In the past year, I've taken up the dubious habit of yelling at the television. Living alone — as much as I revel in the no-pants-necessary, drink-straight-from-the-carton delights of the situation — has probably made me a little weirder, but hurling unacknowledged opinions at the TV with no one around isn't rare; the term "armchair quarterback" was created to describe that exact behavior.
But I haven't been watching sports, surrounded by food, nestled in twisted blankets and pajamas — I've been watching horrible CW shows, scoffing at the ludicrous writing ("Mary Queen of Scots' first husband was a sickly teenager, you idiots!"), or legal dramas, hollering at the leads for questionable romantic decisions ("Are you kidding me with this? Your husband's on his way home!") Yesterday, however, I was yelling at nature shows, and that, my friends, felt weird.
I hated nature shows as a kid. My dad would settle us all in on the couch after dinner, we'd watch "Shark Week" together. The next day, the three of us would be in the Monterey Bay, struggling against rip tides and 30-foot kelp forests and ungainly scuba gear. Instead of delighting in the tiny anemones he'd hold up for us in his gloved hand, I was always looking around for a seven-gill, convinced the previous night's program had them pegged incorrectly as a non-aggressive, non-child-eating variety.
In college, Friday nights were spent across the street at The Guys' House, and whenever we weren't playing "Quarters" or "Asshole," we were watching nature shows, 40-ounce malt liquor in one hand, chimpanzee fights brewing on the TV. I didn't like nature shows then either and often left early to go home and read.
I'm not sure when I discovered the hell that is Hulu Plus, but binge-watching BBC series finally led to a program called, "The Life of Mammals," hosted by an old British dude, Sir David Attenborough. As he zig-zagged his way across the world, focusing entire episodes on omnivores, or pouched animals, or whatever, I found myself entranced by the odd special effects, the relentless crowing over infrared cameras, the preachy final conclusions, and all those adorable, furry baby animals. This is awesome. Why didn't I watch this stuff before?
And then it happened.
"The newborn sea lions are left alone to sun themselves on the rocky steps while their mothers swim out to find food. It is the perfect opportunity for a predator."
"NOOOO!" I wailed at the television. And so began a full day of learning and yelling, as skunks waded through guano to eat baby bats fallen from the ceiling ("SICKENING!"), and polar bears pounced on snow drifts to pull frozen-ringed seal pups from their snowy graves ("Don't eat that!"), and whales knocked each other up using 12-foot-long prehensile wieners ("Oh my Lord, NO! Flipping on your back isn't working! Swim, woman!") I finished the entire series in a day. Next weekend, Sir David and I will be spending more time together, exploring Antarctica. He can show me the leopard seal and I can scream out getaway instructions to the baby penguin.