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To narfle the gömböc

Balanced on June 27, 2021.

I am pleased to report that my new hobby of plant pottery is a roaring success: Other than one incident where my spider plant built an enormous web out of its leaves and then ate all my pet golden cockroaches, nothing has gone disastrously wrong. No calamities, no elephantine jackanapery, nor any alpha-eutectic, aliphatic allopathy. Not even a single Venus flytrap that grew to human-sized proportions and tried to eat me and my neighbors.

What’s that, now? Perhaps you were unaware that I had a new hobby. Perhaps you were unaware that I had such a green thumb and even greener toes. Perhaps you think I’m a simple nincompoop better cut out for polishing potatoes in a dark closet, or skinning Sardinian sardines for the local canning plant, or even just narfling a garthok. Perhaps you didn’t know that I could narfle a spider plant, a dogwood, a hogweed, and even a bat flower. I can coax a coconut tree to grow in the snow. I can con a conifer to grow in pure sand. I can even wrangle a telepathic pitcher plant to eat only the neighborhood squirrels rather than me and my neighbors. Let that be a lesson to you next time you misunderestimate the Grand Pnårpissimo and his planty skills!

On Friday, I did however discover that my thistle crop had developed an acute case of phthisis. Phthisis of the thistle is no laughing matter! Prompt and decisive action was needed. The thistle literature indicated that a sicilicus of Sicilian silica was all I needed to cure my thistles of their phthisis. Even after storing them in a flooded basement for days, a quarter ounce of silica would dry ’em out and cure their rot posthaste.

Prior to learning of this easy remedy, disappointment had flashed through me, disappointment at my failure to keep my thistles phthisis-free—disappointment deep and profound, not unlike when one reaches for an allegedly free chocolate cookie only to find out it’s really an oatmeal raisin. I then did reach for a cookie—praying that my perfidious oatmeal cookies had taken a break from harrying and worrying me today—but instead of pulling a cookie from the box on the shelf, I drew back a stump. Fortunately, my hand was intact… but why was a stump from the burplewood saplings I had planted now resting on my cookie shelf? This was truly an onsettious mystery! My crests, already fallen, furrowed. How did the stump get in my kitchen… and on the shelf? Who put it there? Was it… the local squirrel population, signalling their disapproval regarding the psychic predator I had loosed upon them? Did one of the saplings… simply explode, propelling its mangled stump through my over-sink window and onto this shelf? Or was this… gnomes again, the gnomes who had recently returned to accrete in my door jambs and infest my wainscoting?

In any event, I wanted a cookie to eat but all I had was this burplewood stump. I shrugged and ate the stump instead.

The episode hadn’t been as surreal as the one in which I confused a carafe with a giraffe. But it was close. And I didn’t need to recover my coffee from the canopy of a tall tree this time, so there was that. I glanced around the kitchen with my beady, beady little eyes—my over-sink window was unbroken, the door jambs and wainscoting were gnome-free, and there was no digerous pile of acorns anywhere to be seen, so I also ruled out the squirrels too.

I spent the remainder of my day in deep thought, wandering around my new topiary with a bowl of tapioca and a tapir on a leash. The case of the beshelved burplewood stump would remain a mystery.


On Wednesday, that sempiternal nemesis of my navel paid me a visit. He left me a gift and departed before my navel got in an uproar over him. The gift however turned out to be a Trojan horse: What I initially mistook for a quiet, peaceful bag of tortellini turned out, after I began boiling it, to be a bag of unruly fusilli! The wily pasta quickly overwhelmed me and sent me shrieking and babbling from my kitchen as their pot bubbled and burbled and boiled over. I lambasted myself for such witless boobery—for stupidly confusing fusilli and tortellini. How could a veteran pasta enthusiast such as myself make such an amateur mistake?

This lawless fusilli silliness was worse than the pasta e fasule tomfoolery that I had encountered in 2014 (which, for everyone’s sake, will not be described any further). And most hectarious of all, today’s embarrassing incurberance reminded me of my revelation in 2015 that the humperdumperdink was nothing more than a catatonic Fendippitous Eggman. The resemblance had been uncanny, but it had taken me five years to notice their eggy similitude. I squeeorled in horror, recoiling at the memory of this memory, stumbled backwards through my kitchen, bounced off the defrigerator, and fell nose-first down the basement stairs. Fusilli followed. My Tolkienesque cellar door was jammed shut again, a depressing fact of which I was reminded in no uncertain terms when my Bergeracian nose slammed nostril-first into it. I tried to right myself several times, failing each time. With my nose down for the count, I had all the equilibrioception of an addled Eggman.

Only the gömböc could help me now.

Unfortunately, all I had ready access to was a garthok, and it was all narfled out for the week. “Flobynoid!” I cursed inimitably. My cellar door would not be allowed to win this encounter. I would prevail, bent nose or no bent nose, because I am the Grand Pnårpissimo and no mere door gets the upper hand with me.

The day ended. Another began. I did not win the encounter—but at least I learned how to stand up without falling over again. I slunk back upstairs and sank my bipedal man–squirrel self into my Hopeless Slack-Ass® recliner, straightened out my snagglenose, and clicked on my boob tube.

President Piggy-Man was on the TV again, falsely claiming that in the upcoming election, all of his opponents’ birth certificates showed them born in Burkina Faso in 1980 or later. I wasn’t sure what to make of it, so I just changed the channel to a cooking show featuring a gourmet chef demonstrating a dozen different ways to cook ramen noodles.

As part of my macaroni mastery, I had become quite the connoisseur of ramen noodles myself—in 2015, the same year of the aforementioned fendippitous discovery. I had perfected my recipe for gourmet ramen noodles over the course of several arduous months that fateful year. I even figured out the ideal cooking time: 125 seconds on one side, with no stirring whatsoever, then another 124 seconds after giving the noodles a good, firm flip. One single extra second would ruin the whole meal. Finally, I would add boiling water, salt, pepper, apatite, dillweed, dickweed, the unopened ramen spice packets, and however many cicada shells I had collected that week. Lastly, I would boil them on my defrigerator for six hours, on high, until the noodly stew was reduced to a smooth slurry. It’s cicadelicious!

I sipped my potato juice as I watched the cooking show. The mushroom-hatted cook had just completed his demonstration of how to cook ramen sous-vide, boiling them directly in their plastic wrapping. Next up came ramen noodle preparation method №7, which entailed using a blow torch and some magnesium welding rods. I thought, why not? If it worked for broiling wayward mice, why not equally delinquent noodles?

Soon the show was over. The credits rolled, over a photomontage of boiling, broiling, baking, burning, blackening, and exploding ramen dishes. I wanted some ramen. But I had no ramen. I in fact had nothing to sup on, nothing to dine on, nothing to break my fast. It was 7:17 p.m. and I had been fasting for nearly an hour. I was emaciated. I went back into my kitchen in search of victuals, of any kind, with only one requirement: Be edible by humans.

The day ended. Another began. My attempts to locate any fruit had proven fruitless. My attempts to find any meat were met with failure. Even my efforts to fly around my kitchen like a bat in an attempt to echolocate any chocolate had proven futile. I cranched, sat down on the floor, and starved. Ramen, and my insatiable appetite for apatite, is what had led me down this path.

P.S.: Learning that sardines don’t come from Sardinia was quite a shock to me this week, too. I spent most of Saturday worrying that I would learn the same thing about that sicilicus of Sicilian silica next—not to mention Cilician cilices—but fortunately that was not to be. I breathed many, many sighs of relief and went back to blowing bubbles through my potato juice.