Friday, January 26, 2007

the meaning of food...

This is a highly deceiving title as this post has nothing whatsoever to do with food (or at least very little). But it does have a little to do with the meaning of life. If I know, really know, what I want to 'do when I grow up' and what I want to do is actually a lot of things, how do I pick?

I sit, alone, lounging on a faraway beach listening to the seagulls, hugging a hot mug of coffee and musing about my next installment of Henry the Hoppity Bunny. Henry's been labeled the latest craze in children's literature, fusing thriller with adventure; romance with action; horror with bunny. The kids are lining up at the stores. The parents wait for their young to fall asleep before sneaking their copy of Henry the Hoppity Bunny's latest adventure/romance/mystery. Churches and schools are banning the books, citing the worship of bunnies to be immoral. The first installment has made it to the big screen, with the next three already in production. I'm credited as consultant. I've never visited the set, and the only person I have spoken to from the studio is James, a squat middle-aged man, more interested in talking numbers than chatting about the benefits of sea air. And all the while, fan fiction websites are popping up, all chronicling Henry's thrilling romantic action-packed bunny-filled adventures.

But my fame remains a paradox. Exposed yet obscured. With no husband, no children and very few friends, some begin to wonder whether the famous Clara A. Thatcher does in fact exist. The pen name does not fool anyone. They begin to wonder whether I am trying to convey a secret message, visible only to those smart enough to make out the anagram 'CAT' in my name. Will my next protagonist be a cat? they wonder to themselves as they chat online, in libraries and on spaceships. The excitement is almost too much to bear.

I hadn't noticed the anagram. Nor have I any affinity to cats. Perhaps I could write about Camilla the Curious Cat but somehow I fear for her fate; I see an unfortunate end for her, scarcely before she has had time to grow a long enough tail.

I pick up a pen and begin to doodle on a notepad. I draw a cat. I try to make her look like she's smiling but somehow her expression comes off looking like a scowl. I scribble her out. I pause then rip off the page, scrunch it into a ball and fling it towards the sea. It manages to travel a few inches before a gust of wind flings it back at me, catching it in my hair.

The real Henry is getting restless. I can see him hopping about, with neither adventures nor romances to his name. Not even a measly mystery for him to solve using his thrilling crime-fighting prowess. He hops a little more, pausing for thought. How many carrots have I had today? he wonders. Not enough, he concludes, and continues his hopping, finding and munching escapades.

It it almost sunset and the very thought of a romantic setting makes my stomach turn. I hurriedly get up, leaving the notepad behind and walk back towards the house. I pick up Henry along the way. For company. But before closing the door, I quickly glance around the foyer, making sure that pesky Camilla hasn't somehow snuck her way into my life.

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