We, who seven years ago
Talked of honour and of truth,
Shriek with pleasure if we show
The weasel’s twist, the weasel’s tooth.
The bulk of mankind do not pass through boyhood.
Boyman barges into the station to get a gander… oh, excuse me, you don’t say that anymore. Let’s start over…
Boyman barges into the station to check out the shade of the latest turncoat. Everyone is busy as a beaver, cheating on a spouse, speeding, bribing, fudging on a form, bringing suit against an adversary or merely stabbing him, perjuring, or just generally ignoring the action. Boyman scrutinizes everyone carefully. What they are doing does not bother him in the least. He just wants to see what color they are doing it in. A while ago it was red, yesterday it was blue. Today he can see that all those busy people have rejected the audacity of color. They fancy… uh, I mean, they’re into white.
Got to think white, Boyman lectures himself. He hurries home trying on, adoring the concept of white. So busy. So much to do. After all, there are oodles… Oh no, you don’t say that anymore… There are tons of preparations for the evening’s festivities at the Tergiversatyrs’ Ball. White. White. Tonight the night is definitely going to be white. He’d always been just a wallflower at The Ball. But this year things damn well better change! He has his turncoat, and it’s a bitchen… er, a toney shade, too.
Isn’t it at The Ball where Boyman and his friends try to recapture the norm? Not such a big thing, The Ball, not much different than the Senior Prom. But it’s that similarity to the prom that makes it so memorable. You know, Senior year. Oh, promise me. That kind of stuff. The point where attention stops its short hop off Adolexia Peak, where change happens. And Boyman for years afterward has suffered severe adolexis; that is, never graduating. He got his diploma but never really graduated. Now, more than ever, he wants to graduate.
Boyman wants to satisfy that ceaseless hunger for strokes that vexes his daily life, haunts his dreams, those troubling nightmares starring his dad, Pop Cant, former trend-setter at The Ball. The old man always had the right word but hasn’t learned a new one in years. Boyman hears that familiar brash voice scraping his dreams, commanding: “Bend over, son. This is going to hurt you every bit as much as it hurt me.” And Boyman awakens to the horror crying for his mommy, burbling to see more happy baby commercials. He’s caught hankering wantonly for life as it should be lived. Like everyone else’s. You know, normal.
But Pop Cant wouldn’t let him rest. “You showed so much promise when you were that age, you schmuck,” Pop would chide. “Now look at you!”
The rest is silence, bumming after school, slouched… er, vegged out on the Lay-Z–Boy, captured by flickering TV ghosts. After graduation, let the CRT talk. Let the tube (when it was really a tube) recapture the rapture of the cop of your first feel, Boyman. Let it help you remember how you graduated from Follow-The-Leader to playing with your balls. Remember the glory of the game? The slide into home? The slam dunk? The touchdown pass? Can’t you see them again, suited and numbered heroically, ramming together magnificently on the grid? The sweaty fellowship in gladiatorial conflict, the camaraderie… no, the positive male bonding? The leggy cheerleaders on the sidelines bouncing their assets and exhorting the gladiators?
Give ’em the axe! Give ’em the axe!
Right in the neck, the neck, the neck…
But the game is beginning to suck! Boyman finds it difficult to merge with his Lay-Z-boy. “Man, I can’t relax! There’s just no vegging out!” “Then hit the remote,” suggests his constant pal Jarghead. “There’s this killer band doing Poesy Rock. Been dying to hear it. Let’s dig the rap:”
We, who seven years ago
Talked of honor and of truth,
Shriek with pleasure if we show
The weasel’s twist, the weasel’s tooth.
It’s no casual thing dressing for The Ball. The tailored sleeve, the slash cut— the catalogue art of threads. Sashes changed for belts, hems up and down like elevators, solid color or print. Everything done according to the highest fashionism. In-Tints fade and colors shift— red, blue, off-white— like kaleidoscopic bangles. Keeping up is hard to do. And don’t forget those spangles for the ladies. How else can you show how you’ve arrived when you arrive?”
