Okay, so about a month ago my nephew George celebrated his birthday at Underwater Adventures in the Mall of America. It used to be called Underwater World, and I think, "Ooo. I haven't been there in over 10 years. This will be fun."
When we arrive and meet up with my sister and brother-in-law I remember why I haven't gone in over 10 years.
"20 bucks?" I say to Matt. "Jeebus!"
My sister-in-law hands us a coupon. Buy one ticket, get one half off.
So we get two ticket for 30 dollars. This is still not a bargain.
"We are going to ENJOY this," I say. "We are getting our 30 dollars worth."
So we go in and there are all kinds of aquariums and stuff. Tide pools and manta rays and octopi and jellyfish. The jellyfish room is dark and the aquariums are lit in different colors.
Then I remember:
I hate jellyfish.
When I was ten years old, my parents took us on vacation to Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston is really cool, vaguely creepy southern Gothic city. We spent the majority of our vacation in a condo on neighboring Sea Brook Island. It was a great vacation. Sightseeing, seafood, horseback riding, the beach.
Except for one day.
When went to the beach. The waves were pretty high, high enough so that we could do a little body boarding. For me, growing up with only placid swimming pools and lakes, swimming in the ocean was a revelation. I loved it. The waves, the strength, the power, the salt, the sound, all of it.
But I forgot about all the stuff that's in it.
Stuff you can't see.
I was standing there, minding my own business, when a particularly strong wave crested. It beat down on me and I laughed, until I felt a horrible, awful, sharp hot stinging pain cut across my thighs and shins.
It felt like I was being cut with hot glass. I ran screaming out of the water, looking down at my arms and legs. I couldn't see anything wrong but it still hurt.
"What's wrong?" My brother yelled.
"Something bit me!" I screamed.
"Aaaahhh..." my brother waved his hand at me as if it was obvious I was a gigantic wuss.
I decided to go back in.
I waded to where my brother was and suddenly I felt it again. Burning hot pain. Stabbing me. Searing my kneecaps. "Gaaaaahhhh!" I screamed and ran, leaving my brother to fend for himself.
He was right behind me. "Aaaaaggggggh!"
We were breathless with pain. I finally see a mark on my shins, to tell me I wasn't imagining the whole thing. Two red stripes that look like jagged burns, about an inch long. I have no idea what it is.
My brother was whimpering and gripping his crotch. "Something stung my balls!"
I sat on the sand, blubbering pathetically.
An older guy walked by and saw us wincing and confused.
"Hey," he said. "It's a red tide."
"Jellyfish coming in. They break up and die but the pieces can still sting you."
There are dead pieces of jellyfish trying to kill us?
Then I decided the ocean kinda sucks and I hated jellyfish.
So that story is one long segue into these pictures I took of jellyfish at the aquarium. They look neat and I think I will someday print out these pictures, frame them, and put them in a future bathroom.
Aren't they pretty?
I still hate them.