.journal 2001.10.25
The great Pancake conspiracy.

Now listening to: The Narada Collection
Now reading: Poppy Z. Brite, Drawing Blood; Sylvia Plath, The Collected Poems
Now playing: Final Fantasy VII (Playstation)

Thursday, the 25th of October, 2001. A thunderstorm had tried to ravage Toledo the night before, but it fizzled out as it realized Toledo was not worthy of the bountious gifts of thunder and lightning. In its place, the storm turned the pleasant October air colder than a Republican's heart, with winds that whipped the prematurely aged leaves down onto the street and blew their chitinous forms to every crevice of air they could find. But the wind chill was like a sunny August afternoon in Death Valley compared to the coldness of the people around me.

Sure, I had experienced more than my fair share of disdain, resentment and intolerance from these people. People fear and condemn what they do not understand, and no one has ever dared to suggest they understand me. But they know I fit into a lot of tidy categories that define the "other": what is not normal, what is not okay. I fall into a lot of the commonly vilified categories, but on this day there was none that I was more aware of than that of a single parent.

A parent, you ask? Yes. It is not something I mention much in my public life, but I have kept a very lovely family over the past fifteen years. No, it is not a family as you know it. I hear the pussilanimous preachers on television talk about pride being one of the seven deadly sins, but then again looking at their collection plates, their stomachs, their criminal records, I know they do not practice their own twisted doctrines. So I have no shame in the pride I have in my family. A family of Popples.

Popples? Popples.

It had been nearly a decade since new additions came into my family, but one day at Meijer I was browsing the shelves when I found the return of the most wonderful children anyone could ever hope to have. With their cherub faces, bodies shaped for the hugest of hugs and eyes drenched in cheer, Popples have been, and always will be, as important an invention to modern-day society as the Internet, satellite television and fruit-filled waffles. To what else can you attribute the breakdown of family life, the rise in natural disasters and the macarena than the lack of Popples to be adopted, adorned and adored? Feh, nothing I say!

Alas, these new Popples do appear to have evolved from their earlier counterparts, so much so as to possibly consitute a new species. I believe the two classifications are popplus mattelus and popplus toymaxus, but as I am not as versed in the biological sciences as some, pardon me if I speak in error. But then again, adopting new family members is always preferable to readopting old ones. I am as proud of my new family members as my old ones, and I play no favourites in my role as their parent.

However, just because I do not prefer any of my children over the others, that does not mean I do not have more concern for some of them. And in fact, I have had a concern for the past twelve years for one of my children that has gone unanswered. With these new children in my family now, I was hoping to get some answers.

Perhaps I should go back to the evolution of Popples. First conceived inexplicably in the general vicinity of Cleveland, Ohio, the initial Popple family was of nine: there was Potato Chip, the lovable klutz; Pretty Bit, the erstwhile poet, and the mischievous but well-intentioned Putter. There was the constantly primping Puffball, the creative goofball Puzzle and the narcissistic southern belle Prize. And there were the unofficial leaders, the brainy but amenable Party and the gentle rebel P.C.

But Sean, you say, you only listed eight Popples there! To that I say, please be quiet so I can continue. Thank you. I don't go barging in to the middle of your e-mails when you're trying to write them, do I? I thought so.

The ninth original Popple was Pancake. While all the Popples had hearts big enough to take and give all the love in the world, Pancake's always seemed to beat a little stronger. Whenever other Popples had their small disputes, you would always find Pancake there to mediate a compromise that all would gladly agree to. Whenever a Popple's get up and pop just got up and went, Pancake would be there to cheer that Popple up. Whenever a Popple was confused in heart or spirit, Pancake would inspire that Popple to live up to its true potential, follow its bliss, aspire to the true meaning of Poppledom. In so many ways, Pancake was the glue that held the primitive Popple culture together.

Alas, in the grand scope of Popple history, Pancake's legacy seems to have been forgotten. And I've never understood why that was. Not even E! Entertainment Television has dignified Pancake's legacy with an E! True Hollywood Story in her honour, nor has VH-1 mentioned her in a Where Are They Now? I have sought out the answer to what happened to Pancake for too long, and now that this new breed of Popples was on the scene, I decided it was time to start asking some questions. So I grabbed my overcoat and alighted to Meijer to get to the bottom of this. I was Nancy Drew with a bad case of P.M.S. and a klutzing fetish.

But as hard as the rest of the universe may make my heart, a Popple melts it away by just coming into my vision. How could I interrogate my own family, my own flesh and blood? Well, perhaps I'm not made of fabric and polyester fibres, but just because they are adopted are these Popples any less my children, my family? I couldn't grill my family, but I still sought the truth that only they knew. Complicating matters is the fact that Popplese is a horribly complex language, comprised of supersonic popping sounds that are nearly impossible to produce with the human lips, much less form into sentences. Thankfully, when you're as immersed in a culture as I am with the Popple culture, you cannot help but learn the language. Just be glad the Popples' cartoon was dubbed when it was broadcasted.

Indeed, it was that very cartoon that I based my inquiry on. Perhaps there was no greater evidence of the Pancake conspiracy than the fact that Pancake only appeared in the first episode of the second season of the cartoon, and was then never seen or heard from again. Over the years I had investigated many possible answers: that salary or ego concerns had forced her out when Bibsy, Cribsy, Punkster, Punkity and the Pufflings were hired, or that she was discriminated against due to her weight, or that her unique talents were no longer appreciated by the producers of the show. I secretly feared that perhaps, as I've seen happen to so many great counselors in my life, Pancake was unable to reconcile her own problems and withdrew from public life as a result.

So I asked my new children if they knew what happened to Pancake; my other children have maintained a vow of silence in the matter for all this time. Finally, after over a decade of worrying, I received the truth that had eluded me for so long. You see, Pancake never really disappeared; she has been with us all along. Perhaps she does not wish her share of the spotlight, but she still remains the beacon of Poppledom, the guiding force which makes everything and everyone in the Popple universe all right. So long as a Popple pops in and out of its pouch, so long as there is a song in our hearts, so long as we live and love and feel joy and appreciation, Pancake is with us. Pancake is love, and love is Pancake. They are the eggman, I am the walrus. Koo koo kachoo.

As I sit here with my children in as easy a line of sight as this computer monitor upon which these words are being formulated, I am reminded of something a very wise man once told me at a local coffeehouse, something that has stuck with me and influenced every ethical conundrum I've come across since that fateful night: "Are you going to finish that sandwich?" Yes, fair reader, I finished that sandwich. And I finished the greatest riddle that has ever puzzled my pliable but age-wizened mind. The universe never forgets those who help others the most. In all of our hearts, Pancake lives on, as a heroine, as an idol, and as a friend. Perhaps it will take history books and popular opinion a while to catch on, but the facts are as unstoppable as an army of a million Pufflings popping across the horizon.

And now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to spend some quality time with my family. Everybody take care and be well, and I'll see you all soon.

- Sean