“Anthony, you have got to be the last human being on this Earth worthy of any respect, and I hope you know this.” Honestly, I shouldn’t even be up at this hour. It’s 1am, there’s this dimmed down parental interest in our mother’s face, and Quinn Parker, myself, probably has her usual nightmare to get into. The man who makes me play the quiet game, you know, the one where if you lose he takes your teeth and makes you swallow them one by one? It never tastes good anymore, the gum that is. There’s chewing gum in my mouth and it tastes disgusting. Tastes like I’m stranded in the world’s worst desert. It’s not even worthy of a single star, a good Yelp review, an award for being a song that doesn’t sound like eating your own fist. The desert without life, a desert where I’m constantly digging sandcastles to find some sort of… hhh… Anthony Parker is at it again, however, so everything must occur in the now. My teeth are starting to ache. Oh, how annoying!
Maybe Mom snapped that night because of the smells coming from my brother’s breath, bloody with adulterated perfumes and mistake. Maybe it was in his eyes; those bloodshot, almost, but not entirely, apologetic pupils that fit his fat, dumb face all too well. His hands hide behind poison, his jacket tossed away onto Mom’s cup of coffee that he literally would’ve noticed if he hadn’t just blown in from idiot ville. Maybe it was because of the stupid thunderstorm that made me stay inside all day! I’m a thirteen year old who likes the simple things in life. I sleep under my bed like it’s a bomb shelter every other Friday night, I eat chocolate chip cookies, I have the occasional nod to human existence with the bird by my window at 7am, but I also dig prime time television. And, low and behold, I get it for free in the existence of my older brother Anthony Parker. That’s when the comment slips.
“Anthony, you have got to be the last human being on this Earth worthy of any respect, and I hope you know this.”
And now there’s a restock of Wrigley's Doublemint chewing gum in both of our coat pockets. It’s an interesting approach to parenting, oh yeah for sure, Mom really knows how to pick the golden ideas out of life. And okay, maybe doublemint makes my brain go all nuts because the flavoring literally beams smartness and intelligence-y and other smart people lingo. I eat the gum and immediately gain IQ complimentary to… uh… that one smart guy, his name is… I decide on “Joseph Stalin” because History Class definitely makes complete sense to me these days. Straight B’s. Wrigley's Doublemint Gum. I trip on my own two feet, hurling towards what’s possibly the end of my life, before catching myself on pure luck and motivation to conquer. That’s when a familiar face tugs my hoodie back, tossing a gum wrapper in the square center of my face before walking away like nothing happened. My heart beat starts to elevate and I freeze, fingers feeling the paper.
“Walk much?” The white backside of it reads. A sudden remembrance of last night alarms like that annoying police siren from a few lost nights ago in my head. There’s no decency. The man and the pliers. That siren, that freaking siren and the wrapper… this freaking wrapper…
“You two get worse and worse every day! Quinn, you don’t speak unless it’s to make fun of your brother, and Anthony, you’re definitely not helping the situation by being reckless and just…” Anthony rolls the ends of his sleeves to the crease of his elbows, looking away as he speaks. “Ma, I already told you that Zach’s mom was cool with it so, as a true american citizen who believes in the respect that day to day mothers should get in America, I had to agree—” I can’t be blamed for snorting like a pig in the corner. Mom runs across the kitchen, immediately digging craters into her purse like it’s our family’s last hope at a redemption arc. There’s that familiar neon green paper, laced in dented, almost home-like tendency to it’s corners from being in that bag.
“Until you two learn to get along,” she hands out two packs of gum, one to me and the other, noticeably more roughed up, to Anthony, “Every time you want to say something negative or plain old mean to the other, you write that comment on th-this wrapper—” You stuttered, Mom, “—and dispose of it.”
Now it’s been three whole weeks. I’ve written my brother more “snark”, as my Mom calls it, than I’ve ever thought about in my entire life. It’s different this time, however, because I end up writing something like “U really suck” in that rainbow pen Mom bought me that’s barely legible, and then I toss it away like it’s nothing. There’s no sincerity in the notions of a gum wrapper, and Anthony Parker has no idea what I’m thinking.
“Why are you like this?”
“Ur hair looks dumb, idiot.”
“Mom isn’t going to like that."
“Don’t do that.”
The boy raises his eyebrows when I immediately reach for another loose gum wrapper; he had just entered the room for god's sake, and I needed to do something. It’s a Tuesday and I hate hate hate Tuesdays. There’s a patient watch at where my lips work their way between my teeth, at how my eyebrows squeeze together painfully close on my forehead. I’m scribbling up a sentence to only throw afterwards. You’re basically scribbling complete nonsense to just toss it in the trash like nothing.
