6 Animals Clearly Disguised as Candy (A Drunk Column)
Any bad habit that drags on long enough eventually becomes tolerated as tradition. It's why we (in the United States) set aside a day every summer to play with dangerous explosives and hold contests to see who can eat a whole pie the fastest. The Fourth of July is packed with reckless indulgences because we've carefully disguised them as rituals, and now, assuming everyone is willing, I'd like to toss one more on the heap. For the past two years, I've celebrated my country's independence by taking full advantage of, perhaps even abusing, the freedoms afforded to me, or more specifically, I sit in front of a computer getting drunk by myself while writing about animals that I think are neat.
I can't remember which amendment grants me that right. 26th maybe?
It's part of a drinking game I devised to help me finish an article while simultaneously celebrating the Fourth every year, and like any drinking game, the rules are painfully simple to ensure that I don't quit in the middle and walk to Taco Bell. Here's how it works: I write an entire column, and whenever I have to research anything, I take a drink of beer (as denoted by an asterisk). The last two times I did this, I stuck to topics I knew fairly well so that I'd stay interested, and so the game wouldn't end with me dying drunk and alone on a holiday. This time around, however, I'm feeling a little more veteran. I'm ready to tackle a more heated, socially charged topic that seems to have incited a lot of controversy around the world lately: the matter of which animals look the most like candy and whether or not I would eat them.
Also this seems like as good a time as any to say hello and welcome to all the new readers this article will no doubt attract after being syndicated by Reuters and Al Jazeera* for such an unflinching look at a hot button issue. Let's get started!
Eastern Mud Salamanders
The eastern mud salamander is like the snow leopard of muddy substrates* and decomposing leaves. They are elusive* and endangered*, and no one seems to know much about them. Part of the reason it's so uncommon is that salamanders in general are notoriously susceptible to the degradation of water quality*, and this one in particular is disappearing at an alarming rate*, which is sad because it's very clearly made out of delicious Strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups.
If you look closely, you can almost see the perforations where you're supposed to tear out the stars.
If I saw one of these in the wild, even knowing what I know about its scarcity, I still couldn't promise that I wouldn't try to taste it. Fruit Roll-Ups are awesome. Whether it's because they're loaded with sugar* or because each box has enough packaging to fill a dumpster, moms always seemed hesitant to buy them. As a result, I learned at an early age that if you stumble across a Fruit Roll-Up, even if it's in a stream and has legs, you goddamn eat it. That's how ingrained in my psyche this snack is. And speaking of ingrained, look at those seeds buried in its skin to remind you that this salamander is made from real fruit! There's no way Mother Nature designed it as anything other than a lunchbox dessert.
Sadly, the chances of me ever finding one are slim, given that they live exclusively in the eastern United States*, a fact that I'm now realizing was not worth burning a drink on, given the salamander's name.
Drink Count: 8
The beluga lives primarily in arctic and sub-arctic waters*, which explains why it's packed into a coat of blubber thicker than any other whale*. They are highly social, with a complex language of clicks and whistles*, and they love playing with anything that resembles a toy*. In fact, in the wild they've been known to carry around everything from buoys* to whole caribou skeletons* just for fun in their oversized, perpetually smiling mouths.
"I can't distinguish between fun and serial killer behavior!"
Their massive foreheads (aptly called "melons"*) are used for echolocation*, and they have extraordinary hearing*, which is surprising because their ears are practically nonexistent*. Experts suspect that the beluga hears through the vibrations in its lower jaw instead*, which would mark an extraordinary advancement in mammalian evolution* and also, come on, this is clearly a giant marshmallow with fins.
If I had enough money to create my own aquarium theme park, I'd keep all my belugas in a massive vat of hot chocolate. It wouldn't even matter if anyone could see them through the murky goodness because I'd sell mugs at the front and we could all sit around in cozy sweaters, drinking cocoa and making "ahhhhh" noises after each sip. I'd only be open around the holidays. I think that would be really nice.
I don't have enough money, by the way*.
Drink Count: 21
Oh come on, there's no common name for this goddamn fish*? There's no way I'm going to remember that spelling. Here, Science, let me do you a huge favor: From now on we're all calling this thing the gummy worm fish. Boom. Done. Moving on.
