To those of you who are my Facebook friends, the below blog may sound familiar.
This not because I’m plagiarising, however – because good librarians don’t do that – but rather, because it’s been cobbled together from an assortment of my previous social media postings. You can look forward to more of this in the future as well.
On the surface, this type of shameless… repurposing… may strike you as an act of desperation from a creative well wrung dry, or perhaps just bone laziness.
But if you thought that, you’d be wrong.
Because I’m recycling. That’s right, recycling. And recycling’s great. Everyone loves recyclers. In fact, if you don’t assiduously separate your glass and paper waste from your ordinary trash each week, you’re basically the devil and there’s a pretty good chance you’ll get pelted to death with carefully rinsed-out PET containers by Greens voters in yoga pants.
Essentially, then, I’m a sustainability crusader – an eco-warrior – a type of inspiring Boadicea-David Suzuki hybrid armed, not with a sword, but ready access to the “Ctrl C” and “Ctrl V” keys. Or something. Whatever.
Anyway, I wrote the below back when I was looking for a flat-sitter for my US trip. But that’s all in the past now, because I have not just a flat-sitter, but a fully-fledged flatmate. And he’s great – he even brushes the cat and repairs household objects I didn’t realise were broken. But that’s another story to be told another time. For now, let’s just wallow in the past a bit. With cat photos, of course.
I’m meeting with a lady interested in flat/cat-sitting for me. It’s all going well – her references are impeccable, she’s used to looking after pets, and the absence of a TV doesn’t faze her – until we get to the inevitable awkward topic.
“So, you’re an animal person,” I begin, attempting a subtle segue. “How do you feel about, say, slugs?”
“Slugs?” she repeats blankly.
“Yes, slugs,” I say. “You don’t get squeamish or anything, do you? It’s just that the house has this…” I search for the right word… “… idiosyncrasy, I suppose. Basically, in the middle of the night, all of these giant slugs appear – I’m not quite sure where from. I think they crawl up through the floorboards or the cracks in the walls or something – it’s a bit like a science fiction film.” I sense she does not find this comparison reassuring. “They don’t, like, attack you or anything,” I hasten to add. And they’re gone by morning. You just need to turn on a light if you’re going to the bathroom so you don’t step on them. And keep an eye on your water glass.”
She stares at me to see if I’m joking. I’m not.
“I don’t think you mentioned this in the ad,” she finally manages.
She’s correct. I didn’t. I had toyed with “charming inner west terrace infested with mutant nocturnal slugs” as a headline, but had eventually decided against it as I didn’t think it necessarily highlighted the house’s best features. “Do you know that slugs are actually a more evolved form than snails?” I instead say brightly. “They’ve basically gone beyond the need for a shell. I read this fascinating book about gastropods recently, “The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating.” They’re remarkable creatures…”
I don’t mention their radulas – long tubes inside their throats lined with rows of overlapping fangs which act like cheese graters and periodically replenish themselves. My instincts tell me that she would not find this information quirky or endearing.
“They don’t crawl over your face while you’re asleep, do they?” she asks with a visible shudder.
“No. Never. Absolutely not,” I say adamantly, although I have never actually considered it before and suppose it is theoretically possible.
“And how big are they exactly?”
I reach for my phone to show her a photo taken a few nights back, then decide against it, as the slug pictured is slimy and gelatinous, covered with gleaming, livery spots and about twice the size of one of those cigars that Castro was so fond of. It also seems to have red eyes (although I suspect this is just the flash) and if you look closely, you can almost see the edge of its first layer of fangs.
“Not that big, relatively speaking,” I say, without explaining relative to what. “Unfortunately I don’t have a photo to allay your fears with.”
“So you just kill them when you see them, then?” she asks.
“No,” I say, somewhat surprised by this kneejerk homicidal response in a self-professed lover of all creatures. “They’re gone by morning and don’t do any real harm. The only way you know they’ve even been there is all the silvery trails left on the rug. It’s quite pretty – fairy-like almost… Of course, if I see them on my herbs, it’s a different matter. I tend to use the forced relocation method then.” (By this, I mean that I take them across the road to repatriate them in the middle of the night when the neighbours are asleep.)
“Or you can freeze them, of course. That’s meant to be the most humane method. You just put them in a plastic takeaway container in the freezer for a few hours and apparently they just drift off peacefully…”
I realise belatedly that I sound like a psychopath. She also seems to have formed this impression.
So I don’t end up going with her – and I’m not sure she’s that disappointed, to be honest. And I find an excellent house-sitter just a few days later, and have no doubt at all that the delicate ecological balance in my home will remain undisturbed, and both Fina and all other creatures who inhabit it, will be in very safe hands while I’m away.
*Yogi Berra can take credit for this witticism.
*This pithy remark has been attributed to Yogi Berra.
*Legend has it that Yogi Berra coined this pithy aside.