Animal Magnetism

Blodgett was weighed in the balance and found wanting. But for what did he want? One thing he most definitely lacked was animal magnetism, or, let us be quite frank, any kind of magnetism whatsoever. Over the years he had consulted a number of specialists in the field. They tapped his big rectangular block of a head with their little metallic tools, and they fastened apparatus to his extremities with clips and wires. They even submerged him in vats filled with a mysterious cloudy solution, supplying him with a breathing tube so he could remain there for hours on end while they conducted their tests. When, weeks or months later, Blodgett received their reports in the post, it was with a certain resignation that he read, standing at the window, looking out occasionally at the relentless drizzle, their conclusions. Time after time he had it drummed into him that he lacked magnetism. And time after time, he would fling the letters aside, or scrunch them up, or even set fire to them with his dragon breath, and pitch himself into some distracting activity. He was a master of many trades, including carpentry and millinery and tattooing and eel nurture. If particularly fraught, he would busy himself by combining his skills, for example by tattooing a design of a wooden hat upon an eel, or by tattooing a design of an eel upon a wooden hat.

I met him one morning, crossing Sawdust Bridge, shortly after one such episode. He was wearing an eel-emblazoned wooden hat and beckoning a dog. His way of beckoning was to move his arms in slow, delicate gestures, as taught to him by a magnetic theorist. But the dog was repelled rather than attracted, and it scampered off into a field to snuffle midst a clump of bee borage.

Poor Blodgett wept. I handed him a napkin to wipe away his tears. I did not tell him it was my magnetic napkin, in which a tiny, tiny iron lode was embedded. I stalked off home to my magnets, and cackled as I threw the switch on the Blodgettometer.

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