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Question for the Ages: Do Snails Get Mad?

31 Mar

by Roger White

 

So I’m sitting on my front porch on a gorgeously sunlit Sunday morning, while Ralph the dog slinks ever so farther into the fringes of the yard and out of my line of vision. He does this so he can stealthily nose through, roll around in, and snack on various dead bugs, worms, and other dogs’ indiscretions in our yard. And to think we let him sleep in our bed with us. Max the fat cat reasonable maxsimilelazes next to me, casually observing a snail making glacial progress across the sidewalk. I begin watching the snail, as well. The little guy is near the edge of the walk, mere inches from the luscious black earth of our garden. It must have taken this tiny gallant gastropod all of this morning and most of last night to ooze his way this far from the driveway, judging from his slimy trajectory, and I marvel at his determination. I figure there’s some greater life lesson here, presumably about fortitude and believing in oneself and putting your best foot forward and all that. Although technically, snails don’t have feet.

Well, to be scientifically correct, the word “gastropod” is derived from the ancient Greek term that literally means “stomach foot,” which would indicate that a snail does indeed have a foot formed from its stomach. However, this is an anthropomorphic misnomer, based on the fact that to humans it appears as if snails and slugs crawl on their bellies. In reality, as we all know, snails and slugs have their stomachs, the rest of their digestive systems, and all the rest of their molluscal viscera in a hump on the el gastropodoopposite, or dorsal, side of their bodies. In most gastropods, this visceral hump is covered by, and contained within, the shell. This will be on the test, and, no, Leonard, you can’t be excused, just hold it in.

So, technically, I’m still not sure if snails have feet.

Anyway, um. Oh, yes, well, just as Eddie Escargot is about to reach the promised land, Max the cat jumps up and bats the unfortunate mollusk back across the sidewalk. The little guy sits there, stunned, back at square one. I swear I hear a tiny, little expletive. Another life lesson, I’m thinking. You know, if at first you don’t succeed, Rome wasn’t built in a day, cats are evil bastards. Stuff like that.

I shake my head at Max’s playful cruelty, wondering if he realizes what he’s done. “Was that necessary?” I lecture. “That is one pissed-off snail.”

Then it hits me. Is it? Is that snail mad as hell and not going to take it anymore? See, these are the things that I ponder. This, among many other reasons we won’t go into in this forum, is why I don’t own or manage a productive business, am not a best-selling author, and never made it to the professional tennis circuit. I am engrossed, wifey would say distracted, by matters such as this: Do snails get angry?

one pissed snailMy curiosity piqued, I dash to the computer and google the question, “Do snails get angry?” I’m not really expecting an answer, but you never know.

Sure enough, the query comes up word for word on the WikiAnswers site. Some bozo replied, “No, slugs and snails can’t get angry because they don’t have faces and therefore can’t frown, smile, or laugh.”

Wait a minute. Snails have faces. Don’t they? So I google “snail face,” only to find a host of sites about snail facials, a Japanese spa treatment in which they smother your head in live snails, which is apparently supposed to retard the aging process because of the incredible properties found in mollusk mucus. Tokyo spas are charging $250 to slather your mug in slugs–$300 if you want to eat them later.

But again, I digress. So I dash back outside to see for myself if our torpid little traveler has a face, only to find Ralph the dog rolling all over the poor thing in the driveway. Yes, Eddie Escargot is escargone. I pick the little guy up and place him gently in the garden, his final resting place. I swear I see a hint of a grin. Snail heaven. Gastropod Valhalla. Hey, there’s a name for our garage band.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

A Mighty Wind Cometh (from an Empty Caveth)

15 Aug

almanack schmalmanackaesop schmaesopby Roger White

Never let it be said that the Spouseman ignores his readers. I recently checked my inbox and found myself inundated with an e-mail, which lamented the fact that I haven’t tested you guys with a Quizzical Quotes contest in ages. I figured we’d seen the end of QQ, seeing as how the last time we did this, three of you wrote in threatening physical violence (I won’t name full names, Ronnie, Margene, and Achmed) and I ended up in protracted litigation with the estate of Aesop’s Fables claiming copyright infringement.

