Sunday, April 3, 2016

315. Simplicity

It’s easy to tell when C.W. is in a serious mood. He dresses in a woolen robe and takes on the form of—well—a prophet, or something like that. That’s what I saw sitting by the garden this afternoon, a regular holy man, although he was sipping some of my best bourbon whiskey and smoking one of my cigars.

“Sit down, my son,” he said, motioning toward a cooler of ice and the bottle. “Have a drink?”

“You are awfully generous with my bourbon,” I said.

“Generosity and good will should extend to even the least of my brethren,” he said. He leaned back, took a puff, and blew a perfect smoke ring into the sky. “Know what I’ve been thinking about?” He said.

“I shudder to contemplate,” I said. “I really can’t imagine, so why don’t you tell me.”

“The quality or condition of being easy to understand or do,” he said, taking a sip.

“Say what?”

“The state of being uncomplicated, or uncompounded.”


He looked at me and shook his head. “That’s exactly what I said. Why do you obfuscate so?”

That word caught me by surprise. “What about simplicity has started you navel-gazing?”

“I don’t understand you.”

“It’s just an expression,” I said. “Tell me about the simple life.”

He stuck the cigar in his mouth, leaned forward, filled a glass with ice for me, and poured us each a healthy shot. Leaning back, he contemplated the cloudless spring sky and said, “Your species seems devoutly to wish for a simple world,” he said, “except for the few, the devilish few, that spend their time making it increasingly complicated.”

“You have a point,” I said.

He turned to me and offered his glass in a toast, “Blessed are the simple-minded,” he said, “for they shall inherit the future.”

“Let us hope not,” I said.

“Oh, they will,” he said. “Just look at what your politicians are saying.”

“About what?”

“Oh,” he said, “take peace example. Someone says we can produce peace by rug-bombing a portion of the most sociologically complicated areas of the planet, and the masses erupt like they just heard that Elvis Presley is returning on the next transport.”

“That’s ‘carpet-bombing,’ and you have a point,” I said.

“The economy,” he said.

“What about it?”

“It is so complicated that no one in your planet’s history has ever managed fully to understand it.”

“True that,” I said, getting into the feel of this simplicity thing.

“But let a politician say that he will fix it by putting all the bankers in jail and you’d think he just promised them free pizzas.”

I thought this for a moment. Before I could respond, he said. “National security.”

“And …?”

He turned to with a puzzled look. “Build a wall? Are you serious? And then the same schemer will shout ‘state’s rights’ and the lemmings head straight for the cliff.”

“Building walls and state’s rights? Now how to those fit together?”

“Our planet observed your species the first time it built a great wall for security. Know what happened?”

“I suspect you’re going to tell me.”

“Each province–state if you will—faced the prospect of building its section. Can you see what might go wrong?”

“Uh …”

“You are exactly right. No one thought to assume the complicated task of centralized coordination and the various sections failed to connect, much to the delight of the mongrel hordes that poured through. I remember watching it on our telescopic feed as a teenager and laughing my butts off—all three of them.”

I tried to encompass that image in my mind, but he sipped and spoke again.

“Marriage,” he said.

“What about it?”

It's a safe bet that he would have
never been elected to office. - C.W.
“Who was the dude that said it would be simple if wives just obeyed their husbands.”

“A non-participant,” I said. “One much like you.”

“With a ‘thorn in his side,’ and a favored traveling companion,” he said.

“And your point is?”

“A simple marriage and an obedient wife,” he said, “and how did that work out for you and Mrs. Big Dope?”

“Is this conversation going somewhere?” I reached for the cigar box and found it empty. He had taken the last one.

“You can go now,” he said. “I’ve got to make a report to the Falloonian Elders.”

“About what?”

“They’ve asked for a list of all things I find admirable about your species.”

“Oh,” I said, “and what have you listed thus far?”

He thought for a long time, and said, “The courtesy-flush.” 

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