Friday, April 07, 2017

Stupid Things I Have Done Part 5,6, ? ... oh, who's keeping track anymore. A tale of a belly and a jelly.

There's a story behind this photo ...

It was one of those spring days when the beach seems like a good idea, but only if you stay dry.
The kids, Katy, Emma, pal Emily, and Raymie, didn't mind ...but me? 
I like cold water on hot days, but this day was a sireniday ­čśÄtempting the unsuspecting into the water.

Oh, the Sun was out and it looked like a beach day, but the brisk wind flowing out of the North and the still wintry water temps kept this Dad on shore.

It was the kind of Spring day where you can simultaneously freeze your buns off while you sunburn beneath a sparkling sky... like being 12,000 feet up in the Rockies.

But I am off chasing rabbits at this point in the tale, because the chilly weather is not the story behind the picture.
It only explains why I remained on the beach while my little flock dashed off into the waves.

While the kids romped in the shallow shore break, I kept one eye on them and one eye on the beach at my feet. 
The waves did their usual, rushing up as high as they could and then swashing back. 
Tiny mole crabs, and Coquina clams excavated by each wave, frantically reburied themselves before the next foamy roller.

I was in the zone.
Happy kids and an almost empty (see, I told you it was chilly) beach.
That is my cup of tea ... toss in a dog for sweetening and it's about perfect.

Just as the kids were finally feeling the cold, I came across a Cannonball Jellyfish freshly stranded and pulsating.
When I picked it up, the kids came running over to see it.
"What is it?"
"It's a Cannonball Jellyfish."
"Won't it sting you?"
"No, this kind of jellyfish can't sting us."
Okay, before I tell you what happened next, let me just say that in my life, at that point, I had handled a blue million Cannonball Jellyfish and never, ever, never, had so much as a tingle.
Ok, so, just keep that in mind ...

I did what I always do, when I have kids and a critter. I point out parts, describe what the parts do, explain how it eats, moves, etc.

I was in my element ... on a beach with an engaged audience and a critter. As I talked, they moved in close, to see and touch the harmless Cannonball Jellyfish.

As I wound up this little impromptu Phylum Cnidaria lesson, I was holding the jellyfish upside down so the kids could see the short fleshy tentacle fringe. Every so often I would dip the bowl shaped body into the ocean to keep it alive.

As their interest waned, I did this random Dad thing.
They were all in a semi-circle around me and my young son Raymie was directly in front of me.
Just being a silly Dad, I dumped the Jellyfish bowl water on his belly.
They all laughed and took off for one more splashy run through the shore wash, but almost immediately Raymie came back to me.


"Owww, my belly itches" ... he was rubbing his belly and trying not to cry.
When I look closer, sure enough, his belly was red where the jellyfish water splashed him.

How could this be? I have handled so many of these and never been stung. I splashed cold ocean water over his belly and rubbed him with a towel, all the time kicking myself for not realizing that as weak as the nematocysts are in a Cannonball Jellyfish, the thin, young skin of a 5 year old's belly is no match for them.
(Note: This is before I started packing vinegar on any beach or boat trip.)

My hypothesis here is that filling the medusa bowl with water dislodged nematocysts, which I then poured over that delicate thin belly skin.

Well great Dad, good job!
What a rookie mistake.

Fortunately, the stinging was subsiding even as I called a halt to the beach day. 
The kids were freezing anyway by then.
I thought I would need to stop by a drugstore on the way home to get some soothing ointment, but as it turned out a trip to Tastee Freeze worked just as well.

By the time we got our soft serve cones, Raymie had stopped whining about his itchy belly and all was good.

Now, go back and look at that photo taken just before we left the beach ... notice how the girls are happy and smiling?

Notice Raymie?






4 comments:

robin andrea said...

Good story, poor Raymie. I thought he looked less happy than his sisters and friend. Lesson learned.

threecollie said...

Huh, I thought he was just cold....

Julie Zickefoose said...

Belly laugh! I had seen this incident referenced but never knew what it referred to. Bow down, to accept your World's Greatest Dad crown.

Elizabeth Powers said...

The kids never told on you!!! Hmmmm