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Consider This

By LC Van Savage

Jocelyn and Jaws

We had an old friend from NJ visiting us about a year ago and one evening we clicked on some sort of National Geographic type show and it showed us, the viewers, a wonderful story of a gorgeous, hard-bodied young couple who were hip deep in ocean water, their arms wrapped around a huge Great White shark who’d been ensnared in nets and ropes and who could not swim away. He was tightly wrapped and the ropes were cutting deeply into his big, shining body. Carefully watching those Great White teeth, the couple cut and unwound all that stuff around the shark’s beautiful form and got him free. What a sight. That was one huge fish who, with a simple twist of his great black and white muscular torso, could have dispatched that couple with one or two well aimed snaps of his bone-crushing Jaws (sorry) quickly rendering his saviors to entrée and dessert status.

But he didn’t. Obviously shaken, hungry, he wobbled off into the ocean, leaving his benefactors cheering and thrilled that they’d taken part in saving that magnificent animal.

Good friend (her name is Jocelyn) in my livingroom watches all this from above the rim of her goldfish bowl sized glass of white wine and says, “Well, if you ask me” (I hadn’t) “they should just go out and shoot the #@$^*@#$*! sharks and be rid of them. Wipe ‘em out. Then we can all go swimming in any ocean in the world and not have to worry that those $**#%^@! sharks will come over and bite off our legs.”

“What?” asked I.

“Yeah,” she went on. “Who needs them? Big disgusting fish that think it’s perfectly OK to just go around eating people. We rule this planet, you know! They don’t,” said my pal Jocelyn, her voice quivering with rage and self-righteousness. “They think just because we fall into the water from a boat every so often that this gives them the right to attack us or take off our arms and heads and stuff.”

“What?” asked I.

“Sure,” she went on, her voice rising with the fervor that only pure morality creates. “Who needs ‘em? Remember that guy what’s his name? Wrote all those books about fishing and shooting and war and sex and stuff? Hung around with that Stein woman in Paris? You know, Ernest somebody or other.”

“Hemingway?” I asked.

“Yeah, that one” says my friend. “Well, he used to get drunk on his yacht and sit in his fishing chair and throw a lot of bloody stuff overboard and attract all those sharks and then he’d just blast ‘em to death with one of those big guns he used to kill all those animals in the jungle and the mountains and all.”

“And you think that’s cool”? asks I.

“Well—ya. I mean why not? What good is a bunch of stupid sharks?” says Jocelyn. “Oh come on LC, don’t get that bleeding-heart, save-the-planet look on your face.”

I did anyway and tried to explain all about sharks to her, but she’d have none of it. Didn’t matter to her that they keep our oceans clean. Well, they try. We humans are winning that one I reckon. I told her how in fact the ocean is their turf, not ours, so perhaps we ought to stay out of it. I told her that in certain oceans, sharks’ fins are sliced off for soup and how the rest of the fish is heaved overboard to die horribly in the water.

She said, “Well, that soup’s pretty good, you know.”

Trying not to scream, I attempted to explain a lot to Jocelyn, but she just shrugged and swallowed a few more loud gulps of her wine. (Five.) I went on to explain the importance of those big fish in the world’s oceans, but my lecture fell on wine-deafened ears. I tried to explain to her that people like Ernest Hemingway and Teddy Roosevelt and others of their ilk took pleasure in slaughtering the world’s great animals by the thousands, sometimes in the lame excuse that it was all being done for “research” when in fact they did it because they thought doing that would prove their manliness to the world. I told Jocelyn a lot of other things too about the animal world I was sure she and everyone else knew, but by this point her head was back, her mouth was open, she was snoring and she was pretty much passed out. I got her cauldron of wine safely out of her limp hand.

Yeah, I’m a bleeding heart type and I do believe that all animals, all living things deserve a fair and respected life and should not be killed just for the helluvvit. I kill nothing unnecessarily, and yes, yes, I do occasionally eat meat. Therefore I speak with forked tongue, I know, but it’s not forked because I sometimes chow on the corpses of creatures who until recently ran free and who had mothers. No, it’s forked because all bets are off if an animal has designs on my body for a little repast.

I have no interest in saving something that’s about to constrict, bite in half, sting, hurt, peck, hit, throw, pummel or stomp me into oblivion. No, when they try to do that, it’s moi against them, and I would prefer to win and so I mostly do, or at least I do in my dreams. A Great White comes toward me as I splash about in the surf? He is history. Or I am. I think I’d probably lose that one. I forget what you’re supposed to do when you’re staring into the maw of a very hungry fish of the shark persuasion. Punch his eyeballs out? Wouldn’t that just enrage him further? Make him hungrier? Can I actually find his eyeballs when my head and shoulders are halfway down his raspy gullet?

Hmmm. I think I’ll just stay on the land and take my chances with those terrorist mosquitoes, worms and skunks. And Jocelyn.

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