But.

Ye have spoken, and thee has listened. Besides, the nifty column I had drafted about the quirky personalities in my neighborhood didn’t make it past my copy editor (that being my lovely wife)—so you’re safe for now, Ronnie, Margene, and Achmed.

The object of QQ is simple: give me the more popular version of the quotes, sayings, poems, tidbits, cereal boxtops, song titles, book titles, phrases, expressions, adages, aphorisms, platitudes and proverbs you see below. For example, the more well-known version of “I’ll take freedom or croaking” is … anyone? Bueller? Come on, it’s “Give me liberty or give me death.” Dig? Dug.

First 10 of you who e-mail me at rogdude@mail.com with anything close to the correct answers win a nifty “Jesus Is Coming, Hide the Bong” bumper sticker. First 10 of you who e-mail me your PayPal account information and anything close to the correct answers win two bumper stickers and a VIP seat at my book-signing party (to be announced as soon as I hear back from my guy Larry at Self-Publish America).

So here goes. I was going to go with 50 of them, but I got tired. Sue me.

1. “You are not just puckering your lips and melodiously blowing a tune popular in the Old South.”
2. “Rap on oak.”
3. “Treading on chicken-embryo casings.”
4. “Don’t inspect a free large, solid-hoofed herbivorous quadruped in its oral cavity.”
5. “Each canine possesses its 24-hour period.”
6. “Existence in the Driving Corridor Designated for Speedier Vehicles.”
7. “What’s the latest information, feline?”
8. “Don’t mooch things off other people and don’t loan out your stuff, either.”
9. “The clock doesn’t hang around for anybody.”
10. “In what manners do I really, really like you? Where’s the calculator?”
11. “The puny, soft-spoken guys will get the third planet from the sun.”
12. “A threaded knot at the appropriate interval precludes the necessity for three squared.”
13. “Amalgamated, our posture is upright; split apart, we hit the floor.”
14. “The precipitation in the northern Iberian peninsula comes down principally on the flatlands.”
15. “A snapshot equals a lot of talking.”
16. “Devotion has no eyesight.”
17. “Consume, imbibe, and laugh it up, because two days after yesterday we could kick the bucket.”
18. “An egg-laying winged vertebrate within the extremity has the same value as five minus three in the shrubbery.”
19. “As a pair of ocean-going vessels that came within close proximity of the other after the sun went down.”
20. “Only a couple of items are sure things: pushing up daisies and governmental levies on personal income.”
21. “Confection is nice; however, alcohol has a more rapid effect.”
22. “Being really smug and happy with yourself precedes a sudden drop.”
23. “The neatest items of existence don’t necessitate a trip to the bank.”
24. “My mind processes information, so I gotta be here.”
25. “Grasp this career occupation and push it.”
26. “This is a canine-consume-canine planetary sphere.”
27. “Twelve divided by four bed linens facing the breeze.”
28. “As comfortable as an insect within a floor covering.”
29. “Getting even is sugary.”
30. “Glimmer, Glimmer, Diminutive Gaseous Orb.”
31. “The guy who is the final guy to snicker has the highest-quality snicker.”
32. “Need is the mom of contraption.”
33. “The only item we should be scared of is being scared.”
34. “OK, let’s have the guy who’s done nothing wrong hurl the initial rock.”
35. “To Assassinate the State Bird of Texas.”
36. “Clear liquid’s all around, but we can’t imbibe any of it.”
37. “Every one of the monarch’s large, solid-hoofed herbivorous quadrupeds and every one of the monarch’s male homosapiens failed in their efforts to reconstruct the egg man.”
38. “Bluntly, Red, I do not care.”
39. “I detect spoilage in the Copenhagen area.”
40. “See ya, mean globe.”
41. “Inactive appendages equal Satan’s studio.”

