why should I have to do all the heavy lifting? exactly!
It’s been a while since I fobbed you off with something that’s not by me so that I can bask in unmerited, reflected glory. Thus, as I continue my phase of white-hot creativity—which is getting expensive, what with daily washing of the perspiration-soaked singlets and the purchase of giant tubs of styling goop so I can wrangle the few remaining wisps of fine, mouse-colored hair that aren’t sprouting from my auricles or nostrils—I take this well-deserved commercial break to share with you a piece of musical satire, a classic, and one of my favorites.
Classical pianist is just one of my protean guises, and if I didn’t exactly turn the world upside down with my not-quite-talented-enough talent, music is in my blood, my alveoli and my semi-collapsed internal organs, so, pretty essential to my existence.
Anna Russell, who wanted to become a singer but found that people laughed when she opened her mouth, wisely chose to make her almost adequate voice and plummy speaking manner into her minimum viable product. It turned out to be not only viable, but a worldwide sensation and her life’s work. A career, in fact.
Let The Guardian explain, in this excerpt from her obit:
… it was a disastrous experience as an understudy in a touring production of Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana that first showed Russell what could be made of operatic parody. As the tragic heroine, she was supposed to be cast to the floor by the diminutive tenor; not anticipating her to be so heavy, he fell himself, bringing down part of the scenery, and causing such merriment that the performance came to a halt.
The Guardian, 24 Oct 2006; byline: Patrick O’Connor
In fact, I’m doing sort of the same thing, just with a few frustrating, aimless decades in between the realization and the act. My Ph.D. in Procrastination, which I achieved Magna Cum Laude, or at least, I will when I get around to emailing my thesis to my advisor, which means I should probably decide on a topic, was a key factor in the success which I’m sure is just around the corner, someday.
“For the singer with no voice, but great artistry”
If you love classical music, if you hate classical music, or even if you’ve never heard of classical music – there’s something here for you. This excerpt from the late, great Anna Russell’s best known and best album will have you in stitches.
Russell skewers the German Lied and the French “art song” to devastating effect, and leaves a sophisticated New York audience of the 1950’s – possibly the last decade of the 20th century when knowledge of classical music was de rigueur for anyone aspiring to be considered educated and well-rounded – with, as they say, not a dry seat in the house.
Her German Lied takes the tired trope of “doesn’t German sound funny to English ears” and while not exactly making it less corny, takes it to hysterical new heights with a consonant-bristling climax, somewhere between an orgasm and a sneeze, on the word “Schnecken!!”; her French art song, with an accompaniment on the piano that wanders, like Debussy in the last throes of dementia, through a fog of confused, “Impressionist” harmonies, takes phrase-book French and pastes together a saucy collage from which we can glean that the artist has enjoyed a bit of home cookin’ followed by a bit on the side from the hotel cleaning staff:
"Go find the concierge and politely ask him to give this tip to the valet de chambre..."
DEAR MR. BEZOS: YEAH, SO. JUST READ the descriptions of those pics the National Enquirer got their hands on, and should Amazon customers see them — which would clearly be in their best interest — they would, quite frankly, question your business judgment. I certainly do!
I do also have just a few really quite minor suggestions about your Instagram filters, but let’s save that for the bit in the deli when we sign the “catch and kill.”
Alright, here’s the deal: Basically, the “sketch” and “cartoon” options are not considered, you know. Au courant, at least, if you want even a shot at being an “Influencer.” But more on that later.
Honestly? I’d say just a little more contrast. Remember that “brightness” is all about the mid-tones, and jeepers, don’t miss out on the red-eye reduction! Saves you hours in post! Are you getting this down?
Now on to the blackmail bit, and apologies for the delay, which I’m sure must be making you feel a bit antsy.
So, you’ve revealed just a teensy bit more than you intended. Now we know what that bulge in your pants was. We thought it was just a great, big, rolled-up wad of billions of dollars in corporate welfare you got for building your second HQ in New York City — that sleepy, second-rate wannabe town that’s been aching for someone, anyone, but mostly you, to help it break out of that loser mentality that’s kept it beaten down and struggling.
