Saturday, July 22, 2017

...In Which I Introduce The Adjective "Penish"

So I was just taking a break from the annual shaping of my topiary boxwood salamander and I decided to go around the corner and buy some new shoes, and I found some, and put them up on the counter, and got my credit card out, and the nice lady said it sure was a nice day, and was I was doing anything special on such a nice day?

And I said no, I was just shaving my salamander.

And it got kind of quiet, giving me a chance to reflect that that might have sounded a little dirty.

And then she told me to go ahead and slide my chip into the bottom end.

.....

So I figured we were even.

The transaction went smoothly after that. She said she liked those shoes, because they were so comfortable, and I thought that was odd, because why would anyone buy uncomfortable shoes? Then I realized it was probably just one of those things people say, and I smiled and picked up my shoebox and turned to go.

"Have fun with those salamander whiskers," she said, and I'm all, whuh? Who thinks salamanders have whiskers? What are they teaching kids these days?

Honestly.

It's bad enough that I have a twenty-foot boxwood salamander right in the front yard and no one ever notices it. Admittedly, I have it facing away from both the sidewalk and the entrance path, because I have a thing for subtlety, but still. People's eyes skim right over it. I believe their brains register it as a low hedge. You know: a low hedge with four legs and visible parotoid glands. As if.

Slumpage
I get why people don't always pick up on the topiary frog in the back yard. Especially after that time I accidentally lopped off his right front leg, which took a while growing back, and after last winter, when a load of snow produced some slumpage on the right side. Sensitive people are naturally going to look away from frog slumpage.

But whiskers?

Then I had one of those moments of grace wherein it occurs to me that people aren't stupid or mean so much as they're underinformed, and then I took my moment of grace a notch higher and thought: what if some salamanders do have whiskers, and I'm being crabby for nothing? I visualized something on the order of the mustache on a catfish. Not hairs, per se, but little curb-feelers, perhaps something a blind cave salamander might make use of.

After all, there is a Tailed Frog right here in Oregon, and I didn't know that was a thing until a few weeks ago. He doesn't have a true tail, but he develops something that looks like a tail when his cloaca becomes genetically exuberant and swells up in a notably penish fashion. Nobody wants to call it the Penis Frog but that's essentially what he is. With his fancy dangling cloaca he can actually insert himself into the female frog and fertilize her eggs internally. Your average frog mates in a nice quiet pond where he can dribble sperm over her expelled eggs and everything works out, but tailed frogs like to be in rambunctious water. If they tried standard external fertilization, the eggs and sperm wouldn't see each other until they'd reached the Pacific Ocean and the whole enterprise would be even more of a miracle than it already is.

So. Salamander whiskers.

I looked it up.

No whiskers. There are lots of larval salamanders with frilly gills, but those are more muttonchops than mustache, and you certainly wouldn't want to shave them off. That would be cruel.

But it all goes to show there are all sorts of things in this world, and perhaps I should be less judgmental about my young friend, the shoe store lady. Perhaps I should go back and thank her for the shoes, which really are exceptionally comfortable. Right after I finish shaving my salamander, and drenching it in fish fertilizer.

I probably don't need to mention that.

45 comments:

  1. Right now I am trying to remember which animal I saw online that has a crazy Corkscrew penis. What I remember is that if the maters become stuck together they take turns gnawing it off.

    Also don't ducks have a corkscrew penis? Maybe that's what your neighbors think you have in your boxwood.

    That didn't come out right.

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    1. No ma'am it did not.

      Something about that gnawing off sounds familiar but the only animal I can think of with a corkscrew penis is the duck. (And goose and swan, I think.) It doesn't "go off," it "unfurls."

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    2. Slugs. Slugs are hermaphrodites. Two slugs exchange sperm via their impressive penises but sometimes they get stuck together and must resort to apophallation, the explanation of which tends to make men twitchy.

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    3. Yeah, slugs, with their amazing diaphanous blue penii, but they're not corkscrew-shaped. Maybe we have had a conflation. Is that what the kids are calling it these days?

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    4. Well now. That sent me on a very interesting web search.

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  2. I love your salamander, with or without whiskers!!

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    1. If you came by and noticed it, you'd be one in a hundred! Can you believe it?

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  3. Now you've jogged my memory. In Richmond, VA in 1975, I slept with a boy who had a little tail. Fortunately, it didn't function like that of the Oregon frog you mention. Anyway, the guy was so hairy that I gently suggested he might get better reviews if he shaved around his salamander a little bit. (True story) Aside from that, I love your topiaries. And now I have to go look up parotid glands, because I forget stuff.

