The Literary Undertaker

Not only do I live between cultures, I'm also caught between vocations. Case in point: this morning, after a long and painful struggle against yellow fungus disease, Gandalf, our bearded dragon, breathed his last. My husband began preparing the backyard burial service, the boys started digging a grave, and I was summoned from my over-the-garage writing cubby.

"We need a coffin, Mom," I was informed.

I offered a cardboard box; it was rejected. That's when we spotted the black satin box on the table. A complimentary Mont Blanc pen had been mailed to me as a gift from the PEN people after an International Festival in New York. I was thrilled when I received it. To me, a Mont Blanc writing instrument has always symbolized the prestige and excitement of a literary career.

Unfortunately, in the rush and bustle of mothering, the current whereabouts of this once-coveted literary status symbol is now a mystery. (I'm sure it will turn up, PEN friends, if you're reading this.) The empty black case, therefore, was available for other uses, and with only a slight pang, I offered it to the funeral directors. It was just the right size. One son laid Gandalf on the soft satin inside, holding the box up for one last viewing. The other son closed the lid as slowly and somberly as the occasion demanded.

So, thanks to a strange convergence of dueling vocations, a dead lizard now resides in Mont Blanc luxury. My apologies to the makers of the finest writing instruments in the world. By the way, did anyone out there borrow my pen?