Signs of the Age(s)

25 Feb

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Signs of the Age(s)

By L. Stewart Marsden

 

They’re piling up.

The signs.

And I find myself muttering, “Ya ain’t gettin’ any younger!”

A sciatic nerve that repeats its message I can’t do certain things:

  • like haul all of my groceries stuffed into those plastic bags into my condo in one trip;
  • like sit on the edge of the bed in the morning and bend over to tie my shoes;
  • like go up and down stairways alternating steps (I use my left leg/foot to descend and ascend, rather than going right-left-right-etc);
  • like sweep, vacuum and mop at a furious pace. Or any other strenuous activity that caused me no physical stress when I was younger.

I look in the mirror (as few times as I possibly can) and see “little tiny hairs, growing out my ears*!”

I see moles and warts and looooong antennae-like eyebrow hairs, and wonder what is the etiology for those changes?

I walk into a room purposefully, only to stop in mid-stride to wonder why the hell I walked into the room purposefully.

There are sticky-notes everywhere! I have every GPS location device for wallets, keys, socks, belts, that is possible to buy and utilize.

I and others joke at the age milestones: 30, 40, 50, etc. Some freak out, and scramble to recapture themselves at a much younger age. Miracle hair-growth products. Skin-tightening creams and ointments; and finally, plastic surgery. Botox. Tummy tucks. Diet regimens. Flattering clothing and underclothing that squeezes and redistributes sagging and baggy bulges.

Industries of a myriad of sorts spring up daily, reminding you that, “YOU’RE GETTING OLD!” It’s got to be a Trillion-Dollar industry!

It’s always been the case. What wasn’t always the case was the frenetic energy spent on not getting old. Till us Baby Boomers arrived. Now a whole slug of the population is age-aware, and “Do not go easy into that good night” takes on a totally different meaning.

The tired adage, “Yeah, but it beats the alternative!” said with a shrug of the shoulders and a grin, grows more tiredy and adagey.

I put my underwear on backwards this morning. Didn’t discover the error until Nature called and I panicked in the bathroom, fumbling around and thinking “I know it’s here somewhere!”

I know. That’s what she said.

The thing is I didn’t immediately drop trow and boxers to remedy the situation. In fact, I’m still sitting on my underwear pee-hole as I write! I can hear my kids groaning as they read this. I fully expect one of them to ask me — no — demand that I delete this post.

Yeah, there are definitely some pretty crappy things that come along with getting older. But, all-in-all, the tired adage is still true.

At the same time, there are wonderful liberties afforded me because I’m now visibly old and getting older.

Don’t have to shower as often. Long as I have Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder I can mask the odors that germinate on certain parts of my body.

In public, most (not all) people hold a door for me, or say “You first, I insist!”

I skip over the Facebook posts that ask, “Do you know what this is?” or, “Have you ever used one of these,” and show something I am very familiar with.

I get most of the questions involving the 20th century right when I watch “Jeopardy!

I can wear stripes and plaids at the same time.

I can pretty much say what I think, and most will dismiss it with, “Well, you know … he’s old!”

The list goes on.

I’m not sure how aging is going to fare in the distant future. According to all of the dystopian novels and movies, the old folk simply disappear. That’s either due to euthanasia, or the possibility some anti-aging treatment will be developed.

If so, I think the world’s population will go berserk and pandemonium will ensue, right? Nah. Infant babies will be dispatched instead so that the population at large can continue to remain young without overcrowding. Or, everyone will be sterilized. I mean, ultimate control will remain in the hands of the adults, and the adults will always choose themselves when it comes down to it.

At the moment we’ve not been able to muck with the natural order of things, although God knows we’ve tried. I suppose it’s inevitable. Unless the Apocalypse occurs and Zombies and Preppers rule.

All signs of the Age(s).

 

*Credit must go to him whose name must not be spoken, Bill Cosby.

