Mediocrity Triumphs!

When I was a little boy, I went to the Boston Museum of Science and saw some baby chickens being born in an incubator.  Man, those were some hot chicks.

Q)  Why did the lumberjack clear-cut the forest?

A)  It was getting too big for its birches.

Q)  What did the logger who suffered from terrible hay fever say?

A)  “I can’t see the forest for the sneeze.”

I’m proud to announce that I’ve been given a job at Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, better known as Gitmo, the notorious Home of American Torture, as their Chief Distributor of Bad Puns.

Speaking of Gitmo, have you seen Mos Def’s video in which he tries to see what being force-fed liquid food is like?  He can’t stand it for more than a second, as the procedure is too painful to endure.  How nice that those prisoners who find their lives at the “camp” utterly intolerable are not even allowed the satisfaction of a dignified death through a hunger strike as they’re kept unwillingly alive in such a sinister manner.  Bon appetit, putative terrorists.

Yesterday I participated in a contest of sorts at my wife’s church.  We sang a song entitled “This Is My Father’s World.”  (My real father once shared the philosophical observation that no one really owns anything and we’re mainly just a Planet of Renters.)  I had practiced the song religiously, drilling the Korean lyrics into my head while sitting on the toilet for a grand total of five minutes.  Since I think it’s silly to believe in God, especially considering how many horrible things happen in the world while you wait (that’s meant as a reference to an overused TV commercial catch-phrase, not a criticism of the reader, who’s apt to be a better citizen than I’ll ever be), I didn’t feel  particularly compelled to memorize the sucker.

Jina had also told me ahead of time that we’d be surrounded by several other singers at the time, so I figured I could fake my way through it.

And that’s exactly what I did.

Because Jina is holier than thou, whoever thou might be, we’d already been stuck in the church and portions of its vast compound since ten in the morning, and the “talent show” didn’t commence till two p.m.  What a waste of a semi-beautiful day.  I was also restless because I wanted to be doing something more productive–or at least fun–with my time instead of farting around with a bunch of benighted if well-behaved lunatics.  

While Jim Morrison may have said that “All the children are insane,” (thanks for that authoritative diagnosis, Dr. Morrison, who cleverly and cutely arrived at the self-fellating anagram for himself “Mr. Mojo Risin'”), I’m delighted to announce that most of the kids I “teach” in Sunday school are still pure and wise enough not to go in for all that God and Jesus bullshit.

As the irrepressibly uptight twerp who conducts the class blurts his instructions to them through his microphone, performing all kinds of ignominious contortions for them to imitate while indoctrinating them in the ostensible ways of the Lord, I make faces at some of those children whose attention he fails to hold, while the rest of the kids who ignore him daydream about magnificent television cartoons they’ve watched.

Whenever the rest of the congregation–junior or senior–lower their heads in groveling prayer, I look around to see if anyone else is bowing out of the ludicrous ritual; that way I’d know I might have an ally.  

But no–hence, I have to keep up appearances, which is a big part of Korean culture–perhaps the main part, if not the only part, at least as far as I can tell, or as near, as an old housemate of mine from Vermont used to say.

Anyway, it’s Monday morning here and I’ve got to get up and get ready for work in a few minutes, so I’ll cut to the chase:  despite the formidable competition of the descendants of Orpheus and the sirens, people born with music notes flowing through their veins, Jina and my team managed to come in second place.  All I did was intone the words in a nondescript way, hiding my voice in a thicket made up of the voices of my fellow singers, peering at the lyrics with quasi-literate comprehension through my handy symbiotic reading glasses (you have to wear them at the same time as your regular glasses–they fit comfortably right inside them).  First place went to a group of crooning teenage girls who had us beat hands-down on the adorability factor.  

Despite the advice I always give to my public speaking students, I never made eye contact with the audience once–maybe because if I had I would have burst out laughing at being involved in such a fraudulent farce.

Although we were not privileged to win one of the coveted electric fans distributed during the raffle afterwards, Jina received a prize of one hundred thousand won (about a hundred US bucks) after I’d already high-tailed it out of there.

I went on to meet a friend for Mexican food and beers, and he soundly defeated me at chess.

I hope to win at the game some day before I die, but if I held my breath I would have become a chess piece myself a long time ago, ready to nestle endlessly in my box all by myself, everlastingly out of the game, sequestered in a boneyard of old discarded chessmen and -women of all shapes and sizes, hidden under the tessellated arena of the boring board.


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