Saturday, December 11, 1999
Not Just Another Mutter Machine
In The Crowd
Partly sunny again today, and not too cold, with nary a thunderstorm, blizzard
or drought in the entire house.
In other words, perfect weather for Jester to sit around and throw interrogatory
glances at me.
"WHAT?!" I finally snapped and demanded to know after his 53rd thrown glance
nearly went right up my nose. Green cat eyes like his make up for
in force what they lack in accuracy and always get to me in the end.
"Why did you buy a new pillow in the first place if you already had one?"
the beast inquired, beastily without prelude.
He's been reading my journal again, I realized, nonchalantly wiping the
sudden sweat from my brow with a sock.
"Only enough to know what my chat friends are making fun of," Jester hurried
to assure me. "But you're changing the subject. You really
should be trying to answer the question. That way, if you're ever
faced with another, you'll have had some experience."
I bought a new pillow because I couldn't recall how old the one I had was.
If there's one thing I've learned from reading biographies, it's that no
one should take anything to bed with them unless they're sure of its age.
Well, that and the fact that I didn't know how to ask it when it had bathed
last, since I don't speak Pillowish at all.
"I thought you took Pillowish in high school?"
No, I took Sportscaster. Well, until I lost my voice during a pop
quiz which required us to extemporaneously bark out six hackneyed superlatives
in a single sentence fragment. I automatically flunked when I panicked
and exclaimed "NOT SINCE KAFKA PLAYED FOR THE GREEN BAY YANKEES HAS SUCH
AN EXISTENTIALLY MACHIAVELLIAN PASSING PLAY BEEN ATTEMPTED ON FLANDERS
"Gee, just hearing you reminisce kinda makes me wish I had a new pillow
of my own right now."
You know, I'm really glad we still have time for these little talks despite
my starting up a new journal and all, otherwise I wouldn't be able to write
for fear that you were off in some corner of the house drowning in all
your undrained snottiness.
"Oh, hey - I think it's great that you're back in that office of yours,
sitting in your little chair, filling the air with the white noise I need
in order to reach my full potential as The Animal That Gazes Off Into Space.
Things were just too damn quiet around here when you were trying to usurp
MY place in the Great Chain of Being."
What are you talking about?
"Here - read this," he demanded, throwing a recent Newsweek in the general
direction of the sock I had forgotten to remove from my sweaty forehead.
"Utter silence can be torture.
That's what accountants at the British Broadcasting Corp.'s open-area west
London office whispered before consultants diagnosed 'pin-drop syndrome'
there. Sound-starved staffers complained of stress and loneliness.
The solution? A new 'mutter machine' emits indecipherable human chatter
to create a friendly hubbub where once there was none."
- you're saying that my writing a journal is providing more of a legitimate
social function than my trying to pass myself off as a "consultant" who
diagnoses "problems" that can only be solved by the purchase of stereophonic
"No, I'm saying that the unintelligible stream of curses against PCs, Windows,
ISPs, and the demise of the 8-track that flows from your lips as you tippy-tap-tap
your life away does wonders to relieve my stress and loneliness."
In other words...?
"Thanks for being my very own personal Mutter Machine!"
Umm, good to know I'm of some value to you.
"Hey, if they ever give out awards for Best Babbling Brook in a Supporting
Role, you'd win - easy!"
Something to look forward to.
"In fact, you're almost as good as the sound of an electric can opener
inanely laboring to free tuna from a can."
What do you mean "almost"? Are you saying that I'm not only just
a Mutter Machine to you, I'm a second rate Mutter Machine??
"Don't take it so hard. Remember: The can opener was designed by
Ha! I think a little contest might be in order here.
"Now, don't do anything you'll regret in the morning. Especially
not when you're already in the middle of a pillow crisis."
To the can opener - NOW!
"Ok, ok - but you gotta promise me you won't try to obtain an unfair advantage
over the machine by 'accidentally' dropping the open can of tuna on the
floor just to steroidify your girlie curses."
Hey, there's nothing in the rule book that explicitly says I can't drop
a can of open tuna all over the floor if I want to. I'll even drop
TWO if that's what it takes to prove my superiority over a kitchen appliance
when it comes to the emission of unintelligible noises! It's my
house, dammit! The can opener is merely sub-leasing. Now, let's
"Please - I beg you. NOT the expensive white tuna. You KNOW
how unbeatable your curses are when you drop that!"
GO! And stop trying to tell me how not to win this contest!
So: That's how I spent the afternoon - successfully proving once again
that man is superior to any machine when it comes to the finer points
of pet ownership.
So what if it meant I had to spend most of my evening mopping the kitchen
floor and tending to the hand wound I, umm, accidentally suffered on the
ragged edge of a can lid? I had sense enough to make a tape of my
performance and I intend to cash in BIG by forwarding it to the BBC first
thing Monday morning.
Or as soon as I manage to wake up on my own - Monday afternoon at the latest.
Depends if I can remember how to set my can opener to go off at 8 a.m.
If you have any idea - or can even tell me what might have happened to
the buttons I'm sure were on the thing last time I needed to get up early
- drop me a note. I'll be right here, tippy-tap-tap away for my oddly
The fixed males can't get pregnant - can they??