Thursday, June 24, 2021

The Master of Wasting Time


Medium-size brown ants converged on top of a tree stump. Their target was a nest of termites Ed had cracked open. They efficiently entered the tunnels of the tasty treats, dragging them out, carting them off to a horrible fate. 

"Creepy," decided Bonnie, visiting from the Outworld, alumna of a chemistry lab. "I'd just hose the whole thing with bug spray."

Ed set aside his pruning saw, swigged coffee from a thermal mug. "And miss all this free exercise?" The owner of the condo property was happy to get it done at no cost. "Now check out my latest invention." He stepped over to a plastic table and dipped a bubble wand into a jar of milky fluid. He blew a baseball-size bubble, watched it drift over trees in a gentle but unusually cool June wind. "Notice anything?"

Bonnie squinted until the bubble was too small too track. "It never popped. What's in that stuff?"

"My winter formula tweaked for summer. In addition to sugar and syrup, you add the clear part from a raw egg. That's why it turns milky after the first week."

"Say no more," Bonnie said. "Egg sticks to a plate like glue. The albumen keeps the bubble membrane from drying out."

"Silliness," ventured the vampire Cambris, swathed in her special anti-sun suit. She regarded them from behind welding goggles. "Is it fair wonder that I am the ant to your termite?" 

"Hey, that's good." Ed picked up the mug and saluted. "I was hoping this nature spiel would make you wax poetic. Not that you need any inspiration like I do. That lady from the women's mag wants to interview me again, and I'm all used up for material."

Bonnie laughed. "Round two of your crackpot philosophy?"

Wind rustled trees like the wash of surf. Having paused his sweaty labor, Ed pushed down the sleeves of his sweatshirt, suddenly chilled. "What's that they say about a cold day in June. . . .hey, that's pretty lame. Help me out, ladies. Anything interesting happen today?"

"Well," Bonnie began, "this guy at the Quik Mart got a little fresh. Maybe you could--"

"Perfect! We'll do word origin!" Ed dialed up the studio's resident gold cyborg, and her instant web access. "Queenie, what's the origin of 'fresh' when used as an insult?" He grinned at Bonnie and Cambris. "I've been called that a time or three."

"Fresh," came Queenie's voice. "Fresh off the boat. Uncouth."

"Oh-kay," Ed said as the ladies grinned back. 

"Not yet assimilated into society. Taking boorish liberties. Synonymous with 'masher': unduly cornering victims with unwanted--"

"Switching gears!" Ed waited for Bonnie to regain a straight face. "On Gilligan's Island, Mr Howell calls a guy a 'cad and a bounder'." 

"Cad: an academy student; a lower class pretender. Bounder: one who attempts to leap into a higher social class."

"Now we're rockin'." Ed signed off. "That reporter oughta be dazzled by my new material." 

Cambris reached unsuccessfully for a bubble Ed launched. "She should interview the gold one, who has not the time for this frivolous wastage."

"Maybe the reporter does," Bonnie said. "Ed has an appeal for older women."

Ed grimaced. "Well, that line of material is one big waste of time." 

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