GateHouse — There have been a lot of jellyfish in the news lately, and by that I mean it’s possible that there have been a lot of jellyfish stories in the news lately. I have no idea, really, but I’ve personally encountered the same jellyfish story twice in 48 hours, and since taking one’s own personal experience, writing about it at breathless, context-free length and behaving as though you’ve uncovered a massing panic of national consequence is how the media works now, I figured I might as well board the Journalism 2.0 train. So what I meant to say there was INVADING MONSTER JELLYFISH WILL DEVOUR US WHOLE, AND ALSO I THINK THAT THEY ARE RACIST.
Anyway, the jellyfish story arrived first via a Friend on my Facebook wall, who I am immediately calling out because he’s the sort of person WHO WOULD POST A JELLYFISH STORY ON MY FACEBOOK WALL, which, for those who know me and my deep disapproval of floaty viscous goo-blobs that sting your face when you’re trying to kite-surf, is the new Most Direct Path To Getting Unfriended By Me, besting the previous winner, Videos From Your Children’s Many Recitals. (Seriously, Gooey Dead Jellyfish Pictures is the new Heather Wants To Share Some Cranberry Bushels With You In FarmVille! Which is to say, delete delete delete.)
The story was then echoed Saturday night by the 11-year-old offspring of friends whose obvious repeating of the story over the past few days had not lessened his relish in telling it. It opened with something on the order of “DidyouknowtherewasajellyfishinNewHampshirethathad45longtentaclesand150peoplewentothehospital?” breathlessly reported at speeds that would qualify him for inclusion in OutKast in the superheated, wild-eyed manner available only to 11-year-olds who are reporting to a passingly familiar adult a recent event in which many people were badly hurt.
- Sting (with Jo Lawry) – You Will Be My Ain True Love
Erm, no, I replied, wishing immediately that I had said, “Well, of course, my lad! Now run along and go collect frogs in the brook, you little rapscallion” or whatever 11-year-old do these days because what happened, of course, was that I got a Searing Killer Jellyfish story from a kid who took my escalating expressions of horror and impending projectile vomit as a cue to continue remembering details about what the many many tentacles and bulbous prehistorically massive jellyfish corpse looked like when they inevitably started washing up on the beach. (Turns out it looks like brown stretchable muscle tissue, mixed with very old teriyaki chicken and something you’d scrape off of a moose that had been beaten to death by a larger, criminally insane moose.)
Short version: About 150 people were stung last week in New Hampshire by what was originally thought to be a stomach-clearing 40-pound lion’s mane jellyfish, but what was revealed to be detached and wholly deceased parts of a stomach-clearing 40-pound lion’s mane jellyfish, namely the tentacles, which continue to deliver toxins when they’ve been relieved of the inconvenience of being attached to a jellyfish. A professor of zoology told the New York Times that the tentacles don’t disintegrate and are — I am quoting here through clenched fists — like “loose spaghetti” floating around. Kids, if you learn nothing else today, promise me you won’t eat any spaghetti you find floating in the ocean.
Putting aside temporarily the knowledge that tentacles can live by themselves for a while, which is another strike against my ever going snorkeling again in my life, there’s the greater matter at hand, namely that 40-pound lion’s mane jellyfishes are in New England and very likely elsewhere, given the exorbitant cost of living up there. I happen to live by what history textbooks will one day refer to as “the ocean,” and would be lying if I said my compulsion to go for a refreshing swim — even during our current 150-degree instasweating puppy-exploding heat wave — has been dramatically reduced in the past 48 hours. (Given that I live within 3,000 miles of the Gulf of Mexico, this has pretty much been decided for me already, but now I have two reasons.)
Happily, no one seemed to be seriously hurt in the jellyfish invasion, although I think we can pretty easily name 150 fewer potential members of New Hampshire’s after-school surfing clubs. Happily also, I’m going to try to trade Huge Dead Jellyfish for some Cranberry Bushels.