Ode to an Object

Remember Ode to Joy? That song a piano teacher teaches right away?

Yeah, let’s talk about Odes.

A classic ode is structured in three major parts: the strophe, the antistrophe, and the epode. Different forms such as the homostrophic ode and the irregular ode also exist. It is an elaborately structured poem praising or glorifying an event or individual, describing nature intellectually as well as emotionally.

Basically, it’s expressing appreciation/love/praise for an object or person.

Here my example:

Ode to Betsy (the Buick)

I fell in love with Betsy that first sizzlin’ day by the rail tracks. Betsy glistened emerald (or dark booger) as the train’s rumble shook the pavement, rattling pebbles as if they were on a trampoline.

I slid inside and took Betsy for a spin. The milky-eyed salesman sat in the middle of the back seat, leaning forward. When I say milky, I mean glaucoma left partial eyesight in only one eye; the other was sealed whitish-blue. Like an iridescent marble.

As Betsy groaned into drive, Milky Eye’s mothball breath blasted into my air bubble. He pointed at the features: “Heated asscheeks. CD and cassette deck. Enough room in the trunk for five or six bodies, heh-heh-heh.” He nudged my shoulder. No doubt, this guy has murdered people. I did my best to ignore that irrefutable notion. I cranked the radio; Alice in Chains’s “I Stay Away” played.

But I did not stay away from Betsy.

Half an hour later, sitting in the cigarette-cloud office, I was signing papers and nodding like I knew anything about what I was signing. Especially the no returns part.

Oops.

Four thousand in cash. Bam.

Milky Eye smiled, holding his paperwork, a Salem hanging out the side of the his mouth. He flashed his gold tooth and tossed me the keys. Of course, with only one eye functioning, his depth perception was off. The key landed like three feet in front of me. Pathetic—that’s a good word for the toss.

“I got it,” I said, snatching the keys from the shag carpet. Has this been washed since . . . ever?

A month later, that car shop was closed. No idea why. No idea where Milky Eye and his gold tooth went. Maybe he was a low-budget traveling wizard?

It didn’t matter. Betsy the Buick was mine.

Ah, but I missed so much during that test drive. I missed all the signs, all that was flawed with Betsy. But it’s okay. Betsy just needed some love. She needed me. I needed her. (Mainly for getting places.) Anyone else would’ve dumped her at some junkyard. Not me.

I stuck with ol’ Betsy, my junky gal.

Bit-by-bit, Betsy fell apart.

Day one, I notice the gas gauge spun. Like a time machine. Solution: Just remember how much gas in the tank and how many miles per gallon I’m getting. And never forget or I will get stranded and a horror movie will unravel.

Betsy, so unknowable.

Day twenty, the driver-side wiper flings off during a rainstorm. Zipping down I-94, I’m leaning over my friend’s lap, trying to see out her side of the window. Then that wiper flings off. Turns out, Betsy’s wiper motor was roided-up; it was set four-times the normal speed.

Betsy, so strong.

Day forty through sixty-five:  Door-by-door, latches snap off or refuse to work until I only have one working entry point: the passenger side door. When I carpooled, I crawled in first, my . . . caboose in the air like a child crawling through a playground tunnel. Wiggle, wiggle. All right, you can get it now.

Betsy, playing hard-to-get-inside.

But it was okay. All was good. Betsy ran. She got me all across the country; never once did her CD player fail. In fact, I can only remember one time it skipped:

Day . . . five-hundred-something: I’m twenty. (AND IT’S PRESENT TENSE NOW!) It’s snowing. The radio’s warning Wisconsinites to stop driving. For example: “Stop driving,” said the radio.”

I keep driving. Snow peppers my windshield like the sky is a shakin’ salt shaker. I’m driving twenty MPH behind this white car. Long and ugly, like a giant bobsled. The Chevy is swerving left and right.

Without a signal, it whips into a left turn, cutting off oncoming traffic. The Chevy loses control. It drifts sideways down Main Street, blocking the entire road. I slam the breaks, but Betsy’s wheels don’t stop. They’re cue-ball bald.

The wheels don’t stop. Not Betsy.

Betsy, so unpredictable.

