I find I don’t fear spiders
If I give them each a name
Johnny, Susan, Carol, Melvin
It’s the sound that makes them tame
They can twirl up by the ceiling
Or in a corner of the tub
And I’ll watch them without screaming
But that’s, of course, the rub
Because if I’m not afraid of spiders
They’re that much easier to squish…
So here lies Johnny, Susan, Carol, Melvin
Flushed and sleeping with the fish
“I don’t understand why that’s so strange,” Iz secured the lid onto the tank.
“Iz, you’re the only grown woman I know who keeps a frog as pet,” David stood in the doorway, stirring the copious amounts of sugar he’d just poured into his coffee.
“Didn’t you date a guy who kept geckos?”
“Yeah, but that’s different, it’s like a specialty thing, y’know? Not a frog you found in the neighbor’s window well – which, I’ve been meaning to ask, did anybody see you do this?”
“I don’t think so. Why?” Iz flipped the tiny lamp on, illuminating the jerry-rigged fish tank.
“Well, I mean, wouldn’t that be a little weird? You’re hanging out at home, and all the sudden a thirty-something woman is fishing around in your window well?”
“Sweetheart, you’ve been twenty-nine for four years,” David sipped his coffee.
“Well, alright, but I couldn’t help it,” Iz pouted, “It was helpless, it needed me.”
“Everything looks helpless to you.”
“Does too. Your weakness is weakness.”
“I wouldn’t say that.”
“You’ve got a history of that,” David inspected the frog through the plexiglass, “Frogs, cats, men.”
“I thought you liked Peter,” Iz defended, plopping down into an armchair.
“Which one was Peter?”
“Right, the artist – who was glad for your connections at the gallery, but spent the entire opening flirting with what’s-her-name from the Times.”
“What’s your point?”
“My point,” David tapped on the tank, “Is that just because you think somebody’s cute doesn’t mean you have to like, support them for six months. Especially when you’re not getting anything out of it… And you don’t need to take in frogs.”
Iz brought her knees up to her chest, fitting snugly into the hollow of the chair. She looked at the tank and looked at David and looked at the tank, twisting her mouth in contemplation.
“I was going to name him Herbie,” she said at last.
David straightened up and put on half a smile.
“Herbie’s a good name for a frog.”
Image from Wiki Commons. “Frog eye in it’s protruding eye socket, close up.” Public domain image.
Lewis and Jacob laid on their backs and looked up at the stars.
“What’d’ya think that one’s called?” asked Lewis.
“That one,” he pointed, “With sort of the curvy bit there leading to the, um…kind of a jumble underneath it.”
Jacob tried to follow where Lewis was pointing. Not easily done, as they lay side-by-side and heads-by-feet.
“Must be Scorpio,” he guessed.
The sea swelled and sank beneath them in a languid undulation.
“I think I’m gonna be ill,” Lewis held his gut.
“How can you still be gettin’ ill?”
Lewis held his head over the side and made awful sounds at the water.
“Just bile at this point,” he said, splashing water on his face, “O God’av’mercy.”
“Don’t drink that – you’ll just get sicker. And lay back down.”
The boat rocked only gently as Lewis lay his scrawny limbs back down upon the slats. And again, they watched the stars.
“Look!” Jacob pointed, “Look at that movin’ one there! Must be a satellite.”
“Not an airplane?”
“No,” he said, “Too small a spec. Too far off.”
A breeze filled the wounded silence with salt-mist. A fitting response for the sea.
“Hey, what was that one called,” Lewis asked, “that they flung way out into the middle of nothin’?”
“Yeah, for exploring or something – carried a message and all that.”
“Voyager,” Jacob said.
“Yeah, Voyager! God, that must be somethin’…And boring. I mean – even surrounded by the beauty of the cosmos, you’re still just out there… in the middle of nothin’.”
“Very wise, Shakespeare,” Jacob grinned.
“What’d’ya think it thinks about?…y’know, if it could think I mean.”
Jacob considered a moment as the boat swayed to and fro.
“I think it sings,” he said.
“Oh y’know,” Jacob shrugged, “Whatever it fancies…my guess is ‘I’m A Little Teapot’ and ‘Dancing Queen’.”
