They’re Coming To Take Him Away – Ha Ha!

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This is the first post inspired by my “Challenge The Curmudgeon” solicitation of topics from WordPress readers.  Today’s topic comes from Renxkyoko Iglesias.  She’s witty, erudite and can teach you a thing or two about Filipino cuisine.  Check her out here: https://megaworthit.com/. In response to my entreaty, Ren said: “I’d like you to talk about politics, specifically on this one…. why you think that orange -haired guy will complete his term, or not. In my opinion he will not be impeached, and nothing will happen even if he takes down the whole country with him, because the media will protect him, because he is the goose that lays the golden eggs. What’s your take on this?”

The election of Donald J. Trump to the highest office in the land is not the anomaly that so many political hacks and pundits seem to think it is.  In fact, if you look at the history of US politics from the 1950s onward, you can see the gradual trajectory of divisive rhetoric and policies that seem innocuous on the surface but secretly widen the gap between the classes and choose minority scapegoats upon whose backs these tycoon-placating administrative actions trample.  The time-honored way of creating a scapegoat is fear-mongering.  “Don’t trust those blacks, Jews, women, gays, Muslims, etc.  They’re dangerous and they’re trying to destroy our very way of life!” 

I was born and raised in New Jersey, so I’ve had the misfortune of being painfully aware of Donald Trump since I was a boy.  His greed and lack of basic human empathy have been on display for decades.  But until he decided to dip his toe into the political arena with his shamelessly racist birth certificate nonsense in an attempt to single-handedly sabotage the presidency of Barack Obama, I never really gave him much thought.  Ambivalence transformed into utter disdain as I listened to this flop-haired homunculus telling bald-faced lies on all of the major news networks about the man I considered to be the best president of my lifetime.  We all know what happened after that.

Less than six months into Trump’s usurpation of the presidency, we’re already seeing scandals the likes of which have never arisen at any point in any previous administration – including Nixon’s – and as the American citizens continue to attack one another about differences they’ve been instructed to hate over, it creates the planned smokescreen preventing a clear look into what’s really going on at all levels of governmental power.  But I have a confession to make: as of last week, I am now thoroughly enjoying watching Donald’s meltdown in real time.  In a way, he’s the gift that keeps on giving.  He is incapable of letting even the slightest perceived slight go unanswered, so he takes to Twitter like a 2:00 a.m. drunk and lets loose with unhinged harangues that he fails to notice contradict things he stated publicly just a day or so ago.  He also tweeted himself into being the subject of a massive criminal investigation.  Way to punch downward, Donnie!

According to White House staffers, towards the end of his tenure in office, Nixon would stomp around the Oval Office yelling at the portraits of former presidents.  He was losing his mind.  All power-mad authoritarians experience a similar psychological descent when they begin to lose their grip on power.  They just can’t accept that they are not the unquestioned arbiters of the lives of millions of expendable peons anymore.  This creates a fatal cognitive dissonance that causes them to become desperate…and sloppy…and ultimately, insane.

Trump was raised to be an authoritarian.  He was instilled from a very early age with the idea that if he relentlessly served himself at the expense of others and retaliated tenfold whenever his methods were questioned, he would always be a “winner”.  Roy Cohn, the lawyer for Joseph McCarthy, one of the biggest scumbags in American history, taught little Donnie all of the finer points of being a complete, unyielding bastard.  So he learned from the best.  But alas, he was never taught what to do if, for instance, three-quarters of the global population were to simultaneously take issue with his policies and methods.  He’s not a man who is used to anyone even daring to point out that he has a booger on his face, let alone mocking him in unison on every available media outlet in the world.

I like to think that I’m contributing to his inevitable mental breakdown with my litany of insulting messages on Whitehouse.gov, but that’s pure fantasy on my part.  He doesn’t read the messages posted there and whatever intern does have that job certainly knows that fragile little Don-Don cannot be exposed to such negative comments.  But as the worldwide furor grows louder, there’s only so much shielding him from the truth that his staff can hope to accomplish.

