February 22, 2008

The Master of Artemia Salina

  Useless, endless swarms and squirms of activity (or “comical tricks and stunts”) – were ordered by Horace Makely in 1970 from a comic book ad. Horace was a boy in private school, and as everyone else was engaged in useless, endless swarms and squirms of activity, he thought “Sea-Monkeys” that he could train to do tricks, that -- with a magnifying glass -- you could watch mating!, could make him popular.
  Horace had no friends. His roommate short-sheeted his bed, put cold spaghetti in his pajamas and shunned him in study hall. Horace ordered the shrimp – “Mom, Dad and their babies,” for a dollar postpaid.
  What a disappointment! Horace couldn’t see anything that looked like a shrimp, let alone the naked sexually-active “Sea-Monkeys” in the ad.
  Horace had stolen two milk glasses from the dining hall in his pockets, and he poured tap water and neutralizer into both and let them sit. The next day he added part of the package of dried dots to one glass. After classes he would rush back to the room to get the glass from his closet, peering through his magnifier at the tiny shrimplings. Finally a miracle happened and they hatched. The baby shrimp struggled, as if the water of Connecticut was so different from their spawning water that they had to learn a new way of swimming. They grew, but they didn’t do stunts and they didn’t mate. Horace had kept them a secret so far, hiding them in a shoebox under piles of laundry on his closet floor.
  After a week, when a few of the tiny monkeys had floated to the top of the water, Horace added a pinch of Coca-Cola, thinking it might be the kind of shock to the system that would revive them. It didn’t. Horace poured everything out through some toilet paper, picking out the dead ones, quickly putting the few fragile squirmers in the second prepared glass, which he hid in the closet again, and left for history class. Several things may have happened next:
1) In a raid on the boys’ closets, looking for hard cider and stocks of 27% alcohol Listerine, a proctor found the smelly glass and poured it down the toilet.
2) Horace’s roommate found the glass and added a drop of Pepsi-Cola, and the shrimp grew fat enough to eat with lo mein.
3) They really were monkeys, and they scampered out and ran away.
4) Horace became popular and captained the lacrosse team.
5) The glass turned over, soaked into a pile of Horace’s dirty clothes, which he sent home (as usual) to be laundered. When the box arrived at his parents’ in Faxfield , the smell from the dead shrimp reminded the maid of the beach. She quit and went back to Honduras and married her old sweetheart. Horace was enrolled in public school, and captained the A/V team.
7) Horace grew up. In 2008 he googled “sea monkey” and got 209,000 hits. Nostalgic, he sent off to Transcience Corporation for another kit.

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