I live, oh, about a mile from the river where the two humpback whales, now named (thank God, at last) Delta and Dawn, decided to swim to Sacramento, instead of San Francisco. I could have gone to see them any time of the day or night. I could have made three trips a day, with breaks to brush my teeth and get a little shut-eye.
I didn't. And I avoided all reporting on them, save the 30 second headline that told me where they were. This meant, of course, that I have not seen a newspaper or watched TV in the week or so that the whales have been in the Delta. Every once in a while, I'd catch a glimpse of one or the other breeching. Or hear one or the other of the reporters waxing eloquent on how majestic these creatures of God are. (Truly. That's how the TV reporters talk here. Especially the ones from the CBS affiliate.)
I would have like to see them, but I cannot bear the hoohah and hooplah that has surrounded these poor fish swimming in the wrong direction. It seems to me that it's more of a modern day public hanging or bear baiting.
Come one! come all! Step right up and see how even the most gigantic of beings is nothing before Mother Nature. Here you go, get your bottled water here and your whale T-shirt over there, sorry but I only have XLs left. Look at little Johnny over there, such an mini entrepreneur: he's selling lemonade. And over there, under the trees, big Johnny is selling dope.
Never mind that the levees aren't made to withstand the weight of ten thousand tourists tromping through. Never mind the expense to the county of crowd control and keeping ski-jets and speed boats from within 100 yards of the whales so as not to--ooops--frighten them even more. Scare them into beaching themselves--but, hey, Bubba, then we'd really get to see the whales up close. Behold the porcine mamas with tattoos on their asses, which I know about because their tank tops don't meet their short shorts, and there's a gap at the waist which exposes several spare tires and their butt cracks. Let's not forget the hairy daddys, who are either fifteen months pregnant or are in the final stages of liver disease, so enormously huge, so whale-like are their guts. And they too are wearing shorts shorts and tank tops that expose the full glory of their man-titties and underarm hair. And crosses. Why do such men always wear the full Jesus-on-the-crucifix around their necks? Goes so well with their Eat Me tattoos.
But why am I being so hard on these people? This is America, after all. Land of the free, etc. etc. What are our soldiers in Iraq fighting for if not the opportunity we all have to make asses of ourselves. To gawk. To make a buck off of anything one can. To do what we want to right now, when we want it, willy nilly of whether it's right or good or creates a danger for others. Because we're Americans, goddamit, and rampant self-interest is our birthright.