Saturday, April 21, 2012

Gremlins and the Kallikanzaroi, or Who Really Hid Your Car Keys

When I was a young girl growing up in the 1950s, I used to go on Sunday drives with my grandfather and my parents. And more fascinating to me than any place we were going, was the car's cigarette lighter. I never tired of unplugging it and wondering how it worked.

"What makes it glow?", I asked my taciturn grandfather, and I never tired of his answer.


Airplane people have always blamed gremlins for plane glitches, and my grandfather was an airplane person. His son, my Uncle Bob, was a metallurgist who studied plane crashes, but he never blamed sprites.

"There are only three things that cause crashes", he told me once, "Pilot error, pilot error, and pilot error".

I think he forgot Canada geese, bombs, and lightning strikes. But I have lived a bit, and I believe now in malicious imps that make it their business to hide our car keys, to cause us to drop our credit card in the supermarket parking lot. Who is to say that they can't put air traffic controllers to sleep?

I read last week about Greek house sprites called "Kallikansaroi" Lawrence Durrell, in his memoir of life in Corfu,learns about them from an elegant and civilized old Count, a man Durrell spent moonlit evenings with, listening to owls and nightingales and talking, talking of history and myth. I have also read that these imps came out of the earth in winter to bedevil humans. The rest of the year they stayed inside the earth trying to cut down the Tree of Life. Nervous householders warded them off by placing colanders outside their doors. The imps were so caught up in counting the holes in the colander that they forgot to make trouble. Now that sounds like a technique I might try. I have a dazzling blue colander from the Viking Store. It is enamel coated, and not only could the imps count the holes, they could admire their reflections.

Any number of our personal or household malfunctions could be the work of gremlins and imps.How do you think the cable remote ended up in the refrigerator? How did unripe avocados go bad in one day? Who made me- tired, sleep deprived, working nights- spray my hair with Basin, Tub, and Tile cleaner instead of hairspray just before I had to go to work?

You know who-

Durrell's memoir of Corfu is "Prospero's Cell". I recommend it. The chapters about the old Count are unforgettable.

1 comment:

Out on the prairie said...

I laugh at the hairspray, I can still remember brushing my teeth as a kid with Brylcream, a little dab will do you.