Friday, December 27, 2013

When in Danger, Remember to be Australian

I’m worried about America, and not for the obvious reasons. The crumbling economy, the rise in violent crime and the fact that “Keeping up with the Kardashians” is starting its ninth season are minor in comparison.
My concern is because we’ve gotten soft. Animals can sense this.
Let’s look at the following headlines:
·      “Guy Tosses Meat to Bear, Gets Mauled” (OK, soft and stupid).
·      “Donkey Kills Texas Mayor.”
·      “Newt Gingrich Bitten by Penguin.”
It might sound like I made up that last one, but according to the Associated Press, while visiting the St. Louis Zoo in 2012, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich was bitten by a Magellanic penguin.
Americans, more concerned with hair care products, the price of Botox and how to get a Merlot stain out of the carpet, have lost the killer instinct that made animals run screaming from people like Teddy Roosevelt and Ernest Hemmingway.
The cure? When confronted by any animal, just ask yourself this, what would an Australian do?
Headline: “Shark Attack Victim Survived By Poking Animal In The Eye.”
A Great White Shark tried to swallow Australian abalone diver Eric Nerhus, 41, in 2007.
“I’ve never felt fear like it ’til I was inside those jaws, with those teeth getting dragged across my body,” Nerhus said on Channel Nine television network.
With his head and one arm starting to go down the shark’s throat, Nerhus jabbed out the shark’s eyes with his free hand and the shark let him go.
Headline: “Woman, 94, Battles Rogue Kangaroo.”
Ninety-four-year-old Phyllis Johnson hung the wash outside her home in the Australian Outback when an adult red kangaroo attacked her in 2011, according to The animal repeatedly kicked Johnson before the nonagenarian beat the snot out of it with a broom. Adult male red kangaroos can grow up to eight feet tall and weight 200 pounds.
Headline: “Fisherman Fist-Fights Crocodile, Survives.”
Yoann Galeran swam in the ocean outside an Australian yacht club when an eight-foot-crocodile attacked him in April 2013, according to The National Post.
“It went straight away to the top of my head and diving under the water he tried to do that spinning thing,” Galeran told The Post.
When Galeran realized his head was in the croc’s mouth, he pulled back and started punching the reptile, which swam away.
The kicker? Galeran is French. Australia even turns the French into fearless animal-punching machines.
Here’s what happens in America.
Headline: “Residents report attacks by squirrel.”
People in the small town of Bennington, Vt., have been terrorized by a “rogue” gray squirrel.  A man shoveling snow was attacked by this squirrel in 2011.
“All of a sudden I felt something on my back and shoulders, scratching,” shoveler Kevin McDonald told The Bennington Banner.
Although McDonald threw the squirrel off his back, it jumped back on twice, scratching and biting McDonald who ran inside his house to escape the rodent.
The next day McDonald’s neighbor “battled” the squirrel with a metal pole and blanket, according to The Banner.
The squirrel attacked at least three people.
A squirrel.
So, the next time you’re confronted with any angry animal, remember to stop, drop, and be Australian.

Jason Offutt’s latest book, “Across a Corn-Swept Land: An epic beer run through the Upper Midwest,” is available at