By Lori Prause
All good stories have adventure, romance, and an unsolvable murder. This story is therefore disqualified as ‘good’, but don’t fret because randomness and humor often are great substitutes.
Our story begins with 16 dwarfs (geology students), three good fairies (very capable teaching assistants), and a Wizard (the wise Professor Sharp). Many of the dwarfs you already know from another classic story, such as Dopey, Sneezy, Grouchy, and Happy, but a few new characters join this tale—Farty , Belchy, Squirmy, Chatty….etc. The good fairies cook and clean, hovering around the dwarfs so they stay safe, have full tummies, and don’t squabble, but their greatest task is to make sure the dwarfs stay focused when they are supposed to be grinding out reports on the rented HP computers. The dwarfs have great respect for the Wizard and try constantly to learn the secrets that churn in his brain, but when they get close to figuring something out, he squints his eyes sideways and says, “Ah……ah………ah.”
Dwarfs naturally belong in the woods, so that is where their tents are pitched. There are tiny, “how-does-a-big-guy-like-you-fit-into-that?” type tents, dome tents that look like the cover to a sewage treatment plants, and a Queen of Sheba tent complete with beads in the doorway and musicians playing tambourines. Then there are the work tents that at night become four glowing oracles, with the soft hum of a Honda 2000 generator in the background. All is well and good until “cough... cough... sputter,” and the lights go out. The dwarfs close their eyes for a three minute nap while one of the good fairies fills the tank with carbon emitting fuel and the lights go back on.
There is a bit of natural selection between the work tents. No assignments were made as to who sits by whom, but like attracts like. There is the “Happy Tent,” filled with screams of Led Zeppelin, belching, and farting, followed by peals of laughter. There is the “Serious Student Tent,” where the dwarfs all have headphones, hunch over their computers with intense glares, and are startled into reality when called for dinner. Lastly, there is the “We Are All in This Together Tent,” where common phrases are heard like “how do you spell...?” and “please pass the white out... again.”
The dwarfs arise early to coffee and a cold breakfast, kindly provided by the good fairies. They pack their lunches, strap on their tool belts, and whistle off to work. Their days are filled with perilous adventures, such as losing a hammer while doing a triple axel into a swimming hole. At times they run into ticked off rattlesnakes that are out looking for a new girlfriend and are annoyed by the dwarfs traipsing around while they are making their moves. The dwarfs are ripped and torn when the evil spirit of Mirkwood Forest comes alive clawing and grabbing at every available body part. As they return to camp, weary and forlorn, the good fairies flutter and conjure up vital refreshing nourishment of Gatorade, pretzels, salsa, and chips.
All was well in the contented little camp until news came of an evil bear beast in the vicinity. Boot-legged snacks and horded delicacies hidden by the dwarfs in their tents were moved into the cars, as to not attract the beast. With trepidation, all went warily off to bed. The first voice heard in the morning was from Baldy, the eldest and wisest dwarf yelling, “Get! Get out of here!” He then stabbed the beast with his lethal laser pointer and it went crying and limping away. Not that no damage was done to Baldy’s tent. This is just one more proof to be added to the volumes of instances already documented that duct tape can fix anything.
The camp is filled with stations. There is the smoking section where art is made in the air with billowing smoke, the Jack and the Bean Stalk station where dwarfs hang from hammocks with stocking caps and wide grins on their faces, the eyebrow plucking station where female dwarfs are saved from the dreaded uni-brow, and the chill out, jam out, stinky feet out station.
The dwarfs have an affinity for rocks because dwarf bodies are composed of nearly 90 percent (by volume) of internal, magical, rock attracting magnetite. They were born that way, so as with all disabilities they should be treated with compassion and understanding. If they see a rock, they pick it up. If they don’t see it, it just jumps into their pockets, tool belt, or backpack. They surround themselves with these ornamental gems. There are rocks on the tables where they work, around the fire ring, in the kitchen, in their computer bags, and in their dreams. No rock is ugly to them. For some reason the pleasure taken in adoring a rock is increased when they hit it violently with a hammer. Then the dwarf smiles at the crumbled waste as the rock’s true beauty is revealed.
Well, all good (and bad) stories come to an end. The work got done at camp and none of the dwarfs were squashed, lost (permanently), eaten, or hung. The good fairies packed up the tents for another day, and the Wizard squinted his eyes sideways, smiled, and said, “Ah…ah……ah.”