I lean towards the first reading. I think the reason that the destroy method executes after print completes is because a reference to the object is placed on the stack, and the reference count goes to zero when the parameters are cleared from the stack.
Calling destroy immediately is simpler than maintaining a to-do list for later processing. If I were to write perl, I'd choose the simpler method. (Of course, I can't offer any evidence either way--it's just my gut feeling.)
When your only tool is a hammer, all problems look like your thumb.