Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Cycle of Life

I am waiting to hear word from Oslo about my upcoming Nobel Prize. Okay, the awards aren’t due for months, but the Scandihoovians can vote an extra early award for special circumstances. After all, it is not often that in a single moment of clarity an individual not only clears up one of life’s greatest mysteries but discovers a new life form.

My discovery started several weeks ago when I began searching through my desk for my magnifying glass. (I have noticed as I get older that the manufacturers of frozen burritos keep printing the microwave instructions in progressively smaller typeface.) I couldn’t find the magnifying glass, probably because every drawer was filled to overflowing with ball point pens.

Last week, I needed a red pen. I was grading final exams and several of the blue books needed smiting. In search of a suitable weapon to use, I ransacked the desk… and the ball points were all gone. It turns out that you can smite blue books with a pencil. Not quite as satisfying, but effective.

A few days later, I’m hanging shirts in my closet. Every single shirt I owned was either on my back or hanging in my closet, yet I had several dozen extra wire coat hangers. Where did they come from? And stranger still, a few days later, where did they go? Suddenly, I had more shirts than hangers!

(Note. This reminds me of something that really needs a comment. My son, What’s-His-Name, is married. His wife, the Teach, believes that shirts may only be hung up if all the same colors are grouped together. It would be unkind of me to say that this foolishness is possibly a little OCD. So I won’t say that. But, Teach, you are anal enough to suck up a sofa cushion.)

Where was I? Oh, yes. Lots of ball point pens, no hangers. Something else was strange about the laundry. Half of my socks are missing. How in the world does this happen? I am damn near certain that every single day, I come home from the university wearing two socks. I can’t be losing them. I could understand it if I was losing shoes… No, my socks are disappearing, too.

Being a little absent-minded, I decided to make a list, so I went to my desk for a pad of paper and …ALL THE PENS WERE BACK! My first thought was that my wife was playing tricks on me, but then I remembered that the Doc had her sense of humor surgically removed during her second year of medical school.

It took me days to figure it out. And during that time, the hangers came and went, the ball point pens ebbed and flowed and I think I am down to three mismatched socks. Socks never come back.

And then it hit me; something was eating the socks. The socks were food! Here’s the way I see it. Earth has been invaded and there is an alien life form of shape shifters that are living and multiplying among us. What we think of as ball point pens are in reality egg cases. They incubate harmlessly in desk and kitchen drawers, under sofa cushions and in glove compartments. Obviously they select dark and warm locations for the eggs to hatch.

Eventually, the eggs hatch and out emerge and change their shape to match, as you’ve probably guessed, coat hangers. On their trip to the closet/nursery to hide out, they stop by the laundry basket for a snack. Not wanting to appear obvious, they only eat one sock from each pair. Then they jump into a closet and hide. This is the larval stage.

I am still working on the pupal stage, but I think it may be old cake pans and pie plates in the kitchen. I could be wrong; I did notice we seem to have more garden tools than I ever remember having used. But I am sure of the next stage.

Once the aliens get to the adult stage, this iron based life form is mature enough to try and blend in with their environment, so they take multiple forms. It is difficult to spot them, but if you are careful you can spot them around your house. Do you suddenly have an extra old bicycle behind the garage? Is there a rusty barbecue grill in the back yard you don’t remember having before?

A few of them may even leave your house to migrate to other locations. What else could explain all those ugly Volkswagens on the road?

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