I haven’t really said anything much about muskrats lately, but I was looking through some of my writing exercises and found this. It is the genesis of we are good, but are we muskrat good. I don’t know why it suddenly hits me as hard as it does, but I really would love to get a chance to watch that old muskrat dance.
I have this idea in my head of “when the muskrats came to play” and every time it comes up again it seems to just dominate what I am thinking. What would happen if one day a bunch of muskrats showed up at my house to play, and what would they be playing. Would they sit outside and play like muskrats are supposed to play or would they come in and challenge me to a game of ultimate Frisbee. I don’t really know why, but I like this idea. I could see us all out there on Sunday getting ready to play when out of the woods come a team of muskrats, nine of them in all—seven players and two alternates and they look just like regular muskrats only for some reason they can talk and they want to play ultimate Frisbee. They challenge us to a game and I don’t know, but would they win or not, I mean we are good, but are we muskrat good? Wow, that is darn funny. I am good, but am I muskrat good? That is my new phrase, I wonder if I can get it to catch on.
On top of the whole muskrats playing ultimate Frisbee you could have them coming to play like in a band. You could have one on a washtub bass and one on old guitar and one just dancing to the beat in the back and adding the soft scrap of muskrat feet to the sound of the band. The soft scrape like the rhythmic tap of a woodpecker far away in the distance. Why would they come to play? Would it be because they had heard about my house and heard me playing and wanted to give me something special in their music, or because we are having a “battle of the bands” and they showed up, or could it be because we were having a birthday party and no one was having any fun and all of my friends were making fun of me, and then the muskrats came to play and suddenly the party was different, suddenly the party was alive and people were dancing and the muskrats kept right on playing until the parents came in their big SUV’s to pick up the mean children and the mean children just danced right on off into their big black expeditions with soccer ball magnets attached to the back and danced right off into the night.
Once the last little kid left the muskrats finished with a flourish. The music would rise until it got so that you almost wanted to faint from dancing so hard and from the great huge feeling of life that was trying to fight its way outside of you and fight its way deep down into your feet and that was why you were dancing because that feeling of great huge life was trying to get out of your toes and you just couldn’t stop. And when the song had ended the muskrats sort of started fading away, one by one they drifted back off into the woods leaving only the old muskrat dancing in the back. He danced one more dance for us with his eyes closed letting his feet keep the time. He danced and we stood there captured by his feet and the soft sound they made on the concrete of our patio and then his dance was over and he bowed deep to us and just like the others slipped off into the forest.