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Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Bit of Obit

I know, I know-- Corey Haim is dead. Those of us who are my age and were suckled on the teat of cinematic masterpieces like "License to Drive" are very broken up about it.

Oftentimes when a celebrity, or a long-ago celebrity, perishes, the internet is flooded with tributes-- people flock to their obsessively-updated Wikipedia and IMDB pages. They tweet about the great loss suffered by the untimely passing and they wax rhapsodic about some of the deceased most quotable moments.

It's kind of a bandwagon thing, except, instead of a bandwagon that everybody's clamoring to get on, it's a hearse.

We all know that I'm a pretty morbid sonofabitch, so, when a celebrity dies, I often turn to the New York Times obituaries-- not to read the celebrity's obit, but to see who else joined them in exiting life's stage at or around the same time.

Folks, say hello-- and goodbye, to John Thorbjarnarson.

I admit that I had no idea who this guy was before I clicked on his obituary. And I'll even go further to admit (because, if I can't be honest with you, then you might as well pull out all my teeth and replace them with peanut M&Ms) that I only clicked on his obituary because of his superawesomeballs last name: Thorbjarnarson.





And the "jar" is really pronounced "yar." You know, just because it wasn't cool enough already.

Seriously? That's fucking intense.

His first name bites the boredom brownie, but he more than makes up for it.

Of course, his whacked-out last name isn't the only reason I clicked on his obituary-- I was also kind of interested in the career that he chose:

Crocodile and Alligator Expert.

Can you picture this guy, when he was alive, obviously-- walking into a nice restaurant with white linen tablecloths and blush wine-colored candlesticks gently flickering as he introduces himself to a coquettish, wispy-haired blind date?

"Hi, I'm John Thorbjarnarson, Crocodile and Alligator Expert. Gosh-- traffic was just awful, wasn't it?"

Thorbjarnarson was employed by the Wildlife Consevation Society and his actual professional title was herpetologist, which doesn't even require a follow-up joke so I'll just let it sit. Not only did he make it his life's work to study crocodiles and alligators, but made the preservation of their lives one of his foremost goals.

Not for nothing-- but I would love the opportunity to go back in time to the Thorbjarnarson house, maybe when John was five or six, and just observe him. Was he the kid who was constantly playing around in the local creek, attempting to rouse gigantic, saber-toothed creatures with crusts of bread? Did he dress his little sister up as a crocodile and then chase her around the house with a butterfly net before wrastlin' her to the ground like an overzealous Secret Service Agent?

What the fuck did his standardized career prediction test say? Mine said I would be either an actor or a forest ranger. Apparently, he didn't become "obsessed with reptiles" until he was about 13 or 14, about the same age that normal boys become obsessed with cars or breasts. While he may have been made fun of by his peers, I suppose it's a good thing that there are, were, and will continue to be guys like John Thorbjarnarson who are obsessed with crocodiles and alligators, and are not only obsessed with them, but are willing to bust out the swimming trunks and go rolling around in the muddy swamps with them to get a better understanding of just what the hell they are.

Because you won't catch 99.8% of the population doing that shit. We're far too busy with cars and breasts.

I wonder if John Thorbjarnarson ever thought about his own death-- I suspect that someone who spent such an inordinate amount of time dealing with reptiles as big as a White House dining room table probably did-- and if he ever thought that he would have a normal, quiet death-- like a stroke or an aneurysm or plain old fashioned very very boring cardiac arrest. Did he ever think that he would die not inside the dark, wet, hot mouth of a crocodile or an alligator? Obviously, he had long ago made peace with the very real probability that he would wind up a reptilian squeak-toy.

He died of malaria-- decidedly less violent than being ripped to shreds by a carniverous animal-- but he died of malaria contracted whilst studying carniverous animals, and so they and the unhealthy, unhospitable conditions in which they live did John Thorbjarnarson in in the end-- though it wasn't very dramatic.

Hopefully, none of his colleagues will say something trite or stupid about him like, "He died doing what he loved" or "This is how he would have wanted to go." or "He was a herpetologist's herpetologist."

Because I just hate that shit.


  1. I'm no expert. But I'm pretty sure he should have gotten maybe a vaccination for that. Right?? So how intelligent could he have been, really?

  2. I did the SAME THING yesterday! Immediate NYTimes obits. I just chuckled at the guy's name and the fact that he was an alligator expert though. And then I was like WHAT A BAD ASS WHY DON'T I WANT TO WORK WITH WEIRD ANIMAL THINGS and then I was like whatever I'll go get a coffee now.

  3. We ARE far too busy with cars and breasts. Well, definitely breasts. Well, definitely me, with the breasts anyway.

    Am I even making sense now?



  4. You totally said Crocodile and Alligator Expert and now I can't get the image of Steve Irwin out of my head.

    Seriously. I don't know why.

  5. dude i just stumbled over here from 20sb and i am now a life long follower after reading this post. you are awesome.


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