I crank the wheel to the right, avoiding the Chevy. The front of Betsy kisses a snowbank. A violent kiss.

Saaa-mooch.

The airbags don’t deploy, so the rearview mirror cushions my face. Blood’s dripping from my forehead like a faucet leak. Drip, drip, drip onto the leather–err, pleather–interior. The hood is scrunched like an accordion, and I almost laugh.

My brain dented and concussed.

Then I remember my license is suspended.

Whoops.

I get out, my vision blurry, my words slurred. “Whaddya do that fir?” No doubt, my brain’s sloshing around like a sponge in a water bucket.

Two girls get out of the car. Both are dressed in Hot Topic gear. A glittery girl wears an Invader Zim t-shirt. She says, “Don’t call the cops, please.”

“Why?”

The other girl–wispy and frail–says, “I’m fourteen. I . . . borrowed this from my boyfriend.”

Wonderful.

I call a friend. His Ford F-15-Million pulls me out of the snow bank. I drive to Wal-Mart’s parking lot where I take a nap to end the headache.

~ ~ ~

Ah, Betsy. I could go on. But I won’t. I don’t need to elaborate on the fun times she and I have had all across America. We both remember them.

It’s about to end soon, though. Nine years now we’ve been together. But her wiper motor is dead. The doctor says it’ll cost $400 to fix. But she’s only worth $250 (according to that judgemental prude Kelley Blue Book). Only one door opens now–the white-handled driver door. My door. Just for me.

I could sell her to a junk yard. But no. Not my Betsy.

Instead, I’m gonna let her rot away in a front yard. I’ll let grass and weeds grow through her. I’ll let her collapsed roof collect rain–patter, patter, pattering. Squirrels and raccoons can hole up in the trunk; after all, it can fit five or six bodies in it, heh-heh-heh.

Oh, Betsy, now I just need to buy a yard in which you can rust away.

Actually, on a second thought . . . that three hundred bucks sounds pretty nice.

Now, write your own Ode to an Object. Post it in the comments.

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Ode to an Object

9 thoughts on “Ode to an Object

  1. Maria Almaraz says:

    English Tapes

    You my dear friend gave me the opportunities.
    Gave me the chance to live a not so hard life.
    Thanks to you I have a decently large home.
    You allowed me to be able to digest information.
    You taught me multiple things.
    How to ask for necessities.
    How to write.
    How to conversate.
    How to defend and protect myself.
    How to read.
    Without you I would be a poor, starving mexican, living in estanzuela.
    Without a job I never would have gotten the job at Pick’n’Save
    Without you I would’ve been nothing.

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  2. Abby L. says:

    I’ve had the same backpack for three years. And when you have the same backpack for three years, it can get a little worse for wear. The material starts to rip in some places, fuzzy material starts to pop up out of nowhere, occasionally the right strap gets ripped out of it’s buckled socket. I’m sure my left arm is bigger than the right. But, despite all of this. It’s my backpack. I’m not terribly sentimental about inanimate objects, so it’s not like I have a real attachment to it. I think I still have it because… well, I’m not even sure why I still have it to be honest. Maybe I’m more sentimental than I think that I am. After all, I am writing an ode to the thing. And ode’s are typically about things that matter to people. Like, okay, so maybe I am attached to the thing. You know, despite saying that I’m not sentimental earlier. I think I could’ve written about a lot of different objects. Like the Raggedy Ann Doll that my now-dead-grandfather gave to me when I was four. Or something else to that dramatic, heartfelt affect. But, I wasn’t exactly in a sentimental mood when I started typing this yesterday. So, my backpack… what else is good about it? It’s sturdy and dependable and a really bright shade of orange so that I know I’d never lose it in the sea of unremarkable colored backpacks. And… that’s about it. This didn’t turn out to be a terribly poetic ode. I think that’s probably fine though. Considering I was asked to romanticize an Inanimate Object! Clearly I’m adhering to the “safe” choice in inanimate objects, I chose the “dependable” guy after all.

