Dear Tetrapods

Dear Tetrapods,

You can't help where you're born. I was born in the rural South.

The East and West coasts have more in common with each other than they do with the land that stretches between. And the Bible Belt doesn't connect East and West; it's a gap, a moat, a chasm yawning wide. But as different as the South is from the rest of the country, it's only the second-most distinguishing portion of that geographical diphthong- "Rural South."

Every city is different, but the rural people all have something in common. The deeper you live in the country and the farther you live from the urban centers, the more you can relate to the others who do too. I have more in common with a redneck in the Appalachians or a hillbilly in the Ozarks than I do with a condo-owner in Atlanta. The true dividing line isn't South vs. North or East vs. West; it's rural vs. urban. Country folk are different from city people; as different as you can get without crossing national borders, and sometimes even more different than that.

There are different values on the land. Life moves at a different pace. People marry younger and stay together longer. There are more children and less money. You have fewer neighbors and you know them better. Not all rural values are perfect. Not all the agrarian traditions are politically correct. There are prejudices everywhere, but they're stronger in the country. We do have a tradition of not treating everyone equally, of looking down on certain types who look different from us; a tradition I have to admit has also been passed down to me. It's just the way I was raised. My folks are good, honest, hardworking people, but they don't take kindly to invaders who sneak into our land and try to destroy our traditional way of life. In fact, just the other week I caught this disgusting creature slinking through my parents' yard-

Eww. Gross. Just seeing this seeping slime tube makes me want to shove shivs into my 
eye sockets. Someone sprinkle salt on it.

I know people will probably call me a limbist, but where I come from we're all pretty proud of our heritage, and I'm not ashamed to say that I'm damn proud to be a Tetrapod, and I don't care who knows it.

It's parasites like this parasite that are sucking this nation dry.
It's Tetrapods that made this country great. We settled the Great Plains and tamed the wilderness. This country was built on Tetrapod values- humans, horses, frogs, lizards, dogs, birds, deer, bears, and many more, working side by side to bring civilization to the savages.

When's the last time you saw a fish do anything for America? When's the last time you saw a spider hold down a steady job and take responsibility for his offspring? It might not be popular in New York or San Francisco, but around
here we say, "If you ain't got four, then stay off our shore."

It's not that I hate the other superclasses of Animalia, it's just that I think they're inferior species that need to be exterminated. At the very least, I don't want to be forced to live with them. If God had meant for Tetrapods and the subphylum Hexapoda to intermingle, he would have given us more in common so we could strike up conversations at the local tavern. The last time I sat next to a horse fly at the bar the little barbarian bit me. I tried to smash him over the head with my beer bottle, we got into a scuffle, and we both ended up getting kicked off the premises. James Walthrop, the dirty leg-lover who owns the bar, said he was just being fair when he gave us both lifetime bans, but I don't see how that's very fair, considering adult horseflies only have a two-month lifespan. Me and some buddies got into the pick-up and cruised around looking for the hex the next day, but I guess he must have skipped town. We ended up kicking the shit out of some gnats instead. If I ever see that six-legger again I'll kill him without thinking twice about it. Of course, that was over three months ago, so I'm sure he's already died of natural causes, the bastard.

I know many people think it's wrong to paint all no-leggers and multi-leggers with the same brush, and I have to admit that there are some exceptions, although they are rare. I have met a few Gastropods I didn't hate; in fact a few are even decent folks. Conversely, I've also met some fellow Tetrapods who were real shitheads.

Supposedly snakes are Tetrapods by virtue of their vestigial limbs, but I think it's fairly obvious what side of the 
species divide they stand coil on. The Praying Mantis is technically a Hexapod. Hexapods are usually nothing 
more than dirty spiracle-breathers too dumb to wipe their own asses, but there's something about the Praying 
Mantis that I have to respect. Maybe it's their strong values and faith-based way of life; maybe it's the way they 
kill, cull, and eat the true dregs of Hexapodal society, like flies. At either rate, I'd take a Praying Mantis over a 
snake any day. Of course, that still doesn't mean I necessarily want my kids going to school with them.

But by and large, non-Tetrapods are degenerates who are destroying the fabric of America, and the liberal leg-lovers and out-of-touch city slickers don't seem to understand that. The over-educated city types seem to think it's pretty "cool" and "progressive" to let their kids hang out with every gadfly, goldfish, and centipede that trolls through town.

Sure. By all means. Let's all spark up a big doobie, hold hands, and sing Kumbayah around the drum circle. Go ahead and buy an aquarium; tell your son that we're all equal and that there's nothing wrong with hanging out with Half Black Angelfish all day or getting married to a Neon Tetra. Go ahead and see what comes of it. Just don't come crying to me when your straight-A student turns into a drug-addicted high school dropout who comes home one day with flipper implants telling you he's decided to become a cetacean. If you think it can't happen to your family then I have two words for you. Whale. Dolphin. And they're only two of the Benedict Arnolds in our evolutionary tree whose lives were ruined forever because their parents thought it was "Ok" to let their kids associate with Osteichthyes and God knows what else.

Sebastian Braff

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