Last week on MSNBC, Lawrence O’Donnell was interviewing some Washington insiders who claim that Trump has already entered the precarious mental territory that Nixon inhabited in his final days in office.  Allegedly, Donny stomps around the White House yelling at every TV screen airing coverage of the investigation(s) into his treasonous actions.  But here’s the fascinating part: he really doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong.  That’s how deluded he is.  As soon as a lie escapes his lips, he becomes its first unquestioning believer.  This is a common element of what the psychological community refers to as Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  An utter lack of impulse control is another element of this condition.  I must admit that this is the only psychological disorder I can think of that does not elicit my sympathy – in fact, those who suffer from it just piss me the fuck off.  So anything I can do to expedite the demise of this bloviating idiot, I would do gladly.

If Trump were to survive politically until the last year of his term, I don’t think the GOP-controlled Congress would take any meaningful steps to impeach him in all of that time.  The Republican party has become so morally bankrupt that most of its representatives consider greed, xenophobia and subterfuge to be virtues.  Also, a good percentage of this country’s entitled white male population has just admitted in no uncertain terms that it wants fascism to be the nation’s system of governance.  They’re all good ol’ God-fearing patriots, so what do they care about the plight of people with brown complexions and strange religious beliefs, right?  Right.  It’s not just the president driving this hateful atmosphere, it’s a significant portion of the citizenry.  As such, I have only this to say: fuck the United States.  You heard me.  Its better days – if there ever were better days – are behind it.  Empires fall.  The earth keeps spinning. No big deal.

But people are suffering now because of all this.  People are justifiably terrified for themselves and their loved ones because of all this.  So if we can’t impeach the Idiot-in-Chief, what hope is there for normal, decent people who are just trying to live their lives in peace?  Here’s the good news: there’s plenty of hope.  Trump will not make it through his first year in office.  You heard it here first (well, probably not, but indulge me that little pat on my own back).  He does not like this job, does not want this job, and pines for the days when nobody batted an eye at the frequently self-defeating orders he barked at his underlings.  Despite what he says in his Twitter rants, he is clearly well aware of the kind of trouble he’s in.  He has hired a criminal attorney.  Mike Pence has also hired a criminal attorney.  Trump’s attorney has hired a criminal attorney!  No matter what he says, he knows this is no joke.  But to me it is.  To me, the funniest joke of all time will get to its punchline when Donald is escorted out of the White House in a straightjacket by a team of men in white coats.  This is must-see TV, my friends.  We are witnessing Donnie’s rapid descent into utter madness.  By this time next year, I predict that all coverage of the continuing saga that is the life of Donald J. Trump will be broadcast live from inside Bellevue Hospital.  Hopefully, he’ll have his very own Nurse Ratched to keep him in line and make sure he takes his meds.  Bye bye, Douchebag.

Challenge The Curmudgeon!

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That’s a picture of me standing in front of the house that doubled as Walter White’s home in Breaking Bad.  I chose it as the image for this post in the hopes that it might make some of you jealous that I live in such close proximity to all of the landmarks that appeared in the greatest television show of all time.  But that really has nothing to do with anything.  Just for fun, I’m going to make things more interactive today.  I’m asking all of you who are kind enough to follow my blog to challenge me to write about a specific topic.  I don’t have writer’s block – I can always think of something about which to pontificate – but for the first six months of this page’s existence, I’ve been left to my own devices in choosing my subject matter and perhaps some of you wish I would address topics that are of specific interest to you.   Most of us have a pretty symbiotic online relationship in that I usually end up following your excellent pages and find myself in awe of the way your minds operate.  So I’d like to bring some of your awesomeness into my virtual space in the form of topics that originated from your minds as opposed to my own.  Sure, I am aware that I could utilize any number of daily prompts that are floating around out there in WordPress Land, but that feels like an unimaginative approach, and it wouldn’t satisfy any personal curiosity you may have about what I might say regarding something that’s on YOUR mind (not to assume that you are curious about such a thing, but I can only be so humble in my choice of words before I begin to sound like a new A.A. recruit trying to out-humble the rest of the sobriety automatons in the room).

