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The toadskin kazoo

Toads skinned on September 4, 2011.

So, can one fashion a working kazoo out of nothing more than toadskin? Within only a few hours of asking this question, I found out that the answer was… a resounding no. In fact, that “no” resounded deafeningly for hours, bouncing and reverberating back and forth between the walls of my palatial abode all Sunday night and continuing into Monday. By Monday night, nothing more than a subtle negatory echo remained, but I only learned this via my crack team of gnomish messengers, for I had fled my house in a fit of fed-up and incontinent shrieking and babbling around noon, and I was quite resolved to not return to my ungrulious little house until absolute silence reigned.

I spent the remainder of Monday huddled in a spider hole beneath the floor of Pam & Meg’s, my favorite eigencafé on Bouillabaisse Boulevard, waiting for the latest tinnitic horror to subside. (Not only was it my favorite eigencafé, it was the only one, too.) While nestling in my spider hole, I wore a brand new bitter ochre homburg atop my curiously pointy head. Neither Pam nor Meg seemed to mind my insistent presence beneath their floorboards; they even kept all their other customers out of that part of the restaurant by concocting a story about “that crazy man coming back” which they could feed to any customer who asked to be seated near my spider hole. Pam & Meg have always been so considerate and helpful.

Night fell, and I stayed all nestled snug in my spider hole. Somewhere, genuine spiders were singing—but down here, there was only Phillip Norbert Årp.

I finally decided to vacate the premises early Tuesday morning, but only because an angry Pam (sans Meg) arrived before the eigencafé opened for business and started beating me about the head and shoulders with one of her dainty pink flip-flops! Apparently I had already worn out my welcome. After my usual perfunctory display of grumping and galumphing, followed by my typical excussionary hemming and hawing that, through years of practice, I have elevated to an art form rivaling Miró, Picasso, and even Darger, I slowly crunked my way toward the door, homburg in hand—mumbling and bumbling the whole way, of course—whining and splining, bumping and gurgling, and even neighing, barking, and clucking every few paces, too. Pam chased me, half-barefoot, the whole distance to the door.

I reached the front door—31′4.159″ from the spider hole in which I had enspidered myself—within 26.535 8 minutes, and finally Pam stopped shrieking and pummelling me with (now both of) her flip-flops. After one more shrill “Woo-hoo, woo-hoo-hey!” emitted in my best imitation of a stuck guinea pig, I hopped over the eigenthreshold and took off down the street like a football bat out of Hell, Michigan. Pam stood fully barefoot in the doorway, toes clenched in rage, and flung both her sandals after me—then grabbed the shoes from the nearest 9 passers-by and threw those, too!

I freebirded merrily down the street until I reached my other favoritest place in town 7 minutes later, at precisely 9:32:38.462 in the morning: The goatburping park on Shoehorner Street. Much to my ubblabumptuous joy, the goats were already out this morning, burping up a storm, and the Herbert Hebert Hobbes clock was ticking out the seconds with its own flock of rhythmically eructating goats. I sat down on the nearest goat-encrusted park bench, glass of cool, refreshing goat tea in hand, and relaxed. Birds chirped, bees buzzed by, and crickets howled. Goats idly sauntered, burping and fnurping as they did so, eating everything in their path. Nothing was spared, not even my own apparel.

After another 6.433 8 minutes passed, I became weary of being nibbled on by a flock of ravenous goats—goats who seemed to have taken quite a liking to the fabric that my clothes were made of, and who were quite insistent on adding every last scrap of the cloth therefrom to one of their many stomachs. I stood up, eructated loudly myself, and mooblesauntered out of the park. I vaguely considered returning home, quite confident by now that that deafening “no!” should have died down to nothing more than a hoarse whisper, but something stopped me. What, I didn’t know, but it was something. I continued standing still as another goat—a white one, with paisley-shaped black spots along its dorsal fin—wandered up behind me and snatched the last article of clothing covering my rather hefty frame (my underunderwear, if you must know).

“Now you’re naked! Go home! Go home!” Zippy began calling out from beneath my medulla oblongata. He was always the most helpful voice residing inside my skull. “It’ll be pitch black soon! Go home before the grue-goats get you!”

