March 21, 2005

Shell Shock

We're all sea critters scuttling the bottom of a vast gay ocean. Our ornate shells, resplendent in crimson, sapphire, emerald hues, shine as the sun cuts shafts into our translucient, shimmering pools.

I'm strutting. my six delicious legs begging against buttering.

"Hello seasnail. Your coiled exoskeleton is soooo fabulous!"

"Hello Mr. Lobster. You are soooo brown and healthy...remember, red equals death!"

"Hello denizens of the deep! Let's party."

Our tiny brains don't comprehend the emensity of the saltwater theater in which our reality fishtank plays nonstop. My body is my shell. I peek out from my sandy bed into the sea-green light of a buzzing dgital display. My pink, fleshy arm slaps at the annoyance and it ceases the cacophony. . . temporarily. Again and again the buzzing is abated, until, awake I loosen myself from the warmth of the covers and drag myself into the scalding, liquid punishment of my shower.

The glass of the fishtank is fogged. Every morning I wipe it from right to left. I carefully comb my receding algae from left to right. I've brushed my shell the same way for some twenty five years. Rubbing against rocks sharpens the spikes ensuring I won't be a tasty treat for a natural predator... although mankind, the unnatural predator, is a far greater threat.

The trappings of an old net I wear signifies my importance in subaquean society. The vibrant colors and silken texture says I'm "of status". I either survived a harrowing challenge or I just got lucky. Others stand apart from me floating along the current.

We own our shell and regardless of any other material, this is what we'll have forever and ever. The placards say I can have my shell painted, or perhaps my shell is too irregular. Chisel it. Buff it. Hell, you can even remove it!

These spindly legs are sore from a weekend of walking and running and swimming. Late nights spent claw in claw with a delightful prawn (even though said sandy bed beckoned so...) leave me sluggish. So today sticky trails mark my wake. Every step weighs heavy with my chitonous, dusky skin.

Were I an intellectual octopus my cubicle would be an inky cloud. I'd hide and multi-task with eight talented tendrils filing, typing, sorting and dialing. Blowfish bosses and shark lawyers would belay my emotion as I transformed from serene green into riotous red.

But I'm just a crustacean in an expensive shell. A shell that's mine, even if it's only cause I got lucky.

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