Camels. Now there's a small story that's really quite large and you can't make it fit into any category, not even its own. I mean Camels are really exceedingly strange! They don't seem to look like anything at all, although you can almost smell them a bit when they pass upwind of you. It's more the effect they have that you notice. You may not be able to see a Camel, you may not hear one or touch one at all, but you'll know one is coming from the way people act, you'll know one is there when the fur on the back of your neck starts to rise, and you'll know it's been by by the tracks that it's left. I don't really know any way to describe one, the best thing to do if you want to know is to go for a ride some day.
Tell you how I first got onto the Camels. I was sitting one day in the Boaters Cafe, playing this game with a few other boaters. We used cigarettes to burn little holes through a napkin we'd stretched across the top of a glass. A dime was placed at the centre of the napkin, and the more we burned it in various ways the more precarious the dime became. And every once in a while while we played, a burn was made that seemed sure to drop the dime down inside the glass, but it didn't. We'd all sit back simultaneously with a sigh of surprise in a daze of amazement. The way that we looked at the game we were playing shifted completely, and the funny thing was everything else in the Boaters Cafe seemed to shift too. A pause in the sounds at the other tables, a guy coming in through the cafe door, a spoon falling down on the cafe floor, the shape of the whole seemed to shift in a way we'd never quite noticed before. Something strange had come walking through, though nobody saw it we knew it had passed from the way things were in its aftermath. Its sounds were odd and it felt odd too, it smelled strange as well in a shaggy way that reminded us all of a Camel in fact, and as it turned out that's exactly what it was.
Now it's not very easy to see a Camel. Most people don't really notice them at all. That's okay, the Camels don't care, they're just passing through. But even though Camels aren't often noticed, they effect everyone quite a lot. In fact you can know quite a bit about someone if you notice how they relate to the Camels, even though they don't know that they're there. Everyone has a tendency to relate to Camels in their own individual way. In any group you will probably find someone who is a Camel caller, someone who likes to feed the Camels, someone who runs the other way whenever a Camel appears, someone who tries to run after the Camels and catch them. Even if they are not aware themselves that they are acting this way, they will act like that whenever a Camel appears.
It's hard to change the basic relationship you have with Camels but you can, with some effort, move up in your level of involvement and improve your action with them. The more conscious you are when a Camel goes by, the more you can use your personal predilection to get yourself up on its back for a ride. And riding a Camel's a very good thing, the view from up there is very much like the view that you have from the back of a boat. Which is not really all that surprising of course, when you sail there's a very good chance that your boat will ride on the back of a Camel just like it rides on a wave.