Why Jellyfish Scare the Bejeebus Out of Me: a Completely Non-Sequitur Blog

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My dear friends, the ones that really know me (and I mean the “will: hold my hair back, lend me pajamas knowing they won’t get them back and a couch to sleep in them on, not judge me for waking up in the morning looking as frightful as I do, lovingly tolerate a fair amount of my crap” kind of friends), know that I’m not as tough as I like to think/try to convince others I am.

I cry during sports movies (“Rocky Balboa,” “Invincible,” and “Miracle” leave me with glistening tears each and every time), I can’t watch any medical programming (fiction or otherwise) without covering my eyes, and I melt, melt, at the sight of any small animal squirming and/or eating people food.

However, despite these admitted chinks in my mostly-real armor, I have to say that there is one thing that, I think quite irrationally, scares the daylights out of me: jellyfish.

At this point, I’d like to point out that I’m not the only one in the AMP3 office with a fear of jellyfish.  Alyson has one, too, and Termeh is scared of butterflies. Moving on…

My fear has grounding in reason, and that reason is the irukandji, the 30-millimeter tall venomous killer that can only be detected after it’s stung you and you fight through weeks of excruciating pain in the hopes of not dying.  (ed. This is precisely why I shouldn’t watch nature programs; I learn things that I can’t unlearn and then they cause me intense fear for life).

Granted the irukandji are indigenous to Australia and pose no threat to me here in New York, knowing that those little suckers are out there is enough to keep me out of the water when I haul ass to Jones Beach in the summer.  And I’m not the only ones that, despite my locale, recognize the danger these little buggers pose: CSI: New York did an episode where a single tentacle was used as a murder weapon (and technically, a single tentacle of the 30-millimeter irukandji COULD kill you).

So, I suppose it’d be rational, then, for me to only be scared of this one type of jellyfish that’s thousands and thousands of miles away and that there’s no real need to be scared of all jellyfish.

But you know what, there are other jellyfish that have do infest our local waters that could sting me.

And such a sting would lead to someone needing to pee on me (ed. This conversation came up with friends one, and a number of my dear, dear friends asked for the opportunity.  If I ever got stung by a jellyfish, I think my bigger problem would be trying to get people not to pee on me).

Call me crazy, but pain that’s exacerbated by the humiliation of being peed on (and having that pee-er enjoy it) is just not on any of my “to do” lists.  Maybe we should add a fear of mercilessly being peed on to my list of fears.

As for other reasons why jellyfish make me uncomfortable, here are just a few to prove that, while I might be a little nutty, I’m not entirely off base in being scared of jellyfish:

1.     I don’t like the fact that you can see through them.  I don’t like that you can see their digestive system at work, and I don’t like that, because they are see-through, there’s the very good chance I could step on one.

2.    They are THRIVING was everyone and everything else seems to be negatively impacted by our deteriorating global environment.   If that’s not an indicator that these little bastards could eventually dominate the world, I don’t know what would be.

3.     A member of the jellyfish family, the Turritopsis dohrnii is IMMORTAL.  Thought sea turtles lived long lives?  Well, the Turritopsis dohrniiI reverses its aging process when times when its life is threatened.   They can be killed by predators, sure, but food shortages, climate change, etc., none of that seems to have an effect on these jellyfish relatives.

4.     Some of them are frighteningly large.  The lion’s mane jellyfish has a bell that averages 7 ½ feet with tentacles 120 feet long.  And they sting!  I’m 5’6”; I could technically, get engulfed by one of these monsters.  And unlike the irukandji, these suckers can be found off Long Island, Block Island, Martha’s Vineyard and all those other New England islands that are eerily reminiscent of Amity Island in “Jaws” (except we’re dealing with gigantic jellyfish instead of one stupid shark).

Have I successfully converted you to a fellow jellyfish-fearer?

If not, take a look at this and let me know whether or not you’re still cool with these squishy, stingy, scary creatures.

Jackie –

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