Ignominious End, Sharky Style
I don’t know what might be the more ignominious end for a human being—to end up in the belly of a pig or a tiger shark? There are similarities in ignominy to being consumed by either. The disgrace of being gnarled by a hog strikes one as particularly low on the Dignified Death Totem Pole because, well, pigs are pigs and bacon is a frankly disgusting (but devilishly tasty) form of food. Throw in the penchant for wallowing, oinking, squealing, and all-around physical repulsiveness, and getting eaten and later excreted by a pig—while dead or alive—is not an end for any respectable creature, sentient or not.
Ambushed and picked clean by a pride of big cats while on safari in the Kalahari? There’d be some romance in that fate. And it’d be quick, since (as songbird Shania Twang might attest) the first big bite is to the head and neck and typically fatal.
Taken by a pack of wolves during a hike in the Montana wilderness? Many a pioneer has ended his and/or her life in such circumstances, but they got noshed-upon whilst pioneering, so there’s dignity therein and wolves are the noble savages of the feral canine realm, after all.
Slowly rotting under the tender mercies of mandibles and sucking orifices belonging to blow-flies and ants and other wandering arthropods and scavengers while thrown naked into one of those grisly scientific research fields dedicated to the assessment of human decomposition rates and qualities? Well, it’s not very glamorous (you’re nude and as exposed as exposed can be) but you’re turning into a puddle of glop for science, so there’s a thin ray of altruistic benefit inherent in that ultimate end.
The only fate that compares to being dined-upon by a pig is being slaughtered by a tiger shark, in my opinion, and one poor, luckless woman was recently (apparently) the recipient of that doom while on a snorkeling excursion in Hawaii.
Don’t get me wrong. Consumption by fish might not be the worst thing to happen, depending upon the species. Take the Great White Shark, for instance. Sleek. Cunning. Preternaturally beautiful in the most chilling way imaginable. Gigantic and as graceful as a small submarine. I would not wish to experience such a demise, but there might be some cache to the stories told about you for long years after you’ve been eaten.
What would you rather have people say during a discussion in the future about your final moments, if ever they discuss you at all?
“Oh, Jasper Wilkins? He died in agony in his bed, wasted away by two years’ worth of cancer—tubes and bags and misery surrounding his sad carcass.”
“Jasper Wilkins!? My God, didn’t you hear? He went surfing one morning and a twenty-foot great white shark rose up from the deep, bit him in half, ate his ass-end first and then swallowed the top on its next pass, quick as you please. Just THINK about that!”
Yeah, think about it.
The tiger shark is in many ways more persistent and aggressive than the great white shark, but that’s because it needs to be so. Unlike the great white, the tiger shark is often described as the “garbage can of the sea” because it will swallow most anything (much like a pig) and if you ever get a close look at a tiger shark you’ll understand why this might be so from a purely aesthetic standpoint.
Tiger sharks look like idiots. That’s right. They have none of the icy, primordial evil to be found in the shape and the stare of a Great White and, instead, look as infuriatingly moronic as Barney the Dinosaur. A tiger shark’s eyes remind one of those round, googly, plastic eyes that some bored-to-tears types (like Amy Sedaris) glue onto peanuts for comedy routines or in order to feel surrounded by dozens of devout (if asinine) acolytes.
Tiger sharks look aimless, stupid, and clumsy. And when they eat a human being, they don’t have the power or decency to cleave a body clean in half, like the great white. They grab and pull and rip. In nibbling segments. Like jackals might. Everything turns into a big, probably excruciating, slow-motion mess when a tiger shark feeds on a person.
And once they’ve finished the last morsel of you, they trundle away like unwieldy wheelbarrows and swallow old license plates and tin buckets tossed into the ocean as after-dinner snacks. In the stomach of a tiger shark, you could very well end-up with a bucket on your disenfranchised head and a vanity plate from New Jersey wedged in your mouth.
That’s no way to go. Hell, no.
And that’s why I feel it’s just as hapless to be eaten by a tiger shark as it is to be eaten by a pig. I am unanimous in that opinion, and therefore I shall always feel great sorrow for the poor woman who lost her life in such a manner the other day in Hawaii.
Don’t get eaten by a tiger shark, if you can help it at all.
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