Monday, May 15, 2006

I Have Bloated Tiger

Okay, so here's an exercise for you all. Before you read on, grab yourself a scrap of paper and a writing utensil of some kind, like a pencil. Or if you don't have either, just grab a knife and get ready to carve your answers into the desk. You'll be glad you did. But if your desk is stone, maybe don't go that far. So here it is:

You have four pets. They are a cow, a horse, a monkey, a sheep, and a tiger. Name them. Really make them your own. Maybe even briefly describe them if you want to.

Are you ready? Have they all been named? Okay. You love your precious five pets, and don't want to get rid of any of them, but you are going through some tough times, and you can't afford to keep them all, no matter what you try. Which one do you get rid of? Put a number five beside its name. But things continue going downhill for you, and one after another you need to get rid of you beloved pet animals. I'm sure you're well ahead of me now, so just go ahead and number the rest, leaving number one on the animal you get to keep until the very end.

Now to make sure you don't get the answers spoiled by an unfortunate glance, I will tell you about my animals and their names, and you can find out the conclusion at the bottom of the page. And don't go changing your answers after or as you read mine. Feel free to skip down and look when you're ready. I'll give it a nice headline so you can find it easily.

I named the cow Bar-B-Que, because I have heard of a cow named that before and I think it's ironically funny. Bar-B-Que is not a Jersey cow but one of those brown cows, and she gives chocolate milk (I've wanted one since they told me about that when I was a kid).

I named the horse Delicious, which in Japanese I would write as 馬井 and would read as "umai" meaning delicious. I also find this terribly funny, given that I ate horse for the first time a few weeks ago. Delicious would be a good hard working horse. I can't decide if I want to eat him, but I'd probably better not. Horses are higher maintenance than a car.

I had a hard time with the monkey, because I couldn't think what to name it. What is a monkey good for? You can't eat it, it's not really entertaining, it just kinda hangs around. Maybe I can train it to gather mountain vegetables [山菜]. And I couldn't think of a name. So I called it Simon, because that's what I call all the palm-sized spiders when they take up residence in my room from time to time.

The sheep was the easiest. I named it Sheepy-Beepy, after Dave Perry's legendary character. I said it gets into trouble because that's what sheep do. It even jumped through the kitchen window once! Sheep are stupid.

And the tiger I called Cuddles, because it's a fun ironic name. Cuddles is a bengal tiger, and he lives in the jungle outside the back of my apartment. I feed him steaks, and he's an expensive pet, but SO WORTH IT. I imagine myself wrestling and playfighting with Cuddles like you see the trainers at the zoo do. If worse comes to worse, I figured I could just feed the other animals to it.

So then when worse did come to worse, the monkey was the first to go, because I just couldn't sort out what it would be like. No conception at all. Simon - 5. Simon got set free into the wild, just like all those spiders. I don't squash them or kill them like I do other bugs. They're my roommates you see.
Then went the cow, because it's such a boring pet and then there was all that disappointment about the not actually giving chocolate milk and whatnot. Bar-B-Que was partially eaten by me, but mostly frozen to feed to Cuddles. Bar-B-Que - 4.
The next was a debate. The sheep is tastier, so I should save it, but the horse is useful and also more of an expensive delicacy. So the sheep went. Bye-bye Sheepy-Beepy. Sheepy-Beepy - 3.
And then the horse was next, and I don't think I ate it in the end. Either I sold it or Cuddles got it. Cuddles is eating me out of house and home.
But Cuddles I kept. How can you get rid of a tiger anyways? I've already imagined it in a situation where it comes and goes as it pleases, so it's not like I can set it free into the jungle, now, is it? And who wants to buy one? And if I can afford to keep one, I may as well keep the ultimate awesome cool one.

What the Animals Represent

Probably you guessed some. I intuitively understood the first two, and guessed the third only after our answering time was up and it was too late.

The cow represents money. Cash cow, it gives milk, it can be sold for meat.
The horse represents work. Workhorse, work like a horse, we associate it with work.
The monkey represents romance or love. I suppose this is because it is the only one that is a pet by the standard definition.
The sheep represents Children. Sheep are dumb, you need to really take care of them, and look out for them, show them the way to go, but they are all wooly and soft. Just like kids.
The tiger represents pride. It doesn't do anything. It's just there to show impress your friends and others.

"Oh, I feel sheepish."
And no matter what excuse I have tried to conjure up, it is apparent that I kept Cuddles for pride. Mind you, out of all the animals I imagined the most affectionate relationship with the tiger, so maybe he was my 猿役割 replacement monkey as well. At least that is what I have been trying to convince myself. I would have liked to have romance at the top, you see. But as I have thought about it, I have realised that my sister did this test on me when she visited last spring, and last year the monkey was first to go and the tiger the last one to stay. I remember that because she laughed and said it made sense given that I have no love life at all. Fair enough. I'm pleased to know that money was so far down the scale of importance. And since the only kids I have are the ones at school, it makes sense that work and kids would vie with each other. And it probably reflects a reality of my closeness to the kids at the school that work won out. In the end they are more just something to fill the days, goals and tasks than they are my own kids. And given that they are students and I am a teacher, I suppose that is the right order of things. They already have parents.

So I threw out romance (which was easy because I have none and don't know what it's like), didn't care about money, sent my kids away (and I'm leaving the country soon enough anyways, so that's the reality), kept my job almost as long as I could,
and when I had nothing else left, I only had my pride. And that's too bad. I mentioned that to someone else and they told me I have more going on than that. But nonetheless, I think my priorities need some straightening. But how do you get rid of pride? Especially when you've already given it free reign? And who would take it from you?

What confuses me is that when you consider the monumental volume of brain space, thought time, and journal paper that I have spent on various girls, that romance was still the first thing to go. Perhaps the truth is that I have just been too proud for too long a time, always waiting for a girl more perfect, always waiting for a time more perfect, finishing up my school or job or whatever first, waiting for a financial situation more ideal. And so perhaps it does make sense that the monkey is at the bottom. Maybe romance always has been for me. That's a bit of a shocker, since I've long fancied myself a romantic person. Correction: romantic idealist. Aye, there's the rub.

I think life in Japan has fattened my Tiger. My pride gets fed a lot here you see; people tell me how great I am and it goes to my head. I have little to do at home so I work at learning Japanese. I hang out with the kids at school, and have some input into the special education kid's life, perhaps. I try largely unsuccessfully to save money. There are few single Christian girls around, and I am not in a relationship with any of them. Tiger horse sheep cow monkey.

I should be embarrassed that my pride is the thing I clung to the most. What good is pride? Hopefully someday when it has been long enough for me to again forget about this little "just for fun" test, and someone poses it to me again, I will be pleased to find that the sheep and monkey are at the top and the the cow and tiger are at the bottom.

What are some good ways to begin humbling oneself?


At 10:59 p.m. PDT, Blogger Tom said...

See, I just don't like monkeys. I would say that out of these they are the LEAST normal pet! The others are farm animals that people actually own, and a tiger is just a big cat, so yeah - monkey not much of a pet, also dirty and ruiners of many things. So Mickey was sent off in short order.

I let Mirabelle go just after the sheep. I didn't know Sheepy-Beepy was a character from something...

Ultimately, Epona just couldn't match the relationship I have with my lovely kitty, Ozymandias II.

I dunno about pride. I would say independence, freedom, self-sufficiency... yeah, pride is probably in there, but as a single guys in our twenties I think it makes sense to value independence, just like cats do.


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