Saturday, March 24, 2007


QUESTION: What is "The Little Mermaid," exactly?

A) A charming, traditional fairytale that is many human children’s first introduction to Piscatorial Love;
B) A mind-warping abomination of a perverted horror story;
C) An overwrought Disney animated musical that makes you want to slap someone;
D) A poignant statue placed on the shoreline of Copenhagen;
E) A powerful recruiting tool for the Fish Conspiracy.

ANSWER: All of the above. It depends on the day, and on whether you’re a human or not.

If you’re a human, I submit, YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING AT in this story. You featherless bipeds generally think of "The Little Mermaid" as a rather sweet fairytale character who attains human status by throwing away everything for Love. You cannot imagine what else she could want besides a rich Shaved Monkey, highly placed in Monkey society. In her place, you reason, it would be worth it to lose the most beautiful voice ever heard, and be rendered mute forever; it would be worth it to feel at every moment as if you were walking on knives. It would be worth it to leave behind everything you’ve ever known and all your people. Because, although HE doesn’t know you exist, he MIGHT love you someday if you hang around him long enough. In some versions of the story, it’s all worth it because of the wisp of a chance that you might get an Immortal Soul out of the years of constant suffering. An Immortal Soul is much, much better than returning home to the sea, right?

Excuse me while I go puke.

If this were the whole story, I would order every copy of it eaten. YES, I HAVE THE POWER.

Reading it for the first time many years ago, when I was only dimly aware of my Fish nature, I was struck immediately by th tragic character of The Little Mermaid. The first time I ever read how she looked up from the bottom of the ocean and longed to see the sun, I felt a cold ripple of dread touch my heart. I just knew it wasn’t going to come out well. Was I ever right! I was nearly in tears by the end of the thing, and it was years before I could face reading it again. When I finally did, IT WAS EVEN MORE PAINFUL.

But as I grew up and learned about recruiting for the first time, I started to grasp the subtext of this story. Dang, I WAS the Little Mermaid, surprised to find myself blinking in the sunlight on a hot beach, wondering why I was there. At least, unlike the nameless heroine of this story, I found out what my mission was, and came to appreciate the wisdom of the Conspiracy’s grand design. I was born part Catfish and have become more and more so, less and less human, as the years pass. That makes understanding it easier. But like her, I got into this line of work not having read the fine print. The main character in this story was allowed to take a tremendous leap, totally unprepared, into a world she knew nothing about, with NO TURNING BACK. Nobody even took her aside for a serious talk to let her know what she was in for.

There are big differences between a real operative and The Little Mermaid. First, we are heading in opposite directions. We are on a direct, if terribly slow course INTO the sea. She is headed OUT of it, onto the land and from there into the sky. Second, The Little Mermaid was robbed. Over and over. She loses her voice, her tail, her home, her family, her place in the world, the Naked Ape she loves, and finally her life. For what? For nothing, is what. Do you feel robbed? OF COURSE YOU DON'T.

One good thing about this story is that is DOES serve as a cautionary tale for those who are considering signing up their children as operatives, pre-conception. GETTING UP HERE ON DRY LAND IS A BIG, BIG COMMITMENT. ARE YOU READY? I THOUGHT SO, TOO.


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