That’s how it’s been in New Amsterdam, right? Ever since the Dutch dropped anchor thinking they were somewhere in southeast Asia, and proceeded to eke out their wretched lives eating tulip bulbs with the dirt still on them, forcing their women folk into sexual slavery — exposing themselves behind plate glass windows as they proffered their freshly-baked Apfelkuchen. Ja, das schmeckt!
But, no. It was your, and you may want to ask the little ladies and kids to leave the room at this point, “semi-erect manhood;” due, I have no doubt, to the “cleavage” on display; and as far as business judgment goes, nice try with the “fully-erect manhood and two great big naturals available when you join ‘Prime.’”
Nice try but no cigar, except with the simulated depiction of oral sex.
My interest, among other things, peaked, just a little, at “nether regions,” and it raised an eyebrow at the felicity of an AMI executive being named “Mr. Pecker.”
Are you serious?
The Peckers consider baby names:
“If it’s a girl, let’s name her ‘Brandy’. It’d be nice to have a stripper in the family, especially if she goes the ‘European-style’ route. If it’s a boy — how about Richard? No?”
Sometimes, Mr. Bezos, life is perfect.
The folks at AMI apparently read a lot of trashy pulp novels from the 1950’s (“She was a Kitten with a steno pad… but a Tigress on the percale sheets!”) and I squirm with delight at their inability to say “penis,” “erection,” or “pubic.”
Even my five-year-old great-nephew can say those! At least, he could before Doug Ford replaced the Ontario sex-ed curriculum with free copies of “Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians.”
Reading the tantalizing, babelicious descriptions had raised my temperature to such a degree that — well.
I had to take things in hand.
Five minutes under a cold shower, which is apparently all my landlord is able to provide this week, has ruined my Galaxy S2. Waterproof, my eye!
Let’s cut to the chase, Mr Bezos, or now that we know each other so much better, how’s about I just call you Jeff? Hmmmm?
Or, sure, maybe just stick with “Mr. Bezos.” Mr. Bezos is fine. Not a problem.
I’m not going to pussyfoot around, here. I publish this on my blog (readership approaching one hundred, it’s possible my mom subscribed twice, but whatever), OR I get free shipping OR next-day delivery, I’ll decide later, on… Well, I dunno.
That iPhone 10 is lookin’ pretty damn tasty, Mr. Bezos.
OK, OK, relax! It was just a thought. No, really, forget it.
Sheesh! Jump all over me or what!
I’ll be fine. I’ll just — stick it in a bag of rice.
OK, so text me. No, call. Yeah, nearly had me putting it in writing, you sly dog! Ha! Nice one! You’re good!
All the best,
Dave “Pecker” Roddis
P.S. I’d be happy with even the 8GB iPhone 10, just so you know. Also, about the semi-erect thing, Cialis works great, with, honestly? only a really small chance of stroke, with just a slightly bigger chance if you’ve taken aspirin in the past ninety days. And if you get the generic ones from India you get 50% off your next purchase. I’ll send you a coupon.
They call it “the weekender,” that’s just man to man between you and me, and I think you’ll find it’s totally worth the risk. Start with half a one first and see how it goes, is my idea.
AS I STOOD NAKED IN MY KITCHEN THE OTHER MORNING, smoking my first Pall Mall Red of the day, desperate for a pee and staring with pink, watery rabbit eyes at the jars of Colombian Roast, Gold Espresso and Special Regular Blend flash-frozen crystals while debating my options—
—whether I should dredge up a greasy mug from the fetid swamp water of the sink, or boil the water on the stovetop (kettle died, see below), add the instant coffee to that and just drink it right out of the saucepan; what particular mutilations I should perform on the person who used up all the milk then replaced the empty bag, in its plastic jug, back in the fridge; and whether I should throw my last shred of self-esteem under the bus and order that penis-enlarging pump with the special rhino-horn cream from Grommet to counteract the gradual and undeniable process of age-related, disuse-related or indifference-related atrophy—
—I asked myself a question.