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

Lenticular Haiku, by Sir Archie Ferndoodle

9 Jan

by Roger White

Fellow time/space voyagers and other occasional devotees of “This Old Blouse,” I am more tickled than a duffel bag full of marsupials to announce the return of my dear friend, front porch sartorial mentor, and fellow breakfast-nook philologist, Sir Archie Ferndoodle (applause, applause, applause).

Yes, the former poet laureate of the Greater Southwestern Scribes Society, which meets every third Thursday in the back of Sue’s Salon in Cement, Texas, has been gently coaxed out of quasi-retirement to once again bless us with phrasings, words, syllables, parts of syllables, and renderings of nocturnal animal sounds from the Ulan Bator region as only Sir Archie can. (And remember, if you mention this column at Sue’s Salon, you get 10 percent off a five-ounce jar of Sue’s Coconut Heel Scrub with the purchase of at least $20, not including her patented Tomato-Lye Jamboree Hair Tonic.)     

As I’m sure you remember, the esteemed Fernie holds an associate’s degree in postmodern comparative limerick studies from the University of Southern Panama’s Correspondence College and has been featured five times in the American Anthology of Poetry. Just a few of his classics include “Oh, Staff Sergeant, My Staff Sergeant!,” “Why Is the Man Always from Nantucket?,” “The Squirrels Stopped Talking to Me Today,” and his latest, “A Stitch, a Horse, and a Can of Pearl,” which was the inside-cover poem in the most recent edition of the Cement Area Greensheet.

The more astute of you may have seen Fernie’s hand in the Christmas edition of “This Old Mouse.” Raise your hand if you had the notion that Sir Archie was the ghostpen behind“The Nitrous Before Christmas.” Well, you’re dead wrong; I wrote that while flying low in my dentist’s office, but I did have ol’ Fernie in mind. In fact, he may have actually inhabited my body during that whole experience, but we digress again.

So anyway, without further magoo, I give you Sir Archie Ferndoodle, who has just returned from a five-month sojourn at the Tao Sendaha Haiku Sweat Lodge, just north of Pittsburgh.

 

Lenticular Haiku

by Archie Ferndoodle

 

Hand old, withered

Extended to young happy boy who

Smiles and

Coughs up a small border town near

Flagstaff.

 

Deposit slip with no meaning flutters

In brown surge of empty day. I find Julia at

Home making love to the Buick

Again.

Better judgment whispered

Toyota, Toyota.

Toyota. Smash hindsight with

Bitter hammer of stoli rocks. Ah.

 

Three grateful invertebrates argue

On who passed

Wind while each ascends

The assistant professor’s

Mortgage.

 

 

 

Trees and earth know much more

Than they sing

To man accused of listening of listening

Of listening to Alex

Trebek and his minions. Only refuse

And then hear again, the daily

Double. Oh! Bodies of

Water for Four

Hundred.

 

Heat. No heat. Heat. No heat.

Damn toaster. Fling the

Shiny monster down the hillock to

CRASH waves of filament element

Parchment and wire. No heat toast is mere

bread and

Sorrow.

Dear Julia. I’m trading it

In.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

I’ve Seen the Future, and It’s Full of Zebra/Ostriches and Couchmallows

5 Oct

by Roger White 

If you’re like me, you have these nebulous questions in your head about what you might call life’s little givens. And, if you’re even more like me, you ponder on whether these questions are substantial enough to bring up in public or simply leave unanswered for fear that said public will back away slowly from you and call for psychiatric assistance on your behalf.

Here’s an example of one of life’s little givens that I’ve been contemplating for many years—well, mainly since I was a little kid and personally watched Bobby Hayes run down a football field faster than anything I’d ever seen before. Is it a given that humans will continue to become faster, stronger, and more athletically refined indefinitely on into the endless future, or at least until our sun goes supernova and we all die a horrible, fiery death and cockroaches rule the planet? And even then, will cockroaches evolve into ever swifter, hairier, and more repugnant strains of roaches than their forefathers?

