Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Minister of Funny Walks is at my gym ...

... every day. I spend an insufficient number of hours each week engaging in painful, repetitive behaviors at one of Hollywood's temples of vanity. I'm not very good at using the equipment, but I maintain a certain dignity. Many of the adept bodybuilders cast such trivialities to the wind, however, and may be observed taking ridiculously long, slow steps across the rubber floor. I suspect the exercise benefits their legs, but I like it because every time I see one of them come stomping through in slo-mo, I start to laugh. I have not yet been squashed like a bug, however, because I am laughing on the inside. One of the hotsteppers brings his arms into play as well, swinging them slowly around him with each advance, as though to show off all the faces of a large invisible polyhedron. Even some of the regulars are taken aback by his display and allow themselves a few unprofessional sniggers. The Minister of Funny Walks does have almost textbook definition, but who really needs to see every bulging vein and quivering muscle fiber? What ever happened to a little mystery?

Ok, next topic.

The astute reader will doubtless have recognized by now the absolutely trivial nature of everything in this blog. Voyeurs looking for details of my recent romantic travails may as well change the channel. See the "next blog" link in the upper right corner of this page? That's the one you click if you want lurid perspectives on the comings and blowings of strangers.

Nope, the sole purpose of this soapbox is to allow me to vent my spleen on topics such as traffic, vermin, pop culture, and the seven deadly sins.

Let's start with Sloth. The Three-Toed Sloth, to be specific. During an Amazon adventure early last year, I met a small family of Indians who had adopted a female sloth as a pet. She moved even more slowly than the aforementioned high-stepping bodybuilders. In fact, she moved as I imagine an opium-eater would -- like she viewed the world as a waking dream.

She was very compliant, as well, perfectly willing to be pried off her tree and affixed to tourists. Unlike the petting zoo prostitutes we cultivate here in America, she required no extra treats for such friendliness. In fact, she was polite enough to put aside her fiber-rich snack of leaves just to hang on. She may have been terrified, but she carried herself well for someone with just 12 toes. Since you ask, each of the famous three toes per foot ends in a long, sharp claw, but it's hard to imagine a sloth using these raptor-worthy weapons in a fight. It's hard to imagine a sloth fighting at all. Or staying awake long enough to remember what the fuss was all about to begin with. As the sloth settles in on the human host, her long arms, covered in short gray fur, wrap around the host as her claws close deliberately and forcefully, stopping just short of a painful grip. I still don't know how the sloth fends off predators. It's all well and good to play possum when a jaguar comes after you, but that's a pretty hard game to keep up as the cat tears open your abdomen and rips out your guts. Must look this one up.

Another friendly Amazonian we met makes custom condoms. He taps rubber trees to collect their sap, boils and processes it, and then drips the white, sticky latex over absurd penile effigies made of wood. The dirty sleeves that form on the dildoes are thick enough to eradicate not just unwanted pregnancy and disease, but sex itself. The Moral Majority is on the march.

There. We've gone from Sloth to Lust, and had a pleasant travelogue in the bargain.

A word about crane flies. They've been on my mind these past few weeks because the house is full of them. (I had to google "giant mosquito" to figure out what the hell they are.) I realized yesterday that the house is full of them because Clarence, that knight-errant of the squirrel kingdom, dislodged the screen over the stove (see earlier post for details). The crane flies -- often misidentified as non-sucking male mosquitoes, owing to their similar legginess and failure to suck -- hover around the exterior of the house looking for warmth. Upon discovering a hint of domestic vapors, such as may be issuing ironically forth from my bachelor kitchen, they buzz and tumble down the stove vent in pursuit of its source. Once inside, they have nothing to do but get into trouble. They fling themselves against lightbulbs, settle foolishly into active sinks, and fall prey to the daddies longlegs (note agreement of subject and modifier!) whose hazy webs keep the moth population down. I'd like to restore these lost crane flies to their native habitat, or even feed them something so they don't starve to death in my house, but they will have nothing to do with me. Who can blame them? Maybe if I put out saucers of bourbon they'll drink themselves to death like the derelicts they've become.

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