Sunday, May 21, 2006

Sunday Scribblings #8: Wishes


In college my astronomy class took a trip to Catalina Island to view a lunar eclipse. We trucked up a mountain to the island’s highest spot to set up our telescopes and we found a cult of eclipse chasers there before us: people of means who will travel anywhere in the world to view celestial phenomena. Their telescopes were robotically equipped to rotate in synch with the Earth, and a loudspeaker was broadcasting Greenwhich Mean Time in both English and Japanese. These people were ready. Then the fog rolled in and obscured the entire eclipse, but that’s not the point. The point is simply that for everything in which humans take an interest there lies the potential for obsession. You hear about birdwatchers’ life lists, their fortune-consuming ambition to make a tic mark next to every species of bird on the planet. I can’t help but fantasize, what if it were so with wishing? What if there were rich, resourceful obsessives scouring the bazaars and troll bridges of the world for wishes? What if? It’s my favorite question, what if. So... what if?

1. Wishing Wells
There are only a handful of true wishing wells in the world and wish-hunters are terribly secretive about their locations. The sugar heiress Tess Millicent Headley is generally believed to be the world authority on the matter, and many a lesser hunter has taken to simply tailing her in hopes of being led to an active well. In recent years she has been forced to hire decoys and dress them in her signature jodpurs and Cleopatra wigs, to try to throw stalkers off her trail. She joked in a speech to the Royal Wishology Society that sometimes even she forgets which one is the real Tess.

2. Teeth
On the black market teeth are powerful currency for buying wishes. As one might suppose, different species of teeth purchase different potencies of wishes. A whole barrel full of rat incisors is worth a mere “scuppy,” for example (a dull hope in wish parlance), whereas a pair of viper fangs might fetch a “shing” strong enough to win love or revive the dead. There is not a species on the planet whose teeth have not found their way into Zorigo’s Rag & Bone Shop in Caracas. He fingers them all like rosary beads and pronounces their worth, then metes out his scuppies and shings. No one knows what he does with all those teeth, and no one ever asks. Incidentally, there is only one kind of wish more powerful than a shing. It’s called a “bruxis” (after the Latin for "gnashing") and its power lies in its great sacrifice, and those with the pain tolerance (and the pliers) to purchase it must learn a new kind of smile.

3. Lost Luggage
A century ago the notorious wish-hunter Chikamatsu Monzaemon uncovered the secret troll practice of hiding wishes in the lost luggage cellars of large railway stations. He began a spree of murdering luggage custodians and stealing their jobs, and thus gained access to the orphaned valises of eighteen European railway stations before he was finally caught. He had, however, at least two-dozen shings tied with fishing twine into his great grey beard, and he simply wished himself away to Australia as soon as the prison door swung shut.

(This is weird, isn't it? Oh well. It was fun. For more wishes, go to Sunday Scribblings!)

25 comments:

chest of drawers said...

There is a whole own world in your mind...it´s incredible. I´d love to spend a few days holiday there and see what wonders are around each corner. Meanwhile, thanks for giving us little day trips to keep us wanting more.

Tongue in Cheek Antiques said...

Now if only to find the empty lucky suitcase, one that I could be murder for, stuff it with teeth...that is the easy part in all of this, then run as fast as my wings could flap and toss the suitcase into the wishing well!
Surely my wishes would come true ...No, to find Tess!

Ali la Loca said...

What an enchanting post. It made me remember all the teeth I've saved in life (strange, I know). I saved all my baby teeth that fell out, plus some cat baby teeth from our pets over the years. I also have this funky old African necklace that my grandmother gave me that is made entirely of gigantic boar's teeth.

Does this mean I've got a leg up on the merchant in Caracas??

tinker said...

A former Tess Headley decoy, who quit when Tess went in for piercings in some very odd places & insisted her decoys do the same, has agreed (for an exorbitant amount of shings) to lead Geraldo Rivera to the motherlode of wishing wells. Reputed to contain not only a steamer trunk of scuppies, shings and bruxis, but also the long-sought whereabouts of a former union leader...
Now we know why the tooth fairy's willing to part with all that moolah!
Laini- you continue to amaze, delight and inspire me with your quirky tales - yes, it's weird, but then I prefer weird over ordinary!

Joy Eliz said...

I love this!!! I knew there was still some hidden treasures left to be found!
That's it...I'm quitting my day job:)

paris parfait said...

Pure enchantment, Laini! With each piece of yours I read, a little more of that quirky, clever imagination of yours is revealed. And it's such a delight to read what wonders you've concocted! Thank you.

Madeleine said...

Hi! I found your blog through Susannah(ink on my fingers) who told me how lovely it was. And it's no disappointment-what a wonderful world you live in.
There is a wishing well near to where I live in Dorset, England, which my Dad used to take my sisters and I to when we were little. I'll have to go back for a visit.
Enjoyed the 'grow wings experience,

madeleine x

Cate said...

As usual, Laini, your scribble arrives with spark and energy. Love the idea of the rich obsessives scouring the bazaars and troll bridges! I walk away from your place today feeling dreamy, optimistic, and happy. Thank you! xo

liz elayne said...

oh this is such fun! i just love it...love it! a glimpse into your creative well just makes my day my dear. thank you.

Kristy said...

What a fantastic world you live in, Laini. I particularly like the image of the wish-hunter's great grey beard. Makes me wonder what my beard would be tangled with after my great crime spree...

;-)

Jennifer said...

love it - weird and fun!

Deb R said...

I love the way your ideas are quirky and imaginative, but also truly believable. I think if there were rich obsessives out there collecting wishes, it would be just like you describe!

baylor said...

This was really differnt and cool! I loved it! xoxo

Caroline said...

I wonder how many wishes a wishing well has in it... maybe only one well at a time in the whole world is active and they pass the baton on round once a wish has been successfully enacted....

loved all your vibrant imagery and quirkyness too!

aithbhreac said...

I really thought as I read through this that you'd received an advanced degree in wish phenomenon.

megg said...

This was wonderful - I loved it, but I had to read the first part twice to completely understand it!! I'm sorry, I can't write any more, I am off to find me a wishing well - SURELY there is one in this enchanted part of this enchanted country I live in!! xoxo

deirdre said...

You are so good! I'd like a little serving of your imagination please. :)

Mardougrrl said...

How do you DO that??

Amazing...your imagination is a wishing well.

Amber said...

Is WAS fun! You are fantastic. Always so much imagination.

:)

Marilyn said...

Not weird at all...positively delightful. Although after the day I've had, I sort of feel like THROWING someone down a wishing well... ;)

Gail said...

What a fascinating blog - wish i had more time to read all your past posts, I'll definetly come back to read more ... I just have to link to your blog from mine - any chance of a reciprocal link?

Letha Sandison said...

Laini you never cease to amaze me with your creativity! That mind of your just opens up and spills the most original and wonderful things. You really have your own voice and I honor that so much!

Thanks for always inspiring and for being so fun!
XO-Letha

Alexandra S said...

That must have been one very heavy beard!Yes, that was a weird post but only in the most wonderful and wacky way!

la vie en rose said...

this is great!

Patry Francis said...

What a great take on this--and educational, too. The only thing is I'm afraid I'll dream of those powerful rat teeth tonight.