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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Monday, February 26, 2007

Wince Upon a Time

We’re just sitting here getting ready to watch “24,” and I saw that commercial for the Chrysler “Stow-and-Go” Town and Country minivan. You’ve seen the one I mean: It shows a kid gathering all his precious things including a bright green bullfrog and secretly putting them all into the center “stow and go” compartment. Then the mother opens the compartment “lid” and the bullfrog jumps up and clings to the brink of the compartment. Every time I see that part, I wince. Why? Because it seems only natural that the surprised parent, lifting the lid and having a frog jump toward it, would recoil just enough to drop the lid, and then SQUISH—just like “Frogger."

In case you’re thinking I have a morbid imagination…my visceral response is based on something that happened about fifteen years ago.

Have you ever had one of those mid-life “Everybody sleeps at your parent’s house” gatherings? Back when my brothers and I lived all over the country, we used to get together every other Christmas Break. Sometimes we’d all arrived at Mom and Dad’s within an hour of each other in a joyous swarm of hugs and suitcases as we kicked our snowy shoes off at the back door.

Well anyway, one year we were all waiting for my brother Dave, his wife, and the three boys (arriving from Philadelphia packed in their Ford Escort). When they finally came through the door, my seven-year-old nephew—I’ll call him Brady—came in with an empty gerbil cage and a sad face.

“Don’t ask.” Dave said with a half-hug, but as soon as we were away from the others... I asked. Brady had just gotten a pet gerbil for Christmas, and he carried it in the cage on his lap for ten non-stop hours. Well, actually there was one stop just a little while before they arrived.

I’ve not seen Snakes on a Plane, but I hear it was loosely based on a story about a gerbil getting out of its cage in a tightly packed Escort at 70 MPH—they just thought making it snakes on a jet would be a little more exciting. Not really, but that is what happened to my nephew's gerbil. After a few minutes of high-speed mayhem, Dave wisely pulled off to the side of the interstate, and started searching for the little guy who had taken refuge under the passenger seat. There in the dim dome light, Dave was about to catch him when he darted toward the open car door and the dark fields beyond. “Shut the door!” Dave shouted, and the door was quickly slammed. The gerbil did not get away, but where did he go? He was not outside the car. He was visible inside the car....

Now do you see why I wince when I see the frog climbing out of the stow-and-go compartment?


Blogger JR's Thumbprints said...

I had our pet rat on my La-Z-Boy chair, crawling around, enjoying herself. I forgot she was there and decided to get up. I folded the poor rats head into the crease of the chair, paralyzing her for life. Yes, I can definitely wince!

27/2/07 6:29 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Yes, it was sort of like that except when Dave opened the door the gerbil was no longer a self-contained rodent. There was nothing to do but say some parting words of regret and throw the critter as far into the darkness beyond the road as possible.
Dave always had a good arm. He once caught a long fly ball in deep center field and then accidentally overthrew the backstop (allowing a checked runner to score but everyone cheered his arm anyway). I'm sure that gerbil felt like Rocky the flying squirrel--except for the being dead part. =)

27/2/07 7:59 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

There is just never a dull moment in your life- and how do you remember all of this stuff anyway? The hard drive in my brain ran out of memory years ago. I never liked gerbils much anyway but what a way to "bite the dust"!

28/2/07 10:15 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Nancy, Never a dull moment?
I don't know about that, but it's a pleasant mix of thrills and yawns. I do find it interesting to follow the quirky twists and turns of an associative memory. My thoughts sometimes topple like dominoes and when I remember which one started my current take on things... I know that's where a story really begins.
As for the gerbil,I guess we could say "the dust bit him"… on a more pleasant note: “Brady” is now a computer I.T. guy in Sunny California.

1/3/07 7:15 AM  
Blogger SusieQ said...

One of my daughters and her husband have seven children...and a small zoo in their household: dog; cat; bird; fish; ferret; and two hamsters. I am always concerned that the hamsters are going to scurry out the front door some day and into the street where they will become road kill.

In case your readers do not know this, ferrets have a distinct odor to them which puts me in mind of a peculiar perfume...one that I would never want to wear. :-)

1/3/07 10:42 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

I really don't know the answer. Is it musk? If so, I wonder if that's where they get the term muskrat. I know that the Indian word "musk" means swamp/marsh because that's how our nearest largest city Muskegon" got its name. (It's 20% water.) Ferrets are "in the family" of minks of muskrats...I think.
My nephew learned that gerbils give off something else when extreme pressure is applied. =)

3/3/07 12:14 PM  

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