Monday, June 22, 2015

Mitch Hedberg, the value of aquatic life and how I doomed humanity

(Not the one I helped,

Mitch Hedberg once said “If fish could scream the ocean would be loud as shit.” I’m going expand the scope of Mitch’s brilliant yet simple observation to include all aquatic life and the beach based on events which transpired at first light yesterday morning.
                My fiancée and I were down the shore and decided, as folks do when they’re down the shore, to take a walk on the beach. So there we were, just a-walking down the beach, when we saw it. A horseshoe crab. Laying on its back on the sand. Its hideous legs and tail-thing all stuck up in the air. As we neared, I think I said something to the effect of “Aw poor little guy.” As we got even nearer, out of nowhere, it twitched. Right around there I think I said something less sappy, probably along the lines of “Jesus! Kill the beast! Kill it dead!” as flashbacks of the “Alien” franchise danced through my head.
After I’d managed to compose myself, my fiancée, with her too-big heart announced: “We should help it.” Apparently the sight of its moving pointy, mutant spider body hadn’t put her passed the “Aw poor little guy" phase. Also, tangent: Fellas, when your lady says “We” should do something and that something involves a creature that H.P. Lovecraft pondered while eating breakfast cereal, it’s a safe bet to go ahead and replace “We” with “You.” That’s my Jeff Foxworthy impression for the day and, Foxworthy as it may be, in this case it was true.
I sighed the sigh of a man who knows he must touch one of god’s more ill-conceived ideas or risk angering his lady friend. I approached the still-twitching nightmare creature. I feel like now’s a good time to point out that I know nothing about horseshoe crabs or their powers. I vaguely recall asking my fiancée “Is it poisonous?” She didn’t know. I still don’t know. I don’t think they are, but who can say? Also, they have that weird pointy-tail thing that I think is used for swimming but could also be used for puncturing holes in hands of misguided Samaritans.

I found a nearby stick and, citing an abundance of caution, used the stick to hold the pointy-tail bit at bay lest it strike at me with it like a scorpion. With the tail secured, it was time to figure out what to do about moving it. I thought about picking it up but, remembering it was a crab, I feared getting pinched. So I did the most humane thing I could, I reached under the hardened exterior shell part of the body (away from the legs) and rolled the sucker.
                I repeated the process a few times, but my progress back to the sea was negligible. My strategy earned me a: “That poor thing” from the fiancée, who was safely nowhere near the beast. I closed my eyes and summed all of the resolve I could. Enough to do all sorts of manly things, like walk into a dark basement without turning on the lights, tell the waiter you wanted the steak cooked well not medium-well or yes, touch gross things. I picked the monster up with one hand, the other still had the tail secured with a stick because I was not taking any chances with that thing and then I gingerly, spryly ran blindly, screaming towards the sea. The second my feet touched the water’s edge I opened my eyes and threw the crab back from whence he came. He splashed into the water. I walked back to my fiancée.
                “Well,” I began, a tired, soul-weary man. “The deed is done. He may just wash up again later, but goddamn, we did our part.” She smiled and we walked on, both of us feeling like we’d done some good in the world, me exclusively feeling the need to take a molten Purell bath.
                We walked for maybe three more minutes with that happy feeling, until we rounded a corner and came upon what could only be described as an all-horseshoe crab reenactment of the opening scene of “Saving Private Ryan.” There were literally dozens and dozens of horseshoe crabs all washed up on this beach. Most appeared to be dead, but again, who can say?
                I dropped to my knees and dramatically yelled: “Why god!? Why must you torment me with horseshoe crabs?!”
                No I didn’t. I felt like it though.
                My fiancée, frazzled by the grizzly sight, actually pondered: “What is their purpose in life?”
                I watched as a bird picked at one of the corpses and said softly, philosophically: “To be food.”
                We walked on in silence for a little longer before turning back. We carefully averted our eyes as we traversed the horseshoe crab cemetery on the way back.
                At a certain point, perhaps thinking of an old “Simpsons” episode, I wondered: “What if that crab we saved goes on to assume power in Germany and starts WWIII?” My fiancée had no response to this and as we walked off the beach, we left with the knowledge that our actions may have very well doomed society. That is a heavy thing to think about first thing in the morning. A damn heavy thing. And if it does work out that way, allow me to say this in my defense: it was all her idea! Get the girl! She’s the one you want!                


  1. Local news media reports sightings of a Portuguese Man O' War creature washing ashore at Northern Jersey beaches. You stay safe on those morning walks, sir. And you're a goddamn hero.

  2. Aldo Montoya washed up in North Jersey?

  3. For some reason I only got an email about funks comment, which is even funnier out of context.

    Yeah I'll lend a tentative hand to things named after games and things horses wear on their feet, but I'll be giving a wide berth to anything with the word war in its name. I don't care for your average domestic American jellyfish.