Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Finding my voice. The story of the Armadillo

I am writing with a wonderful group of writers via tele-class once a week (Hi writers!)  We had a homework assignment last week, and I've decided to incorporate that assignment with tonight's post.  The week is shaping up to be a little nutty, and I need to take advantage of the time that's available to me right now.

My assignment:
I'd like everyone to write a short piece, either as a post or just an email to the group. Think of one small piece of information you'd like to share with the world, one tiny insight. Then, in a paragraph (maybe 2 if need be) with clarity, brevity, wit and your own best voice, deliver the piece of information. (This might be harder than it seems!)

Over the years, as I've got to know myself better, and to know my father better, I have learned that I have the soul of a storyteller, and that I came by it honestly from my Dad.  A few years ago, I had the privilege of working with a game development studio based in Santiago, Chile.  The travel was exhausting, I flew to South America from Seattle for one week of each month for a period of 13 months.  I narrowly missed riots and protests on the occasion of the hospitalization and death of Pinochet, and I watched the 2007 riots on the "Day of the Young Combatant" from my hotel room.

On one trip, my business associate, Tiburcio was telling me about his life growing up on a cattle farm in Argentina.  One of his favorite past-times was to chase armadillos, killing them for the shell, which could be used to make a bowl, or strung with strings to make an impromptu guitar.  Tiburcio spoke with heavily accented, but very good English.  He rarely used contractions and would sometimes pause to cull his memory for the correct word in English.  A small group had been drinking a fine organic red wine on a visit to the Colchagua Valley wine region when he told me this story.

"Armadillos, they run very fast, and they have the long.... CLAWS."  He made a gesture with his hands, curling fingers into cat claws.

"They live in holes, and if they get inside the hole and spread their claws, the only way to get them out is to stick your finger in their, how do you say it?"  The claws changed to a poking finger, jabbing in the air.  "Asshole.  Once you do that, they go 'whooop' and retract their claws and you can pull them out."

I interrupted.  "TIBURCIO! Armadillos carried LEPROSY from South America to North America and they can pass it to humans!  Plus, they have huge claws!  Why on EARTH would you stick your finger in it's ass?  You should use a stick or something!"

My boss interrupted me and said "How in the HELL do you know that about Armadillos?"

"I produced a Trivial Pursuit game with 5,000 new questions in 2001.  I am FULL of useless information," I replied.  "Back to the Armadillo.  Seriously, why not use a stick?"

Tiburcio looked at me, very earnestly, and said "It is very dangerous to run with a stick."

I opened my mouth for a retort.  Then I closed it again.  I opened it one more time and said, "I guess that's fair."

Sometimes, when things start to feel a little out of control, I just remind myself, "It is very dangerous to run with a stick."  Things could be worse, I could have my finger in an armadillos asshole.

1 comment:

  1. What a fun and funny post. I love the way you told the story, and I particularly loved the masterful way you "landed the plane" (that's preacher talk for bringing the piece to an end): "Sometimes, when things start to feel a little out of control, I just remind myself,'It is very dangerous to run with a stick.' Things could be worse. I could have my finger in an armadillos asshole."

    And speaking of running with a stick, thank you for your post on worry. Fuck cancer indeed. I am glad the tests came back negative.