I used to have ferrets. I should perhaps say that my life was lorded over by two ferrets. In the years I've had ferrets I have observed something about them that most people seem to have missed: they are constructed in three parts and the pointy part in the front is not in charge.
If you are not familiar with them, think of a ferret as a sort of fur-covered slinky with legs, a stretch kitten, a miniature dual-tractor-trailer with teeth. They have a head-part (which is somewhat pointy and has the teeth in it), a middle bit with two legs attached, and a rear bit with two more legs and a tail. Although the head-part may seem to be in charge it is, in fact, mostly oblivious to things other than food and toys. The middle part seems to be the engine, since it is the most stable and predictable part. But it's the butt that seems to be in charge, in a sort of sit-down-revolt kind of way.
How do I know this? Observation. I observed the following one day and many times since then:
The ferret in question had come to rest standing beside and parallel to its litter box. The head part looked up at me and blinked its shoe-button-type eyes while the middle bit stood admirably still. Meanwhile, the wayward butt, without any apparent help, direction or knowledge from the other parts, hoisted itself sideways into the litter box and maneuvered itself around to do what you can surely imagine it would do in a litter box.
When this mission was complete, the butt hopped out of the box and bumped into the middle bit, which seemed a bit startled and started to move away. Meanwhile, the head remained oblivious of this activity, still directing its gaze at me with some kind of anticipation (probably hoping for a bit of my banana, or something). The middle bit decided it didn't like being bumped by the end bit and started to walk away, but the butt wasn't having any.
Apparently worn out by the activity, the butt decided to rest on its tail. The middle bit, still doing its thing, continued to walk forward as the head, now concentrated on the banana, tracked the fruit with great intensity. Suddenly, the head was made aware of the unwarranted activity of its associates and looked around wildly.
"Oh, no!" it seemed to be thinking, "palace revolt!"
The middle bit just continued straight ahead, dragging the lazy rump along behind.
The indolent rear part seemed to be enjoying the Hell out of this for a few minutes, then got bored, stood up and attempted to outrun the rest of the ferret in a mad dash to something more interesting.
The middle and head bits then took a tumble, had an argument, which was punctuated with much waving about of the teeth by the front part and the discoordinated jumping up and down of the middle bit while the hind end was flung about indiscriminately.
I think, if the butt could have laughed, it would have.
Suddenly, the entire ferret reached consensus and darted forward to snatch a toy that was lying on the floor. Now came the committee work. The head grasped the rubber eggplant in its teeth while the front part did a bit of dancing around, but, again, it was the butt that was in charge.
Without any regard for the laws of physics or any concern for whiplash, the rump made a sudden, precipitate turn to the right, reversed direction while maneuvering, and dragged the rest of the ferret under the settee, eggplant and all. The whole vanished with a protesting squeak! from the rubber eggplant as it was folded neatly in two to pass through the hole.
A little while later, the head appeared and then the middle bit, both pushed out into the open by the rump, which was apparently working quite hard to move the recalcitrant fore-parts, judging by the amount of scrabbling the little back feet where doing. Of course, this could also have been because the floor was a bit slick, but I doubt it.
It doesn't seem to matter what is going on where the ferrets are, if the butt gets an idea, the rest of the ferret will be dragged, pushed or tumbled along according the the ass-end's whim. Despite the fact that the front end is cuter and the middle part is more steady and stable, the butt is definitely in charge.
Which kind of reminds me of a place I once worked.....
I promise to have something more original next time, but right now I'm working on reading all the essays from the Be My Minion contest. See you soon!