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  3. Cole Rau says:

    RockyGrass Music Festival. I knew it’d change my playing, but I didn’t know it’d change what I’d be playing with. She sure was a looker, more because of the price tag than anything. Coming in at me at $1,100, she was lookin’ and soundin’ far prettier than that $9,000 Jerry Douglas Signature dobro. Her beautiful, glossy finish didn’t fail to emphasise the beautiful grain of the wood. Her spider cone rang out like church bells on a dew-covered Carolina Sunday morning when it chose to, and other times like a sad ol’ whiskey bottle being knocked back for the last time (both for the bottle and the drinker.) The salesmen was giving me quite the deal, $400 less than the ticket price of $1,500.
    “Hey, buddy! Grab that Gold Tone and swing it with us!” The salesman gathered together some other people in the instrument tent, grabbed a guitar, and started laying down Lonesome Road. Me and these other strangers followed suit, swingin’ the daylights outta that little tent.
    On the last morning of the festival, I brought my parents over to the instrument tent and they made the purchase, because I was a bum and they decided to help me out. As I was walking out of the tent, glowing in happiness with my new dobro, the salesman stopped me and said, “Whoa now! A beautiful instrument like that gotta have a beautiful name for itself! Tell me, son, what’re you thinkin’?”
    “Grace. Yeah that’ll work, like the sunshine shining down on a crying face, lifting it up to see the light of a new day,” I spoke the name for the first time, and it seemed to, I don’t know. Ring, I suppose.
    “Huh, Grace. Well son, next time I see you, you better be playing the shit outta her! I’ll look forward to it,” he confirmed my choice. As I said goodbye to the salesman and headed back to my campsite, showing her off to all of my buddies from the academy the week before.

    The Station Inn, some time in November, in Nashville. It’d been months since I had jammed with anyone, so I was absolutely thrilled to be a part of the weekly Sunday night bluegrass jam. We got there around 6:15, waiting in line to get in at 7:00 for my parents to have good seats. I was redirected to a side entrance, were a grizzled old leather husk of a man greeted me. “Hey there kid! My name’s Mike. Is this your first time being at the jam?”
    “Nice to meet you, Mike. My name is Cole and as a matter of fact, it’s my first time here in Nashville at all. I mean I’d done a lot of jamming at the Rockygrass Music Festival in Colorado, but that was months ago,” I replied.
    “Well, Cole, You’re in for a treat, let me tell ya. Now whatcha got there in the case?” He pried.
    “I’ve got a Gold Tone by the name of Grace,” I said as I unzipped the guitar case and laid Grace on my lap. “I got her at Rockygrass, For a steal too! Only $1,100, which I’m still in debt to my parents for.”
    “Well, she certainly is a looker. But what’s more important is, how do you handle her?” he chuckled.
    “Excuse me?” I attempted to gain an understanding of what he meant by ‘handling.’
    “Well, how do you play? C’mon, let me hear you play a bit!” he exclaimed. “Here, I’ll play (insert some old bluegrass song that I forgot here), and show me what you got on it.”
    He started playing some basic bluegrass melody, sticking true to the simplicity of the I, IV, and V chords. After the first verse and chorus, he gave me the head nod to take up a solo, so that’s what I did. Me, being so influenced by the blues, immediately let the dobro ring out a loud, sorrowful wail, sliding up and down the neck to where the blues rang true. Yeah, I messed it up a bit, but isn’t that what teaches us best?
    We finished up the song, and he looked at me with a grin on his face. “Well kid, they’re opening the doors! Do what you just done, and you’ll be set. If you thought that was fun, get ready for the next four hours!” What he should’ve said was ‘get ready for the next few months, and most likely years, because Gracie has been supporting me with her beautiful ringing voice ever since.

