Friday, February 10, 2006

JERSEY SHORE (Part III)

Summer Of '84:
THE RAFT AND THE SHARK

Krista was always looking for ways to gross the rest of us out. One of her favorite ways to do this was to dig for sand crabs, put a helpless one in the palm of her hand, and then squeeze it to death. I can still see the blue, green, and yellow innards of the poor little scavengers splattered all over Krista’s palm. Disgusting.

It seemed that each of us had a memorable ‘shore quality’ about us. Take Cousin Jimmy, for example. Every year, Jimmy would go into the ocean with high hopes of jumping the waves and body surfing only to come charging out of the water with a crab attached to his big toe. There could be 100 people swimming around him, frolicking and splashing in the water with no trouble at all, and Jimmy would be the one the crab chose to claw.

One year, Jimmy found a 12”, dead baby shark floating in the water. At first, we brought it home to show the rest of the gang, and our parents, then threw it away. Later, we fished it out of the garbage pail and thought it would be fun to attach the miniature dead shark to a piece of fishing wire and pull it through the ocean, scaring unsuspecting swimmers. Looking back, I don’t think anyone ever fell for our trick. I think the most we ever got out of anyone was, “Hey, look at those kids pulling the dead baby shark with fishing wire.” Maybe the fact that it was ‘swimming’ on its side tipped them off.

As I mentioned earlier, my brother Jerry’s friend Freddy was not the greatest chick magnet that ever lived. I once caught him and Jerry laughing hysterically when they realized that the condom Freddy was carrying in his wallet had dried out. My mom overheard them and called Freddy, with more than a touch of sarcasm, a ‘real ladies man’. Back then, I didn’t know what a condom was, therefore, the fact that the condom had dried out before Freddy had a chance to use it was lost on me. I just remember that this little fact solidified the notion that Freddy was not lucky with the ladies. It wasn’t for a lack of trying though; I have to give Freddy that much credit.

One day, while on the beach, Krista was staring at Freddy as he slept on his beach towel in the high noon sun. She had this incredible smirk on her face. Freddy was sunbathing in a loosely fitting pair of swimming trunks. The swimming trunks had no lining, and Freddy wasn’t sporting underwear. This was the first time I ever remember seeing someone’s family jewels in the flesh. Of course, since Freddy was sleeping, Krista had to alert all of the females within a 25-foot radius to Freddy’s twins shimmering in the noonday sun.

It was during this particular week down the Jersey Shore that Krista and I decided to take our fateful raft ride beyond the ocean’s surf. It’s difficult to stay afloat on a raft while navigating the pounding waves, so we went out beyond the swelling of the waves. I remember bobbing up and down on the raft and feeling rather uneasy with the prospect of my feet dangling in the water, (I curse Steven Spielberg for the day he had his genius idea to film part of JAWS from the shark’s-eye point of view!). I recall that the water was dark and murky. There was no seeing beyond two inches of the water’s surface. There was no telling what was lurking beneath us!

Krista likes to make things interesting. She decided that it would be fun if we didn’t look back towards the shore. She preferred to stare in the direction of England, rather than keep dibs on where the lifeguard chair was, and didn’t have a care as to whether or not we were swimming between the two red flags, the legal swimming area while lifeguards are on duty.

There was no one else around us. We were just floating on my blue and yellow raft (I never bought the blue and RED one because I knew that the color red attracted sharks, and if you can’t tell by now, I have a terrifying fear of sharks). I was a bit scared, but I tried not to let on, as I knew this would egg Krista on, and perhaps she would do something to exacerbate my fears.

At one point, while staring towards England, we heard the lifeguards blowing their whistles. The whistling became more and more frantic. Krista advised me not to look back. Just keep staring forward. I looked at her and said, “Some jackass probably got sucked out to sea!” I then looked around me, but not back towards the shore. I remember thinking, well, if some idiot was sucked out to sea, then why can’t see them? We’re the farthest one’s out, so…

I turned around. Tons of people were gathered on the beach. All of them were staring in our direction. I hit Krista on the arm—“Hey! It’s us they are whistling at!” Krista laughed. I yelled, “Come on. Let’s turn around! We need to get back in!”

