Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Toughest Butterfly Collector in the World

Even though I spent a good amount of time half-assing and wandering around campus, I loved writing press releases for the University of Florida. I'm naturally curious, and love to hear people's stories, so listening to professors tell me the details of their work was fascinating. Plus, meeting and talking to people so wrapped up in the details of some small area of study could be inspiring. Sure, it might mean nothing to 98 percent of the world, but feeling this person's excitement over whatever crazy research they dedicated their lives to was pretty cool.

Like the butterfly expert. Before retiring he had saved and reintroduced a species of butterfly back into South Florida after Hurricane Andrew, which was pretty impressive. I mean, have you ever saved an entire species of anything? The interview went well, I had more than enough information to write a good two page release that would probably be picked up by the wire services, and he was a likeable guy. Wrapping the interview up, I asked one of those throwaway questions, like "what have you been doing recently."

"Well, there was the time I fought an alligator," he said, totally deadpan.

"Well, yeah, of course you're gonna - Wait! What?"

"I was in a swamp gathering specimens when this alligator came and grabbed me between the legs," he said, in a tone that you or I would use for relating how we went to the store earlier or raked the yard or something. "I knew that I was a goner if he dragged me down, so I started punching him in the nose, and eventually he lost his grip and swam away."

I must have sat there for a couple seconds with my mouth open. Butterfly guy totally punched an alligator in the face!

"So what are you doing now," I asked, after gaining my composure.

"Oh, just waiting around for death," Butterfly guy replied.

I'm sure he kicked Death's ass also.

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