“Wherever The Ball is held.”
“So where is this ball to be held?”
“Somewhere out in the suburbs.”
“Why the suburbs?”
“It’s quite simple. That’s where the adolexic complex can best be celebrated, in its natural habitat, so to speak. Thus, in the field where adolexia thrives, folks have dug in, so to speak, and erected those supremely neotonous monuments to its greatest industry: replication.”
“So where is that?”
“I think we’re getting a trifle circular here. The suburbs, of course. The likeliest spot for Boyman to install his bride after ritual nuptials. Out in those gloriously paved fields of blessed extension. Land of commerce and kissy-mommy. Remember, the principle of kissy-mommy is mighty swell. Whoops! Kissy-mommy is where it’s at.
“But where is that?”
“It’s so far out it extends to the farthest reaches of concrete freeways and slash-price sales, clean out to Billboard Heaven. It’s The Great Commotion Opera lit in a fat spectrum of neons and freons and eons and nylons and so on, burning holes in the sky by expansion of its greatness. It fills great emporiums with marginally necessary products, bordered by vast Babylonian parking lots grinding off trees and the birdies in the branches, yea, smothering the very grasses at thy feet, yea, plugging up squirrel holes, unfucking rabbits, yea, squashing the teeny tadpoles.”
“Land o’ Goshen, what we won’t do for the sake of the children.”
This could be one explanation why people crave The Ball: adolexic worship takes over the town like a monster in one of its own acne splatter flicks. There’s one playing at the mall right now. The marquee advertises a Stevie Pimply Production: I Was A Teenage Werewolf Who Ate Up The Fuddy Duddy Daddy Who Hated Rock’n Roll And Winds Up At The End Tapping His Toe. Neat. Fuddy Duddy Daddy gets with the beat. Now he’s Rockadaddy. Or you might prefer that one where the old bastard gets chopped up like liverwurst and fed to the Planet Of The Teenagers.
“It’s, like, far out, man! I mean, like, totally amazing!”
Yeah, it’s really crazy… er, really awesome to see all the beautiful people… I mean, BPs. Or is it VIPs? Whatever, it’s definitely a happening event when everyone shakes his… I mean, her or his money maker.. uh, booty, shakes her or his booty at the Tergiversatyrs’ Ball. And what a dance do they do! I’m telling you. They do the Monkey. They’ll do the Boogaloo. Square dance. Waltz. Tango, too. Strange ritualistic movements imitating suggestive motions of fleshy idols in sexual congress!
Everyone is grooving… scuze, everyone is rocking to the number one copy band of the Bee Gees. As if by some magic vibration, that thumping disco sound is humping nostalgically its gone decade beat. It diddles down to the genitals and clears the dance floor, except for the guys… no, no, for the dudes in flouncy ruffle shirts, bell bottoms with cuffs billowing around the ankles like skirts, and an obsessive attention to hair. They emptied the unisex salons to shake out on that ballroom floor, doing their jazzy… uh, their sexy moves. Fans can’t get enough of those guys up there singing in falsetto key like sorority sisters. Not crooning like those grosso basso profundo deep-voiced fossils— no Vaughan Monroe, no Perry Como— No, these faux Bee Gees are pure unisex. Gotta be the reason why the dames… I mean, why the chicks dig ’em.
But some guests still haven’t yet arrived, even though they’re standing right there. Boyman is one of the losers. He was just getting used to Fats Domino and The Hop, but now these guys are doing a new gyration and sound like they’re in a chorus line.
So there must be something to this social evolution theory. Tergiversatyrs don’t seem to be worried about changing their dance stance. It’s perfectly natural for them because they change… Oops, they evolve. Tergiversatyrs don’t switch loyalties to a cause or purpose; they simply evolve into the New Way. Kind of a biological fashionism, you might call it. They’re bullish, but not bulls. They’re hungry satyrs in the evolutionary chain. That way they don’t have to really change, really. Since tergiversatyrs are already evolved, they merely switch… er, they transition to the next most desirable program. That’s the heart of fashionism.
