A Hermit’s Dil… on A Hermit’s Dilemma Shirley Vickers on Failed Bits: Existential Shoul… Aunt Carol on A Hermit’s Dilemma
Everybody has their own little quirks, but life for members of the People’s Resistance Movement is something completely unique. It’s almost as if we have our own language!
So, for your relating and commiserating pleasure, here are 10 things that only members of the Peoples’s Underground Movement will understand:
1. Sleepy Cornish terriers feed at canvas midnight.
2. Ample time should be given to spider-eyed maidens.
3. Fresh vegetables can be found under the rug in the dirty basement.
4. The pantry is bare in the wastelands of Capricornia.
5. Angelic sleep is only advisable to those unfrozen ones in debt to the three-headed dog.
6. Bondage is broken when one feeds their innermost tapeworm.
7. You KNOW not to get on any surface street during rush hour! Because, you’ll likely be captured and tortured.
8. The sugar cane outside Old Man Jenkins’ two-story cabin is not sweet until the break of dawnish midnight.
9. The spider cries from nine ducts. The dust is airborne.
10. Leather-bound monorails fear for ant-riddled feral bacon.
That’s it! If you have your own, add them in the comments below!
The following is a sketch that hasn’t been performed. It was written a few months ago; however, as I work through a transitional period personally, I thought this would hold you over until I’m able to share things more regularly.
And now, please welcome to the stage a husband and wife vaudeville duo more famous than James and Betty Wallace, the Singing Hendersons, The Dancing Cambridges, and the Jeffersons combined: Mark and Karen Hill. The Hills!
(Mark and Karen enter to music and begin to sing an upbeat tin pan sort of song.)
Well, we’re pleased to see all of your faces.
Wherever this is is one of our favorite places.
It’s time for the show to start.
Well, off to the races.
Ha ha, delightful. Say, Karen, did I tell you I hit a dog with my car the other day?
No, that’s terrible.
The worst part is, we’ll never know how it got my car in the first place.
Well, we may not always see eye to eye.
But I just can’t get enough of this guy.
See, Karen eats apples; I like mango.
Mark dances hip hop; I like to tango.
Karen’s distant relationship with her father is having psychological consequences.
I told you that in confidence.
Nice rhyme, honey.
Two peas in a pod- The season has thawed- The time has arrived- The Hills are live!
(Karen sits down on the stool)
What are you doing? We have to finish this number strong.
You do it.
The Hills are live!
And now it’s time for everyone’s favorite portion of the show, our world famous ballroom dancing routine! Karen, get up. You’re being unprofessional.
Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you valued my contribution this much.
Can we talk about this later? We have a show to do.
No, you have a show to do, let’s see how things go when you have all the control you want.
You’re being unreasonable.
And your decision to put a piece of private information out there for everyone to know without asking me first; was that reasonable?
Just do the routine, we’ll talk about it later.
Yeah, talking to me like that’s going to help. You seem to think I hold you back. Let’s see how you do without me, do the routine yourself.
Mark begins a ballroom dance routine with an invisible partner and an overblown stage grin.
(Karen remains off to the side on the stool with a mic.)
Dear god, look at that shit eating grin. You know, that’s what he looks like during sex.
Yeah, it’s the face I make when I’m pretending to enjoy something.
Step one-two; step one-two. Have you already forgotten what you shouted at me last week in practice?
(Improv some here. Mark’s clumsily flared dancing and Karen’s sarcastic and dismissive posture, gestures, and comments)
The number ends with Mark in a stereotypical “big finish” pose (jazz hands and all).
Can we just play the final musical number and get out of here?
(Walks over to the edge of the stage, glares at Mark)
Where the fuck is the piano?
I’m tired of being the only one moving that thing around. Do you know how heavy a piano is?
It’s an electric piano! If you were tired of moving it, you could have just asked me.
This wouldn’t have been an issue if we still had that roadie.
That wasn’t a roadie, that was our son.
That’s the trouble with working with your kids, they grow up, move on.
He is twelve! You drove him away with your rage! My son is living on the streets or dead and it’s your fault, you son of a bitch!
(Comedy stage whisper directed to the crowd)
Sounds like the pot calling the kettle filled with self destructive rage.
(Karen walks off stage and out the door through the crowd)
Yeah, sure. What are you going to do, move in with your father? Oh, wait, you have a distant relationship with him that may be causing psychological problems! OH BURN! Karen? Karen? (Sighs deeply) I give up.
(Mark collapses on the stage and bawls, refusing to leave the for an absurd length of time.)
My father’s heirloom watch hasn’t lost a second in almost fifty years. He is right to swear by it. Unfortunately, he isn’t so right to trust the watch’s previous owner. You see, it has also been five minutes early for almost fifty years. In his mind, this makes every other timepiece the world over five minutes late. I once tested him on the subject.
