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Ellis & Barnes: Serious Mothers!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Crikey! (in Peace)



(Wow - that's a horrible title...)

It would be un-Australian of me to not mention the passing last week of Crocodile Hunter: Steve Irwin.

Part Baby Huey, part Lenny from "Of Mice and Men", part Dr. James Harriot and with a Tasmanian Devil-like rabid love for all deadly creatures Great and Small, Mr. Irwin picked up where human six-piece luggage-skinned Paul ("Now, that's a knife") Hogan left off, keeping the Aussie stereotype of the Great Outdoorsman alive.

Steve Irwin first came to my attention through my friend Loren who said: "Have you seen the guy who touches dangerous animals with such enthusiasm that you'd think his Christmas means sleeping in a viper pit stuffed with Puff Adders?" He didn't say that exactly, but I was intrigued with Loren's over-the-top Croc Hunter imitation. I've spoken quite a bit about my snake phobia, but I made exceptions to watching (rather - listening to - listening to!) the early days of the Crocodile Hunter - before the oversaturation and before Steve Irwin was becoming more and more 'Steve Irwin' for commercial purposes. I listened to a show hosted by a guy who earnestly loved playing with dangerous creatures and loved (from the bottom of his heart and with all sincerity) talking about the beauty of these deadly animals and teaching the facts about venom, stingers & fangs to whomever would listen. His energy was that of a six year old at Show and Tell who just can't wait to tell the class about everything. In a way, I really admired him for this.

He was also a good advocate and patron saint for deadly animals. As much as I hate snakes, I can understand their existence and don't want to see harm come thier way. I just don't want to run into them. But Steve Irwin made for really fascinating listening, and if I could stand to watch snake images - I'm sure that would be a lesson worth watching.

I remember listening to one of his shows (always with either my back to the television or peeking through laced fingers) which was a vacation show. Here's the gist of what he said:
"G'DAY! TODAY IS A SPECIAL SHOW BECAUSE I'M ON HOLIDAYS! NORMALLY I'D BE ON A TRIP WITH MY FAMILY! AND I'M NOT REALLY SUPPOSED TO BE DOING A SHOW! BUT WHAT I'VE DECIDED TO DO! IS TO FIND THE WORLD'S TEN DEADLIEST SNAKES! AND SHOW THEM TO YOU! FOR MY HOLIDAYS! AND ALL OF THESE SNAKES CAN BE FOUND! RIGHT HERE! IN AUSTRALIA! LET'S GO!"

And then he would stick his hand down a hole with glee.

Like big wave surfer Mark Foo, Steve Irwin died what he loved doing - I don't know if that's better or equivalent to 'going in your sleep' (a widely preferred way) or worse than falling off a ladder or choking on donut powder.

I heard a rumor a few years ago that The Corcodile Hunter had died. I scoured news stories - mostly because I really coudn't believe it. When we were at Disneyland this past weekend someone told me in line for the Matterhorn and I still thought it was a rumor. I guess, even though his "BEWDY! AUSSIE, AUSSIE, AUSSIE! OI, OI, OI! RIPPAH!" schtick got to be bloody annoying after a while (he was pretty close to becoming Jacko, the Energizer guy) - here was a guy who loved all animals, got poked fun at constantly for putting himself in the path of death - every single day, loved his family and wanted everyone to look at a Taipan snake in the same way they'd look at a kitten (just like he did.) Also - this guy seemed immortal.

In the Nick Cave song "Lay Me Low", he sings about how "All man and beast will mourn / When I go". You know what? The dangerous beasts just might, as they lost a true lover of their kind; someone who looked at them as something that is full of wonder.
And truly beautiful.
J.

2 Comments:

At 8:33 PM, Anonymous Ted said...

Hey! Steve Irwin was Hagrid!

 
At 9:51 PM, Anonymous kathy said...

Watch out for sting rays in book 7, Hagrid!! Or, sting-hippogriffs or sting-floberworms or whatever...

 

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