Look Out For the Rats

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I discovered a few rats downtown, and last weekend I brought three of them home with me. They’re not real rats (or married people who pocket their wedding rings when going for a drink after work), but art rats.

A nearby gallery recently held a one-year anniversary and celebrated by selling donated art to raise money for the artist-run shows.

The gallery showcased a roomful of rodent-themed pieces designed from paint, ceramics, wire and needlepoint.

I’m not overly welcoming towards rats, unless they’re the cartoon or stuffed animal variety. But I do like to support our determined artists.

It takes exceptional people to bare themselves for public critique. And it takes courage to enter a creative field when there’s no guarantee of gain or glory. But try they must.

Besides, how many rat sculptures can you create and give to your mother before she stops accepting deliveries? Good thing we have our galleries.

It’s an indisputable fact – artists create because they must.

Why such admiration? Because I’m a left-brain thinker and can’t draw a convincing stick figure. I don’t even have a consistent signature when signing my name to the back of my ID and credit cards. 

My first artistic foray most likely involved Popsicle sticks, gold glitter and glue that ended up everywhere except the target. Years later, my high school dalliance with textiles resulted in a crooked gingham apron that only a mother – the same one with rat ornaments lining her curio cabinet – could love.

I appreciate those who pilot a potter’s wheel or wield a welding rod. For that reason, I’ll continue to collect and cherish their creations.

Will I end up with a Banksy Girl with Balloon piece that sold for $1.4 million even though it was partially shredded at auction? Who cares. I buy art because I like it.

For our wedding, my sister gave us a sculpted piece, a weird little monster named Theobold who wears a turtleneck and holds a cup in his gnarly monster grip. I’m happy to say that the marriage has fared the storms of time better than Theobold.

Although I try to be careful, poor Theobold has been broken on four or five occasions. Last summer he fell off a ledge while I read in a chair several feet away.

Luckily, I’ve retained good gluing skills from kindergarten. As for any financial appreciation over the years, Theobold has too many missing pieces to ever increase in value, but I’ll never say good-bye to him.

Please, no one send me a Rodin sculpture for my next birthday – if my monster is jumping off his ledge, just imagine the trouble The Thinker will get into.

Hang on . . . now my new clay rats are starting to eye me with suspicion. Better buy more glue.

Audio story backing track
Mind and Eye Journey
by
Emily Sprague

Hands Off The Pooch!

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My husband has begun an annoying habit while we relax in bed: he plays with my stomach as if it’s bread dough.

“Stop it!” I yell and slap at his pawing hand. ”This isn’t Silly Putty!”

Although I’ve never been pregnant, I can empathize when people reach out to rub a woman’s  rotund stomach. Those people envision a beautiful growing baby and are drawn to it, the same way they’re attracted to a puppy or kitten.

Conversely, those pregnant women see a groping hand reaching towards them and they’ve never felt so territorial.

Men must endure similar attention. I’m referring to men who’ve shaved their heads to a downy fuzz.

My hand trembles with desire to sweep my palm across all that fuzz. Now it’s tough to concentrate on what the guy is saying. Downy. Alluring. Must touch.  

There’s nothing sexual about it. If anything, my psyche is probably reconnecting with my youth where I played with my Ken doll, the kind with the peach-fuzz head. Sure, Barbie had great golden locks, but Ken’s head was something special.

Let’s shelve my downy head hang-up and get back to pregnant women. Lately great emphasis is placed on the prenatal experience. Parents don’t simply talk to their unborn babies but also read to them and play selected music.

Embryologists say that the ear is the first organ to develop, that it becomes functional after only eighteen weeks and baby listens actively from twenty-four weeks on.Speaking, reading and singing to a baby before birth is said to enhance its ability to distinguish sounds after birth. Some scientists believe that babies understand what’s being said around them.

I find that hard to believe. If babies understand from an early age, why is it such a struggle to toilet train them or teach them why they can’t throw Daddy’s keys into the toilet? For keys, they have no problem with the flush.

If you have extra time in your busy day, why not buy a device that allows you to hear, record and e-mail your unborn baby’s heartbeat and hiccups.

Here’s one ad I found online: “Listen to these sounds with the baby’s father, siblings or friends. You will also hear the nutrients passing through the placenta.”

I wouldn’t be too keen to share sounds from my placenta; once that child is born, we’ll be treated to enough sounds. My device of choice would be ear plugs.

My own mother was busy with four children before I arrived. Little concern went towards my in utero experience. I’m thankful enough that Mom didn’t smoke, slam shooters or play with hallucinogens while she was pregnant.

As for my non-pregnant pooch, I’ve created a new rule in our household: I’ll let my sweetheart squeeze my belly if he shaves his head and lets me stroke his fuzz. Now that’ll be a Friday night tale to tell the non-kids. 

audio song The Nexxus Riddum
by
Konrad Old Money

Cave Comedians Rock!

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My husband and I watched an old episode of “Seinfeld,” one with comedy highlights from the many years the series ran.

“This is hilarious stuff. Every little bit is funny,” I said. 

“That’s because you’ve already seen the episodes and know the characters,” Paul answered. “Otherwise, they wouldn’t make sense.”

I was about to do what I usually do when challenged – argue – but he was correct. Comedy, much like calculus or Shakespeare, is difficult to understand or appreciate unless you start at the beginning. In other words, you need the Seinfeld 101 course before you can progress to your PhD in HaHa.

While our tastes change, I bet we haven’t altered much over the eons, at least in the way we enjoy laughter and entertainment. 

Stop and think about our early ancestors, those cave dwellers who lived before the invention of the wheel. What do we really know about them? We can only guess what made them laugh out loud, or hoot and holler with chimp-like shrieks. For all we know, they watched stand-up comedians like we do at Yuk Yuks today.

I’d love to be a primordial fly on the cave wall when the first act took place at a rock stage near you: “Thank you, thank you very much. So where y’all from? That crater by the lava flow? I didn’t think any vertebrates still lived there [nervous giggling, hairy foot shuffling] . . . I just flew in from the tar pits and are my knuckles ever tired!”

Now comes the sound of applause or grunts of satisfaction. Hard to tell whether the register is delight or anger, with those prominent jaws and swept-back foreheads.

From the back, a heckler growls something off-color. 

“What’s that, your knuckles don’t drag? Sheesh, there’s a Neanderthal in every cave!” More applause and some supportive rock throwing ensues.

The show ends on familiar note: “You’ve been a great crowd, thanks for coming to Kruk Kruks. Be good to your servers – no hair pulling. And look out for those sabre-tooth tigers on your way home.”

Audience members pull on their animal hides and claim their clubs at the door. The Comedy Cave quickly empties. 

Then, everyone makes a quick (tar) pit stop before queuing up for the drag-through window of the nearest Golden Arches. A Big Mammoth, pterodactyl nuggets, name your poison. Whatever gets you through the Paleolithic night.

With six million years of evolution under our gene pool belt there’s an undeniable amount of variation, but those hominid similarities do exist. We had “Seinfeld,” they had “Trog.”

I’ll never gaze into a campfire the same way again. And I’ll never take my handy canister of Wet Ones for granted, thanks to our ancestors who were there at the dawn of intelligence.

To all of you cave comedians, you rock!

Audio version song “Fancy”
by
Saidbysed