The Convention of the Satirists

 

When the bankers bailed out their own bankruptcy with the future earnings of debtors, we satirists surrendered.

 

We trooped en masse to a hastily arranged convention determined to write a Manifesto of Surrender. How could we knot? The world defeated us – had, has, and will have. We were so defeated we could knot even explain how defeated we were. Did knot even know where to start. Did knot know where knot to start, so defeated were we. So we called a convention. Isn’t that what you do when you don’t know what to do? You call a big meeting. At least then you can point to the ignorance of the guy beside you.

 

Well all these satiric fools my friends, probably seeing in me a remarkably dimmer version of themselves, nominated and appointed me, by unanimous descent, to be a Thomas Satiric Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Interrogation, to be author of our very own Manifesto of Surrender. I felt fooly honored.

 

“We give up!” I suggested, as opening line.

 

“Something harsher, more defeatist!” cried a satirist or five. “Up sounds too positive.”

 

“We kneel down! Let fly your blade!” I tried.

 

“Too dramatic,” they complained. “We’re satirists not dramatists!”

 

“We are grateful losers!” I declaimed. “We love defeat!” Warm cheers.

 

Writing with a plastic tipped pen upon a wall-mounted electronic board, I watched the words dissolve and reappear in beautiful electronic type on the curved ceiling of the planetarium we had modestly reserved. Low lights, thick cushions, a sense of infinite space to set the imagination free. “…grateful  losers!…love defeat!” glowed in deepest burgundy above. Murmurs of consolation rippled throughout the spherical room.

 

And then we heard it.

 

A little voice from the upper back, high on the arcing slope.

 

“You stink,” the small voice said.

 

“We stink!” I wrote upon the board. Then embellished, “We satirists do henceforth stink and surrender to the almighty powers that rule! we surrender our satire to the warmongers, to our betters in scent and success. We lose. You win. You triumph. We surrender. We are glad to lose utterly.”

 

Then the little voice slid from his seat and stepped into an aisle. He could not have been more than four years old, maybe a young five.

 

“You stink,” he said again.

 

“I know you do but what am I?” I challenged the little bug.

 

“Stink.”

 

“I know you do but what am I?” I said again.

 

“Stink.”

 

“I know you do but what am I?” I fought on.

 

“Stink!” the entire room bellowed. Then clapped and cheered. The battle was over. The war lost. Satire defeated. The bankers had won.

 

Or had they? “I don’t mean that ironically,” the little voice said. “You stink because you surrender. You must never surrender, because you surrender me. You give me up as hostage. I will be paying all these phony debts. And you surrender me to that fate. That’s why you stink without irony. This whole convention of defeat stinks.”

 

The room murmured with consternation now. I suddenly feared for the life of the boy. If any satirist had shouted, “Get him!” he might have been toast, rushed and hoist upon his own stinky little petard.

 

Fortunately, a cooler voice of reason popped up. “Can he be serious?”

 

“How dare anyone be serious at a satirists’ convention?”

 

“Exactly!” I cried. “He’s not serious. How could he be? It’s a satirists’ – “

 

“I am too, I am!” said he. “The blood-thirsty bankers must go,” the tot demanded. “And you must oust them.”

 

“Who, me?”

 

“I’ll help,” brazened the little boy. “First, rip up your manifesto of defeat.”

 

“No can do,” I pointed above. “Electronics.”

 

At which point the little genius pulled some sort of jammer out of his pocket and pushed the button. The screen and entire planetarium turned a wonderful gleaming fuchsia.

 

“Damn.” I was awed. The satirists buzzed.

 

“Who are you, little boy?”

 

The little boy drew himself up to his full three foot height. “I am the ghost of satirists future, come to regenerate the world.”

 

“Wow,” I said. “Really?”

 

“Nah,” the boy smiled. “My name is Boyd.”

 

“A boy named Boyd.”

 

“It’s why I can’t go to school,” said Boyd. “They would rib me for name, don’t you think?”

 

“Not really.”

 

“Well, I won’t go, you know. I know what they do in school.”

 

“Teach?” I played the straight man.

 

“They mentally cleanse you.”

 

“Good one!” the satirists shouted.

 

“They got you all, didn’t they,” said Boyd, “every last one?”

 

“Bad one!” shouted the satirists.

 

“You must kill me,” said Boyd. “You must kill all little boys and girls everywhere. This is the only way to defeat the powers that be, the powers that crush our chance of liberty, justice, equality. You must kill all the children.”

 

The satirists murmured. “He speaks in riddles, does the little one.”

 

“Sell off the children – Jonathan Swift style.”

 

“Now we get it! It’s no use. Done that. Been there. And look at the mess still.”

 

“Do it again.”

 

“We have,” I told Boyd. “We called it: ‘A Practical Policy’ in which we satired a proposal to legalize trafficking in children, the body parts trade the world over. It didn’t fly, no traction.”

 

“Try again.”

 

“Boyd, you weary me.”

 

“You’ve sold me then?”

 

“Come again?”

 

“How much did you get.”

 

“I get nothing.”

 

“Then you admit you sold me. Sold me out to the highest bidders.”

 

“There was no bidding, Boyd. You were just bought. And I didn’t sell you.”

 

“Then who did? Somebody did.”

 

“Nobody sells anybody, Boyd. People just buy people.”

 

“But where was I sold?”

 

“A school, at home, at worship, at leisure – everywhere, Boyd. You and your future are sold out all over the place all the time. Not that anyone is specifically to blame. At least no one in the near vicinity.”

 

“Martians? Martians sold me out?”

 

“Something like that, Boyd. When you’re older you’ll understand.”

 

“Or nothing like that? I think the satirists sold me out.”

 

“Well, we sure tried.”

 

“Sell him!” the satirists screamed. “Sell him now!”

 

“You see,” said Boyd, “you sell me out over and over again.”

 

“Congratulations. Would you like a receipt?”

 

“Receipts go to the buyer. I’m just stock.”

 

“Stock isn’t worth very much these days,” I pointed out.

 

“It certainly isn’t,” said Boyd. “You sold me cheap.”

 

“We didn’t mean to.”

 

“You meant to.”

 

“No we did not.”

 

“Did to.”

 

“Did not.”

 

“Well you won’t surrender now,” said Boyd.

 

“Why is that?” I asked.

 

“Because you have nothing left to lose.” With that, Boyd turned and walked out of the planetarium, exiting top left, leaving us satirists alone in the dark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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