The play went very well. Good acting, good audience, good feeling.
E. did not get the apartment so for the nonce the chickens will continue to
have the full complement of gods, and Hamish--who arrives the week after
next--will get plenty of attention. This week Pecorino tried to execute an
exit plan of her own, which almost proved suicidal. Not sure where the others
were, she called called. For reasons we haven’t understood chickens do not
respond to this kind of calling. We knew where the others were, we could see
them; Pecorino had no clue. To get a better view, she hopped up onto the
boundary fence, gave everything one eye and then t’other. Suddenly it occurred
to fly down and begin her search anew…out in the wide world. Fortunately we
caught the whole drama from the breakfast table and were able to run out,
explain that Freedom and death gang aft thegither, and coax her back in.
Prompted by this life and death moment, I decided to tell the chickens about
existentialism. I gave them the short version, telling them that staring at
trees until you become nauseous should not be confused with acts of Bad Faith.
I did worry what effect that conversation might have on the most vulnerable
among them. Sure enough, next day I came across Cheddar taking a long look at
a Douglas Fir.
“It doesn’t seem to make me nauseous. Quite the opposite really; I believe I
could eat it.”
“Good,” I said.
"I expected more swirl. Takes quite a bit of swirl to make me nauseous, what
with monocular vision and all.”
I told her that a student in one of my classes had mistaken my description of
monocular vision in horses for, “molecular vision.”
“I think all vision is molecular.” Cheddar was clearly in a serious mood.
“Possibly,” I said, treading cautiously. “The same student,” I added, referred
to the “‘venerability' of the back of our heads.”
“Are heads venerable?”
“In the case of monks, possibly. But the word I used was ‘vulnerable.’ I was
talking about the First World War.”
“Whaaaat? The whole world had a war? This should be more widely known. Why
weren’t we told?”
That, I said, was a longer discussion than I had time for.
The universe can be a puzzling thing even for a god. Only yesterday, simply by
reading claims on the label, I finally learned how deodorant works, “Contains
odor-fighting ‘atomic robots’ that ‘shoot lasers’ at your ‘stench monsters’ and
replaces them with fresh, clean, masculine ‘scent elves.’” I’m not convinced
that the grammar is as effective as the robots; presumably it is the container
that contains and replaces, or maybe the stuff in the stick? I bet there was a
tie-in to a campaign on T.V., which I didn’t see.
I also figured out snoring. Not *how* to snore—I mastered that quite a while
back— but *why* we snore. To get my apercu, you have to imagine the old and
the feeble, lying round a prehistoric fire, at a considerable disadvantage when
they finally fall into a deep sleep. What do creeping wolves hear? Loud
defensive noises. “Back off,” our bodies say, anxious to persist, “there’s
still magic within.” You'd think, if Darwin was right, once the wolves became
less of a threat we might have fitted ourselves out with a quieter alternative.
But no. So I have to fall back on older ways of understanding the universe:
snoring is proof that God exists. Why, lurking in every bedroom, waiting to
attack the old and the feeble, this atavistic sound, destroyer of
relationships, grand mucker of the night watch? Well it’s this way. God
wanted us to feel one with the ocean and so we make sounds at night, like waves
grating on a pebbled shore.
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