If I Had Gills

Just so you know, Kevin Costner’s character in Waterworld didn’t have gills.

There was this bit of trivia when the movie came out pointing out that in some scenes he had gills on his neck, but since it was never addressed in the story, it pretty much meant he didn’t have working gills that allowed him to breathe underwater. And whether or not you are a pro-Waterworld gill supporter or a con-Waterworld gill supporter, you should just know that the reality of it all was that Kevin Costner did not have gills.

But what if I did?

Since I’m the kind of guy that only likes swimming in water surrounded by a thing called concrete and that also includes a water filter, one of those automated underwater vacuum devices and is always near a built-in hot tub (and near by a barbecue), you might wonder why I’d ever need gills. If I wasn’t going to go swimming in the ocean (which I will never do thanks to the Unfortunate Treading Water Incident of ’87), for what actual reason would I need them in a world where my water experiences would be limited to showers, bathtubs and ten foot deep swimming pools?

C’mon, people. Think.

If I had gills, I wouldn’t use my gills for breathing underwater, in an attempt to swim long distances without needing an oxygen supply. That’s like walking ten blocks to a restaurant instead of driving. Swimming is, in a nut shell, the slowest way to get from point A to point B despite the fact that it might be the best way to get exercise. But if I had gills people would also expect that I’d want to swim everywhere. You know the kind of person I’m talking about?

Her: “I’m so excited about going to London with you!”
Me: “You’re telling me. I can’t wait to get there.”
Her: “So I figured we’d fly together to New York’s JFK airport and then you could swim the rest of the way.”
Me: “You figured I’d want to swim from New York to London?”
Her: “Well…you’ve got gills.”
Me: “So?”
Her: “Well…you can breathe underwater.”
Me: “So?”
Her: “So, you could swim the whole way without ever having to come up for a breath of air.”
Me: “Who wants to swim from New York to England? That would take me, like, a month.”
Her: “But you have gills.”
Me: “Uh, so?”

That, I think, would probably be the most annoying part of having gills — the gill-racism. The fact that just because I had gills, people would expect me to swim everywhere or breathe underwater or let them spray a mist of water on my neck and then play tricks on other people as I sprayed the water back out using the muscles beneath my rice-paper thin gill skin. I’d probably have to set people straight from the outset, so they’d know that suggesting such activities would make me feel more like a circus freak and less like a contributing member of society.

Instead, if I had gills, I would take part in a slew of other activities that would both put my gills in a positive light and educate the public about how people with gills are just like people without gills and if you squint your eyes when you look at my neck (in a dimly lit room) that you really can’t even see my gills in the first place. I would learn to play my gills like a new instrument (the gill-tar) and color different gills different colors with different colored waterproof crayons (for festivals and carnivals) and even place un-cooked pasta between the gills which would then (over time) become cooked and moist thanks to the constant stream of warm water being sprayed through my gills. I’d be a regular pasta cooker that required no electricity or open flame whatsoever.

There’d be times, when I was feeling alone, that I would fill up my bathtub and swallow water on purpose so while I was choking on the bathmat I would remember how lucky I was to have gills…

But most of the time I’d just remind people that Kevin Costner never had working gills in Waterworld and to stop reminding me that I’m just another fool with a bunch of slits in my neck.

If only… You know?

8 comments on “If I Had Gills

  1. susan - October 15, 2006 at 11:26 am -

    This post really opened my eyes, truly gilluminating. You obviously worked hard on it, so gillustrious. Oh my, this is getting so gilly.

  2. sandra - October 15, 2006 at 5:02 pm -

    I think I’d kind of enjoy standing under the shower and not having to think about water getting in my…non-gill holes. I could just breathe away, while rinsing the shampoo off.

    Does that boring scene make me unworthy of gills? I think it might.

  3. Pauly D - October 15, 2006 at 8:07 pm -

    Sandra – You’re so worthy of gills in my book.

  4. Daniel - October 15, 2006 at 9:35 pm -


    seeing as you don’t have gills- or even just one single gill- all the more reason you should probably come up for air every now and again.

    on the other hand…. water dude DID have webbed hands.

    So I ask you as a token form of gracious indulgence:

    What then- if if if -if you did too?

    You already surf the web with time on your hands.

    but what if there came a time when you could surf but with the web on your hands?

  5. c(h)ristine - October 15, 2006 at 11:24 pm -

    this is a wonderful “what if” post.

  6. The Centaur - October 16, 2006 at 9:39 am -

    Having gills would be nice, but it would also be a huge pain in the ass. You’d constantly be asked to clean things off the bottom of the pool, or look for lost keys or jewelry that people have dropped in lakes. And think of all the children that get trapped in wells. Who do you think would get called to save them? It would be an existence as a lifeguard constantly on duty. No thanks.

  7. littlepurplecow - October 16, 2006 at 5:40 pm -

    Of course, you’d have to complete in the pro apple bobber bracket. You’d be tough to beat. I wonder if the gills would be grounds for disqualification?

  8. Jacquie - October 17, 2006 at 8:07 am -

    Don’t tell anyone but I’m a mermaid. Really, tis true! If you had gills, you could visit me in my underwater kingdom where we sea creatures would never think of putting mayo on roast beef and we love coffee. But we don’t drink it. We use it to fuel our underwater Mer-cars. The only problems here in Merland is that we get loads of annoying sales calls and could really benefit from your expertise. You could be KING of MER-Land! But you don’t have gills, so this dream will sadly never become a reality.(sigh)

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