Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Floating on the Pool Waters of Time

During a quick stop at Home Goods in early May I came across a whole bunch of pool blow up toys. The first one to peak my interest was an island; I closed my eyes and imagined how fabulous it would be to swim up and sit on my own island under a lone palm, but then I looked at the size of the thing and realized that it would take up way too much room (I’m so practical!). Anyway, there was this really cute seahorse sitting on the shelf next to the island and it wasn’t humongous…I could tell, because it was in a much smaller box (duh!). I picked it up, looked it over, thought twenty bucks…okay, and tossed it in my cart.

Well sad to say most of June had passed before I even remembered I’d bought the little orange creature, but once I did I got out my handy dandy electric pump and in no time at all got air into it and tossed it in the pool. Instantly it was as if this thing had come alive circling the waters, and then making a bee line to the corner under our butterfly bush along the walk where it bobbed on the water’s surface. Amazingly the birds put up a tremendous racket at the sight of the big orange monster, but it kept them away from the flowering shrub. I’d been having problems with the birds stalking the butterflies and finding only the wings on the ground; who would have thought that a pool toy driven by the breezes and water current would appear menacing and deter the birds. We had our very own “scare seahorse”, lol, it was great!

Anyway, for twenty bucks this inflatable has turned out to be a lot of fun; we even named it “Nessy” after the Loch Ness Monster (it looks more like a sea monster than a seahorse), but don’t let the big blue eyes and wide smile fool you, she’s a wild one, we’ve all tried to ride her, but no one has lasted more than a nanosecond before they were dumped unceremoniously into the water. There are moments that Nessy gives the appearance of being alive, we’ll be in the kitchen and see her “watching” from a vantage point in the water; it’s a large pool, but there are only a few spots you can see it from the house due to the shrubbery. And when you’re not paying attention it’ll glide across the water and park itself next to you as if it wants to be near you. It would be very creepy if you were superstitious; thankfully I’m not.

It made me wonder how weird it was for us to treat this colorful piece of air-filled plastic as if it were alive, but isn’t that the tendency we see in our society today; aren’t we accustomed to treating inanimate objects as if they’re living and breathing? Whether it’s our cars, ships, our dolls and toy trucks, don’t we imbue personalities on them all? Advertisers know this and their approach to selling a product capitalizes on it; a current orange juice commercial has the spokesperson talking to an orange, and even turns it away so it can’t see him drink the juice, fearing it would be upset, there are commercials where little foil covered chocolates work in a factory, and we can’t forget the candy coated chocolate characters (they melt in your mouth and not in your hand). What is it that causes us to do this; why are we so Pygmalionesque? Is it because our imaginations were influenced by the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland that we treat things in an anthropomorphic manner? We’ve been bombarded by everything from paintings of dogs playing cards, to bedtime stories of three little kittens losing their mittens, Peter Rabbit evading the farmer, pigs building homes and we also watched cartoon after cartoon of animals working through human situations…the pink panther was always my favorite, but I digress.

Who knows what impels us to want to give life to the lifeless and non-human form, but whatever it is, we’ve been doing it for centuries, perhaps even since the beginning of time.  Even I fell into the same trap with Nessy treating it like it was alive, and it causes me to wonder that if it isn’t caused by Bugs asking “What’s up Doc?” incessantly, then maybe it’s as simple as us striving to imitate the One who breathed life into the mud sculpture of a man 5,000+ years ago.  


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