I usually don’t divulge too much about myself personally here.  Maryellen brings that angle to our page and has thus far satisfactorily provided plenty of reading material for those of a more voyeuristic mindset.  That’s not a critique; we just have very different styles and that’s why we decided that sharing a page together would not seem redundant.  Aside from my horror story installments, I tend to write on the broad topics of philosophy, physics, politics and pop culture.  What I’m asking of you is to suggest a topic that is less broad.  For instance, “music” is too broad; “Ozzy” is more specific and along the lines of what I’m getting at.  “Buddhism” – too broad and clearly flogging a dead horse; “Richard Gere: An Officer, A Gentleman or a Bodhisattva?” – better.  If it bothers you that I don’t engage in social media or use this blog platform to regale you with the excruciating minutiae of my daily life, then throw a topic at me that demands personal revelation.  Otherwise, just let me know what interests you that I’ve yet to cover in my posts.

If there are a lot of responses, I’ll pick the 3 topics that I find most challenging and post on them within the next few days.  If there are no responses, then I’ll just carry on as normal.  If there are a negative number of responses, I’ll have to reassess my entire understanding of real world quanta.  So, my friends, what’s on your minds that you wish to transfer to mine?

Phantasmagoria

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Ningún Santuario Pt. 11

“Pleasure to meet you, Detective.”

“Thanks for coming in, Sergeant.  Any help I can get in apprehending this guy is much appreciated.”

“Well, you might want to hold on to your gratitude until you hear what I’ve come to tell you.  I’m quite certain it’s not the kind of information you normally gather for a murder investigation.”

“Help yourself to a cup of coffee, Martinez.  Just brewed.  I’m all ears.”

Arturo’s world had lost its palette of color.  Everything he saw was as grey as his parched, dead pupils.  Images came into sharper focus as they were needed to guide him to his destination, then retreated back into an undefined background to make room for the next guidepost.  Vague memories from a life that seemed to have been lived by someone else drifted in and out of his consciousness.  A white schoolboy straddling his supine body on a playground landing punches to his face and abdomen while a crowd of children gathered around and shouted “Retard!”  A large, imposing man who called him “La Abominacion” leveling a revolver at him and squeezing the trigger three times.  His mother singing him hymns in Spanish while he rested his head in her lap and felt a momentary reprieve from the horror of his existence.  But he didn’t remember much else about that existence and he wasn’t even sure it had anything to do with the instinct-driven predator he had now become.  Wordless signals from an unknown source guided him here, there, told him who to kill and who to spare.  Arturo didn’t understand any of it – didn’t understand what he was doing or why he was doing it – and would have been incapable of understanding it even if someone were to explain it to him.  Now this invisible source urged him to step inside the pitch black interior of the house and slide the door quietly closed behind him.  He paused and awaited another signal.

“Have you ever heard of Santa Muerte, Detective?”

“You mean that Mexican voodoo shit?  Yeah, I’m familiar.”

“Good.  I’ve been working a murder case involving a homeless man who looked identical to the composite sketch of your suspect.”

“You mean you’re after the same guy?”

“No.  I mean that the guy you’re after is the victim in my case.”

“You’re right, Martinez.  I should have withheld my gratitude.  What the fuck are you trying to tell me?”

Arturo’s eyes adjusted to the dark as he made his way quietly down the narrow hallway to the master bedroom.  Peering inside, he studied the sleeping couple in the bed and removed the machete from his belt loop.  The man stirred, coughed, turned over onto his side and resumed his quiet monotone snoring.  The woman was laying face down, her breathing inaudible.  As the room came into focus, Arturo noticed a small handgun on the night table at the man’s side of the bed.  When he looked at the man, the woman became insubstantial, spectral.  Likewise his perception of the man when he focused his attention on the woman.  His phantom guide directed his attention to the man and his position on the bed, particularly his right arm in relation to the gun on the table.  Arturo stepped silently to the bedside and gazed down at his unconscious prey. 