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    1. I have nothing to say about this, Ed. Really, I have too much to say, and it's all getting jumbled up trying to get out.

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    2. I have so many questions about which words are meant literally, and which are euphemisms, that my head is spinning. Do you mean slept with, or slept with? Do you mean his salamander, or his salamander *wink wink*? Do you love Murr's topiaries, or her topiaries? Okay, I'll stop now.

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    3. Don't be fooled for a minute, Ed. She's still going, she just walked away from her computer.

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    4. Just to loop back and clarify...when I said "parotid glands", I meant that literally. However, I am unable to comment any further on the rest of the terms, lest I jeopardize my marriage or my professional licenses......

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  4. Shaving ... whiskers ... there IS a connection, I think.

    I think you have to be tall to see the salamander. Up close it may not be so obvious. How do you trim it so nicely when you have to be up close to do that? Anyway, it's marvellous.

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    1. It's real obvious. As soon as Dave or I points it out, people are stunned. They simply skim over it at first, looking for flowers or something.

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  5. All kinds of slavish followers of fashion wear uncomfortable shoes. I'm not one of them. Give me comfortable shoes or kill me now. I want you to know I have a new rule for reading your blog - never be drinking coffee at the same time. I'll leave it to you to figure out why such a rule was neccessary....

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  6. OK...where is the photo of the shoes and are they comfortable?

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    1. No photo. Basic Keen flats with an elastic strap. But you want COMFY, check out the millions of styles of Skechers that are out now! With memory-foam soles!

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  7. LOVE your salamander. And am super impressed at your vision and precision.
    Comfortable shoes? Of course. Or none.

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    1. I once owned a pair of Cherokee sandals with four-inch heels that were incredibly comfortable. First and last time I was ever fashionable, I think.

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  8. I am beyond impressed by the salamander and all sorts of other things about this particular post. Also - I just taught The Husband the word "cloaca" this past week! I think we were watching some kind of nature show and it, you know, came up. Sort of like the penish thing on that frog.

    Also - I want to know more about the comfortable shoes. A good comfortable shoe is a wonderful thing, and if it doesn't look like a Croc it's even better.

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    1. See "Skechers," above. And everybody check THIS out!

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    2. Did you see the comments on the real medical condition below the video?

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    3. Oh dear lord NO! Now I'm trying to figure out why more people aren't trolling ME.

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  9. I've decided that I just need to point out those subtle little design things I've done. It's like no one even notices anything but the overview. *sigh* I love the salamander and the frog!

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    1. It's either that or Post-Its on everything.

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  10. And now you also have the word "chook" which is probably best not harnessed to "penish"...

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    1. I do. But does it rhyme with Crooks or Nukes?

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    2. Oh, with crooks.And if you really love your chooks you might call them, fondly, chookies.

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  11. I didn't know you had topiary but I'm pleased to see the pictures here. Of course you would have a salamander and a frog. I'd grow a maze if I had space, but a low one just for walking through, not a high one to get lost in.

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    1. I've still never been in a maize maze, which I surely would get lost in, but that part sounds fun to me.

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  12. Shaving - whiskers - seems like a logical connection. Were you actually shaving your salamander? or is there a more technical term for it? Sculpting, or trimming or pruning? "I've been pruning my salamander," has a certain je ne said quo to it.

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    1. Jeez, I guess I should go with "shaping," but then that brings Spanx to mind.

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  13. Oh, Lordy, I love you, Murr. Started on my Cloaxia, wearing my Skechers, and have ordered hedge seeds to plant my salamander. I learn so much from you!

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    1. That is the total deal, all right. You're going to feel so much better soon.

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  14. I am trying to imagine a salamander with whiskers and I can't do it with a straight face. Damn fine hedge you're growing, though.

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    1. You should see what's growing on my chin.

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  15. Really cool amphibians! Well, yeah, hedges. But really cool.

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    1. And it's NOT a gecko. So thank you for noting the appropriate class.

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  16. You should research fish fertilizer. They've got great marketing, but the product is a deplorable use of marine resources. They send trawlers out to catch fish to grind and bottle, and then add a wee bit of post-processing plant fish bits. You think you're using up a waster product, but it's actually just indiscriminate fishing and grinding.
    There are much better sources of nitrogen to be had for our gardens. The localer (if you can say penish, I can say localer) the nitrogen source the better.

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    1. Thanks! Good to know! I have the same gallon of fish fertilizer I bought in the '70s. But if I were planning to buy more, I now won't. Bleah.

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