A Salamander in ice

I need to be busy. This time of year, the potato chips call to me from the top of the refrigerator and I can lose an hour looking out the window. Really, the most interesting thing about February is March. I can’t even look at the calendar, all those empty little squares. Had a burst of energy Saturday afternoon and washed all my socks. That’s the sort of task that gives life meaning. Then rearranged the clothes in my closet, sorted my short sleeves from my long sleeves, and went shopping for a white canister trash can because, if I can’t save the world, at least all the colors in my beige kitchen can live in harmony. This is what February will do to you.

Billie Best writes about February.

While I was at the mall, I also bought a basket for the bath sheets. Remember when they used to be called towels? They’re too big to fit in the file cabinet I use for a linen closet, hence they’ve spent the past year folded in a stack in my office. It was a problem that needed solving. Also, while I was living large, I got a house plant for the bedroom. There was a big empty space in front of the mirror because I moved the puppy crate to the back of the closet where it will collect dust until the tag sale right before we move into the nursing home. 

Now I have a prayer plant in my bedroom. Beautiful leaves, but what do prayer plants pray for? A plane ticket to Brazil? Saving the Amazon? A law against palm oil? I burned some incense and left an offering of fruit and nuts beside the pot just in case my plant has the inkling to pray for me. I would also like a plane ticket to Brazil. 

By Sunday afternoon I was so deep in the doldrums I had to watch a couple episodes of Perry Mason to fire up my faith in the future. If you ever feel like the world is going to hell in a handbasket, like we haven’t made any progress in human relations, and we’re killing the planet with our bad habits, just watch an episode of Perry Mason. That’s the culture I was born into — all white men in all positions of authority, suits and ties, pre-Miranda Rights justice, sad sacks brought low by their conniving wives, ditsy girlfriends and shameless jezebels, skinny women with pointy boobs, Barbie hairstyles and rattlesnake eyeliner. Oh, the hairspray, the hairspray.

A dose of Perry Mason makes me want to argue with my high school guidance counselor about whether girls should go to law school or focus on their secretarial skills. Witness Perry’s work wife, Della Street, taking meeting notes on a pad of paper and looking up numbers for him in the phone book, pouring his coffee with goo-goo eyes and tittering at his jokes. Apparently, he couldn’t do his job without her, but it’s not the Perry & Della Show.  

After a binge on 1950s TV, I need to clear the cheese fondue from my brain with a dog walk. It’s been unusually cold for a few days. The pond froze overnight trapping a salamander in an inch of ice. I imagine her swimming right along, keeping busy doing her thing, when the freezing water thickens to slush, slowing her progress to a stop until she’s stuck there, waiting for a change in the weather. Yup, this is what February will do to you. We’re sisters separated at birth.

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One thought on “A Salamander in ice

  1. This is your funniest blog, Bil. Also (unless I made it up) I knew a drag queen who called herself Helena Handbasket. Lastly, if when ya have time, watch the revised Perry Mason on HBO. Della is WAY more impt, significant and powerful in that version.

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