Structure

Our assignment this week was a little different. The instructor wanted to get us out of our comfort zonesin this assignment we had to conform to an imposed structure. We had to write an anecdotal story that had a beginning, a climax, and an end. Here’s the catch: the plot had to center around something funny that happens with a rock.

I gave it my best shot.  Please don’t throw stones at me.

My Pet Rock  

My pet rock and I used to be inseparable. We’d have long conversations about simple things like: what the best mix for concrete was, or what type of asphalt was superior, or which flavor of ice cream was best (rocky road, of course), or what he should be for Halloween (he was always the same thing– “Rocky”–but the original Rocky, not that weird caricature Stallone had evolved into by “Rocky VI”). Simple stuff. Then my rock started getting interested in deeper things, like politics.

My rock made me stop watching all my favorite television shows like Jersey Shore, American Idol, and all Fox News programs, even my favorite one with the pudgy, crying clown who liked to draw pictures for the kids on his blackboard. The clown was always trying to scare people, but he was too pathetic to be really scary. When we used to watch Fox News together, my rock started saying things like, “They say I’m dense, but can you believe some of these Tea Party candidates? They’re all for cutting spending, but you don’t see any of them advocating cutting defense, do you? No, just slash education, Medicare, and Social Security! But God forbid you ask them to consider dropping the Bush tax credits for the wealthy! Their heads explode! And when you ask them to give just one concrete example of where they would cut spending, all they do is look at you blankly . . . like . . . like . . .” He seemed at a loss for a good metaphor with which to make his point. He groped about for a more apt example. “They are all as dumb as a box of teabags!” he finally declared.

Besides making me stop watching my favorite TV shows, my pet rock insisted we start watching Charlie Rose (my rock says Charlie Rose is the most underrated interviewer on TV), The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and The Jim Lehrer News Hour on PBS. We listened to nothing but NPR when we were in the car. In time, I grew to like Leonard Lopate. I think it was his soothing voice; I never really listened to anything he said. We read newspapers together—not the glossy ones with pictures of Justin Bieber on them—the ones my rock selected for us had lots of words and hardly any pictures. My rock learned a lot.                

I did not.

He kept trying to get me to improve myself, though. One time he caught me watching the sad clown’s show again and he said, “What the shale are you doing sitting here watching that crap? Keep watching, if you want to remain igneous for the rest of your life! As it is, you’ve been leading a completely sedimentary lifestyle. It’s not good for your heart. Go out, get some exercise, and don’t let me see you watching Hannity, either. That guy is an idiot of metamorphic proportions!”

I had to admit after awhile that my rock’s mental prowess in all things, particularly politics, had certainly surpassed mine. I was still content staying at home, watching reality TV shows, and rejoicing in the news that McRibs are back! So excited for this! So I wasn’t too surprised when my former pet just went off and got himself elected to the Senate in this past mid-term election. I did watch him on TV as he debated his formidable opponent, who was backed by big politicos and big money. All of my rock’s rough edges were gone and it was obvious that he was an extremely polished candidate now. He pretty much trounced his opponent in the debate when she asked my rock, “Where, exactly, in the Constitution does it say: ‘separation of church and state’?” Knowing him as well as I do, I’m sure it took all the rock-control he had not to hurl himself directly at her forehead.

My pet rock is now the senator-elect of Delaware, also known as the “First State.” Its other state nickname is “The Diamond State”–which is appropriate, isn’t it? I always thought of my rock as a diamond in the rough. 

So now I’m in the market for a new pet. I’ve learned that rocks are too challenging, intellectually, for me. I may go out and get myself a Christine O’ Donnell pet. As she famously stated in her campaign ad: “I am not a witch.” She is also not something else: she is not a senator.

So she’s available for adopting, one assumes. We could sit on the couch together, slack-jawed, eating McRibs, watching Bristol Palin on Dancing With the Stars. That would be fun.