Ok, store-clerk-slacker has been bugging me to post this all month, so here goes:
The first week of July, we drove to Florida to visit my mom and her new husband, who live in the Ft Walton Beach area. Slacker had never seen the sea before and her 14-year-old daughter, slack-kid, had never even been out of the state of Missouri. We even let slack-kid bring a friend so she wouldn’t be totally bored around four adults all week long.
Of the four of us, I’m the only one who’s been in open water and had no reservations about swimming with whatever may be in the water. Slacker was extremely nervous about being in the ocean and swimming with things that may want to bite her. Slack-kid and friend had some of that nervousness rub off on them.
So we’re at Navarre Beach, we’re all in the water except for my mom, who’s lounging on the sand under an umbrella. I’m snorkelling around when slack-kid gets my attention and tells me she’s seen a jellyfish. I look at the warning flags on the beach. The flags are green, so everything must be fine. Five minutes later, slack-kid’s friend tells me the same thing. I rely on my vast knowledge of sealife from having seen Finding Nemo five times, and tell them to stop worrying; jellyfish travel in schools. I turn to slacker to reassure her, but in the time it took me to turn my head from the girls to where slacker used to be swimming, she had left the water, gone onto the beach with my mom, popped open a can of Sprite, ordered a pizza, baked a pie, and built a sand castle replica of the Taj Mahal.
My mask starts to get a little foggy, so I stand up to spit in it again and when I take my mask off, I see something that I didn’t recognize. At first I thought it was some trash that got dumped in the water, so I took a step towards it when I notice this round red-striped thing about the size of my fist had tentacles. Then, slowly, my brain processes the information and realizes that the girls had seen a jellyfish, and I was two feet from it right now.
I stop where I am and look around for others. Sure, I’d seen Finding Nemo five times, but the jellyfish in that documentary weren’t red-striped on the top. I didn’t know if this thing was dangerous or not and I didn’t want to walk into any others in case they were. I’d seen what a man-of-war can do to people, and I didn’t want to find out what these little buggers can do. I tell the girls to get out of the water and I slooooooowly wade in, keeping my eyes peeled in case this turns into a sea-creature version of The Birds.
On the beach, I tell my mom about having seen the jellyfish. My mom starts telling stories about growing up in LA and how they would catch jellyfish on the beach and poke at them with sticks and stuff. Not to be out-manlied by my mother, I start goading her to get into the water with me to have a look at the jellyfish. I hand her one of the little nets and I wade in first to show her where I saw the jellyfish. I get out about 10-12 feet and I thought I felt something go up my swimming trunk leg. I squat down in the water and feel around in my trunks to get out anything that’s not attached. Then I felt an irritation on the inside of my thigh, at first I thought it was sand in my trunks. Next thing I know, it’s not just an irritation: it’s a burning sensation. Then it’s not just a burning sensation, it’s a searing pain. Then it’s not just a searing pain, the inside of my thigh is a full-fledged inferno underwater.
Now I’m going deeper into the water so I can take my trunks off, cuz there’s something up my shorts and it doesn’t seem to like me very much. A little panic starts to set in as it dawns on me that whatever is hurting me is only two inches from my BALLS.
That’s when I decide it’s time to get out of the water. Let my mom look for the jellyfish on her own. After all, she grew up on the beaches of southern California, she can handle the Gulf of Mexico. I tried to tough it out for about 15 minutes on the beach before wimping out and going home, where I found a nice 3 inch long welt where the evil jellyfish had made a grab for my manberries.
Slacker found all of this hilarious, and in response to me making fun of her sun burn by calling her LL Cool J (for Lobster Lady Cool Jen) she has dubbed me “Jellycrotch”.