Kangaroo origin stories

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MARCH 4, 2002

Today is the day to damn it all to hell and give your ears a good Q-tipping.

I had a very nice weekend, thank you, except that Friday I broke my Lenten promise of not eating chocolate and had a mini-cupcake with my friend Lauren, foul temptress. But there is a very good reason: it's because she and I ate everything else in the city of Chicago and that's all that was left to finish off before we went to bed.

A lot to read this morning! Go to the 'latest' section to see my new story "Late Summer Ride" in Whet Magazine, which is so pretty I'm including the full link here (it's easy to figure out and if you can't, just go here.) Also, in yesterday's New York Times magazine was a wonderful piece about the city of Chicago written by Stephen McCauley. Check it out, especially the last few paragraphs.

Finally, over the last few days I've gotten some wonderful stories from people volunteering ideas for the origin of that there kangaroo, so I'll share them with you. If you want to offer more ideas, keep them coming.

From Liz McArdle, who looks great in tight snow pants:
The kangaroo is my cousin Jimmy.

When we were little, my cousins Laura, Jimmy, and my little brother Andrew and I would play aminals (not a spelling error, I was convinced the second letter was an "m" and as a result of my stubborn assertion, I think my brother thought so as well. He still does. He's 19 now.)

This game would always take place in Jimmy's basement-- cold and scary but an endless source of fun. The game played out similarly each time: we would choose an aminal and then play and eventually someone would get hurt or cry or dinner was ready. Typically, I would choose something of the wildcat realm: leopard, cheetah, etc. My little brother didn't exercise the same diversity; he stuck with the basic bear. Laura was the permanent mom, being the oldest of us four and by far the most sympathetic to my brother who was four years younger. Jimmy, without fail and in spite of ritualistic debate, would be a boxing kangaroo. Every time. This is where it became handy to have Laura the Mom since Jimmy would most often feel the need to demonstrate his boxing abilities on Andrew the Bear. And given he was my brother, I teamed up with the boxing side while Laura gave into Andrew's crying. What a baby.

Don't know what spurred Jimmy's admiration for the kangaroo, specifically the boxing kind, but it was definitely a part of our frequent cousin parties. Since then, Jim has spent a semester in Australia but claims to have only seen regular kangaroos.

Guess the boxing ones are best left for the basement.

From David Mogolov, who has a Ph.D in Psychology from Knowumsayin' University:
Notice that the kangaroo is looking to the left, as if the scent of something tasty were wafting from that direction. The grass around its feet is blowing predominantly towards its tail. Everybody knows that in Australia the wind generally blows westward, indicating that in this photo, the kangaroo is facing north. And what's north of Australia? Indonesia. And anybody familiar enough with Claire Zulkey to have found their way to Zulkey.com will know of Claire's insatiable appetite for Indonesian food. The kangaroo shares this passion, but alas cannot cross the large body of water that separates Northern Australia from Indonesia (or even Papua New Guinea, upon which the kangaroo could find an approximation of his desired cuisine). This desperate, nearly hopeless longing for something that he has never experienced also stands in for Claire's unconscious dream of conquering Everest, which is, in turn only a stand-in response for the irresolvable disappointment she felt as a child, never having had the My Little Pony dream birthday she asked for every year until her twenty-second birthday.

This thrice-removed desire for a pretty, pretty sparkly pony-themed birthday party, along with a platter of Indonesian food, is what led Claire to choose the kangaroo as the gatekeeper to her online world.

From Brooke Weinstein, who likes coldblooded creatures. A lot.:
I know how the kangaroo got there. Do you think you just put him there by accident? By divine inspiration? No, he's an old buddy of mine. Met him through my cousin, Jason. You see, Jason was visiting Australia with some college buddies, fraternity boys, you know the type. They were safari-ing it
across the Red Desert when the kangaroo in question jumped in front of their Jeep. They slammed on the brakes but, their systems being dulled by the continuous consumption of Australian beer, were too late. The kangaroo went
flying. Jason got out and nudged the fallen marsupial with his foot, pronouncing the unmoving victim dead. Normal people probably would have moved on at this point, but Jason is (being related to me) decidedly not normal. You might even call him sick and demented (unlike me, of course). So he and his friends, recognizing a photo opportunity when they saw one, propped the animal up on their Jeep, outfitted it in one of their Hunter college sweatshirts, and posed alongside it. Now this is where it gets funny. The kangaroo suddenly revived and took off, still wearing the sweatshirt that, of course, had the keys to the Jeep in the pocket. So Jason and his company were forced to walk 15 miles in the hot desert sun, cursing the day they met the kangaroo. Or the day that the kangaroo met them, more accurately. Anyway, when Lauren and I were in Australia our sophomore year at Georgetown we met up with said kangaroo, and I recognized him by the infamous article of clothing he sported. We kept in touch over the years and by the by I sent him to you, to show that despite my horridness at keeping in touch I still care. I told him to tell you that I can't wait for you to visit, but I think he forgot. You see he has moved on from his college sweatshirt days and now frequents all the fashion shows. If you do decide to dress him daily, which I think is an excellent idea, I'll let you know that he prefers Gucci.

From my Mom, who did not give me a pretty, pretty sparkly pony-themed birthday party:
I dreamed about kangaroos the entire time I was pregnant with Claire, the imagery obvious. No, wait, I'm lying. The
fact is that the kangaroo was the symbol of the bank at which I was working when I was pregnant with Claire. Our slogan was "the big bank, with the little bank inside". This meant that if you were an individual and all you wanted was a little car loan or some cash to tide you over until payday, you could go to the rickety desk in the corner of the basement and someone would listen to your sob story. If you had 3-4 times the amount of your request in collateral, we'd be happy to accommodate you. You'll notice our slogan was not "the friendly bank", a motto used by every other bank in the country. We had our own niche, you see. While that second story is basically true, I'm sure it had nothing to do with Claire picking the kangaroo for her logo.
So as you see, the kangaroo myth is one that's grand in proportion and involves tales that are very funny, very original, or just make no sense whatsoever. So keep sending them if you have any big ideas.

There is a lot in store for Zulkey.com this week so stay tuned, as long as I don't break it again like I did on Friday.