Imagine that you’ve just bought a baby tiger. It’s pretty tame, and it laps up anything you feed it—cocaine, alcohol, pills, meth, and any other drugs. It’s a weird tiger in that aspect. It only likes highly addictive drugs. It’s pretty cute—it makes you take a hit when you’re going out to parties, it makes you less anxious when you’re talking to people, and it makes you—finally—feel good about yourself. And when you’re done feeding it, and it’s peacefully sleeping in your arms, you lock it in the cage, and you tend to your other business. You meet up with your children, you spend time with your spouse, and you tend to your hobbies. They are kind of wary about keeping a tiger in the house, but no one is the wiser. After all, everyone has pets—who cares if yours is more exotic then their dog? It makes you the “fun” person, the quirky one, and the one who everyone loves being around. It makes you creative. And besides, it’s only a 30-pound tiger cub which purrs in its’ sleep. It’s harmless.
Some time passes, and the tiger cub becomes harder to control. As you put it away in its’ cage one day, you notice that it lets out a roar. You stand back, aghast, and vow never to feed the tiger again. You throw away the alcohol, the meth, all of the drugs, and then you decide that you’ll “never feed that tiger again,” lest it hurts you once more. When you sit down to play with your children, it roars again, shaking the cage. The sound is deafening, distracting you when you should be concentrating on playing blocks or your children’s newfound interest in building the Lego version of the Death Star from Star Wars. You decide to make a quick trip to the liquor store to feed the little tiger cub, just to quiet it for a while before you tend to your other tasks. Besides, it makes me creative, and fun to be around, and it calms me down, you muse as you buy 40-proof liquor.
Soon, you celebrate your tiger cub’s tenth birthday, which happens to also fall on your birthday. Attendance has been dwindling for the celebration in the past few years, and you’re angry for people for canceling. Didn’t they know that celebrations were fun, and happy? You set some whiskey down for your tiger. It growls menacingly, while you pour it out, and pounces as soon as you release the cup. Your children, now grown up, don’t care for your tiger—they abhor it. Their loss, you think. The only children who hate tiger cubs are those who don’t want their father to be happy. Besides, other people have their pets too. As you take a look around, the only people who are in attendance except for the bartender were your only other friend with a large tiger and your drug dealer, here to give you the meth to feed the tiger as a midnight snack. As you get back from the bar, you tuck your tiger into bed. Happy Birthday Buddy, you think as you secure the cage, with the tiger fast asleep.
You wake up to the sound of the rattling cage. Rolling over, unnerved, you find that you’re laying in a pool of liquid. Is that my own sweat? you think as you roll out of bed, groggy. You forget what happened last night as you furiously scroll through your phone, and the tiger’s overpowering roars only exacerbate your already head-splitting headache. It’s overwhelming, and you venture to the cabinet to get some of the liquor which you drank yesterday before the birthday celebration. In the heat of the moment, you grab the non-alcoholic orange juice instead of the alcohol, and a large paw swats it out of your hand. With bright red blood oozing from the cuts which the claws made on your hand, you run your hand under cold water and grab the liquor. I guess I have to get a leash, you think as you decide to phone a friend who’s also in your tiger-owning clique.
As the phone is ringing, the tiger shakes the cage, threatening to tip it over. You decide to go to your family with the “large cub,” carrying it to the house. Your friend is not answering—dead end. As you knock on your parent’s house door, you stand back, thinking how the whole house was not as how you remembered it—did you live here? You were just focused on your tiger this whole time. The door gingerly opens, and your whole family is gathered at the house. They ask you to sit down and bring your tiger with you. As they explain how your now-700 pound tiger is a menace to their safety, you argue that its’ a harmless beast. Besides, you protest, it allows you to be creative. It calms you down. It helps you get through the day. Everyone else that you know, including your family, has a dog. It’s a doberman or a pomeranian. You don’t remember, but they don’t have a tiger. They don’t understand the love you have for the exotic beast that you raised. “But,” they retort, “Our dog doesn’t rattle the cage. Our dog doesn’t roar. We can attend to our children, and go to our jobs, and it’s not all-encompassing to feed our pet.” You reason this away too, saying that it’s not about choice but about survival—you don’t want to be the tiger’s next meal as much as the next guy. They huff, and say, “Why don’t you just kill it?” Your fists ball up, and your face flushes, as your voice raises several pitches in intensity—“Only I decide when I want to give MY tiger up for adoption!”
Suddenly, everyone leaps to their feet as they hear the tiger in the kitchen. It’s destroyed the china that your mom had bought from a rare auction, it ravaged the refrigerator looking for its’ food, and its’ bloodthirsty eyes are staring at your family, intent on cutting them off in order to have access to its’ food. As you notice your loved ones crying about the kitchen, you take your tiger back home, and banish it to its’ cage. I’m never keeping my family around again, you think as you pet your tiger’s fur. The slow purr slowly increases in intensity. It’s hungry again. As you turn your back, you look in the cabinet and realize there’s no more whiskey in the bottle. Hungry for any more food, the tiger starts licking its’ lips, ready for its’ second course after the alcohol at your family’s house. The last thing you see is the 700 pound beast pouncing, its’ incisors gleaming in the light.
Thanks to Tom Hungerford for his brilliant analogy and the creation of this story.