My Weekend of Death

On Saturday night we went to see the Rubber Rep’s “Casket of Passing Fancy”. It’s a fairly simple theatrical experience, where you are given a list of options and you are expected to choose one. These “offers” are for a personal experience. Once your offer has been chosen it is yours alone and no one else can have the same experience.

I was the second person in the audience to chose. My offer spoke to me – “Who wants to taxidermy an animal that was picked up off the road just today?”. There was something about that offer than made me think I wouldn’t get a second chance at it in my lifetime. My hand went up quickly. I was given a narrow plastic bin. It was quite heavy, and whatever was inside was wrapped in a black shroud. I was escorted to a small table lit by chandelier and blindfolded. After a few moments the blind fold came off. I was introduced to my domestic who was wearing a hunters cap and vest. We discussed her “methods” of taxidermy. “Shellackadermy” she called it. Much simpler. Our animal was a small toad. We covered it in several coats of shellac attaching it to a board. We discussed where in the house to hang it. I suggested my workshop. It was built in the sixties and has peg board. It’s screaming for taxidermied life. And I knew I wouldn’t be able to convince Julie to put it on the mantle.

Once we had a nice layer on the toad, I was provided with a wood burning calligraphy tool. I mentioned that perhaps we shouldn’t be using heat on a shellacked board. So my domestic thoughtfully rummaged around and found a new piece of wood for us to use as a label. I burned the name we had decided upon for the toad (Vernid) into the label, and then we shellacked the label to the mounting board. We discussed ways in which the mounting could be improved. Perhaps a montage with Matchbox cars to mimic his untimely death?

It was definitely a once in a lifetime experience, and even though I was done quickly I hung around for another 30 minutes or so to hear about the experiences of others. I cannot recommend this experience highly enough. You can see what you’ve missed on Rubber Rep’s blog. Then you should go purchase your tickets. The offers are going quickly. Don’t let someone else claim yours.

I do have to say that Julie and I had trepidations about how weird this would be. We were frightened that we would find the experience uncomfortable. But we found that for us, and pretty much everyone we talked to it was a joyful experience that was really fulfilling. And because there are so few offers, you can bet that people will be talking about their experience for years to come. Don’t miss out.

On Sunday I began reconstructing the stage in our back yard. The surface was a solid piece of decking with no holes drilled for water drainage and it was starting to give when anyone other than toddlers walked on it. I unscrewed the first piece of decking, lifted it off and was startled to find an equally startled opossum under the deck. He scurried under the next piece of decking. We repeated this dance until all the decking was removed and he had to find a new home in our neighbors yard.

As I was working on rebuilding the frame I made a gruesome discovery. Right next to the opossum’s nest was an opossum’s skull. And hipbones. I had discovered the opossum’s spine and some fur by the fence a few weeks earlier. I had been ignoring it since it was decomposed past the point of smelling, and who wants to pick up possum carcass? I did not realize that possums ate their own, but I guess that’s part of what it means to be a scavenger. Gruesome all the same. I picked up all the pieces and put them in the bag. I posted about the fact that I was having a weekend of death on the Rubber Rep’s blog and offered the skeleton and I immediately had an offer. The skeleton was picked up by a certain arts editor on behalf of someone else at around 3pm today.

Quite the weekend. I’ll try to get a picture of Vernid for those who are interested.