December 05, 2004


Some while ago, my son was given a mysterious artifact as a present. It was supposed to be--the giver believed it to be--one of those play tents that start out as a flat circular object but unfold and pop up into a surprisingly large structure. It is rumored that wizards walk among us, disguised as normal folk, wizards who number among their arcane skills the ability to restore these things to their original flat and circular form. I am not among them.

But I digress.

When unfolded, the mysterious artifact turned out to be a mysterious artifact. It does not pop up at all, but instead is flat, and about five feet across. In shape it is roughly square, with rounded corners. It appears to be made of nylon, though the top surface sports three areas covered with some softer material. Two of the areas are small ovals, less than a foot in diameter, placed next to each other on one side; the third covers most of the remainder of the top surface.

The artifact has a zipper, which goes around most of the edge.

My only conjecture, given that the thing was procured at some kind of outfitters, is that it's a lightweight mattress for camping. When you make camp you unfold the artifact, unzip one side, and fill it full of leaves, pine needles, dry grass, and what have you, until you have a nice, soft, springy mattress. Apparently it is large enough for two people to share. This is a conjecture only, and I have my doubts about it.

A little after bedtime this evening, I went up to the boys' room to find out why they were talking instead of sleeping. I found the two of them sitting on the artifact, while the elder read a Dr. Suess book to the younger. When I came in they both popped back into bed, which for the elder was a sort of nest on top of the artifact; he likes to sleep on the floor, for reasons unknown to me.

As I was leaving, I noticed that the artifact looked positively inflated, which was odd as I didn't recall it being inflatable. Possibly it had mutated spontaneously, so I asked the question.

"David, is that thing inflated?"

"No, Dad. It's full of stuffed animals."

"You're sleeping on stuffed animals."

"It's really comfortable."

Dad shakes his head, and goes downstairs.

Posted by Will Duquette at December 5, 2004 08:14 PM