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For the record, the ocean is beautiful. But so are a great many things in this life that will kill you. I read about a remarkable creature—the buck moth caterpillar—that can, with one touch, render a human in shock leading to death.

Why will I not venture into the sea? Because there are far bigger things than caterpillars swimming around in its murky depths, many of which aren’t necessarily bearing dangerous traits as a means of protection from people like you and me, but because they’re actually swimming around looking for us—you know, to eat us.

Sharks are great motivators for staying dry. Most people might stay dry for fear of drowning. I say being eaten while drowning is an even better reason. And considering there are more than a thousand species of sharks, and within the category of each species there are innumerable members, I don’t care what the Discovery Channel says about my chances of being eaten. The oceans aren’t that big, and with conservationists who used to complain about the possibility of shark extinction now producing shows that investigate the increases in shark attacks on one side of Australia in comparison to the other, I think there are some very important statistics being kept from the masses.

Eugene O’Neill said that the sea hates a coward. I disagree. I don’t think it discriminates against cowards alone. Saltwater or freshwater, the sea hates everyone equally. Consider the Edmund Fitzgerald. I’m guessing all twenty-nine on board were considered brave by their peers. In contrast, I’d say Joseph Conrad landed closer to the target when he said, “The sea has never been friendly to man. At most it has been the accomplice of human restlessness.” This is to say that like the lions of Africa sitting pridefully still for photos, the sea draws people by its seemingly disinterested majesty, only for some poor soul on the safari to learn it was hunting the whole time.

So, why am I sharing this? Because we’ll be visiting the ocean later today while on vacation. It’ll be at sunset—when sharks are known to hunt the most. Will I go into the water? Yes. But only knee-deep at the most. Am I a terrible example to my children when it comes to enjoying the gifts of God’s bountiful earth? Probably. But that’s only because I’ll have chummed the water with about twenty pounds of raw hamburger about a half mile down the beach where others are swimming to help insure me and my family won’t be on the deep-sea dwellers’ menu. Alas, enjoyment of God’s wonderful creation always involves a little bit of preparation—and sometimes a backup plan. I mean, is camping really camping without a supply list that includes a book of matches and a propane torch in case the matches just won’t work? Thus, my relatively short list of beach-faring necessities: sunscreen, swimsuits, sandals, water-filled milk jugs for washing the sand from our feet before getting into the car, and twenty pounds of raw hamburger. As a backup, I’m bringing along professional divers to patrol the water around us in case the hamburger doesn’t work as planned.

Plan C—or the backup plan for the backup plan—involves a readied ambulance and a bottle of whisky. The ambulance will be for, well, you know. The whisky will be there in case I’m the one on the gurney in the ambulance. I’ve long said I want to face death with a whisky in my hand. As our nearing visit with the ocean has me pondering such things, I’d say Bruichladdich’s 8-year-old Octomore 8.2 edition would be a fine escort to the pearly gates.

The nose of this well-peated whisky is substantial, being powerful enough to overtake all the likely waftings of blood, saltwater, and medicinal stenches from cocktails being applied by the paramedics. With a hint of concord grapes simmering in honey, the peat smoke drifts along carrying the sense of darker berries dirtied with ash.

A sip reveals the whisky’s cling, hinting by its hold on the glass that even amid the bustle of medical attention, few of its drops will be spilled. This is good, because every bit of the spiced chocolate, chicken fried steak, and a garnishing vegetable lurking beneath its weighted waves are to be desired.

By God’s grace, the finish will remain long after you’ve been carted from the ambulance to the operating table, fading only as the anesthesia begins dulling your senses and carrying you away. And yet, if God allows for you to wake, it’ll be there waiting on the other side, giving the delicious sensations of malt, peat, and thick black coffee.

I’d better stop right there, because I’m beginning to convince even myself that the worst of oceanic possibilities might not be all that bad with the right whisky in hand. Although, it’s hard to sip whisky when something has swum away with both your arms.

Have I told you how little I appreciate the ocean?