Gerry M. Andering

24 Feb

Gerry M. Andering

By L. Stewart Marsden

 

Gerry M. Andering was lithe and spry
And could squeeze and bend
Into the smallest of space
With little or no waste
To achieve his desired end
Which was to touch only certain-shaped spots
Where he amassed his great wealth
Through his stealth and his agile turns;

Almost boneless, was he,
Fluid-like and free to jiggle and wiggle
Without any constraints
He did paint such odd shapes
In his Rorschach-like ways
That he guaranteed days
To the kings of the hills
While the rest could just fuss, fume and burn.

Life as We Know It

18 Feb

Life as We Know It

By L. Stewart Marsden

“Life as we know it,”
said the astronomer, searching the vast universe for something familiar;
said the archeologist, knee-deep in dusty layers of time and civilized ruins;
said the preacher, couching expressions in holy-coded phrases for the elect few;
said the white baby boomer, recalling the “better days” of lemonade years;
said the ghetto-garrisoned teenaged mother, already tired of dried lemons;
said the match-hunter, newly-divorced and out “in the market” once more;
said the far-from-home soldier, carefully walking the debris of a war-torn village.

“Life as we know it,”
in an alien land, crossing the street to the other side of town;
wondering how do people live like that?
believe-that-way-say-such-things-behave-that-way-be-so-stupid?

on the one side,
“Life as we know it,”
not concerned with food or rent or transportation — just,
shrimp scampi or filet mignon, which neighborhood and whether gated or not, or which hue Lexus with what latest gadgets, which university — public or private?

or

on the other side
“Life as we know it,”
wondering to spend on groceries or rent or electricity or gas or weed,
or will the next moment bring anger or shouting or drunken abuse,
community college or county jail?

“Life as we know it,”
under the threat of imminent change …
or the more likelihood of no change at all?

You Can’t Get Killed This Way Any More

10 Feb

You Can’t Get Killed This Way Any More

or,

Losing Touch With What It Means to Be a Kid

by L. Stewart Marsden

Note:
This piece was written a few years back, but in my opinion, is still relevant and will remain so until we come to grips with the issues that prevent our children from being able to range and roam safely. And until we adults put away our techno-toys and get outside ourselves.

At dinner recently I had to demand that my youngest children and grandchildren hand over their electronic gadgets from iPhones to iPads to Kindles and Nooks — innocuous-sounding replacements for true outdoor exercise. As well as table talk.

Am I not right?

Outdoor exercise. Hmmm. Today that’s the process of going from an air-conditioned house to an air-conditioned car to the air-conditioned school — and repeat the return trip, which is often spiced up with an air-conditioned mall or air-conditioned movie theater.

Sure, we’re the generation who brought you MacDonald’s and drive-throughs and empty calorie-laden drinks like Coke and Pepsi — TV dinners and more. But few of us were pudgy, ’cause we walked and biked miles every day through our towns and neighborhoods.

Kids today don’t know what outdoor play means. They don’t know what it means to survive and thrive for a full 12 to 14 hours in the neighborhood — wading down creeks to catch crayfish, or stealing those smudge pots street workers put out and lit to warn motorists of roadwork.

Or climbing trees to build really great tree houses 50 feet in the air.

Or blowing up coke bottles with M80’s and cherry bombs.

Or swiping playing cards and clothespins from your house and fastening them to the spokes of your bicycle. Two or three bikes equipped like that sounds like a Hell’s Angels gang! And who doesn’t like or wanna be a Hell’s Angel?

THAT was being a kid!

Nobody had allergies. Nobody cried or whimpered at the sight of blood. Or mud.

We didn’t have Wii controllers, we had Mattel Fanner 50 pistols, and plastic machine guns with full military combat regalia.

We hurled Dixie cups filled with flour to mimic grenades.

We played all over the neighborhood until the sun had set for an hour and our moms had to come out looking for us.

We were easily entertained by a box of stick matches and a can of lighter fluid.

