Q: What is like a throw pillow with a Buick tied to the top?
Date: Thu, 13 Apr 95 16:34:00 PDT
From: Peter Langston <psl>
Subject: Q: What is like a throw pillow with a Buick tied to the top?
Forwarded-by: bostic@CS.Berkeley.EDU (Keith Bostic)
From: Mike O'Brien <email@example.com>
> It's much worse when a horse steps on your foot, you develop a big black
> mark under your big toenail, and then you get to watch it for months
> while it grows out further and further until...
> ... you get to clip that part off and there's nothing much gross about it.
It's much weirder when you've been fast-talked into taking a course in
handling exotic animals, and now they've gotten to the part of the course
where it's time to learn how to saddle a camel, and here you are holding
the bridle when the camel decides it's tired of being over here, it's time
to be over there. So it goes over there. Now, horses have these short
thick necks and camels have these long skinny necks, but you can pull a
horse's head down toward the ground and it will stop every time. You can
pull a camel's head as hard as you like till you're just hanging on the
bridle like a Christmas tree ornament (and a really ugly one too) and the
camel will not move its head down an inch but will just keep striding
along on those improbable legs with the ball-and-socket knee joints.
Except I didn't because the camel stepped on my foot. Now, this is not
what you'd expect. A camel's foot, due to the fact that it's designed to
walk on sand and all like that, is like a throw pillow with a Buick tied
to the top. I was wearing heavy work boots and I didn't even know what
had happened; I just couldn't move my foot. But my upper body was hanging
onto the bridle and it was moving, oh yes. Just like a really fine
slapstick film I tilted sideways further and further and further, and
about the time the camel finally picked up that foot, it didn't pick up
that foot after all, because the stride of a camel is about 850 miles or
so. I was practically horizontal and my arms were in Topeka before my
feet were able to leave San Bernardino.
I never did get that particular camel saddled, that particular time.
That's about when it started to rain.
>> It's much weirder when you've been fast-talked into taking a course
>> in handling exotic animals, and now they've gotten to the part of
>> the course where it's time to learn how to saddle a camel ...
> Might we have a little background on that, please? I, for one, am
> both fascinated and surprised to discover that there even *is* such
> a course. Were ostrich rides included as part of the fun?
Ostriches. Don't get me started on ostriches.
The only thing you have to know about an ostrich is that they can only
kick forwards. Most of the time, ostriches are not facing you. They
are facing the other way, and getting smaller. Rapidly. Very rapidly.
You catch ostriches in a pen the same way you catch ostriches in the wild,
which is the same way my uncle used to catch rabbits: by a form of
triangulation. Find two other like-minded people who have not yet
actually been committed, and surround the ostrich. Each time it turns to
get away, one person runs in front of it, and the other two move up from
behind. In theory, one person will eventually get close enough to grab
Now, you can't actually grab these godforsaken featherdusters by the most
convenient handle, which is to say, by the neck. If you do, you'll
instantly kill a very valuable property. They can't take that. No, you
have to grab them around the brisket and drape one arm over the back to
grab the front of the wing on the opposite side. Then you get to hang
on, because while no one older than six can actually RIDE an ostrich, any
full-grown man can be DRAGGED by one, no problem. This man's job is
simple: to slow the ostrich down enough that one of the other two people
can catch up and add his weight to the pile. TWO people CAN stop an
Actually GETTING to this stage has to be seen to be believed. This is
the ONLY time in my life when I have actually jumped at something so fast
and so hard that, missing, I turned a complete forward somersault on the
ground and came up running. Trouble is, I had also lost my glasses, right
where the ostrich chose to do this panicky little two-step, which also
had to be seen to be believed. I collected on my one piece of luck that
day: all two hundred pounds of ostrich missed my glasses. I jammed them
on my face and kept running. And running.
When we eventually got to Stage Two, the ostrich reached a stage of its
own. It sat down. Now, while two people can stop an ostrich, not even
all three can carry one, and this one had its landing gear locked in the
"up" position. The claim was that just lifting up on the ostrich would
make it stand up. No. In fact, to my amazement and by dint of extreme
physical output we lifted that sucker clear of the ground, and that stupid
little chicken-head with the great big eyeballs just kept its legs tucked
firmly up underneath and looked at us, eye to eye. We set it back down.
About five minutes later it stood up on its own. We did too; we didn't
have a lot of choice. After that we were sort of able to walk it around
to where we wanted it.
I went home and scraped off the ostrich dust. I still have a couple of
plumes on my wall. They're looking a little sad now, but not nearly as
sad as I looked that day. The Dance of the Hours in "Fantasia" has never
looked the same to me, after that.
© 1995 Peter Langston