I’ve recently misplaced this book.
This book, pictured here with me, was given to me by one of my very best friends on my 24th birthday, nearly a year ago. This is a book I’ve read more times than I probably should have. This is a book that I loved and cherished and treasured. This is a book on shark anatomy. And I can’t find it anywhere.
If you know me more than semi-casually, you know I have a bit of an affinity for sharks. I wear shark t-shirts, I quote Jaws more than you’d expect a South American twenty-something to do, I scribble sharks on any surface that is made available to me. If you’ve ever had the privilege of working alongside me, you’ve probably been subjected to several bits of shark-related trivia that I’ll excitedly read out loud off the internet. So where’s this all come from?
I first saw “Jaws” as a very impressionable young child. It was a Spanish-dubbed, heavily-edited version that played on Colombian television and still it left a profound mark on my delicate psyche. I later bought it on video, which later became DVD, which later became a collector’s edition DVD and is very soon going to be a Blu Ray. That movie is an enormous part of my life, and absolutely wonderful from top to bottom. Now, I’ve already spoken about the way in which Steven Spielberg’s movies influenced me as a child, but “Jaws” was a different beast altogether. A massive, terrifying beast, with several rows of sharp teeth for shredding flesh, with black lifeless eyes. A monstrous, otherworldly creature that’s made all the more terrifying because it has the ability to actually hide in the water.
This initial exposure to sharks kicked off an extreme complex and multi-layered fascination for the animal that’s stayed with me through my adult life. On one hand, I am absolutely terrified of them, to the point where I still– still— think twice about getting into any swimming pool when it’s dark. This is an absolutely ridiculous, irrational fear, I can’t help being plagued with visions of a great white shark’s angry head bursting out of the water directly in front of me and chomping my entire torso off. On the other hand, I am awe-struck by these creatures and can’t stop watching shark programming or youtube videos pertaining to sharks. The fact that such a powerful, perfect killing machine actually exists outside of the mind of some demented science fiction or comic book writer is incredible to me. That this is a creature of nature, not a final boss of a Super Metroid game is truly a thing of amazement.
My mom told me once than during preschool, she’d often receive calls from concerned teachers telling her that I’d spend most of the recess sitting under a table, drawing sharks on my notebooks. Today, as an adult, I still scribble little shark figures wherever I get the chance, be it on a notebook or dry-erase board or the back of possibly-very-important work documents.
So sharks somehow became an important part of my life. I guess they serve as a constant reminder of the sheer power of nature, and the amount of fascinating and fucked-up things that populate our planet. And while I never want to meet one of these creatures face-to-face, I admire their very existence, and recognize my place in evolution as inferior to these pea-brained yet ferocious animals. And that shark anatomy book is absolutely one of the best birthday presents I’ve ever received. And now I can’t find it.
I’m fairly certain I lent it to somebody, possibly while intoxicated, and can’t remember exactly who. So I’m sending out this message to all of my friends: if you have my shark anatomy book, could you please give it back? There’s a hole in my bookshelf that longs for its rightful occupier… but is not half as big as the hole that’s in my heart. (?)
Listen to Morphine’s “Sharks” by clicking the following link. Feel the terror.