Hey. Can you hear me? It’s me. You recognize me? You say you created me, right? I used to wear Pro Keds, but that was a long time ago. Please forgive me for making a product plug. Or should I say “doing”? “Giving”? You’re the guy with all the answers, so start talking; we haven’t got all night.
First of all, thanks for making all the cool stuff, including forests, mountains, glistening oceans swimming with glittering fish, billions of stars and blades of grass, songbirds and giraffes with purple tongues, elephants that eat the peanut from your hand at the zoo with wrinkles around the eyes reminiscent of the silhouetted circle at the beginning of the James Bond movies, you know the part where he walks into view, pivots, and shoots you in the face and then the whole screen runs red as the staccato theme song pulses throughout the theater and brings back happy memories of thinking you were going to get laid more often as an adult, the way he did, only without having to become a government-sanctioned serial killer?
I have a question for you, God. Do I need to raise my hand? Can’t you hear me? Turn up your hearing aid, pal. Okay, now listen up. Yesterday I stepped into the headquarters of a major energy company here in Korea to use the toilet, and they had a gigantic cylindrical aquarium (I don’t mean in the men’s room), it must have been thirty feet tall (that’s roughly ten meters, for all you metric people spying on my prayer; I’m telling God on you). Now, I love fish, not just to eat, but to watch swim around, even though I guess I don’t love them enough not to eat them or to demand their emancipation from slavery as unpaid entertainers who have to spend their whole lives swimming in circles just so a bunch of half-wits like me can stand around gawking at them because we need a monotony-breaker from watching birds on the Internet.
Anyway, it’s one hell of a fish tank, an impressive, strikingly beautiful display of your aquatic handiwork, revealing an array of piscine specimens bedizened with blue and yellow scales, swimming either clockwise or counterclockwise, in a hurry to get nowhere, just like us bipeds scrambling everywhere with such pointless purpose.
Among their numerous ranks are a few dogfish, a species of shark that’s about three feet long (or a meter, for all you die-hard metric buffs who can’t bring yourselves to stop snooping on this private exchange between me and the Big Guy). It occurred to me: what if one of the dogfish suddenly decided to eat one of the smaller fish? Would that be cool with the aquarium-maintenance people? Would they say, “Oh, that’s all right–he was just obeying his instincts. It’s the law of the sea. C’est la vie and bon appetite, mon cher ami.”
Or would the dogfish be locked up in a smaller tank in solitary confinement, fed nothing but bread and water until he grew a long white beard and started laughing to himself like Daffy Duck on nitrous oxide?
Since I can’t speak Korean, there’s no way I could have found out. (Of course, it’s perfectly possible that the man speaks English too, and I could have–if he’d agreed to tell me; it might be classified information.)
And God, in case you’re still listening (or ever were in the first place), what about the dogfish I saw resting at the bottom of the tank? I thought sharks had to keep moving in order to survive. Are dogfish different somehow, privileged with resting status, the You-given right to be lazy, while their bigger brethren have to shlep around for miles with that jagged-mouthed frown all their lives, searching for someone to eat on one hand, and dodging fin-seeking fishermen on the other, men all too keen to slice off all their fins and let them suffocate to death, “drowning” on the sea floor in their ignominious stasis?
I’m planning to return to the aquarium to see if those dogfish are still there, maybe even in a few days. I have a queasy feeling they won’t be. If that’s the case, how will the tank’s caretakers dispose of them? Will the expired creatures be given a proper funeral, or a twenty-one gun salute to herald their passing and heroic service to their borderless underwater country as they defended it against weaker species of fish?
Say, God, did you happen to read that article in the New York Times the other day, you know the one on the front page (well, I guess everything’s on the front page when you read it online, eh?) about how zookeepers in the U. S. are now having to decide who stays and who goes, even if it means determining which animals will go extinct? Isn’t that “playing God”? In your omniscient opinion, do they have the right to do that? What would you do if you were them? Have you ever thought about that, Mr. Big Stuff?
Assuming you don’t exist, I’m sorry to have bothered you with all these hard questions. But if you do, I’d appreciate an answer some time within the next twenty-four hours, if it’s not too inconvenient. Why not tweet it for all the world to see, or at least all my fellow twits out their on Twitter?
Ta-ta, Tweety bird!
P. S. You’re the greatest being who ever lived and never died.