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Tuck in flap to close

Knocked up on July 17, 2022.

“Tuck in flap to close.”

I ignored this today—these instructions plainly written on the side of my eight-ounce block of cream cheese—and before breakfast was over, I came to regret it. When I least expected it—and is there any other time?—calamity struck: My vain efforts to tuck the block of cream cheese back into my overstuffed fridge without first tucking in that cardboard flap resulted in a dented door, a crushed compressor, and the whole unit tipping forward on its face and landing flat on the floor like a drunken stumblebum (if a stumblebum were a large, white, rectangular appliance that you could plug in to keep your food cool and refreshing).

My front yard, side yard, back yard, and gnome yard were in worse shape. After the refrigerator keeled over, she was so embarrassed she got up and ran away. With her went most of my lawn sprinklers, garden hoses, and all the attendant nozzles, spouts, spigots, sillcocks, bibcocks, and other fixtures with amusing names. Lawn watering now an impossibility, and with global smarming baking the planet like a broiled ham, my grass decided to go on strike: Blithely it rolled itself up and rolled away—down the street looking for greener pastures. Grassless, the gnomes packed up in a huff and departed the gnome yard I had built for them. It was a total calamity.

I stared dumbstruck at all the destruction caused by neglecting that single “tuck in flap to close” demand. I tallied it all up in my head: 7.17 ounces of cream cheese had gone to waste. My 71.7-kilogram refrigerator had run away. My 71′7″ of garden hose had been reduced to a mere 7′17″. Seven sprinklers and seventeen other fixtures nad run off. And my 717 nose hairs had all come loose. “Horsebuttocks!” I cursed mightily—seven times, then once more, then after a brief pause to froth and expectorate, another seven times.

I was mad. But after a moment I wasn’t.

Worse things had happened to this Pnårp. A new refrigerator could be had for $717.00—or by simply breaking into my disappeared neighbor’s house in the dead of night and stealing that one. New sod could be had—I could rip his up, too. And I could always milk my raccoons if I wanted some more cream cheese.

I shrugged, sat down, and resignedly finished noshing upon my overly puffed-up bagel and under-sugared but well-creamed coffee. (That is a story best left for another day.)

On the topic of cheese, last week I was wrong: That cheese actually turned out to be quite the ungrateful bastard. So I chucked it behind the stove and left it there, as spitefully as I could muster. In a couple weeks I would have some homemade blue cheese.

I glared at the remaining gnocchi strewn about my kitchen. So much gnocchi remained. “And don’t you start any trouble,” I muttered, “Or you’ll end up back there too.” The gnocchi sat quietly, being potato pasta. In the face of such threats, what else could they do? I crouched down, cat-like, and sat quietly watching them for a while. The swollen little lumps of potato pasta did not move. Minutes passed, then hours, then real time started passing. Time moved. The gnocchi remained unmoving.

Should I move? I thought to myself.

“No, you shouldn’t!” I answered myself.

But why shouldn’t you?

“Because then the gnocchi will eat me!

But why would the gnocchi eat a big, fat Pnårp?

“Because I’m big and tasty!” (From all that pepperoni.) “But what about my tortellini? They’re big and tasty, too!”

But not as tasty as a big, fat tortelloni!

“Good point—but I don’t have any tortelloni!”

Oh yes, you do!

I paused before launching another rejoinder (or just sticking my tongue out in puerile defiance). How did my brain know this? I didn’t know I had any nefarious tortelloni laying about—so how did my brain?

Don’t believe me? Go check!

I decided my best course of action was to muddle the issue horribly. “But if I have tortelloni, do I have any tortellini? I have gnocchi—do I have gnoccollini or gnoccolloni or knock-knock-knockity-knocky, too? I know I have gnocchi, so does that mean I have gnocchi? What about my tortelloopi? If I have those, what do I have? Eh, ehh!?”

It was all a tautology—a tautology involving tortellini and tortelloni.

