Griswold’s emotions could be read by watching his tail. Exuberant swipes sending everything within its arc scuttering. Dropping, lackluster, trailing behind his furry orange body. Contemplatedly curled up around his head. Playing tag with the bubbles of laughter chuck-chortling out his ears.

But this was a new phenomenon. His tail was wrapped around his middle, just below the hem of his hated striped sweater.

Griswold’s decent from the attic apartment was middling, like his tail: no crashing thumps or jumpity-bumps; no steady thud-dems. His friend and downstairs neighbour, Melita, barely heard his approach.

“What’s wrong?” Melita asked once a Griswold was sitting on her couch.

“I’m off-putty,” he replied. “Feel glump and groany. Mother says I got the grimesters.”

Melita’s Griswoldian vocabulary grew considerably since this family of monsters moved in, but she wasn’t familiar with “grimesters.” Like many things to do with Griswold and his parents, she was hesitant to ask. Such as the contents of Mrs. G’s obnoxious stew which sent toxic odors reeking of dirty socks, rotten banana peels and burned rubber creeping under her door. Or if the rare invitation to dinner meant she was a guest or the main course. Or even what was the purpose of Mrs. G’s monthly fix of Gumpsion’s fine Fossimax; Griswold’s match making brought her and the younger Gumpison, And, together.

“What can we do to abolish or polish the grimesters,” she asked, knowing it might involve flying on dragons.

“Need lanmiters! So discomfortalated! All gumby and poky!” Griswold’s usually snappily bright eyes were dull; his tail wrapped tighter.

Melita mentally paged through her Griswoldian dictionary: dontify; wocklecockle; flamhsure. But lanmiters?

“Griswold, what were you doing before you got all gumby and poky?”

A bemused And stood in her doorway. Having overhead the conversation, he pantomimed “crisis, what crisis?” Melita, shrugged her shoulders.

“What’s this,” he asked, shedding his wool coat and incan hat onto a wall-peg, “about gumby and pokey? Are they running their show on retro tv? I always liked pokey best.”

Griswold brightened up a bit, though his tail remained wrapped. “gumbies and pokies have tv show? that’s silly.” Griswold loved tv; his perception of the human world was shaped by what he watched.  However, he often blurred the line between news, documentaries, [un]reality television and scripted programs.

And, laughed. “I mean the Big G gumby, and my Pokey has an e.” Pulling his tablet out of his messenger-style bag, he suggested, “Let’s see if they are on fooltube.” Griswold scrunched over on the couch so And could sit next to him.

The green and orange duo’s claymation adventures seemed to take Griswold’s mind off being “discomfortalated.” Small puffs of laughter began to chor-chortled out his ears; his tail unwrapped from his middle and draped across And’s shoulders. Later, a perkier Griswold jumpity-bumped his way upstairs, his tail swoshing along behind him.

When he was gone, Melita poured two glasses of white wine then placed a small charcuterie and cheese board on the coffee table. Snugging , they pondered the meaning of “having the grimesters.” Melita posited too much of Mrs. G’s noxious cooking. And thought Griswold must have binge watched one of those post-zombie-apocalyptic shows or an episode of Doctor Phil.

Whatever it meant for Griswold, they knew the cure: lanmiters – a little laughter; a little love. . .  and a little big G gummy and pokey with an e.

An apology, Michael, for well, not reading the prompt properly. I missed the opening statement, and latched on to grimesters and lanmiters. Not reading the assignment properly – my former students would be shocked, lol. I don’t tik tok or I would record a Griswoldian interpretive “sorry ‘bout that” dance.

I grew up with Big G gumby and pokey with an e; miniature versions sit on my kitchen window ledge. A visit to the store at Art Clokey’s Gumbyworld makes me think they will soon have some company.

This is what I remember best: gumby and pokey popping in and out of books:

A compilation of 1950s gumby from gumbyworld: