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Dugong, budong, hotdog, and hoe

Frowned at on October 3, 2021.

Today I was being a chordate—but not quite a vertebrate anymore. My days as a deuterostome were over. And tomorrow I would worm my way up to Pugwash, Nova Scotia in order to take in the fall foliage. I always do that this time of year—eating the foliage is one of my favorite annual rituals. But prior to making that trip, I had many other doings to do and happenings to make happen. I wasn’t sure which way was up—but I knew one thing: Pugwash was to the north of me. I was to the south of Pugwash. And my mouth predated my anus by far. As I ruminated over these facts, factlets, and factoids, I continued to worm my way through my house, from one room to another. Then I stopped. I frowned.

On the doorstep: A thing that did not belong. It was tiny. It was pinkish. It was wrinkly. It was a rat brain, and it loved me.

But… where was the rest of the rat? Confusion and puzzlement. Did the cat get it? Leaving the brain behind? But… I don’t have a cat. Did I now have a cat? A cat I didn’t know about? I shook my goatish head doggedly. I had an aquarium, which was packed to the gills with fish of every kind. Catfish—but no cats. I had a kerfrumpt—a scaly, scaly ol’ kerfrumpt. But no scaly ol’ cats. I used to have goats—and geese, and a dog, and an emu, and a moose, and a cow, and a seven-legged tarantula, and barrels of sapient bacon grease in my basement. But those were all gone now. And I never had a cat. I frowned.

“E pluribus funk” glowed on a small screen: It was unmistakeably an 80-column green phosphor Apple IIe display. Was it the Grand Funk Railroad album from 1971? Or a half-remembered image from some silly post-apocalyptic movie made fourteen years later? Only my rat brain would tell. But it wasn’t speaking. If a nuclear missile exploded in less than sixty hours, that would also aid in narrowing the possibilities down. But I hoped my rat brain would tell me. I waited the sixty hours, yet no explosion was forthcoming.

This latest befuzzlement and perplexity wasn’t as shocking as that time I had confused the Hittites with the Hitlerites—nor as amusing as that time I got a Snausage jammed sideways up my nose and needed a dog’s tongue to get it out—but it sure was close. There had been that time I confused a Circassian mole with a Cardassian vole—but this was nothing like that. I frowned again.

Or, did I confuse it with a Kardashian? Now I couldn’t even remember. Further befrazzlement ensued. Or just her wild ass? No. Or a horse–dugong? No again—I suddenly remembered—it was a budong–onager: A very different kind of wild ass, and it had been crossed with a monstrosity from outer space that was hundreds of times bigger than even a leviathan. I frowned harder.

Urrh. Hrrm. Fnord? Buh. Meh? Meep, mippy, morp! The cafeteria was serving spiny lobe-fish again, which I simple adored. I sat in the common area of the asylum, waited for my spiny, spiny lobe-fish. And when it arrived, I sucked it all down (through my eating-snout) as fast as I could, spines and lobes and all. The other Tilonians looked on with curiosity bordering on horror. But I didn’t care: I had my spiny lobe-fish. And I was still a deuterostome, with my mouth coming before my anus. I turned my frown upside-down.

Nar-Bibbly the Moon Rock went a-nuzzet-buffeting, chasing after many a rat brain. The burial vaults of the first Habitian civilization are said to be magnificent, but I was too busy to notice—too busy dreaming of clumps of needles in low-earth orbit, glittering in the sunlight as they descended. My own crests descended, and I frowned.

“You a stupid hoe. You a—you a stupid hoe.”

When that mellifluous verse suddenly rang out from my bed cushions (Ahh, memories!), I fell on my face out of startlement and surprise. My dear old Mamårp had always told me not to stand on my head for too long, but I hadn’t listened. My upside-down frown was now right-side up again. I frowned some more.

On Monday, I inquired: Why was my coffee foamy this morning? Normally it’s creamy—very creamy—but never foamy. And thus began a daylong adventure delving into Wikipedia’s articles on light cream, sugar, homogenization, emulsification, colloids, surfactants, pasteurization, paternosterification, and goatburpification. As the day drew to a close, never to be seen nor heard from again, I still had no idea why my coffee was foamy, but I now suspected that a goat had peed in it. There was no other explanation. Oh, how I frowned.

I dozed. I slept and I dozed, all the while dreaming about endlessly looking for rodent hairs in hotdogs. The rat that previously enclosed that rat brain had to have gone somewhere, and I would get to the bottom of it, if only in my dreams. Somewhere out there, there was a brainless rat—or a brainless rat cadaver—and I would find it.

Tuesday’s coffee—fortunately not the least bit foamy—came in three possible colors: Burnt sienna, burnt umber, or burnt beetle carapace. I wasn’t sure why all these colors had to be “burnt,” but who was I to question such esoteric arts as crayon colors? I tried not to frown—but I did anyway.

“I should probably just stick to nuzzet-buffetting and chasing down that rat brain’s origins,” I sighed forlornly.

Then, with an owl-like hoot, I was on my way down the stairs, bounding about all childlike and doofussy, with crayons of every shade of brown in hand. As I bounded forward, I accidentally tripped over my bucket of slop and it made a mess. (I keep it at the top of the stairs for just these occasions.) After howling in despair, a thought entered my own rat-sized brain: A stopwatch? Or a slopwatch? I wasn’t sure. Symplectic geometry would show me the way out of this embarrassment, and perhaps even put the slop back in the bucket. But it had to be symplectic geometry: A mistake I once made, confusing contact geometry with contact sports, had resulted in numerous bruises, a few broken bones, and three dented Platonic solids. I wouldn’t make that mistake again. This time I knew I was on the right track. Symplectic, geometric huffle-whoozlery would solve my problems. I smiled wanly—and then frowned.

When I arrive in Pugwash next week, I’ll be sure to ask the first person I meet where I can wash my pug. I’m sure no Pugwashian has ever heard that joke before. They’ve never heard of me before, that’s for sure. I’m also sure of lots of other things, some of which are actually true.

“You a stupid hoe. You a—you a stupid hoe.”

“Do you read Sutter Cane?” Wednesday began with yours truly gallivanting around Bouillabaisse Boulevard belting out Christmas carols. When I realized it was too early in the year to do so, I decided to belch them out instead. Finally—when that proved to be equally embarrassing—I just rammed my fists into people’s doors, and when they answered, pointedly asked them that question. Few got my reference. Others fled in terror. One tried to put an axe through my head first. All in all, it was a good day. I did not frown. But others did.

“You a stupid hoe. You a—you a stupid hoe.”

I also learned this week that calf skin puckers—this is why on humid farms, the calf is the most made-fun-of of all the animals. Nar-Bibbly the Moon Rock was still being all bibbly and narry, but I didn’t have time for that now, what with all this frowning I still had to do this week.

“You a stupid hoe. You a—you a stupid hoe.

“You a stupid hoe. You a—you a stupid hoe.

“Stupid hoes is my enemy. Stupid hoes is so wack. Stupid hoe shoulda befriended me. Then she coulda probably came back.”

I then spun endlessly on the hamster wheel of life. I was so mad last night I punched a raccoon. Guzzling bottles of wine-flavored bottled water, I spied the after-crunk of life at the bottom of a dingy, frazzled warg-nozzle. I cranched. I nuzzled the wargs. And I cranched some more. Squirtle, Squirtle, and a girdled turtle, in a hurdle—a hurdle of nurdles. A hurdle of curdled nurdles. And finally, I spent yesterday in my U-shaped burrow, my proboscis sticking out of one opening, awaiting passing prey. I knew something tasty would come along—if I waited long enough. I waited. And I frowned.