Saturday, July 01, 2006

First penguin to climb Mt. Everest

Few days ago, while spending our vacation in a camping near the Hajdúszoboszló Aquapark, in the evening sitting on a bench in front of our trailer home, my son Ákos asked with a fully serious face: "Dad, what was the name of the first penguin to climb Mount Everest?".

I just adore my big seven year old son.

We tried to discuss it briefly, and he suggested that some alpinist could actually tie up a penguin and take it with him to the Top O' The World, but I told him that the animal rights activists would have a word or two about it, so it's highly unlikely. On the other hand, we speculated that as a rule, humans only climb Mt. Everest during summer and maybe penguins visit it in the winter, that sort of weather certainly suiting them better, when no human can observe them. We envisioned a crowd of penguins in full alpinistic equipment gathering at the foot of the mountain, looking enthusiastically to the challenges that await them. We rolled with laugther.

He then went on to invent a story about a penguin who left South Pole as he wished to see the world, climbed Mt. Everest, crossed the Kalahari desert where he found a small town, settled in it, then went on to earn a living first by being a street musician (we recently watched "Cars", and they show One Man Band before it, maybe that's where the idea came from) and later by building a power plant and wiring the houses and selling electricity to the city. There was also a wish-granting magic stick involved in the story that the penguin used to wish all his penguin friends he left behind are with him, but it backfired as they quickly died of dehydration in the desert (when I asked why our hero, also a penguin, didn't die as well, he explained that he travelled in a special aquarium car that kept him wet). Fortunately, for undisclosed reasons, the magic stick only transferred third of his friends, so he presumably got few more left back home.

I remember sitting on a chair placed to face opposite the bench, rendered too unwilling to move by the slight fever accompanying my bronchitis (ideal development for a vacation, huh? Right, I thought so too.) and not very willing to talk either due to a sore throat, and just listening to him fascinated as he tirelessly spun his story further and further for at least an hour. It finally ended when I told him we'd have to head for showers and then for bed soon lest we be totally consumed by mosquitos. By that time the penguin (who remained nameless, or at least, unnamed) was providing electricity for the whole world, but in the end got homesick, went back to South Pole (yes, I know strictly speaking they don't live at the Pole proper, but that's how he told the tale), and divided the wealth he accumulated during his electricity tycoon and street musician times among its (remaining two-third of) friends.

Few days later, on a similar evening while sitting on a bench and eating cherries he asked me whether there's a limit to one person's creativity.

Guess what I answered him.

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