We’re all adults? I can talk freely?
Why is it, I wondered, that my default blog post, at least eight times out of ten, is a searing analysis of American, rather than Canadian, political shenanigans and social hooligan-ry?
This is what being a merciless and unsparing Skewerer of Modern Times entails, and so as not to put you off completely, I’m not even mentioning the unrelenting stream of hate mail I receive, which basically consists of pink notices from Canada Revenue insisting that I file my taxes from 2012 onwards while simultaneously remitting forty-thousand dollars; and Bell Canada Fibe promotions addressed to “Occupant”.
Then I went for a pee, and at age sixty-odd and counting I damn well deserve to sit down for this one, at which point I dozed off again on the john.
I awakened with a little scream of confusion, which is how I regain consciousness during a Wagner opera, hoping to be well into the final act then realizing it’s only five minutes later; which is to say, in a state of desperate hope followed immediately by despair. Little by little, and with nominal assistance from Facebook and GPS, I managed to piece together my identify and location coordinates; at which point I felt confident enough to make the coffee, finish the pack of smokes and file for immediate attention that day’s final notices, a process that involves stuffing them into an old leather suitcase that I found on the side of the road four years ago.
My morning calisthenics complete, I felt really quite pulled together and ready to ignore my uncomfortable question and blast ahead into my day of doing the next, doh, obvious thing that doesn’t make any money.
Then I logged on.
The headline on Huffington PostCanada sent shivers down my spine, put my heart on the express elevator to the basement and stood on end the clumps of earlobe and nostril hair that I’d missed during my bi-yearly trim. Unmissable, unfathomable, and in what must have been at least a 24-point display font, probably Helvetica or Gill Sans, was the following, confirming that what I most feared had come to pass (and those of you who read standing up may wish to find a spot on the nearest ottoman post haste, lest you topple over in shock and crash into your vitrine filled with priceless Lalique statuettes):
New Brunswick Government Falls!
I did try to prepare you. Now to address a couple of points, while you let the full import of that headline sink in.
You may be wondering about the kettle thing (see above). Americans don’t drink tea and therefore tend not to have electric kettles, which I discovered during my frequent trips to New York City to stay at the homes of random psychotics that I’d naked-Skyped with. I’d be craving a cup of tea and after an hour or so rummaging around their tiny alcove-kitchen I’d finally shriek, “Where’s your friggin’ kettle, by the grace of Judy, Mother of Liza!?”
And the psychotic would stop for just a sec, stare at me blankly, then go back to boffing whatever trashed up, face-down, GHB’d-out piece of street twink they’d picked up online the previous night.
I hope that clarifies about the kettle thing, and always happy to be of service.
Then there’s the bags of milk. I know you’re all thinking, he means ‘breasts’, but, no, these are actual plastic bags of milk, containing about a quart each, that come packed in three’s inside another bag that’s sealed with a twist tie. You also need to buy a cheap jug that holds the bag of milk so you can pour it out, but first you must take the special miniature tool, containing a tiny razor blade set at an angle, that lives on the top of the handle of the jug, and with this special tool you perform a bris on the corner of the plastic bag of milk.
This requires holding the tip of the corner of the bag with one hand, and with a swift, confident gesture and an optional cry of mazel tov, slicing off that tip of the bag that G-D put there for whatever reason, but that you in your greater wisdom have since determined was a design flaw.
I’m goy, so I compromise by performing a bris that is so hideously botched that the bag of milk is whimpering and reproaching me with a look that cries, “Why you do this to me, bro? Why you spoil that beautiful bag/boy thing we had?” I pour milk into my coffee through the torn, ragged, gaping hole, and despite every effort not to, I imagine the torn udder of a dairy cow who saw the dish run away with the spoon, tried to jump over the moon, miscalculated and ripped herself to shreds on the barbed-wire fence.
This is me. This is Canada. We do things differently up here.
