Once water-skippers fanned out across the shallows of the Sunday talk shows. The water-skippers’ normal habit, it is true, is to remain safely camouflaged or hidden from sight completely. Venturing out from their cover is tricky business for these secretive and jittery creatures. The smallest pebble tossed into their midst invariably sends them scattering in a frantic attempt to limit any damage the spreading ripples might cause. They usually succeed after a fashion, but still, it can be tiring to lead such a skittish life all the time. Their success in riding out these frequent scares owes a great deal to their ability to dart this way and that almost as if their feet never touched down or did so virtually without leaving a trace. They’ve become so adept at this type of maneuver they refer to it among themselves as the power to “walk on water.” In reality, it is merely a consequence of the greater density of water relative to one of nature’s true lightweights. On this particular occasion, the water-skippers spread out in teeming array, almost as if to show by their numbers and determination that they could command the very forces of nature to obey them. It seemed to work well enough as a tactic in the world of Sunday morning journalism. Turning their helter-skelter darting about from a minus into a plus, the water-skippers impressed their hosts with the apparent ease of their evasive moves in response to every happenstance. Not surprisingly, the less energy these maneuvers required, the more the water-skippers’ confidence grew that they were indeed masters of their element. So emboldened did they become at the lack of any real challenge raised to their incessant bobbing and weaving that many began to engage in ever-wilder exhibitions of both on their own, without prompting, as if spurred on to heady gyrations so contorted or fantastic they defied explanation by any principles known to physics. The one question that never arose during these antics, the one question no doubt in the minds of viewers from coast to coast, was why the water-skippers were the focus of Sunday morning news programming in the first place. Why not the 2 a.m. segment of “Nature’s Funniest Videos” instead? Was the show they put on, while admittedly droll, really that newsworthy? Other, that is, than to those who might have some professional interest in documenting the bizarre life forms that thrive in the nation’s bogs and stagnant wastes?
Copyright © 2005 by Geoffrey Grosshans