Sarah Miller writes for The New Yorker, The Hairpin and other publications
When you’re as old as I am, well, once the introductions have been made—pleased to meet you, I am Old Shark, Ye Olde Sharke to my older friends—it’s important to address the rumors. First, no, I never met Alexander Hamilton. If I ever mentioned that name, I’m pretty sure I was talking about the Coast Guard cutter, Alexander Hamilton. (That said, I’d love to see the musical, but I am going to need a special, old-shark sized selfie stick for that because I am a rising celebrity and therefore not going to see Hamilton without commemorating the experience on Instagram.)
Second rumor: when Mick Jagger said “I’ve been around for a long, long year” he was not talking about me. This is a common mistake, of course, but please, give an old shark a break. I mean, listen to the next lyric. I was not around when “Jesus Christ had his moment of doubt and pain.” Though if I really look that old, you should tell me—I’ll get one of these scientists to go over me with the Clarisonic Mia® Two Speed Sonic Facial Cleansing Brush. Which brings me to a side rumor: indeed, if I had known about all these endorsement offers I would have told everyone how old I was a long time ago.
Oh, one more rumor, and the one I have found the most upsetting is that one that assumes that I am just, as the young sharks say, “boring af.” This rumor has surely been encouraged by the popularity of a certain BBC video that’s just, well, me floating around, being old. I certainly can’t blame anyone who watches this if they walk away snorting to themselves and thinking, “Wow, that old shark sure seems like a barrel of laughs!” Ha. You want boring? I’ll introduce you to Ming, that clam who is like 500 years old. I mean, the only time I have ever seen Ming be even remotely animated he was asking me if I’d ever heard of James Michener. Unbelievable. The Geritol people want me to do a commercial with Ming, and the money is great, but seriously, hanging out with Ming is like watching paint dry.
That said, I’m not going to pretend that Old Shark (sometimes I like to refer to myself in the third old shark!) does enjoy his leisure time. For example, the USCGC Alexander Hamilton has a barnacle formation on the bottom that looks exactly like Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra and Old Shark can spend hours just floating underneath it, just thinking!
One of the things I kept mulling over today: why does everyone think it’s so vastly amusing that I didn’t reach sexual maturity until I was 150? To tell you the truth, having kids later in life allowed me to be way more relaxed as a parent. No matter how much the little sharks jumped up and down and screamed, “We would like to eat some small fish or invertebrates!” or “We’d like to go nap in a sea cave!” I was always like, “What?”
Also—I’d rather reach sexual maturity at 150 than when humans reach it, which is never.
Although my species does indeed have a long life span, I think one of the reasons I’ve been able to live so long and stay so young at heart is that most of the sharks who would be my age right now weren’t as lucky as I am—assuming that you, like I do, think “Having your liver harvested to make machine oil” is the opposite of lucky. So I spend a lot of my time with teenage sharks and they are just a lot of fun! Left Shark, especially, has been awesome through this whole thing. I’m convinced they are the secret to what keeps me aimlessly swimming around with this sort of vacant half smile on my face! Like the other day, I saw this tweet:
And it just made me feel really bad. “I just can’t deal with the thin skin around my eyes,” I said to Left Shark. “I wish you could have seen me when I was 205. I was so hot.”
“She doesn’t even know me,” added, and Left Shark explained that being famous was a mixed bag. “Like when you bite a surfer, it’s really fun, but then you have to go through the whole rigmarole of pretending it was an accident?” I said, and Left Shark smiled, wanly, without any teeth, and was like, “You might be really old, Old Shark, but you know what’s up.”
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