I was strolling along the asphalt path which weaved through the park near my home. In the corner of my eye I caught sight of something but I couldn’t be sure exactly what. Whatever it was seemed to have dashed into the long grass edging the path a few paces ahead and to the right of me. I took a few more steps forward, heard a rustling sound and saw the tips of some dandelion storks wobble. As my eyes scanned the grass I saw a patch of paleness stand out against the background. Pale, wrinkly and about the size of my fist. At first I had thought it was some kind of hairless mouse or perhaps an albino frog. Then again I had never heard of either of those creatures and the thought of them had made me shiver. I lowered to my haunches and made the universally understood sound of cross-species friendliness; a couple of tuts followed by a condescending “come on then” and an outstretched hand with fingers curled as if concealing a treat.
To my surprise the grass had parted as the pale thing poked out of the undergrowth.
“Come on then”, I had said again in as friendly way as possible, and out it had come. My breath then left my lungs in an instant. I remember trying to jump up in shock but my advancing age had only allowed me to roll awkwardly backwards with my feet in the air. I was both embarrassed and shocked. The thing half slithered and half crawled its way to the middle of the path as I regained my composure and a kneeling position.
“Are you O.K?” it had said in a voice that resembled David Beckham after inhaling helium. After my stunned silence it said again, “Well? You O.K?”
“Erm. Yeah.” I said. “You can talk? How?”
“How can you talk?” it questioned back sarcastically.
Not having full control of my brain at that moment and not being an expert in the anatomy of my larynx and vocal system I simply remained quiet ….. except to say, “But …. but you’re an ear”.
“Well done Sherlock”, the ear said. It’s lobe was at that time bending up toward me but I still have no idea whether it was actually looking at me or just listening. Either way it would twitch with each syllable.
“Do you belong to someone?”, I had said after realising that it was a human ear.
“Have you or has your owner been in an accident or something?”
“I don’t have an owner and … no”, it had twitched back at me. (Forget the Beckham idea – it was more like one of the chipmunks out of Alvin and the Chipmunks.)
“But .. how can you be … alive?” I had asked sensibly.
“I’m an ear. Your ear is alive isn’t it?” it said in as stern a tone as it could make.
“Yes but … my ear is part of me”.
“Well woopty-doo for your ear. How very tidy of you. I prefer to forge my own path through life”, it said (I figured it out finally. It sounded just like the little guy from Fantasy Island).
“How do you see? How do you smell? Come to think of it how do ….” I was interrupted,
“Overrated senses the lot of them”, the ear said, “Overated.”
“Are you lost then?” I think I said it with genuine concern, “… or hurt?”
“Look!”, it twitched frantically, “I am perfectly fine. I resent being spoken to in that manner. I am happily and contentedly unattached – now please leave me alone. You’ve had your moment of fun and I will now be on my way”
“But I just …”, before I could say any more the ear had curled up into a kind of floppy tube and rolled across the path into the shorter grass on the other side.
I remember kneeling there with the half-formed sentence in my mouth and watching it roll speedily and unswervingly into the base of a very clearly visible ‘KEEP OFF THE GRASS” sign.
I heard a dull thud followed by a rather endearing but genuine “OUCH!”
The movement of grass revealed the ear to have taken a swift change of direction of about 90 degrees on a heading to a rather pungent spot where an unattended Pug had just been squatting a few minutes earlier.
Another sound; more of a squish this time, followed by the most endearing, “OH CRAP”.
It was the last I saw of the unattached ear and what a sorry sight it was.