And it stumped my brain. Seeing the opportunity, I darted off before it could have the last word.

I hid in my pantry. In the dark. Unlike my cellar door, no gnomely guards blocked access to this door, so squirrelling myself away in this tiny room required little effort and even less unhinged property destruction. I hunkered down amidst my boxes, cans, bags, sacks, buckets, barrels, and drums of pasta. I waited. My brain stalked the corridors of my palatial abode, searching, insistent on jabbing me with another sharp retort to my witless circular boobery. Real time passed again, even though I was in darkness and couldn’t see any clocks. Time waits for no man.

After a short while, it was quiet out there. Whiles wait for no man, too. I relaxed a little. My nefarious brain must have gotten bored and gone upstairs, I surmised. I’ve always been a good surmiser. I further surmised the wrinkly, gray thing was likely upstairs in my computering room, distracted by watching videos of Chloë Moretz cavorting around barefoot. But then I stopped surmising at once: Realizing that if I were surmising (and I was), my brain was right here in the pantry with me—it was in fact inside my skull!

I slammed my forehead into the nearest drum of lasagna and blacked out. That’ll show it!

Time passed. Insensate, I was unaware. Time had left me behind. This new, timeless blackness enveloped me, thick and husky. Ethereal images of dour tortelloni coalesced in the vacuum—some mocking me, some just looming threateningly (if a small nugget of pasta can be said to “loom” at all). Anxiety enveloped me just as thickly: Was I about to be eaten by a tortellino, beaten by a tortellone, or garrotted by a spaghetto? Then I came to. It was still dark. Too dark. I tried and failed to surmise anything. I couldn’t even surmise my way into remembering that it was this depth of darkness that got people eaten by grues. I tried to surmise so hard I almost sprained my eyebrows—but no surmising was to be. My anxiety fled. My brain was nowhere around me at last.

I opened the door, peered left, right. Light flooded into the pantry, blinding me until my eyebulbs could adjust. I gingerly placed one toe outside the pantry, then waited 717 seconds. Nothing. I relaxed further and deposited the other four on the floor. Then the other foot, then my whole corpulent corpse. As I turned around to close the door, my eyes landed on a new horror: Boxes and boxes of them. Destroyed utterly. Cardboard boxes lay torn open all over the pantry—tortellini spread out, scattered about, and lying flat all over the floor. Not only the boxes, but most of the tortile little pastas themselves had been rent open—they were now nothing more than flat little squares of durum wheat, their cashew-shaped nuggets of cheese lying next to them. The carnage was unbelievable. And then I spied a tiny piece of paper amidst the wanton, macaronial destruction—another IOU written in a tiny gnomish hand.

A pair of Tortugan Torsioning Gnomes had slunk into my palatial abode and untwisted all my tortellini!

I slammed my forehead into the nearest floor and blacked out.

Sunday burst onto my calendar with little warning other than Saturday coming to an end.

My brain cranched as I remembered again that this was another one of those dreaded five-Sunday months. My pantry being passée, I hid under my kitchen table in despair while my ceiling clock tolled, chimed, hooted, and shrieked out the hours. Finally, at 7:17 p.m., I emerged amidst the most terrible and insistent din. My cock was now making a noise that sounded like a pack of estrous coyotes tearing into a flock of stray cats—cats which had earlier been set afire by Hyperborean Howling Gnomes.

At least my clock had stopped making so much noise.

Today was 7/17. I blamed that for all my troubles this week. 717 things had gone wrong and “717” ruled the week. I was just about to rip the day from my calendar in an irate huff, when they revealed themselves: Not Tortugan Torsioning Gnomes, but a second pair of tortelloni. And they admitted it all: They knocked up my gnocchi. They separated my brain from my head and made me believe it was trying to kill me. And they untwisted all my tortellini. Those nefarious fiends were behind everything!

I slammed my forehead into the nearest floor and blacked out.