Happy 40th Birthday, Jaws! You Bite!

You may have heard that Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster movie, Jaws, is turning forty years old on June 21, 2015. If reading the name of the movie doesn’t make you cringe at all the scary images it implies, then congrats! You’re among the lucky ones that escaped!

If you’ve seen this movie or even worse, seen it at a young age, you will understand where I’m coming from. My first memory of Jaws is vivid and terrifying. I was about eight and hanging out in my parent’s bedroom watching the Saturday afternoon movie, which happened to be the not-completely age appropriate Grease. After I finished what I’m sure was an epic sing along and ONJ-induced dance routine to “We go together, like rama lamma lamma ka dinga da dinga dong,” the next movie started. With my mom cooking lunch in the kitchen, I sat alone, intently watching the opening scene to Jaws. First, a pretty girl went for a swim in the water late at night. Immediately hooked because she resembled Barbie, (and probably because I knew I shouldn’t be watching it) I planted myself squarely on the floor in front of the TV. And even though they never played that eerie and foreboding music in the opening scene, I knew her swim wasn’t going to end well.

Duuun Dun, Duuun dun…

From there on, I looked on in horror as Barbie was jerked by her long legs several times before she violently plunged beneath the surface into the black abyss, never to be seen or heard from again. In that scene, we never even see the shark. Nope, the three-ton mcmeanie pants was only implied, but it was enough for my young imagination to create a lifetime of unreasonable phobias.

(You can watch the opening scene here)

Thankfully, shortly after, my mom called me away from the TV for lunch, which happened to be a big bowl of SpaghettiOs. Was she insane? I couldn’t eat the red-sauced and bloody looking spaghetti after seeing a disembodied hand on the sand. No thank you, very much! I pushed the bowl away, refusing to eat it. And that was the first thing Jaws took from me—my beloved canned treat. But oh no, it wasn’t the last. That’s oversized tuna wasn’t done torturing me yet.

A few weeks later my parents took us on our yearly summer beach retreat to Ocean City, Maryland. But instead of riding the waves on my Hawaiian Punch boogie board with my younger, and totally naïve-to-sharks sister, I roasted like a chicken on the sand as I refused to dip even one single toe into the murky waters of the Atlantic. Despite constructing some rad sandcastles that week, it was a vacation of waterless fun, clearly stolen by Jaws.

During that time, I’m sure there were several nights of lost sleep and nightmares, but eventually the sting wore off. And I’m happy to report that in the following years, I did frolic in the water again and enjoy SpaghettiOs from time to time. But to this day, no matter how irrational the thoughts, sharks are the first thing I think about when I step into the ocean, lake, pool, or even look at a plate of pasta with tomato-sauce.

As an adult I’ve watched the movie again. And I must say, it’s a fantastic because it does exactly what it’s meant to—it scares the ever-loving bejeebers out of me.

So, happy birthday, Jaws! You really bite!

Do you remember the first time you watched Jaws? Tweet your story to #JawsBites @MMichelleWarren

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