The thing is, Anthony stopped writing on gum wrappers the moment after that first “Walk much” and it’s going to put me in a mental hospital.
Hesits down instead, cracking every possible knuckle and itching every sensible spot on his head. I pull out another piece, eat it, and then write up another disposable note. He observes. Those curious eyes. I write another, my mouth starting to crowd up on this Tuesday afternoon. That’s when he pulls out his stash of gum, and I pause for dear life. There’s a tool held up to my lips, it’s ready to sneak its way in and take take take. Maybe he’s analyzing my reaction; the way my eyes pinch, they hide, at the force he uses to get my sharpie into his possession. My head aches. There’s this bubble of voice trying to pop in my throat. I taste peppermint.
“Do you hate me?” It reads. I pan my eyes over the text searching for… something. There’s got to be something in this that I can fight against. I shake my head no, so he writes another and slides it into my field of vision.
“I’m not Dad.” And I know this, of course I know this, so I nod again.
“Do you hate me?” It’s starting to really stench of mint in the air. I pick the wrapper off the table and throw it away. There’s a silent decision on my hands. Chew another piece dry for the sake of writing? Is there a way to communicate with my brother without opening my mouth because, well it’s easy honestly, because Quinn it’s not like it’ll do anything if you open your stupid stupid dumb loser mouth Quinn if you--There’s paper on my hand, and then the noise of a stool clicking against wood before I watch my brother leave the room. I sniff much louder than I wanted to, it’s something I can’t control these days, before reading what the material says
“I think this gum is a few years old. It’s gross as heck.
It’s Tuesday, the gum is nearing stale, and I throw away my Dad’s pack of gum.
Tanks, but No Tanks Written by Lisa Kvien Artwork by Mattea McDaniel Tesch
SeaWorld isn’t as fun and exciting for the animals as it may be for the visitors. The animals are treated very poorly, especially Orcas. Changes need to be made and people need to start spreading awareness for these animals. Even some of the workers aren’t safe.
Many of the animals are taken from their families in the wild at a young age. People do this because they know they can sell them to companies like Sea World and make a lot of money. While being taken from their habitats, many animals have been killed in order to be captured. When they are, many are kept in spaces that are too small.
Whales and dolphins swim up to 100 miles a day in their natural habitats, but in these tiny pools, they are unable to do so. In an interview between CNN and SeaWorld, SeaWorld states “While a killer whale can and occasionally might travel as much as 100 miles in a day, it should be said that swimming that distance is not integral to a whale's health and well-being.” They also argue that the whales do get enough exercise and food.
According to the activist website SeaWorldofHurt.com, Orcas get sunburned because they can’t swim deep enough like they would in their natural habitats. They aren’t protected. SeaWorld hides this from visitors by covering the Orcas with Black Zinc Oxide, which matches the Orcas skin. If visitors were to see how hurt the animals are, they may stop coming and that will cause Sea World to lose money.
SeaWorld lies to their visitors by telling them things like collapsed dorsal fins are normal, when they aren’t. According to CBS News, all Orcas in captivity have collapsed dorsal fins, but in the wild, it’s very rare. SeaWorld claims, "Neither the shape nor the droop of a whale's dorsal fin are indicators of a killer whale's health or well-being.” But according to CBS this claim is false and the collapsed dorsal fins are caused by injuries or environment contamination. Orcas live much longer in the wild, 30-50 years, but in Sea World, the average lifespan is only 14 years. This shows how little they value the lives of the Orcas.
Some may believe SeaWorld animals trainers are animal experts. However, many of them don’t have any education in marine biology or animals. According to SeaWorld, a college degree is not required to be an animal trainer, but it is preferred. The trainers main job is to entertain visitors and make Sea World money by putting on a good show. There have been more than 100 cases of Orca aggression at SeaWorld, and there are concerns about the safety of the trainers. Many say changes need to be made.
People need to take action and try to help animals in SeaWorld. It is not okay for them to be suffering as much as they do. SeaWorld should care more about the animals than making a bunch of money. The animals in SeaWorld should get the justice they deserve.
Sources “10 Things You Didn't Know About SeaWorld.” SeaWorld of Hurt, www.seaworldofhurt.com/features/ten-things-didnt-know-seaworld/. CBS News. “Killer Whales.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 8 Jan. 2019, www.cbsnews.com/pictures/killer-whales-orcas/15/. “Animal Training Careers.” SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, seaworld.org/animals/all-about/training/animal-training-careers/.
“SeaWorld Responds to Questions about Captive Orcas, 'Blackfish' Film.” CNN, Cable News Network, 28 Oct. 2013, www.cnn.com/2013/10/21/us/seaworld-blackfish-qa/index.html.