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Jeremy Corbett: Love Bites

New Zealand Women's Weekly columnist Jeremy finds a soft spot in his heart for a new toy.

I had a traumatic experience over the Christmas holiday break. Though it took place in early January, only now do I feel ready to share.

Here’s what happened – I lost my shark.

He arrived in our lives on Christmas Day; a gift from the wonderful Megan, who knows very well that men are just children wrapped in flabbier skin.

Buy them presents on that basis and you’ll never go wrong.

For the first few days after arrival, he was just a box with a picture of a shark on it. Not a very big box, certainly not one that demanded instant attention amongst the toys and food of festive insanity.

Little did we know how he would touch the hearts of each and every one of us.

It was about a week later that I opened the box, read the instructions and spent two to three hours assembling, swearing and inflating my shark.

That’s when the transformation took place.

From a piece of cellophane and a small tank of helium came an impressive, menacing yet domesticated creature of the deep.

He was mesmerising.

He would float in mid air, his big, dark shark eyes looking for prey, then with a press of a button on the remote control, there’d be a swish of his tail and he would “swim” elegantly across the room.

He could dive, he could climb and you couldn’t tear your eyes away. What a toy!

Our shark was alive! It had personality, character and it didn’t bite one of us! My daughters named him Bruce because, like many children of the Finding Nemo generation, they believe all sharks are called Bruce.

Bruce quickly became a member of our family and we had hours of good times.

But our summer of sharky fun could not last forever and it would seem our fondness for Bruce was perhaps not reciprocated.

So it was, only three hours after I had assembled him, that Bruce made a break for freedom.

While my back was turned, and cleverly utilising the air currents from a freshly opened window, Bruce squeezed through the impossibly small gap of a half-open door.

I was alerted by the laughing and taunts of our neighbours.

“Shark! Shark! It’s escaping! You’re a poor shark wrangler!”

I raced outside to see Bruce climbing and air-swimming on the breeze, a big smile on his cellophane face. I could only wave my friend goodbye.

The whole family was affected by this tragedy.

I was disproportionately upset. I really missed Bruce. Summer suddenly seemed greyer and less joyous.

Then two wonderful things happened.

Firstly, in a truly touching gesture, my eldest daughter, tears in her eyes, presented me a shark she had drawn, hoping to ease my pain.

Talk about tugging at the heartstrings.

Secondly, my wife ordered me a new floating shark which arrived only two days later.

He is awesome! We still have him. His name is Bruce.

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