Posts Tagged ‘bite’

“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?

 

 

 

“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.