Dan came out of the shower and gave me a startled look. “What are you watching? You have the saddest look on your face!” He stood in front of the television set to see what program was on that was upsetting me so.
“It’s ‘Fatal Attractions,’” I said. “It’s a show about people who have wild animals. They’re talking about this one woman whose tiger attacked and killed her. Her 14-year-old son found her in the barn all chewed up. Oh, I bet that poor child is still in therapy for it.”
“You don’t need to be watching stuff like this!” Dan said. “You look so sad! Turn the channel!”
He was right, but there’s something compelling about this show. I’m an animal lover, much like the people on “Fatal Attractions,” but I also know tigers, lions, monitor lizards, wolves and chimpanzees are never completely domesticated. No matter how much you convince yourself that they really feel love for you, wild animals, when it comes down to brass tacks, will almost inevitably revert to their feral instincts. As much as I would love to touch a tiger – they look so soft – and love on a lobo or cuddle a coyote, I know human beings are better off with domesticated cats and dogs. Dogs and cats are genetically wired to be with people – tigers, lions, wolves and coyotes are not and will never be. Not even coyote-dog half breeds. And as a wildlife specialist pointed out during this particular show that was making me so sad, the people who keep wild animals are really being very selfish. They think they are “conserving” the animals and preserving them, but in reality they are cruelly depriving the animal of its natural habitat and its natural habits – its need to hunt, its need to bond with its own kind, its need to be free. Why should anyone be startled when a wild animal acts, well, wild? And in the end, if it’s not the owner or someone else who suffers, almost always the animal is destroyed after a fatal or near-fatal incident. That’s conservation? I think not.
I didn’t know how much I was taking these shows to heart, how much I was letting them effect me. It must have been a very sad expression on my face to make Dan stop in his tracks and save me. He grabbed the remote.
“Stop watching these kind of shows!” he admonished me, clicking through channels. “’Fatal Attractions,’ ‘Animal Hoarders,’ ‘I Shouldn’t Be Alive.’ Don’t watch them anymore! Here, watch this – ‘Pardon the Interruption’ on ESPN. Now this is the reality you need to be worried about – what’s going to happen to Carmelo Anthony. That’s what’s important right now.”
He’s right. You do need to watch what you watch.