Shark as Attack

Once, a long time ago, so long ago he can’t even remember if it was pre-Maria or post-Maria, he mentioned to someone in passing that he happened to like sharks. He didn’t say he loved them, he just said he liked them, enough to watch Jaws at least four times in as many months, which, in his eyes, wasn’t that much anyway, not when you compared it to how many times he watched Better Off Dead after Maria left him, and no, not just so he could obsess over Diane Franklin, to whom Maria bore an uncanny resemblance. (P.S. Maria, it was a compliment. A compliment! So what if Diane Franklin all but disappeared from the face of the earth after that movie? She was spunky and beautiful then! Much more appealing than that dime a dozen blonde who played the other girl whose name he can’t even remember, that’s how much she impressed him!)
So: Sharks. He likes them enough, he does. But why did that mean that people had to immediately start getting him shark paraphernalia? Why did his co-workers think he wanted a mousepad depicting a ferocious shark face gnashing its teeth? Why did his mother get him a “shark-a-day” calendar for his desk? Why did someone (Lisa, the temp? Bill from Accounting?) anonymously leave a stuffed “plush toy” shark on his chair with a note saying, “Shark! Who goes there?”? T-shirts, boxer shorts, books, and all other manner of gift: all given to him by people with sharky gleams in their eyes, all thinking they were original by giving him shark stuff. In rare charitable and magnanimous moments, sometimes in the shower, he thought, “You know, people are really very kind. They mean no harm. They’re like sharks, really, now that I think about it. Given a mere drop of blood, they rush ’round and feed on it in a frenzy. People really do mean well.”
And then he’d get out of the shower, start to shave, and, mid-stroke (usually when he was doing the little part just under his lower lip), he’d come back to his senses and think, “I hate the shark crap. It’s gotta stop.” One morning, after one such thought cycle, he decides to get to the office early and get rid of it all, and replace it with sophisticated office stuff from somewhere respectable. No more of this Spencer Gift garbage.
So he gets to work, and sees someone has already been to his desk. First of all, there’s a rather treacherous stack of papers peppered with Post-Its, and he knows he didn’t leave them there the night before. But then, acting as a paperweight atop the heap, is a can of Starkist tuna (albacore).
“What the —” he starts. Couldn’t Jim’ve just used the marble shark paperweight like everyone else did? Especially since Jim was the one who gave it to him last Christmas?
“Great job on the Shonlyn case,” someone says. It’s Jim. “You could say you’re shark as a tack!”
“You mean ‘sharp’,” he says, removing the can of tuna from the stack of papers.
“What?”
“Sharp. Not shark.”
“What?”
“It’s ‘sharp as a tack’,” he says. “Not ‘shark’.”
“Oh. I know,” Jim says. “But you know you and your sharks!” He takes the can of tuna and tosses it between his hands. “Like this guy,” he says, indicating the label.
“That’s Charlie the Tuna. Charlie’s a tuna. Not a shark.”
“What?” Jim says.
“That’s Charlie the Tuna,” he says.
“I thought it was a shark,” Jim says. “That’s why I gave it to you.”
“Come on,” he says. “It’s Charlie the Tuna. Charlie. The Tuna. He introduced himself as Charlie the Tuna in the old commercials. Everyone knows who he is. He’s a tuna. A tuna. Not a shark. Why the hell would they put a shark on a can of tuna fish? Why?”
“I never really thought about it,” Jim says, and tosses the can at him. “See, that’s why you and me are such a good team.”
“You and I,” he says.
“What?”
“It’s ‘you and I’, not ‘you and me’,” he says.
“I … me … oh, all right. Got’cha,” Jim says, pointing his fingers like a gun, pulling the “trigger” and making a little “clickclick” sound with his mouth. “Catch you later, Charlie the Shark!” And with a wink Jim whistles his way down the hall.
Stupid shark shit, he thinks, watching Jim retreat, tasting blood.