The boys are back in town

What is it about sharks? I'm not sure of the clinical criteria for obsession, but I think I've got one. The Oak Bluffs Monster Shark tournament just took place on Martha's Vineyard, and with recent shark attacks off the coast of Florida and Texas, the shark buzz has begun. The New England Aquarium is featuring an IMAX movie called Sharks 3D. The Devil's Teeth is the literary thing to do. It's Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. Maybe it's just a natural summer phenomena - the weather gets warm, the beaches get crowded, invariable one or two unfortunate souls lose a leg or their life, and shark mania descends upon us all. And I get swept away with it every year.

Naturally it's on my mind, because tomorrow I'm going kayaking in Rockport, followed by a day of play at Horseneck beach on Sunday. My weekend leaves me vulnerable to an encounter with our toothy friends. Yeah, I know how slim the likelihood of that is. I've heard the stats. I could just as easily win the lottery apparently. But what people seem to brush over is the fact that someone always wins the lottery, no matter how slim the chances. Someone gets that ticket. So when you suddenly find yourself nestled in the jaws of a great white amidst the crowd of a heavily populated beach, would it really matter that your chances were so slim? Would it matter that you could just have easily been stuck by lightening? Not to me it wouldn't. I'll tell you, my luck's not great. If it's gonna happen to someone, I'd say the odds seem to favor that it's gonna happen to me. Statistically, that might not be true. But anecdotally, it sure as hell feels true. Especially on the crap days.

But what's so frustrating to me is that I'm at once totally revolted and mesmerized by sharks. I can't take my eyes off the newspaper photos from the Monster Shark showing. And for anyone else, that might be okay. But I'm afraid of sharks in a swimming pool, or in a lake. Rationality has little to do with my worldview. So for me to start watching Shark Week is asking for trouble. I can barely swim in fresh water and I have the scientific impossibility of a shark attack on my side there. In the ocean, there's no stopping my overactive imagination because there's possiblity fueling it, however improbable. I'm not sure my finely-wired brain will be able to handle the beach on Sunday. My head might just explode from the sheer, self-created terror.