I love scare stories, whether it's killer bees, bird flu, mad cows, or WMDs (okay, bad example). So it gladdens my fear-mongering journalistic heart that now zebra mussels threaten to infest our home waters. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is warning us that boats being hauled west from the Great Lakes and other regions may carry the invasive pest on their hulls. It's time to panic, people! We're talking about Dreissena polymorpha here, and these little bastards mean business! They clog pipes, displace native species, destroy pedicures! They. Will. Mess. You. Up. It's like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, or Communism all over again. We need a movie starring Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson as bad-ass marine biologists fighting this watery plague. ("I am sick of these motherf…")
Our state takes the threat so seriously that we've got our own Zebra Mussel and European Green Crab Task Force (don't even get me started on European green crabs). And no less an authority than NOAA warns "zebra mussels' diverse genetic variations will make them more difficult to control." They're mutants! (That's only one short step below zombies.) NOAA also says they came to the U.S. from Eurasia, which somehow sounds a little racist—yellow peril and all. Sure to be a campaign issue for the GOP.
Fine, but you're wondering, "What do I do if confronted by a zebra mussel?" Well, I've studied the problem and recommend the following steps to deal with the deadly interloper. 1) Avoid eye contact, which will only provoke them further. 2) Try to relate to the zebra mussel on a personal level—hey, well all like to travel, right? And the Great Lakes weren't, you know, great enough. Mussel's gotta roam, y'all. 3) Don't discuss politics; zebra mussels are still notoriously sensitive about endorsing Ralph Nader and the Green Party back in ’00. 4) But don't get too friendly, lest you succumb to the Stockholm Syndrome. Don't give away your phone number or agree to coffee later. Because if there's one proven danger about zebra mussels, we know it's this: They cling.