Today in shark class we marveled at the oddness of shark biology—the sand tigers’ practice of intrauterine cannibalism (unborn pups eat other embryos while still in the womb) and the unborn big eyed threshers that eat eggs from their mother’s uterus, a practice known as “oophagy.” (I love the sound of that word–somewhere between “egg” and “oaf”). We talked of Hawaiian and Aztec shark god myths and marveled at pictures of weird species like dwarf lanterns and goblin sharks. I suggested we all convert to an ancient shark worshipping religion and walk around the campus in strange wooden masks.The class had the feeling of discovery and aimlessness that grade school classes used to have—“Oooo—look at this weird picture.” I guess my goal, if I had one, was immersion and delight.
I told the class that as a child I mourned the eclipse of “Jaws” reign by “Star Wars” in 1977. Since I lost my father last year, any mention of childhood summons him. My father was, after all, the person who took me to see “Jaws.” Each memory threatens to pull me into unknown depths. Even the well-worn stories are reframed by his absence.