“His name is Arturo Capella.  A more nondescript specimen of human waste you’ll be hard pressed to find.  His mother immigrated to the States from Oaxaca back in the Fifties along with her son, Alfonse.  Alfonse was an asshole…probably still is.  He’s the main suspect in Arturo’s murder.  He’s also a drunk who raped his own mother when he was 20 years old.  That resulted in a pregnancy which resulted in Arturo.  So Arturo’s father is also his half-brother…and as I said, most likely, his murderer.”

“Lovely.  Keep talking.”

“Arturo’s family members back in Oaxaca are notorious practitioners of Santa Muerte, particularly the rituals performed to raise the dead.  When a relative dies at another’s hand, they invariably pray over the grave until they are satisfied that he or she will return from the dead to exact revenge.  La Familia will not suffer indignity without retribution.”

“So you’re telling me that my suspect – this Arturo, as you seem so certain – is a zombie.  A zombie brought back from the grave to…what?  Kill some random Gringo girl in Albuquerque?  Chase some east coast hippie around the Duke City for shits and giggles?  Even if I were able to accept your premise, Martinez, I’d still be devoid of a motive.  What’s your take on his relation to my murder victim and her douchebag ex-boyfriend?”

“No idea.  When I responded to the murder scene out on Route 14, he was wearing a green corduroy John Deere cap.  There was a machete lying on the floor of his makeshift dwelling and his arm was positioned in such a way that I could tell he was reaching for the weapon to defend himself from his attacker.  So his choice of head wear and weaponry is shared by your suspect.  His facial features – particularly the eyes – were so identical to what I saw in the sketch on the news last night that I had to suspend all disbelief in the supernatural and admit to myself, as crazy as it seems, that my victim and your suspect are one and the same.”

Arturo lifted the blade in a slow arc until it was horizontal to the sleeping man’s neck and brought it down in one fluid motion.  On contact, the man coughed and his eyes popped open to see Arturo standing above him.  He flipped over, waking the woman who began screaming incoherently.  Holding one palm over the bleeding flesh wound on his neck, he managed to grab the revolver from the bedside table and aim it directly at Arturo’s heart as the blade retraced its upward arc.  He squeezed the trigger and the report echoed off the walls of the house.  The bullet hit Arturo in the chest and he fell backward but retained his grip on the machete handle.  Swinging the blade downward, Arturo missed and plunged it into the mattress as the man pulled the trigger again, this time hitting him directly in the forehead.  Arturo turned and staggered into the hallway as the man followed him and fired three more shots whose impact pushed him back to the rear door by which he had entered.  The woman was in the hallway screaming hysterically as his pursuer shouted “No blood!  There’s no blood!”over and over.  On Arturo’s forehead, a black hole with gun powder residue at the raised skin of the perimeter was the only visible effect of the direct head shot.  The man fired his final bullet which narrowly missed Arturo and shattered the sliding glass door behind him.  Arturo stumbled through the broken glass into the yard.  By the time his pursuer stepped outside, the mysterious interloper had seemingly disappeared into thin air. 

“Look, Martinez.  I do appreciate the fact that you came all the way down here to tell me your intriguing little horror story, but what exactly did you think I could do with such a fucked up theory?  It’s not the kind of information that…well, I’m not even sure it’s information.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right, Leyba.  Maybe I just needed to hear myself tell it in order to realize how insane it is.  Let’s keep this meeting between us, huh?”

“You bet.  Say hi to the boys in Santa Fe for me, okay?”

“I’m afraid I can’t do that, Detective.  I was never here, remember?”

“Right, Sergeant.  Watch out for them zombies.”

Internet Outraged!