We turned around and began kicking. We couldn’t seem to get the raft to take us back in towards the shore. The harder we kicked, the farther we were being swept to the right. The ocean’s pull was too much for us to handle. The whistling was getting more and more frantic. Krista jumped off the raft. “Let go of the raft! It’s the only way to get in!” she claimed. I knew better.

“I’m not letting go of the raft! You’re supposed to stay on the raft when you get sucked out to sea!” I began to get frantic. I wanted to cry.

Krista and I were drifting apart. I let go of the raft only because I wanted to swim over to her, and I wasn’t getting anywhere on the raft. I reached Krista and began to tread water. I looked over to my right. We were heading right into the far end of the jetty; the jetty made of large, black, moss covered rocks. The image of the woman treading water in JAWS kept flashing in my mind; we were certainly far enough out to be in shark territory. I couldn’t help picking up that Krista thought the whole ordeal was amusing.

Something grabbed at my left foot—“SHARK!” I screamed. “SHARK! SHARK! IT HAS ME! SHARK! SHARK!”

I saw a young man’s head surface before me. “There’s NO SHARK! I’m a lifeguard! Take hold of this life preserver. I’ll take you back in!”

“I'm not going with you! Why did you grab my foot like a shark? Are you trying to scare me?” I inquired, rather anxiously.

“No! I’m trying to save you! Now, grab on to the raft!”

Krista already had hold of another lifeguard’s red life preserver-bullet. I was really close to fainting as the lifeguards pulled us in. By then, practically everyone who had been sunbathing and playing on the beach was cheering in the lifeguards as they rescued us from being pulled out to sea.

My of being eaten by a shark was swiftly replaced by my embarrassment at having to be rescued. I was the jackass. My embarrassment quickly turned into tears. I think I knew, in some way, that my tears would dissuade my mother from being mad at me, and would force her to cradle me in her arms with a warm beach towel. On another level, I knew the tears were genuine and that I was deathly afraid of ever trusting Krista again.

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Writing and photo ©2006 Marcy_Peanut. All rights reserved.

22 Comments:

Blogger mizfit said...

ur cousin Krista is the perfect receipe for trouble, i must say. no wonder u've had pretty adventurous days with her. must i add, don't be afraid of the shark? be afraid of Krista. be very afraid!!!

1:43 AM  
Blogger Mr. Althouse said...

Bravo! Captivating! It brought back a memory that I haven't thought about in a long time.

I was about 20 or 21 and attending San Diego State. I spent a lot of time at the beach (usually Mission Beach - right by the burned out rolloer coaster) - probably too much time there and not enough in class - but I digress. There were nasty rip currents at the time and I was on my friends boogie board.

Now, I knew about rips, and how to avoid them and get out of them. I had heard about them, but never been sucked in by one. I went out fairly far to get the larger swells when I noticed that I could no longer catch the breakers. It was then that I realized just how far out I was - and moving fast.

I paniced, paddling frantically directly into the rip. What I should have been doing is paddling parrallel to the beach until I got clear of the rip, but I was frozen by fear. I also didn't want to lose my buddy's bogie board. Just when I was beginning to think of a plan "B" (wait for rescue) the lifeguard showed up and towed me in behind his "surf board" (not an actual surf board, but they look the same to me).

When we got close to shore and out of the rip, he told me to let go and he went on in to his station. I was a tired as I could ever remember, my heart was beating out of my chest from both fear and exhaustion. I was about half a mile south of where I went in and still had to walk all that way back to my friends up the beach. They knew nothing about what happened and I didn't volunteer anything - my macho was gone.

BTW: Thanks for the email!