Lewis laughed and gave a little kick at his head.
“You’re losing it aren’t you?”
“Me? No. You asked, and I answered.”
Again, they lay quiet atop the white noise of the water. Long moments passed.
And then Jacob started singing.
What started as a quiet hum-mumble grew bolder with each phrase. Slowly, Lewis joined in, and soon the two young men were singing – nearly shouting – ‘Dancing Queen’. All verses. All choruses. All the words that, in different circumstances, they would have denied even knowing. They belted out their defiant ABBA sing-along against the darkness.
And just as quickly it was over. And quiet again. They lay all the stiller, looking at the stars.
“Jacob?” Lewis asked.
“Do you think anyone’s going find us?”
Jacob took his time to fill his lungs for an answer.
“Yeah,” he lied, “Yeah, I think they will.”
So I’m reading Michio Kaku’s new book, The Future of the Mind, and among its many fascinating tidbits, I came across this passage:
“Curiously, the use of electrical probes on the brain was first recorded a couple of thousand years earlier by the Romans. In the year A.D. 43, records show that the court doctor to the emperor Claudius used electrically charged torpedo fish, which were applied to the head of a patient suffering from severe headaches.”
This reminded me of another example of crude, but technically effective early medical practice.
For example, the first rhinoplasties were performed in India during roughly the 6th century BCE (I know, I was surprised too). Apparently, getting your nose lopped off in battles or duels or other violent activities was not an uncommon problem. And then you’re left with the problem of being nose-less (but don’t tell Gogol, never know where it’ll end up if he gets a hold of it).
Now, it seems to me, an easy solution would have been to wear a prosthetic nose – perhaps made of clay or wood (peg-nose?). But then some clever doctors came along…
They discovered that one could cut a flap of skin from the forehead and fold it over down onto where the nose should be. There it would be shaped (sort of) and attached to the face – creating a new, living, nose. Meanwhile, the missing patch on your forehead would eventually heal over.
This was quite a breakthrough in the transplant/reconstructive field of medicine – especially at the time. Although…while medically fascinating, I imagine the aesthetics left something to be desired.
Not to mention one hell of a headache.
Nurse, apply the fish.
Hamilton, D. (2012). A History of Organ Transplantation. Pittsburg, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press.
Kaku, M. (2014). The Future of the Mind. New York, NY: Doubleday
I grow miniature roses in my apartment. It all started from a little plant I bought at the grocery store on a whim. Turns out, it rather likes the sun in my window. And so it grew brilliantly. I found out that I can clip off a bit, stick it in a pot, and have a new plant growing in no time… well, usually… and thus, my current collection.
I also found out that Miracle Grow is a hell of a thing. Plants absolutely pop. And every once in a while my roses freak out with flowers. They get so excited that a new bud will burst through the middle of an old one.
Like a chest-burster.
The other day I caught part of a nature documentary on TV. They were talking about these little jumping spiders that live out in the Dakotas someplace. Apparently, they have quite the courtship ritual.
When the male spider finds a female (a challenge in itself, being so tiny), he performs a dance for her. There is much jumping and soaring and other acrobatics. And patiently, she watches.
Then if that wasn’t enough, he sings to her. This is an interesting choice for a species with no ears. Although, to be more accurate, he ‘buzzes’ – sending vibrations through the ground, which the female perceives through her feet. And patiently, she listens.
If she is impressed, they mate and make many beautiful baby spiders.
If she is not impressed, she kills him and eats his body.
Seems a bit harsh, if you ask me. I mean really, they can’t all be Gene Kelly.
Biology is beautiful.
I’ve developed quite a love of biological art. Botany. Anatomy. I have a picture of naked men hanging in my living room – a print of an 18th century pen-and-ink drawing titled “A View of the second Layer of the Muscles” (J. Wilkes).
Microbiology is particularly fun. Our microscopic what-nots and this-thats look perfectly Seuss-ian.
Except in my Biology 101 textbook.
I distinctly remember a rendering of an enzyme that was basically a large purple jellybean. Apparently it was supposed to have floated around processing proteins. And my first thought was, “How? This jelly bean has absolutely no means of propulsion.”
Didn’t do too well on that test.