Conversation with a shark

Two tourists honeymooning from Switzerland asked in relief:

“Should we worry about sharks?”

I promptly responded “no.

“However,” I added (somewhat to their dismay), “there are sharks in the water as we speak.” We were in the gulf about fifty feet from shore and four feet deep. We don’t have Great White Sharks like they do in Australia or recently of Chatham, Massachusetts in Cape Cod nor do sharks in general feed during the middle of the day.

“Most attacks occur in dusk and dawn when they are on the prowl.”

Don’t worry about these cownose ray you can see …

Then I added:

“You’re more likely to get stung by a bee or jelly fish or step in a shell.” We’ve yet to be stung by any jelly fish this summer, but we’ve already stepped on a couple bees which, despite appearing semi-drowned, still have enough wherewithal to prick the soft underside of your foot with a really good “ouch!”

That’s when I caught myself:

I have to speak clearly and deliberately and without any slang if I want them to understand what I’m saying. With that in mind, I tried to explain that a jelly fish was an American term for sea nettle and that if by chance they were to get stung, the best cure is to pour vinegar over it to sooth the burn.”

At this point I thought I was making perfect sense …

Only I wasn’t.

“We enjoy eating fish instead of meat, too. It’s much healthier” he responded, then proceeded to translate what he was saying, in German, to his wife – probably something to the effect: “Honey, he says we should season our fish with vinegar.” My wife cleared up the matter to some degree by swimming in and explaining what the German word for sea nettle, but at that point it may have been too late.

… It’s the unseen underwater swimmer you have to beware of.

The truth is that the conversation was cursed from the start –

You see, I had unwittingly bumped in to the tourist’s leg while swimming underway for an extended length of time – I can hold my breath for well over a minute – as part of a game of freeze tag with my sons.

Surfacing I saw his horror turn to relief.

He was just thankful I wasn’t a shark!

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