If I Had $500,000 For Every Shark…

A Geezer’s Notebook, By Jim Foster

Every now and then a weird item shows up in the morning news. Usually it is about someone from the Ozark Mountains who was spirited away by aliens and re-appeared a year later with a foot-long probe sticking out his or her bum. These little spots (which I suspect are made up by bored reporters on slow news days) are used to fill spaces caused when an article is too short. Or even more likely, when an ad is pulled because the local fuzz raided Miss Lucy’s House of Massage and hauled Lucy and a half dozen topless ladies away.

An Australian lady is suing the City of Sydney for a half million dollars or billabongs — whatever the Aussies call their primitive form of currency, after the city’s aquarium tank suddenly exploded. Several thousand gallons of water swept over her along with a number of God’s toothier creatures that were soon flopping and slithering all around her. Apparently our Waltzing and Waterlogged Matilda failed to see the fun in her unplanned addition to the afternoon’s shark menu and has been under the care of a psychiatrist ever since.

I can see how this could be fairly upsetting for someone who lacks a sense of adventure. (This from a man who once saw a snapping turtle and had to be put under sedation until the lake was drained and Tommy the Turtle shipped to the Big Curve Acres Game Farm.)

In fairness, I have no doubt her sudden bath was a bit traumatic. It’s bad enough to be swept across the floor, down a flight of stairs and out to sea, but to have man-eating sharks invade your underpants must be a bit unnerving. Plus, we have no idea what else was in that tank. There could have been moray eels, ptarmigans, or even the dreaded Lake Simcoe sunfish lurking in there.

I must admit I am not fond of swimming in the great outdoors. There is something disconcerting about dog paddling in water when the possibility exists that something else is in there too— especially if that something else wants to eat you.

I remember as a child seeing a water snake. It frightened me so badly they had to drain the pond. (Not because of what was in there originally, but what seeped from my shorts during the encounter.) Later it turned out to be a stick and a small one at that. But I wasn’t going to tread water while my friends flipped through a copy of ‘Bone-Crushing Reptiles of Ontario and other Monsters of the Deep’ to see what was sizing me up for dinner.

I suppose a half-million billabong settlement will help ease the lady’s pain. If nothing else it will make a fair dent in her medical expenses. Her psychiatric bills must be enormous. And no doubt the poor dear could use a few extra shekels to cover the replacement cost of her underpants. She likely had to throw them out. I mean she couldn’t just rinse them out and put them back on could she? They’d be overflowing with memories of that tragic day when something other than Crocodile Dundee was interested in her pants.

Unfortunately, things will soon get worse for the poor lady. Once Australians figure out why the water in the toilet flushes the wrong way, it won’t be long before they get electricity and someday in the distant future, TV movies. Can you imagine what will run through this woman’s mind every time Sydney-TV shows ‘Jaws’? They will have to put her away. I only saw the movie once and I can’t walk by Bounty Fish and Chip Store without pulling a paper bag over my head. What a paper bag is supposed to do to ward off a shark attack is a little fuzzy at the moment, but it can’t do any harm.

It is amazing how one traumatic event can change a person’s life forever. I doubt this woman will ever visit Sea World again. I know I wouldn’t go near the place. If she does, she will probably have herself sealed in a solid steel shark cage, although I don’t recommend that either. The shark in ‘Jaws’ took a big chomp out of a steel cage narrowly missing the fleshier parts of Richard Dreyfuss. The Australian lady might be better off waiting on the parking lot until the tour guide hollers the all-clear through the front door.

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