When I was growing up on the Jersey Shore, mere miles from the 1916 shark attacks that Peter Benchley used as inspiration for his best-selling novel, Steven Spielberg’s Jaws had a profound effect on my summers. Whenever I was alone in the water, I inevitably began to fear that I was being stalked by something beneath the surface. The panic would grow and grow — as John Williams’ daaa-dum music grew louder in my head — until I finally felt compelled to make a break for it. Swimming for my life, my flailing arms furiously pounded the water and my lungs felt about to burst because my face never turned to gulp more air. In my mind, the Great White from Jaws was inches behind me, his mouth wide open, about to turn me into lunch. I never dared slow down or look back until my entire body was out of the water… and safely back on the deck of the pool.
See, that was the thing about Jaws. The fear was so visceral — and irrational — that even a dip in a chlorinated swimming pool seemed like a risky proposition to a kid whose imagination was much deeper than the pool’s diving well. READ FULL STORY