Dear Kate really does live up to her bakery epithet. She has sent me some of the best cookies I’ve ever eaten. But she also sends me gifts the likes of which you cannot imagine, and really . . . you know. Don’t. They’re sort of meant for the two of us. This time she really outdid herself. She got me a Noah’s Ark set from 1967, which happens to be the year of the Great Flood. You know how the story goes, right? God told Noah to build an arky arky, God told Noah to build an arky arky, BUILD IT OUT OF! Hickory barky barky, children of the lord. Except what he meant was, “I’m fixing to destroy the world except for a few animals and three human beings, two of whom are probably gay.” That’s really sweet. And remember how poor Bill Cosby, who is Noah, didn’t have a clue what a cubit is? How COULD he? He was busy on television and wearing his sweaters.
Kate’s gift made concrete what I had known for some time. You see, I was married (all too tragically briefly) to one of the last full-blooded Incas in America. (I am the other.) In this photograph he’s wearing our culture’s ceremonial headdress, which happens to include my puggle, Puppa.
His Incan name was Wears The Puppa Hat, or in English, Eddie. Because I grew up in a series of Christian foster homes, I knew enough about the Bible to teach Eddie some of the stories. He found them all very uncomfortable, even though many Biblical stories are shared by countless other cultures. The flood legend is nearly universal; it seems that everyone wants to believe the planet was really hard-core drowned once. Our conversations frequently went like this:
EDDIE: Your God said to one person, this Noh, to build a massive ship because God wanted to destroy the world?
EDDIE: But two of each kind of animal was to be spared? Why? Why kill all the people and the trees and all the rest of the animals, and keep just two?
BLADE: Weird, I know.
EDDIE: Were there women?
BLADE: There was Noah’s wife, and I think his children. And his domestics, of course.
EDDIE: But how did they repopu –
BLADE: Best not to go there.
I lost my beloved Wears The Puppa Hat in a tragic accident; he was performing a ceremonial dance and . . . well, there was Incan makeup involved, which contains lead, and the sacred moccasins, made of gasoline and gunpowder. His native dress was on fire when the dancing began, so that didn’t help. I grieved appropriately, as our culture demands, and then I left our cave dwelling and moved to Durham, near Duke University. This is the Inca way.
For many years I didn’t think about the conversation we’d had about the Noah story, not until Kate sent me the gift. I opened it reluctantly, to be honest, because I knew it would rekindle not just my grief, but memories of Foster Sunday School. Little did I know that I needn’t have traumatized Puppa Hat, because everything I learned from the warty Mrs. Belcher was a lie anyway.
The animals, they came on by twosies twosies, right? WRONG. Look at this:
The ‘lamb’ is possessed by Satan, and the chicken is the same size as the cow, who is standing on a ROCK. I heard nothing about any rocks, did you? Or consider this:
That pink-faced gorilla thing is probably quite accustomed to having his way with, oh say a PIG, right? But that pig is fixin’ to show Magilla a certain barnyard trick. Devil Rabbit hates everyone and everything, including the itty bitty lion cowering next to him. What really blows my honker is that monkey. I’m telling you, it is a monkey, and it’s about the size of a tiny thing, and it’s standing right there with a MASSIVE turtle. The size of the turtle is ungodly. It gets worse.
That’s my sister in the red pantaloons, with her back to us. I’d have a hard time facing the situation, too. The pig is eating the lion, the mutant tortoise is on the move, and lurking in the background is a gargantuan BLUE penguin. And here’s Donnie Darko with some prostitute – that’s nice.
And OH, are you tired of the Scientologists trying to get you to hold those metal things and give you literature that fills you with shame? You might want to give that a rethink, because Xenu was on that boat.
I was deeply disturbed, but I didn’t expect carnage. I didn’t foresee atrocity, not until this:
I thought I knew something of myth, and the way it guides our understanding of nature. I knew nothing. When the pink-faced gorilla is the same size as the anteater, which is the same size as the hippo, and there are Faustian skunk-things and midgets in dresses, not to mention Cletus, one’s mind wobbles a bit. But when a SOCK MONKEY enters the picture? A sock monkey with dominance clearly on his agenda? And just the one – not twosies? I couldn’t help but remember the horrible moment in “Planet of the Apes” when Charlton Heston discovers a library, and he’s ecstatic to hold a book again, rather than just the leather hand of his apemate. He opens the cover and the pages turned to dust. I wept. We were at the drive-in and I was sensitive.
By the way, the boat was only big enough to hold my sister and a couple miniature monkeys. I’m glad she got away before the hideous reindeer arrived – they did NOT have Santa’s sleigh on their minds, believe me.