Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Vapid Caste

Let me be clear first off that I am not attacking classic literature as a whole. There are examples of such that actually deserve this distinction. However, I belong to a book club and, so far, most of the selections offered have impressed me not at all. I have wondered about this, since some of them are widely known to be classics. Why is it that I do not "get" these works? Is it that I am uncultured or do I simply possess good taste in literature? As likely as the latter may be, there is always the possibility that I have failed to perceive the intrinsic genius of these volumes. Resisting the urge to summarily dismiss this prospect, I have decided to give these select classics another chance, by contributing to the insanity myself.


Searing. Sphere, o burning sphere, heaving rays of enkindled luminescence upon the writhing mantle of a damned mortal race. The radiant shafts were pitiless, yet effulgent; cruel, yet pulchritudinous. The heavenly multitude rejoiced at the beauty, while hordes from a really yucky place reveled in the patent anguish of the miserable human masses.

A carriage made its arduous journey through the lithely shimmering heat, a translucent canopy marginally shading the liberally perspiring passengers. One such was young Rodney McWitless, who had purchased transportation aboard the conveyance en route to the estate of his recently deceased paternal relation.

Not a fortnight prior, it had come to Rodney’s attention that, given the rather untimely passing of his father, he was now in possession of acreage, funds, and an expansive collection of GI Joseph action figures.

A serf of low dignity had delivered the letter into Rodney’s manicured phalanges, after bowing to such a low altitude as to fracture his skull on the marble rug. Rodney called for another servant, who diligently buffed out the bonk mark and then reprimanded his colleague for such an oafish display.

“Hot dang!” said Rodney, opening the letter. Then, remembering to be vapid and swank, he cleared his throat and began once more. “I mean, this is highly acceptable information with which you have filled my copious noggin, uh, pate. My thanks, knave. Now be gone, lest I scorn you.”

It was due in large part, though not wholly, to these propitious circumstances that Rodney was sojourning back to the habitat of his formative years. The other reason was this really hot babe who was sitting on the carriage seat next to him. The woman’s name was Mary, although her close acquaintances all referred to her by the affectionate eponym Gwendolyn VanDrapery.

Gwendolyn was also returning to the home of her childhood, but not to a large fortune. Like Rodney, she had received a letter telling of death and demise. While on a missions trip to Africa, her entire family had been trampled by a herd of stampeding gazelles, leaving poor Mary alone and orphaned. She was now traveling back to the family home to oversee the effectuation of the will.

Although the journey meant riches for Rodney, he had not been pleased by the prospect. Traveling gave him gas and, journeying in the company of a beautiful female, it was decidedly problematic to resolve such a malady. He kept having to halt the carriage and wander into nearby deserted fields, on the pretense of spotting a rare bird or needing to “stretch my limbs.” Upon completion of his mission, he would return to the carriage and resume his seat, while the other passengers would comment on his newly-acquired expression of contentment.

Riches aside, Rodney had considered not taking the trip for this very reason, but upon learning of Mary’s plans to travel by the same carriage, he had adjusted his schedule with alacrity and purchased a ticket for said conveyance.

“I feel it my duty to see you safely to your home,” he told the girl in as gallant a tone as he could muster.

“I’m not going to sleep with you,” Mary said, good-naturedly piercing his foot with her parasol.

Rodney staunched the flow of blood by filling the wound with gunpowder and wrapping his foot with one leg of a pair of long johns from his valise. This arrangement proved quite cumbersome, until Mary suggested cutting away the rest of the undergarment.

There were two other passengers in the carriage, an old man and his wife. The old man was quite as round as he was tall and had to keep a firm hand on the side of the carriage to keep from rolling out and bouncing onto the roadway. His wife was quite ordinary, one of those women who are seen and then immediately forgotten. Her face was plain and unremarkable, her build neither large nor small. The only attribute remotely memorable was a birth defect, which had given the poor lady a third arm. This extra appendage projected from the left side of her neck and had been festooned with bright ribbons of all dimensions and hues. These strips of cloth fluttered in the slight breeze created by the movement of the carriage and created an impressive, almost mesmerizing, display. But otherwise, the old woman was forgettable in the extreme.

The old man reached into Rodney’s vest pocket and removed yet another cigar. He had been quite broadminded with Rodney’s stash of smoking materials for the entire trip, even offering one of the mammoth cigars to Mary, who had coyly refused and given the lame excuse that she had always found it difficult to enjoy both a cigar and a pipe simultaneously.

The cigar lit and smoldering, the old man leaned forward to continue his lengthy conversation with Rodney. He held the cigar between two fingers and had just launched into an eloquent dissertation concerning the evils of wealth, when the carriage bounced over a particularly obstructing tree root. The unexpected jolt caused the glowing end of his cigar to break free and fall downward toward the dry, wooden floor of the coach. Fortunately, they were all saved from a fiery demise, as the ember landed instead on Rodney’s injured, long john-encased foot.

A black hole appeared in the wrapping, as the spark ate its way through the fabric. Rodney stamped the foot and began tearing at the makeshift bandage, but was not quite speedy enough. The ember completed its trip through the long john and fell onto the gunpowder-packed wound.

