Saltwater Lips, or Explaining the Ocean

IMG_2829Overheard in Maine: “And later we’re going to the ocean. Remember I told you about the ocean? It’s a big, big water…. No, there are no crocodiles.”


So. Imagine a water. A big, big water. No, bigger than that. Think of all the bathtubs you will fill in your lifetime. Now multiply by infinity. Add salt. That’s the ocean.

It’s where the land stops. There’s land on the other side of it, but you can’t see it. You just have to trust that it’s there, and for a while a whole lot of people didn’t. If you ever saw an ocean you would understand why.

There are no crocodiles.

There are also no bathtubs, only the water.

The ocean is ripply at the edge by the shore, to varying degrees. Sometimes just wiggling, other times standing up and crashing forward, then back. These are waves. The ocean never stops moving. For something so big,  the ocean behaves like a toddler.

While it’s true there are no crocodiles, there are many other things that will do you harm in the ocean. There are sharks, jellyfish, fast boats driven by jackass playboy millionaires, a general lack of oxygen. There are countless reasons to be wary of the ocean. But essentially crocodile free. Crocodiles should be the least of your concerns.

I don’t think you appreciate what a big, big water the ocean actually is. Years ago, if people wanted to get to the other side of the ocean to visit a relative, a World’s Fair, a renowned phrenologist and such, they would have to take a ship. This ship would take many, many days to complete the voyage, so one had to be truly motivated to undertake such a visit, ensuring  it was in everyone’s best interest, something I think we can all agree is missing in this modern age.

Colour-wise, we’re talking a greyish blue. A tad green. Watery. Trying to describe the colour of the ocean is like trying to identify the eye colour of an unattractive person; why bother? Many poets have taken a crack at it, though usually they’re more interested in the ocean’s bigness, metaphor-wise.

The ocean is a cold, cold water. Many fishermen don’t bother learning to swim because they know that if they were to be swept away, the cold would eventually kill them; swimming would only prolong the agony. The fishermen are swept away by large waves and the music of Adele.

There are even sometimes massive chunks of ice in the ocean that have been known to prevent would-be visitors from completing their voyage. There are also no crocodiles on icebergs.

Despite the ocean being lethally cold, people flock to the ripply edges during the summertime with many possessions, games, furniture and food. These people typically wear underwear, although it is not called “underwear,” so it’s okay.

In the not-too-distant past, people thought the ocean had curative powers. If they were seeking a cure for not being covered in salt, then mission accomplished.

Today, people venture to the ocean because they want to cool off and be seen in their not-underwear. If you were to join them, you would stand in the ripply edge for a long time, losing feeling in your toes and later other parts, and you would wonder why you aren’t home cooling off in a fathomable amount of water in a non-infinite bathtub or even a lake, one where you could see the other side and touch the bottom and swim for hours without thinking, “If I hadn’t taken those swimming lessons, I wouldn’t be dying slowly of hypothermia right now.”

But then you get hit by a wave, which is a shock. You squeal like you didn’t know you could. You taste the sting of salt water on your lips, and you go, “Oh. I get it now.” And then you bob like a top.

That’s the ocean.

Remember how big I said the ocean is? Well, hang on: there are five of them. Five! Each of these oceans is crazy big. The biggest of them all is the Pacific. And now I must tell you about the saltwater crocodile. They like to hang out on some ripply edges of the Pacific Ocean where the people and other yummy animals live. So while I stand by my statement that there are no crocodiles in the ocean, it is also true that there are crocodiles near the ocean.

But don’t worry. The ocean is a big, big water and you are a small, small person. You’ll probably be fine.


Don’t forget to order your copy of A Hole in the Ground, available through Blurb.


About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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25 Responses to Saltwater Lips, or Explaining the Ocean

  1. markbialczak says:

    I grew up by the Atlantic, Ross. My dear wife Karen grew up by the Pacific. When she took me there, I looked at her big, big, ocean and said, No crocodiles! No, I said, It does look different! No poet I, of course I could not describe exactly why exactly right. But I loved it just as much.

  2. Paul says:

    You’re very tricky Mr.Ross, ye are, goin’ on aboot dem crocs. There’s nary a word of a lie in yer preachin’. But I knows dat ye were borned within a pebble toss of de big water. All dem fancy words o yurs and not a peep about the Kraken. All dem vistors what been et by Kraken, specially at de night. Nuttin’ left a dem folks but der shoes on de beach – dat’s all. An you ain’t said a word. Shame on ya Mr. Ross. Ya knows what yer govmint does when the visiters gits too noisy wit der drinkin of the screech an all. Ya seen the signs:

  3. I live pretty close to this ocean thing you talk about. I forget how amazing and large it is. My aunt from Kansas came to visit me one summer. She and her husband stood on the beach and said, “It’s so big.” They had never seen the Pacific…it was like never seeing the sun to me.

    I also spent one summer convincing one of my daughter’s young friends that I had a pet crocodile in the wetlands behind our house. I told her I fed it road kill. I went as far as to photoshop pictures of crocodiles with me in the backyard…that girl is probably seeing a psychologist these days. Maybe I shouldn’t be around kids.

  4. Yahooey says:

    The Pacific also has bathtub races and the most famous one is Canadian. Not that you would actually take bath in one of the said tubs but it is best to stay clear of them. Just sayin’. 🙂

  5. Never thought about trying to describe the ocean to my child in our landlocked state. He’s been three times already (he’s one and half), but I’m not sure when the next opportunity will be. It’s nice to compare with things kids already know, like bathtubs and crocodiles. I needed solid convincing that lakes we visited in Oregon didn’t have man-eating anything when I was a young lad. Scared of everything, I suppose, but I feel it’s healthy to have a fear of things you can’t see (like potential threats swimming around the ocean).

  6. Best lesson ever for you never know who’s eavesdropping on your conversation and whether or not they’ll use your musings for satire later on.

    Not underwear, but might as well be.

    By the way, the Eagle has landed. Your book is queued-up on my nightstand. I thumbed through it and I don’t know what the significance of July 8 is in your story, but it happens to be my birthday. Coincidence? Probably not.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      It’s a Wednesday weekly newspaper. July 8, 1998 is a Wednesday. Normally the paper would come out on July 1 too but that’s Canada day so it came out a day early, June 30. These are important details. No, they’re not. Glad it arrived safe and stomped.

  7. List of X says:

    Ross, you went to Maine again? Unless you have a summer house there, or if you like to hang out with the ex-presidents Bush family, I’m still not getting the appeal of going to the beach in the giant ice water tub that also known as Atlantic Ocean in Maine. If you drive for an hour longer – to Cape Code, southern Rhode Island or Connecticut, you’ll get to the sea you can actually swim in, with water temperature of 20-25C – sea water that’s warm enough in the summer for the crocodiles to live in. Except I think that the sharks ate them all so you don’t have to worry about the crocodiles.

  8. As a long-time resident of desert-y AZ and now slightly less desert-y Utah, I’m not sure I believe you. I’m pretty sure there does not exist that much water in the world.

  9. ksbeth says:

    yes, big vs. small means that big usually wins. ocean math. and i love the water and pretend that i am bigger than i really am when I’m in there, but then a massive creature swims by and i remember..

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