‘There Be Dragons.’
I recall reading about this phenomenon in early geography, when the boundaries of time and space were strictly defined and anything lying about as ‘unknown’ was deemed ‘dangerous and not worth visiting.’ But actually I knew about them long before first grade: as usual, by the time cartography evolved into the geography of dragons, I had more than casual personal experience with the concept.
I recall feeling sympathy for the teacher’s approach to setting boundaries because it was obvious my mother operated in that same space-time continuum (maybe it was Female Instinct. You know: that protective side that emerges when your child is hellbent on exploring EVERYTHING). Anything outside our backyard was ‘off limits’. Anything around the corner was ‘off limits’. If Mom could have more effectively threatened me with ‘There Be Dragons’, my bedroom would’ve been duly surrounded.
As it was, the ‘There Be Dragons’ cautions actually held the opposite effect for such as I: I was FASCINATED, and any early warning system in place could only evoke a pre-emptive strike instinct on my part as I determined to identify, catalog, explore, confront – and, ultimately, bring back one as a pet.
According to my Mom, dragons lived in a myriad of habitats:
- in our basement
- in the crawlspace (where, I had long ago reasoned, Santa must also live year-round, eavesdropping through the heater ducts and thus easily adding to his ‘pro and con’ naughty/nice list. Possibly they compared notes.)
- on the roof
- outside our backyard fence boundaries
- around the corner
Also according to Mom, I had apparently emerged from the womb as a fearless knight, and any threats of dragons and dangers only provoked insatiable curiosity.
When I got to school: SURPRISE – the teacher ALSO knew about Dragons. Her dragons resided:
- Outside the playground
- In the hallways (after the tardy bell rang)
- Ready to getcha if you spent too long reading comics in the bathroom
Over the years I cultivated an excessive interest in exploring Dragon Realms. I couldn’t WAIT to discover one. I’d even pre-named my discovery with Proper Latin Flare: ‘Dragonis Dianus’ (…only the pink ones, though…).
Imagine my disappointment to continually find that the elusive dragon was NEVER in any of these areas!
But as an Adult (…somewhat…) I HAVE found the entire ‘There Be Dragons’ approach to be useful….:
Bill: I forgot to do the laundry today. Can you take a load out to the garage 2nite?
Diane (“busy on the computer working” [playing Pong]): nope.
Diane (preoccupied): It’s WAY TOO DANGEROUS.
Bill (puzzled): Laundry is DANGEROUS?
Diane: No, the garage is.
Bill (exasperated): THE GARAGE HAS BECOME DANGEROUS??
Diane (comfortingly): ONLY at night. So, I’ll do the laundry 2morrow in daytime. Just leave it.
Bill (now fixated in a Manly kind of way): WHY IS THE GARAGE DANGEROUS AT NIGHT????
Diane (ominously, mysteriously – and still preoccupied…[nom nom nom]): ….there be DRAGONS….
Bill (exasperated): FINE. I’LL DO IT MYSELF.
Diane (helpfully): You brave man. But, DO call me if you find a dragon blocking the dryer.
Diane: …. I’ve been looking for one ALL MY LIFE. Especially the pink ones!
Doorslam. Bill exits stage left….