That’s the way that visiting French exchange student of democracy Dee Tocqueville explained it when he was here: “In America the majority draws a formidable circle around thought. Inside those limits, the writer is free; but unhappiness awaits him if he dares to leave them.”
He talked funny like that not only because he’s an old graduate, but French as well. But hey, did he have the circle jerk wired, or what? That’s why the circle at The Ball copies the French. Everyone copies les Francais, nest pas? They’re so formidable. And France has reason to claim leadership as number-one tergiversatyrs. During their Thermidor Ball, they sang, “I’m OK, you’re OK, but les autres— non, non— not OK!” as they danced under the guillotine. Same as the Vichy folks danced for the Nazis.
“And me? I was one of those others”— Boyman suffering a momentary pang of miserable alienation— “Maybe that’s why I just couldn’t get with it. I missed the circle. I couldn’t evolve! I couldn’t even transition! The closest I could get to glamorous action was at the supermarket where I buy the splendor leering out of the magazines along with my sour pickles and lonely TV dinners. All those keen… er, those awesome alter egos shown smiling behind mirrored sunglasses, doing their beautiful thing in some amazing place where the sun schmoozes an island in an equatorial sea, or dancing till dawn at the Tergiversatyrs’ Ball.”
But that was then. So it’s easy to imagine how proud Boyman felt when he finally got invited into such hoity toity… uh, scuze me… being drawn into the company of such upscale presences there at The Ball. He can’t grab his autograph book fast enough as he’s swept into that exclusive circle.
And who does Boyman snag first but the actual producer of The Ball strolling by, and he’s quite willing to share the wonder of his own creation: “You wanna know the thing that really fascinates me?” Says the actual head of Tergiversation Funding (And damn proud of it!). He’s been more than a little responsible toward promoting… uh, raising the consciousness of the whole tergiversation phenomenon… er, that is, transition… tergiversation transition. “I mean,” he expands, “what really really fascinates is the freedom.”
“Freedom?” Boyman is puzzled.
“Yeah, the sweep-of-your-arm, dump-your-emotions, flick-of-the-wrist, fickle-fingered fuck-you ha ha laugh in the face of Fate. With that rebirth thing, it used to be a tough act to follow yourself. You were compelled to act according to the guilt of your own actions. Now (and I do mean NOW) tergiversation is never having to say you’re sorry. Loyalty has become quaint. Truth turns on a dime… No, maybe on a dollar. In fact, your average tergiversatyr flaunts his turncoat as openly as the hottest design for next spring’s collection strutting down the catwalk of ideas. In fact, what we got here is designer ideas.”
“Ah, but you could say that all great ideas are designer.” The president’s assistant butts in. She seems to be ragging… that is, putting him on, as both she and her boss belly up widely to the buffet, washing down the chic finger food with slugs of designer water. “That’s why everyone has their very own copy. Every man honors his very own designer idea.”
“Sorry, sweety, you miss the point. Designer ideas are not there for honor. They’re obviously there to cloak our fits of desperation with lots and lots of noise. In the bad old days, desperation used to be enjoyed QUIETLY by the mass of men. It was undercover. But with the NOW thing, it’s profitable to advertise how desperate your mode of existence has become. A lifestyle of noisy desperation is trendy. Big feature of The Ball, you know, desperation. It’s In. It’s trendy. It’s… well, NOW.”
And he’s right. Before our present and more relaxed era, only spies wore turncoats, and they sure didn’t dream of sporting them. Spy style made it more necessary to be more— How shall we say it?— more cloaked. But they were the ancestral tergiversatyrs to be honored. And for that reason, an actual descendent of Benjamin Arnold has been selected the EmCee Square of The Ball, and he’s an officer, too. He introduces everybody, Captain Arnold does, and he’s so impressed with the gains of succeeding tergiversatyrs that he gives this rousing speech from the podium, and everyone (but everyone) quiets down.
