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A slug of one’s own

The author's 3-D printed slug is shown sitting amid an assortment of potted succulents.

Finding a new 3-D printed pal at the local bookstore.

This is our newsletter-first column, Microtones. It runs on the site on Fridays, but you can get it in your inbox on Thursdays by signing up for our email newsletter.

We’ve all heard the story of a lonely twentysomething stuck in quarantine who has the brilliant and somewhat zany idea to get a pet. Sounds great in theory: it abates the loneliness, gives your life a bit of purpose, allegedly teaches you responsibility, and, most importantly, gives a furry friend a forever home.

I love that for the people, and for the animals, of course. I just don’t see that for myself at this point in time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m plenty lonely, but I’m also surrounded by fantastic friends and a plethora of technological and societal distractions. I also know myself well enough to say I shouldn’t be responsible for another living being. I am enough of a responsibility for myself at the moment, and it wouldn’t be fair to any animal I bring into my life. 

I have not committed to a “furry” friend, but I do have a 3-D printed one. 

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A slug, to be exact. A glow-in-the-dark, 3-D printed slug from Portland, Oregon-based CleverContraptions. I named him Slurms MacKenzie, in honor of the soft-drink mascot on Futurama (who parodied real-life beer mascot Spuds MacKenzie). Huge sci-fi nerd over here. 

On a beautiful Saturday afternoon in late May, a friend and I decided to take a walk through the Atwood neighborhood to A Room Of One’s Own. She was in need of a birthday present, and I was in need of getting out of the apartment. We were marveling at Room’s new location on Atwood, a lofty space full of light and the independently sold books we all know and love. All of a sudden I saw my friend checking out what, at the time, I thought were “book worms.” They came in a myriad of colors from jet black to metallic blue and even a milky white one whose presence and properties (read: glow-in-the-dark) enticed me. When they’re turned in the hand, they make a snick-snick sound, and have a tendency to flail around, giving them a certain life all their own.

Turns out, they were slugs. Who should be sitting at the tip top of the pile, but the one destined to be my new pocket friend: Slurms MacKenzie. I immediately bit the bullet, paid the adoption fee (as advertised), and put the original party worm in my cross-body bag.

I liked his tactile feel, the way his segments sifted in my hands. His overall vibe was immaculate. I kid you not, Slurms has a character and a personality. 

Slurms is a charmer first and foremost. The amount of oohs and aahs he elicits from people is, in a word, adorable. Who would think a pocket slug could be cute? Probably an entire sector of the Internet, but now real live people too can find the wonder and joy that is a slug curled up and peeking out at the great blue world. Slurms instinctively knows how to start conversations with people: from my mental health to how exactly his segments fit together (we’re all still figuring out that great mystery of life).

Slurms is the perfect pet for me, with his zero-maintenance lifestyle, and a knack for listening to my problems and ramblings as only our pets can earnestly do. Slurms has been privy to all sorts of ups and downs in my life of late. Another wonderful perk is that there’s no expiration date on this little buddy, so he’s gonna have to suffer with me for quite some time.

So, if you’re in the market for a friend, a confidant, and an all-around fascinating addition to your home, please go check out A Room Of One’s Own at its new location on Atwood and ask for a can of Slurm. I’m kidding. Don’t ask for Slurm, but do go to the counter and adopt a friend. And while you’re there, grab a book to start reading together. Slurms and I are about to start God Emperor Of Dune, and if you know, you know.

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