Choose whimsy

From the archive: Feb. 5, 2012

I see and hear the cranky and dyspeptic political tones, philosophical arguments dressed up as a battle between good and evil, and I have seen and heard enough.

“There ain’t no good guys, there ain’t no bad guys, there’s only you and me and we just disagree,” the poet sang.

And yet the demagogues behind the curtains conjure images of battlegrounds. We don’t just disagree; you are the embodiment of evil walking on Earth. If your kind keeps/retains power, then the rest of us die.

Hogwash. I say again, hogwash. Pay no attention to the demagogues behind the curtains.

My freedom is not dependent upon someone holding or being ejected from office, and neither is yours. Human beings are born to freedom, not granted liberty by benevolent rulers. What part of “endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights” is so hard to understand?

We have a choice to stew in our own bile – or in bile provided for us by willing political toadies – or to live our lives freely, joyfully and in celebration.

You may follow the path to fear and loathing and the infestation of imaginary hobgoblins. I choose whimsy.

Love And Magic

© Naumenkoaleksandr |

Once upon a time, in a kingdom so magical it was called The Magic Kingdom — but that name was spoken only in whispers because of trademark issues — the magical king and the magical queen were having a tiff.

Now, a tiff is a little more serious than a disagreement but less serious than a row, but the thing about disagreements is they can lead to a tiff, and the thing about a tiff is they can lead to a row, so the best course is to settle things before one thing leads to another.

And so the magical daughter stepped in to say, “Mother, Father, please don’t let this tiff spoil this magical day. Surely you can find common ground or a middle solution.”

“How can such a big problem have a little solution?” asked the king, who was hard of hearing.

“You old coot, she said ‘middle’ with an M,” the queen sputtered. “And how can you say this is a big problem? It’s fiddlesticks and froo fram.”

“So you’ve been saying,” the king muttered. “You never listen to me.”

On they sputtered and muttered until they were all puttered out. Then they smiled at each other and held hands.

“That’s better!” cried the magical daughter. “I’m so glad that’s settled.”

“We haven’t settled anything,” said the king.

“But you’re holding hands,” the daughter said. “You have your love, and love settles everything.”

“You are still young, and learning,” said the queen, “and have not yet learned that sometimes love isn’t enough.”

“Oh, but you are old, and forgetful,” the daughter replied, “and what you have forgotten is that love is all you need.”

At that the king leaned over and purred something into the queen’s ear that made her giggle. She kissed him, and he kissed her, and they wrapped their arms around each other, and quickly they both forgot what the tiff was about in the first place.

“Perhaps you should get a room,” suggested the magical daughter.

And so, they did.

– – – – –

(Background vocal by Blackberry.)

Cuteness Eversweet

Archery target © Kirilldz |

Cuteness Eversweet drew back her bow and eyed the target carefully. A hummingbird buzzed around a lilac bush.

Cuteness let the arrow fly, and a moment later a sudden shaft protruded from the center of a bull’s eye planted under a tree. Startled, the hummingbird darted away.

“Oh, I’m sorry, little one,” she said. “Don’t worry, no one’s going to hurt you on my watch.”

Cuteness Eversweet loved all living things in equal measure. Well, fine, she did not apologize to carrots when she chopped and diced them. But Cuteness loved animals and was a diehard vegetarian. Her friends stopped inviting her to dinner because of the sad faces she made as they savored their ribeyes.

One day a hungry bear approached Cuteness Eversweet in the forest. She led the bear to a raspberry bush, then a beehive brimming with honey, but the bear kept eying Cuteness like her friends eyed juicy hamburgers.

“Can’t we come to some agreement not to eat each other?” Cuteness Eversweet asked.

“Let me think about that for a second,” said the bear. “Um — no.”

So Cuteness sadly picked up a large stick and clubbed the bear on the side of his head. The great beast dropped like a stone, unconscious.

“I suppose you’re going to eat him now,” said the hummingbird.

“Goodness, no, of course not,” said Cuteness Eversweet.

“But I am,” said a hunter who suddenly appeared, wielding a great hunting knife with which to dispatch the bear.

Before he could do any such thing, however, Cuteness bashed him in the side of the head, too.

Now she had a dilemma: Two carnivores, side by side, unconscious, and likely more than willing to devour each other once they awoke. Also, both of them were too big for her to drag one or the other to safety.

She set to work with rope that the archery range coincidentally had stockpiled in its storage shed, and when they awoke the bear and the hunter were surprised to find themselves securely tied.

“If I release you, I want you both to walk away and leave the other in peace,” Cuteness told them.

“Are you crazy? I’m a hunter,” said the hunter. “I shoot bears.”

“And I’m a bear,” said the bear. “I eat people.”

“I sincerely wish you would not,” said Cuteness Eversweet.

“Yeah, well, if wishes were horses, then beggars would ride,” said the bear.

Suddenly a horse appeared, and a huge white-haired bearded man dismounted.

“Why it’s Duke X. Machina,” cried the hunter.

“That’s me,” said the duke. “And you two must depart these woods in peace, for I have so decreed.

