Monday, April 24, 2006

What If Non-Monkey Wrote War And Peace?

If Non-Monkey had beaten Leo Tolstoii to the idea, I think it might have gone a bit like this:

"Well, Prince, so Irv's Barber Shop and Maple Grove are now just family estates of David Strom. But I warn you, if you don't tell me that this means a special session, if you still try to defend the infamies and horrors perpetrated by that tax-evading Antichrist- I really believe he is Antichrist- I will have nothing more to do with you and you are no longer my friend, no longer my 'faithful slave,' as you call yourself! But how do you do? I see I have frightened you with my stock tale of mass-manufactured woe - sit down and connect the dots for me. "
It was in July, 2005, and the speaker was the well-known Anna Pavlovna Mostaccioli, maid of honor and favorite of the Irv the Barber, from whose shop I've gotten most of my material lo these 30 years. With these words she greeted "Snuffy" Backwash, a man of high rank and importance, who was the first to arrive at her reception at Mancini's. Anna Pavlovna had had a cough for some days, due to Governer Pawlenty's tax cuts. She was, as she said, suffering from la grippe; grippe being then a new word in St. Paul, used only by the big cheeses who live in Northfield and Oakdale.
All her invitations without exception, written in French, and delivered by a scarlet-liveried footman that morning, just like I did when I was a scarlet-liveried footman while I was working my way through the U, ran as follows:
"If you have nothing better to do, Lester [or "Snuffy"], and if the prospect of spending an evening with a poor invalid is not too terrible, I shall be very charmed to see you tonight between 7 and 10- Annette Scherer."
"Heavens! what a virulent attack!" replied the barber, not in the least disconcerted by this reception. He had just entered, wearing an embroidered barber uniform, knee breeches, and shoes, and had a "Code Pink" button on his breast and a serene expression on his flat face. He spoke in that refined Irish-accented English in which our grandfathers not only spoke but thought, and with the gentle, patronizing intonation natural to a man of importance who had grown old in society and at court. He went up to Anna Pavlovna, kissed her hand, presenting to her his bald, scented, and shining head, and complacently seated himself on the sofa.
"First of all, dear friend, tell me how you are. Set your friend's mind at rest," said he without altering his tone, beneath the politeness and affected sympathy of which indifference and even irony could be discerned.
"Can one be well while suffering morally? Can one be calm in times like these if one has any feeling? When people are not happy to pay for a better Minnesota" said Anna Pavlovna. "You are staying the whole evening, I hope?"
"And the fete at the English ambassador's? Today is Wednesday. I must put in an appearance there," said the barber. "My daughter is coming for me to take me there."
"I thought today's fete had been canceled due to lack of funding due to the Tax Evader's League and those damn buh-log-gers. I confess all these festivities and fireworks and booyas are becoming wearisome."
"If they had known that you wished it, the entertainment would have been put off," said the barber, who, like a wound-up clock or conservative talk radio howler monkey, by force of habit said things he did not even wish to be believed.
"Don't tease! Well, and what has been decided about Novosiltsev's dispatch? You know everything."
"What can one say about it?" replied the barber in a cold, listless tone. "What has been decided? They have decided that Strom has burnt his boats, and I believe that we are ready to burn ours."

Next week: What if Kate Parry wrote "The Bible"

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