Sunday, March 30, 2014

195. Ratings

It turns out that C.W. didn’t fare well with his plan to get rich staging contests. Actually, he was quite despondent about it.

“There is already a contest for about everything,” he said. “The field of staging contests is thoroughly soaked.”

“I thought you might find it saturated,” I said.

“Besides,” he said. “The Falloonian Elders refused to approve it.”

“They have to approve your business ventures?”

“Quite so.”

“What happened?”

“They said I was deranged, demented, and not my right mind.”

“They thought you were crazy?”

“That’s what I just said.”

I ignored him. “What was the basis this time?”

“They accused me of making things up.”


“They ruled that no species in the Universe would ever stage a contest to see who could eat the most hot dogs. They said I must have been imagining it.”

That made me think. I actually felt sorry for him. His current form created the “spitting image” of that TV personality Jerry Springer. He shook his head in sadness, but then snapped to attention and smiled.

“I have a new idea,” he said. “A real winner this time.”

“And that is?”



“Creating lists. Americans are wild about lists.” He thought for a moment. “I think it has something to do with your national obsession with being first at something.”

I nodded.

He added, “Except greed, of course.”

Ignoring this, I pressed him. “So what kind of lists will you prepare?”

“Oh,” he said. He reached into a pocket and produced a folded sheet of paper. “Here is one your species is particularly obsessed with.” He read, “The best city in America.”

I groaned.

“No, really,” he said, preparing to read.

“Wait,” I said. “This topic has been beaten to death. Each list names a different city.”

“Exactly,” he said. ”That is because of the rating criteria.” He smiled wistfully. “Control them and you control the world of list-making.”

I was curious so I let him continue.

“Whatever Chamber of Commerce wants its city first, I can do it.” He studied his sheet. “Here is one. Want to hear the rating criteria?”

“Very much so.”

“Okay,” he said. “The city must have at least an African-American population equal to the national percentage or it lacks inclusiveness or, worse, could be classified as a moment when the trailing edge of the Sun's disk disappears below the horizon city.”

“A sundown city’ in other words.”

“Why are you always repeating me?”

“Never mind,” I said. “Go ahead. This is interesting.”

“Okay,’ he said, “the city must be at least 500 miles from the ocean.”

“Why is that?”

“So it won’t be underwater in a hundred years or so.”

“Okay. Keep going.”

“Must be located near a fresh water supply so it will be one of the last remaining places to live when your planet runs dry.”

“Makes sense,” I said.

“Must have been around at least 200 years to prove durability.”

“Maybe,” I said.

This time he ignored me. “So, there are other criteria, catchy nickname, neat skyline, and so forth. But do you want to hear the winner, the best city in America?”
“By all means.”

He waved the list in my face. “Why Detroit, Michigan, ‘Motor City’ of course.”

As I pondered this, he pulled out another sheet. “Want to hear the one I did for Flint Michigan?”

A city without a skyline is a city without a soul. Don't you agree? - C.W.

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