Wednesday, August 26, 2015

How to Work Magic

"Look at me," the neighbor's golden retriever wags. "Aren't I wonderful?"
Yes, you are.
The dog has charm to spare. Beautiful and glossy and upbeat, he prances around wagging at people, other dogs, even squirrels. He's not particular. Confident in their admiration, he grins and waves around a conversation starter: a pull-toy or a gutter downspout.
This is how he casts his spell.
I know a charming man, too. He is almost as good-looking as the dog, and twice as smart.  People are drawn to his twinkly eyes and ready smile. He always says the right thing. He is famous for daring deeds and strength and skill. He is kind to everyone, even when they make asses of themselves trying to impress him. He makes them feel like sucking up is the right thing to do. Honorable, even.
The dog and the man have a lot in common: good looks and confidence in their appeal, and they give you something interesting to talk about. They are charming.
Charm draws people to you. It also makes them want to give you things like hugs and cookies and big money sponsorship deals.
Charm works on more than just people. It works on everything in the universe. Things could go one way or another, but they just seem to go your way. You don't have to beg. You don't have to threaten. You just smile and wag and nobody even gets mad about the chewed-up gutter downspout.
The term "charm" seems to imply trickery, but that's not how it works. Charm's true power is in its innocence. You just happen to be in love with yourself, and who could resist that?

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Bot Fly Larva

You know how sometimes you have a pimple or a boil or a bug bite (you're not sure what it is), but you know that it's no big deal and it will go away because you bathe regularly and live in a place like Colorado, an arid place where the bugs are pretty tame? We don't even have that many mosquitoes. It's not like Africa or Panama, where worms burrow into your skin and start eating you from the inside-out. Or so you thought.
Because it could be a bot fly larva. It turns out they live in Colorado, too. Apparently, this is not a new thing.
Knowing what a bot fly looks like won't save you. They have other insects infest you for them while they fly around looking innocent. Bot flies stash their eggs under the armpits of ordinary house flies. I'm not sure whether they do this by force or by trickery. Maybe it's like when a stranger at the airport asks to stash their socks in your carry-on.
Then the house fly circles over and lands on somebody nice and warm. Usually it's a deer or a rabbit. In my case it was a poodle. But it could be you.
Immediately, the bot fly egg hatches and drops off. It's called a larva now, and it has teeth! It chews its way under your skin, where it feeds on your fat and pus (yes, pus. After all, it is uncomfortable, but you thought it was just a regular bug bite).
So the larva grows up cradled in the warmth of your skin, munching on you and getting fat, and every once in a while it shifts position, sending electric shocks through you, and...what the hell??
So you go to the doctor, who squeezes your (now enormous) pimple/boil/bug bite, and out, out comes...no, not pus. It is a fat, inch-long, fanged bot fly larva.
Remember that movie Dune? It's like that, but smaller and in your skin.
Not that you should be paranoid or anything.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Yes, I am a Superhero

In the open space where I walk the dogs daily, a Rubbermaid bin is hidden in the tall grass behind a tree. I am sure it is meth lab waste, because what else would it be? Geez, it's not like I'm leaping to conclusions.
Surely it is a sign that our neighborhood is falling into ruin. Evil forces are at work. Somebody must take action. Should I call the police?
Weeks pass. Sun and rain and wildlife do their work. Pieces of bin scatter along the path.
I picture dangerous chemicals leeching into the creek. Children poisoned. Something must be done, but that will require planning. And safety goggles, probably. More weeks pass. I do nothing, and am racked with guilt.
Until one day like any other I decide that I can't take it any more. Tying up the dogs, I step off the path. I creep toward the shattered box. The forest holds its breath. I put thoughts of nerve damage out of mind. Will there be needles? Broken glass?
I am willing to face danger to do good. Like a superhero, except that my wardrobe is more T.J. Maxx than Cirque du Soleil. I really build myself up.
And when I part the branches I find the remnants of the bin and...wait a minute...a bird house? Splintered walls, gingerbread trim, tiny shingles smashed into the grass. And an empty bird seed bag.
So much for heroics.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

How to Prove You're a Scaredy-Cat

It's hip to be scared these days, and I don't blame you for wanting to get in on the trend, so I've got some suggestions. If you want to look weak and terrified, there are several things you can do:
1. Harden your heart. Remember, you are too weak to help others. Instead, sneer at their misfortunes. This will make the superiority of your position obvious.
2. Control, control, control. It is important to control everyone around you, because if you can't be happy, they shouldn't either.
3. You've got to pack heat. Nothing says, "I'm about to pee my pants" like a gun in your hip holster at the grocery store.
4. Shoot at shadows in the dark. Most likely they are your family members, but you've got a reputation to uphold and that is more important.
5. Be as rude as you can in hopes that strangers will go away. They are probably scary and mean, and that should make you tremble.
6. Put up a big fence and signs that say "Keep Out". This makes your home easier to identify.
7. Paranoia is a must-have, but you should know that already. Start looking for threats! Especially beware of anyone who laughs. They are probably laughing at you.
If all of this seems too exhausting, maybe you're not as fearful as you thought. Maybe you are actually powerful.
Bummer for you, because you're never going to fit in.
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