I remember three of my childhood dreams very vividly, because I don’t think any other kid has aimed so low in the history of underachieving. I’ll share those aspirations with you, and point out examples of how the animal kingdom makes me look like a chump in even those modest goals.
Dream #1: Grow a Badass Beard
For as long as I can remember, I wanted a beard. In my childhood, my dad and uncles sported tough-ass facial hair from the late 70s to the early 80s… when a beard actually meant something. Now I have one while every indie rock Nancy has a cactus growing out of their face to prove they’re not crybabies riding the Emo Sympathy Train to Riches and Gullible Groupies. No, they meant something then, and they still mean something in the deadly-ass, high-stakes Wild Kingdom.
You’re looking up at the goat because he just whupped your ass.
Moutain goats (Oreamnos americanus). Ornery as all hell, and with a beard to match. Even the females sport chin whiskers, which must make mating difficult. Many a times in the bar, after a few too many Filthy Chupacabras, I prepare to mount a potential Mrs. Thunderlips only to catch a last-second glance of beard. If I’m lucky, I can divert my thrust towards the jukebox and play it off as a strong urgency to hear the Kinks classic “Lola.” But these poor pseudo-goats don’t have that same early detection system. Then again, I hear mountain goats are all bisexual anyways. Good for them.
I’d flaunt that shit, too, buddy.
This is a picture of a Bearded Dragon (Pogona vitticeps) I swiped from Mrs. King’s bio website. I don’t know who Mrs. King is, or of she’s happily married or not. But I do have a thing for the lady scientists. Call me… and bring a leash.
When Ol’ Spine Mug gets agitated or threatened, he insta-expands his quill-like beard to ward off predators and eccentric pet owners. When I try to do the same, nothing happens. I even used my fingers to push my beard out and proceeded to shove my chin at a co-worker that wouldn’t stop talking about their SXSW experiences. Instead of thwarting my attacker, it reminded them of the time they saw Kings of Leon.
There are some poseur animals, though. You can spot them by the over-compensation of beard length.
It’s indie rock n’ roll for me.
Dream #2: Blow Smoke Rings
Smoking is a filthy habit. It smells bad, it makes your teeth look like maize, and will probably lead to a hacking, coughing demise. That said, there is no denying that it looks cool as hell. All the money that was spent on anti-smoking during my childhood was immediately neutralized by every movie badass that fired up a celebratory smoke after grenade-launching a smarmy business asshole straight to Valhalla.
It was even cooler if they blew smoke rings in a moment of quiet repose. Hell, they did it in cartoons before everyone turned into lawsuit-screaming pussies. It usually led to a sight gag of some kind. But try as I might, I could never do it on purpose. I managed it a few times on accident, but that’s less badass and more “Oh hey, lookit that!” followed by an hour of me boring the room by trying to duplicate the magic.
It should surprise no one that once again, dolphins succeed in being more awesome than me. They fight sharks, they eat raw fish, and now they can blow air rings – a feat that will not fill them with tar.
Showoffs. This is why I buy tuna that clearly does not have the “dolphin-safe” logo.
Dream #3: Stop a Sword from Cleaving Me in Half with Only My Bare Hands
I watched a lot of chop-socky movies as a kid. This means I also had a lot of delusions about what my future occupation was going to be. While the other grade school miscreants planned to be veterinarians and lawyers, I dreamed of mastering the Godhand and using my newfangled skill to punch an enemy so hard his ribcage collapsed on itself in a magnificent spray of Cherry Kool-Aid Red blood. Another skill I would need would be to stop a katana-wielding enemy without a weapon of my own. Look for the second pet trick in this clip, but watch the whole thing. Why? Because cute Japanese girls + weird pet tricks = Love and Understanding.
I plan to eat my Frankenberry cereal like that last dog from now on.
Now, I might be the Ninja Effin’ Master of Sword Catching Level 50, but I’ll never know it because that’s not a skill you can practice. Unless you have wooden training sticks. Or protective gloves. Or a skilled swordmaster. Or the sack to just do it. I’m just going to give the win to the dog (Puppicus tonyjaanuts) here.
In every way, I am defeated by the Cincinnati Zoo. But I do have one thing over all my smug-ass furry and fishy opponents. I will always be able to properly select the Burger King offering from a choice of Whopper or Big Mac:
If I could travel through time, I would go to 1984 and swipe Woofer, my canine companion for life.