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The following headline is among the news items currently on Yahoo’s home page: Internet Outraged By Photo of Shaved Husky.

Don’t spend too much time analyzing anything other than the first two words of that caption.  Obviously, anyone who would shave a Husky to satisfy their curiosity about what lies underneath that beautiful coat is an asshole with far too much time on their hands.  But that’s not why I’m bringing this headline to your attention.  A Google search yielded this selection of recent headlines from various news outlets:

Internet Outraged By Woman Straddling Century-Old Tortoise (NY Daily News, 3/2/17)

Internet Outraged Over Man Carrying Pizza Vertically (Daily Mail, 4/5/17)

This YouTube Prank Has The Internet Outraged (eBaum’s World, 4/15/17)

Theresa May Broke Into Welsh and The Internet Is Outraged (New Statesman, 3/1/17)

Internet Outraged Over Mother Who Posted Photo of Baby Smoking (Rock 105.3 Online, 5/30/17)

And to come full circle, here’s Cosmopolitan’s take on the shaved husky incident:

The Internet Is Absolutely Outraged By This Photo of a Shaved Husky (Cosmopolitan, 6/14/17)

Merriam-Webster tenders the following definition of the word “internet”: an electronic communications network that connects computer networks and organizational computer facilities around the world.

Here’s something fun to do if you’re bored: replace each occurrence of the word internet in the headlines I copied above with the dictionary definition of the word.  Electronic Communications Network That Connects Computer Networks and Organizational Computer Facilities Around the World Outraged Over Man Carrying Pizza Vertically.

Are online journalists trying to ease us into an inevitable future when computers develop self-awareness to the point that one of their embedded programs is capable of getting pissed off?  Perhaps, but not likely.  What headlines like the ones shown above actually illustrate is the piss-poor state of journalistic integrity in the internet age.  It’s as if people have already conceded that technology is smarter than humanity and therefore, continued attention to proper grammar or even composing statements that aren’t complete nonsense is no longer worth the effort.

But at least the shaved husky headline had a story attached.  More and more frequently, I find “articles” about some recent piece of breaking news that begin with a paragraph or two describing the event, followed by endless screen captures of celebrity’s tweets about the event. Twitterverse Reacts To Cosby Guilty Verdict.  Don’t get excited, I just made that one up.  But if I were to see something like it in tomorrow’s news feed, my satisfaction at justice being served might momentarily supersede my disgust at the journalistic laziness of its presentation.

Subservience

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Freedom of choice is what you’ve got.  Freedom from choice is what you want. – Devo 

I pity the mind that finds comfort in subservience.  The mind that not only respects but damn near worships one or many imagined authority figures.  Of course, all authority figures are imagined.  Some, like the tyrannical God of the Bible are entirely imagined: that is, first we invent the notion of an omnipotent creator and then we imagine that he is imbued with ultimate authority and the capacity to reward or punish us depending on our level of devotion to him.  Other authority figures are actual people – in the same sense that you and I are people, a concept we can grasp only because of the interrelation and inherent equanimity of all phenomena.  I can only know “me” in relation to “you”. But most of us aren’t content to view humanity as a level playing field.  We give some of the most headstrong (and usually least compassionate) contrived titles that we imagine bestow upon them the power to control and make decisions for us.  Cop, general, captain, president, prime minister, king, queen, Ayatollah, lama, Dalai Lama, Pope, priest, rabbi, imam, master, Don, admiral, parent, guardian, teacher, mentor, guru, boss, supervisor: how we love to wave the magic wand of imaginary import over the heads of those we fear most.

Guilt and fear are the first concepts we’re taught as children.  Once our parents are satisfied that we’ve got a sufficient portion of each weighing down on our psyches, we are then told what entities we should use as the arbiters of these feelings: usually the parents themselves, first and foremost, followed by God as explained by the parents from the point of view of their particular religious tradition, then teachers and police officers and really just adults in general, as conveniently implied in the catch-all parental phrase “respect your elders”.

