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Keeping those goats down in the hole

Bored on April 18, 2021.

I took a stroll through the goatburping park Wednesday at dawn, before the goats (or the toads) were let out to graze (and to burp). Prior to my stroll, while noshing upon breakfast, I had read “highlights in the history of the circle” on everyone’s favorite encyclopedia that anyone can edit, and now I wanted to put my newfound knowledge to good use.

The Rhind papyrus, from 1700 b.c., is the earliest extant record of any culture calculating π. However, since Greek letters hadn’t been invented yet, they couldn’t figure out how to name it. Plato knew the circle was perfect, and in the 1800s some German guy proved π is transcendental. Now I wanted some pie—and some pork rinds.

Daybreak is usually serene in the Shoehorner Street park—no eructating goats milling about nor shrieking toads hopping underfoot—but this morning was proving to be an exception. Workmen were raising a high fence around the water fountain and raising an awful racket in the process. Jackhammers hammered. Drills drilled. And screwdrivers screwed. One workman leaned on his shovel. He was hard at work staring impassively at the ground. His job was no doubt the most essential: A stern gaze to ward off the goats and toads once they were out to graze (and burp and shriek).

“Keep those goats down in the hole!” I gave him a thumbs-up as I strolled by. He looked at me like I had two heads. I checked that I still only had one and kept on strolling.

Outgassing mellifluously as I continued my Wednesdaily strollery, I surmised that Mayor Rhoodie’s new ordinance prohibiting squeegee men from purchasing sodas larger than 16 ounces hadn’t panned out as planned. But—would this fence keep them from relieving themselves in the fountain? Only time would tell.

I looked at my watch. Time told me that the goats (and toads) would be released in twenty-two sevenths of a minute. I let myself go wall-eyed for eleven sevenths, came to, and then moseyed on outta there as fast as my single-headed corpse would carry me. Alas I never got my pie and pork rinds.

“Snurger most snoul!” The mustachioed man on the TV declared grimly. I looked at the screen bemusedly, less wall-eyed now (but more cross-eyed than usual). It was some kind of murther mythtery, but everyone was pronouncing everything wrong—more so than what my vintage, pre-digital TV usually picked up. I didn’t even know why this TV still worked at all. But it did, and who was I to complain? Clearly the butler did it, but the butler was dead too, so who knew? Maybe the sutler did it. I know I didn’t know. Nor did the mustachioed man mispronouncing everything inside my TV’s boob tube.

I stretched, yawned, stood. I moseyed on over to my front door, moose-eyed now. My wall-eyedness and cross-eyedness had faded somewhere between my recliner and door, likely because I had fallen down six times in the brief journey. During the fourth fall I slammed my thick forehead directly into a shoehorn lying next to my vast collection of shoes, horns, boots, slippers, sandals, heels, and pumps. Standing bipedally again, I roundly cursed myself for leaving the shoehorn there, pointy end up, but who was I to complain? Clearly the butler did it. But I didn’t have a butler (or a sutler), so who knew? I know I didn’t know. Nor did the mustachioed man mispronouncing everything inside my TV’s boob-shaped tube.

I opened the door just in time to catch a newspaper in the face. “Perfect timing!” I shouted to the paper boy as he cycled past, hurling newspapers with wild abandon at every house on Bouillabaisse Boulevard. I watched the next papery missile slam into my neighbor’s porch light, knocking it off its mount. It landed with a satisfying crash on the brickwork below. “Keep those goats down in the hole!” Again, a thumbs-up. The paper boy looked back over his shoulder and fired off another newspaper at me—a Parthian shot in response to my increasingly surreal comments about hole-goats. I ducked; it missed. My ducks were less fortunate: The newspaper landed in their midst as they floated languidly in their ducky pond. The flock scattered in quacking, feathery chaos. I chuckled. Widgeons do not forget such assaults (nor do they forgive). I eagerly awaited seeing the sorcery they would conjure upon the poor paper boy before week’s end.