The gummy worm fish is a member of a small family called Grammatidae* that live exclusively in the Atlantic*. They are generally tiny, only about 5 centimeters in length*, which means that about four of them would fit great in a snack pouch along with shark and deep-sea-diver fruit chews. The gummy worm fish is extraordinarily rare, given that it lives at depths of over 80 meters*, and it's prized among the type of people who collect fish to fill the holes in their hearts. It generally sells for around $2,500*, which is a lot of money just to find out if its flavor is a strawberry/banana combo or some sort of yellow lemonade/pink lemonade mashup.
Here's a video* of one that just got done with a pillow fight:
People often mistake the Lipograndma kaki or whatever for the royal gamma*, but frankly it doesn't have the same translucence* of most gummy candy, so I'm pretty confident I could tell the difference if someone held a gun to my head.
Wasn't this test in one of the Saw movies?
Not that I'm inviting anyone to do that. If you even tried, I'd probably shoot you with my gun first anyway and then there goes your whole plan. That's self-defense, no jury would convict me. You're the crazy person with a pistol and some fish. Yeah. I should buy a gun.
Drink Count: 31
Yes! Look at this awesome gun*! Man, that's about the width of my cellphone*. It's called the DoubleTap*, which makes it sound like I could intentionally hit the same target twice if I used it. Oh, and they made it using aerospace technology*! I could shoot astronauts with this gun if I had to, like if they were breaking into my space colony or whatever.
I guess price-wise it's sort of an expensive purchase for a hypothetical life-or-death fish-selecting scenario that may never happen. $500 is the base price*, but I'd probably want to upgrade to the ported titanium model* and maybe find one that has power everything and an XM radio or something. That's still a lot cheaper than a chocolate aquarium, so I guess it's really all about context.
OK, so this frog. It's clearly one of those mystery chews that oozes out different flavors of gooey corn syrup when you bite into it, right? This one looks like it's probably blue raspberry, which is a notoriously bad artificial flavor. I can safely say that I would not eat this frog.
Drink Count: Like a vampire, but he's trying to earn some extra money as a bartender. The Drink Count. The theme song would be all about him moving into a new apartment in the big city and how he's kind of scared he won't make friends.
To be fair, this animal only looks vaguely like candy and exactly like it belongs in a line of fimo beads* on a hemp necklace in the '90s. In fact, I'm pretty sure that sea slug is a dragon I drew in fifth grade and then buried in a time capsule.
" Eat my shorts!" would have unquestionably been the caption.
Apparently some species of sea slug can steal the plastids* from the algae they eat and use them to photosynthesize, which means they can survive on nothing but sunlight*. Also, now that I read more about it, I'm realizing the DoubleTap is really more of a girl's gun. Some people at a gun show kept calling it a derringer*, which is famously a lady's weapon.
But maybe if I got it, my gun could help break down gender stereotypes. Maybe me owning this gun is exactly what society needs. I could be at the forefront of a movement. Yes, in fact, I promise that heteronormalcy is the first thing I will kill with it, and I won't even have to fire a shot (I'm not confident I could hit it anyway).
So long stereotypes, hello me owning a fucking gun!
Drink Count: >40, I bet.
California Red-Sided Garter Snake*
Change of plans. I think "animals that look like '90s jewelry" is a way better premise, so here's a snake that looks like a boondoggle. You're welcome. I don't know anything about it and, full disclosure, I want to stop drinking.
The same way some people can put together a rifle blindfolded, most children could build a boondoggle.
You can tell because of the color choices.
The California red-sided garter lives in California most likely, and there are probably upwards of 70 of them there. They are cold-blooded and poisonous(?) because they're brightly colored, and generally that's how nature works. They eat bugs and rodents that are smaller than them, or maybe bigger, or maybe just leaves. I'm also pretty sure I made a key chain that looks exactly like one of these snakes at camp 20 years ago, but I don't want to call my mom to check because I don't want her to hear me like this. I will, however, make a note to myself to remind her that I could braid when I was 10 and that I'm buying a weapon to dismantle the patriarchy that has plagued this country since our foreFATHERS (ugh) signed the Declaration of Independence 70 years ago or whatever. Or because of fish, I can't totally remember.