Yes, it’s all just part of the game and how each one of us choose to play it, but it strikes me as such an unimaginative and boring way to approach this meaningless but fascinating experience called life.  The psychological reasons that people have for adopting the role of a subject are varied, of course, but I suspect all such reasons have at their foundation a distaste for meaninglessness.  But why does everything need to have meaning?  Since you and I and another can all read the same philosophical or theological treatise and derive completely different meanings from it, doesn’t this prove that “meaning” is just another invented subjective concept?  We so desperately want to feel that our experience is meaningful, never realizing that this desire is precisely what causes us to feel anxiety, guilt, fear, anger, self-loathing, stress, tension, isolation and depression.  And for creatures possessing such an impressive and flexible organic computer as the human brain, we’re so pathetically predictable in how we choose to use it.  Nobody experiences true freedom because nobody actually wants to experience it.  The whole notion of living life moment by moment, moving and grooving between emotions and experiences with complete freedom and without judgment strikes us as frivolous, maybe even irresponsible.  But is it?  To whom is it your responsibility to behave otherwise?  Most people would answer that question with one of the invented authority figures I listed in the first paragraph.  But the idea of a chain of command dictates that these authorities also answer to a higher authority, even if it’s the completely imagined despot called God.  You see, the choice of an authority figure is arbitrary due to the fact that it’s done under our own personal authority.  I can choose, for instance, to view Donald Trump as the President or even the dictator of the nation in which I live.   Perplexingly, many do choose to view him that way.  Or I can choose to view him as what he really is: one of billions of pairs of eyes that constitute the Universe viewing itself from as many disparate angles as possible.  He happens to be a rather extreme example of the narcissistic, authoritarian angle.  I might be described as an example of the rebellious clown angle, although such a broad descriptive has many other distinguishing features.  The punk-hippie hybrid stereotype writing this post is not the same self-witnessing aperture of the Universe as some other punk-hippie hybrid stereotype that may be reading it.

Here’s the reality we’re truly running from when we take on these subservient and/or authoritative roles: we’re all going to die and the person we think we are is going to cease to be, because it never existed in the first place.

We can run from this thought right until our very last breath, and most people do, but on a subconscious level we never really buy our own sense of meaning or identity.  This is illustrated by the physiological muscular tension we carry and the psychological ennui we suffer as a matter of course.  Somewhere at the heart of our consciousness, we know everything we believe is utter hogwash.  We know that the only sensible way to play the game of life is to treat it as a game; one where the rules can always be changed when it loses its luster or stops being fun.  Yet we’re too guilty and unsure of ourselves to actually do this, to let go and just be.  So we continue to look to others to tell us what to do, how it is, and why we’re here, even though we are at least somewhat aware of the desperation inherent in such an obsequious outlook.  Our narcissism tells us that life must mean something; our fear and guilt tell us that we are too puny or vulgar or impure to BE that something.  Hence, there’s no way to enjoy this potentially fascinating game so long as we insist on it being meaningful.  And there’s no way for us to hoodwink ourselves into finding it meaningful unless we create an authority figure to teach us what the meaning is and what we must do “for our own good”.

