The Ruminator

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Sunday, March 02, 2003

If I could talk to the animals . . .

Stumbled across an article today about a woman in Ohio who claims that she can talk to animals. For US$50 an hour you can be the recipient of such revelations as ‘No, your horse doesn’t hate you. It’s just really bored.’ (At an alleged 3,000 consultations per year, the woman apparently makes about US$150,000 talking to animals). The article even helpfully provided Ms Doolittle’s contact number (no, I mean the ‘talking to animals’ Doolittle, not the ‘wouldn’t it be luverly’, flower selling one).

All this got me thinking about my childhood, in which the ability to talk to animals was number two on my list of wished-for superpowers. Number one was the ability to fly. I spent a lot of time dreaming about this one. Still do. In this case I think I was concerned less with its world-saving aspects than the thought that being able to fly would be really, really fun. After all, unless it is teamed with other superpowers, for example incredible strength, being able to fly isn’t all that useful. You could probably see a lot more crime happening, but you wouldn’t really be able to do much about it.

The ‘talk to the animals’ wish linked nicely with my Narnia-inspired daydreams about riding around on big lions. I really had this thing about big cats, and birds of prey. Probably a combination of my liking for watching adventure-themed television and wildlife documentaries, and reading anything I could get my hands on.

I don’t remember any particular running storyline concerning my superhero status – just your basic world-saving stuff. I do remember giving some thought to the fact that riding around on lions in the rain would be really uncomfortable. I came up with a sort of weatherproof force-field that would be generated by a small device worn by the incredibly cooperative lion. In retrospect I am disturbed by the fact that I was sufficiently girly (or possibly anal) that I seem to have been more concerned with the force-field’s ability to repel water than, say, bullets.

Of course, the other problem with this whole scenario is that, to truly be useful, the ability to talk to animals needs to be combined with the ability to get animals to do what you want. Otherwise the natural response to ‘Hey Mr. Lion, savanna getting you down? Want to spend your days as a beast of burden, helping me fight crime?’ is likely to be ‘Oh good, lunch’.

On that note:

Also just found this story about a 7 year old New Zealand boy who punctured a lung trying to fly ‘like Harry Potter’ with the aid of a trampoline and an umbrella. Probably lucky he was only falling from the height of a trampoline, rather than trying to jump off a roof with the aid of a broomstick. The perils of childhood . . .

What was your favourite superpower?


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