Harmless Hobby? Collecting "Manmade Not- Rocks"

Or Is It A Secret Shame? By John Vonderlin

Hi June,

Tracing a habit, a hobby or obsession back to its roots can often give you insight into the power it wields over you in the present. Since I’ve written several emails to you about my photographing and collecting NotRocks, I thought it would be appropriate to share an essay I wrote for my support group therapy as part of my unsuccessful attempt to shake the hold “My Precious,” Manmade NotRocks have on my soul.

” My name is John Vonderlin and I collect Manmade NotRocks. I am conflicted. I consider myself a longtime member in good standing of the organization, “People For The Ethical Treatment of Rocks (PETR). “Oh, I’m no wild rock hugger, but I do talk the talk. You know…you’ve seen the bumperstickers…I’m My Rock’s Guardian. Rocks Are For Loving, Not Hurting. I’m My Rock’s Dad. Just Say No to Rock Abuse, etc. But, walking the walk has proved much more difficult. Manmade NotRocks were my fall from grace.

Here is my story.

It was late October and we were in Yosemite Valley, hobnobbing with the highrollers at that historic rock palace, the Ahwahnee Hotel. Over a pricey lunch, while gazing through the windows at the sheer, stunning cliffs of the Valley, we decided to drive east, over Tioga Pass, to Death Valley. No sooner had we started then it began to snow. As we began the long ascent to the pass the flurries thickened, then became continuous, first sticking to the road, then building up in an ever thicker blanket. As we went higher the snowfall intensified, the sky darkened further, the road grew ever slicker and other traffic disappeared, leaving us alone in a virtual whiteout condition. I was wishing I had worn my brown pants.

After what seemed an eternity, more then a few spent praying to the patron saint of four-wheeling fools, Eddie Bauer, I saw the snow-encrusted Tioga Pass sign and knew deliverance was at hand. Flooded with a sense of relief we headed down the eastern slope of the mighty Sierra. Later we were to learn that the road had been closed for its six month winter hiatus just minutes after we squeaked through.

Soon, needing relief from the white-knuckled death grip I had maintained on my steering wheel and the two cups of coffee I had for lunch, we pulled over. It was then I saw it…a large, sharp-edged piece of primeval granite, punctured with a perfectly drilled, two inch round hole in it. Wanting to confirm my suspicions, I pulled out my Swiss Army Knife, the Rockhound model, equipped with a spectrarockalyzer and did a quick field test. Bingo! I was looking at an awesome specimen of Explosivite, a not extremely rare, but virtually never transportable Manmade NotRock. Without fully appreciating the consequences, I grabbed ahold of it, gave a gruntacular heave, and staggered back to my car with it.

It was only later when I had descended to the oxygen rich air below that I realized the bind I had placed myself in. I was transporting damaged goods, a beautiful rock, treated very unethically. Drilled, defaced and scarred, so that explosives could be packed into it, to hurt even more rocks. The kind of rocks we P.E.T.R.s put pictures of on our signs when we’re protesting outside some cabers and slabbers convention. Not something that belonged in my collections.

Maybe it was the effects of the high altitude. Maybe it was the lingering effects of a fear-driven adrenaline overdose. Maybe it was just that baby looked good sitting in Eddie Bauer’s lap. Whatever, the reason I made that fateful decision. I found it. I like it. I want it. It’s mine.

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That was the first Manmade NotRock ethical banana peel I slipped on. There have been others. Afraid my P.E.T.R. colleagues might see them, I keep this branch of my collection in my garage under a tarp. I consider it a harmless arm of the main body of my collections, but know if I’m found out it will become my not so secret shame. Please help me find my way out of this rocky dilemma.” Enjoy. John Vonderlin

Email John: benloudman@sbcglobal.net

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About June Morrall

1947 - 2010
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