When I was little, I saw the films “JAWS”, “Deep Blue Sea”, and “Lake Placid”. They all sport a main character/predator who is an oversized water creature, the first two having a shark main character and the third an alligator. (Though I now realize that it could have been a crocodile, I still believe that it was an alligator, because I do not remember its having a really long and narrow snout.)
Suffice to say that these movies succeeded in terrifying me of the ocean, of lakes, and of swimming in general. Now, seeing as swimming was a large part of my family’s life, as was the beach, I learned to manage these fears (i.e. realize that, I just had to let it go if I wanted to swim, or at least accept the fear alongside the joys of swimming). This mostly meant that I was typically initially hesitant to enter the water at the beach, and always preferred being with others in the water – not to be grimm, but the probability of being the one nabbed decreased, the more people who were out there with me in the water. No, I didn’t want anyone to be nabbed, but I had a high sense of self-preservation.
Whenever I was on my own in the water, I occasionally would recall the possibility of sharks as I was walking toward the shore, and suddenly would find myself jumpily sprinting out of the water (jumpily, because it is easier to run through water, when you pick your legs all the way up out of it, doing a sort of hopping dance forward, which becomes more and more like normal running as you get closer to shore, and the water level goes lower and lower).
The interesting thing – to me, anyway – about this fear, is how it transferred to pools for me. With others, I never had concerns (as I recall, anyway). However, put me on my own in the backyard pool at my brothers’ dad’s house, and I’d occasionally start to freak. It was a weird sort of freak-out, because I logically knew that I was totally fine and safe, but surface-level panicked and rushed out of the water suddenly anyway.
It would happen like this: I would be in the water, usually swimming casually toward one side or end of the pool, and suddenly have this thought that someone could have opened up a secret panel behind me on the pool wall, and released a shark. At the point of this thought’s occurrence, I would put all my effort in swim sprinting to my aimed-for wall, and climb manically from the pool, panting. I think I even scratched up my stomach and/or legs in my haste a handful of times.
It was illogical, and yet I completely understood why I had the bizarre fear, and I accepted it as a weird and unrealistic fear, even as a little kid.
Fast forward a good many years, and where do I stand? The last time I was alone in a pool, about a year ago now, I still had to turn my head, just to check to make sure no panel had slid open behind me. No, I wasn’t sent rushing to the walk and out of the pool, but I still had to respond to the thought and the sense of panic that was rising within me. Essentially, the panic and fear is significantly lessened, but totally still there. If I don’t think about it, I’m totally fine. The moment I think about it, I’m slightly paranoid, and sinultaneously annoyed at my nonsensical paranoia.
Such is my life around pools (and also the earlier bits regarding my life with beaches). I think this is why I just don’t want horror films. Ever. The few scary films I saw as a kid were enough for me*, and each had enough impact on me to cause me never to want to watch scary movies again. So I think, anyway.
*”Scream”, “Scream 2”, and “Anaconda” still stick with me today, as well as the shark and gator movies.