Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Playing With The Dead

I have finally succeeded in finding someone weirder than I am.

I am not weird. I am unique. I am special. I am fun, and inquisitive, though I have secrets. Very special secrets that I will not tell you about because that would make me just like you. And maybe I don't want to either like you or to be like you, and maybe not have you like me either. Also, being honest here, just why would you be interested in any of my secrets anyway?

Are they really secrets or am I just being private? Is that allowed anymore?

Maybe that's enough, the just wanting privacy thing. People think that if you like being anonymous and quiet and sort of staying over there at the edge where things are calm and no one asks you to do things you don't want to, that you have a disability, a "secret", and then they want to "know" it, and bug you about it. Which ruins all the fun of either being private or having secrets, or of both having secrets and keeping your own thoughts in a carefully tended garden where they can play without being loudly hooted at by boors with bad breath and sticky fingers.

Maybe it was my friend Arnie who first clued me in to this. It is my first memory of the difference between me and normal people. I was still in grade school, the lower grades, and hence very young in today's terms, since today is several decades farther on. Arnie was over at my place one day. Come to think of it now, we moved out of that place around the time I was 10, and I don't recall my sister, who was born when I was eight, so we're looking back through a long time tunnel.

Arnie and I were playing Chinese checkers and eating candy. I think I noticed that some of the marbles were sticky. Arnie did it.

Right there, that was it. He had sticky fingers. This is something that I have strenuously avoided my whole life, even then. I could not believe that he would let his fingers get sticky, or put up with it once it happened. He said it didn't bother him, so I tried it. I got so sticky that I could hardly spread my fingers. You could almost hear the velcro rip as I pulled the fingers apart, then allowed them to magnetically back together again, and then repeated the cycle.

I think that Arnie did wash his hands before he went home, but I did it almost immediately, after 15 minutes or so of trying on stickiness for size. It didn't work for me then and doesn't now.

I don't like getting stuck in things, especially the thoughts of others. Don't like ceremony or routine. My most hated word is "should", most hated phrase is "supposed to". I like taking a clean look at things and coming to my own conclusions, which is one reason I didn't do any research papers in college.

Luckily I was able to get by. No one really demanded any, but it was an option. I preferred to go the other way, to do my own reading directly from original sources, do my own thinking, and then write down my thoughts. Good thing that I was in literature instead of sociology or history. Not like today, when teachers demand research, and students then pay others halfway around the world to whip up something, or cut and paste from Wikipedia. There was cheating way back when, but I never saw the point. I was paying for the pain, might as well attain the gain. No one ever came close to pretending that I ever, ever could have stolen words elsewhere. Because they were original. That was obvious.

Because they were weird.

That's another word I hate. Weird. My sister gets a pass. She can say it. She has paid her dues, and I owe her apologies for many things, so she gets in free. If you say it you might go home with a bloody mouth and swollen lips. Just because. Just because you're an idiot. At least say something that requires a few seconds of thought. Please. It will be easier all around. And I won't have to go to jail to get my point across succinctly.

So there I am, being original in my own sort of way, a legend in my own mind, which is not too bad considering that people will get all freaky if you tell them you have enough clothes to do laundry once a month. How stupid are they?

And this one wasn't my idea, it came from a friend who once confided that he'd bought enough socks and underwear to go two weeks. A month is a whole lot better, so I customized his method. Sometimes I can stretch to five or six weeks with a bit of judicious hand laundering. Once you've stopped spending two hours every week doing laundry you gain a new perspective. One month's laundry takes maybe two and a half hours. Compare that to about nine hours the old way.

But an idiot will say, of course, "That's weird". Which is equivalent to saying, "I'm a total idiot and I've never had a thought or emotion unique to me. All I know is what I see on TV, so I'll go ahead and bray now", or of just standing there and drooling while staring at the wall, waiting for instructions.

So if you (yes even you) go off half cocked, fully cocked or otherwise and do something not even remotely original but only uncommon or even unexpected, then you will see the whole flock pivot to face you and quack and gabble in unison, "That's weird", and then stand there, waiting for you to burst into flame and quit annoying them by being not what they all are.

Which is a good reason to keep to yourself. Which will inspire more unique thinking. Which will trigger more idiots to gabble and drool.

Which is tolerable in a way, but they can be dangerous in groups, if challenged, or if simply startled too suddenly by originality.

This is the story of my life. But now we have the internet, so now it's possible to run across things that force you to admit that there are people out there more original and more creative, harder working, odder, stranger, more wonderful and scary than you could ever be. And they even provide (1) photos, and (2) stepwise instructions.

Right now, I can honestly say that I have no idea how I found the mouse mouse. Maybe it was a couple of weeks ago when I was searching for video clips of how to make and use lightweight backpacking stoves for my other blog. Somehow I can't quite remember the connection, but bing! there was a picture of a mouse with a mouse inside it.

This was the interface of electronics and taxidermy, of computing and biology, of irony and butchery. Someone stuffed a dead mouse with a computer mouse, and posted the results for the world to see.

I wouldn't have done that, probably, but I sent it to my sister. She needed to see it.

Hey lookee, kid, I didn't do this, but someone did, and they're weirder than I am. I'm not weird if you'll recall but in case you need proof again, here it is, kid.

I haven't heard from her. I'm sure she liked it in her own way. I didn't dig through the details but only looked at the photos and she probably never visited the Instructables web site, but she had proof. One or two photos included with the email would have been enough. Remember now, I'm not weird, right? I know I'm your brother and I spook you every now and then, but lookee here, this is really weird, right? I mean. Look, eegh.

For good measure, and in the interests of providing balanced coverage, and also to prove that compared to the rest of the world, even to little girls, I'm pretty harmless after all, I sent another URL and another photo or two on mouse taxidermy (amateur, home-style, kitchen table hacking) showing a young girl holding up two dead and dried mice in costume.

She seems pretty happy about it. The girl in the pictures, not my sister, who still hasn't responded. She seems to think it's normal and fun, the girl.

This could be true where she comes from. Who can say?

I myself, having thought it through have decided not to call it weird. (What in hell is that word even supposed to mean anyway?) But to think of it as possibly gruesome and perverse (which can be a fun way to label other people), or maybe only as unnecessarily strange. I say "strange" as in unfathomable.

I like little things. I especially like rodents, and kept hamsters for years. But live, playful, healthy and happy hamsters, and respectfully buried them when they wore out. Given that keeping a pet often involves imprisonment, especially for small animals, I always regarded keeping a pet as involving a sacred contract. In turn for imprisoning a hamster, who would gladly have run off to be suddenly eaten if given the chance, it was my responsibility to give it the best and most solicitous care that I could, first to make up for the evil that I did by keeping it in a cage and then because it deserved the most interesting life I could imagine for it in payment for depriving it of its natural entertainment by running free and dying young.

None of this, in my book, involves killing an animal, hacking it up, and stitching it back together around a miniature computer mouse. Or stuffing if full of LEDs and batteries. Or dressing its tiny dead body in tiny crude costumes and playing house.

So OK, there they are, playing with their dead things. I hope my sister is happy now.


Mouse mouse.

Mousy dressup.


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