Dear Little Brain in a Jar that I Acquired at an Oddities Shop in Portland,
I love you, tiny cerebellum/cerebrum/brain stem of mine. By finding you at Paxton Gate, I realized that exploring Bercaw history can be hilarious—-not all gloom and doom. In fact, meeting Andy Brown, owner of the emporium described as Martha Stewart meets David Lynch, was one of the most delightfully deranged and deadpan experiences I’ve had in a long time. Tracking down my very own brain is both an homage for my dear father and a way to use to humor to heal.
Let me just share with you a sample exchange between Andy and me:
Nancy, upon eying the plethora of oddities available: Would you happen to have a brain in a jar?
Andy: Not here, but I can get you one. When do you need it by?
Nancy: Well I leave day after tomorrow.
Andy: Let me call my guys, they can probably do it. Give me your number and I’ll call you back this evening.
Later that evening, my phone rings.
Andy: They can get it.
Nancy: In a jar?
Andy: Yes. Just a simple jar is the cheapest.
Nancy: What kind of brain is it?
Nancy: How much?
Nancy: I’ll take it.
Andy: Pick it up at 11 a.m. at the shop.
Nancy: When I take it to the airport are they going to think I’m Hannibal Lecter?
Andy, finally laughing: I doubt it, but you should call them and ask.
Nancy: Is the formaldehyde more than 3 ounces?
Andy: I think so. You won’t able to carry it on.
Nancy: Okay, I’ll find a way.
The next day at the shop.
Nancy: Helloooooo!!!!! Is my brain here?
Andy, faces lights up: Yes! Hang on a second.
All the other people in the store turn, stare and start laughing.
Andy: You might not want to travel with it, since the brain needs to firm up. It’s so fresh. Let it sit in the formaldehyde before taking it anywhere.
Nancy turns to her dear friend Peg, who has been co-conspirator in this overt operation: Will you keep the brain for a while at your house?
Peg: Of course, Hannibal.
The entire store is now laughing. I pay for my brain, thank Andy profusely and we’re on our way.
Andy calls out: It’s not easy to find a brain in a jar on such short notice. Glad we could be of service.
I’ll miss you my sweet brain, but I know Peg will watch over you with glee.