Sorry, but I’ve had it up to here with the nooze and I’d just as soon take a break from it this weekend. Give me an axolotl instead.
I mean, really! I’ve just spent time on a couple of different nooze sites and it’s all the same: impeachment, let’s abort all babies with Down’s Syndrome, let’s abort all “binary pronouns,” and let’s have a national food fight over “reparations”–punishing people for something that other people did 200 years ago. And on and on. What a dreary landscape!
I can’t get any axolotls, so this afternoon we’re going to pet our cats and watch what’s supposed to be a good BBC remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s black-and-white classic, The Lady Vanishes. Maybe Elizabeth Warren will vanish.
And I’m re-reading Bell Mountain. If you haven’t read it yet–well, what are you waiting for? I’ve also got a book of mermaid stories, which I think I’ll tackle next. Mermaids beat the nooze any day. Almost as good as axolotls!
In Chapter CCCXXI of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Dr. Fanabla is elected to the Royal Society for his successful surgical removal of Johnno the Merry Minstrel’s gizzard. “Most human bodies do not even have a gizzard,” says the society’s president, Sir Gilbert Fumble, Ph. D., M.D., F.R.S. Unfortunately Johnno’s harmonica was not lodged in his gizzard, after all. In fact, it was found shortly afterward lodged in Johnno’s trousers. He declines Dr. Fanabla’s offer to put the gizzard back. It has since been donated to the Royal Museum of Weird Body Parts. “I’ll just have to learn to get along without it,” Johnno says.
Meanwhile, Lord Jeremy Coldsore, accompanied by Constable Chumley, visits the Wise Women of the Woods to demand the half-dozen axolotls she bought from Ye Olde Shoppe of Curious Curios. They will be needed to nullify the curse placed on the vicar’s backyard wading pool by the medieval sorcerer, Black Rodney.
“I don’t have them anymore,” says the Wise Woman of the Woods. “I used them in a pudding.” The constable knowingly nods his head. “‘Tis farthy more ye grassome hoicks,” he says, quoting a quaint rural adage of great antiquity. It is not helpful.
“Arrest this woman, constable!” cries Jeremy. “As justice of the peace, I charge you with impeding a necessary public purchase. You’ll pay dearly for this–whatever your name is! What is it, anyway?” But it has been so long since she’s used her name that she’s forgotten it. “I think it might have been Elizabeth Tudor,” she says. Lord Jeremy is sure he’s heard that name before, but can’t think of where.
Here Ms. Crepuscular finds it necessary to discuss her recipe for axolotl pudding. “I have never actually had any axolotls to put in it,” she confides in her readers, “but those rubber worms you can buy at Walmart work just as well.”
Violet Crepuscular makes an impassioned statement to her readers.
“I deplore, I execrate, I denounce that critic who has called my work ‘Tristram Shandy for Dummies’!” she writes. “Well, I call his work Dumb and Stupid Stuff for Real Dummies! Hah!”
With this out of her system, she launches into Chapter CCCXIX of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney–which, she hastens to add, is not for dummies at all.
“We have reached that point in the story wherein all of Scurveyshire is about to be sucked down into the nameless abyss under the wading pool in the vicar’s back yard–”
Oops. “Dear reader, excuse me!” she writes. “I’m so upset and confused, I hardly know what I’m doing. We have not reached that point in the story! Far from it. Oh, those critics! Let me see if a few glasses of whiskey can help me get my thoughts in order.”
Eventually she gets around to telling us that Johnno the Merry Minstrel, who has swallowed his harmonica, is being examined by Dr. Fanabla. The examination is difficult because anything Johnno tries to say just comes out as random musical notes.
“I’m afraid there’s nothing for it but radical exploratory surgery,” says the doctor. “Somewhere inside him there’s a harmonica that has to be removed. I fear it’s lodged in his gizzard.” Johnno rolls his eyes and tries to protest, but all that comes out sounds vaguely like “Yankee Doodle.” Lord Jeremy chides him for being unpatriotic. The doctor shakes his head. “Tricky business, taking out the gizzard,” he says. Johnno has to be restrained.
