Water Lessons by Deb Eileen

A few years ago we traveled to Thailand with friends. We stayed at this tiny resort, small huts on the beach, no cars, not much to do but lie on the beach and play in the water. After a few days I began to notice something. When I would go out into the water with my friend Seth, he would constantly change position. I would move one way and then he would. After further observation I noticed a pattern, he would always position himself between me and the shore. Even further observation led to the awareness that it wasn’t just me- he would do it with everyone- his wife, my husband, strangers, small children.

Can you guess why?

Bonus points for anyone who correctly guessed that a childhood trauma involving the movie Jaws had resulted in a significant shark phobia. This often wasn’t an issue as Seth lived in the midwest where sharks were rarely sighted. However, in Thailand there was the possibility of sharks. Thus Seth’s solution was simple. As long as there was someone further out in the water the shark would attack that person first, giving him adequate time to swim to shore. He didn’t need to be the fastest swimmer- he just needed to be a bit faster than the slowest swimmer. He felt a bit bad (or at least expressed some remorse) that he was willing to sacrifice us, his loved ones, to the man eating shark- but the only other option was to stay on the beach.

Moral of the story? If there is something you are afraid to try- remember you don’t have to be the best- you just have to be a bit better than the worst person.


If you are swimming in shark infested waters and you see an early 40’s guy, fair skin, shaved head with a Chicago accent who keeps positioning himself between you and the shore- you’re bait. Watch out.

What are you afraid of?

12 Replies to “Water Lessons by Deb Eileen”

  1. I’m not so skilled at surfing and I’m afraid of getting pounded by the waves, but that moment where I’m standing on the water flying towards shore is worth whatever it takes to get past the breakers and try again.
    And for proof that sharks don’t have to stop the party, Google Bethany Hamilton.

  2. I love the story of Bethany Hamilton. I remember hearind about her when the event happened. I think Seth would argue that chivalry is a land based concept and that in the water it is every man woman and child for themeselves. : )

  3. Wow, that’s almost funny. Personally, I’m so afraid of water I wouldn’t have to worry about sharks because they could never get me on the land! Though I love the ocean. You just can’t get me within 20 feet of it.

  4. ALMOST funny?! Maybe it’s just me being a Floridian, but I think it’s hilarious! Be sure to tell Seth that I’ve seen sharks in the water from a low-flying plane, swimming in schools right next to waders, and the people had no idea. More to the point, for him, the sharks were scattered throughout the people. Sharks BETWEEN people close to shore and people farther out. So, really, he’s SO not safe 😀

    My shark rules? Don’t wear yellow, don’t bleed, don’t swim with dogs, and avoid looking like food. Oh, and anything over your knees is deep enough for a shark.

  5. Sigh… I knew this would come to light at some time or other. What can I say.. it’s true. I think that a shark would find Eileen much, much more delicious and refined and if it takes less energy to get to the table… 😉

    Kristy, thanks so much for the extra info. Now I’ll have to be sure there people to sides of me, too.

    Mia, those are prepaid tickets… We can’t cancel now!

    Katie… try to see the good in people… I’m just giving others a chance at a life changing experience before me. I actually am rather chivalrous, opening doors and giving up my seat on public transportation. I just wish more women (and men that I do it for) would say thank you.

    And just to expand on this – it’s not just of sharks. I have a phobia of any deep water I can’t see the bottom of. It can be a lake or even a really deep pool and still get the heebie jeebies. I’m an excellent swimmer and the only thing in my neighborhood to do when growing up was go to the pool a block a way or light smoke bombs in between the storm doors and regular doors and then ring the doorbell, running away. The 12 foot deep end of the pool held horror for me, especially during night swims.

    I also freak over the thought of bears and thus rarely hike around where we live. Since Eileen and the dogs found one in their neighbor’s yard which is further down the mountain than we are, I even get worried out in the backyard after midnight.

    I do take some solace in that my phobias are of two, large, carnivorous animals and these seem like “legitimate” phobias to me.

    Now, if I can just talk my wife out of going camping…. Might as well hang up a sign.. Bears – all you can eat buffet! No waiting.

  6. First of all it’s nice seeing that someone other than her father gets held up on her petard. Sorry it was Seth, as next to my daughter he is my favorite liberal.

  7. Boy, if Tish reads all of this, she’s going to be in trouble! (because of the phobia-transfer issue she posted about) I am afraid of sharks. Also bears, snakes, earthquakes, car accidents, on-foot accidents…anything that could kill me or the people I love. I nearly cancelled our summer vacation to British Columbia last year because my aunt told me there were cougars in the area. Turned out the cougars were rare, but it was bear season and we were living on the mountain. I embarrassed the heck out of my husband by making us all wear bear bells at all times, but I just didn’t buy the “they won’t bother you if you don’t bother them” way of thinking.

    Toronto is pretty safe from most of these things, (except the car and pedestrian accidents) but I suppose the smog is slowly killing us.

    Great subject, great post. I may never swim in an ocean again, though, esp due to Kristy’s post!


  8. Good point, Danielle: Tish, do NOT read my post tomorrow or you’ll never get over another bridge in your life.

    BTW, Seth, I always hold open doors, for men and women, young and old, and I make a point to say thank you when it’s done for me, but I have noticed that I rarely get one when I do it. When I’m feeling particularly cranky I yell “You’re welcome!” after them. One guy at Disney World came back and apologized profusely, embarrassing hell out of me. And yet I continue to do it. 🙂 


  9. We have no ocean in Vermont and last I heard, there were no lake-dwelling sharks. Phew. When I do go swimming in Maine, I’m too busy just trying to stay alive because the water is so damn cold to be afraid of sharks. Jellyfish are another story… They terrify me.

Comments are closed.