Okay, that might have been extreme.

Comedian Bill Cosby (he whose name can never be mentioned again) said in a comedy bit he knew adults were out to kill the kids. His proof? Whirligigs, jungle gyms, and see-saws.

He left one out: the Flexi Flier. Not the sled, but the steel-wheeled running board vehicle, shaped like a bullet and designed for death-defying fun!

This crazy craft was great for areas like a flat, concrete paved parking area where there were no cars. Problem was, there were no flat, concrete paved parking areas with no cars in my neighborhood.

In my neighborhood, the street was paved, but with that rocky pebbly stuff — not asphalt. You know the kind: if you skated on it with your key skates (if you don’t know what these are, you will not understand anything else in this blog), and you tried to sing the word “buh” it would come out bubbabubbabubbabubbabubba.

Sidewalks — a concept that escapes current city planners — ran parallel to either side of the street. Sidewalks were constructed in squares of roughly three to four feet. Trees planted next to these sidewalks grew their roots under these squares and pushed the units out of kilter. This is an important thing to note and remember if you were a Flexi Flier rider.

The Flexi Flier design:

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It looked like a sled. Not those molded thingies that are devastating our forests of plastic trees, but a thing of beauty! Made of real wood, and real steal. Painted with an American Eagle on top in multi-colors, and lacquered to a sheen. The metal steering and “bumpers,” painted bright red. It WAS a sled, but with four steel disc wheels rimmed with a half-inch of hard black rubber. Two wheels in the front, that could turn if you had muscles like Charles Atlas; and two at the rear.

Yes, a marvel of ingenuity and beauty. Kind of like a BB gun was.

The Three Ways to Ride a Flexi Flier:

One knee position
You positioned one knee on the bed of the flier, and bent over forward to grab the imagesteering handles with each hand. This position was ideal on those nonexistent flat, carless parking lots. You would propel yourself with the other leg, hung out over one side. It was kind of like a huge skateboard with front wheels that turned. The kid in the photo is a random selection. The fact that he has no shoes or shirt or long-legged Levi’s on tells me he’s an idiot.

 

 

Stomach position
imageFlat on your stomach with your hands on the steering handles, and if you were a short kid, your legs extended over the back end of the Flexi. If you were tall, you bent your knees and rode with your feet in the air. Like a snow sled. This is undoubtedly the preferred position.

The kid on the left (a detail from a painting by Francene Christianson) is living a fantasy life. Probably somewhere in California, no doubt. Who the hell had flat and even sidewalks back then? Where’s the challenge in that?

Sitting up position
Buttox positioned over the rear wheels, and hands firmly gripping either side slat, you put your feet forward on the steering handles. Not as aerodynamic as the one knee or stomach positions, and you definitely could not operate the state-of-the-art front brakes.

There are no photos of this position. I suspect because few survived and blood and gore had not become a fare of the local evening news yet.

Stopping
The wheels of the Flexi were steel disks with a hard rubber rim about a half-inch thick. imageOn the steering handles were metal nubs that extended out over the front wheels. If you twisted the handles forward, the idea was that those nubs would rub the rubber rims — kind of like disc brakes — and the Flexi would ostensibly and eventually stop. After maybe half a mile when gravity or a curb brought you to a halt, it did. There was no way to quickly stop a Flexi that had built up momentum other than turn towards a bush hedge, tree, or brick wall. And uneven sidewalks.

imageIf you sped down a sidewalk and had built your speed up to maybe 15 to 20 mph — remember, you are about six inches above ground level — and you hit an uneven place in the sidewalk? Well, the Flexi would pretty much stop dead, and you would continue on — Flexiless.

Face, chin, chest, stomach, knees — pretty much any clothing on your front side — was rubbed away as your body slowed to a stop.

It wasn’t unusual to have a full body scab from head to toe from a Flexi mishap. It hurt like hell, but was an unmistakable badge of pride.

