One time, when I was fifteen, I single-handedly saved my entire family, and about seven thousand other families (this is a general number), from what has been scientifically proven (this hasn’t been scientifically proven) to be the only great white shark ever to brave the Galveston coast (there’s no way this shark was a great white). Seriously (not seriously). They brought out biologists and people with beakers and dudes in lab coats and Australian surfers and Steve Erwin, rest his soul, to verify. (The only person actually allowed to consult with me was a lifeguard).
It had to be August, because the water was very warm. Bath-water warm. Tourists dotted the pristine Texas coast (vagrant-frequented Texas coast), unaware that they would soon be in the sights of a twenty-five foot (three foot) great white shark (sand shark. The lifeguard said it was a porpoise, but it was a shark. Probably not a great white. Either way is terrifying. You know how I feel about dolphins).
My family and I were out in the water, me facing east, staring into the vast expanse of the Gulf of Mexico (trying to figure out if I could swim to one of the oil rigs. I can’t. Don’t try it. It’s farther than it looks).
Between me and the gulf, my mother, sister and brother stood facing me (“Sure, Jen. Try to swim out there. It would be good exercise.” My mother has long been a proponent of ‘good exercise’. Apparently, her version of ‘good exercise’ is swimming away from man-eating sharks in a violent scramble of blood and tears and fear for your life).
Clouds rolled in like furious fists, the wind picked up and the sky blackened (nope). About a foot from me, just inches from my family (fifteen feet from me, several feet, and probably a safe distance, from my family) a great white dorsal fin slowly parted the surface of the water, swimming parallel to the shore (this actually happened. But it was probably a sand shark. But it could have been a great white. I can’t be sure. I’m not a marine biologist. Sue me).
“Shark.” I firmly stated, loud enough for all of the swimmers to hear, but calm so as not to provoke mass hysteria. “Ladies and gentlemen, there is a shark very near our vicinity. Everyone stay calm and slowly move to the shore. Sharks are attracted to creatures that look like prey, so walk calmly to the coast and do your best to not thrash around and look like a wounded seal.”
(Ok. When I saw the fin, I freaked out and froze in place. I pointed to the fin and tried to scream SHARK! VERY SCARY SHARK! HOLY CHRIST SHARK! GET THE EFF OUT OF THE WATER OR WE’LL ALL DIE IN A HORRIBLE BLOOD BATH! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD GET YOUR SEAL-LOOKING ASSES OUT OF THE WATER! But what came out was this: “Sh sh sh sh sh sh sh …. Sh sh sh sh sh … sh sh sh sh… Sh sh... Sh” and I was whispering. My mother saw that something was amiss and asked me what was wrong. I said, “shark” like Rainman. A quick visual check from my mom confirmed that I didn’t have ocean madness, there was a shark, and we got out.)
After valiantly rescuing thousands of people (I alerted roughly four) I confidently walked up to the nearest sheriff (my mom made me go talk to the lifeguard and I still had braces) and told them how I had seen a vicious creature of apocalyptic proportions trying to use its million-year-old predator’s brain to feed on the beach goers. (“I’m pretty sure I saw a shark? It was out in the water.” Yikes). He thanked me profoundly (“I’m too busy putting on this sunscreen and drinking this Gatorade. What you saw was a porpoise) and I was awarded a medal of honor. (“Huh? Did you say something about a jelly fish? Here’s some meat tenderizer. It stops the sting”).
You’re welcome, Galveston.