South Main Muse: Jamie Miles
My 15 year-old son called, “I’ve got a big one.”
On the beach, he fumbled into his fish-fighting harness, a royal blue repelling, PVC chastity belt. A small crowd gathered; mothers, granddads, toddlers, some cute girls who walked down the beach in bikinis without care. Younger types still years away from worrisome tugs on bathing suit bottoms in futile attempts to cover rear ends suffering effects from decades of exposure to gravity.
For an hour my son, the snared beast and onlookers wandered eastward along the coastline. I asked,“How far out is it? Have you seen anything? Could it be a ray?”
The ray question sent him over the edge.
“MOM. I don’t KNOW!”
I gave him the “I gave birth to you” combined with “That is no way to talk to an adult, much less your mother” look.
He stared. “Mom. Please. You know how you get.” I guess referring to me freaking out in situations I perceived a bit stressful.
My mother-in-law remarked, “It feels like someone’s in labor.” I didn’t know nothin’ ‘bout birthin’ babies; but by now, I was powerful thirsty. I looked up and one of the young bikini-clad gals pulled something down the beach. A cooler!
More time passed with nothing but dark water. The cooler mysteriously disappeared and the constant banter from a Tallahassee woman who in two hours shared every minute detail of her life since the onset of menses, wore me paper thin. She divulged every intimacy, except what I most wanted to hear. An offer of a drink from the cooler her daughter had hauled through the sand.
Finally, a beautiful creature the color of Creme Brule with dark caramel marbling emerged. A nurse shark. Everyone squealed. A docile giant, it was like hooking your neighbor’s 200 lb. yellow Lab. Though this one made loud grunting noises. I guess he was miffed at being hauled 300 yards onto scratchy sand without so much as an offering of a cool beverage from lady with the cooler. (Know how that feels buddy.)
Looking at that poor big lug of a Lab laying on wet sand, those huge gill slits laboring in and out, once again I knew how he felt. Like I was swimming, still yards from the wall gasping for oxygen. After a quick photo session, a few powerful swooshes of his tail propelled the big, beautiful caramel fish out to sea in seconds. Plenty of strength left.
Looking down the beach a half mile from a drink, I was plumb tuckered out.
On the walk back, pride filled my insides. I rested in the peace of being a mom old enough to have a teenage son crazy for sharks. Throwing my arm about his shoulder, we trudged homeward through the sand. With only one…maybe two very confident tugs on my darned bathing suit bottom.