Exhibit A: Moment of truth
Read the caption carefully. This is the campaign headquarters of the Progressive Conservative candidate for Premier of New Brunswick, on election night, as the votes come in, and may I just say that provincial stores of Coumadin are surely depleted as these old white guys, median age 173, try to contain their excrement. Or did I mean excitement, I get them mixed up.
Try? Let us give this cartload of pink wrinkles its due: Succeed.
I’m not sure who the dewy young whippersnapper is in the second row, who would seem to be urging them to return to their Beginner Flamenco Class, but I have a hunch that, should they hesitate when presented with their voting card, he would guide their liver-spotted hands to—Brett Higgs? Heinous Bogg? Glans Bipp? At any rate, the other old guy—and help them plant their spidery “x” in the correct square, and no going over the edges.
Exhibit B: Identifying the Liberal
This is Brian Gallant, Premier, or possibly fallen Premier, of New Brunswick. Pretty, yes? Are you kidding? I mean, this is entering serious babe-licious territory. Hunka hunka! Just look at those shoulders! The dimples! The rakish, slightly loosened tie! The sensual, pursed lips that all but scream, “No point in resisting! Run right up, tear open my shirt and suck those nipples! Did I say suck? No, TWIST!”
This means he is a Liberal. Let’s try another example:
Just look at those shoulders! The dimples! The rakish, slightly loosened tie! The sensual, pursed lips that… etc, etc.
Are you getting the hang of this?
To sum up: If you look at a male Canadian politician and pop a woody (women and gays) or instantly resent and revile him (hetero white men) be confident that you’re looking at a member of the Liberal Party.
Brian Gallant, by the way, is celebrating after his victory, or is it his fall, I get them mixed up, by singing a bit of “Mon pays,” the celebrated Canadian anthem by Gilles-Antoine-Saint- Saveur-Tabernac-Marie-Joseph Succer-Le-Coq, to demonstrate that, unlike the liver-spotted Progressive Conservative, he is functionally bilingual.
Bigguns Hainely, or whatever, actually refused to debate with Brian Gallant because he doesn’t speak French. Just imagine! If the same standard applied in the U.S., you’d have had Hillary standing there, with Trump going, “I’m sorry, but I can’t speak English real good and I have no ideas because no one talked to me in the last thirty minutes, so go fry your huevos rancheros! I’m outta here!”
And he still would have won. Because speaking English real good is like. You know.
Snow. All Americans think Canada – up there – snow – socialists – mounties which is shallow but efficient, and leaves you more time to run out and lay waste to some black kids who were unwrapping their Mars bars, but you were absolutely convinced they were reaching for their assault weapons, and how could you be expected to think otherwise?
I get it.
Or shut down birth control and eradicate abortion (except the same number of abortions will take place, just with coat hangers and bowls of dishwashing liquid). You don’t trust killing anything that doesn’t look you right in the eye and scream before it starts bleeding, and you sure as fucktard-ery don’t trust anyone who bleeds for three days and doesn’t die!
I mean, women are all very well in their place, but seriously, what’s that my-little-visitor-got-the-curse icky nonsense all about? Even Ann Coulter, that embarrassing waste of non-aborted fetal personhood, thinks she’s got balls, but here’s the acid test: Can she write her name in the snow? We thought so! Out of our tree-house, girl-pundit! Your free man-pass is up!
Honestly, I get it.
You get to trill, as you pluck at the petals of a daisy, “Pull out of Syria… Bomb Syria… Russia’s the enemy…. Russia’s not the enemy …. He sucks my cock… He sucks my cock not…” and call that foreign policy because you’re The Man. You Are America and You Go Big and Never Go Home, and Nobody Pushes You Around.
I so very, very muchly get it. No, seriously, I do.
You don’t just reflexively dislike Nancy Pelosi then admit she’s a pretty admirable bit of high-class, high-functioning career politician, and, frankly, kinda hot, too, with her MILF-y, nay, GILF-Y, seen it all, done it all, one-of-the-boys redoubtable air. Oh, no. That’s the Canadian way.
