.  He was allowed to watch the whole friggin’ Dallas Cowboys game during dinner that Thanksgiving.  Guess Mom and Dad felt sorry for him almost dying and all.

© Copyright 2013 Alison, All rights Reserved. Written For: Alison Grambs

6 Responses to ““WE’RE GONNA NEED A BIGGER BOAT” – by Alison Grambs”

  1. Bob Rumba says:

    Maybe you don’t need a bigger boat maybe her husband just needs a smaller head look at it this way he can fit in the Thanksgiving day parade but maybe that’s better for Mardi Gras I don’t know It depends on how big his head really is thanks again for a great story You have a great day you just made mine really great thanks Again

  2. Bob Rumba says:

    So now we’ve learned that : sharks live in nice Apartments and should be in the kitchen so they’re close the refrigerator so they don’t feel like that they have to eat anybody in the living room if therefore on a regular basis sharks wouldn’t eat you or anybody else. So that’s perfect the other thing is I’m sorry that your husband didn’t get to go to the Thanksgiving day parade because since he has such a huge head he Could fit into the parade perfectly not as good as Mardi Gras when you have a big head walks down the street but pretty good I think . Depending on how big his ihead is imaybe could be afloat like one of those big balloons like Mickey and Elmo just one other thing is floating down the street to wipe out windows And streetlights but otherwise I think that’s a good story because it is several stories in one thanks again and you have a great day . Because you just made mine thanks bye

  3. NANCY LOMBARDO says:

    IS IT AN APARTMENT OR A THEME PARK. I’M CONFUSED…EITHER WAY BE CAREFULL YOU GUYS.

  4. Carole Branagan says:

    Ali, This is the funniest one yet….I can visualize it perfectly!!!!!
    Luv, Carole

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