Alas, Flexible Fliers pretty much went the way of whirligigs and jungle gyms and see-saws. Fearful mothers and greedy lawyers pretty much did all that great fun in.  Plus kids today are wusses. If you don’t know that term, you probably didn’t understand anything above.

Keep your iPhones, iPads and iEverythings. It’s your loss.

#NotMySuperBowlChamps

6 Feb

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#NotMySuperBowlChamps

By L. Stewart Marsden

It’s the morning after. I am distraught and incredibly depressed.

Not too terribly long ago Super Bowl Party guests and I were casually watching the Atlanta Falcons dismantle the Evil Empire New England Patriots well into the third quarter of THE GAME. The sound was turned down as we talked about a myriad of subjects not football. It was a done deal. With 6:04 remaining in the third quarter with a 25-point lead, we were all confident that Super Bowl LI was in the bag for the wildly popular Falcons.

Then, all of a sudden, Tom “Voldemort” Brady willed the Patriots through the air and on the ground over and over as the hapless Georgia team stood frozen under his curse.

The inconceivable had happened: a combination of the unexpected plus an archaic NFL rule overruled the desires of NFL fans nationwide to leave all of us shocked and in disbelief.

These rogue Patriots, guilty of conning and deceiving their way to disputed victory after disputed victory had amassed the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history in the first-ever overtime in the championship’s storied history.

Coincidence?

I think not.

Consider the past of these so-called “victors”:

  • These same Patriots, guilty of the infamous “Snow-Plow” victory on December 12, 1982;
  • who benefitted from the infamous “Tuck Rule” that resulted in — guess what?– another controversial victory on January 19, 2002;
  • who disregarded any semblance of fair play on September 9, 2007 in the Spy-Gate incident;
  • who utilized a trick substitution play to upset the Baltimore Ravens on January 10, 2015 on their post-season journey;
  • and, can one EVER forget Deflate-Gate of January 18, 2015?

Can a zebra change its stripes? Can a lion become a vegan? Can an outrageous noncompliant evil outsider win the … well, never mind.

When I was a church-goer, I often heard that Lucifer means “light,” and evil often shrouds its despicable nature — the devil using beauty and alluring words. Voldemort Brady is one such example. Belichick, his master — not so much. But he doesn’t have to be. After all, the puppetmeister pulls his strings behind the set.

Toward the final seconds of the fourth quarter, we all knew “they” would ultimately prevail.

The tie score. Overtime.

Somehow … the overtime coin toss was won by the Evil Empire.

Again, coincidence?

Some foul magic was afoot, methinks. (Ever notice how little the NE Patriots shoot an arm and a finger up at the Big Guy/Gal in the Sky after a big play? So we KNOW that HE/SHE wasn’t rooting for the bad guys).

And, as in the final 10 or so minutes of regular play, The Death Ray was focused on the end zone. Destruction of all that was Holy was imminent. An apocalyptic abyss was unavoidable.

As New England goose-stepped into and through Atlanta territory — not unlike Sherman’s March to the Sea –, one of my guests said,

“Wait! What? If the Nazi team scores, the good guys will get a chance to score also, right?”

WRONG!

The winner of the biggest contest in the NFL season could be determined by oh, such an unfair and archaic rule.

“If the Patriots only score a field goal, yes, then Atlanta has a chance to either score a field goal to tie, or a touchdown to win. BUT, if the slime balls score a touchdown, then it’s over, and they win. No opportunity for the fair-haired sweetums to even the score.”

“BUT, THAT’S NOT FAIR!”

Fair had nothing to do with it. It is in the constitutional laws of the NFL governing overtime play. Apparently the Founding Football Fathers didn’t reckon on such a lousy and unfair rule determining the SBC (Super Bowl Champions).

The wind was literally sucked out of the national football fans’ sails when the Patriots scored on their first drive in overtime.

Boom!

