Thursday, July 29, 2010
It was a cartoony machine- a large screen perched on a wavy stand with two eye like scanners that bobbed like day old helium balloons. "See your soul for a nickel!" the sign said. A poster showed the possibilities - a a dumpy woman looked at the screen and saw Venus rising from the sea.. A scrawny kid with a bad haircut became a god shooting lightning bolts from a mountaintop. "What strength and beauty lies within YOU?" it asked.
I inserted a nickel.
"Hold still, please" the machine said. The "eyes" floated over to me and looked carefully, as if searching for concealed contraband. On the monitor, a fuzzy picture emerged.
I wasn't expecting a goddess or a glistening, ethereal form. Even a angel or fairy figurine- the plastic glittery kind sold in drugstores- would be a stretch. Still, I thought a cute bobblehead doll or a windup toy were real possibilities.
Then my result appeared.
"A rubber chicken?" I said. "That's my soul?"
"Yep," said the machine. "That's you.. Funny, but neither useful or original."
"I want my nickel back!"
"A cheap rubber chicken," it continued. "The plastic kind where the eyes and wattles are crudely painted."
"Stupid machine,": I said.
"A rubber chicken is thin skinned." the machine said. "A shallow, empty headed prop. A novelty that wears off quickly and becomes annoying.. Self centered and self absorbed, yet oblivious to-"
"I'm not self centered!" I said.
"If you're not self centered, maybe you'd have noticed there's now three other people waiting to for their reading, while you're holding up the line." it said.
I stormed away, avoiding eye contact with the others.
In retrospect, I probably should have asked if there were any constructive steps I might take to upgrade my soul to a rubber duck or a lawn flamingo.
I still want my nickel back.