My wife and I live in the most amazing place. It's a mix of big city and beach living. It's a place where there are skyscrapers, public art and huge bridges, you can go out a get some of the best food you can imagine but you still occasionally have to stop your car to let wildlife pass. This place is Sarasota Florida, it's about an hour south of Tampa on I75 but it has a culture all its own. My favorite place in Sarasota is siesta key beach, it's been on the nation’s top 5 beaches list for a long time often in the #1 spot but it holds its own against anything the west coast, the Virgin Islands or Hawaii has to offer. The sand is crushed Quartz crystal and is as fine as baby powder. The best part of the beach though is away from the public access, about two miles north you will find a 1/8 mile stretch of beach that's protected by a sand bar 200 yards off shore. This sandbar is the coolest place! My wife and I have found all manner of wildlife there including a baby octopus, but it's also somewhere where I was the most terrified I have ever been.
Very quickly let me protect my manhood by saying I have experienced some intense things in my life, I'm in very good athletic shape and I am not inexperienced with violence. On that little sandbar though, I was a thirteen year old girl facing a monster under the bed. My wife and I were on the public beach and decided to take the long walk to the sandbar. The sun was low on the horizon and the tide was coming in strong but I decided to take a solo swim out to the sand bar to try and find some sand dollars, which we wanted to use for an art project. I left my wife on the shore and made the quick swim out to the sandbar, 200 yards isn’t really a challenge to me even though the water can run deep and fast between the sandbar and the shore sometimes. I spent about twenty minutes on the little bar collecting sand dollars and looking for cool marine artifacts to impress my wife with. I had my pockets filled to the brim and was about to start a return trip when out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of a HUGE dark grey shape near the surface between me and the shore. By the time I whipped my head to focus on the entity, it had vanished into the channel. One word filled my head "Shark". Now I am no coward and have swam with sharks in the past but that undefined shape scared the ever living shit out of me! What was worse, the sun was setting and the tide had already covered the sand bar in a fine layer of ocean. I was on land that was rapidly disappearing, the sun had just set and thanks to high school science class, I knew I had about 8 minutes until full dark set in. The absolute worst thing about this situation is that I was not alone.
Judging by the length and girth of the shadow I saw in the water there were only two options, bull shark or tiger shark, neither one was good, especially that most shark attack happen around dusk. Bull sharks are exceptionally terrifying and I had seen a few in my time living on the west coast Florida. Bull sharks are responsible for more attacks on humans than any other shark and are number three on the most dangerous sharks list. Bull sharks are strong, voracious eaters and extremely territorial. I was sure death or at least total dismemberment was in my future. I quickly wondered if my beautiful wife would still love me if I was only a torso. "Stop it!!!" You have to survive, people count on you! You are going to grow a pair of hairy meatballs and swim so fast across this channel that people will think they saw Jesus walking on water. "Ok 4 minutes left, oh shit, it's getting dark as fuck" I tried yelling to my wife and waving my arms so my wife could get help. She waves back and she smiles then blows me a kiss. "OMG woman I am about to be shark shit!!!" She can't hear me because of the wind and the distance. Ok I'm going to have to swim for it. The water had risen to my knees and I was worried that the bastard shark would swim right up on the sand bar a take me screaming into the deep blue. Every scene from all four jaws movies suddenly flashed thru my head and I almost lost all composure in complete abject terror! I decided to act before I had no options left. My wife was waving me back to shore, no doubt ready to go home, she was just starting to realize something was wrong.
I dumped all the shells out of my pocket; I wanted to be as aerodynamic as possible. I decided to use a technique I learned in martial arts class. I stilled my chaotic mind and pushed the fear away, I tried to wrangle my heart which was beating out of my chest. I created a bubble of pure ass kicking calm around myself and focused exclusively on my goal; which was a small part of the shore that seems a little closer than the rest and was a little downstream of the current. I took a divers stance, hoping to generate all the momentum I could. Here we go 1....2..... Suddenly a small piggy nose came up and broke the water’s surface in front of me. I was so shocked, I'm sure my heart skipped a beat "Sharks don't have snouts" "wtf is that"? Then I realized I had been afraid of a manatee... My man card has been pulled, I was so ashamed I didn't even take the time to play with my new would be friend, who looked at me with big sea cow eyes. Angry at myself I gathered up my dropped shells and swam back to shore. I got the shakes half way thru from the adrenaline but managed to make the swim without drowning or being eaten by rabid manatees. Then I realized I had to tell my wife about this whole endeavor. Luckily she still loves me despite my fear of bull manatees. Oh well, life goes on. Moral of the story is: sometimes a great imagination is not a positive thing.
Anyway the art project turned out great! and even though the danger was all in my mind, I still show people this on my wall and tell them I had to out swim a monster to retrieve them.