My Opinion of the Event
It happened in a matter of seconds. I behaved as I think anyone else would. The reporter called it an act of bravery. I don’t think that was 100 percent true. And I definitely wish that the picture had not been taken at that particular time, with me ending up appearing on the front page of the local newspaper. I looked ridiculous, almost obscene. Still, she took me out to dinner.
Walking Along the Beach
It was my first time at this beach, and I looked like an idiot. My brown shorts were way too big, and the belt was at the tightest notch, which wasn’t tight enough to consistently hold them up. I wished I had brought suspenders to hold them up, but the dorkishness level of that would have been way too high. I’m not that old yet, that age could have been used as an excuse. I should have worn my bathing suit to walk along the beach. I just didn’t think. I would pay for this later.
As I walked along the beach, I was thinking about how this was the only vacation that I had ever taken all on my own. My ex-wife Carol would not have let me get away with wearing these shorts at the beach. It was better with me being here alone, than on vacationing with her. She would have mocked me at full public volume, so that everyone on that scarcely populated beach would have heard her and laughed.
My lack of proper attention to my surroundings on my walk, was lightly punished by my nearly tripping over a rope attached to a wooden pole that, along with its mate farther away, must have once upon a time held up beach volleyball net. That tripping could have had disastrous results. I would have had to let go of my shorts, and it wouldn’t just be me that was falling down. That would have been great entertainment for the other folks at the beach, although fortunately there weren’t many people there on that day.
I looked to see what was attached to the other end of the rope. It led out to a raft. On the raft was a small boy, who, rather foolishly I thought, was standing on it, and moving about. It looked like he was trying to imitate surfers he must have seen at some point. His knees were bent surfer style, and he alternated leaning left and right, like he was riding the waves. He was lucky that there was hardly any wind, and the waves were relatively gentle. He might have fallen otherwise.
I returned to my walking along the beach, looking downwards at first, just in case I encountered another possibility of a trip and fall, shorts and all.
. After about ten minutes of my proceeding down the beach, it came to a sudden end at a rocky cliff. Not wanting to try climbing with the ready use of just one hand, I turned around, actually almost spun. I can be dramatic.
As I walked along, I began to feel a sea breeze on my face. When I looked out to the ocean, I could see that there would be more of that coming. The waves were definitely getting bigger, crashing down rather than merely rolling and splashing. I could feel on my face the beachward wind picking up speed. There was more moisture in the air.
Then I heard a child’s scream and a splash. It was the boy on the raft. And he was having a hard time swimming in the waves that must have looked gigantic to him, tidal waves, the leading edge of a tsunami.
Without any hesitation, I waded into the water to help the boy. I could maybe pick him up and carry him to the shore. This plan was soon scuttled. I hadn’t realized how deep the water was around the raft. I had to swim to get to him. How then could I take him back, to safety?
There was something else I had no idea about when I first entered the water. As I was beginning to swim, I saw several of the characteristic back fins of sharks, at least two or three. And they, like me, were headed for the boy. Fortunately, I was significantly closer
I had an idea. When I got to the boy, I lifted him up so that he was back on the raft. I soon followed this by pulling myself up there too. This was, or course, followed by my pulling my shorts back up as well.
What could I do now? There were few people on the beach, and none seemed to be aware of our situation no boats. After shouting a few times, I came to believe that the ever-increasing waves were drowning my cries. I wished with that thought that I hadn’t used the word ‘drowning.’ An answer to the predicament eventually came, like someone else was doing the thinking, and put the idea straight into my mind. I started pulling the rope, coiling it up behind me as I did so. This brought us closer and closer to shore. Once we had moved as far as the raft could go, which fortunately was also too shallow for the sharks, I lifted the boy up again and stepped off of the raft and carried him the short distance to the beach.
When we arrived on the beach I was gratefully greeted by the boy’s mother, who had, she said, been sleeping on her beach blanket, so had been unaware of her son’s danger till she looked up and had seen me pulling the raft ashore. She was followed by a young woman with a camera, who snapped a flurry of pictures of the boy and me. She announced shortly thereafter that she was a reporter at the local newspaper. I would learn later on that the picture chosen for the front page rather highlighted the fact that I had underwear in sight. When I had picked up the boy to carry him to the shore, my shorts had slid down farther than I would have liked. I wish I had decided to wear one of my blue pairs, which could almost pass for a swimsuit, not the mighty whitey that was displayed in the paper. Not all of my underwear was in sight, thank goodness, but enough for readers to know what was being shown. Couldn’t she have air brushed it out?
There followed a short interview. She first asked me. “Were you not aware that there were sharks in the water?” I would like to have lied, and told her that I had been. It would have made of my rescue of the boy a major act of bravery. Instead, I simply said, “no, I wasn’t”. That made my act more of a casual act of bravery. Still, I got a free dinner, and good conversation.