the nature documentary. Ever
since I was a kid, I've loved them. The subject rarely matters; they
could be about lions or elephants or fish or birds or snails or
bacteria. Whatever, they're cool and interesting, and they're always
narrated by someone whose voice manages to be soothing and reassuring,
even as he describes a) something's belly being torn out by something
else, b) a fish swimming up the anus of a sea cucumber, or c)
favorite types of documentaries are those about baby animals, who are
followed around by camera crews until they either reach adulthood (the
animals, not the crew) or are eaten by hyenas (the animals and/or the
crew). We are warned early on in the show that many of the young
animals will not survive the difficult winter/summer/migration/layoffs
ahead, and that sucks, because the little animals are extremely cute, and
we love them.
hey, what's the deal with those hyenas, anyway? They're such
dicks. No matter what documentary you're watching, the hyenas will
show up and try to kill the subjects, particularly the extremely young and
vulnerable subjects. Lion cubs, tiger cubs, antelope, uh...
cubs. Alligator cubs, bird cubs, bacteria cubs, whatever, the hyena
will show up about halfway through and try to eat them. I recently
watched a show about dolphin cubs, and right in the midst of some playful
underwater frolicking, a hyena shows up in full scuba gear, paddling over
to threaten the safety of the young. I'm starting to think that the
camera crews just bring a hyena with them, in a sack, and when it looks
like things could use some jazzing up, they release it.
haven't seen a documentary about hyena cubs yet, but I bet some hyena
tries to eat them, too. If there is such a documentary, it should be
called "Hyenas - The Assholes of the Wild."
as the animals progress from extremely cute babies to unlawfully cute
young adults, there's always a period where they are shown wrestling and
playing and grappling with each other. We learn that it's more than
just cute behavior, though, for at this point, the narrator will
unerringly say something like "But this playing serves more of a
purpose than it may seem. The cubs are learning valuable skills they
will need later as adults."
true, too. Playful wrestling as cubs translates into ripping the
belly out of something as adults, which we see near the end of the show,
right before the narrator blames me for the shrinking habitat of the
lion/bear/dolphin/mitochondria. But he blames me in a soothing
voice, so I don't mind.
when I hear about this play-as-survival theory, I always think about my
childhood, and try to determine if I learned anything during playtime that
has helped me later in life. After some calculating, I have broken
down my past playtime activities into categories, and the percentage of
time I engaged in each of them:
Around Pretending I Could Fly And Project Power Beams From My Hands Like A
My Ass Kicked By Bigger Kids: 30%
Bubbles In Milk: 4%
Matchbox Cars With A Hammer: 2%
Well, I don't see any of these activities being beneficial to my adult
life, except perhaps getting my ass kicked, which has prepared me for the
psychological and spiritual pantsing I get on a daily basis at work.
Still, it might not qualify as play, because in no way did I, nor do I
yet, enjoy it, so I may have to rethink its inclusion here.
retrospect, my childhood should have been spent like this:
to Fix Copier Jams: 59%
for A Make-Believe Bus: 28%
to My Imaginary Co-Workers How To Save Something To Their [A:] Drive, For
The Fiftieth Fucking Time: 10%
to Smile Politely: 2%
From Hyenas: 1%