April 1st, 2003

Dr. Bunny

Jelly Fish

I was over at Neil Gaiman's website today and he talked about seeing jelly fish washed up on the beach. This reminded me of one of my favorite stories that Dad told us when we were young.

Long ago, Dad's family had a house on the beach in Florida. One day, after a big storm, there were hundreds of Portuguese man of wars washed up on the shore. Now the body of a Portuguese man of war looks like a big blue/violet balloon. Portuguese man of wars also happen to one of the more poisionous of the jelly fish, and while their stingers will not kill a person, they can seriously inflict loads of pain.

Apparently, one of my Dad's cousins saw these jellyfishes, and thought it would be GREAT fun to go out onto the beach and pop all the balloons. With his feet. His BARE feet. His bare, fresh from the spring no calluses feet.

They had to take him to the hospital.

I know this sounds like a horrible story, but think for a while. You're a young kid. You look outside at the ocean. It's probably a dark greenish blue from the storm before. The waves might still be a bit angry. All last night you stayed awake and listened to the crash of the ocean, the rain falling in sheets. The house probably shook with the force of the storm. While you stayed up, hearing this all, you couldn't help but think of what wonderful treasures the ocean would cough up for you to find in the morning. Fish, crustations, crabs, maybe even an octopus. When you finally went to bed, images of wonderful mysterious sea creatures crawled and inched their way across your dreams.

In the morning, you were anxious, excited. You threw on clothes and didn't bother with shoes. It's just a beach after all. And now what do you see? Hundreds of beautiful blue/violet balloons lying on the ground. It's more than you had hoped for! Jellyfish, the most mysterious and strange creature of the sea, and the pretties one had washed up on your beach. Their bodies are bloated with gas and the purple tinge to them contrasts with the whiteness of the sand. You know what you have to do. YOu have to stomp on them with your feet.

As with all great ideas, prices come with them. And a trip to the hospital with legs you can't feel anymore and a body that's in shock is probably a very useful, albeit scarrier than all hell, learning experience. But many years afterwards, when you go down to visit the beach, and a storm comes and shakes your house, you will always remember the jellyfish. The big, beautiful purple jellyfish, and what it's like to be young and adventurous.
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