Diving head-first into my worst nightmare

Me and my brother sitting in front of the octopus exhibit
(Photo Credit: Brooke Kizziar)

Me and my brother sitting in front of the octopus exhibit (Photo Credit: Brooke Kizziar)

Brooke Kizziar, Sports Editor

It was the summer of 2008, and it was a beautiful day at the Aquarium of the Pacific. This was my favorite summer tradition as a kid. I was always so fascinated by the many different species that roamed the aquarium, and I loved to watch the sea lions and penguins swim in their glass pools. The absolute best thing about the aquarium is the petting pools—until 14 years ago when they became my worst nightmare.

I was a little four-year-old frantically running around the play area near the petting pools eager to get the best petting spot. I found my way through the crowd and stole the most perfect spot. A lone ledge just calling my name. I hopped onto it to sit and pet the bonnethead sharks as they swam by the surface of the pool.

When feeding time came around, everyone had to take their hands out for ten minutes to avoid any missing fingers and potential lawsuits. Once the sharks have finished eating their expensive meal of meat chunks, they rest at the floor of the pool. Being the little spaz I was, I grew very impatient and grew sick of waiting for the sharks to start swimming again.

Keep in my mind I had very short limbs at this time. I was only four, so I could barely reach these sharks even when they came to the surface. So, I thought it would be a great idea to shove my entire arm down to the bottom of the pool in hopes to pet the sharks. I was unsuccessful in reaching the sharks and became upset. So, I tried again and attempted to reach even further into the pool. Again, small limbs and sadly an even smaller brain. My little arm reached the sharks…well, only because the rest of my body was in the petting pool.

The same moment I reached in for a second time, I lost my balance and fell in head first. I remember opening my eyes and seeing colors around me from the small fish swimming around my face. I felt two pairs of hands grab me and lift me out. I couldn’t see anything when I was pulled out. This was either from the tears that filled my eyes or from infection of the bacteria-filled pool water. I was lifted by two strangers and was taken to my parents who were watching my two-year-old brother play on the jungle gym on the other side of the area. My parents laughed hysterically at me as I sobbed my eyes out. The two strangers who pulled me out of the pool were hardcore judging my parents. I mean, they have the right to. My parents were laughing at my face right after I just defied death from a three-foot pool.

Needless to say, I was forever scarred. This memory is something that will never be lived down for me. It comes up at least five times a year at family events. I know it will be talked about at my graduation party, my wedding, and maybe even my funeral. Moral of the story, be sure to watch your kids at the aquarium. Better yet, put them on a leash.