Grumbling, the hunter and the bear skulked away in opposite directions.

“Thank you for resolving my dilemma, Duke,” Cuteness Eversweet said gratefully.

“It was my pleasure, milady,” said Duke X. Machina.

“I love a happy ending,” the hummingbird hummed.

And come to think of it, they all did live happily ever after.

The Gathering Hall Under the Garden After the End of Time

All the realities swirled around his brain as he dug in the garden removing weeds. The flowers that bloom in the spring tra la needed room to breathe, and the weeds were encroaching.

Suddenly, after he pulled a weed he knew vaguely as a whimsy root, a vast hole opened and he tumbled down a sudden underground slide that deposited him 20? 50? 100? feet below ground in a vast room that should have been pitch black but instead glowed with a warm but eerie glow.

“Step forth, young man,” said a voice from nowhere that came from everywhere at once. “Yes, you, with the dirt on your hands.”

He stepped timidly toward the voice — that is to say, he stood stock still, because he had no idea where the voice originated.

“Where am I?” he said once he found his voice again.

Continue reading “The Gathering Hall Under the Garden After the End of Time”

A cardinal on Whimsy Street

I have been reading a couple of books by Bob Goff, a whimsical fellow who holds office hours on Tom Sawyer Island at Disneyland, and I am aware that whimsy and I have become strangers of late.

It’s not unrelated to my beloved, Red, moving into hospice care a month ago; it’s hard to be in touch with whimsy at a time like this. Red has recovered somewhat from medicine’s aggressive assault on her lymphoma, she is very much her old self and we have nice visits together, but the disease lurks in the background waiting to re-assert itself. For now, the respite is a blessing.

I have made friends with whimsy from time to time. Myke Phoenix’s friends include a half-man-half-duck and a sentient green vase. Adam Comfort’s private investigator partner is a pookha who takes the form of a 6 1/2 foot tall skunk woman named Joy. Jeep Thompson visits a swamp full of snoggles and departs with a new friend named Snooger. 

Whimsy and I are almost pals, but I keep losing sight of him or her or them or whatever. So how do I find my way back down Whimsy Street? Will I find it frozen in mid-swing in the forest with a can of oil nearby? Is there a rabbit hole where whimsy may be discovered underfoot, late for a very important date? Is it drunk and in charge of a bicycle? Or is it simply a frog smiling up from a lily pad in Central Park or a pond in the back woods? Yo, Whimsy! Where are you hiding today?

Could it be as simple as the glint in a puppy’s eye as she discovers a dust bunny or a bit of fur shed by an aging cat? And what of the cat — Are her yowls in the night an incantation of dark magic that may envelop the house if the innocent puppy can’t save it in time? She is an aging black cat after all, and what is more darkly magical than a black cat? Or do we turn the cliche and discover that the crotchety old black cat is in fact the grand good wizard, the Gandalf of feline energy standing dark and rickety against the even darker menace beyond?

Long ago I woke up and cried, “Whimsy! I shall pursue whimsy in all things!” But she just smiled and turned away, like the girl who sang the blues in “American Pie,” and I pursued others rather than chase her that much harder. Whimsy and I, we made a good team, or at least I thought so, but in the end she only wanted to be my friend. Still, being friends with whimsy, couldn’t we make that work? A cat clock with roving eyes and pendulum tail — a moose in a fedora on my top shelf — a woody woodpecker laughing in the back yard — a snow globe in the desert — it’s all there at a whim, so what am I waiting for?

The cardinal has hopped to the patio door again a time or two in recent days. I doubt he wants to come in, but I’m glad to see him visit. Perhaps he’s bringing whimsy home on his own.

I need a supply of whimsy to bring Jeep Thompson home, and Adam Comfort, and several other characters and critters buzzing around in my brain. If I were just to finish what I’ve started, I may not be a noted novelist, but at least I’d have novels.

Oh, don’t ask me what’s stopping me from finishing their stories. I am stopping me. Don’t ask me why — if I knew that answer I would stop stopping myself.

And look, there is my cardinal; he arrived just after I wrote about him. He’s perched on the deck chair a foot from the window, and now he’s fluttered to the deck railing, and then over to a tree.

It’s good to see you, Red, I call to him — oh! “Red …”

And now I know my world will always have cardinals. 

A lifting

He watched the phrases dance across the page.

He heard the melodies. He felt the rhythms. He smelled fresh lilacs and tasted mint. And all the world burst forth from on the page.

Tensions, pent up, eased. His shoulders relaxed, having never sensed their tightness.

The cascading waterfall in his chest slowed to a trickle.

“So, this is peace,” he whispered, and was well.

A respite from the rush of frantic need, the quiet nearly overwhelmed him until he sank into it and allowed it to surround his troubled soul, to comfort him with its nothing. He scarcely had noticed the weight until it was lifted, and now this freedom astonished him with its lightness.

He heard the scratch at the corner of his consciousness, and he knew the relief was temporary. One by one, the troubles would settle on his shoulders again, but now he knew what it felt like to shrug them off, and perhaps he would learn to shrug.

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