Super Sea Monkeys Ocean Zoo

30 Mar

(1980)

 

I walked into a Times Square novelty store to buy a tie pin with the Japanese rising sun on it. I walked up and down the narrow store, looking at such trash as iridescent statuettes of the Empire State Building, “Eat Shit!” t-shirts and cute drug paraphernalia.

A blue plastic container caught my eye – a “Super Sea Monkeys Ocean Zoo.” Sea monkey advertisements in comic books and movie magazines had always affected my imagination. There was usually a drawing of a sea monkey family having a good time. They were drawn having tails like shrimp and webbed feet, but they were basically human-shaped. The mother had blonde hair, big blue eyes and a smile like Brigitte Bardot. The whole family had gleaming white teeth and the littlest one in the family was playing with a plastic beach ball. It was almost as though a modestly-talented commercial artist of the 50s had eaten bad shrimp, drunk too much vodka and then dreamed of the ideal American family.

But the picture was disturbing. The shrimp family was naked and they had big bellies. It looked as though after the picnic they would all fuck each other regardless of sex or age.

I bought them. Once home I prepared the water and sprinkled in the brine shrimp eggs. Little packets of food and vitamins were included, illustrated with pictures of sea monkeys sitting down to dinner or standing in bikini briefs, rippling their muscles.

Unfortunately my brother threw out all but one packet of the food. As soon as I found out I mailed a rush order for food. I felt responsible for the lives I had shaken into the water.

Once hatched, the sea monkeys were the size of coffee grounds and swam continuously in a jerky motion. Soon the one packet of food was gone. I substituted tropical fish food, which was basically made out of blood: blood from cattle, fish and chickens processed into foul-smelling flakes. The sea monkeys loved it. They would rise to the surface and bite and rip at the flakes.

Within two weeks they had grown to half an inch long. I could see their bellies dark with food. They began to mate in the erotic fashion of cats, biting at the back of the lover’s neck. But the sea monkeys would stay attached for days and I began to wonder if they were mating or trying to consume each other, having become bloodthirsty from the substituted food.

Then, the creatures – whose “hilarious antics” were supposed to amuse me – began to die. The ones still living swam slower and slower. The dead ones settled to the floor of the aquarium to rest among the abundant lumps of sea monkey shit. The food was destroying them. Each morning there would be more bodies drifting to the bottom and the ones that remained were horribly bellied, too fat for sex.

When they hatched they had given me a sense of life resting on the bookshelf. Now they were just a constant reminder of shit, corruption and lethargy.

They were too depressing. I flushed them down the toilet.

Two weeks later my rush order of food arrived.

 

Twist Boulevard

Mark Rogers

 

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