“Area man, pantsless, sought for urinating in park water fountain,” read the front-page headline. But you already guessed that this was where last week’s escapades were going, so we shan’t dwell on this, shall we? I stood in my doorway a moment longer, sucking in the cool morning air like a voracious mosquito. Off in the distance, a dog barked—rising to a yelp when a flying newspaper bounced off her snout. I ducked back inside before any more missiles came careening toward my doorstep.

“It’s like a surreal episode of Seinfeld, how it curves back in on itself. But in a manner no one can predict—not even its author.” Someone once said this about my blog. [No, they didn’t. —Ed.] And I replied: “You don’t know jack, Ed. You don’t know Jack.”

According to Wikipedia, circles that curve back in on themselves are called “Klein circles” and were discovered in a.d. 88 by a Greek mathematician named Ουγουλουβούγουλος. But that’s beside the point. (A circle that comes to points on each side is called a “vesica piscis” and first appeared in the formidable tome Στοιχειον penned in 300 b.c. by the inscrutable Ευκλείδης.) Anyone’s favorite encyclopedia that everyone can edit (and it’s anyone’s guess as to what they’ll edit into it) had once again impressed me with the breadth, depth, and pointiness of the knowledge contained within. But I still didn’t know if the butler or the sutler did it, nor did Ed know Jack. This was becoming more and more troublesome. The murther mythtery was over and my boob-shaped TV (“mammiform” according to Wikipedia) was now blaring advertisements for gecko insurance. It was time to go all wall-eyed again.

Time lurched forward, zombie-like, never stopping.

I dreamed yet not asleep. Homey images of children and gift boxes nestled under a Christmas tree formed in my mind. A warm light, diffuse and lacking any visible source, filled out this holiday scene. The gift boxes, like the children, had faces, and they were smiling. But something was awry: These anthropomorphic presents were unwrapping the children, discarding their pelts like so much wrapping paper, and noshing upon what they found within. Everything was smiling, but it only made the scene more sinister. The Christmas tree loomed over the scene like a cruel headmaster. Heads of goats dotted the walls. The stockings were filled with en—

And then I was a businessman, wearing the blackest of four-piece suits, the toppest of top hats, and a solid gold necktie. Cuff links made of goat fur filled out the ensemble. An expert negotiator, I had just negotiated a goats-for-oats deal that would feed my starving (yet goat-filled) Greek island for years to come. The Mypiots would rejoice as oats flowed in and goats flowed out. Murderdeathcock’s “Four-Letter Dick-Punch” blared in the background as contracts were signed and the deal closed. The future was fixed and known; only the past was constantly changing. I was hailed as a hero—

I spun in circles—pointy circles shaped like fish bladders. A disembodied computer that can time travel already runs the world—

Chloë Moretz wearing nothing more than her diaeresis popped into my hypnagogia just then. I shoved the image aside lest I descend into one of my frenetic goonflayvination seizures and never discover if one of the -utlers did indeed do the murther. A diaeresis, I noted, is composed of two tiny circles—and the little spingly-bongle in my own eccentric cognomen is also a tiny little circle. I rushed to Wikipedia to learn the history of thësë ëlëgånt mårks. Ålås! Wikipedia possessed no entry for “spingly-bongle.” I created one at once and filled it with photographs of spingly-bongles I’ve collected from all over the world. The mole people that furiously delete new content from Wikipedia would surely appreciate my contribution. I added one more photo—Chloe now sans her diaeresis—and logged out.

Suddenly, something rumbled—a gurgling, turgid burbling sound. After my horrendous #2 predicament two weeks ago, and my ungrulious #1 incident last week, I realized I now countenanced a #3 dilemma. I squeamed. Cross-eyed, wall-eyed, and moose-eyed, I squeamed. Everything was coming full circle. Curving back in on itself. And I still didn’t know if the butler, the sutler, or maybe even the cutler did it. This week was not turning out well.