Musin's and Thinkin's - February 2012 - Believer Magazine
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Musin’s and Thinkin’s – February 2012

by Jack Pendarvis
Illustration by Jason Polan

Musin’s and Thinkin’s – February 2012

Jack Pendarvis
14 Snaps

Thanks to so many of you for writing in to request more of my famous pine-cone tips. It is no wonder that my modest suggestions on the subject have received a flood of positive responses surpassing anything else I have ever set to paper. Nor am I being a braggart by saying as much. All credit must go to the ever-versatile pine cone, known colloquially as “The King of the Decorative Pine-Tree-Related Objects.” The Romans marveled at its shapely symmetry, probably. I’m sure the Greeks got a big kick out of pine cones, too. I’m going to “go out on a limb”—as a talking pine cone might put it!—and say that Euclid came up with math from counting all those doodads that stick out of a pine cone. Even the ancient Chinese and Egyptians would surely agree that pine cones add a quaint touch to any occasion, such as an ugly divorce.

Have you tried putting a little hat on your pine cone? Suddenly you have a friend. If you take her to a movie, make sure she fits comfortably into the cup-holder on the armrest. You don’t want a stranger sitting on your pine cone by mistake.

Far too seldom do we stop to imagine things from the pine cone’s point of view. According to scientists, pine cones may very well inhabit a bustling world of their own, all but invisible to the human eye, worshipping at the church or synagogue of their choice and holding down steady jobs—though many of them devote their weekends to community theater or harmless motorcycle clubs. And, of course, they gaily festoon their houses with tiny, bewildered humans.

In fact, these sentient pine cones, should they exist, represent an unspeakable horror sent straight from the maw of hell to enslave us all.

But such idle speculations can only lead to madness. Take the hat off your pine cone now. By personifying the fruit of a conifer, you have all too easily fallen prey to brooding fancies.

There’s only one cure for that brand of melancholy. Cheer yourself up with a pine cone! But don’t become too attached to it, or you may go crazy again, requiring the purchase of a third pine cone.

I wish I had a nickel for every time a pine-cone fanatic such as yourself has broken into my home in the dead of night and begged me for more pine-cone information. Luckily, my brain is literally stuffed with pine cones. You might just say that pine cones are in my blood. Why, back in my hometown, pine cones are all the rage. Every year about this time, folks come to Hog Blossom from miles around to enjoy the annual Pine Cone Festival, the highlight of which is the crowning of Mr. Teen Pine Cone.

The coveted sash of Mr. Teen Pine Cone is made entirely from recycled gauze generously donated by Doc Felton’s pellagra ward, and the competition over the right to don it is fierce. Each contestant is given a single pine nut for sustenance—a gourmet treat!—and sent blindfolded into Deadman’s Bog for a week of fasting and meditation.

Those who make it back are carried by wagon to the public square for their initiation into manhood. Finalists for the title of Mr. Teen Pine Cone are jeered at goodnaturedly and tormented with pointy hooks in imitation of a key scene from the Richard Harris western A Man Called Horse (1970), the mayor’s favorite movie.

Only one lucky lad, however, can earn the privilege of making the ultimate sacrifice, thereby insuring an adequate crop of souvenir pine cones come the harvest. But don’t feel too sorry for the losers. Each one receives a special prize. You guessed it: a plump new pine cone! Yes, the cone of the common pine may be easy on the eye, but it is also a handy way to teach our modern youth of today about seriousness, chastity, and responsibility.

Also, if your doorstop is broken, a sturdy pine cone will do in a pinch until you are able to purchase a new doorstop, unless the door crushes your pine cone before you can purchase a new doorstop, which it always does.

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