“Hitler! Hitler! Hitler!” Shnarkey started chanting, for reasons unknown. Hitlerrr!!!

“Quiet, all of you!” I gripped my head with both of my bony hands, doubling over. People and goats turned and looked. I knew what I had to do: I picked up the nearest goat by one hind leg and began slamming the poor beast into the side of my head as hard as I could. Not only did that silence Shnarkey and his hitlerious chanting, but it caused my clouded mind to clear at last. The reason for which I could not yet go home also surfaced: Loquisha needed a new pair of sandals!

“Loquisha needs a new pair of sandals!” I screeched and stood back up. The time was 3:27 in the afternoon (±950 seconds; the H.H. Hobbes clock isn’t that accurate). The goats scattered—all 28 of them. More people turned and looked in my direction, but quickly looked away when I gave ’em all the ol’ evil eye and the best what-are-you-lookin’-at expression that I could muster given the skull fracture, concussion, and aneurysm that I was in the middle of suffering. I spun around 84 times until the squishy gray matter in my head sorted itself back out, then galloped out of the goatburping park, a new pair of sandals for Loquisha’s little brown feet on my mind.

“But where in town am I going to buy a pair of sandals?” I mused to myself as I wandered the streets aimlessly, bleeding all the way. Ever since that dolphin-flogging accident back in 1971, no shop has dared to sell sandals anywhere within a 69-mile radius of Bouillabaisse Boulevard. My car was in the shop after I had been involved in another 39-car pileup as a result of using Wikipedia as a guide to auto repair once again, and those were far too many miles to travel on foot. Maybe I would undertake the journey if they were miles of feet, but certainly not miles on foot.

“Or is it by foot’? And whose feet are we using to do the counting? Alyssa’s? Britney’s? Geri Halliwell’s???” I distracted myself with irrelevant questions. Time passed as I mused about Alyssa’s and Britney’s feet, and soon it was 9:37 in the evening: A good time to finally—and resignedly—return home, since even the most efflubious sandalmonger would be closed by now. I skulked homeward like a skeleton in the moonlight, depressed over my inability to connive a way to procure a new pair of sandals for Loquisha even after 5 hours of racking my brain harder than I’d ever racked (or wracked) it before. The Moon stared down at me horribly, its ghostly white light reminding me that at any moment the oppressive orb could come crashing down to Earth and kill all 10 billion of us poor soulless man–squirrels in a matter of minutes. The only things that held it in place were the whims of the dread god Gravitor and the 5,820 Selenian Threading Gnomes who lived on the far side of the Moon and churned out bale after bale of gnomesilk which they used to hang their lunatic home from the celestial sphere.

“Oh, Lord, what if they run out of silk today!?” I wailed despairingly as I glanced furtively over my shoulder at the baleful Moon. “What are we going to do?! We’re all going to die!!!

A scientifically-minded friend of mine once told me that the nervous systems of certain species of insects are decentralized to such a degree that the neurons, upon receiving certain noxious or alarming stimuli, rather than sending the signals to the brain for processing, instead directly trigger the creature’s leg muscles, causing it to scurry away in a mad panic literally before it even knows what it is doing—or why it is doing it. And now, with the pestilential Moon hanging ominously over my shoulder, I was apparently slated to become proof that such a neurological phenomenon existed in the human species, too.

I ran. In a mad, glibbering panic I ran. The Moon followed: No matter how far I ran, there it was behind me, looming overhead in the same direction and keeping perfect pace with me. I gibbered and blubbered some more as I rounded a corner and ducked into a darkened alley between the undertaker’s shop and the parsimony store on Middendorfer Street. After taking a few moments to regain a semblance of my composure, I peeked around the corner to assess the situation: But it was still there, even lower in the sky now, and watching me unblinkingly with its cratered face.

