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  • Will Tickner

Do Not Swim at Breaker Bay

and Other Times I've Almost Died 

Eulogised by Will Tickner (he/him))

Hello, my name is Will. I’m a second year in Theatre and Film, I am 6,3ft, and I may be a dominatrix the way I’ve edged the Grim Reaper. I think I am the dumbest person in New Zealand; I believed the word “chameleon” was spelt with a silent “B.” I thought Napier was in the South Island. I have nearly died multiple times. Each time I zoot past Death on a Beam scooter, I usually learn a valuable lesson. Some of my “near deaths” are literal, others are metaphorical, most are hysterical. Regardless, I hope the morals I’ve learnt will help readers not to make the same mistakes, such as swimming at Breaker Bay. 

#1 Sabrina Carpenter Nearly Killed Me 

I love my noise-cancelling headphones. I love the way I can listen to Sabrina Carpenter’s "Espresso” as if I’m not the one who gets obsessed. If you see me wearing them around campus, please feel free to not approach me. I am having enrichment time in my enclosure. Two months ago, I left my flat to go to work. I was wearing my headphones, and when I stepped out on the road, some fuckhead’s 2003 rustbucket came out of nowhere at full speed. I froze like a deer in headlights, and I heard his tires screech to a halt over Sabrina Carpenter’s sexy sexy vocals. I sheepishly moved off the road as he cussed me out (valid). It wasn’t until he was out of sight I realised it could have been avoided, if only I could hear him coming. 

Lesson: There’s a time and place for Sabrina Carpenter. 

#2 That Guy With The Knife 

Just before I started my first year at uni, I decided I wanted to explore my sexual identity and spread my wings. 

In other words I started my whore era, and spread my legs. 

Early in this era, I met up with a man. He was well-off, attractive, and an age I’m not willing to disclose. I soon realised after I parked my car in his driveway that he might as well have been the national banner of China because he was a walking red flag. He lived in a spotless house (weird). He only wanted to do stuff on the single bed despite having two larger beds (so weird). He also started to make some very racist comments about Te Reo, unprompted (wtf wtf wtf). I decided I needed to pull an Irish goodbye when he started making a gin and tonic with lemons (the sign of the devil). As he cut them up in the kitchen, I snuck into the bedroom to get my car keys. When I turned around, there he was standing in the doorway still half-naked, holding the  large serrated knife like Billy Loomis, and asking what I’m doing. I then put my acting skills to the test as I awkwardly said my brother called, asking why I’m not home and I need to go. After hearing that, he let me leave. It wasn’t until I was speeding home that I realised that were I to become one of his little lemons, no one would know where I was. 

Lesson: When whoring around, turn your location on. 

#3 My Grandfather is An Asshole 

I grew up somewhat rural, and my grandparents owned a large farm. We lived close to them, so every weekend my parents forced my grandparents to look after The Two Shitheads (me and my brother). One of these days when I was five, I was helping my grandfather with his cattle. Unprompted, he grumbled to me, “Don’t touch the electric fence.” 

I touched the electric fence. 

It was a little zap, and I thought it was funny. I kept touching it for another five minutes, zapping myself. My grandfather clocked this, and crept over to the control box where he immediately upped the ante. I was told years later it was “OnLy TuRnEd Up A FeW NOtcHeS,” but looking back I’m pretty sure he fried a few of my brain cells. 

Lesson: Listen to your elders. 

#4 Do Not Swim At Breaker Bay 

If the title of this isn’t clear, let me spell it for you. 

Don’t go swimming at the nudist beach, Breaker Bay, with your friends. 

Don’t think that it’s a good idea. 

Don’t go during the evening, when there’s barely anyone around. 

Don’t listen to your friend when she points out a really hot naked guy heading to the water. Don’t think it’s a good idea to follow him. 

Don’t push past the three metre waves, as if it's not a warning. 

Don’t swim out into the sea where it's calmer, looking for the hot naked guy. Don’t relax together, laughing as it gets dark. 

If you’ve done this, you’re already screwed. 

When you decide to head back to shore you can’t, because you’re stuck in a rip. When you and your friends try to, you won’t make progress because you’re stuck in a rip. When you swim for another ten minutes, you still won’t get further because you’re stuck in a rip. When you stop to catch your breath, you’ll be sucked out further because you’re stuck in a rip. When you yell for your friends to help you, they can’t help because they’re also stuck in the rip. Suddenly, you remember that Breaker Bay is known for lethal waters. 

That’s when you realise that you are—in fact—stuck in a rip

I do not know how we managed to make it back to shore. What was worse than getting stuck in the rip was getting back through the waves again. I had never been bowled by a wave before, and let me tell you it’s a religious experience. You will see God. When we finally made it back to shore, coughing up salt water, we realised one of us had sliced their foot open on the rocks.

The hot naked guy had disappeared; I'm fairly certain he was a siren who led horny teenagers into the water to drown them. Me and my mates then proceeded to tidy ourselves up and drive home in silence with nothing but a bleeding foot and kelp in our lungs. 

Lesson: … Take a guess. 

In conclusion, life is short. Scarily short. Sometimes life knocks you off early, and sometimes it grazes you by. Yet, I believe you can’t truly understand your own mortality until you’ve had a near death experience, or polished off three bottles of Soju. The times that you are blessed to live another day on this planet, you’ll learn lessons which will help you to not make the same mistakes again. 

You also get to tell the funny story of nearly drowning at Breaker Bay because of a hot mermaid. 

With delusion and confusion, 

Will Tickner x


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