:-'}

~Mike

3:17 AM  
Blogger L>T said...

great reading. you Eastcoasters get all the great shark tales! We always lived around creeks when I was a kid. The worst was coming out w/a leech attached to a sensitive area. Or putting your hand under a rock an angrying a crawdad. No sharks :(

I found a giant sucker fish once, when I was 6 & my mean older sisters told me was an illegal salmon. I ran home hiding it under my shirt. I was so proud. I thot i had dinner for the whole family. My da threw it in the cows water trough where it lived for a year, until the shed caught on fire & someone scooped it out in a bucket & threw it up on the burning roof.

funny, I'd forgotten all about that. thanks for the memories!

10:43 AM  
Blogger Fred said...

I hope there's more in this series. I'm enjoying the story.

12:19 AM  
Blogger uglygirl said...

you know what? i always thought sharks were colour blind!

9:27 AM  
Blogger Miladysa said...

Beautiful photograph - did you take it?

I feel as though I was there after reading this, I know I was not though because that Krista would have been shark meat! :)

Poor, poor crabs :(

3:39 PM  
Blogger Bhakti said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:06 PM  
Blogger Miladysa said...

Is it possible to view the other two photographs?

1:27 PM  
Blogger L>T said...

A sucker is a bottom feeder w/ a mouth like a leech or maybe the fish that sticks on to sharks(??).
Not at all like a Salmon. i was a naive kid. :P

MORe stories, please!!

8:57 PM  
Blogger marcy_peanut said...

Thank you SO much for your comments and for your encouraging words, but the truth is, I can't PHYSICALLY type too much right now. It hurts too much :(.

I have to respect the fact that my body needs some rest.

But, don't give up on me!!
Before you know it...there will be a new post!!!!

:)

9:00 PM  
Blogger Mr. Althouse said...

Happy Valentines Day Marcy!!

~Mike

2:06 AM  
Blogger flatlander said...

That story was WAAAAY better than Baywatch. I don't suppose the lifegaurd looked anything like David Hasselhoff?

9:56 PM  
Blogger His Majesty said...

By royal decree, your story is henceforth part of the official doctrine of the First Church of Tax Exempt Status.

I can do this because I'm a freelance monarch.

12:21 PM  
Blogger Salbert said...

Ya know, you should write your own memior. A Million Little Beaches! I can see it now!

6:26 AM  
Blogger Gyrobo said...

I have a theory involving jellyfish and New Jersey.

It ends badly.

10:51 PM  
Anonymous Jane Rowe said...

Brought back a lot of memories of my own. Memories which I never want to be reminded of again.

Cheers sweetie!

2:27 AM  
Blogger Dubya said...

Now that's good storytellin'. I found it compellin' all the way through. I 'specially liked the amusin' part 'bout tryin' ta figure out who the lifeguards wuz whistlin' at an not seein' anyone in front of y'all. Dang, that wuz good.

On a side note, d'ya think this Krista would be interested in a Cabinet post?

10:50 PM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Marcy - dropping by to say hi. Miss your writing.

Another splendid piece. I got caught in an undertow once in Hawaii. I panicked and the next thing I knew, I was out of it. Who says panicking is a bad thing? ;)

10:15 PM  
Blogger Salbert said...

Marcy, do we get to hear more of your memior

10:58 PM  
Blogger Gyrobo said...

From the depths, I come! To the store, I go! By the ocean, I fly!

11:35 PM  
Blogger marcy_peanut said...

SALBERT: Yes, of course I will share more memoirs with you. I am currently writing a bit about my stint working in a bakery at the age of 16. I'm working kinda slowly on it...only typing when my arm doesn't hurt too badly.

Please be patient! I promise to share more of the silly side of my life with you in the future!

Marcy_Peanut.

PS I'm glad that you like are enjoying my memoirs! ;)

4:59 PM  
Blogger Salbert said...

Marcy, me and Dubya aren't the same people, I just live by "Suck-ups get far". And besides, my blog doesn't allow anonymous comments because certain events involving anaymous users.

7:37 PM  

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