Shark Week

Better get mako?
To the 8-year-old me, Shark Week was second only to Christmas, and even at that, it was a loose second, in the highlights of my year. Hell, Christmas is a day, Shark Week is a week! It cooled me off so many a hot summer afternoon. Splashing down in the blue with the makos, blues, tigers, hammerheads, and great whites... with only one of those flimsy bird cages for protection, was the best part of any summer... second only to fireworks. But then again, the 4th of July is also a day. Shark Week is a week.

Why did I like sharks? Because it rhymes with Mark. In fact, I was often called "Mark the Shark" growing up, but this is not the only reason. I think it's because sharks are mindless eating machines who just "swim, and eat, and make baby sharks"... and you know, you gotta respect that. You better. When I was a teenager, you could say I too was a mindless eating machine, so maybe there's some affinity there. The point is, sharks are the very embodiment of the word "predator" ...besides the actual Predator. They are probably the most macho animal in existence, and certainly in the sea. Hoo-rah! Burp.

So if we could catch it, we watched it. If we couldn't see it, we taped it. One portrait of how cool this programming block was to a kid like me back somewhere around '95, involved just a remote control sinking to the bottom of the ocean with a bite taken out of it. "Just when you thought it was safe to turn on the TV..." the caption read. In short, this was TV so intense, I was having second thoughts about going in the plastic pool.

If all the girls in the 90's vowed to become marine biologists after Free Willy, all the boys got into it because for one week every summer, some guy was on TV, in a cage, underwater, poking tracking devices into sharks, taping sharks feed, feeding sharks, or being fed to sharks. It was like watching Jaws without the boring parts. A bunch of people go out on the water, you see them from underneath paddling on their boards in silhouette, someone says "I never saw it coming," and then a dash of red food coloring rolls up the screen in the water. "Whoa! I can feel that in my arm!"

Of course sharks aren't just killing machines, and dorky boys like me actually did find the sciency stuff interesting, like how sharks can't stop swimming or else they die, or how sharks have been around since the time of the dinosaurs, or how they can sense a drop of blood a mile away, or how sharks in a feeding frenzy will bite anything, even themselves (which I found amusing). I learned a lot from Shark Week, and I already had my survival plan ready should I ever come face to face with one. It began and ended with a good punch in the snout. That being said, scrawny me wouldn't have had a chance. 

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