Identifying "Weird" In Genetics
Snow camels, painted lawns, and the epic battle that never was.
The year is 1974. The place is a recently developed suburb in the midwest, far from anything. I'm a buck-toothed dork of a youngster- the complete opposite of grace, poise, and cool. Next door were Scott and Kelly- the enemies. It was a snow day, but not much of one by midwestern standards. The only way this particular snowfall was able to get us the day off was by being deceptively heavy and wet. Perfect for snowmen, or... wait for it... a snow fortress from which to launch my shameless conquest of the neighborhood- starting with my own personal Sudetenland, Scott and Kelly's yard. I met with them first thing- as no one was expecting the day off, we were all up and dressed and ready for school at the usual time. Terms of engagement were agreed upon and the construction of fortifications began. Instinctively I recognized the advantage of (slightly) higher ground and since I couldn't trench down, I built up my fortifications like the Hindenberg line. Initially, Scott and Kelly were merely preparing ordinance (prefashioned snowballs), but then like the Belgians, they realized the folly of thier inadequate strategy and began trying to match my furious wall building pace.
After some time, I was tired, but proud of my accomplishment- a wall as high as and wider than my shoulders and perhaps or 6 feet in length. I was concerned about being flanked in the event Scott and Kelly went "over the top", so I was building smaller angled walls- or at least this is what I was accumulating snow for when my mother came to check on me. She usurped my foundation in the name of self expression and took the flanking masses and stacked them higher still on my fortress at one end and two in the middle, making it sadly lumpy and unbalanced looking. I've got a problem with asymmetry, and this was chapping my underdeveloped ass. She retired to the kitchen and came back with a wooden spoon. I paniced- to me a wooden spoon was an instrument of punishment. There was this one wooden spoon that had a handle warped like a dog leg from being too hot in the dishwasher and she favored this one for my domestic corporal punishment. She could whoop ass from around a corner with this twisted and vicious culinary apparatus. At any rate, I was in the clear as she intended to use the spoon to shape the fortress. Huh? Yeah! Shit. This was going to be weird and I knew it. (In those days I wasn't so into the weirdness that surrounded me) As she took to shaping this lumpy shame, I had to face Scott and Kelly and explain to them how I couldn't engage them, couldn't blitz my way through their Ardennes, couldn't gird up my loins and let loose the dogs of war. My mom was stopping me. Worse still, my spectacular fortress was being bashed into a snowy ploughshare or some other peaceful object.
As I hung my head in shame, dejected and defeated I turned to sulk my way back to my territory when it first struck me- there was a camel in my yard. THAT's what she was making of my fortress!?! Well, at least it was convincingly a camel. No one was going to guess llama or such. About this time, Scott and Kelly's dad came onto the scene. He was a reckless and lazy fellow- I liked him. What followed was one of the strangest "keeping up with the Joneses" phenomonona I ever saw. Not to be outdone with the uppity neighbors and thier swanky yard snow camel (now resplendent with colorful wrapping ribbons as garnishment and spendored rigging), he began surveying his options with the far less spectacular speed bump of a barrier. Not wanting to make much of an effort, he decided that thier snopiary would be a caterpillar. The problem was that passersby would not intrisically know that it was in fact a caterpillar, versus say a fallen snow cylinder or snow phallus. Enviously spying the colorfull ribbons on the camel, his solution was decided. Black paint. Yeah. Really. He painted stripes and eyes on the lump of snow.
Here is how it all looked:
The outcome of all this was equally traumatising. When the snow melted, my yard had a lenghty patch of hard ice where the camel sat. We played with this like a slip and slide until I cracked my tailbone in a nasty fall (notice the earlier claim to be graceless). Concurrently, the caterpillar melted but the snow remained, leaving a strange grid of blurry black goo in the grass.
All of this was handled as being completely ordinary. I'm grateful that it was not.