Snapshot of Suburban Life
Maureen gives birth to an elephant seal. This is not a metaphor. A thousand pound seal, dripping in brine, emerges at the hospital to the delight and surprise of the doctors.
"You must be so proud," they all tell the father, John. He stares at the wall. The birth rouses suspicions of infidelity, as they had first slept together only three months ago.
"I think it might be the milkman," he confides to his best friend, Graham.
Nonetheless, John cares for the seal as he would a human child. They name him Albert, and like a good father John follows his son with a hose to thwart dehydration.
Albert learns at a slowed pace, but Maureen sits with him at the kitchen table every night with flashcards.
John and Maureen fight often, stressed by what some might call unique circumstances.
Albert reaches his teen years and develops a rebellious streak, ingesting cannabis by the kilo and hunting the occasional penguin about town.
He fakes ADD for a regular Ritalin supply. Police arrest and send him to juvenile hall. Albert's peers mistreat him, harboring prejudices towards elephant seals developed from unflattering portrayals on TV and in literary magazines.
John and Maureen sob with great frequency.
Albert emerges a year later, depressed and angry. Mary buys a book about gluten-intolerance, finds the paragraph on the back to be convincing, and cooks meals devoid of the substance. Albert's health improves considerably, and he lives for an atypical length.
Disney turns Albert's story into a feature film, which flops because of its abrupt ending.