Sooo I completely slacked on my blogging duties while in Korea- and then I abruptly left Korea. Now I’m living in Arizona with my 90 year old Grandpa and until we build up enough funny stories worthy of a blog post- I have enough time now to at least write a good story from the past. This one is from when I worked in Olympic National Park in 2011.
Ultimately, he would have died anyway. Sooner or later he would have been swooped up by a bird, or perhaps flattened by a semi. Still, as I watched my friend grimace and heave-trying to force the thick, gelatinous glob of slug flesh down his throat- I couldn’t help but mourn our newfound slug friend.
After all, we had gotten to know him quite well. We had spent the entire afternoon lounging in our semi-circle of hammocks and camp chairs, watching him slime his way across the grass. Just as he was about to make his escape back into the forest, someone would pick him up and place him back at start so we could watch him glide by again. Looking back, it seems that we committed nothing less than a drawn out torture followed by a gruesome murder. But we had started with the best intentions.
When we first caught sight of the big guy, everyone had gathered around to marvel at this massive, magnificent creature. For he truly was the most impressive member of the Gastproda class that any of us had even seen. Not only was he big- as long as my hand when fully extended and nearly as wide when contracted-his slime was notably lustrous, practically sparkling. He glistened in such a way that we were forced to wonder how we had ever dared to consider slugs as something other than beautiful, gleaming ambassadors from their moist, vivacious forest floor.
It is not often during these fantastic day drinking sessions that a true champion of it’s species comes waltzing- or rather sliming- into the party. This guy was our courageous little reminder that no, we are not hanging out in some suburban back yard or frat, we are right plop in the middle of a temperate rainforest full of life and grandeur. So sure, we could put beersby on hold for a few hours and take the time to study and admire this little green packet of spunk.
It’s uncertain who suggested it first, but within a few hours of admiring our new slug friend we were in a heated conversation of who was going to eat him and how. Jared and JP were the most likely canidates being as they were the youngest, most adventurous boys of the bunch. But they also had a friend visiting-Matt- a fellow nature enthusiast passing through the park on his bike ride from Alaska to Mexico. No doubt emboldened by the epic journey that lay ahead, Matt stated he was willing to do it if someone else joined him. Now certain that the creature was being shared rather than swallowed whole, we had approached another dilemma of how to divide him equally.
It was suggested that we just chop him right down the middle and each taster would swallow their half whole. But this meant that one person would be eating the butt and the other would be eating the head, thus prompting a new discussion of which end would be worse. Majority ruled that the slug’s two antennae-like eyes would be a more unsettling texture than anything that was built up in the butt. Plus, it was pointed out that his penis was more likely closer to the head. But instead of letting this resolve the head vs. butt issue we were forced to consider the fact that his vagina was also ‘in his head’. This incited a new argument of whether to call our friend a ‘he’, ‘she’ or ‘it’ because, afterall, we wanted to be respectful of his (err her??) identity.
By this time it was dark, most of the other employees had gotten off work and were crowding around the picnic table, calling us crazy while offering very sane advice on how best to chop up our slug. Finally it was decided that we would cut him lengthwise- right down the middle. Matt would eat the left side, Jared the right.
The moment of truth approached. We drew in closer. The red light of our headlamps made the grim scene that much more ominous. JP held him down and made the cut.
The slug exploded like a ripe blister, with Jared’s share of the guts oozing out of the carcass and through a crack in the table unto the ground. Acting quickly, Jared plopped the hollowed remainer into his mouth, swallowed, and let out a huge sigh of content. Matt, however, struggled to pull his messy half up and off the table and held it, pinched in his hand, looking into off into the distance as if he were truly, deeply saddened by his burden. Finally he arched back his head and dropped the messy gob down his throat. And by God, if it wasn’t the most heroic effort you ever saw. No less than six people offered up their beers to help wash it down. He accepted one gracefully, knocked it back and accepted another. He continued to clear his throat while the rest of us stared on silently, secretly noticing his eyes were wet with tears.
The next morning on my way to the breakfast shift, I stopped by to see how Matt was doing. He was just finishing loading his bike, ready to head south. “I won’t lie to you” he said, “this morning I took one of the biggest, gnarliest shits of my life,” he paused, smiled, “but now, I think, I’ve never felt better.” And with that he clipped the last buckle, hopped onto the seat, and set off on Highway 1, dissapearing into the morning mist.