Dreamed Christmas 1983 by Chris Wayan
I live in a big house shared with many people. One woman wears a wide decorative belt with a big buckle. Over time, the belt's coming slowly alive, acquiring awareness and volition. It has no eyes, with only that great buckle for a head, but it can see close-up things a bit. It's intelligent despite its sensory shortcomings.
A thirtyish guy who often takes the initiative in our house asks the belt-wearer "Do you want to try giving the snake glasses, so it can see better? I have an extra set I can spare."
She blushes. She's rather shy and hates the extra attention the belt-snake has drawn, especially when it's a man looking at her crotch... or at least she feels he is.
Red-faced, she says "No, no, we're fine, thanks. The snake's used to being like this; I think that extra gear would upset it."
"Are you sure?" I can hear it in his voice: he's skeptical she speaks for the snake's best interests any more.
"Well, there's the fastening problem, too..."
Then the snake speaks up. "I would like to try the lenses. Thank you. Perhaps then I could see in the distance."
The man puts spectacles on the snake, warning "I'm afraid they probably won't help with really distant objects--on me they're only good out to about 4 meters."
The snake bursts in "I can see! I can see clearly! Clear out to... SO FAR!" wriggles across the room clear to the far end and back, measuring diagonally. "Isn't that further than 4 meters? The room is 3 by 4, so diagonally it's 5, correct?" A snake that can do Pythagorean triangles! This belt's evolving fast!
It can see out the window, quite clearly up to about 10 meters, and pretty well out to infinity. The experiment is a huge success.
But the belt-woman will have to work on her shyness, or let the snake go. What else has she turned down on her friend's behalf?
NOTES NEXT MORNING
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