How “Jaws” Changed Me Forever


Years ago (when I was young), I snorkeled around the various points of the Rhode Island shoreline, mostly off Jamestown at Fort Wetherill, an old wartime defense station. I’d get my gear of face mask, snorkel, flippers, and then head into the waters, with friends. 

But that all changed with “Jaws.”

You see, I’d be in the water following that (and it’s never the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean, but a green murky shade that hides what might be a mere ten feet away), then I’d hear it in my head:  “Dum…dum…dum…dum…dum…” that repetitive refrain from the movie, just before the horror struck.

So, I’d be hunting for the little fish in the fissures of rock formations along our coast, and I could never give that my undivided attention as I had, pre-“Jaws.”  Now, I was continually swiveling my head to see if I could see into the murky waters……… before the Evil Thing struck.

Yup…I could hear the drumbeat and see (in my mind’s eye) the familiar pooling of the crimson  in the water that told us “Jaws” found his mark. I didn’t care that the fish in the film (“fish” seems oddly-inappropriate for that monster) was mechanical, made out of man-made parts.

I just knew “he” was circling out there somewhere, hoping to happen upon an unsuspecting swimmer or diver preoccupied with something else (like searching for fish in fissures.)

“Jaws” changed me forever….and not in a good way.  I could no longer frolic in the surf or ride the waves in…I could no longer paddle a kayak in the harbor without looking over to see if something tracked me from below.

Oh. I know all the stats—the ones that say shark attacks (especially by Great Whites like the “Jaws” fish) on humans never happen in our New England region. Cape Cod was the fictional setting for that movie.

But then this summer happened and all my fears came rushing back in—just like high tide.

More terrifying, this 12-foot, dead, adolescent male Great White just washed ashore on a nearby beach.  Why is that all the more terrifying for us here in New England? As I said, you can’t see predators in waters here that lack Caribbean clarity.

You’ll probably only know you’ve been bitten once he sinks his teeth into you.

Why are these terrifying creatures here in record numbers?  They say it’s due to the herds of seal coming up to our shores, in unprecedented numbers.  Seals are their favorite diet. 

But that’s little comfort to us….especially those who don black wetsuits.

Nope, “Jaws” changed me forever…and not in a good way. Sort of the same way “The Exorcist” did (but I’ll get to that on another occasion.) You see, I’m most impressionable, and I guess I’m not alone, there, for authorities have closed all those Cape beaches on what’s usually the busiest weekend of the summer—Labor Day Weekend.

I guess they saw the movie, too.

About admin

A lifetime teacher and realtor who's now a published writer, Colleen Kelly Mellor is a humorist first, ever aware of the thread that connects us all. Her works have appeared in the WSJ, Providence Journal, and CNN and NY Times-acclaimed medical blog,, to name a few. All material on this blog is exclusive property of the author and cannot be reproduced without this author's express written consent.
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