A few years ago, when I first posted a self-portrait as a badger with a pipe on this blog, one of my regular readers expressed concern. Not at my eccentric fantasy-identity, OR at the concept that a wild animal would be a tobacco maven. All reasonably intelligent people imagine themselves as animals at times, though it is mighty worrying if the beast is a cartoon kitty-cat or something equally inane, and everyone knows that some animals indulge in habits that up until the eighties were considered normal, like smoking.
Animals know that pipes inculcate calmness, worthwhile introspection, and a mastery of the civilized approach to life. Which is extremely important. If you see an animal with a pipe, don't even think of taking it away or remonstrating with him (her). He (she) is likely to snap and growl if you do.
Cartoon kitty-cats smoke big dumb-ass cheroots.
Feel free to remonstrate.
What my reader said was: "Mr. Badger looks a mite thin, though. I'm a Jewish mother; this concerns me
Badgers, in case you didn't know, are supposed to be stocky and box-like, and resemble fuzzy Sherman tanks. However, underneath our gruff exterior we're actually fairly friendly, and like the appreciation of our peers.
Precisely like Jewish mothers.
"Mr. Badger looks a mite thin. I'm a Jewish mother; this concerns me."
Thank you for your concern. But please do not worry. Mr. Badger is presently fitter than he has been in years, and whenever he catches a glimpse of himself in the hallway mirror, as he marches off to the shower in little else but his birthday fur, he finds the view not too displeasing. Not exactly an athletic build -- have you EVER seen a badger do the hundred-yard dash? -- nor even Adonis-like by the standards of romance-novel dust-jackets, but on the whole not a fright-sight.
[In all honesty, somewhat more otter-like. Still, no 100 yard dash.]
Women, as is well-known, cannot judge fat and lean accurately.
The normal female always thinks herself too much of the first, and is programmed to consider all other people just about right, or too thin, enviably so. There may be a biological basis for this. Perhaps our early maternal ancestors were conditioned to fight other females for territory, scarce sources of food, and handbags.
Body fat, in the savage social world of the early feminine hominids, was a competitive disadvantage; it meant no Jimmy Choo shoes.
Or sago-palm grubs, if they were living in the tropics.
There's tonnes of valuable nutrition in sago-palm grubs.
Not so much in Hello Kitty handbags or expensive shoes, but they're good for clobbering other women, and asserting one's rightful place next to the fire where the tree-possum is roasting.
If you've ever been hit with Hello Kitty luggage, you know this.
Early man probably avoided Hello Kitty.
The Jewish mother cited above may rest easy. Mr. Badger is well-fed, living primarily on snackipoos and noodles, with the occasional dish of bittermelon and fish over rice. He gets enough exercise, and other than existential or romantic hunger-pangs, does not feel empty. He putters around his lair with a pipe in his mouth, and will often go into the kitchen to fix himself some milk-tea. Which, as everyone knows, means a cookie. Sometimes a cucumber sandwich.
Yep. Trimmer than I've been in years.
I look like a thirty-year old.
Non-Jewish mothers can stop laughing right now, it's a mature thirty-year old. One with gravitas and a pleasantly curious face.
Not some callow barely post-pubescent ex-highschool jock, but a bookish and articulate adult. I have keen questions, and can hold my own conversationally, without ever once mentioning sports.
About which I sneer.
The modern American woman, echoing her prehistoric ancestresses, considers fat on men a sign of success, and any scrap of it on herself a defect. She's perfectly all right with the appearance of other women, however. Exceptions being the frontal fetish thingies; many of them have bought into the infantile masculine obsession on that score. Consequently she will entirely overlook the aesthetic value of NOT looking like a bag of bones with two cumbrous flotation devices attached.
And praise her peers who are exactly thus.
While obsessing over food.
In the world of pipe-smoking badgers, a woman who is rational and a realist, while imagining herself a fierce weasel or stoat, is, naturally, a worthwhile and desirable quantity. Especially if she likes rumpled sweaters, puttering around the den looking for tea and cookies, and prefers to read all day instead of galloping over the savannas in her high-heeled shoes looking for other women to clobber with her Hello Kitty handbag. A woman who does not eat sago grubs, burnt tree possum, or diet-salads with chunks of tofu.
And owns no Hello Kitty tat.
Weasels and stoats, like badgers, are solitary creatures, and rarely venture into the social cattle-pen. Alas, they seldom encounter one and other, being preternaturally adept at hiding, and often live entirely unaware of the other's presence. Perhaps they spend too much time in their dens, fixing themselves cups of tea and reading.
All mustelidae (weasels, stoats, badgers, and even otters) are nowhere near the sago-grubs, and often too far aways from the roasting tree-possum. Which is horribly greasy, and somewhat off; we probably wouldn't want a taste anyway, even if we could dart in and snatch it with all those other prehistoric personages about.
Have you SEEN that nasty thing?
It's positively grinning!
Roast duck, barbecued pork, noodles, and mustard stalks. Sole meuniere, boiled lobster, shrimp bisque, and crusty bread. Carbonadde Flammande, little pork chops with red cabbage, frites, and moules Bruxelloise. Sushi, sashimi, and shabu shabu. Hot pot, po chai faan, rice stick, and oyster sauce broccoli. Darjeeling tea, clotted cream and scones, preserves. Darling little meat balls and roast eggplant puree. Shrimp bonnets, black bean spare ribs, taro croquettes, and the big chicken bun. Pork vindaloo, sorpotel, Kabuli pilaf, and fresh buttery naan. Blinis with sour cream and jam, borsht, kapusniak, and kulebiak. Bami goreng, rending, and gulai ayam.
Boeuf Bourguignonne, coq au vin. Cioppino. Crab.
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