As we made our way toward the Library Tree, ever so slowly, cherishing every step, I told Weasel and Butterfly more about Caesar Emeritus, the Baloo-eyed Akita they would soon be meeting--for you will remember that Caesar Emeritus is now the forever librarian there. The children seemed pleasantly intrigued to hear that dear Caesar was giving me homework assignments and teaching me the ancient Xanaduvian language. They reminded me how I had begun to learn the Xanaduvian language before, but that I hadn't followed through. I sighed and acknowledged my failure, and did my best to use it as a positive example for them. I told them I hoped that they would never abandon their studies the way that I did, and reminded them that they were both very gifted, and that I was very proud of them. They seemed to take that to heart. At least they weren't bickering, and that is always a good sign!
Caesar Emeritus, of course, was very happy to greet us when we entered the Library Tree. "Well, hello, KeV! These must be the precious ones I've heard so much about!" he said, and he approached us, and placed his massive tender paws gently upon Weasel and Butterfly's respective shoulders. Then he shook my hand with both paws, and led my children further inside. Weasel and Butterfly scanned the Library Tree with a sense of wonder, chewing on and digesting pleasant memories, I presumed. And they were. It brought me a great feeling of warmth to feel them feeling home again. Caesar Emeritus continued pleasant small talk with my children as they plopped down upon the Love Seat, and they returned the pleasant small talk. I stood quietly, looking on, and chewing on and digesting the moment. And I smiled, of course. Weasel and Butterfly smiled at my smile.
At a point in the conversation, Weasel said to Caesar Emeritus, "My dad says you are very smart."
Butterfly added, "Yeah, super smart!"
I do believe dear Caesar blushed a bit, then he replied, "That's very kind of your father to say." Then the blushing evaporated, and he said, "I prefer to think that I have just been blessed with the gift of observance." Then Caesar Emeritus looked into Weasel's eyes, and continued, "For instance, I observed you placing that whoopie cushion upon my desk chair, even though you believed me unaware."
"I see," Weasel replied thoughtfully, then paused for just a blink before asking dear Caesar, "But did you see the one I put under there?"
Caesar turned to look toward his desk and asked, "Under where?"
Then Butterfly and Weasel giggled, and I giggled too, though Weasel's giggle was more of a snicker.
Caesar Emeritus was obviously quite stumped, but as any great Emeritus would do, he stood tall and adjusted his golden robe, looked each of us in the eye, and said in a most dignified tone, "Apparently there are some aspects of Xanaduvian humor I've yet to discover."
Butterfly wasted no time at all telling dear Caesar, "Weasel just made you say 'underwear,'" as her giggling became laughter. Caesar laughed with us at last, and we all digested a happy moment.
Once the laughter had subsided, Butterfly hopped off of the Love Seat and told Caesar Emeritus that she had been practicing very hard on her telekinesis and that she was getting very good at it. Weasel looked at me and rolled his eyes. I smiled proudly at both of them. "Wanna see?" she finally asked the Baloo-eyed Akita.
Caesar Emeritus smiled at Butterfly and said to her, "That's wonderful! I'd love to see a demonstration. But I have an idea: you can see how vast our Tree Library is--how very close to endless it is? Before you were to leave, I was hoping to have each of you select a book to take with you on your journeys. What if you were to use your telekinesis to select books for you? How would that be?" And he placed his massive tender paw gently upon Butterfly's shoulder.
Butterfly liked this idea very much, of course, and she seemed to stand taller as she smiled up at him...and I smiled at her, though she didn't see. She brushed away dear Caesar's massive tender paw gently and politely, closed her eyes, and began to concentrate. Soon thereafter a book from a very high shelf landed in her wing, and she opened her eyes with pride. "The Last Xanaduvian Princess," Butterfly announced to us, and added that it was written by King Midas LeBottom. She was so intrigued that Caesar Emeritus had to remind her she still needed to select a book for her brother. Butterfly tucked her book away, and regained her concentration. Another book from a high shelf landed in her wing, and she was intrigued as she was with the first one. "The Illustrated Adventures of Captain Beautiful and Maybe Baybe," she told us it was called, as she hesitated handing it over to Weasel.
I cringed a bit as Butterfly handed the book to Weasel, for I knew the book well. I knew well that it chronicled a part of my life previously unknown to my children, and I wondered how they might feel about it, if indeed they recognized it was about me...which I suspected they would. The "Illustrated" in the title made it much more worrisome for me. Weasel held the book in his paws and thumbed through the pages, certainly intrigued. If he suspected it was me, he didn't let on, and I was grateful for that. I was also grateful the illustrations were highly exaggerated comic book type drawings. I felt it best not to speak of it for the time being, and suggested to both of them that we should be going soon, for we still had to pick out a very special dress for Butterfly. That intrigued Butterfly enough to convince Weasel to close his book, gather his things, and head for the door.
