I know you think you’re a dolphin, but I’m telling you, you’re a shark.
Most humans think they are dolphins. The ones who say they are sharks mean, “I’m on the prowl and I am relentless in a sexy way.” They are probably lying about this. People who are actually on the prowl and relentless don’t need to tell everyone they are like sharks. They just kick your ass.
But back to you: you are actually a shark. Think about it: how cuddly are you? You think you are cuddly, and clever, and peaceful, and intuitive. Ninety-nine percent of the time, be honest: you are none of those things.
I’m relying on a few pieces of research here to tell me about you. In the last month, I have watched about twenty minutes of “Jaws” (I was interrupted) and an hour of “Jaws III” (I came in late). From these two excerpts, I’ve learned that sharks make great villains. You can’t see where they are coming from. When they attack, it’s basically for no reason, and they get you and they disappear. This very nearly describes the denouement of my failed relationships, both romantic and platonic. When things go wrong, the issues appear suddenly and tear the thing apart with carnivorous zest.
I learned from these films that people are constantly underestimating sharks. Here’s this massive animal, famous for its size and vigor, and the first thing people always want to do is hold a meeting. They want to float out in a boat that is about the same size as the shark, but floats lower in the water. Someone might even be moved to try to inject Herr Shark with a dose of some somnambulant drug. The ideas for how to deal with the shark become even lamer with the subsequent sequels, I assume, although you should recall I’m relying on data from only “Jaws” and “Jaws III.” People are constantly underestimating you, too, aren’t they? Haven’t you recently had a ridiculous argument with someone (let’s guess your sibling, significant other) that led you to burst out with some statement so aggressively absurd that you couldn’t fall asleep for wondering what mysterious ugliness overpowered your brain? In “Jaws III” this underestimation finally leads people to actually climb into the holding tank with the captured shark and try to pet it and resucitate it. Eventually, this leads to problems that oddly resemble my last car trip with my sister. Confined to a small area, my fury awakened unexpectedly and… well, you know.
You may say, on a good day, that you are enlightened. Think back without the rose-colored glasses, though. When someone cut in front of you while driving, did you relax and chirp along on your way, swooping down along the road like a dolphin would in the current? You didn’t. I know this for sure. You didn’t understand, deep in your cellular structure, that we are all connected, and that the person who cut ahead of you as if they had never been introduced to the concept of turn-taking and clearly thought that their time was way more important than yours, this person was actually as much you as you were yourself, and so it did not matter who went first or second, it was all completely the same thing. Really this was not you. You wanted to grab that person with your teeth by his or her jugular and shake them until they were pale. You probably did not do this. I hope you did not. You just wanted to.
Are you intuitive? Do you find the answers to your questions and problems just suddenly and when you are in a sweet haze of relaxation? You might be more like a dolphin. I’m more like a shark. The worse I feel, the more ready I am to swim dully in circles until I get hungry enough to kill something. About twice a year I am intuitive. The rest of the year I am a shark.
I know that sometimes you feel smart. Like if you wanted to communicate through brainwaves you could. Like you are beyond the petty limitations of language. Dolphins build these mysterious relationships with each other, and with people, and we have this idea that perhaps they are operating on a level above or beyond literal communication. Sharks communicate with two methods: complete silence, and severe trauma. I know how to work in the areas between those two, I guess. However, I’ve been known to sit through the complaints and whining with polite silence until I have suddenly had enough, and then tell you to get the hell away from me.
I didn’t tell you all this to depress you. It’s just that if you understand you are a shark, and not one of the dull pretty people who run away from them, you’re going to be quicker to forgive yourself. You weren’t born a dolphin. You probably ought to try to be more dolphin-like. Just don’t be too hard on yourself. Although we are genetically closer to the dolphins, we’ve got a lot of shark in our souls.