Shark Week is an American summer tradition. It's like the 4th of July. But for shark fans.
During Shark Week, it's not uncommon for people to wear Shark Week–themed outfits, attend outdoor screenings of the shows, or have parties. People prepare for months ahead of this event.
I have never celebrated Shark Week. I have vowed to myself in the past that I would remember. And then inevitably the week arrives, and I am woefully unprepared/lazy.
But then it hit me: Why should I keep it to one week?
Why couldn't I take the challenge set forth by the great philosopher and television character Tracy Jordan and "live every week like it's shark week"?
And so I did. I lived a perfectly ordinary non–Shark Week week as if it were Shark Week by imposing some challenges on myself to make sure I was constantly keeping the Shark Week spirit alive. My goals? Wear a shark onesie, attempt shark-themed DIYs, eat sushi, and go to the beach...all while maintaining an infectious Shark Week enthusiasm.
The problem is I am not a generally enthusiastic person. And so the idea of being gung ho about something no one else is participating in gives me a lot of anxiety. I expressed this anxiety by being really grumpy.
I initially focused my grumpiness on my shark onesie. It looks nothing like a shark. It has a nose. Sharks don't have noses. (OK, I looked it up. Apparently they do have noses. But their noses don't look like this.) Also, it's blue. Sharks aren't blue. They're gray.
I avoided making any plans for the first day other than taking my dog for a walk and getting side-eyed by my neighbors. It was mortifying. I retreated home to watch shark documentaries online. (Speaking of, did you know you're more likely to die by falling icicle than shark attack?)
I could no longer hide in my house because, on the second day of my Shark Week, I had promised friends I'd come to their pool party. I tried to make excuses to my fiancé about how I couldn't make it and should stay home.
"You have to go out eventually," he insisted. "Also sharks would love a pool party."
I mean, I saw his point, but I questioned the science behind it.
I rehearsed what I'd say to people who asked about my shark costume. I planned how I'd quickly take some pictures and then take it off right away.
But then no one cared.
Seriously. I found that I was the one constantly telling them why I was wearing a shark costume.
"IT'S FOR AN ARTICLE," I'd blurt out as soon as they were within a three-foot radius.
"Oh," they'd say. "That sounds fun." And then we'd stare at each other, me nodding slightly.
My first Shark Week workday arrived, and I was nervous. I work in a relaxed environment where it's not uncommon to see co-workers behaving in odd ways for the sake of online content (or just for the sake of being odd). But I prefer to keep my work presence low-key.
It turns out I had nothing to worry about. One co-worker loved my shark onesie so much she went online and bought her own. (Am I missing something here? Sharks are GRAY.)
I got the odd "I almost wore the same thing today!" But otherwise no big deal. One co-worker suggested we have an end-of-week Shark Week–style party, and I started getting excited. Maybe even enthusiastic.
On day four, I went for sushi, which meant I had to leave the office. I had successfully avoided going anywhere the day before, but all of the shark videos I'd been watching made me REALLY want sushi. And I was feeling a lot more confident.
I was still too nervous to physically stay there and eat. The place I got sushi from is one of the nicest sushi places in the area. So I was sweating when I got there....and not just from the fleece, full-body shark suit.
As I approached the counter, out of the corner of my eye I saw a couple of guys staring at me, whispering to each other, and laughing. But then something weird happened: I didn't care.
I was wearing a shark costume and buying good sushi, and I didn't care what they thought. Also, those guys were jerks, and I looked adorable in my onesie.
I tried my hand at a DIY for the next day's work party. Normally I would show up to a party with a bag of chips and a case of beer. I think the last time I'd baked something was in high school. But how hard could this be?
OH MY GOD, IT WAS HARD.
I am not good at DIY. In fact, I am terrible at it.
I had decided to make crispy rice treats shaped like sharks and fish. My first mistake was that I didn't plan what these would actually look like. Like Michelangelo, I would just chip away at the crispy rice and discover the sharks beneath it.
My second mistake was continuing to make these marshmallow abominations.
The full-body sharks that were such a good idea in my head ended up looking like squatty airplanes.
I tried to salvage them by just doing the half of the shark, but then it looked like the shark had been ripped in half.
I solved my shark problem by rolling all of it into a David Cronenberg–esque shark ball of shame.
Next came my fish.
The fish ended up looking like fish, but I ran into problems when I tried to frost them. I had wanted to do a blue outline with googly eyes and maybe a little cheeky fish smile.
I threw half in the garbage and shame-ate the other half. At least they tasted good?
On every other day of the week, I had stuffed my onesie in a bag and changed in a bathroom stall at work. But, by the sixth day, I just wore it in. Later, when I went to pick up more party supplies at the grocery store, it took me forever to realize I was getting odd looks because of the big blue onesie I was wearing.
I had embraced Shark Week. I was living it and feeling it, and I may be a lifelong convert.
My co-worker Alex made amazing shark cupcakes. Look at them. They're so smug.
Another co-worker, Hannah, put together Shark Week cocktails that were equally delicious.
After my disastrous attempt at baking, I discovered my own DIY recipe for shark cookies:
- Buy sugar cookies from grocery store.
- Put blob of frosting on cookies.
- Place gummy shark on top. There. Done. Cookies. Eat.
And a lot of people showed up! It may have been the promise of free cookies and cupcakes, but I really think no one can resist a Shark Week party.
To wind down Shark Week, I did the most shark-like thing a person can do: I went to the beach.
It was the middle of a heat wave, so the L.A. beaches were jam-packed that day, but I didn't even think about it as I put on my onesie and splashed around in the waves.
It turns out living every week like it's Shark Week means embracing your own ability to be enthusiastic about something and not caring what anyone else thinks. Stop taking yourself so seriously and just watch some shark videos.
After all the poorly frosted treats were eaten and embarrassing trips around L.A. taken, I hung up the off-colored (and now very sand-filled) onesie between a bridesmaid dress and old college sweatshirt — but my gut told me I'd be wearing it again sooner than the others.