We all embraced dear Caesar Emeritus, and I secretly confirmed with him that he'd see us later that night at the Sacred Pub. A wink and a nod, you know.
Just as we were about to exit the Library Tree, however, Butterfly stopped us and said, "Wait! I didn't pick out a book for Dad yet! He's on a journey too, you know." None of us could argue with her, so we kept our peace and let her concentrate once more. Her budding telekinesis skills landed a book called "The Road Less Traveled" directly into my hands. I was highly intrigued. I knew the book well, of course, and had read it a few times already. Its return seemed significant. I smiled, and thanked Butterfly, told her again how proud I was of both of them, and we were off to the home of the Otterman Empire before we knew it. [Loyal readers will remember, of course, that the Otterman wives and daughters are the finest seamstresses in all of Interterrestria]
We had a good walk through the Xanadu Forest before we arrived in the Otterman Empire, for it is far north, not far from the banks of my sister the River, my children's aunt. I reminded Weasel of his special dream his aunt gave him, and encouraged both my children to admire their aunt's beauty as we walked beside her. We talked about a great many things...some silly, some poignant, some little more than small talk.
We were treated with the greatest kindness, of course, when we finally entered the seamstress' shop and introduced ourselves to sisters Sally and Sadie Otterman. They gave us the most divine of frosted sugar cookies, and small cups of lilac tea. We enjoyed them thoroughly, and I explained to the sisters that we needed the perfect dress for Butterfly for a very special occasion. Thankfully, Sally and Sadie provided Butterfly with the perfect dress that she was most honored to wear--and I was able to give them their due pumpernickel--before we were hastily asked to leave after Weasel set off a smoke bomb. Only Weasel laughed at that one. I tried very hard to apologize for my son's behavior to the Otterman sisters, but they would have none of it...they only shoved us out the door--politely as they could, given the circumstances.
Needless to say, our long walk back to my sacred garden was very quiet much of the way. Weasel, to his small credit, did eventually somewhat apologize for the smoke bomb incident, but he failed in convincing Butterfly and I that "It was funny, though, you have to admit." Butterfly called him "Stupid" a time or three, and I sighed and glared at both of them. One beautiful moment we experienced on our way back to my sacred garden was when Butterfly commented on what a beautiful dress her aunt, the River wore, and Weasel agreed. That was a nice moment, and one I'll not soon forget.
We passed through the garden gate at just the right time, I believe, since I was running out of ways to lecture my kids while still letting them know I was genuinely proud of them. Edwin the Bee rested silently upon His lotus flower--eyes shut--as we entered, and Cousin Eddie was nowhere to be seen. My lovely gatekeeper, Raven, of course, was faithfully upon Achilles' Last Stand and greeted us enthusiastically.
"Quite a day you guys have had!" she said, and added that she was glad I had the chance to introduce the children to Madeleine.
"Oh, Madeleine AOL instant messaged you?" I asked, and my children sheepishly greeted Raven.
Raven stopped pecking at the keys on her laptop (which she rarely does!) and turned toward me, saying, "Weeelllllll...not exactly. I did get an AOL instant message from her account, but it said 'I just farted,' which I found rather suspicious you know, as she normally doesn't report such things to me."
Weasel smiled sheepishly as we all looked toward him immediately and Butterfly whispered "Stupid" again. I glared at Weasel for a second then started apologizing to Raven.
But Raven interrupted me, saying, "Aaaanddd...I happened to notice that our cloud servers were renamed. Are you ready for this? They are now called--"
I looked at Weasel for less than a second, then interrupted my lovely gatekeeper with, "Oh no," and I placed my palm pleadingly upon my forehead.
"Yesssss," Raven continued, "our servers are now officially named 'Dr. Penis Ostrich.' I can't imagine why, of course." Then Raven gave Weasel her patented blank stare, and all of us sort of snickered. Butterfly actually laughed out loud, as did Cousin Eddie, who had suddenly emerged from his beer can garage. He'll never admit to it, but yes, even Edwin the Bee snickered and snorted a bit during His meditation.
I honestly tried to apologize sincerely to my lovely gatekeeper again, and assure her that I'd have Weasel change it back right away, but it was very hard to apologize to her when she was wiping tears of laughter from her eyes. As we all were. Ultimately, Raven gathered her composure and said, "Actually, nonsensical and crude as it is, the name is sort of catchy. It has a nice ring to it. Plus, it's not one anyone else would ever guess, and required a good amount of imagination to create. I think we should keep it."
And so that's how the cloud servers of my sacred garden came to be named "Dr. Penis Ostrich." It's also how I came to learn the AOL Instant Messenger user names of my lovely gatekeeper, and my sweet boss at the county clerk's office. I will likely get the patented blank stare for sharing this information with the reader, but I simply cannot resist:
My boss Madeleine, the albino peacock, is known as "Madeleine12" on AOL.
And my lovely gatekeeper is known on AOL as "SexyBird555."
Please don't tell them that I told you.
Thank you all for being out there. I love you.