I mean, when I was a tyke, Hayes was earth’s fastest human, and at the time I thought there was no way anyone anywhere, with the possible exception of the dolphin people of the Andromeda Galaxy, would ever cover 100 meters faster than Bullet Bob. His world-record time of 10.06 at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 was topped only by his come-from-behind anchor leg in the 4 x 100 relay in those games, during which he ran so fast that several timers’ watches liquefied and Hayes’ track shoes actually disintegrated into smoke and dust. Surely, I reasoned, Bob Hayes epitomized the zenith of man’s quest for footspeed. Of course, I was wrong. Not only has that record been lowered time and again over the years, today (at least as of this writing) Usain Bolt of Jamaica currently holds the world record in the 100 meters at a genuinely insane time of 9.58 seconds. A two-ton station wagon dropped from the Empire State Building can’t fall that fast.

I guess my burning question is when do we reach a point of critical mass, or do we ever reach such a point? Will there be a moment in history when scientist types say, “Okay, 5.3 seconds is the fastest any human will ever run the 100 meters, ever. So stop trying, people. It’s over.” Or—and this is the scary part—will we humanoids keep stubbornly developing until some mutant guy built like a two-legged zebra/ostrich runs the 100 meters in 0.25 seconds in the year 2107?

Same goes for other sports. Do you remember the classic old tennis matches from the days of yore? Say, for example, those terrific Borg versus McEnroe battles. I recall being glued to the set during those epic bouts: Borg the automatic baseliner against McEnroe the tempestuous serve-and-volley master. Such exquisite tennis. Such creative expletives. Such objectionable hair.

Have you tuned into those old matches lately? Yesterday’s heroes, the very best in the world for their time, now look like juniors playing on a court of molasses. The ball moves so s-s-l-o-o-o-w-w-w-l-l-y. After years of exposure to today’s ever-cyborg-like game of one-shot points and 150-miles-per-hour serves, it’s difficult to watch the tennis of even a decade or two ago and not think, heck, I could beat those guys. (Well, not me personally, but  . . . ) Today’s top players are fashioned like Kareem Abdul Jabbar with Schwarzenegger arms, and they play with rackets designed by Lockheed Martin. In a few years, we may not have to actually play any matches at all. Each player in a tournament will simply e-mail his or her top service speed into a central computer, and winners will be determined scientifically. Headlines will read something like “McEnborger to Win Wimbledon Next Week.”

Ditto for football. Dipping into my childhood personal reference bag once again, when I was 12 I met Dallas Cowboys legend Bob Lilly at a savings and loan grand opening in my tiny hometown. It was 1972; the Pokes had just won Super Bowl VI a few months earlier. Here was big Bob, the All-Pro defensive tackle, six foot five and 260 pounds of gridiron god. To me, he was a human mountain. Today, you have high school and even junior high players weighing in at more than 350 pounds. Some pro teams charter a team plane just for the linemen and another plane for everybody else. Lilly might qualify as a running back these days, or maybe even a trainer. No offense, Mr. Lilly, please don’t hurt me.

Same applies to basketball. The real reason the NBA went on strike this year was to give basketball arenas around the country time to refit the goals to 18 feet high. This just might make dunking a trifle harder, but they’re not sure. They are also contemplating redesigning the hoop to be one inch smaller than the physical dimensions of the ball, just for fun.

Now for you astute readers with long memories and grudge-type personalities, this column does not contradict what I opined some time back about us all morphing into atrophied mushbrains due to our chronic over-exposure to computers and acute lack of physical movement. This is a two-pronged evolution. Just as there will be no middle class by the year 2107, there will also be no “normal, average humans.” You will be either a mutantly gifted zebra/ostrich or a mushbrained couchmallow. There will be no middle ground. Kind of like today’s political scene.

Fortunately for me personally, my best predictions show me not quite making it to 2107, so I don’t have to choose. But you whippersnappers out there best be thinking: zebra/ostrich or couchmallow? Either way, you’re probably going to need a new wardrobe.

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.