I let another 974±944 seconds pass, and peeked out again. Still the Moon continued to wait for me as if no more than half a minute had passed. I prayed to the great insect goddess Strahazazhia Kalamazoo-Kintaki-Meeps, She of the six-legged delights, that the Moon could be made to vanish. Perhaps She could call up Her avenging clouds of locusts to gobble it up, or at least use them to blot it out long enough for me to slink on home and bury myself in the safety of my moonless basement. It would only take perhaps 592,307,816,406 locusts, give or take 28, to completely devour the cheesy monstrosity looming over Middendorfer Street. I was sure of it.

In the darkness I spied a man-sized wooden crate: Not another crate of buttwash, unfortunately, but suitable for my immediate needs. Quickly prying the lid off and evicting the 6 homeless bums already using the crate for a makeshift shelter, I crawled inside and pulled the lid shut, then nailed it securely from inside (using my own fingernails). The two hobos squeaked and squawked for 20 minutes or so outside, but soon went off to chase something shiny and puffy rolling down the street. I settled in for a long winter’s nap.

I awoke not after a season of slumber, but the next morning. The Sun was shining and the malevolent Moon was nowhere in sight. Once again Strahazazhia had disappointed me, but I quickly put the incident out of my airtight mind: Even though She never answered any of my prayers, a six-legged goddess was far superior to that of any other religion (except perhaps the dark, chittering god of Squirrelianity), so I would continue to keep Her in my heart forever.

I meeped and morped a bit as the sleep cleared from my brain. The day was Wednesday and the shattered alarm clock I tripped over in a pile of garbage in the alley told me that the time was 8:99 in the morning. A broken alarm clock was good enough for me. It would be right sometime today—twice, no less!—and that was all that mattered. Stepping over 8 broken beer bottles and the 6 transients I had ejected from my sleeping crate last night, I groggily started making my way back home. Those 28 extra locusts would sure come in handy now, I mused as I slithered down Crunkner Boulevard and passed the Christ-O-Mart, now selling absolution packages for the sin of usury—and they even offered financing with a 0% APR for the first year. Who could pass up such an offer?

Passing up such an offer without a second thought, I continued onward and made a quick stop at Harry Whyte’s Asshattery to buy myself a new batch of hats. My bitter ochre homburg had been lost in the gutter sometime the night prior, and was most likely being used by some bum as a chamberpot now. After 3 short hours of hat-shopping, I had made my selection: 4 new homburgs all dark shades of red, 8 fedoras each polished and buffed. 2 sombreros from a Mexican’s head, and 5 tall top hats made from some felty stuff. And lastly, 3 big fezzes made entirely from Rayon, and 4 baseball caps with my initials—in blue crayon. The total came to $211.70, which I offered to gladly pay next Tuesday if I could take all my hats home today. Harry, miffed, said no, but upon further insistence, persistence, and unctuous haggling on my part, he agreed to the paltry sum of 67 soy sauce packets and 9 pounds of dryer lint—a sum I could easily pay out-of-pocket right now.

Soy sauce packets and dryer lint duly handed over, I stacked all the hats atop my curiously square noggin and proceeded to quack, quack, quack my way home. I was dead-set on finally returning to my palatial abode after all these hours of mivening sojournery, and not even the worm charming competition taking place over on Van der Donk Street could sway me to stay out and about a moment longer—and most of my readers know how much of a competitive worm charming enthusiast I am. (Don’t you?) As I rounded the corner onto Bouillabaisse Boulevard I made the disastrous discovery that I had lost a most important scrap of paper from my pocket—a scribbled copy of the first hundred digits of pi, given to me by my old friend the floating pi himself. But this didn’t deter me either. Homeward I was bound, and homeward I was going. Perhaps I would find those digits scattered about somewhere. Neither Hell nor high interest rates would stop me.

I arrived home at some unnamed time of day this afternoon. Where the days that typically fall between Wednesday and Sunday had gone, I have yet to determine. Not a single clue exists except for an inch-thick layer of slime, tentacle marks, and sucker-shaped bruises covering my entire horsey frame, and a frantically scrawled journal that I found wedged up my buttocks entitled “Three Days in the Clutches of Cthulhu” and apparently written by a man with the same name as me. I’m sure this all means something, but I’d rather perseverate on Britney Spears’ feet and toes than waste my brain cells trying to figure this mystery out.