“The Onion” riffs on exploding whales

In a long-lost piece written from the perspective of happy homemaker Patricia Halsworthy, the venerable satirists at The Onion let loose on the “have fun or else” mentality of the modern family vacation in…

The story is relayed as Patricia’s side of a conversation between her and her family following their arrival at a popular beach destination. Husband, Eric, and kids, Joshua and Kylie, are less than thrilled when they realize that the otherwise gorgeous, pristine beach has been fouled by a huge, reeking dead (or possibly still dying?) whale. Patricia is determined to see that their guidebook getaway will carry on as planned. In fact, the whale is almost an afterthought in her nonstop ramblings about sunscreen, badminton, and “when I was your age” adages:

Kids, I’m already worried about this sun. There’s not a cloud in the sky, and they say the sun is at its most damaging in the late morning. We should move into the shade. Here, let’s sit in front of the whale’s belly. It casts a nice big shadow.

Later on, the carcass appears to be moving, and they think it might still be alive:

Oh, look! The whale is still alive after all! Its side is heaving! My goodness, it is huge…. And look how it’s weakly flapping its free fin. Don’t worry, kids, it can’t hurt you. It won’t be alive much longer, anyhow. Oh, now I’ve done it, haven’t I? Remember the dead starfish you found on the beach last year? Well, this is no different.

Kylie, stop crying.

After changing the topic to food, downplaying the malodor to her kids, and then threatening to give away the family pet, Patricia continues:

Okay, okay, everybody just calm down. Joshua! Get back here! It was only the whale’s tummy exploding a little. As the whale perishes, its body fills with gas, and then it needs somewhere to escape. It’s just like when you drink a little too much soda. That’s why we only brought juice on this trip. Look, this sort of thing happens during decomposition. Remember — death is just the final stage of life. Sober heads, now.

Come on, Kylie, Joshua, Eric, let’s all go for a swim. Let’s wash all this black, inky sludge off our bodies. Bring your boogie boards!

The work apparently dates back to June, 2004, but it was recently featured in a Philadelphia stage production called RAW ONION: America Speaks Out! in which actors portrayed several characters from the Opinion page of The Onion. The show was a fundraiser for The Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium, a Philadelphia-based theater company.

Leave a Reply

Are you posting spam?   yes  no