'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Spoon

I walked around the garden and stopped near the glasshouse. I look up at the grey clouds above. I looked down, and the garden hadn’t changed since the last time I saw it. Although I don’t remember that garden gnome making that gesture before.

My cousin Mike and his wife, Louise, have a few geese. They’ve become pets now; they’re almost part of the family. One day Mike left a teaspoon on the patio table and one of the geese took it. He had the spoon in his mouth for hours, and every time Mike or Louise went near him, he walked away from them because he knew they’d try to take the spoon. They tried to exchange it for something else, like a candle or a bottle of Coke. They tried lots of different things, but the goose wouldn’t give up the spoon. Just as they were about to give up hope, Mike held up his car keys. The goose stared at them for a while, and then he dropped the spoon and took the keys. They were both glad to get the spoon back, although Mike was more interested in the victory over the goose rather than the spoon. But then they wondered how they’d get the keys. They tried the candle again, but the goose just walked away with the keys. Louise said, “Just give him back the spoon.” Mike said, “There’s no way I’m giving him back the spoon. It’s the principle of the thing.” “How are you going to get your car keys back?” “Not by giving him the spoon anyway. It’s the principle.” Louise walked towards him and said, “Just give me the spoon,” but Mike walked away and said, “No! Get away from me.” Louise thought about what she could give Mike to get the spoon off him. She tried a cake and a few other things, but they didn’t work. She even tried the candle. Then she thought of her father’s homemade wine. It tasted nothing like wine, and it was much stronger. Mike had grown very attached to it, but Louise told her father not to give him any because he once had a conversation with the fridge after drinking it. She got a bottle of this from her father and offered it to Mike in exchange for the spoon. He thought about it for a while, but still he refused to give up the spoon. Louise tried a different tactic. She called his friend, Alan, and offered him the wine. In exchange for this, she asked him to phone Mike and tell him that there was a clown stuck in a tree outside his house. Alan did this, and Mike was desperate to go to Alan’s house to see the clown in the tree. He asked Louise for the keys to her car, but of course she refused. Mike still wasn’t willing to give the spoon back to the goose, so he tried a different tactic himself. He had a very odd hat, and whenever he wore it, people would stare at it. This was useful when he needed to distract people, like when the dog got sick on the patio during a party. He just put on the hat and no one noticed what was going on. So Mike to put on his hat to distract the goose, and it worked too. The goose with the keys just stared at the hat as Mike moved slowly forward. He reached down to take the keys from the goose’s mouth, but then the hat fell off. The goose put his head into the hat, and he couldn’t get his head back out again. He walked all around the garden, even though he couldn’t see where he was going. Mike and Louise looked at him for over ten minutes, until the hat finally fell off his head. And then they noticed the other goose walking around with the spoon in his mouth. Mike had left the spoon in the kitchen when he put the hat on. While Mike and Louise were distracted by the goose in the hat, this other goose had gone into the kitchen to get the spoon. They looked at the two geese and wondered what they could exchange for a spoon and car keys. Mike thought of getting them drunk on the wine, but he knew Louise would never go for that.

The moose’s head over the fireplace always falls asleep during Formula One races. I think it’s just the sound of the engines rather than the lack of action. He wakes up when he hears cars stop outside, and he seems to be able to identify those cars too. You can tell by the look on his face if the wife’s uncle William is there. He’s the one who made three hundred and forty-seven slides of his trip to Morocco, three hundred and forty-six of which he showed to us one evening (he wouldn’t show us one of a camel running away with his hat, which would have been much more interesting than the many slides of a camel and the hat on their own). The moose’s head stayed awake all the time during that.