Revenge of the Fish

I don’t fish, but I understand it’s supposedly a rather relaxing activity. Apparently, I am wrong.

By all accounts, it was a normal day of fishing for Josh Landin. He and his friends settled down for a rather mundane day of bait fishing, when suddenly one rather bold fish decided that enough was enough and he just wasn’t going to take it anymore, even if it meant making a completely futile attempt that would immediately cause him to die and have no impact on the rate, frequency, or quality of the fishing. The fish, 57 pounds and nearly five feet long—the equivalent of the sixth grader with the full mustache and a rather tenuous grasp on the purpose of standardized testing—appeared from the water like a deus ex machina, only with less a purpose of bringing about a convenient resolution and more for a purpose of horking a chunk of flesh from Josh’s calf. The convenient resolution occurred much later at the hospital once Josh got over a hundred stitches applied at the hospital. Thankfully, his friends kept the long-deceased fish, where they plan on letting the local crabs feast on his carcass. Which seems to be about the best solution for everyone involved, except perhaps the fish.

Animals have taken an increasingly alarming stance against the encroachment of human populations into their environment. Deer, long the bane of suburban planners and Dodge Neon owners, have been particularly nuisancical in their objections, their form of protest being as fertile as a Kentucky sorority house and desecrating the foliage. Town councils all over the country have dealt with this in a manner of comically disquieting ways, from hidden oral profilactics in salt licks (“Here, eat this”); massive deportation to more deer-friendly locales (“Here, get in”); forced contraceptives (“Here, hold still and put this on”); and, in the most extreme cases, a bounty for incoming rural hunters (“Here, hold still”). These latter individuals are all too happy to demonstrate to lonely soccer moms the difference between sloppily violent street guns and the finely glamorous art of hunting, or as glamorous as something like that can be when you are carrying around a packet of synthetic doe piss.

The most amazing thing about this is that the animals haven’t turned against us sooner. Take our dogs. We treat our dogs as pets, with copious amounts of love and compassion, but we start our relationships off with our best friends by naming them Booger and snipping off their cocoa pebbles. Then we pat them on the head and make them grab sticks out of the air, then pump them full of Chinese wheat gluten and wonder why they deliberately piss all over the porch steps.

And, really, what pet hasn’t suffered the humiliations of perpetual subservience? We condition our hamsters and gerbils that strolling about endlessly on a little steel wheel is about the single greatest demonstration of earthly nirvana that can ever visit upon a rodent. For felines, we cultivate a dependency of a formula based on finely balanced proportions of catnip, codependency, and Fancy Feast. We cage our fish in translucent Cracker Jack boxes and feed them hippie-colored compressed factory sweepings from the same Centrum canister for two years instead of busting out an extra eight dollars for a fresh jar of Sam’s Choice Enhanced Goldfish Meal every Daylight Savings Time.

Some animals, of course, have learned, and act rather forcefully as a result, their brutally violent actions much more effective than filling out a nonexistent customer satisfaction survey. Sometimes, animals are subtle about their resentment. For instance, you occasionally read about some distant elephant in Bombay who, after forty years of bonding with their elephant steward, or whatever they’re called, they show this appreciation by stamping their keepers forcefully in the face about a hundred times in succession.

Probably the most recent notorious example of this is the case of Montecore, a white tiger trained from cubdom by Roy Horn, better known as the least gay member of Siegfried and Roy. In exchange for six years of training, room and board, and all the Frosted Flakes he could ever possibly want, he decided one day that Roy would look exceptionally great clamped between his teeth and bloodily mauled in front of a live audience numbering in the thousands. (Vegas being Vegas, not a single member of the audience “saw anything.”) While being carted to the emergency room, he famously declared that they not harm the cat, being Red Flag Number One that perhaps that mother’s day gift of a chocolate-covered gazelle was perhaps a little bit too familiar, even given their endangered status.

Naturally, the subculture of people who love to see animals attack people (Hey, to each their own. You should see what TiVO “recommends” to me based on my viewing habits) has spawned the legendary When Animals Attack, a Fox product (who else?) seen as a practical alternative for NBC Nightly News viewers. These shows, which were primarily a rather rough documentary in the form of crudely spliced footage of animals attacking humans in rapid succession, garnered respectable viewers while it was on. Most of these viewers, of course, weren’t intimidated when Snappy the wrongly-identified “box” turtle pinched their longman, or unimpressed when Chirpy the ex-girlfriend’s worthless parakeet merrily chomped on their big toe like it was country fried steak day down at the cafeteria, so they have to get their big-animal conflict fix on the tube. And while any animal with enough hardened dead skin cells formed into a talon-shaped, uh, talon is a potential enemy, sleep soundly knowing that man will always have the upper hand. That is, until Boxy learns how to access the internet.

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