As I sat out on the west end of Dauphin Island last weekend, celebrating the Memorial Day holiday, a feeling of immense gratitude swept over me. Gratitude for all who served, allowing me and countless others to live freely in the greatest country in the world. And I still say that with great sincerity even during this sometimes horrifying election year that makes me doubt it for a second — but despite all of that craziness, it still is.

Gratitude for being able to spend time with family and great friends.

Gratitude for living on the Gulf Coast, where I can jump in my car and be near any number of bays or beaches in an hour or two, and that my kids get to grow up enjoying life on these beautiful waters.

For the five to six hours we were “at sea,” pleas to play Minecraft or watch the Hobby Kids TV channel on YouTube (don’t ask, just know it’s horrible) by my son were replaced with hours of hermit crab collecting with his buddy, while my daughter played in the sand and splashed around in the water, occasionally adding another crabby to their collection. (Note: no hermit crabs were harmed in the making of these memories; all were released.)

And gratitude I didn’t feel the need to check my own Twitter and Facebook feeds for a few glorious hours. It brought me back to a much simpler time, the time of my youth — before internet (B.I.), when you didn’t have to read passive-aggressive “Vaguebook” posts about what “some people” — assumingly horrible — are doing or have done, or have your own post hijacked by your great Aunt Edna who makes embarrassing comments or read about the last 900 things Donald Trump said or the latest on Hillary’s emails, and, most gloriously, I was grateful for having a few hours free of learning just how many disturbed people there are out in the world, and/or the products created for them.

And there are tons of them.

Here are just a few of the latest I’ve learned about thanks to the interwebs … (enter this column at your own risk; you will not be able to unread this).

Oh meow!
For all of the cat lovers out there, there is now a way you can really love your cat. I mean REALLY love your kitty. It seems there is a Kickstarter campaign for a new product called Lickibrush.

According to the product’s site, “Cats groom each other as a form of social bonding. There’s also evidence to suggest that cats view and treat their human captors as large cats. As a human, you’re left out of the intimate licking ritual. At best, you have a one-sided licking relationship with your cat. We have designed LICKI brush to bring you and your cat closer. By using LICKI with your cat on a regular basis, you’ll develop a more intimate and bonded relationship, much like a mama cat bonds with her young.”

Finally a way to make the “licking relationship” a two-way street … with your cat! Yay!

No word yet on whether Human Hairball Remedy is also in the works but one can only hope. I look forward to seeing how many eyeballs are scratched out during this “bonding process” and if this is only a “gateway” for their “human captors” to use their real tongues. Either way, I would suggest limiting your feline’s consumption of Puss N Boots before engaging in any intense licking sessions.

Puppy love
Not to be outdone by cat lovers “grooming” their cats, there is something for “dog people” as well. And it may be even freakier than making out with Fluffy.

There is a recently released documentary done by a British TV station detailing the lives of those who like to engage in “pup play.”

“‘Secret Life of the Human Pups’ is a sympathetic look at the world of pup play, a movement that grew out of the BDSM (Bondage Dominance Sadism Masochism) community and has exploded in the last 15 years as the internet made it easier to reach out to likeminded people,” according to an article in The Guardian about the documentary. It goes on to say these people “have an interest in dressing in leather, wear dog-like hoods, enjoy tactile interactions like stomach rubbing or ear tickling, play with toys, eat out of bowls and are often in a relationship with their human ‘handlers.’”

There are so many things I want to know but don’t want to know about this. What happens when there is an accident in the house? Do they prefer Frontline or Advantix for their flea treatments? Is spaying and neutering recommended (I sure hope so!)? And most importantly, can a sago palm be deadly to them (the other “news story” clogging up my feed these days)?

The GoatMan cometh
If domesticated animal living is not for you, no worries, you still have options. Last week, the Washington Post had a story on a man who chose to live as a goat for six days and grazed with a herd in the Swiss Alps. The “goatman,” Thomas Thwaites, wanted to “take a vacation from being human” and had special prosthetics made so he could “gallop” around on all fours with his fellow goats. Though he did eat grass, it was recommended he pressure-cook it before consuming it. (Sounds dee-lish. I’m sure his new goat friends were super jel.)

When asked if he thought he had formed a connection to his herd, he responded, “I think I made friends with a particular goat. We seemed to follow each other around as we grazed. There was a moment, though, where I looked up and saw I was in the middle of the herd, and everyone else had stopped chewing and was staring at me. It was like I’d inadvertently committed some sort of goat faux pas.”

Um, like dressing up as a fake goat and pressure-cooking grass? Is that the faux pas you are referring to? Just speculating.  

I guess it’s hard to escape being ridiculed, no matter what kind of animal you are … or even pretend to be. Life is hard.

Wow. Just wow.

I try to remind myself these “interesting people” have always existed, the internet just brings them to our attention. And hey, maybe I am being too hard on them. I might decide to “take a vacation from being human” myself and go back down to Dauphin Island this weekend and live as a hermit crab. My lounge chair will act as my prosthetic shell. I will eat crushed up Pringles and soggy sandwiches fed to me by visiting children. And I will pinch the hell out of anyone who doesn’t toss me a beer fast enough. Yeah, I think these people are onto something. Sign me up!