Since no one else was likely to listen, I went outside to discuss with the
chickens Arsenal’s loss to Barcelona.
“No matter what Wenger says, I think it was a deliberate kick to the knee. I
bet it’s ligament damage.”
“Oooh,” said Mimo, “ligament damage.”
“But he made a mess of things in front of the goal.”
“Wenger?” asked Appenzeller.
And Cheddar repeated, “Wenger?”
Rocky ran up. Cheddar explained, “He’s got Wengers. Do we like Wengers?”
Rocky said she couldn’t remember eating one.
“Wenger’s their coach.”
Cheddar shook her head, “Oh no, no, we don’t like buses. Filthy, noisy, yellow
“No, no,” they agreed, wandering. “Don’t like buses.”
I was not deflected, “Oxlade-Chamberlain made a mess of things in front of the
I could see that Appenzeller wanted to ask what an Oxlade-Chamberlain was. I
carried on, “Messi, though, was ruthless."
Pecorino was puzzled, “Messi didn’t make a mess?”
“No,” I said, “Messi is the best; he cleans up.”
Cheddar thought it wise to agree with this nonsense. “Cleans up…yes, yes.
Incidentally, will there be chips?”
Lately they've been getting stale tortilla chips on their way into the coop.
It’s a very popular treat but it has spoiled them to the point they turned away
from a pear and a banana, declaring that they’d “gone off” fruit. I recall
when they used to eat weeds. And cotoneaster. (The plant on Mac’s grave,
incidentally, is coming back.)
“So,” Rocky, believing that a food reward could be coming, was eager to join
in, “You were saying?”
“Arsenal wanted to hit them on the counter-attack.”
They sprang into motion like cheerleaders. It was like one of those small
clips you see on websites, gifs I think they’re called, "hit them, hit them...
on the counter-attack." Forward, step sideways, forward, repeat… “Hit them.
Hit them on the counter-attack.” All they lacked were pom poms.
When they finally stopped Mimo wanted to know where exactly on the body the
"counter attack” is located. Appenzeller supposed it might be near the
ligament. “I bet it hurts…being hit on the counter attack. Being hit anywhere
“Or pecked,” said Peccorino, who has fallen to the bottom of the pecking order.
I said, “They defended pretty well, Arsenal. Until they didn’t.”
Mimo, “Try that one girls.” And they did another brief dance interpretation,
"Chickens defending well."
They’ve begun laying again, which together with this new enthusiasm for dance
will prolong their presence here.
"Ultimately Barca were too much for them, too good.”
Rocky wanted to know what a Barca is. I was feeling impish, “It’s a kind of
“Thank goodness,” said Cheddar, “I thought you were going to say it's a new
dog. Wouldn’t want one of those. No, no.”
The little girl at the estate sale was blond, with long curly hair. I’d say
she was about five. The exchange with her mother began with a polite request,
“Will you buy me this dress?” She held up a sparkly thing, fit for a princess
or a bride or a prime minister— whatever the fantasy of the moment might be.
The mother agreed, adding, “So don’t let me hear, ‘I never buy you anything.’”
There was a pause wherein the girl stared silently and lovingly at her
prospective new possession, But then doubt swept in, “You *are* going to buy
it?” The mother was busy looking at other clothing. “Yes. I said I would.”
“Only…you haven’t put it in the basket.”
The mother looked over, put the dress into the shopping basket. Another brief
silence and then the line that made my day, “I suppose I should ‘cool it’ with
the dress talk.”
Rehearsals for Saturday’s play performance begin tomorrow. It doesn’t help to
worry. In another umpteen generations the Fit who have survived will have had
worry bred out of them. Meanwhile though a lingering few of us are stuck with
this trait. I’ve been reading Steinbeck’s letters describing his responses to a
similar situation. They’re not helpful; his play failed. I know I took on the
challenge of writing something that can be performed in a library and I can do
nothing about the possibility of noise interruptions. But what if a toddler has
a meltdown in the next room? There’s no sound barrier. It wasn’t me who chose
one in the afternoon, when the library is busy, as an ideal performance hour.
And what if I’ve written a squib? Here’s Steinbeck on that subject, “I have
not written to you since my play fell on its face. And it really did…It was a
good piece of work and a lot of people are pretty mad at the critics for
destroying it…It is very easy to blame the critics. They were not at fault.
It was not a good play. It was a hell of a good piece of writing but it lacked
the curious thing no one has ever defined which makes a play quite different
from everything else in the world. I don’t know what that quality is but I
know it when I hear it on stage. I guess we have to go back to the cliché
‘magic of the theatre.’ This thing read wonderfully but it just did not play.
And furthermore I don’t know what would make it play…I’m telling you all this
so you will see that I am not the least bit angry or upset. In fact I am hard
at work on my new novel…”
Yeah, right. Just in case, I’ve already started something else.
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