Meanwhile Willis Twombley, the American adventurer who thinks he is Sargon of Akkad, suspects the Wise Woman of the Woods of being in league with the medieval sorcerer, Black Rodney. “Why else would she have bought up all the axolotls that they had in stock?” he said. “Germy, ol’ hoss, you better let me shoot her.”
“That won’t get us any axolotls,” Lord Jeremy replies. “Have to be more subtle than that, old boy! Someone summon Constable Chumley! I want him to arrest her.”
But a note from the constable says “Frithee more, yair manitoes be sacklin’.”
Before we look into Chapter CCCXVIII of Violet Crespuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, we have a note from the author.
“Dear Reader,” she writes, “as you know, I have acquired a pet clam named Farfel. I plan to build a new aquarium specially tailored to his needs. I wanted to show you the plan, but someone at the temple ate my template.” She pauses slyly. “Voila!” she exults. “Another crepuscularity!” Just what we needed.
Moving on, Johnno the Merry Minstrel is doing his best to become an oracle, but thanks to a careless remark by Lord Jeremy Coldsore, he insists on doing it while standing on his head. “I think it’ll work better, my lord, if I can play my harmonica while I’m doing it,” he confides in Lord Jeremy.
“By all means, my man, by all means,” replies Jeremy.
Surmounting several acute difficulties, Johnno succeeds in executing a head-stand and begins to recite an oracular pronouncement while playing his harmonica. This is not as easy as it looks.
“The vicar’s gol-darned wading pool–” he begins.
“Gol-darned?” wonders Jeremy. “What kind of word is that for an oracle?”
Distracted by the interruption, Johnno accidentally swallows his harmonica and tumbles down the stairs. Jeremy chases after him.
“Johnno! Johnno! Are you all right?”
Johnno tries to answer, but all that will come out is some rather feeble musical notes.
Meanwhile, Willis Twombley, the American adventurer, repairs to Ye Olde Shoppe of Curious Curios to buy axolotls. “I’ll take half a dozen of ’em,” he tells the proprietor, Mr. Twittle. He waves his six-shooter for emphasis. The other shoppers dive for cover.
“I’m very sorry, sir,” says Mr. Twittle, cringing, “but we’re fresh out of axolotls. Someone came in yesterday and bought them all.”
Twombley is abashed. “Who was the varmint that did that?” he demands.
“The Wise Woman of the Woods, sir! Said she wanted ’em for axolotl pudding.”
Twombley senses some dark purpose at work…
Here Ms. Crepuscular breaks for a new chapter, not yet written. “I do this to heighten the suspense,” she explains. “Toothpaste sandwich cookies, anyone? I’ve made a new batch!”
Cute little fellow, ain’t he? Or she–I can’t tell with axolotls.
Jambo, everybody, Mr. Nature here. Let me tell you two cool things about axolotls.
They can grow back body parts that get injured and lost–a foot, a leg, or a piece of the tail. Other salamanders can do that, too; I once saw a really big salamander that had five feet (two on one leg, where an injured foot healed but a new one grew anyway).
Even cooler, axolotls are actually baby salamanders (very closely related to the tiger salamander) which never metamorphose into the adult form so they can live on land. They remain in the water all their lives, never shed their gills, and–like a lot of college students–never grow up, even though they can reproduce. They do grow bigger as time goes on, but they never complete the ordinary salamander life cycle. Reminds me of that old saying, “You can’t stay young, but you can be immature forever.”
Axolotls are rare; they live in fresh water in and around Mexico City, and urbanization subjects their environment to high stress. There are probably more axolotls kept as pets, and captive-bred, than can be found in the wild today.
They deserve to survive–which, I think, will test the kindness, patience, and benevolence of the human race.