You could see the life drain from the faces of the ESPN color commentators. The silence was deafening. The Bad Guys had come back from a 25-point deficit to win Super Bowl LIe.

No, I meant that. It IS a lie! Like all of the deceit and lies and manipulation this wicked team has wrought during its nefarious lifetime. The “champions” of Super Bowl LI are ONE BIG LIE!

Therefore, I’m starting a movement to petition the NFL in order to have the Patriots stripped of all trophies they have wrongfully accumulated over the decade, as well as rescind the overtime regs. That movement is #NotMySuperBowlChamps. Won’t you join me in this essential effort?

My polls tell me that you agree with me that the overtime rules should be overthrown, and the rightful heirs of the Super Bowl throne — the Atlanta Falcons (and, by the way, the Carolina Panthers for the previous Super Bowl — but that’s another exposé for another day) — be instated as Super Bowl LI Champions!

Oh, and typical of the Patriots, Tom “Voldemort” Brady SAYS someone stole his game jersey.

The truth?

More likely just one more Super Bowl LIe!

The Protectorate

5 Feb

Perfect read for today’s game!

Writing Odds n Ends

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The Protectorate was written in December 2015, and is particularly appropriate for Super Bowl Sunday. If you would like to read it and comment, please go to About Me and find my email address, then email me so. I’ll send you a PDF file of the story.

BTW: I don’t care who wins today’s Super Bowl as long as it’s not New England.

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Breaking news: The Great Beach T-Shirt Metaphor

4 Feb

BREAKING NEWS!

THE GREAT BEACH T-SHIRT METAPHOR!
(Or, what’s a meta for?)

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Several years ago my DIL did a whimsical thing and designed a T-shirt for our annual beach trip during the week of the 4th of July.

What a great idea!

We all LOVED the shirts, which had a drawing of our cottage on the back, and other really neat stuff.

So, we meet at the beach, and my DIL passes out the shirts, and we wear them on the beach.

“Hey! Where’d you get THOSE?” asked a member of the extended family. (You see, I’m one of four children, and each of us have added children, and many of those children, children … so the number has grown exponentially over the years).

Oops!

An innocent oversight. We forgot to include about 40 others.

Sooooo, the NEXT year we INCLUDED everyone, and the design was somewhat generic and all names were stamped on the back and so forth and so on.

What began as my DIL’s fun, fanciful and serendipitous project had become, in the words of the somber and serious: AN INSTITUTION!

I can hear Zero Mostel singing “Tradition!” in my mind.

Fast forward a couple of years. We’re coming around Winter’s corner and will soon be springing through to summer, where all — with some additions — will once again gather at the beach during the week of July 4th.

I put out a letter to my siblings, asking if there is any interest in a T-shirt.

One of my daughters, who had told me months ago that she and her cousin wanted to design it this year. I had forgotten that one of my son’s had put in a bid as well to design it. Apparently, design it is a big deal. My GKs designed last year’s.

Last year 53 relatives showed up to suntan and play bocci and ladder ball for a week. Not in one cottage, mind you.

So my daughter said she really didn’t want to do it, but I should contact her cousin, which I did to no avail. Still forgetting my son wanted to do it, I began the process. The picture is the design. The line across the belly actually is supposed to go down the right sleeve. CustomInk doesn’t have a template to show that, however.

I sent out a request for sizes to my family portion (those of my branch). One of my daughters said she did not want a T-shirt. Ba-dum! Somewhat hurt, I asked if anyone else did not want a shirt.

You know that phrase, “If you build it …?” Well, it also works for “If you ask it, they will answer.”

Rapid-fire semi-automatic responses. I’m ducking left and right, pretending the wounds are only superficial, but am both surprised and hurt by the unexpected reactions.

So, I do bleed if scratched!

There is a flurry of back-and-forth texts. “What if we tweek the design?” “I don’t want to wear a line of type across my belly.” “I hate the shirt style.” Yadda-yadda-yadda.

