When a slug makes its way across the ground, does anyone look at the trail it leaves behind it and think “that's beautiful"? Truly there are all kinds of weirdos out there, so somebody probably does. My Uncle Milbert was that kind of guy. He thought all kinds of things were fascinating and beautiful.
Uncle Milbert was a steel smelting man who worked at Sloss Furnace in Birmingham, Alabama. He was interested in all kinds of metallurgy, and at every family get-together you could find him engaging anyone who would listen, discussing the merits of iron versus aluminum. The thing you had to be certain to know was that they were both fantastic in their own rights.
Milbert thought slugs were beautiful, and steel was amazing, and humans could learn to be more virtuous if they would study some of the properties of paint. Some people could never hit it off with him though, because he held a contemptuous view of activities that were distracting or primitive or wasteful. A couple of the things that fell into this category were fireworks, ice cream, love, and shooting stars.
Fireworks released pollutants when they exploded. They were noisy, and left a mess to clean up afterwards. I kind of agree with him about that actually.
Ice cream didn’t hold many vital nutrients and was an excess of sugar you could intake to pretend you were having a great day.
Love? I think he was just bitter because he couldn’t have it. Nobody was stopping him from having it necessarily, but any girl who got a whiff of what he was cooking ran the other way.
Shooting stars were almost okay - at least for us in the present they’re fine. The problem is that man was not meant to live on one planet alone, and eventually when we travel out into the big open sky, what will we find? Space dust everywhere. A big open space carpet littered with space dust. Shooting stars were just the dust mites of the carpet of space. They flew around burning and shedding more and more debris.
In Uncle Milbert's opinion, if man couldn’t figure things out quick enough, by the time we got to living on other planets our astral super highways might be filled with as much debris as a back alley in Detroit.
When Uncle Milbert died, we added him to the community compost heap and made a donation to a local homeless shelter, which eventually got bought out and destroyed for the land it was on. Nobody can stand to visit Uncle Milbert because of the smell of the heap and the relative filth of the area. The land for the homeless shelter was eventually renovated into a pretty popular strip mall. When I go shopping now I think of my uncle. [David Poppell]