Yes, I have literally swam with sharks off the coast of Belize; but tonight I'm talking about a different kind of shark. The land walking, smooth talking, often smiling kind of shark that comes disguised as a friend with an agenda. I am becoming an expert at identifying these hollow-eyed creatures, but the thing that has fascinated me lately is that I believe they know that I see through the facade.
How do I believe that my super human power for spotting land sharks has been detected? By the increasing sensitivity (a.k.a. defensiveness) of said specimen. If I don't want to answer a particular question because I know that any information is like blood in the water, the shark in question will utter an inane phrase like "silence can be seen as lying." Well, sure, that's true if I'm a Senator being grilled on CNN, but as someone on the eliptical trainer at the gym who simply doesn't feel like discussing my dating life, I don't see how this applies.
These land sharks also like to say things like this, "you used to be beautiful" or "it's hard to believe you work out as much as you say you do." Clever land shark...clever indeed to strike at the vulnerable underbelly of the over-40 woman.
Sharks also see ulterior motives in such silly things as my comments about their status on Facebook or in my being too maxed out as a single parent to make time for them. Ill intent is everywhere when you're a shark, I suppose. Predators must feel a keen sense to eat before being eaten. But shouldn't a shark have thicker skin?
Let me assure all sharks who may be reading this that I do not want to eat them nor do I operate from a place of ill intent. I am not a predator swimming about looking for my next victim. I'm just a colorful fish minding my own business on the reef with my only agenda being swimming through the day.
For all the other colorful fish and beautiful creatures, let me give you three tips for spotting the dreaded land shark:
One: the smile never quite reaches the eyes. The eyes are indeed windows to the soul. Keep your gaze steady on the eyes, my friends.
Two: If any of the above comments are made to you--or comments that remotely resemble the examples I have listed--you are indeed faced with a land shark. It's best to smile and give them little to chew on. Remember, information can be like blood in the water.
Three: They seem overly delighted by bad news from any source. A mutual friend is getting a divorce? Chomp, chomp, chomp! A friend's daughter is on drugs? Chomp, chomp, chomp. Land shark! Cut them off before they turn their razor sharp teeth on you.
Avoiding land sharks is not always possible, especially if you need to swim in the same water. It is safe to swim with them once you know their mannerisms and can protect yourself. Stay aware. Stay alert. Keep smiling. Wish them well. Appreciate them for what they are. But if you can, when you can...swim fast in the opposite direction!