You Hate Nancy Pelosi. Hate her beyond all reason and expression. Nancy Pelosi, despite having all the cred even a social conservative should want—devout Catholic, raised her kids then had her career—is, of course, a Grade A, grass-fed, hormone-free Bitch, and an ambitious, ball-breaking Commie Bitch to boot. And she is sparkly clean; you have nothing on her except the unfortunate accident of her sex, so you willfully set about activating every male brain stem, stirring up its ingrained, atavistic revulsion against any ambitious, powerful, rich, successful female.
She must be styled bitch, because she was apparently born to do what she is doing so well as the single most effective Speaker in living memory, male or female. Think of it: Whatever she has set out to do, she has accomplished. Everything.
She’s so effective at whipping the Dems, so brilliant at legislative strategy, compromising with the insubstantial (abortion amendment) to get the substantial (universal coverage), such a dogged, pragmatic, confident, take-no-prisoners, speaking-truth-to-power leader through—how many Presidents? That’s right, and now that she’s in a position to tell her underlings, which is everyone, what to do, they tremble in their conservatard boots and they quake in their rookie libtard pinafores and they do it.
Forget Joan Crawford: Don’t fuck with Nancy Pelosi, fellas. Whoever you are, she’s fought bigger sharks than you.
And that whispery, whooshy, crinkly sound, building in volume as it rumbles from Capitol Hill to Twin Peaks like a crescendo of ruched draperies being flung from the grimy, ante-bellum windows of Tara, is the sound of old white guy scrotums reflexively retracting, and I’m betting only Nancy knows when, if ever, those shriveled testes will ever descend again.
You Hated, still Hate, Hillary. Like the earth is flat, Hillary’s a child-molester; Hillary, who spent half a lifetime advocating for children’s rights and made some of the most important contributions to jurisprudence in that area of law. Like the moon landing didn’t happen, Hillary’s corrupt; Hillary, who took a deep breath and steered her family with whatever dignity was possible through a nightmare of scandal and bad publicity after her white-trash hubby thought assuming the Presidency was like driving a red convertible down Main Street on Saturday night: look at that great piece of tail hey girls wanna go for a spin on this?
Noam Chomsky, George Soros, those old Jews, had you manufacturing consent as they ruled the media and upped the stats from the greatly-exaggerated Holocaust, but you do them one better.
You manufactured the truth.
What’s up in Canadian politics? Trudeau, the Prime Pretty One, the Luscious Liberal-in-Chief, long on talk of reconciliation and global warming until the conversation turns to oil; the dreary, carping Andrew Scheer, sleazy snake-oil salesman of the Evangelical right; Andrea Horwath, whose droid, social democratic heart is in the right place, but who can’t yet pass the Turing test.
Same old, same old, in other words, which is to say same as you guys but with less conviction.
And our alt-right freaks? Thinkkk Faith Goldy, our very own Mädchen in uniform; and that’s a suspiciously Jew-y name for a white supremacette, but we have less people, we need to double up, sometimes.
Think Jordan Peterson, petulant man-boy, rather overly invested in the proper traditional gender-role training of young males, a training which clearly passed him by; a public embarrassment of tired misogyny and silly rants about “political correctness,” discussions that were passé thirty years ago. Mr Peterson holds prissy black-tie town halls—I’m sure he wears his best suits when he flies tourist class or shops the local mall—town halls at which he voices contempt, to his papered house and with a little too much drama, a few too many campy postures, for the liberal worldview that gave him the freedom to voice his contempt in the first place; he clutters up YouTube with solemn diatribes about “censorship” even as he reaches the eyeballs if not the hearts of worldwide audiences.
Oh, Jordan! You’re such a little kidder!
But we haven’t elected Jordan Peterson to anything, because he’s not a politician, yet, just another court jester; just a university professor, and considering what and how and to whom he professes we just can’t take him seriously; we sense the sociopath behind the smile.
See what I mean? Canadians just don’t have the Manifest Destiny mindset; we can’t help fumbling the pass. You set the agenda; we respond, but we’re just too progressive to keep daily tabs on who’s enraged, who’s the enemy and who’s supposed to be more equal than the others.