“What gives the English the right to decide the world’s time?”
“I don’t understand.”
“They build a giant clock they’re all very proud of, and rather than adjust it when they find it’s wrong, they go and take an empire. Now the entire world runs on their time. Typical english arrogance.”
I knew not to argue when it came to the English, but couldn’t resist another timepiece inquiry.
“Last Thursday, the pope said he’d speak at 11:00 a.m. by my watch, he did. Is he a liar or unpunctual?”
“It’s not a sin to build up anticipation.”
This may not have been much of an issue, save for the fact that for the last thirty years, he has run the car battery factory in our home town; all the while, demanding every worker’s punctuality by his watch. before long, the town, most of whose citizens either work for or depend on the factory for their own clientele, had adjusted to the schedule. Coffee shops and markets were opening five minutes early to accommodate the workers and schools entered session early to allow for a smoother collective commute. And rather than adjusting their signage, it just became common knowledge that seven o’clock meant six fifty five.
I can’t imagine another place either breeding or otherwise collecting a person like my father. Think of it. One man’s stubbornness has caused people moving to Mensdorf in order to grow old together to have five minutes immediately added to the rest of their life just by crossing the city limits. Those born in the city who move out -which is to say those receiving high marks in school- will have five minutes unceremoniously stolen from them. Not much of a reward. As for me, the trade was well worth it.
“So, how long has it been for you two?”
“Wow, that’s an impressive span for a father and son.”
“Not terribly uncommon.”
“Even so, I’m proud to be here to see the reunion.”
“You’re the one that insisted that I do this.”
“Yeah, and I’ll grant you, it might be a trainwreck, but you know how important this could be for all of us.”
The cafe had emptied of its harried, yet well groomed lunchtime crowd, and was newly alive with the cacophony of local students and artists. I had deliberately timed my father’s arrival to coincide with theirs. This way, I would look almost saintly in comparison.
My girlfriend, or something along those lines, Meredith, sat across from me. She seemed even more nervous than I was, fidgeting with almost every physical object within an arm’s length. I had a sense that if she thought that she could run metaphysical objects through her fingers to take her mind off of what was to come, she’d have reached for the nearest glance or quarrel.
“So, why are we only staying in Berlin for two days? You know how long I’ve wanted to explore this place.”
“Oh, you know that we only convinced him to meet us here last week, and had to book the train early. We were coming anyway; and if we couldn’t get him out here, we couldn’t justify the lodging for another day.”
“I know, but we can adjust the trip. I just wish you’d take the fact that all of this is new to me into account.”
“New to you? I’ve been to this city exactly once, when I was ten with my mother. She guided me by the collar to some cathedral to pray, and then straight back out.”
“Oh, which cathedral? I’d love to see it.”
“I chose not to remember at the time, and have never regretted it.”
“Can we ask your dad?”
“He doesn’t know we went. My mother had found me with a girl somewhere in the wheat fields outside of town. I don’t know if her mind was somewhere sexual, or if she found our truancy hauntingly embarrassing; but she couldn’t bear to have me confess to our local priest. He was a talkative fellow. So, she went to a place where she knew every priest was high-ranking enough to never step foot in our town. I wonder how Julia’s family kept quiet.”
Meredith’s unprecedented interest in my childhood was disconcerting, but I knew the worst was yet to come.
A tap came to my shoulder and I was greeted in my native German.
“Hi, how have things been?”
“Same as ever.”
“Are you happy?”
“Work needs to be done, and I am doing it. What work are you doing?”
“I’m tending bar.”
“Is that something you studied in Denmark?”
“I don’t know if you’d call it studying, but I’ve become quite practiced.”
“Who is this?”
Meredith, leaning almost halfway across the table with her ears perked, had finally been able to comprehend a sentence and almost gleefully interjected.
“Hello. I’m Ambrose. Pleased to meet you.”
“What is your relation to my son?”
“I’m sorry, I don’t understand. My German is no good.”
My father -whose first name I had only heard on three occasions in my life- mimed the question admirably.
“Uh. Girlfriend?” Her discomfort with the response skewed the answer closer to “fiancee” than “friend.”
“I’m going to assume you were behind our meeting. My son is as stubborn as I am.”
Meredith glanced at me.
“I caught ‘going’ and ‘son.’”
“He knows this was your idea because I’m too stubborn to have done it.”
My father looked at me. “What did you say?”
“I was telling her what you said.”
“Oh. She seems nice.”
I was incredulous. I’d never seen him be personable before. He continued:
“You just said she seems nice.”
“Gentlemen, I can understand some of what you’re saying.”
“What did she say?”