Then, in the midst of the firefight comes an aside from one of my SIL’s (actually, he’s the ONLY SIL I have … so far):

“Let’s fix this T-shirt and make the beach trip GREAT again!”

You could hear the drum beat. Budda-bum!

There it was, in all its glory: the beach trip WASN’T the great experience everyone in the family pretended it to be. It was in bad shape. It wasn’t the T-shirt at all.

It was the fact that something I looked forward to as a kid — spending time on the beach and building sandcastles and cleaning blue crabs we had netted at Southport, and going down to Myrtle Beach to ride the rides and then throw up — all of that had morphed into a tradition.

My kids will tell you they love the trip because it’s the only time they get to see their cousins. But has it run its course? Has it lost the old zippety-doo-dah? Is the salt in the air a bit less salty. The waters filled with more sharks than before? The Calabash dinners a bit more oily?

Like the T-shirt, it seems to be something to do because we’ve always done it. Something to look back on. Building memories.

MayBE like the government. “Well, we’ve always done it this way …”

Until someone said, “Make the beach trip GREAT AGAIN!” no one stopped and thought about it and said “Wait! What? It’s NOT great?”

You need to know that the next generation beyond my siblings and me is, for the most part, politically liberal (“Oh, jeesh, Edith — did you HAVE to say THAT?)

You would expect some exciting and different ideas about how to get the extended family together periodically.

Like, a reunion? And maybe not for a whole week? But a long weekend? Maybe in the mountains? Or somewhere else.

AND, we could have a commemorative T-shirt!

Budda-bum!

The metaphor.

OR, mayBE, not have a T-shirt, at all.

GIGO

1 Feb

 

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GIGO

Garbage in, garbage out.

A phrase that seemed to be on many people’s lips a few years back, a nemonic from the high tech industry.

Made sense then, makes sense now.

Perhaps the trick is discerning what constitutes garbage.

After all, one man’s garbage is another’s treasure.

Yard sales, flea markets attest to that.

When I lived in New York City in the 70s I wrote a comedy sketch using that as a central theme.

A man hauled out his bags of garbage for pickup by the city sanitation department.

A rather dapper man who was walking by, stopped, and asked if he could buy the man’s garbage for $50.

The man was no fool, and took the man’s money gladly.
As he climbed the stairs to his building, he turned to see the pristine man rummaging through the bags, oohing and aahing as he did.

“Hey!” Said the one-time garbage owner. “What’re you doing?”

The man replied, “My good fellow, I have learned to recycle things that people throw away. In doing so, I have made my fortune. I shall parlay the fifty dollars I just gave you into $1,000.”

He then pulled items out of the garbage and described their alternative uses, which astounded the dumbfounded man.

“These styrofoam egg cartons? Voila! Bras for Barbie Dolls!” And so forth.

The man suddenly realized he had been had, and came back down the stairs.

“Here’s your fifty dollars back, gimme my garbage!”

“Oh, I AM sorry my friend. All cash transactions are final.”

“Okay,” he said, rifling through his wallet, “here’s another $10.”

“No deal, I’m afraid.”

“$75, then. I’ll give you $75.”

“Once again …”

“OKAY! $100 for my garbage back! That’s my last offer!”

“You strike a hard bargain.” And the gentleman took the $100 and walked away.

Extremely satisfied with himself, the man scooped up his bags of garbage and fairly leaped up the stairs. Opening his front door, he yelled inside,

“Mabel! Look at what I just got for a measly $100 bucks!”

When “Please” Doesn’t Cut It

29 Jan
Credit: fullyalivecoaching.wordpress.com

Credit: fullyalivecoaching.wordpress.com

When “Please” Doesn’t Cut It
(A parenting/political dilemma)

By  L. Stewart Marsden

 

Polite, at first
Then, more insistent …
Please!
(Wanting the best from what seems the worst)
Angered, frustrated
Adding, “I said
To ears that don’t hear;
To someone who’s hell-bent-for-leather
And whether or not they can even abate it —
The weight of their actions
So fearful and ponderous —
Its consequence thundering down and upon us?
The please, being so proper, so very polite
Is not quite enough.
Please doesn’t cut it; it’s too civil — not tough;
And when “please” doesn’t cut it
It’s time to draw lines.
And where lines have been drawn,
And when lines have been crossed,
Please just doesn’t cut it anymore.