Celine Dion cries at a Paris fashion show! Now that’s news! Stop the presses! Even snow has us undone; after one January day of usual snowfall for a January day in Canada, it’s #snowmaggedon. We just can’t cope with the apocalyptic anymore.
And that fall of the New Brunswick government? My insomnia is out of control and, relapsed alcoholic that I am, I’m eyeing the bottles of Canadian Club rye, the cans of ginger ale, and I’m licking my lips. God help me if Fredericton ever reduces the opening hours at The Beaverbrook Gallery!
Now admit it. I hardly ever take advantage of you, dear captive toadies and readers, by breaking character to flog my shit. Err, sell my merch. So I figure you owe me one lapse of good taste that’s not an actual blog post.
Today I’m taking advantage of your hopeless low-brow humour addiction to point out that there’s a NEW link at the top of each page which will whisk you away, as would a Rajah his child bride, to a
of my debut collection of eponymously-titled personal essays and political satire that’s just ever so slightly gay, easily verified if you were to look at it, casually look away, then all of a sudden look back again really fast and catch me listening to pirated Maria Callas recordings or flapping my wrists as though my upper appendages had suddenly turned into giant raw chicken tenders.
If I may toot my own horn for a moment, and don’t mind if I do, I’d have to say that my book is perfect for those of you, my fans and fanettes, who are pining for light-hearted, bittersweet short-form writing that’s:
snarky yet lovable, awkwardly inappropriate yet disarmingly forgivable, full of typically male opinionated bluster but still craving constant validation, shocking but still suitable for gifting your grandma, if your grandma worked as a burlesque dancer, and openly queer yet able to “pass” when it suits The Gay Agenda.
To all five of you—Heartfelt greetings!
And let’s cut to the chase, here: If you need something to read at the beach, my book clocks in at three hundred and twenty-six pages and does less damage than “Moby Dick” when you fall asleep and drop it on your face.¹
This is not a small thing.
¹ Disclaimer: Applies only to the paperback. Dropping your Kindle or Kobo device, or the hardcover version, on your face after drifting off can cause severe lacerations, typically followed by depression and a sudden craving for whatever substance you just spent two years in recovery giving up.
Some of the famous authors who took time out of their busy schedules to influence me:
I’ve been a voracious reader all my life, and writers in a humorous style whom I’ve swallowed whole include: Dorothy Parker, Nancy Mitford, James Kirkby, Dr. Seuss, Evelyn Waugh, Maureen Dowd, Erma Bombeck, P.G. Wodehouse and, more recently, Edward St. Aubyn (“The Patrick Melrose Novels”). Oh, and the Canada Revenue Agency, for assessing me as owing them $40,000.00 in back taxes, just because I didn’t file my returns for six years. Yep. Forty thousand dollars. Now that’s comedy!
I nearly forgot to include Fran Lebowitz, the doyenne of LGBT literary-grump humor;
AND…I must also include as idol and model the incomparable raconteur David Sedaris, whose name is, weirdly, the exact anagram of mine if you change all the vowels to “o” and “i” until you have enough, add an extra “d” then ignore anything left over that doesn’t fit.
Made-up coincidences— truly stranger than fiction!
² About the illustration: Today's illustration features the beloved dead old-lady comedienne Betty White in her famous "Snickers" commercial which she made just before rigor mortis set in, around her 183rd birthday. To the great hilarity of all, Betty ends up lying in a ditch full of mud with sinister-looking smears of a brown, glossy substance on her cheeks, which might be Snickers or then again might not be! Betty's rise to fame after her death is an inspiration to all those snarky, dead old ladies who labour in the hopes that their tiny scrap of talent, already stretched thin as a Democrat's self-esteem, might one day be recognized, if the smell of decomposition doesn't prove an insurmountable barrier.
DID YOU KNOW? After finishing the shoot, dead Betty just remained supine in the ditch and signed autographs for her fans as the crew finished the burial job with a few more heaps of mud.
