Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Several years ago, my mother gave me a can. It had a tab on the top and supposedly hid a spoon inside of it, and it was full of tuna. And pineapple. And red and green peppers. Just looking at this list on the label made me want to vomit, but I took it home. I'm not sure where she got it from, but her reasoning for giving it to me was that some of my roommates were boys, and boys will eat anything. (Part of my reasoning for taking it was that some of my roommates were boys, and boys will eat anything when drunk, and how fun would it have been to tell them the next morning what they had consumed?)
So I brought it back and introduced it to the family, and they enthusiastically accepted it as a pet. We had such plans for it--we would take it everywhere with us and give it a place in weddings and mail it around the country in some complicated joint custody arrangement. It was the perfect pet. It didn't eat or smell, involved no pet deposit, and wouldn't die of hypothermia like the fish had. We placed it grandly on top of one of my speakers where it would wait for a new, fantastic home.

Except that something happened. The stuff evolved. I walked in one day and discovered that it had burst the bonds of its can and was oozing down the sides. It was coming for me, but I'm a quick thinker. I ran into the kitchen and wadded up three plastic bags, then snatched up the stuff and headed for the door. A moment later and I was hurling it with considerable force into my neighbor's trashcan. I stood a moment, catching my breath, and then made for the telephone.
"That stuff you gave us exploded from its can and leaped at me, going for my throat."
My mom was confused. "What?"
I calmed down. "That pineapple thing. It left its can."
"Samantha, things just don't leave cans. Something must have happened to it."
"This did. Are you trying to kill us?"
"Not currently..."

It was a few hours later that I looked down at the stereo, preparing to change the song, and yelped. My roommates crowded through the doorway, and we all stared, grossed out, at my speaker. There was no crusted pineapple bits, no soggy pepper. There were just a few spots where the top couple layers of paint and plastic had been eaten away. I fished around on my desk for a '78 Records' sticker and covered the scorch marks. We rarely talked about it again.

But I've been thinking, and I wonder more and more lately if maybe the stuff hadn't exerted some sort of psychic control over my mother. Maybe her conversion from rock star to Jehovah's Witness had less to do with her new marriage than I originally thought. Maybe, you know, the tuna made her do it.

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