“We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Bandage”- 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. From hour-long specials on the science of shark behavior (“that shark didn’t mean to eat that entire South African family. It was merely investigating…”) to extensive interviews with attack victims (“Dude! It had eyes as black as a doll’s eyes and I was like, dude! that thing just took my foot off!”) the arrival of Shark Week has always been something I eagerly anticipate. In fact, I react to news of a local shark attack with pretty much the same enthusiasm meth addicts demonstrate when their local drug dealer has a sale. After all, my favorite movie of all time is Jaws; and I’ve got a bevy of movie memorabilia to prove it.

Over the past few years, however, my interest in Shark Week programming has diminished. Dramatically. Even the promise of an episode revealing gruesome footage of real shark attacks and the semi-masticated limbs of their unsuspecting limbs doesn’t suck me in the way they used to.

You see, everything changed for me the day someone I love got attacked by a shark. 

If you saw my husband, you’d never know he had been bitten by a shark. It was Thanksgiving Day 2012, and unlike the Pilgrims and Indians at Plymouth Rock in 1621, my husband and I were fighting. The issue of contention was the fact that, due to my family’s holiday plans, Tommy, a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan, was going to miss watching the Big Game on television. 

“What’s the big deal?” I’d replied, reminding him that a) he had gotten to actually GO to the game in Dallas the year before and b) we were recording the game.

No matter. Tommy simply could not be consoled. And for the next half hour or so, I was forced to watch my usually mature forty-something spouse throw what can only be described as an extremely juvenile tantrum. Stomping  around the apartment. Muttering under his breath. Shooting me dirty looks. Hissing a slew of four letter words that I’m certain the Pilgrims would not approve of. It did not matter to my husband that our ancestors had suffered far greater hardships back in 1621. Homesickness. Small pox. Inevitable starvation. Apparently, Tommy’s suffering was worse. More stomping, more cursing, and  more four letter words came at me. And just when I was about to toss Tommy’s special edition Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader Barbie doll out the window in a show of force, it happened…

Tommy, who happens to be quite tall, and happens to have a rather large head, made the mistake of moving 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 to me from Tommy a few years ago, and while we both acknowledged that hanging them from our living room ceiling might result in the untimely death of someone down the road, we just assumed that someone would be an expendable guest and happily went about hanging them.

So, there went Tommy’s giant head. Crashing into those very large, very sharp, very serrated teeth. For a moment, my husband did not move, nor did he curse. This was a bad sign. Then came the silence. Even more of a bad sign. Then the moaning followed by the awkward swaying to and fro of his body. Out of the dozens of large, sharp Bull shark teeth dangling from our ceiling, one of them had struck my husband in the forehead.

Part of me was horrified, (of course); but part of me was excited (of course). I mean, come on! I had just born witness to an actual shark attack. I thought back to everything I had learned during previous summers of Shark Week programming. Call 9-1-1. Demand an ambulance. Look for signs of shock. Stanch the bleeding. Ice any severed limbs. Contact the Discovery Channel to arrange for interviews. Hire an publicist.

As it turned out, there was, in fact, blood. To my disappointment, however, just a drop though. In fact, I draw more blood out of my own veins while shaving my legs every morning. Tommy’s shark bite didn’t warrant so much as a  bandage, although he did feel it necessary to purchase about five hundred over-the-counter ointments and salves from the corner drugstore regardless, just in case the wound ‘busted open’ and he was ‘in danger of bleeding out’.

Suffice it to say, Tommy survived the shark attack, rendering me inarguably unqualifed to put in that call to the good folks at Discovery Channel. Instead, the only call I got to make was the one to my folks in which I was forced to explain that we’d have to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on television, rather than in person, because, well, Tommy is injured. Alas, my parade viewing plans got ruined and Tommy got to watch the whole friggin’ Dallas Cowboys game like he wanted. (Guess Mom and Dad felt sorry for him almost dying and all.)

Now I realize that the fact that the fact that my husband was, in fact, attacked by a shark should have me tuning in to Shark Week like gangbusters all these years later. But the incident actually had the opposite effect on me. Truth is, I’m bitter. Thanksgiving Day 2012 was our one shot at getting on Shark Week. Lightning doesn’t strike twice, people, and the chances of my husband ever being attacked by a shark again, be it in the ocean or our living room, are pretty much nil. A

Three different abodes and five years later, those Bull shark teeth aren’t even on display anymore. Neither of us can bear to look at them. For Tommy, the mere sight of them causes PTSD. For me, the mere sight of them causes DGOSWPTSD (Didn’t Get On Shark Week Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.)  They’re crammed into a storage container on our terrace along with the air mattress we use for camping. The same air mattress that, oddly enough, deflated last week on our camping trip due to a small puncture wound in its casing. 

Hmmmmm. Wonder if the folks at Shark Week would want to investigate?

 

 

 

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