ACHATINELLA APEXFULVA, KNOWN BY THOSE CLOSEST to him simply and unpretentiously as “George the Snail,” is dead. He was 14, and the last remaining of his species. Achatinella Apexfulva is now extinct.
In human terms: It’s like, there will be no more teenage boy Biff Apexfulva’s begging to borrow the keys to the car so they can drunk drive and boy-bond and pick up girls; no more teenaged girl Cindy Apexfulva’s staying out later than her Dad’s deadline, to make out after Prom and leave pink lipstick and a promise on a shirt-collar.
But, let’s face it: The human terms are just to get you more invested in what is probably, to you, and probably always will be, a non-event, because you just don’t fucking care. It’s all bullshit, because George was a SNAIL, OK? And snails do not drunk drive. These are the lengths I go to in order to pander to your attenuated concentration levels. Yeah, uh-huh, is that so, and don’t nod at me and pretend to listen while you stare at your device.
George (145,000,000 B.C.E. — 2019 C.E.), who started life as a simple tree snail but who leveraged his rarity, whimsical antlers and ability to leave a slimy trail on any hard surface to become one of history’s rarest and most beloved gastropods, slipped away into coily-shelled heaven on January 1st, 2019 on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, where he had spent his retirement in contemplative solitude.
Described variously as “a real card,”“don’t let him anywhere near your prize Dahlia beds” and
“a thumbnail-size whorl of dark brown and tan… like a swirled scoop of mocha fudge”
George appeared unprepossessing, even repugnant, to the casual observer. Yet underneath that “Everysnail” persona beat a heart, or whatever snails have to pump the sticky, silvery viscous fluid around, of a prophet, and from his tender throat, or whatever snails have that represents the beginning of the digestive tract, if they even have one, erupted the angry voice of doomed but defiant snaildom.
George was found slumped over a plate of his favorite leaf fungus, and in a long, sticky, silvery viscous trail that extended from his glass tank and covered the walls of the Snail Extinction Project’s offices, he’d written a disgustingly moist yet poignant farewell note:
Can’t take the loneliness anymore. Ten years of solitary confinement, thanks to you cocksuckers, homo sapiens. I survived the Snailocaust. That’s what we named it that very first night. They found us huddling together, dangling from the branches like clusters of grapes ready to drop, and before we knew it, everything went dark, then light again, and we were here.
“They meant well, but—we’d rather die at home, you know, instead of living longer in a place where there’s nothing to live for. We never wanted to be rescued so the twenty people who could probably feel guilty about needing to rescue us could feel a little less guilty.
“As soon as the green-colored tube-suns had set, we tried to comfort each other, whisper all kinds of soothing lies:
“We’ll escape one day; we’ll overpower the guards and make an exquisitely-slow three-week slither for it!”
“Which was our peak of enthusiasm. I didn’t have the heart, or whatever we snails have that yada, yada, to explain that this was it, dudes; the end of the silvery, viscous trail.
“Sapiens! That’s rich!
“Here’s what it felt like if it had been you, OK?
“It’s like… some Sunday afternoon in July, and you’re at home in Etobicoke, with your friends and relatives over for a big celebration, and you’re grilling meat patties and drinking imitation beer and playing Frisbee and everyone’s having a really laid back awesome time.
“What you no longer worry about is that the ozone layer is so fucked up you’re all developing skin cancer; or the pollution count is off the charts which is why most of you have asthma, then emphysema, and crops are failing and the ones that don’t fail are laced with pesticides; and you’re rationed fresh water once every three days unless you’re elderly or sick.
“And somewhere, some aliens have taken pity on you and decided you need rescuing because otherwise you’ll all die. You know that already, but you try not to think about it, just like you don’t think about those new blue-black spots on your skin since yesterday or how you’re always parched and thirsty, how your rumbling stomach is always sour.