The Lonely King

27 Jan

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In 1685, King Louis XIV of France revoked the Edict of Nantes with the Edict of Fontainebleau. The Edict of Nantes provided certain religious and economic freedoms to the Huguenots, French protestants. With the revocation, Louis came down hard on Huguenots, demanding they recant their religion and convert to Catholicism, or else. The or else included loss of property, imprisonment for males, seclusion in convents for the women, torture and a variety of types of execution, including beheading and burning at the stake.

Numbers are debatable, but between 200,000 and 250,000 Huguenots fled France, many crossing the Atlantic to resettle in America. Charles Towne in now South Carolina was one of those destinations. Those who left represented about one percent of the population of France.

Two similarities strike me from that day and age to the present: the “ramrodding” of power by Louis, and the Huguenot diaspora, which included some of the most intelligent and creative French of the day.

A friend, considering (however seriously) leaving the US for places less antagonistic, got me to thinking. The poem below is the result of that cogitation (I apologize in advance for its poor literary quality):

 

The Lonely King

by Yours Truly

 

There was once a king
Who sat on his throne
Surveying his great and vast kingdom.
From the East to the West
To the ends of the earth
His realm could be equaled by none.

“Jester!” said he
To a motley-dressed clown
“Bring my fiddlers — I’m bored and want sound!”
But the clown,
With a frown, said
“Your fiddlers aren’t here,
Sire, they all have left town
And there’s no more sweet sound
To be found all around.”

“Left town? The lot of them?”

“Yes, Sire. The lot of them, sad to say,
Have amscrayed this place
Which is why there’s no music
To call for, Your Grace.”

“Why would they go and leave me alone?”

“I’m sure I don’t know,” said the clown to the king on his throne.

“Then bring me my choir, and bid them to sing!”

“Your Worshipful, that, alas, too, is a shame,
For all of your choristers — sopranos to altos,
Tenors to basses —
Have left your vast kingdom for far away places
So remote that some don’t even have names.”

“And my servants and wise men?”

“Please don’t despise them,
But they’ve all left the kingdom as well.”

“But WHY then? Why have they left me here all alone?
To mourn and to moan all alone on my throne?”

“But I am still here!” said the motley-dressed jester,
“And I’ll entertain you so your sadness won’t fester,
And agree with your wisdom and all your decrees
And serve you while groveling down on my knees!
There’s nobody else you need, if you please,
But motley-dressed, dancing clown, silly old me!”

The king sighed a sigh, and nodded,”You’re right.
Those silly old fiddlers, those out-of-tune singers,
Those supposedly-wise wise men,
Those fat, needy people, all stupid and lazy —
Why together they drove this king crazy all day and all night!

“I’m far better off here alone and without them!
Here on my throne with my kingdom about me.

“Who needs all that so-called music? Who needs the riff-raff?
I’m far better off alone on my throne
with my beautiful hand-carved elephant tusk staff
To decree my decrees with a sneer and a laugh.”

To wit, he said, to the clown kneeling there,

“Get me my quill and my parchment post-haste.
I’ve a decree to declare — why there’s no time to waste!”

And he whiled the days on his throne all alone,
(The exception, of course, was his true, loyal clown)
And made his decrees which the clown did declare
To the large empty kingdom, with pomp and with flair.

Disclaimer:
Any similarities between the King and any person living in the District of Columbia on Pennsylvania Avenue are purely, most sincerely, absolutely coincidental. And that’s the purely, most sincerely absolutely alternative Truth!

***