My heart sunk this morning when I turned on the computer to check my email and read the news, and there it was in bold type, "Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin Killed".
It was one of those feelings you get when you're watching your favorite tv show and your favorite character- the one you completely relate to- suddenly and unexpectedly dies. I don't mean that fake ass, hollywood, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, suspicious-could-come-back-one-day deaths, I mean dead, gone, forever never to return- dead. You stop for a second in disbelief and question yourself (he's dead?), read it again, "Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin Killed"....and then it sinks in, he's dead. MAN.....
Now I didn't know the man personally, but we go back a while. I was in college when I saw this cat on t.v. for the first time, and while a lot of my peers were busy watching BET's Video Ass Planet after classes let out, I was watching Steve Irwin's crazy ass. He came on the Discovery Channel every afternoon and was definitely the most fearless mofo I'd ever seen in khakis and hiking boots. I was always watching animal shows, ever since I was little and I've witnessed my fair share of daring, wild naturemen in my day, Jacques Cousteau, Marty Stouffer, Jack Hanna- but Steve Irwin put all these guys to shame! He took it to the next level, showing you the most unique aspects of Mother Nature's creatures up close and personal-like, with his BARE HANDS. He was the closest thing I knew to a real life t.v. superhero (sans cape)- running through the woods and grasslands to grab the world's most poisonous snakes with ease, and dodging bullet-like strikes from the fanged serpents just in the nick of time. That shit got me excited because I always expected him to get jacked up just once, but he always managed, somehow to escape certain death. He's gotten bit quite a few times, and allowed his audience to see that even he is susceptible to mistakes in the bush.....but I guess his luck has officially just run out.
As I read on in the article, I was expecting his cause of death to be plane crash or car accident- something along those lines, but oooooh no, not the Crocodile Hunter, he wasn't goin' out like THAT! He died when a sting ray he was filming near Australia's Great Barrier Reef jabbed him through the heart with it's stinger. How's that for irony? The aim of his shows was to document the world's creatures, most of which none of us will ever see with our own eyes in their environments, but his personal aim in life was to bring a little appreciation of these critters to our homes and minds, and it's pretty safe to say he's achieved that. In fact, whenever some ugly six or eight legged critter comes into my classroom these days, my students don't even try to squash it anymore like they used to. One kid is usually brave enough to get a cup or a piece of paper, kneel down, catch it and carry it safely outside, returning it to the place where it belongs- alive. I guess more than a few creatures can thank Steve Irwin for that.