It was a beautiful, sunny, winter day in southern Rhode Island, and my dad, his fiance, and I went down to visit my sister, a history major at the University of Rhode Island. After taking a tour of the Coast Guard towers to check it out so my dad and my soon-to-be step-mom can get married there, we decided to go out to eat at Mew’s Tavern. Donned in my proper St. Patrick’s Day attire for the near-conclusion of February, we got a table overlooking the majority of the dining room, and, much to my delight, one of Queen’s live performances of ‘We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions’ was playing on the sound system.
Our conversation started when we all discussed how traumatizing our earliest memories were. My dad told us the story of how he saw the Challenger explode from his hotel when he was nine years old, my sister getting hospitalized with pneumonia while on a trip to Disney when she was five, and my mom feeding me a bite of lobster when I was two or three.
While the state of Florida was inevitably brought onto the table, we finally started to talk about our upcoming trip to Orlando.
After discussing what we would see on each day, it came down to one location: Discovery Cove. Discovery Cove has been our family’s topic of debate since this trip was just beginning to blossom as a plan. You see, Discovery Cove is currently a park that makes up the devilish company I have been against and boycotting for years known as SeaWorld. Whenever my dad brings it up, I simply reply with, “Ha ha ha lol no.” My dad had also told me that I am not allowed to picket outside of SeaWorld.
My dad, in terms of the infamous animal rights organization known as PETA, would be considered neutral-captivity, or neutral-cap, meaning that if he was asked if cetaceans should be kept in captivity, he would have to think about it first, whilst I, being anti-captivity (anti-cap), would immediately snap back with, “No, they should not,” before they even pronounce the question mark. My sister is sort-of neutral-cap, but leaning more towards the anti-cap side after doing an entire very important presentation for school on whether or not cetaceans should be kept in captivity.
So clearly, there was a disagreement between us that was dividing our family apart. My dad wanted desperately to go to Discovery Cove to have fun being a first-hand witness to animal cruelty, my sister didn’t really want to go be a first-hand witness to animal cruelty, but wanted to go to Discovery Cove to swim with dolphins, and I did not want to take part in any of it.
The waters slightly calmed when my dad said that he was forcing me to go because “he’s my father”, but the storm was still raging. He said that he just needed to know who will be doing the dolphin encounter, (when you go into the water with a dolphin and give them a kiss, grab their dorsal fin and go for a ride, they do tricks, etc.) which I could easily opt out of. I told my dad that I was not to participate in such an act where a dolphin will perform pointless tricks and look all happy like there is no fear behind that mask of such an intelligent creature, just so I’m entertained and the tormentors shall receive money. My sister said she would feel bad about it, but she wants to ride a dolphin.
Then the storm died down even more after I mention that I would not enjoy my time there, and my dad’s fiance said that the trip was about everyone, so if other people would have fun going somewhere, I would have to have fun too, and I couldn’t ruin the trip.
That was the moment when I realized that she was exactly right. I wanted everyone else in my family to be happy, even if it meant breaking a promise that I was so devoted to keeping. Even though I feel awful about having to go watch animals suffer, I don’t want my family to get mad at me, and I certainly don’t want to make them upset. I do feel a little better that I don’t have to do the dolphin encounter and give even more money to that awful animal hellhole. I learned that however bad something may be, sometimes you have to sacrifice your own happiness to make others happy.