By Chris Beam
This is going to start happening a lot. You have a conversation about something totally innocuous and irrelevant to anything in real life, and later, when you pick up IJ, it turns out to have been eerily relevant after all.
For example, this weekend a friend and I were discussing whether hamsters live in the wild. On the one hand, yes, of course they do. But who has ever seen a wild hamster?
Later that day, I came across, if not the answer, an answer:
“It’s a herd of feral hamsters, a major herd, thundering across the yellow plains of the southern reaches of the Great Concavity in what used to be Vermont, raising dust that forms a uremic-hued cloud with somatic shapes interpretable from as far away as Boston and Montreal. The herd is descended from two domestic hamsters set free by a Watertown NY boy at the beginning of the Experialist migration in the subsidized Year of the Whopper. …
“The noise of the herd is tornadic, locamotival. The expression on the hamsters’ whiskered faces is businesslike and implacable—it’s that implacable-herd expression. They thunder eastward across pedalferrous terrain that today is fallow, denuded. To the east, dimmed by the fulvous cloud the hamsters send up, is the vivid verdant ragged outline of the annularly overfertilized forests of what used to be central Maine. …
“Feral hamsters are not pets. They mean business. Wide berth advised. Carry nothing even remotely vegetablish if in the path of a feral herd.”
So now we know. Next time I have an itchy question, instead of reaching for the nearest iPhone, I’ll flip through the nearest Infinite Jest.