Once the smoke and foot debris had cleared, the carriage continued its journey. Rodney had used the remainder of the long johns to wrap his battered appendage, while shrewdly refraining from dousing it with any medicinal blend containing explosive properties.


The Stupid Blogger said...

Upon rereading this piece, I have discovered a grievous error in my reconstruction of the classic literature in question, namely, I included too much action. I'll try to remedy this in the future.

harveyg said...

Very well done and truly vapid!


The Stupid Blogger said...

Not completely sure if that was a compliment, given the definition of vapid, but I'll be vain and assume that it was. Thanks, Harvey!

Paul "FooDaddy" Brand said...

Yes, nice stuff here. I wasn't going to bring it up, of course, but yes, there is too much excitement. I actually finished the piece, you see, and the whole point of the "Classics" or the "for teenage girls to make them feel like growed-ups" genre is to bore the skin off you.

More insipid chatter about money and what type of stone went into the estate's foundation, and you'll be golden.


Paul "FooDaddy" Brand said...

Oh, and "Foot Debris" would be a good name for a band.

Jacob "Pickle Weasel" Nordby said...

Youse guys are just stupid.

You don't have any business reading this type of "classic".

Try some great John Steinbeck (Tortilla Flats, Cannery Row, Of Mice & Men, The Moon Is Down, The Short, Happy Reign of Pippin IV, etc.)

Hemingway is a delight, too, unless you need lots of stuff blowing up (like injured feet, shall we say...).

I read a great deal of both authors.

Dickens will surprise you with flashes of amazing wit at times.

Anyways, not sure what category of The Classics you are spending time in, but I'd change it.

All of this notwithstanding, I think your stab at "classical style" is charming.

And, yes, your characters DO do too much.

I think the parasol wielding hussy should be dragged off behind a large rock and forcibly farted upon. That would be a start at paying her back for the nasty stab wound.

I mean, how bad was it that young Rodney wanted to see her nekkid? That's a fairly common interest for barely-post-pubescent men. Just seems like she took it harder than was necessary.


The Stupid Blogger said...

PW: As I mentioned in the intro to this piece, I (and Foo) belong to a book club. Therefore, we aren't always able to choose the reading material. If we were, it would be a lot more interesting, let me tell you. Foo and I are the only guys in the club...that should tell you something about the literature to which we have been subjected.

Never fear, PW. As I mentioned, I'm not lampooning classic literature as a whole. As you know, I've delved into its depths on more than one occasion and come out unscathed.

This piece was originally intended to be a cross between Jane "The Biddy" Austen and Herman "My Characters Shall Make Lengthy Orations at the Height of the Action" Melville. Herm's work actually does have action, it's just very, very, very wordy. Austen's just dull. Cross those and you get an idea of what I was attempting here.

You're right, PeeDubbleYoo. Rodney is definitely not to blame for his desire to observe certain aspects of the female anatomy. I'd worry more if he didn't care. Much literature of the day, however, gives us the impression that it was considered taboo to even mention things such as "sexual attraction." This was completely opposite to what was actually going on in those days, of course, you just couldn't talk about it. (What does that remind you of, PW?)

Foo: You "actually finished this piece"? Darn! Then I have truly failed! Heh. I think we've been forever scarred by our exposure to a certain novel, which was definitely not, "Nice."

Jacob "Pickle Weasel" Nordby said...

I'm confused.

If you and Foo are the only ones in the book club, but you have "no choice over the reading selections", then WHO THE HELL IS RUNNING THIS ASYLUM???

As Alice would say, "...stupider and stupider..."

The Stupid Blogger said...

No, no, PW. Please try to maintain strict adherence to your medicine regimen. I said that Foo and I are the only guys in the book club, meaning all the others are females. And they've been choosing all sorts of odd stuff. Hope that clarifies. Sorry. Perhaps the Michigan tendency to refer to everyone as "guys" (kinda like the Idaho "dude" complex) threw you off.

Paul "FooDaddy" Brand said...

Guh-HYUCK! You men is funny.

Golly. Next time the Club meets, we get to discuss a play (that reminds me, TSB, might I borrow your copy?) whose humor centers on a functional retard. Or something.

I'm led to believe that it is hilarious.

Jacob "Pickle Weasel" Nordby said...

I think that FOO should try his HardAss personna out on the ladies of the Book Club (provided any of them is less than about 67 yrs old--and maybe that won't matter too much...I hear that 60 is the new 17!).

"Heehee..." Pickle Weasel giggled.

foodaddy's foodaddy said...

Craig, I think there's gold to be mined in this lampoony parodization of the zoomed-in claustrophobic prose of the Victorians and pre-Victorians. Whole pages could be taken up with descriptions and digressions and glosses on a single act of nosepick, zooming out only to find that a female character nearby is the narrator and is observing the act with femalerish disdain, which she then goes on to explain at chapter length.. The whole novel could consist of a single act of nosepickleage and Victorian digressions and moralizing. On second thought, don't write that. Sounds like a total mess that might end up as a book club selection.

Jacob "Pickle Weasel" Nordby said...

Here's your title:

An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of Nosepickery by D. M. Laughlin