A Thing I Want to Know

Let me start off by saying there’s nothing I don’t want to know. I want to know everything. If I had the machine from the first Matrix film, where you could download information and skills into your brain, I’d have trouble getting off the couch. I’d love to know how to play every instrument, know every fact in the Encyclopedia Brittanica (although I suppose Wikipedia is a greater reference source now), and be able to match a name to every face I come across in the street.

As I walk down that street, I want to understand the clouds of probability that govern the positions of branches as they sprout out of their trunks, the leaves as they ripple in the wind, and the fluid movement of the birds as their flock reels in the air.

Curiosity, much to my delight, is a core component of my personality. I also realize that I’m blessed with the circumstances and resources necessary to answer just about any of my questions. It would be nice if I had a lower threshold for curiosity to drive me to action, but my general level of contentment doesn’t allow me to beat myself up about that too much. I know the answers are out there for when I decide to go looking.

So, in the future, if I open up a bottle of Malbec and, instead of a nice Argentinian wine, I get a djinn who grants me the answer to one question, I would, of course, use it to solve some massive problem the human race is facing. What kind of monster do you think I am? But if the answer could only be used to satisfy a personal curiosity, I know exactly what I would use it for.

To set the stage, I have to take you back roughly 35 years, a time before the media had decided to convince every parent that legions of molesters were waiting just off the front lawn wearing invisibility cloaks a la Harry Potter. There’s young Johnny McCarthy riding his kick-ass green one-speed with the yellow banana seat and the chopper handlebars on the way to a little league baseball game at Magee park. He’s probably thinking about grabbing a dental work destroying Charleston Chew from the candy shop across the street after the game when he notices something.

A few seconds later his curiosity gets the best of him and he turns around, probably performing an epic skid turn-around like in the movies, and investigates.

It’s a dead squirrel. A gray one. Not one of those weird red ones like they have in the midwest. Yes, I said it. Your squirrels are the wrong color Indiana.

I mention the color because the piece of duct tape attached to it blended in pretty well. Squirrels and duct tape, two things that are supposed to be gray.

So here’s young Johnny looking at a dead gray squirrel with duct tape on it. I don’t remember exactly why I did it, perhaps I saw an outline, but I pulled off the tape and there was a key. Let me repeat that so you don’t have to go back to reread it. There was a key, duct taped to a dead gray squirrel on the side of the road.

To answer your question, of course I took it. I blame the universe for putting something that, given the circumstance of its presentation, may very well have unlocked some doorway to a Narnia like dimension. Oh, and I was a pre-adolescent boy. What would you expect me to have done?

I might still have that key somewhere. The hoarding force is strong in my family. Things that can fit in other things seem to go in the trash last. But I might not still have it. I might only have my questions left. It looked like a house key. That’s all I know.

What did it open? Was it taped to the dead squirrel on purpose, and if so by whom? Did I disrupt some B-movie grade attempt at espionage? These are the questions to which I want to know the answer. These are the questions that spurn the subtle hope that someday I’ll get that djinn instead of my Malbec.

Maybe I should try more Chardonnays.

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