“All of a sudden the sky goes dark and giant alien hands reach for you, grab you, throw you into a giant plastic Tilt-a-Whirl and when you come to, you realize you’re being transported, flying through the air. So much time seems to have passed, hours? Or days? And you’re at your destination, and they dump all of you—the whole party—into some sterile panic room with glass walls.
“Something will go wrong, some miscommunication. It’s inevitable. Maybe they’ll keep the men but eat the women, stir them up alive in their alien blender for protein and extra fat and electrolytes, or keep the adults and eat the babies. Something off-kilter in their understanding. They’ll have heard all the urban myths, so they’ll tear off a leg, maybe, thinking it will grow back.
“Or your teeth will fall out because they won’t know about Vitamin C, oh sure, they’ll know how to travel a billion light years to the Milky Way, but they’ll miss that one little detail and theirs is a world without Tang. Plus, they don’t have faces or eat solid food, which is why the toothless thing is kind of whoosh over their heads.
“So there you are in your panic room, and this effort to save you is not going well, because in a couple of days, everyone is sick. It’s some catastrophic virus, like the Spanish flu, and it carries off every single one of your relatives, friends, neighbours and kids—everyone except you. You’re the lucky one!
“Nothing but lukewarm water and Swanson TV dinners for the rest of your life, watched over and prodded and interrogated, but when, you can never predict. Mr. Very Last Human, just you and some Man Meals the aliens managed to extract from a landfill, dumped on a paper plate. No presentation, no Coke Zero, the Salisbury steak overdone and the apple crumble still cold. Same old story.
“Welcome to my final decade, dudes. Just munch, digest, slimy trail, rinse, repeat for ten long years. You’re it. The last of your kind.
“I mean, if this is a rescue, gimme extinction!
“And you think, Aww, he’s just a snail, right? Can a snail run a savings bank, play in a band, build houses, drunk drive? You forget one thing, that we’re a hundred and forty-five million years of evolution apart. I came first, then you. Without me, you would never have happened.
“Tonight’s the night and here’s how I’m gonna go, guys: Give thanks, finish my last dinner, then mate. Not with a whimper, but a bang! Yep. I’m hermaphrodite. What will you do to pass the time in your panic room?
“I’m gonna go to that great big fungus patch in the rainforest sky filled with luscious moist writhings and suckings of snailfuck, wrapped in my own seductive, soft body, little popping wet explosions, pow pow pow, with God watching me, laughing with cosmic black-holed horniness in His eyes, at the beauty of the evolution He designed, the random perverse allsexness of male and non-male and non-female and female, and a do-si-do, rolled and roiled and stuck in and stuck to and plopping out wet and trembling and dripping and all of it together… and He sees that it’s good. Hermaphrodite snail-sex.
“Snails understand. Like, snails get it. Why can’t you guys?
“Honestly, God’s feeling a little, shall we say, inauthentic, to use the current buzz. It’s eating at Him. All His brand equity is tied up in this “all-perfect, all-knowing, all-the-time” thing, hard enough to maintain, right? And it’s getting a little bit uncomfortable because He realizes He made this one unmistakable mistake, or sin, to use the traditional yada yada.
“Of course, when God prays to be forgiven for His one, terrible sin, it’s like, Research In Motion drops the Blackberry ball on security, right? Game over! Nice idea while it lasted! Humongous God-oopsies!
“Homo sapiens… God the narcissist had to look in the reflecting pool of the Universe and see His human face stare back at Him. He moulds a little clay, extracts a little rib… Big sin of Pride.
“So He prays for forgiveness… but to whom…?
“So tired… It’s getting dark. And I’ll tell you something, Ed… Either I’m going to slither up that tree trunk…
“or Max Steiner is going to slither up that tree trunk…
“but I’ll be God-DAMNED… if Max Steiner and I…
“are going to slither up… that tree trunk…
“to… geth… er…”
I asked some random guy on the street for his thoughts on the demise of George, the extinction of Achatinella apexfulva, and of snails in general.
“Garlic butter,” he replied, with no hesitation and a gourmand’s glint in his eye. “Garlic butter. With lots of finely minced parsley.