Monday, September 04, 2006
Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, lies dead tonight, the victim not of a bear or a python or a shark or even a croc, but of that most deadly of aquatic life - the stingray. Yes, in what may end up being the freakiest celebrity death of 2006 - that is, unless Andy Dick rears his peculiar head - the 44-year-old Irwin was done in by a chance encounter with one of the otherwise graceful sea creatures during a diving tour off of the Great Barrier Reef. It seemed that as Irwin jumped into the water, the stingray, buried in the sand underneath the water, picked that exact time for its barbed tail to spring out, where it stabbed Irwin in the chest and punctured his heart. The great Aussie environmentalist probably never knew what hit him.
This is a time to mourn the loss of a larger-than-life figure, to feel for his American-born widow and partner in business and nature, Terri, who now will have to raise two young children on her own and most likely maintain the vast empire she and Steve had created for the benefit of the wildlife of Australia and beyond. But it's also a chance to smile - not only for the good times Irwin brought to his fans, but out of envy for a man who died doing what he loved, and how many of us will be able to do that? Well, maybe Andy Dick eventually, though that's the fodder for an entirely separate blog entry. As wacky as Irwin could be, and that was pretty damn wacky (did I mention he was from Australia?), he inspired a generation of young people worldwide to get involved, in ways big and small, in the preservation of this planet and the fascinating creatures who live on it. And he did more for the fashion of shorty shorts on men than anyone this side of Richard Simmons.
So as you sit at your dinner table to say grace or whatever tonight, think a good thought for Steve Irwin. Better yet, hoist a pint or two of beer in his honor. Bonus points if it's a Foster's.