“But that was in German.”
“That was German?”
The two of us laughed together. This was also new. Meredith joined in but wasn’t sure what the joke was.
The next thirty minutes went by surprisingly quickly. Meredith shared her ambitions, Ambrose -still strange to say, or even think- listened and encouraged them; after some translating on my part. I was able to understand the man outside of his stern Mensdorfer persona. At least a little more than I knew during any of my twenty eight years. As the afternoon came to a close, he stood up and said:
“I would like to stay, but I have to catch the train back home at 7:05.”
“What do you mean?”
“You two should come visit sometime. We have made significant improvements to the factory. You should see our new west side loading bay. It is truly a wonder of the modern age.”
With that, my father shook my hand, kissed my romantic something or other on the cheek and strolled out of the cafe. It was surreal. He felt human. After a moment passed silently, all I could really think to say was:
“So, uh, I guess she’ll have a grandfather, after all.”
This is a bit that I tried a couple times at open mics and it never really worked, so I’ll just dump it here. Maybe it’s a little better in text form.
I started out poor. I remember before I existed, I had nothing.
One day, I was just a strand of cosmic potential energy, minding my own business when I felt a tap on what… would eventually be my… shoulder… I guess.
I was a little annoyed. “Do you mind? I’m trying to do something! I don’t know what! What is it that strands of cosmic potential energy wouldn’t want to be distracted from? This is a really confusing premise!”
Then I heard a disembodied voice say “I kind of feel like creating a Frank. Do you want to exist?”
“I don’t know. what’s existence like?”
So, uh, here I am. But, my name’s not Frank, so I always feel like I’m one moment away from being smote.
I like that term. “cosmic potential energy.” If you remember physics, potential energy is like a ball sitting on top of a hill, just waiting. I was thinking about this on a walk the other day and I ran into an angry man, spilling his diet coke everywhere. All I could say was “sorry,… I was pushed…”
I don’t know what it was about his personality, but he was angry throughout our entire relationship of fifteen seconds.
I am writing to you from the basement of the Leftwich County Memorial Library with torn trousers and singed sport coat from the number of sprung booby traps that now lay behind me. Notebook in lap, I my back is against a false bookshelf that once hid a real, far more spectacular bookshelf.
Upon this bookshelf sits a collection of some of the most dazzling and gaudy books these old eyes (transplants- I am quite young, for my age.) have ever seen. First hand accounts of wars, renaissance, and, in one case, the Renaissance Wars between Il Bloods and Il Crips sit as far as the (transplanted) eye can see.
Neither this discovery, nor my recent discovery of Snapchat, are the reason I am writing you tonight (Though, I cannot resist the urge to enclose several meaningless photos of myself.). I write to you now, because, on this shelf, lies the most perplexing work of literature I have ever come across.
In all appearances, Sara Reins’ Handbook of Etiquette and Appropriate Behaviour is just like any nineteenth century book of courtesy, available at any deceased robber-baron’s estate sale. However, upon closer examination; it appears that the rules found within apply to, and only to modern day western culture. Even more unsettling, is the fact that it references objects and ideas unheard of outside of the author’s lifetime (including Snapchat).
My great fear is that no one may believe me upon hearing this tale, and my greater fear is that this is all just a hallucinatory response to the noxious gas that was released in death chamber number six of my quest. For this reason, I have decided to transcribe and share an excerpt from this book to serve as either proof of this marvelous relic of a mysterious life, or of a record of this absolutely fantastic acid-like trip.
On the subject of the dap:
In a situation in where a handshake is appropriate; one may choose to offer a closed fist, to be met with another closed fist as a substitute. By these means, a person acknowledges the friendly circumstances of the meeting, and exhibits his or her knowledge of current youth culture. This process is commonly referred to as the dap.
A gentleman’s dap should be firm, as to not convey weakness, yet not too tight, as to emulate a punch (which is a decidedly more aggressive maneuver).
A lady’s dap is treated with the same rules as a gentleman’s. A concept that should feel more foreign to me, as I am a nineteenth century woman.
When offering a dap, do not begin with a flat hand and close it on the way to the point of contact. This will confuse your dapping partner, creating a situation in which one person is offering a dap, while the other is accepting a handshake. In this situation, it is incumbent upon the respondent to alter his or her hand position to synchronise the proceedings. A hackneyed comment about one of the participant’s whiteness will usually follow, but shouldn’t.
As you can see, this is something of an odd revelation, to say the least. I simply must collect more information about this Sara Reins character at once. Perhaps, I will even discover the strange origins of her insight. Or whatever happy active ingredient lay in death chamber six’s fun fumes. I will keep you updated at every turn.
Your dear uncle,
John H. Brokaw- Library Raider