Sunday, July 6, 2008

Life on Earth With The Madonna of Conflagration

The phone call was brief.

"I need you to come down here, like right now. Five minutes ago even."

"Where's down here?"

"The roof of the Bentley Building. Just hurry. I promise you're going to totally shit yourself."

You can usually trust The Madonna of Conflagration when she makes this kind of call. We originally met when she ran into the bar I was having a nervous breakdown in and asked if anybody wanted to see a duck being rescued from a barrel of molasses. I was the only person to follow her, and to this day I don't know if it's because I was worried about the duck, thought the whole thing sounded hilarious, or was intrigued at the prospect of seeing a real live barrel marked MOLASSES.

Another time I was at work. She walked in, wearing a trench coat and shades, sidled up to my desk and leaned over, whispering:

"You have got to get out of this morgue and follow me down to the park, because you will totally, totally not believe this shit that I have found."

Then she tried to glide out like the femme fatale in a spy movie, but it was basically her usual full on forward charge, just on tiptoe this time. Still, the whole thing was intriguing, so I cleared the decks as quickly as possible and went downtown. I found her by one of the huge half-dead trees that dot the city park.

"This hole in the trunk here? Stick your head in it, and look down. No, do not give me 'Dubious Look Number 7', do not ask me any questions, just do it."

So I did, and it was indeed totally worth it. The hole was about three feet up the trunk of the tree. Said trunk was completely filled with macadamia nuts up to the level of the hole. They were in the shell, which I had never seen so I had to ask her what they were.

"Do you have any idea how these got here?" I asked.

"No, but I have a theory."

She looked around.

"Hawaiian squirrels. Gotta be Hawaiian squirrels. Like,they've come back to the mainland, right? Probably floated back over in discarded SPAM cans. And they've brought their possessions with them."

I e-mailed her an article later that day that said there are no squirrels in Hawaii. She didn't talk to me for a month. Even after things defrosted, I got the impression that I was not to bring up the tree and its strange cargo ever again.

So while it was six in the morning on a Sunday, I figured the odds were pretty good that she had something worth seeing. I threw on some clothes, staggered out into the street, somehow found the subway and headed downtown. I arrived at the Bentley Building ten minutes later. She was standing outside, doing everything she could to keep from jumping up and down and failing miserably. When she saw me she grabbed my hand and started dragging me through the revolving doors to the lobby.

"Come on come on come on come on come come on GOD you are sooo slow..."

She hurled me into the nearest upward bound elevator, jumped in after me, and literally punched the button for the top floor.

"This better be good."

"This is better than good," she said, while shaking her smarting hand. "It's like, better than better than good. I don't know if you can even call this 'the best thing ever.' That would insult it."

"That's pretty good."

"Dude, are you even listening to me? Shit, I think I messed up my hand. Anyway, you will remember this morning for the rest of your life, and if you don't get excited, like, immediately, there's something wrong with you. Okay?"

So I spent the rest of the elevator ride trying to get myself excited, while she nursed her hand and watched the number lights climb, counting off the floors under her breath. We were both fairly ramped up by the time we reached the top floor. When the doors opened she shot out and galloped towards the stairs for the roof garden. I followed, and we emerged into a misty morning, in a little patch of pastoral heaven thirty floors above the city. She pulled me down a raked path, her head swinging from left to right. She stopped abruptly when she found what she was looking for and pointed down at a patch of petunias.

"There there there look look look!"

I squatted down, trying to figure out what the hell I was looking for. It took a minute before my eyes found about a dozen snails, mingling with the stems. They were in a heap but paired off within it, each couple wrapping their necks around each other while strange tendrils flowed from snail to snail.

"No way."

I looked up at the Madonna of Conflagration. She had a radiant grin on her face.

"Yup." She leaned down to whisper in my ear.

"They're fucking."

Bonus- Here is a short video of snails fucking.


Julie Powell said...

That's terribly, terribly sweet, actually.

Agent Audrey said...

That was the most adorable thing I have seen (and read) in days! It beat the Dobermans in the moon bounce hands down. Thank you.