Monday, February 27

Goodbye, Mr. Limpet

He wasn’t a blockbuster star, but Don Knotts is arguably one of the most recognizable figures to baby boomers. He was on TV almost every day thanks to “The Andy Griffith Show” syndication, and Saturday afternoon screenings of such classics as “The Reluctant Astronaut“ and “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.” Even young teens know him from re-runs of “Three’s Company.”

His career spanned over fifty years. During that time, as entertainment grew ever more risqué, daring, and brash, Don kept a sense of kind innocence. His harmless yet hilarious goofball persona was, and still is, a favorite of kids and adults alike. He was the last of a kind: the Jimmy Stewart type of gentleness, self-deprecation, and aw-shucks goodness that has long since departed Hollywood. He was the sad-eyed runt-of-the-litter puppy no one could resist.

For me, however, Don will always be “The Incredible Mr. Limpet.” It’s a boyhood favorite that’s delightful to revisit once in a while. I have wistful memories of the metal-cornered fish tanks, the daydreaming misunderstood man’s wish to be a fish, his friendship with a curmudgeonly tin can-toting hermit crab, and the ridiculous “HAROOM”-ing at Nazi torpedoes. I think I can point to that movie as starting my life-long obsession with aquaria, catch and release fishing, and all things under the ocean. It is a hobby and an interest that has occupied much of my life, even in my dreams.

Goodbye, Mr. Limpet, and thank you. May the great beyond show you safe seas.

Wednesday, February 15

I Am Man, Hear Me Roar

For a short while, my mother tried the gentle-lady farmer routine. It was great to visit in the spring: flowers and vegetables sprouting, Jose the donkey racing down the long driveway anticipating the carrots in your pocket, the rooster making sure all his hens were in the right place, bluebirds making nests in the birdhouses I and her husband made, alligator lizards snoozing under the hose bib, geese hornking on the pond......

And Billy, the satanic asshole goat. He was eight feet tall at the shoulder, peed in his mouth before rubbing his harem with his prodigious phallus, shot lasers from his eyes, and could smell your testosterone from half a mile. I went in once to pet the baby goats, and Billy reared up, a stormy tower of badassness topped by wicked curved horns, hepped up on clover, my puny pale humanity in his crosshairs. I cowered behind a post, hoping for safety, peering up in terror at the thousand-foot devil that was Billy. His glowing ember eyes stared from the clouds as lightning swirled about his evil crown, the ground trembled beneath his might, bats and snakes and demons pranced across his shaggy coat, his stink caused trees to fall over and vultures to drop from the sky. I whimpered what I thought was my last futile wussiness.


My senior mother, five inches shorter, in a long skirt, muscles half my size, strode into the field, grabbed Billy by one skull-weapon, and twisted him to the ground with one blue-veined wrist. "Stop that." She then proceeded to gather the baby goats in the fold of her skirt while simultaneously grabbing some afalfa and somehow banishing the now chastised Billy to the fence. The mating season was in full bawdy, growing things were crazed with the fullness of life, the afternoon spring sun suffused the world with warmth and contentment. In the center of it all, my mother held court.

Later, as I fed Jose a carrot and watched a bluebird flit about with string in its beak, I realized that Nature really is a Mother.