William Shakespeare asks, eloquently –
What win I, if I gain the thing I seek?
A dream, a breath, a froth of fleeting joy.
Who buys a minute’s mirth to wail a week?
Or sells eternity to get a toy?
I wasn’t thinking of Shakespeare when I stopped at Laughing Planet for lunch. Apart from ridiculously good eats at more-than-affordable prices, I like Laughing Planet because of the decor – and, specifically, the cases of tiny Action Figures….miniature Monsters….
And just plain Toys.
Like these two.
Nearby, a mutant warlike Crustacean kept company with what looked to me like a camouflage spotted Kangasoar. But they seemed peaceful enough –
Their neighbors, a strange Poodle and a winged martial Dragon, appeared to be monsters.
But Friedrich Nietzche notes that –
Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.
Of course, when it comes to gazing back from abysses, Edgar Allan Poe was no slouch.
Poe notes, wryly –
“I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.”
But even insanity has its laughs. Or, as Lewis Carroll asks, in “Alice in Wonderland” –
“Have I gone mad? I’m afraid so, but let me tell you something, the best people usually are.”
It seemed to me that these three chappies probably agreed with both Carroll and Poe –
But all is not smiles and laughter here in this world of tiny ferocious beings. This crab is no ordinary crustacean; with his multiple claws and toothsome snarl, he’s more a tidepool monster –
Friedrich Nietzche (remember him?) asks –
“Is it better to out-monster the monster or to be quietly devoured?”
A good question to ponder as I quietly devoured my spicy Southwest burrito. Toothsome hungry snarls seemed to be catching, as a nearby miniature Dragon attested to. Tolkien admonishes Bilbo to –
“Never laugh at live dragons.”
But, I told myself, he isn’t really alive. And though I hadn’t spoken the words aloud, they still garnered me an incredulous stare from this…..uhhh….what would you call him?
Nearby, a strange pair cavorted. A sentient 3-eyed Hand hung back while a long-armed simian seemed to ready himself for….leaping up, perhaps. Or rising up the evolutionary ladder.
The brilliant English fantasy novelist Terry Pratchett notes that –
“I’d rather be a rising ape than a falling angel.”
But the nearby toy monster was definitely no angel. And whatever else he was – or wasn’t – the one thing that seemed abundantly clear, to my burrito-filled brain, was that he was….mystified.
But lunch was over. And so it was time to say farewell. Two of my favorite toys – a green-headed helmeted Alien and his Cactus-Hound – stared at me belligerently.
When I was young, sometimes, my favorite toys wound up bent and broken….played to death, as it were. I think the same was true of my sons, when they were very small, and some of their toys. The poet e.e. cummings says –
“You have played,
And broke the toys you were fondest of”
– but this pair – and their comrades – were anything but broken. And now that lunch was finished, it was almost time for….a nice, relaxing post-prandial siesta.
The filmmaker Werner Herzog asks –
“What would an ocean be without a monster lurking in the dark? It would be like sleep without dreams.”
As I lie back for my siesta, I wonder….who will I dream about? The Crustacean? The Kangasoar? Edgar Allan? Or my new favorite, Cactus-Hound?
If I can remember, I’ll let you know.