“Being one who never saw himself brimming with principles… I mean, I had my principles, and there was a helluva bunch of ’em, too,” Benny Arnold confesses to the cheering fans. “They just didn’t jibe with the rest”— more cheering from the fans— “but tonight we see a vast (or half-vast) congregation of similar dreamers and schemers marching before us, we who guide ourselves with the one operative most fondly at our disposal. What I mean is the fervor we show, the zeal of those who’d would stop at nothing to pimp his mother— for the right reason, of course. Hey, what’s the old lady done for you lately?” More cheering. Mothers cheering the most.
So maybe the spies still have to do it down and dirty, but everyone else… They’re having a groovy… I mean, they’re enjoying real quality time.”
Admit it: They’re having a ball!
Listen to their jive… I mean, check out their conversation…
“This Benny Arnold pathology is so moving, don’t you feel that?” an Executive of the Exchange asks with a wink, trading stocks and strokes. “Don’t you find it exciting? Those restless options, first seized upon like life itself, then discarded like old wine bottles (acceptable vintage, of course)? And you can nab whole corporations with the same panache.”
“It’s oath taking.”
“That’s why my money is in selling popsicles to stop global warming.”
“These minus moralities, subtracted from material pluses… Ah, the whole thing presents such a heady equation of daring emptiness, don’t you feel that?”
Munching on brieburgers, a group of ball-goers revolve around Boyman, sipping the Chardonnay recently touted in White Wine Press and noting each other’s pale splendor. No, wrong! They’re sipping Merlot. No, a Cab or a Zin. So forget White Wine Press. It’s now defunct.
“But there’s an advantage… sorry, there’s an up side to tergiversation,” declares one guest. “Tergiversatyr’s don’t have to deny anything. They just take what they said yesterday and walk it back.”
“Hey, like Walt Whitman said. ‘Do I contradict myself, then I contradict myself. I contain worlds.’”
“Do you contain worlds?”
“I contain calories, illusions, jargon. But worlds? I dunno.”
Yet Boyman is still puzzled. “But how come we never outgrow our ideological pimples?” he asks in his inimitable puckish style. From within a nearby alcove Boyman hears a distant reply to his question.
It’s from a lady reclining on a high-backed over-stuffed Walmart Baroque lounge. “This conversation is becoming very neotonous,” she declares, lifting her hand theatrically to stifle a yawn. Apparent strain shows on her face from a vain attempt to smile: the act of baring her canines pitifully unsuccessful due to the hide of her 1950 model face stretched tighter than a snare drum, having had five full centimeters of redundant skin snipped from her vanishing forehead. “So neotonous.”
Everyone recognizes her as a swell dame… That is, she’s very upscale. But sadly, she suffered quite a personal disaster at last year’s ball. It seemed she’d been abroad and returned in such a dreadfully unhip state as to be completely unaware that the In-Tint had changed from red to blue. It was more than a spot of bother, let me tell you, when she arrived in her red taffeta. She did indeed freak… er, excuse me, it caused her to stress out unmercifully. It is however plainly obvious to Boyman that the lady did not shoot herself, as some had spitefully rumored. Yet she did require analysis for quite some time. And she’s still undergoing acupuncture and chakra realignment, meditating with a famous guru, not to mention the palm readings, because she’s still a bit uptight… No, she’s still finding herself.
[ne-ot-e-ny ModL. neotenia, neo-, NEO + Gr. teinein, to stretch] Zool. 1. the retention of juvenile characteristics in the adult 2. the development of adult features in the juvenile, as the attainment of sexual maturity in some larvae…]
“Beg your pardon,” says Boyman .
“It’s just so much neoteny,” the lady insists in forced words.
“Sorry, would you mind explaining?”
“No explanation necessary. Just look at yourself. You see a monkey. They say he’s the key. Neoteny is the monkey we make of ourselves. More specifically, they say neoteny is the theory of evolution which reckons that Homer Sapeens evolved at the adolescent stage of his primate ancestors.”
