“You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat.”

By Judy Berman

Danger lurks on a moonlit beach as a girl romps in the water.

The teen ventures in while another partygoer lies drunk on the beach. Moments later, she screams when she’s attacked in the water. An unseen force drags her under, and she is gone. Later, her remains wash ashore.

The villain: a great white shark. Sharks have had a lot of bad PR ever since “Jaws” first hit the movie theaters in 1975.

Note to spring-breakers, tourists and snowbirds: You’re more likely to be struck by lightning in Florida than become shark bait while surfing or swimming.

Some statistics to consider:

  • Florida was known as “Lightning Capital of the World.” NASA has recently given that distinction to Rwanda, Africa. “With more deaths and injuries than all other states combined, Florida ranks as the #1 target for public safety and lightning awareness campaigns,” states weather.about.com website.
  • “Florida led the nation again last year with 11 of 29 shark attacks. None were fatal. Worldwide, there were 75 shark attacks; 12 of them were fatal, the most since 1993,” according to TCPalm’s web site on Feb. 25th.

Still, I’m not reassured. There have been three shark attacks in Florida this month – one at Playalinda Beach on March 4th and two at New Smyrna Beach on March 14th. All three teen surf riders were injured, but are OK after the sharks’ bites.

The only shark adventure I’m after would be on celluloid or digitally. In this case, “Bruce,” the name given to the mechanical shark in “Jaws,” is the only kind I’d care to meet up with.

We don’t see “Bruce” for most of the movie. That’s because they had trouble getting the mechanical beast to function as it should. If I were to compare this movie to an Alfred Hitchcock film, it would be “Psycho.”

We know something bad is about to happen to Janet Leigh in the shower scene. We can see some sort of menace beyond the shower curtain and know she can’t hear us scream that she’s in danger.

It’s much the same in “Jaws,” when the theme music plays … “dun-dun! dun-dun! “dun-dun, dun-dun, dun-dun.” Something awful is about to happen, and we’re powerless to warn those in the water.

We’re scared wondering when it will strike again.

This film has captured our family like few others have. We’ve had Jaws-themed birthday cakes, Jaws movie marathons and Shark Week extravaganzas. This, at the request of our youngest daughter, Jenn, who’s had a lifelong love affair with sharks.

It began with this movie. Director Steven Spielberg nailed this when he deviated from the novel, and added the right touch of terror and humor.

The scene that captures that best is when Amity Police Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) got an up-close look at “Bruce.” He’s on a boat with fisherman, Sam Quint (played by Robert Shaw), who is determined to kill the shark, and oceanographer Matt Hooper (played by Richard Dreyfuss).

As Brody backs away from the shark and into the boat, he tells Quint, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

At one point, Scheider tells Dreyfuss: “I used to hate the water.” Dreyfuss: “I can’t imagine why.”

Even though I live near the ocean, I rarely venture near the frothy waves. In my mind, I hear … dun-dun! dun-dun! That’s all I need. I quickly dive back onto my blanket and grab a book – anything but “Jaws.”


COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

* Main photo of shark silhouette in the Maldives, taken Oct. 29, 2003 by TANAKA Juuyoh (田中十洋)  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Shark_Silhouette.jpg

* Family photo of Jenn’s Jaws’ themed birthday cake in 2011 which was designed by her sister, Danielle. Yup, Ernie’s gonna need a bigger boat.

* video clip of Amity Police Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) backing away and telling fisherman, Sam Quint (Robert Shaw): “You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat,” from “Jaws” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gciFoEbOA8

* Jaws’ theme song: http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=jaws+theme+song&view=detail&mid=BFF2316080871FFC7F93BFF2316080871FFC7F93&first=0&FORM=LKVR7

** MSNBC story about a shark attack: http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/03/15/10701089-like-jaws-girl-pulled-under-by-shark-twice

** updated MSNBC story about shark attacks: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/26184891/vp/46774631#46774631