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Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.

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Five swimmers     “Jaws” missed his finest dining opportunity five different times …

I am pumped! shouts Screen Six.

Great idea, Black! trumpets Five.

Should have done this years ago! exults Four.

Admit it, Boss, nudges Three, you are glad. Very glad.

“Glad?” I question. “Glad you six pushed me past the point of reason and logic?”

No, your family did that, points out One. Still, he says in his most persuasive tone, think of it. Sand. Sun. You. Bodysurfing!

“Yes. In the water.”

Kind of a given, laughs Three. Bodysurfing works best with wet stuff.

Black, comments Two, you were practically born with gills. Why so hesitant?

“Any of you pay attention to the news this past week?”

No more than necessary, replies Four. What have the Kardashians done now?

“Yuck. Real news! There were two – not one, two – shark attacks in the waters off Carolina Beach.”

“And?” the six screens query.

Shark hungry“And that is where I am right now!”

Anybody else smell tuna? asks Six. Because I detect serious “Chicken of the Sea.”

“If I go, Six, you do, too.”

Calm yourself, Black, urges Five. You are not alone. Four ships cruise back and forth and a Coast Guard chopper hovers overhead.

“Is this Amity Island?” I fire back. “Extra surveillance because Mayor Larry won’t risk losing tourist dollars by heeding Chief Brody’s plea to close beaches? The second shark swam underwater all the way to thigh-deep surf before biting. Nobody saw it coming!”

Let me handle this one, boys, Four says calmly, then speaks to me in slow measure. Your twin sister and three brothers swim beside you. They are taller, stronger … meatier.

Suddenly I am having the time of my life.

I laugh quickly, easily as next-youngest brother, Ted, zips past me at high speed and crashes onto the fine-grain sand. I turn to my applauding niece, Brianna, and ask if she can match his performance.

“No way!” she whoops. “He’s a Thor-pedo!”

Wile E. CoyoteEldest brother Mike catches the next wave. He rides it beautifully until the waters get sucked from beneath him by the undertow and leave Mike – a la Wile E. Coyote – to hover in space and time just a moment, then smash onto face-grinding silica.

Psssst, whispers Three. If you are still concerned about an attack, go tread water next to youngest-brother Barry.

“Why do that? He didn’t bring any of his world-class, handmade Blacktip custom spearguns.”

Not a problem, assures Six. Barry IS the weapon. Sharks fear him.

Glued to the Barron’s side for much of the remaining time, I stop scanning the waters for fins and instead study my brother’s wave-riding techniques.

Apparently, concludes One, those techniques consist of standing straight up, spreading his strong shoulders and blocking enough water to propel him to infinity and beyond.

“Not sure that will work for me,” I sigh. “Too small.”

A different approach, then, suggests Four. Zip along the crest of the wave.

“Won’t I look like an old sardine leaping from the water to escape predators?”

Not until a shark rolls in. Leaping then would be a healthy thing.

I employ Four’s method until exhaustion sets in. I ride one last watery surge to the beach and try to stand, but the undertow yanks my feet from beneath me, too. At the same time, a sneaker wave smashes over the top of me. I whirl and twirl and spin and spin some more.

So this is how it feels to be a sock in the washer, says Two. Cool.

“Gotta go,” I tell the ocean when I regain my feet – well, knees – and crawl out.

Ocean is mighty sad you are leaving, comments Three. Even saying goodbye.

“How do you know?”

It waves.


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Postscript: “Come to refreshing North Carolina,” beckons our beautiful friend. “You’ll love it here.”

We arrive in 90-degree temps. Cooling off at Carolina Beach is further complicated by fellow swimmers suddenly leaping out of the water and shouting “Shark Week!”

Like yelling “Bomb!” in an airport, gripes Screen Five.

But my screens reassure me all is well despite the fear of facing fins. Then brother Barry points at something floating near my hip, and murmurs, “Man o’ war. Painful jellyfish.”

Unflappable Barry, laughs Six as I jump back. Uses the same tone to order doughnuts.

* * * * *

Surfer Mike Fanning meets the great white we didn’t …

Free-diving with the Shark Whisperer

We’re gonna need a bigger boat – er, board!

Outraged octopus puts up the dukes