illustration by John S. Dykes

How to Kill a Manatee

You know, if you had to, with your bare hands.

When things get slow around the office—or, to our managing editor’s everlasting frustration, even when it’s not slow—I like to pose hypothetical questions. For example: what’s the biggest animal you think you could kill with your bare hands? Staff writer Mike Mooney said he could kill a giraffe. Despite all evidence to the contrary—mostly YouTube videos of giraffes kicking the stuffing out of lions—he won’t be budged. To show Mike how insane he is, I posed the question to several local notables to get some perspective.

CHRIS KAMAN, center for the Dallas Mavericks: “A grizzly bear. If Davy Crockett could do it, so could I.”

RHETT MILLER, lead singer of the Old 97’s: “Setting aside all moral concerns I might have about killing an animal, the biggest animal I could kill with my bare hands would be a fox or a small dog. If I could use a rock or something, I could kill an elephant. But my bare hands are not packing a lot of firepower. Maybe I could strangle a giraffe?”

BEN FOUNTAIN, author (Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk): “I don’t know—a marmot? No, too many teeth. A carp? I’d throw it out on the bank and let if flop around till it suffocates. Does that count?”

GORDON KEITH, AM yuk monkey for 1310 The Ticket: “There’s no doubt I could kill a manatee with my bare hands. Although the West Indian manatee can reach a weight of 1,300 pounds, it’s 1,300 pounds of stupid and lethargy. A manatee only has sex once every two years, and, although that beats my average by four months, I understand him. It’s easy to kill an animal that barely has the will to live. Some animals will fight back. They have a look in their eye that says, ‘I will rip out your trachea if you approach my afterbirth one more time.’ Not the manatee. The most menacing look a manatee can muster is the one where he wants to read you a bedtime story. So I would speak in sweet tones to the manatee and convince him to beach himself. Then I would rest a bare but comforting hand on the nape of his neck folds and set about reading him Goodnight Moon until he dried out like Creek Bed E.T. I would hate myself for this, but that’s what beer is for.”

CHANDRA NORTH, model: “I’m pissed enough about the rhinos being slaughtered for humans’ vain and senseless purposes, so a poacher, maybe? This may seem a little premeditated, but I would grow my fingernails to a substantial length and then file them into dagger-like points. My approach would have to be ninja-like, maybe take them down with some Krav Maga-like moves, then take the aforementioned nails and gouge their eyes out. After they are sufficiently blinded, I will drag their body over to some hungry, man-eating animal like, say, a lion, or maybe some crocodiles?”

ANGELA HUNT, Dallas city councilwoman: “Tiny Tim, the so-called World’s Smallest Horse at the State Fair of Texas. Because he’s a liar. He’s huge. And I’ll never get those two coupons back.”

JOSH VENABLE, program director for 102.1 The Edge: “Not a kangaroo for sure. Boxing bastards. I think I could strangle a wombat. Tell that furry Aussie to bring it on.”

GINA MILLER, sports anchorwoman for Channel 21: “I’d have to go with a squirrel. I could twist off its head. Although that’s something I’d never do! My dog, Birdie, catches them and takes care of them for me.”

DR. ROBERT JEFFRESS, pastor of First Baptist Dallas: “A deacon from my previous church. No explanation needed.”

MATT BONDURANT, author (Lawless): “I’m going to go with a leatherback sea turtle. They can reach 8 feet in length and 2,000 pounds. Their shell is not a hard carapace but instead a soft, leathery skin. Basically, I sit on the beach with a cocktail until the thing crawls out of the surf to lay its eggs. After laying about 80 eggs, the monster is completely exhausted, and when it is almost done, that is when I strike. I could crush its exposed head with a well-placed heel. If not, the rib bones could be broken with heavy knee drops to the back or by jumping on it with both feet, eventually crushing the internal organs. It would likely take some time, but I would just have to keep it from crawling 50 to 100 yards to the water, which could be tough, but they are obviously clumsy and slow on land, and it would have to expose its head to crawl.”


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