My friend Sarah asked me the other week if I had ever been skinny dipping and I realised I hadn't. For some reason, the jaw-dropping look of shock on her face told me that this was possibly something I may be in the minority on. I guess the opportunity has never really presented itself. In particular, Sarah was talking about skinny dipping in the sea and I swiftly told her that's unlikely to ever happen.
When she asked "why not?", my exasperated response was "Haven't you seen Jaws?!", which features an opening sequence of someone stripping off, diving into the water and promptly being torn to pieces by a man-eating shark. You see, my parents made the mistake of letting me see Jaws at the age of 10 and apart from an extremely brief chest-high dip in crystal clear water in Antigua about seven years ago, I haven't been in the sea since.
Even now, when people ask me to name the scariest film I've ever seen, I answer immediately with Jaws. This has often provoked a laugh, followed by an "oh God, you're serious?" There is something about the power of that film. No other film has provoked such a strong reaction in me and created a pathological fear of something in the way Jaws did. So, I guess that means Steven Spielberg is responsible for two major things in my life - my crazy desire to make films instead of settling down and getting a "real job", as well as my fear of the sea.
Before you mention it, I have indeed heard all the stories of how you're more likely to get hit by a car than bitten by a shark - and my response to that has been "that's because sharks don't live on land and humans don't spend all their time in the sea!" Of course, I know the statistics make it unlikely - but in my mind, I don't really feel like taking the risk because it would be just my luck that I'd be that one in a million that Bruce decides to nibble on.
Back on the subject of skinny dipping, Sarah mentioned the time she had to use communal baths in Japan - which is rather like a broad-daylight skinny dip with random strangers. Apparently, one girl was so self-conscious about this that she had to wear togs every time - and yes, that would have been me! Sarah told me I have to promise to go skinny dipping one day and do it somewhere that I shouldn't be so that there's an element of danger.
I have to say, it was amusing that the next day a story about a skinny-dipping Canadian tourist bitten by a Katipo spider hit the news. I sent it to Sarah and said "there, that's why I don't go skinny dipping!" although she did correctly note that sleeping naked on the beach was how he got bitten, meh...cause-and-effect I say.
Perhaps one day I'll have the confidence to strip off and take a dip when the opportunity presents itself - but one thing's for sure, it won't be in the ocean.
Have you ever been skinny dipping? Are you scared of the ocean or do you love being in the sea?
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