March 12, 2010
Every year is special in its own way. The year 2012 is supposed to be the year the world ends, at least according to the Maya, although the year 2000 was supposed to be the year the world ended too, so go figure. So was 1986, according to some people, since Halley’s Comet killed Mark Twain in 1910 and apparently was going to take out the rest of us on its return trip. I wanted to see Halley’s Comet but I was too young in 1910 and for some reason didn’t know where to go in 1986, so I’m going to have to stick around until 2061, assuming the world doesn’t end before that. And according to the Chinese calendar this year is supposed to be the year of the tiger, although I can’t remember what that means. Like most people I learned about the Chinese zodiac from an old Chinese man who sold exotic plants in his corner shop. One time he sold Seymour Krelborn a weird plant that mysteriously appeared there during a solar eclipse, but that’s another story. Actually I learned about the Chinese zodiac from a paper place setting in a Chinese restaurant my parents always took me to, and I’d read about the different signs of famous people. Orson Welles and Cary Grant were all born in a year of the Rabbit, for instance, while H.G. Wells and Alec Guinness were born in a year of the Tiger. And I’d always get to my own, the year of the Dog, and I’d be disappointed because the only person listed was David Niven. And I’d think, who the hell is David Niven? All the other signs had at least three famous people, and of those three I’d usually heard of at least one. I was so disappointed when it seemed like the best anyone born in a year of the Dog could hope for was a bit part in the Pink Panther movies, but that’s another story.
According to a flyer I got in the mail this is also the year termites will destroy my house. While I think it’s nice that the termites decided to send out advance warning I wonder why they didn’t bother to contact me personally. Maybe they didn’t have the address, although if they don’t they’re going to have trouble destroying the house. I remember the first time I actually saw termites. It was when I was a kid and the man next door was nice enough to spend all day at work so I could explore things like the wood pile in his yard and the cracks in his driveway. I found a loose piece of asphalt right next to his house, lifted it up, and found a whole termite colony. I don’t remember any exterminators coming to visit and, as far as I know, the house is still standing, so obviously the termites haven’t done that much damage. Maybe it was because before the termites could get in and start eating his house they started on an exotic plant that he had growing on his deck. It had fans of five serrated leaves and was easily identified by every teenager in the neighborhood. I like to think of the termites getting into it and then spending the rest of the day sitting around their colony while the termite queen goes on and on and on about how, like, dude, termites in Africa will, like, build homes of their own out of mud and spit. And the rest of the termites sit around and nod, their minds, like, completely blown by such an idea. Of course I know it never happened because termites with the munchies would have reduced the house to sawdust in about twenty minutes.