Mother Nature is hosting a gigantic party, maybe the biggest party ever.
It’s called Life on Earth, and the guest list is all-inclusive: elements and compounds; solids, liquids and gasses; plants and insects; mammals; even the universe and all its myriad planets. All have been invited, and all are planning to attend.
But among the many invitees on the guest list of this show-stopping affair, it is the human race who proclaims itself the guest of honor. At first no one says anything about it, not even Mother Nature. Ever the gracious host, she just welcomes all the guests. But the human race isn’t even among the first to arrive. In fact, it doesn’t arrive until the party has been roaring for quite a long time. Fashionably late, one might say. Rude, another might say.
In any case, the human race saunters in and takes a look around, checks the place out.
At first, despite itself, the human race feels a little uncomfortable, maybe slightly out of place. There are so many others here whom it doesn’t know. It mingles a bit. Stands at the periphery. Grabs a drink and a nibble. Politely, at first. Gently. Unassumingly.
The human race soon becomes curious.
It listens in with curiosity on others’ conversations. It admires the china and the furniture. It gains a little confidence and begins to explore. Then, after circling the gathering a few times, and maybe after a few drinks have allayed some of its anxiety, the human race starts to get comfortable. Self-assured. Cocky, perhaps.
It makes small talk without making eye contact, eyes darting around the room for someone more interesting to talk to. It starts nosing in on others’ conversations and then walks away abruptly when it loses interest. It gets overgenerous with its helpings from the buffet. It goes into rooms behind closed doors. It snoops and touches things it’s not supposed to. It sneaks small items into its pockets when it thinks no one is looking.
Soon, the human race starts talking more loudly, raising its voice over the background music to be sure the others can hear. It slurs its words. At one point, it knocks over a vase holding a flower arrangement as it caroms from one overzealous conversation to the next. It doesn’t even consider stopping to help clean up the mess it leaves in its wake.
Mother Nature observes without intervening, but she’s keeping her eye on the human race. She notices it’s making some of the other guests uncomfortable, and she watches, but always from the far end of the room. Soon the human race becomes unruly, and some of the guests decide it’s time to leave. They apologize to Mother Nature and make excuses about needing to get home early or that they had forgotten they had something that just had to be done before tomorrow, not wanting to hurt her feelings for leaving so soon.
Other guests follow suit, and the human race takes the extra room to expand its braggadocio.
It claims to have invented gravity and pontificates that it knows God. It spills a full drink on the sofa. Without asking, it lights a cigarette in the living room and flicks an orange ember onto the carpet, burning a hole in it. It steps on the seam of someone’s dress and tears it without uttering the slightest apology. It contradicts itself repeatedly within the same conversation. Others become terribly confused and occasionally frustrated.
It gets angry upon noticing the buffet has been cleared away, and it elbows its way into the kitchen to look through the cupboards in the pantry. It pulls open all the drawers looking for a corkscrew to open a bottle of wine to which it’s helped itself from the wine closet. It pulls on one of the drawers too hard, causing the drawer to come out of the stays, and all of the contents empty onto the floor below.
The human race stands at the refrigerator with the door open and takes a bite of an apple, setting it back on the shelf when it realizes it’s a little too mealy for its liking. It pulls items out of the freezer to see if there’s any ice cream in the back (there is) and leaves the door ajar, allowing all the frozen food to thaw. It eats two bites of the ice cream right out of the container and leaves it on the counter with the spoon still in it. Eventually the spoon falls out because the ice cream is soft and leaves a big sticky puddle on the floor.
By this time, Mother Nature has had enough and loses her patience.
Her other guests are leaving, and her house is getting trashed. She starts to tremble with anger, and her fury shakes the house, making the light fixtures rattle. She inhales deeply and resonantly and exhales hot breath as she reaches for a platter that was cleared from the buffet. She hurls it across the room at the human race; shards of shattered ceramics forms shrapnel as it explodes into a hundred different directions.
The guests scatter, terrified of Mother Nature’s wrath—all but one, that is. The human race stands its ground, appalled at the behavior of its host, and looks accusingly around the room to suss out the source of the scourge. It is astounded to realize all eyes have settled in its own direction, and at once it fears the menacing deprecation of everyone in the room. It has been terribly thoughtless, arrogant, churlish. It tries to approach Mother Nature, but the moment has long since passed to offer penance.
The human race has worn out its welcome.
Mother Nature turns off the lights and ushers the human race out the door—the party’s over.
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Assistant Editor: Heather Hendry/Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: elephant archives