Friday, February 24, 2012

The Rat Tales of Polly and Ester

d'apres Langeder / Oil on Canvas / SOLD

Oh what fun the aging process is! Here's what I mean in video form:

This column was published in the West Quebec Post in 2011.

The Rat Tales of Polly and Ester

My Dear Dr. Shafik

I am delighted to be finally writing this letter because it has been a long time coming. I should certainly have written this many years ago to thank you profusely for your inspiration towards my life goal. Until your research came along I was pretty much like everyone else in the world living oblivious to the pain and suffering of scientists. Who knew that they were so deeply disturbed? Because of your research I found myself establishing the Society for the Rehabilitation of Misguided Scientists. This has become my lifelong passion now and until all scientists have taken up needlepoint for the betterment of themselves (and vicariously humanity) I will not rest!

You may be wondering exactly how you inspired me to such lofty goals? When I heard about the conclusion of your research which stated unequivocally that wearing polyester underwear caused both sexual infertility and poor libidos a light went on in my brain. How, I wondered, was a conclusion such as this actually, well… concluded? How did a scientist such as you come to know such lofty things?

So I looked it up. Now back in 1993 that wasn’t exactly an easy proposition. I had to take myself physically to a large institution called a library. People today rushing about on the Internet wouldn’t know about such things nor the grief and suffering I myself went through in my pursuit of the truth such as it was. I had to go through the card catalogue. It wasn’t easy. I had to talk to a person called a librarian (a daunting proposition to say the least) who sent me down into the bowels of the Library to find evidence of the research you conducted.

There, in the dark shadows of a musty corner I read your abstract where you state: “It struck me the other day that certain textiles used by the present-day industry to manufacture underwear could be generating electrostatic potentials on the surface of the human scrotum and induce harmful effects, if not infertility.” You then went on, as if it were perfectly normal, to explain how you dressed up little rats in wee little cotton, wool and polyester underwear. You even included a picture. The little rats wore their little underwear for six months continuously.

Who did you hire, I wondered, to make the little underwear? How did you explain to the seamstress what you were doing? Did she/he come in with a little measuring tape? Did you have little suspenders made in order to keep them on? Did you spend much time picking the colors? The weave? After the fitting and dressing did you take pictures? Did you put them in an album on your coffee table for your guests to peruse? “There’s Harry. He’s wearing plaid,” you’d say. “And Polly, she’s wearing pink polyester.” Did you smile fondly to yourself even as your guests were horrified?

And as if this wasn’t enough, you then went on to study the sexual activity of said rats. You counted the number of times each type of rat completed the… well, shall we say, “the act.” You did this for a few months.

There in the bowels of the Library I thought about you… this poor poor man sitting in front of a cage of rats counting the number of times rats mounted each other successfully. (Apparently if it was unsuccessful it didn’t count) I thought about the tidy little pile of cotton and wool and polyester underwear sitting by the cage. What a deeply sad and unhappy life, I thought! How could we have all missed seeing how much help you needed? How could we have let you go on to dress dogs in polyester underwear? Was there no one who could see your pain?

Well… I did. And so I founded my charitable society. There is now help for grown men such as yourself who find themselves dressing little rats in little underwear and/or similar things. And so for this I would like to thank you.

Sincerely yours, S. Shawcross.

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