Leading up to Election Day, it’s easy to get lost in escapist fantasies: trying out for a reality TV show that would totally limit one’s connection to the outside world, entering a state of hibernation for several weeks, checking into a silent retreat à la Jared Leto. Today, as my anxiety reached a new unbearable level, I came up with another appealing option: getting swallowed whole by a whale.
Perhaps you’re thinking, That does sound really nice right now, but is that not a pipe dream? Actually, no. (Kinda.) Whales don’t typically attempt to swallow people, yes, but! Just yesterday, two women were having a serene day kayaking and whale-watching off Avila Beach in San Luis Obispo when a strapping humpback — certified Best Whale Species — broke through the water’s surface and appeared to nearly swallow them and their boat whole. “I saw the whale come up, [and] I thought, Oh no! It’s too close,” one of the women, Julie McSorley, told a local station. The other woman, Liz Cottriel, added, “The whale was right here in my face, literally.”
The encounter, which McSorely and at least one other onlooker captured via video, is really quite remarkable:
Thankfully, the two women sustained no injuries following the jaw-dropping encounter, save for racing adrenaline and a lost pair of car keys. In fact, despite how it may appear in the video, the women’s kayak did not fully enter the whale’s mouth, McSorley said of the incident. Nevertheless, it’s unlikely that either woman will try getting so close to a humpback whale again, as McSorley wrote on Facebook: “I learned I should be much further away.”
With all due respect for the their experience, which was surely traumatic, McSorely cannot speak for me. To be clear, I would not want to meet my demise in the mouth of a whale — but I wouldn’t mind, say, having a similar experience to that of Jonah or Pinocchio, where I get to chill in the majestic creature’s body for a bit. Then, once the tension and dread in the air has subsided to a more manageable level, I get to reemerge in a world where everything has — haha, wait a minute. Ah, shit. Swallow me whole, big guy.