the great white menace
I was watching a documentary on great white sharks and the whole point of it was to explain to the viewer that these magnificent fish are greatly misunderstood and should not be feared. They are beautiful and noble creatures. Graceful. Majestic. The platitudes began to pile up. The rare attacks on humans are almost always a case of mistaken identity.
To reinforce this premise, they cut to a number of grisly video clips showing these sharks attacking their intended prey; the sea lion.
It was some pretty horrifying stuff.
Which got me to thinking, what a completely different documentary this would be if I were a sea lion.
When this thought occurred to me they were interviewing a professor of some shark stuff or other, perched behind his stuffy office and droning on about how successful sharks have been throughout the ages. Suddenly sitting in his place, and looking quite comfortable there, was a sea lion. His front flippers on the desk, he began to bark out what appeared to be a rather pointed anti-shark diatribe.
I don’t speak sea lion, but he had a rather stern look on his face, nothing like you see at Sea World, and as if to accentuate his point, another round of video clips started up, each one more brutal than the next. Sea lions being hurled into the air from below, the water stained red with their blood, entrails hanging out from their bellies, the sharks looking like their grinning and having a ball, chunks of zalophus californianus stuck between their enormous teeth.
When the camera returned to our sea lion sitting in his leather chair, you could plainly see that he was thinking “Great white sharks are fucking cold-blooded murderers.”
As if to prove his point beyond a shadow of a doubt, more video clips followed. Videos I’d never seen before. Grieving mothers on the shore watching their daughters being consumed. Fathers scanning the horizon looking for their sons. One in particular tugged at the heartstrings. The father standing there with a baseball glove on the ground in front of his flippers, staring off into the distance. Suddenly you realize that he’d accidentally overthrown the ball during a game of catch and his son had swum out to retrieve it, only to be swallowed whole. “Why did I have to put so much on it? Why were we even playing so close to the water?” That seal will have to live with that the rest of his days. The waves lapping gently against the shore. The enormity of the moment. A chilling scene.
By the time the camera returned to the seal sitting at his desk, tears were rolling down my face.
And the seal behind the desk sported a full beard and was wearing spectacles and a jacket with leather patches where his elbows would be if he had any.
A pipe hung in his mouth.
He barked again. This time slower. Glaring at the camera. “These things are nothing but mindless killing machines!” he seemed to be saying. Again, my sea lion is a bit rusty.
When he finished, the pipe, almost miraculously, still sat in his mouth.
The credits rolled.
I was emotionally spent.
Next up was a documentary featuring a squid sitting at a desk, full beard, glasses and a jacket with eight leather patches where his elbows would be if he had any, about to show video evidence of why sea lions are a menace.
I couldn’t bear to watch so I flipped the channel just in time to see another documentary starting up, this one featuring a crab sitting at a desk, full beard, glasses sitting awkwardly on his shell and a jacket with ten leather patches where his elbows would be if he had any, about to show video evidence of why squid are such a menace.
I kept hitting the remote until I finally found a Jaws marathon in full swing.