Sunday, November 28, 2010
Anthropomorphism, Or, Plant! Watch Your Language!
Put it all together, and my life can be a bit like a Disney movie, with my cats -- in my mind -- running for mayor, setting up side businesses, threatening to call their union rep; and my dog affecting a Spanish accent and decreeing that some days, she wants to be called "Lady" or "Betsy," depending on her mood.
Everything in my life, be it animate or inanimate, tells a story. I guess that makes me an anthropomorphist. Fortunately for me, the people I truck with are, too.
Lately, I've been spending more time with my dear friend and college and post-college roomie, Vicky, who says things like, "Oh, Stove, you're just not simmering well" and "Poor Purple Chair, you're going to have to go downstairs again when we get the Christmas tree." We weave hilarious tales of our cats -- my Big Bear and Jasper are brothers to her Little Bear and Maurice (making us mothers from another brother, but I digress). Convinced her Little Bear is a genius, she even purchased him a Baby Einstein piano. I told her today of the sudden movement among my felines to demand middle names. Apparently, it's all the rage, and it's in the "contract" and so forth ...
Long story short, as Vicky would say, I've been in a fantastical mindset of late.
As those who are familiar with San Francisco weather will know, it has begun raining. And rain = ants. (Oh, and these disgusting earthworms that literally crawl up the house, sometimes even depositing themselves into my windowsills, but I digress.)
I understood when they came for my dirty dishes in the sink on the first night. That made total sense. But then the next day I came home from work to find a line to the paper grocery bag into which I deposit my recyclables.
I furrowed my brow (which, at 43, I cannot afford to do) and for a moment was confused: This was the recycling, not the trash, didn't they know that the items in the bag would have the least foodstuffs on them? And then I had to laugh: Yes, Sue, of course the ants know that they are marching into a recycling bag. They're San Francisco ants, after all, and demand that their edibles be organic and disposed of in the proper manner.
It put me in mind of when I was working at Mother Jones years ago and was waiting in the morning for the BART train at 24th and Mission. Alongside me were a young mother and her daughter. The mother glanced down at the tracks and said to her daughter, "Look at the mouse on the tracks!" as the vermin, which I happened to be watching, too (a habit picked up on the Red Line in Boston -- it was the deepest under ground and had the most critters), scampered across the rails.
The girl took her mother's hand and, looking confused, pointed to the sign above the tracks. "Doesn't he know he's not supposed to touch the third rail?"
Her mother tried to contain her merriment and said, "No, sweetie, mice can't read."
I thought of that today, as I was leaving Vicky's, and we both regarded one of her indoor plants. "Poor Plant," she bemoaned. "He's looking droopy. He needs a big drink."
To which I rejoindered, "Yeah, he's like, 'Who do I have to &*%$ in here to get a drink?!' "
Vicky channeled more of Plant's salty exclamations, and I turned to it and said, "Plant! Watch your mouth!"
We dissolved into our trademark giggles and hugged and she walked me to the door. Halfway in and halfway out, I turned to her and said, "The funny thing is, on some level, I still think the plant was cussing."