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  4. Anna Daly says:

    My love,

    Such beauty. Such elegance. Much wow. I hope you hear every word I’m saying to you because you’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me. You never fail to surprise me everytime I see you. You’re physique is so slimming and soft like a baby’s bottom. You’re really attractive did you know that? You’re the most beautiful creature to ever walk this planet. You have such a caring soul and never fail to have my back whenever I need you the most. I mean you may have run out on me a couple times, but it’s okay. I forgive you. You know why? Because I never appreciated you enough before. Ever since you ran away I didn’t know how I was gonna get through each day without you. I didn’t have my best friend to back me up after every mistake I made. You always correct and help me with my problems. I have no idea how I got through school without you? But now that you’ve returned to me, I’ll never ever take you for granted again. Eraser, I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for all that you’ve done for me and I can’t wait to have more adventure and make more memories in college. This letter is just to say thank you for everything you’ve done in my life.
    English.
    English was a tough one to get through. With all the vocab words and grammatical errors I always made, you never failed to get me through those classes. Sorry for a always getting the same thing wrong on every single test. Although I would say I’m getting much better on my spelling. But I was always a great at spelling. It’s just those stupid words we never use in our daily lives for communication. Why the heck did we need to learn those words if we’re never going to use them? Then again, a lot of what we learn in school doesn’t help us in our daily lives. Then comes for the next thing I need to thank you for.
    Math.
    Man, math you were really there for me. I don’t know anyone else who could put up with me better than you did. There’s still more to come but this year has been the worst of ‘em all. This math teacher knows what he’s doing this year, but he’s such an asshole about everything. Not to mention the grading system doesn’t help at all either. I mean, giving me four questions on a test and I get ONE AND A HALF problems wrong and I get a 2? That’s a freaking C for the whole grade. How is that fair at all? But anyways, I’m sorry for using you so much in math. I make so many stupid errors. When you ran away for that whole week, I literally cried every time I walked into math class. Pencil was not happy with me at all. Pencil lost his little eraser after the second day of class. What I’m really trying to say is, I was really in a pickle when you left. I was heartbroken and couldn’t find anyone better, than you, to fix my errors. I even took a math test without you and barely survived.
    Eraser, again, I’d like to say thank you. I would have never survived this senior year without you. Getting through this year without you would have ended with a lot more tears and frustration. My papers would be a lot messier and I wouldn’t be able to make as many mistakes as I can now. You help me learn from my mistakes and allow me to have a second chance. I can’t wait to experience college with you as I move on to harder classes. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Sincerely,

    Anna Daly

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  5. A'na Tappa says:

    Ode to My Baby
    (457)

    The minute I laid eyes on you I knew I just had to have you. You looked at me with those puppy dog eyes and I couldn’t resist the temptation. The way your maroon curves complimented your perfectly circular top half drove me crazy. I couldn’t wait to pour my hot liquid into your smooth inner black hole that provided a safe place for my coffee to lay low until I came to collect it.

    My baby is such a helpful little girl.

    I know at times I test your limits, but you never let me down. Even though you are a coffee cup, you allow other liquids to be poured into you like the good girl you are. I appreciate that. The time where you spilt all of my water I will always be grateful for, because we both know how horrible it tastes and you saved me from the burden of pouring it out myself. I can always count on you to have my back.

    My baby knows me so well!

    Everytime I put you in my cold small locker, I make sure to put you on the top shelf because you are my number one. The bravery you display sitting in there all by yourself is admirable and I just can’t help but love you more. When I put you in my locker, I just want you know it’s not because I don’t love you, it’s the opposite actually. I love you so much that I don’t want you exposed to the horrors of the people in this school. See, I do it for your safety. I don’t want you negatively tampered with.

    My baby is so brave.

    Although that weird cheeto puff tries to take you from me, I will never let you go. I know that you aren’t fond of him touching you; neither am I sweety. He just won’t leave us alone and I apologize for that, but I would never let you go.

    Ever.

    We have been through alot together. The time where I dropped you on the hard checkered hallway floor I can’t imagine how it made you feel. It left a crack lining your curves, but it only makes you look like a warrior. The time where you flew out of my grasp and hit someone, I will never forget. We had fun times you and I, with many more to come.

    Oh our memories.

    You have helped me survive this year of torture, keeping me awake and fighting. I couldn’t thank you enough for the support you show me throughout our time together. You think providing me with my coffee is what I need most, but really all I need it you.

    My baby is my life.