Stop pretending that you are a stranger to yourself, as if you are two separate entities ensconced in one skin.  Stop telling yourself that you’re doing it wrong, failing to understand, failing to play the game properly.  This is just another game, albeit a pretty crappy one with no hope for occasional forays into ecstasy and bliss.  There is no authoritative you to direct a subservient you; you cannot look at yourself in the mirror and say, “pull yourself together!” and expect anyone to respond to such a command.  The commander and commanded are one and the same.  If you can manage to pull your view of yourself together into a single yet interdependent entity, it will follow that you can do the same with all of the imagined authority figures that materialize in your world.  Do you want to see Trump as the President?  Go right ahead.  Do you prefer to see him as a threat to oppose, as I often but just as foolishly do?  Again, indulge your pleasure.  But try to remember that dark exists in order that we can experience light in contrast.  “Evil” exists in order that we can experience “goodness” in contrast.  And subservience exists in order that we can experience freedom in contrast.  Once you know how to choose your own experience at will, you won’t need the contrasting landmarks anymore.  Someone with a true understanding of who they are and what they’re not doesn’t need to view someone like Trump as an authority or an enemy.  The flop-headed lump bloviating from behind the presidential podium is one kind of aperture through which the Universe experiences itself, nothing more and nothing less.  You and I are the same thing.  We can pretend that we’re not, and we can pretend that he’s not, and we can think that all of our philosophical analyses are nothing short of inspired, but sooner or later, we’ll be in for a big disappointment if this is how we keep insisting the Universe should be.   The Universe doesn’t need to dictate and it doesn’t need to be instructed.  It acknowledges no inferiors or superiors because to a Unity, those are nonsensical ideas.  And we are nothing other than the Universe.  Be the Universe because you can’t but be otherwise and feel yourself being the Universe because you may as well acknowledge and enjoy your true breadth and depth.  Although meaning and fun are not synonymous, fun is the only satisfying meaning to which you can subscribe without continuing to make things unnecessarily difficult for yourself.  Simplify.  Reject authority and unsubscribe from learned guilt.  Most importantly, have fun.  That’s the wisest contrived meaning one can possibly impose upon this beautiful, meaningless life.

 

Flatmates

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“Figgins?”

“Yes?”

“Why?”

“Why what?”

“Why ‘Figgins’?”

“I’m afraid I don’t follow.”

“Why are you called Figgins?”

“That’s my name.”

“Oh, for God’s…I know it’s your name.  It’s an unusual name.  Some might say a silly name.  Do you know what inspired your parents to afflict you with it?”

“I don’t feel afflicted.  I’ve always found it rather regal.”

“Regal?  Figgins??   I hate to break this to you, Chap, but it’s hardly a name fit for a king.  Perhaps a court jester, but no one’s ever ascended to the throne with a name like Figgins.  It’s absurd.  People can’t respect a man who walks around answering to a name like that.  Only thing I can think of would make it more ridiculous than it already is would be if your last name was Higgins.  What’s up, Mate?  Why is your brow furrowing?  Don’t tell me – really?  Are you serious?  Figgins Higgins??  Oh, sweet Jesus, that is hilarious!”

“You know perfectly well what my name is.  I’ve been forced to spend all of my down time with you for over a month now.  Frankly, I used to enjoy this place before you became a part of it.  You talk at me all day, even when all I’m trying to do is have a good read and a biscuit, and you address me as Figgins when you’re mocking me and Mr. Higgins when you’re trying to upbraid me about some alleged lapse in judgment.  Well, I’m sorry to say that now you are the one lacking in judgment, aren’t you?  Feigning surprise that my name is what it is when you’ve known exactly what it is this whole time.  Yes, poor judgment indeed.  Rather bonkers, really.”

“Oh, calm down and have a biscuit.  And get me one, too, while you’re at it.  Top shelf of the cupboard.”

“Perhaps I don’t feel you’ve earned a biscuit, what with all this jocularity at my expense.”

“Oh, okay, then, Figgins.  I’ll be sure to tell your sister that you refused to feed the bird she bought you out of the goodness of her heart to keep you company and that now it is dying of malnutrition because you were too stingy to let go of one of your precious biscuits.  She knows you’re a dullard, Figgins, that’s precisely why she got you a bird instead of a proper flat mate.  But she’s got a big heart…for dullards and for birds, though it seems she really didn’t think through what life was going to be like for me having to occupy my mind in the perpetual presence of the intellectual equivalent of a dollop of oatmeal.”

“Garibaldi, then?”

“Oh, for the love of God, McVitie’s, you Tosser!”

“Yes, that’s right.  I’ll go fetch them.”

“Damn right, you will.  Figgins Higgins – ha!  What a plonker.”