Silver Streams Issue 3 - Page 7

Plethora Peruke

At the far end of the store several customers stood at varying distances from the form on the floor. No one could quite make out what it was or what it was doing other than lying there prone. Someone with some imagination might describe the form as looking like a sloth, except sloths aren’t animals people tend to notice unless they are doing something. The sloths doing something that is, not the people, who aren’t doing something when they don’t notice sloths. This thing was just lying prone on the nondescript linoleum tile floor.

Nondescript, though, is intellectual sloth, isn’t it? Anything can be described. Although some things don’t lend themselves to being easily described and, therefore, are nondescript, in most cases it is for wont of trying one describes a thing as nondescript. Sloths fall into that category. They could be described if one tries, but only if they are doing something and people take notice. Otherwise, they can be as nondescript as linoleum tile on the floor at the far back of a store.

The people were looking at the form on the floor, not at the floor per se. That’s the problem when something as ubiquitous and nondescript as linoleum tile is noticed or, rather, unnoticed. It’s there, but fails to register as being something to notice in the way a form lying prone on the floor is noticed. That is true even if the form on the floor looks like a sloth doing nothing. It might be more kind to say it was undescribed or never-been-described linoleum tile. That assumes one wants to be kind to linoleum tile. And how does one describe a sloth doing nothing as opposed to a sloth doing something?

The people were standing around it. No one had thought to circle the thing properly in the event it might get away. The people just stood at the points where they had first noticed it. These people had reasons for being in the store. Their reasons were not to gawk at an unmoving whatever. It wasn’t even a large enough whatever to be blocking the aisle. Nothing was stopping them from continuing on with whatever they had come to the store to do. But at the moment, this prone thing mesmerized them. Most likely, they were waiting for it to do whatever something like it did. Or does? Is doing? Everything is doing something all the time, so that might be right.

People are drawn to gawkable objects. Something on the floor of a store and not on a shelf qualifies every time. Except perhaps in a furniture store or some other place that sells items that don’t require shelving, when one sees something on the floor of a store, one notices. And if it can’t quite be described but seems capable of being described, one stops to gawk at it. Perhaps, one waits for it to do something. If it did do something, it might be easier to describe. But if all things are doing something all the time, that wouldn’t be right. Whatever it was doing, it wasn’t doing it quickly, which would account for one thinking it might be a sloth.

Rarely does gawking lead to prodding. Prodding requires a prod, something of a decent enough length, like a cane, to reach the thing to be prodded while allowing the prodder to remain at a safe distance. Of course, how does the prodder know what constitutes a safe distance prior to prodding the thing to see if it has arms or tentacles or such that might snap out like a frog’s tongue? Not that the form on the linoleum tile looked as though it had arms or tentacles, much less a tongue. Nothing about it indicated limbs of any sort, which sounds like how one would describe a sloth doing nothing. None of that mattered anyway since no one had anything to use as a prod. It was at the far back of the store where people who needed the use of a cane were unlikely to venture.

Those closest to the form did bend down and turned their heads as though they might be able to see something from a different angle. That really didn’t help matters, since the form was too oddly shaped for one to discern much at all. It’s a funny thing that people generally do not bend down to look at objects. Naturally, they are most used to having things at eye level like products on shelves. Sometimes people look up, but then they squint, even when it’s cloudy. However, one is more likely to notice a sloth if one looks up as they spend so much time in trees. If a sloth is going to do something, it will be up in a tree, not on the linoleum tile floor at the far back of a store. The trick is not to squint when looking.

After a while, no one could think of what could be done about the form on the floor at the back of the store. Not that anyone was actually running down lists of possible things to do in their heads. That’s a major problem with gawking. One just gawks and doesn’t think of much of anything. It’s very similar to meditation except one isn’t really aware one is doing it. The gawking, that is. People tend to be aware they are meditating because they sit down with the purpose of meditating. The goal is to stop being aware of anything and let the mind float without thought. That’s what makes it similar to gawking, except gawkers don’t really have a goal of any kind. They just stare blankly at whatever, such as something lying prone on the linoleum tile floor in the far back of a store, a something that could be a sloth doing nothing if anyone could imagine what a sloth doing nothing looked like. It’s a wonder so many people claim they have trouble meditating, but have no difficulty gawking.

None of this would have mattered except Plethora Peruke, and that is her real name if one also believes Semolina Pilchard climbed up the Eiffel Tower, was at the front of the store becoming red-faced after discovering her rather substantial wig had fallen off her head. She didn’t want to go to the back of the store to see if the wig was there, although that was the most likely place it would be. It’s not that she was lazy. It was just much better to be at the front of the store, where no one would notice. It is always much better to be somewhere other than where people are gawking at something lying prone on the floor that might be a sloth doing nothing, unless someone knows what a sloth doing nothing looks like. In that case, one might as well gawk until that someone says, “Oh! That looks like a wig,” and be done with it.