Today, I’m grateful for the creativity and vision of writers. Let me explain why.
I entered the dreaded Walmart a week before Thanksgiving. I really don’t care much for that store – in fact, I’ll shop nearly anywhere else and pay a little more – but they are the only local store that consistently carries Flatout Foldovers. These sandwich-sized flatbreads boast reasonable calories and low carbohydrate levels, especially the version with flaxseeds. In my quest for nutrition, I’ve sacrificed my integrity to shop there, but in my defense, I’m also lobbying every other area grocery store.
So, it’s a pretty intemperate 68 degrees and sunny. People are in shorts and there’s nary a coat in sight. Passing by the toy aisle en route to the deli, I glance over at the display and see rows of identical toys staring out. Everywhere I look, I see stacks of the same thing, in the same colors, with the same advertising. Nothing stands out. Just row after row of the same toys.
And then I really hear it – the canned music force-feeding the cheery season’s greetings to shoppers (who aren’t there hunting Christmas gifts but rather Thanksgiving items) slams the whole analogy home. “It’s beginning to look a lot like…”
“Camazotz, I mutter. Charlie raises one Spockian eyebow. “Camazotz. These toys remind me of Camazotz.” There’s no relaxation of the eyebrow, so I sigh and explain.
“Camazotz is a planet ruled by a massive disembodied brain known as ‘IT,’” I say. “IT regulates the planet so all the people do everything in unison, like clockwork. The kids all bounce balls at exactly the same time, their parents open their doors at exactly the same time, the moms are wearing the exact same clothing, and they all call their children in to dinner using the exact same words. It’s totally freaky and a horribly distressing concept.”
“It’s a book,” Charlie says.
Yeah, but these rows of identical toys in Walmart’s limited selection that they stock only because they’re guaranteed to sell, not because they’re quality, scare me to death. There’s nothing unique about them! There’s no diversity. All I can picture are children on Christmas morning garbed in identical pajamas opening identical packages and playing with identical toys at the identical time in identical houses all across the country.
Save me – I’m not ready for a Christmas on Camazotz.
In case you’re not a fan of science fiction and fantasy, or not a fan of young adult reading material, Madeleine L’Engle created Camazotz when she wrote A Wrinkle in Time. That, and the following series of sequels, is a Newberry Award-winning children’s book that, as far as I’m concerned, resonates perfectly for adults, too.
Are you with me? If you’ve read her work, you understand.