One of my most vivid childhood memories is not walking along the beach in Cape Cod when I was about four. I say not walking because I refused to allow my feet to touch the ground, after seeing the myriad little air holes that snails buried beneath the sand left in the wake of the receding tide.
Snails! Beneath the sand! Snails that could touch me!
I recall shrieking and raising my feet as high as I could away from the invisible sand monsters below me, while my parents each grabbed an arm and dangled me between them.
This post at Notes from the Trenches just shook free this and other memories tied to my fear of fish.
Yeah, I know.
Despite my uncharacteristic affection for spicy tuna rolls, I don’t much care for sea creatures. I don’t like looking at them, I don’t like smelling them, I don’t like being too close to them. To this day I am reluctant to jump in the lake across from my mother’s house, even on a sweltering day like today, for fear that something might touch me. Something cool and slimy. Something alive. Something with gills. Because if one touches me…well, then. You know what could happen.
I’ll go in, eventually, but I don’t enjoy it the same as if I were swimming in a nice, crystal clear, fish-free swimming pool.
Oddly though, I like the aquarium. There’s a lot to be said for plate glass.
The great irony of my life is that my mom had to go ahead and marry a fisherman years later. Christopher is a guy who catches crab and planks shad for a living. A guy who used to gut fish on our kitchen counter during my extra-squeamish teen years. He even once dumped a pile of fresh shad roe into my high school girlfriend’s mitten. Like ohmigooooood, like your mom’s boyfriend is like soooooo weird to put fish eggs in my MITTEN.
Last week at the beach, Chris returned from the shoreline with a small black mussel that he placed in my daughter’s hand.
Far from freaked out, she was smitten.
“Baby animal!” she squealed, with the same delight as if this button-sized shell contained a kitten or a bunny.
She pet it and she kissed it and then clutched it tightly in her palm so that she could bring it back to its home in the water.
In some ways, I am delighted that Thalia is not like me.