Saturday, August 08, 2009


Most of you remember biology in the old days, I'll bet. That was when you were in 7th, 8th or 9th grade and one day the biology teacher came in and started handing out frogs, then explained that if you put a little knife like thing at the top of their neck, right beneath their head, you could kill them. And you were supposed to. After that began dissection. It was always good for a laugh when one of the class tough guys feinted at the sight of the blood spurting.
How many frogs did we aggregately kill? Tens of millions? Why? For the joy of seeing a football player fall on the ground, unconscious? Or just to keep someone's brother in law, who bred frogs, in business.
I am not sure which but I do know that the lesson had little to do with learning and a lot to do with our getting our collective rocks off, legally. Like pulling the wings off Japanese beetles just to see them suffer, or the legs off mosquitos just to watch them waddle around, without enough legs to support them. But the frogs, that was a state supported action, so that was okay. HAH!
In my high school, we had Brother X as our biology teacher. He had a couple of Master's in science and was going for a Phd in biology and he was one smart son of a bitch. He was also a son of a bitch who loved coming up behind you and jamming your kidneys with a hard bound book or a closed fist, just to watch you drop. "You're an experiment, boy. Now get up and let's see if you fall as fast if you know it's coming..." He was that sort of guy.
Well, for one experiment we had to dissect an animal at home. I picked an aligator, since I'd always wanted one, and my experiment was going to show that the books had it right, that alligators had a two-sectioned brain and a four (???) sectioned heart, something that people didn't have.
So I bought my alligator and had him as a pet for a couple of weeks, then went to Brother X and got some formaldehyde and a couple of syringes to apply it. On the way home from school, on the public bus, the formaldehyde opened and we had to stop for an hour or so because people were getting sick. I still made it home with nearly a gallon.
Thing was, I had no idea how to apply it. So I just took my pet alligator and put him in a pot, then poured a gallon of formaldehyde over him and thought he'd get stiff. He didn't. In fact, he fought. Fought like hell to get out of that pot. Fought so hard I had to find a lid, then put a brick, then two bricks, then a cinderblock on it to keep him from jumping/pushing his way out to save himself.
I finally couldn't take the dying and went across the street and got Jamie McGurran, younger brother of my friend Dan, and called him in to witness what I was doing. He came, witnessed, and said I was committing a sin and would go to hell for drowning an alligator in formaldehyde. I protested that it had been given to me by a Brother, a man of the cloth, a near freaking priest.
Jamie was unmoved but loved the slow death at my expense.
And when the little animal, probably 1/2 pound and 15 inches long, died, we took him out and tried to cut him open to prove my scientific points. But his skin was hard, his bones harder, so we finaly took a 1" chisel and a 3 pound sledge and smashed him open, ruining all internal organs beyond recognition.
I still wrote my report based on the smashed tissue I had, and I passed the assignment.
But I smashed a dying alligator to death to satisfy a Phd student. And I was given a passing grade.
I've never liked that. And I've never needlessly hurt an animal again. I've hurt some. I've killed some. I am not your average saint. But I've never done it without a lot of thought and imagining the repercussions.
And this year, my Madeleina is entering the 7th grade and she might be asked to kill a frog for the fun of her teacher's insanity. I'm gonna tell her not to do it unless she wants to.
I'm not a fan of killing anything unless you're gonna eat it. And if you kill it to eat it it always makes you sick.
Anyway, Saturday afternoon and that's what this boy is thinking about after he bought a new chainsaw to cut overgrown--but lively--trees, a new grill to cook roast dead animal flesh, and nearly ran over a turtle on the highway.
Confusing world to say the least.

1 comment:

Serhio said...

Yes, Peter. Killing for fun or just for profit quite a like.
Now are days, when life and meat have no assosiations, or correlations with each other became very easy to handle a piece of raw meat from supermarket.
But it quite different when you have to kill a chicken or a pig, looking right into their eyes.
In this case you have to have a reason and you feel responsible for taking their lifes.
Once a pure rabbit bumped into my car and had broken his legs , i took him and his life (simply killed him) and ate.
I'm vegetarian when I have a choise.