Monday, January 14, 2008
My first love and jellyfish
I’ve always heard that your first love will hit you like a wave, an overpowering swell of surging emotion that knocks you for six. My first love was a more literal version of this, just seconds after I first saw Laura I was choking on sea water and nursing a bruised head and a few moments later it got a lot worse.
When I was younger I used to go to the local sailing club. On Wednesday evenings after School I would go to nearby Sidmouth to get shouted at for pulling the wrong bit of string or yet again get blamed when a jellyfish would mysteriously get the urge to experiment with flight and end up in someone else’s boat.
That’s how I encountered Laura. A jellyfish completely on it’s own account had been swept up into the bailer I was holding (a bucket for getting water out of the boat which also doubled as a jellyfish launcher) and then through a strange mix of events was flung into a nearby boat which was full of girls.
The sudden shock appearance of a slightly angered invertebrate in the boat typically caused all sorts of amusing squealing and then if you were really lucky the girls would jump out of the boat to escape the jelly fish.
This would mean that an enterprising chap who just so happened to be nearby and who had read too many Hornblower books could board their boat. Commandeer all sorts of important nautical devices and sail off. The items would only be returned after the girls had admitted that boys were better than girls, or ideally after a kiss. Only it never worked out like that because the girls would be a bit peeved by all of this and would now be armed with a jellyfish.
It was during one of these actions when my crew of two were getting our dingy to ramming speed for a boarding that I first saw Laura. It’s hard to look sexy in a wetsuit and life jacket but when she stood up to get away from the invading jellyfish I was struck by her. She had almost jet black eyes with short brown hair in a bob and a smile that was like sun breaking over mountains. She also had a voice like a fog horn which was ideally suited for sailing.
The second thing that struck me was the boom. It’s the long wooden arm on a ship that is below the mainsail and is designed for knocking out chaps that aren’t paying attention. It hit me on the back of the head and I flew out of the boat.
I really did fly, I was standing on the edge of the boat affecting a pose that was somewhere between Royal Navy circa the Battle of Trafalgar and pirate captain from Sunday afternoon television. This look isn’t terribly stable but it is an important part of the attack and so must be adhered too.
“Wait till you see the whites of their Ey-aarghs” I said.
I wasn’t trying to sound like a pirate I just happened to be submerged head first before I could finish. Because I had been talking as I went under I landed in the water with my mouth open it was quickly filled with sea water. I can remember being upside down in the water thinking.
'Is this cool?'
I thought that as long as I could surface with some dignity I might be able to rescue this. If I can just rise up and say something witty I might be okay. So I managed to right myself and swam up. This was probably a mistake.
One of the reasons so many jellyfish had decided to become airborne was that the sea was thick with them. So when I broke through the water and tossed my head to shake off the water instead of looking like a roguish buccaneer I managed to entangle a jellyfish around my face.
If you have never been stung by a jellyfish, try to keep it that way. It felt like my face had been wrapped in a rope made out of angry bees. I violently shook my head but the jellyfish had decided that it was going to get revenges for acts that I had allegedly committed and was holding fast. It was only after I went back under water and sort of swam backwards that it finally relented and drifted away.
I floated up to the surface gingerly, checking for any more nearby jellyfish before I swam anywhere. My face stung wildly but my main concern was that I would look like the Elephant man and so I should try and get back onto my own boat and escape to shore.
Sadly I had got disoriented in the water and instead climbed half into Laura’s boat before I realised what was going wrong.
It’s nice to remember your first love, the person who first made your stomach feel strange and filled you with an urge to do silly things just to be near them. If you are lucky you can remember how you first met or if you are especially fortunate you can even recall the first words your first love said to you. I can.
"Oh my god, what happened to your face?" Were the first words Laura ever said to me.