A Christmas nutcracker-the largest ever seen in the mid Atlantic-has been spotted patrolling beaches in several prime locations geared for tourists heading south during the winter holidays.
Marine biologist Susan "Sugar Plum" Farley reports, "It's been estimated to be upward of 20 feet in length. That's 6.096 meters for those of you on the metric system." Typically, she says, nutcrackers of the Great White variety average 12 to 13 feet (3.6576 to 3.9624 meters - if you want to be precise). Approximately, one-fourth of their length is taken up by the enormity of their head size alone.
So far, although more than a dozen sightings have been reported as far north as South Jersey Shore, and as far south as South Beach, Florida, only two injuries and one death have been attributed to the giant nutcracker.
"Jersey Shore, I can understand," a New Jersey state official stated. "I mean, these are family oriented and LGBT friendly beaches. You can certainly appreciate a nutcracker being drawn to these waters. But South Beach? Who would voluntarily take their talents to South Beach?"
Ironically, the single death occurred shortly after a dress rehearsal of the Savannah, Georgia, production of the Nutcracker Ballet. Herr Drosselmeyer, a German émigré, long sought by Israeli task forces for his alleged involvement in Nazi experiments with bad magic acts, was found washed up on shore, apparently gummed to death. This has led to speculation that more than one Great White Nutcracker is swimming the U.S. East Coast, including possibly an elderly specimen that has lost most if not all of its teeth.
"The bite marks are consistent with a nutcracker that is missing both upper and lower dentures, probably due to lack of an adhesive resilient to salt water," a local orthodontist, who preferred to remain anonymous, speculated to members of five international press organizations and seven camera crews that descended on the appropriately named Hunting Island State Park, just north of Hilton Head.
Descriptions by two survivors, sister and brother Clara (also known as Marie) and Fritz (also known as Fritz) Stahlbaum, are more graphic, although their accounts differ in several aspects. For one thing, it is unknown why they chose to swim at an undisclosed private beach near Atlantic City, except that the siblings seem to prefer subarctic temperatures at this time of year after a night playing the slots.
"It was beautiful," Clara, who wished to remain anonymous until her brother divulged her name to the press, said after an incident that left her in a trancelike state. "A giant, wonderful specimen, full of magic and enormous, white teeth. I could see the poor thing was suffering from a cavity, that's how close it was. Probably too many sweets, the poor, poor dear."
Asked about the nature of the attack, Clara declined to say.
"It was after my nuts," Fritz claimed. "Why do you think it's called a nutcracker for Christ's sake?"
When asked to clarify, Fritz explained he had gone swimming with a plastic package of black walnuts he had received as an early Christmas present and was using as a life preserver to keep him afloat.
"That's because you're so mean, and cruel, and big, and fat-you sink!" Clara added, unhelpfully.
However, according to first responders, a package of nuts-preferably large walnuts-may be the best defense against the blunt force of a Great White Nutcracker attack.
Seamus Heaney, not to be confused with the Nobel-prize winning Irish poet, deceased, nor with American Red Cross official Seamless Heinie, whom he was impersonating, concurred. "Any nut will do: peanut, cashew, Brazilian, almonds. The bigger the nut, the better your chance of survival. A coconut, in fact, would be ideal."
"Not so," said Seamless Heinie, who became available for comment when finished with a cross-training heart-lung workout involving a polar bear swim. "Though in principle throwing nuts at an aquatic Nutcracker has been known to be effective, scientifically speaking, a coconut is not actually a nut."
Nevertheless, the Department of Homeland Security has devised an early Nutcracker warning system, soon to be implemented, by which the threat of a Great White Nutcracker attack at any particular beach will be color coded in order of severity.
"We don't want any more casualties," an assistant subregional codirector of the agency, formerly a Navy Seal, stated off the record. "And we are prepared to go to any lengths to defeat this nutracking menace before it gets out of hand. In fact, I'd be willing to go after it mano a mano. All it takes is a good set of cajones."
He was subsequently reprimanded for his outspokenness by law enforcement agencies that recommended more caution and less descriptiveness.
"Cajones, balls, nuts-what's the difference?" the Seal barked in response. "This is a case that will soon be cracked wide open."
One survival technique was suggested by a third grader in a question-answer session at Newcomb Elementary School, after watching amateur video footage of a supposed sighting as part of an emergency preparedness operation being conducted by a network of primary and secondary schools up and down the West Coast, just in case the Nutcracker should migrate.
"Why don't you just dive under water?" the student asked from under his desk, where he had been instructed to go during a practice drill. "After all, Nutcrackers can't sink. They float!"