Extra large floating oasis that seats six to eight, has cup holders, and an anchor — $139.
One can spray sunscreen — $8.95.
Overhearing conversation between a woman and her husband, who is about to take six kids under the age of 10 out into the ocean on extra-large floating oasis — Priceless.
"Do you have your cell phone?” I hear the mother say as she sprays her husband’s back with sunscreen a few yards away. It is early in the week of Spring Break. The sun is shining. The breeze is heavenly. And I have firmly planted myself in a chair, my toes nicely dug into the sand, when the light wind drifts the nearby conversation my way.
“Cell phone? Why do I need a cell phone out in the ocean?” asks the husband. I peek from my semi-consciousness to see his wife standing there, one hand on hip, the other firmly gripping the can of sunscreen in mid spray.
“I don’t know...,” I hear her say. She sighs. “If you see a shark or drift out so far and need to be rescued? Just take your phone.”
He laughs. He shouldn’t have.
“Fine,” she says in that matter-of-fact way that everybody knows, in translation, means the exact opposite. “Don’t take your phone. But if you get eaten by a shark, don’t call me.”
A few minutes later we watch across the beach as six kids and the freshly sunscreened dad push the floating oasis out into the choppy surf. Dad was only using one hand, though. The other was sticking high up in the air so as to keep the cell phone clutched in his other hand dry.
My first thought was, “Great, he listened to his wife.” My second thought was, “I wonder what cell service they have — I haven’t been able to get cell service since we got here.” And my third thought was, “I hope he really doesn’t get eaten by a shark.”
That is one of my most feared fears — sharks. For that reason, I don’t swim in the ocean or in ponds.
“I am pretty sure there are no sharks in grandmama’s pond,” my cousin would tell me when we were young. “Have you ever seen a shark in grandmama’s pond?” I would ask her. No. “Have you stared at grandmama’s pond 24 hours a day, 365 days a year?” I would argue. No. So technically there could be a shark in grandmama’s pond, you’ve just never seen it? Hmmm?
I think I made my point.
Every other year or so you hear tale of someone falling asleep on a pool float and drifting out a mile or so into the ocean. Just the thought sets my heart racing. Forget starvation, dehydration, hypothermia or sunstroke, what about the sharks?
According to sources I have found, sharks don’t mean any harm unless they’re hungry. For some reason, this isn’t much comfort to me. Still, I have learned a few things you should do if you want to avoid being attacked by a shark.
First, if you see a shark circling — get ready to fight. Gauge its eyes out or hit it in the nose, if you can. This can stun the shark and maybe it will swim away. Don’t play dead or asleep! It makes the shark think it has won. Sharks see contrast well so don’t wear bright colors like yellow or orange. And don’t wear shiny jewelry in the water — sharks might think they are fish scales and go in for a snack.
I look out to the ocean at the floating oasis bobbing in the waves, dad firmly planted on one side while the six kids bounce around him. No sharks in sight.
Mom, on the other hand, is sitting in her beach chair, head back, looking as though she might be asleep. Is that a yellow swimsuit she’s wearing? And jewelry?
Good thing she didn’t go out on the float with them. Good thing sharks don’t come up on the beach or they’d head right for her.
They don’t come up on the beach ... do they? Have you watched the beach 24 hours a day, 365 days a year? I think I’ve made my point.
Contact columnist Mandy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.