Thursday, June 01, 2006

Elizabeth Contemplates New Zealanders Bearing Gifts

“And then some New Zealand booksellers gave me a present,” my critique partner said, describing the RT convention book signing.

“Wow.” I tried not to let my consuming envy consume me. This sounded like a really nifty perk to being a published author: total strangers giving you things. “What was it?”

“Emu oil.”

“Emu oil,” I repeated, kind of consideringly. We were in our local coffee shop and we were supposed to be, you know, working, but never mind that. “Emu oil?”

“Yeah, emu oil. You put it on your skin. It’s really nice.”

Well, sure, everyone knows how nice emu oil is, and of course it was very, very kind of the New Zealanders to lug emu oil halfway around the planet. Getting through customs with dozens of jars of emu oil in their baggage must’ve been really interesting by itself, but . . . “How do they get the emu oil?”

My critique partner stared at me.

I hurried to clarify. “I mean, an emu is a big bird, right? So how do you de-grease an emu?”

Her expression had changed to a pitying one. Kind of like the one my father had worn when he’d explained to me, when I was eight, that the family dog had gone to live in a farm in the country where he could run around and be really, really happy herding sheep. The story had seemed strange even then, considering that the dog in question had been a cocker spaniel.

My eyes widened. “You mean . . . ?”

My critique partner nodded solemnly.

“But-but,” I gasped. “How many emus had to die for your emu oil?”

She patted my hand. “Not many. And I’m sure they died of old age.”

“Well, okay, then.” I wondered briefly how an emu farm worked. I mean, do they just sit around waiting for the emus to drop dead? Maybe they have a sensor on the emus, so an alarm goes off when they fall over. Then a happy thought struck. Maybe my dad had been wrong. Maybe the family dog wasn't off herding sheep.

Maybe the family dog was herding emus.

3 comments:

Diane Perkins said...

Elizabeth,
This is so cute, but it defies comment.
Poor Emu!
Diane

Diana Holquist said...

No, no, no.

I have a friend who has an uncle who has a brother whose ex-wife, Shirley McQuack, is from New Zealand. She says that Emu Oil is a kind of synthetic WD-40 used to grease up your Emus when they get too squeaky.

Now Koala Oil on the other hand...

--Diana

Elizabeth Hoyt said...

Sadly, Diana (and Diane) my first thought when my critique partner mentioned emu oil was cooking. I'm pretty sure rendered chicken fat is used in some Jewish cooking, and emus are big birds . . . emu matzo ball soup anyone?