Suddenly, I felt a sharp pain on my arm. My mind instantaneously envisioned scenes from the film Jaws. I had once glanced at the TV while the movie was on, and seen just a flash of the massive shark lunging at a swimmer. I ran from the room, but the image was seared into my memory. Now, with a terrible pain engulfing my arm, I was certain I was going to die a terrible shark attack death. Maybe a film would get made about it. As I contemplated my inevitable rise to post-mortem cinematic fame, I heard a scream erupt from my friend’s sister ten feet away from me. Her panic opened the door for my own, and I started screaming with her.
Some of the adults jumped in the water to rescue us, and quickly hauled us onto the boat. In my screaming and tears, I finally glanced at my arm. It was intact, with no blood or missing appendages. My friend's sister wasn't bleeding either.
It turns out that there was no shark attack. There were, however, several Portuguese man-of-war patrolling the seas that day, deeming my arm (and my friend's sister's arms as well) worthy of its venomous tentacles. Meat tenderizer is apparently a great remedy for Portuguese man-of-war stings, and our recovery was swift.
While I was relieved to escape that day with all my limbs, I’ll admit I felt a trace of disappointment at missing my chance at infamy via shark attack. Being stung by a Portuguese man-of-war doesn’t make compelling film fodder.