There are times when ketchup chips and episodes of Degrassi don't give you the answers in life you need. That's why I created the Ask Palinode column. Degrassi's good for certain things - don't have unprotected sex with a girl and get her pregnant and drop acid and jump off a bridge, all while still in junior high, for example - but the big questions go unaddressed. To wit:
My Dearest Palinode,
I have received a layoff notice and, come Christmas, I will be leaving my current employment. As my current career is somewhat lacking in meaning or money (the two m's that make the world turn) I'm feeling more relieved than anything else at this development. That said, I'm now faced with a somewhat existential question, to whit: "What should I do with my life?"
I had thought to seek the answer to this question through more conventional means, such as career counselling or meditation or severe alcohol abuse. Now that I have found your services, however, I realize that a far easier path lies before me. Thank you in advance for charting my life path.
Derek Pickell, aka Dreadmouse
Shucks, Derek: 'tain't nothing. Here is a step-by-step illustrated guide to turning your life around. But first I have to tell you about a woman who died of cancer, and the wonderful gift she gave a young Schmutzie.
In the year of not-too-long-ago, Schmutzie was a child who had never met me, never shot a gun, never kissed a boy. Maybe kissed a girl by this point, I don't know. Hold on a sec.
Palinode: When did you get that crazy stuffed rabbit from the woman with cancer?
Schmutzie: I was in my twenties or maybe my teens.
Schmutzie: I was not a child. It was a weird gift.
Hngh. Looks like I got that part of the story wrong. But the woman who gave her the gift definitely had cancer, and she's definitely dead now. I think.
Palinode: Is that woman with cancer dead now?
Schmutzie: Yes, she's dead.
Palinode: Just checking.
Anyway, this woman with cancer, facing the end of her life, turned her talents to making rabbits out of felt. Here is Schmutzie's rabbit, with a handy air freshener for purposes of scale. It lives at her parents' house.
As far as I can tell, it's a blank-eyed pink bunny with an aardvark's nose. The woman who made this gave it to Schmutzie's mother as a gift intended for her daughter, who turned out not to be five but more like twenty-five. Whatever. Here's a more aardvarky view.
When I went to Las Vegas in 2004, poor people on the Strip kept on handing me little cards with images of women that looked surprisingly like this. Those women never had a copy of Stephen Wright's awesome but disappointingly brief new novel The Amalgamation Polka. But they were still clearly wanting to have sex for money.
A closer look reveals that this obscene ventral puckering is in fact a zipper:
Maybe next time we visit Schmutzie's parents.
I'm sure you're wondering, Dreadmouse, why I showed you these pictures. Isn't it obvious? I was going to suggest that you find work with Heritage Canada as an architectural technologist, but after Schmutzie and I visited her family last weekend, I realized that you could make felt rabbitvarks with offspring curled up in their disturbingly pink insides. Materials are cheap, you wouldn't have to leave home, and you would give countless children horrible dreams as they cowered under the button-blank gaze of All-Mother Rabbitvark.