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  6. Megan Prellwitz says:

    Ah to think of the first day we were united. You came custom fit just for me, in a box that I swear looked just like heaven. Warmed up to give my feet tight hugs filled with love. The smell of you Sadie, surrounded me. Real leather. Real wood. Real heaven.
    And to think of the first time I wore you. With endless tests coming up I got you just in time. Exactly one week before my next big test. My coach wanted me to wear my old grimy skates, claiming I hadn’t gotten used to you. But alas she didn’t know the connection we had. The edges, perfect. The pressure, perfect. Every movement, perfect. How could I go back to hell when I had been to heaven?
    The next season had arrived, and I heard some of the worst three words in the world. Tape your skates. How could they say that? Cover your beauty? The shine gone. Underneath the so called “perfect” exterior was a very imperfect sticky interior. Fugly in fact. Don’t worry much though Sadie, I still saw your beauty, every last bit of it.
    As season one with you had come to an end we started another, head on. You gave me confidence, grace, and with those things came beauty. Endless hours of time spent together we knew everything about each other and I took care of you like no other pair of skates I’ve ever had. Sharpened on time, dried after we got off the ice, new laces, new gardes, and this lead to new heights in my career.
    As season two came to a close I realized how your beauty had faded. Broken down. And as I get a new pair of skates I’ll never forget all the ups and downs (literally get it because falling ), we’ve been through together. That’s what I want to thank you for. You, Sadie, made me fall in love with skating like never before.

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  7. Gabriella Rodriguez says:

    I remember roaming the target aisle looking for the book section of the store, trying to look for you. This is the third store i’ve been to, looking for the wondrous piece of art that you are, I’m starting to give up hope. But I turn the corner and then I see you. The book. The book I have been searching for since that late January night when I was scrolling through the Picked For You section on Instagram and found the beautiful excerpts of poems from your pages. Your black cover with the white bees was so simple yet so elegant. Even your title sounded like poetry. Milk and Honey. The small amount of poems that I have already read have helped me more than you could imagine. Maybe you didn’t know that the written words that cover your white pages could do so much with so little of words.

    And for that I thank you.

    I remember the first time I opened your front cover and read the first poem you provided me with. Strong. Powerful. Beautiful. That is when I knew I would cherish our time together. I read your poems within the night and I remember being sad that you had no more poems to give me. I still carry you around wherever I go. I pull you out of the back zipper of my burnt orange backpack and open your pages to one of the four sections that you give me. “The Loving” it helps me when I don’t even ask for help. It nurtures me when I don’t ask to be nurtured.

    And for that I thank you.

    You were always there for me when I needed you the most. You offered me guidance with your words. You gave me the words to express my feelings. You helped me find myself with the words on your pages. You helped me find grace in myself when I didn’t think I could. You helped me see the good in others who had seemed to have no good left. You showed me how to move on and let go of the past.

    And for that I thank you.

    Sincerely, Me

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  8. Epiphany Rhoads says:

