ENG 162 Fall 2013

ENG 162 at Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor ME, taught by John A. (Don't ever, ever ask!) Goldfine johngoldfine@gmail.com

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Piece of the week, so far:

13. I just googled the phrase 'if these could talk.' What inanimate thing do you wish could talk?

If these trees could talk, they'd say "hey lady, get your dog away from me", "ease off on the chemically treated mulch, mister" and "do you really think L.L. will love you forever just because you're carving it into my skin?"  The blue pine growing in the town center would nag the town council on the placement of its yearly fancy holiday dress ad nauseum.  "No, I really think the gold and red look tacky this year.  Listen, we ought to find it in the budget to get some new decorations.  Do we want to give the world the impression that we're just a sad little podunk town?  And fix my star, for God's sake!  The left part's light has gone out.  How can I be a star when my star is just a pathetic cold lump sitting on top?!"

The weeping willow in the park will grumble about its label.  "I have happy days, you know.  Just because of my name doesn't mean I don't have happy days.  Honestly, the birch and the hemlock were being so dire the other day, and who came to the rescue with jokes?  Who had the entire park in stitches?  And then you have just one off day and everyone says "Ah, well, don't mind that chap, that's a weeping willow for you.  Always doom and gloom.  People just don't get me.  Lot's of stress, this kind of lovely plumage, you know.  The most striking tree in the park, next to the water's edge, lots of pressure to shade lovers and look good in photographs..."

The maple would deeply resent its lot in life as a giver of maple sugar.  "Oh, no, go on, please do take as much as you want.  I simply insist.  It's not like I was going to use that for, oh, survival or anything.  It's not like I didn't spend my entire year working hard to store all that sugar.  But no, I insist.  I just need it for survival, you need it for pancakes.  Mother's in town I'm sure, want to impress her with your ability to live off the land, don't you dearie?  Don't want her to insist you come back to live with her in the city, now do we.  Go on, stick a spigot in my friend.  Can't risk sucking me dry and not having enough, can we?"

The hedges would border on the ability to communicate, not being proper trees, like simple ogres that garble something out and then you pat them on the head for being so good as to utter barely intelligible sentences.  Some of the trees would be quite keen to mock them for this.  The birch, for instance, in its glorious white wrappings, would snicker at the hedge's childish attempts to communicate.  "Had good day today!  Squirrel!  Squirrel sat on me!"  "What's that, you say, hedgie?  A squirrel shat on you?  My, how disgusting!"  "No..."  The hedge would become quite confused at this, and would wrinkle its face in perturbed frustration if it had a face.  The hemlock would be quick to jump in and defend the hedge, perhaps because the hemlock itself comes quite close to looking like a hedge.  "Oh, come off it birch, where's the sport in picking on poor hedge?!  Honestly!"  Birch would grumble in defensive irritation "just having a bit of fun, no need to get your knickers in a bunch..."  Hemlock would be there, comforting the confused hedge, shushing in parental tones.  "There there, dear hedge.  A squirrel, how wonderful!  Was it a grey one or a red one?"  Sometimes birch would make hedge cry, and there would be no hope for cheering it up, and the rest of the day the others would have to hear the moans and cries of an inconsolable hedge.  "Doesn't get the stress we deal with day to day," weeping willow would mutter.  "Doesn't get that I have it much worse."

Most trees would avoid conversation with ornamental fruit trees.  Their narcissism is well known, and when they are flowering they can be absolutely overbearing about their beauty.  As if that wasn't bad enough, the fruit trees with grafted branches can be absolutely batty.  All those split personalities, you know.  On days when they're reallywound up, they're unbearable to even walk by.  One part reciting Shakespeare, another screaming "the soup!  I know I had some soup here!  How DARE you lie to me about my soup?!" while three or four others chatter with each other about the most trivial things.  It's usually the quiet branch that's the most disturbing that you'll want to avoid, however, mumbling incoherently until it suddenly bursts out with "I'll bite you, I will!  Come one step closer and I'll have your scalp firmly between my teeth!"  Of course, that's ridiculous because trees don't have teeth; but quite unsettling to listen to, nonetheless.

Oak trees, especially the wizened old ones, like to build on their reputation of being rather wise.  But talk with one for more than a minute and you'll find yourself quite disappointed in how shallow they actually are.  "My advice to you, my boy, is this.  My advice is that you should go and sell everything you own, and start afresh in this world.  You should tell your father that-  I say, did you here that, just now?  Those two yew, nattering on in the background.  Like they are the two most important trees in the world!"  The oak will harrumph at its own self-importance.  "I've been around for over 100 years, what could Ipossibly have to say that's important?!  Oh no, DO go on with your mockery you two ninnies, I heard what you muttered just now!  Listen boy, ignore those two- those twobaboons!  The one on the left just got its branches pruned, thinks its the bee's knees now.  I had someone carve their name into in my trunk in 1915, but I guess I'm just a winded old gasbag to them, aren't I?"  The oak will usually continue on with its unasked for wisdom - "do onto others as they would do onto you", "never look a gift horse in its mouth", "floss twice a day or in between meals" - until you're finally able to slowly back out with false excuses of direly needing to be elsewhere.

Jungle trees that like to shout "snake!" and laugh hysterically when tourists dive into the brush, grand redwoods who mention theirs' and every other creature in the area's bodily functions while you attempt to enjoy the view and a cup of joe during an early morning sunrise, tiny bonsai that like to pontificate on cultured beauty and the role of Asian culture in the Western hemisphere...  They all have something they like to contribute to the world, after being kept quiet for so long.  Strange how grass parks have become all the rage these days.

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