    Let’s say I caught the bug. The “I’m board and feel like learning something new” bug. That, my friends, is my cue for developing a new hobby. You could say I’m a hobby collector. I compile knowledge of random topics and activities, get obsessed quickly, than in a small amount of time tuck that hobby back away into my mind closet and decide on a new one. This time, the new one was houseplant care and collection. Before I ever went out to the garden store and bought myself some plants to care for, I spent weeks researching. I compiled document after document of information on different common houseplants, their histories, their biologies, their care. One of the many types I researched was the Moraceae family. This potted species is most commonly called the ficus. Ficus benjamina, Ficus elastica, Ficus carica. Some are grown for their beautiful tree like appearance, others for their delicious fruits, the fig. Native to the Mediterranean the tree is worshiped in many world religions, and has been cultivated from very early in human history. Oh the ficus, I didn’t know yet it would be my first love.
    The day came when I went to the store to purchase the plants I’d been reading about. I was anxious to start and I believed I would be the best plant parent. I got a few different kinds while I was there at the store. Walked around the tables and tables full of different plants for inside, for outside, for the pot, the raised bed, and for landscaping. I picked up a few small plants in their crinkly plastic pots. A Hoya, an ivy, a succulent or two. I got nice ceramic pots to put them in of all colors and varieties. Picked up a few heavy bags of potting soil, some houseplant fertilizer. Everything I’d read about. I tried to act like I knew everything there was to know, even though I think I still felt unprepared with that churning inside thinking about if I might kill them all. As I was settling to leave and buy what I got, the worker who’d been kind of intimidating the whole time, her red apron and her plant expertise, she came up to me and asked if I wanted one more. A little tree. Gradient leaves of green and off white, little woody trunks. It was the ficus, a weeping fig, beautiful. Still so small but I saw potential, maybe I was naive but I believed I could help this plant grow to be a strong tree and it would keep me lovely company. Oh the ficus, it was love at first sight–instantly my favorite plant.
    Ficus fit perfectly into my favorite pot I had picked out. A little off white one with a diamond pattern. It was made to look weathered and it matched perfectly with the white patchy leaves. I sat it on my shelf next to my clock and my favorite doll. My tiny tree. I kept it away from drafts, I kept my window open for the sun to brush its leaves every day at 3:30 pm. I watered it precisely every 10 days. it grew and grew. Every time it produced a new leaf I would throw you a party and celebrate. It got taller, it got wider. I took photos to document how proud I was. Oh but then came the webs. The spider mite webs. My ficus, I would always love it, but that day I cried and cried. I thought it was going to die.
    The internet said Ficus needed a shower. That would clean it of the webs, that it would be alright. The internet said ficus love showers. They will feel refreshed and clean and ready for growing. I like showers so I guess it makes sense huh. Well I showered it. I put it in my shower and let gentle water drops fall on it’s leaves and wash it clean. But just as the water fell onto the leaves so did the leaves fall onto the ground a few days later. One by one, at first alarmingly. But then it became more and more bare. More and more sad. Angry at me. One by one then more and more they turned crunchy yellow and fell to the ground. If I shook it dozens would come off. Ficus, it was holding on for dear life. I kept telling it, if you lose all your leaves what then will you use to collect the sun’s energy?
    More than a month passed, but it kept just a few. A few leaves stayed on it’s big bendy branches. I settled down too. At the very least it wasn’t losing as many at such an alarming rate. But then… It happened. A fresh, light green baby with just a speck of white, on it’s tiny fresh green stem came right out of the very tallest branch. Then another. I noticed them one day and I cried from relief. Ficus was coming back again. It was growing, it was thriving again. Just in time for spring to take it and to work it’s magic. Bigger and bigger ficus it will live with me forever I will see it grow into a brave strong tree.

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  9. Libby Olson says:

    My family has a thing with animals. If we ever come across an animal that has been abused or just needs a home, we either find one for it or we make it part of the family. Weather it be a large rose haired tarantula or a young German shepherd, if someone doesn’t want it we’ll take it. This is how I was given Rocky, the Goffin cockatoo.
    I went home after a long day in the hell hole I call school. Only to find a large birdcage in the middle of the living room, nothing was in the cage. Not knowing why there was a cage in the middle of the living room, I moved it to the far right wall and proceeded to sit on the couch and watch TV while doing (or pretending to do) my homework. My father was working on something in the garage at the time and I didn’t want him to walk in and see me watching TV and not doing my homework.
    My father soon walked into the living room with his normal smirk.
    “So????” He looked at me with a judging look.
    “So… what?” I was somewhat confused, he looked too excited to have cage that we would most likely have no use for.
    He practically faced palmed at my question. “What do you mean so what?! Haven’t you noticed that we have a new pet?”
    “The only thing I see is a cage…” I said confused. His eyes widening when he realized that there was nothing in the cage. He frantically looked around the house and soon gave up and collapsed on the couch next to me looking defeated.
    We both sat in silence for a while, both of us not knowing what to say to one another. A loud shriek broke our silence and almost gave the both of us a heart attack. We looked up and saw a pure white bird sitting on the curtain rod above us. My father couldn’t stop laughing. The bird was the exact color of the wall and was barely visible. Me being only 9 at the time had to climb onto the back of the couch to even reach the bird. The bird surprisingly let me pet him even though he was supposed to be “Temperamental”. It turns out that he just really hates men and anyone with sunglasses or a hat.
    Throughout the years Rocky and I grew close, but he still dislikes my father. Which is nice for me, because even though it’s illegal for me to break my father’s fingers, my bird will do it for me… Anyways, it’s not like 7 is a large number…

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