“You mean we evolved as adolescent monkeys?”
“Rumor has it. In fact, I’ve always suspected that to be the reason why teens have to make their own lingo.”
“But what’s wrong with that?” Boyman contends. “Having your own lingo is so reet-o neat-o, daddy-o. I mean, like, cool! To have your own lingo, it be sweet, like totally sweet.”
“Exactly my point. Oh, what’s the use? The whole thing is so neotonous.”
“So you’re saying that we’re essentially a bunch of immature and never really fully developed anthropoids, running around and making crucial decisions on the other species? On the dolphins? On the ducks? On the gorillas?”
The lady attempts another bound smile, again unsuccessfully. In contrast to a face strung together by botox, her gorgeously tanned skin ripples soft and loose over exposed shoulder blades like the labia of a bored vagina as she fights off another yawn.
Then this neoteny thing seems like some kind of joke, Boyman thinks to himself in a big balloon mushrooming over his head. A hell of a joke on nature’s part— that we should evolve at our most awkward stage of development, the time in our lives when we are the most pimply and uncoordinated.
But on the other hand, he muses in an opposing balloon, that’s the time when life is ripest. There is the advantage of stepping into a new form when the future is the soggiest for us, the most malleable.
“Then that might explain the hankering to return our minds to the ripeness of adolescence,” he suggests to the reclining lady. “Ripeness is all.”
“Maybe for you,” she says, obviously bored, “but for me, this conversation is getting very neotonous.”
“No, listen, I just thought of something. Such a fix on adolescence might explain the cult of personality we live by, the myth of fingerprints. High school is the time for labeling the Hero, the Queen, the one Most Likely To Do His Do Do, the Mostest and Bestest stuff which emanates from my-pop-can-lick-your-pop. Not to mention our elections.”
“Did you say erections?”
“No, I said, elections. But come to think of it, the majority rules like an erection. Like that French exchange student said: ‘With majority rule despotism is immaterial.’”
“So that must be why tergiversatyrs need role models.”
“Sure, that’s why they modeled their ball after the prom. What else did they have but their own Planet High School?”
“But what a blast it is!”
“What a ball!”
“So what are we waiting for? Let’s dance.”
But Boyman can’t leave it alone. “Maybe it’s social regimentation that forces us to retain our cultural zits.”
“Maybe the conformity for strokes,” offers one of the guests eavesdropping on Boyman’s balloon.
“Maybe it’s television,” offers another, an influential figure heavily invested in media. “You got to admit”— challenging his listeners while thoughtfully chewing on his brieburger”— there’s a lot of merit in television for keeping us in love with our acne.”
“TV?” asks his companion, thoughtfully munching her brieburger.
“Sure, there’s nothing better than your average producer with the lust of a hyena and a hyena’s hunger for ratings for minding the minds of Cathode-Ray-Tube feeders later turned into flat screen flatliners. He produces the best you can get for the job of excising public imagination. He functions as something of a removal specialist for the imagination faculty. What you might call fantasectomy.”
“Fantasectomy? Is that difficult?”
“Simplest thing in the world once you got TV rights. You just run a bunch of images faster than viewer comprehension. That’ll pith the brain of a python, let alone that of your average tergiversatyr. So then you got the prime formula for removing the power of imagination. You muck those images with nothing but the crudest most outrageous forms of kissy-mommy sentimentality and you’ve kitschified the entire groin area. Show the fans the usual gooshy… I mean, tender commercial, some mommy stroking her kiddy, and you’ll have ’em wetting their pants and shooting up to the ceiling every time.”
“It’s totally totalitarian.”
“And it’s oh so-o stable.”
“Yes, stability is indeed where it’s at.”
“After all, isn’t stability what kissy-mommy’s all about?”
“Sure, stability makes the world stand still.”
“Quite right. Stability, taken to its logical conclusion, means either solid gold or rigor mortis.”
“Oh, I love it! I simply adore it when you boys talk dirty!”
Sure, there were problems with The Ball, no one can deny. The tune, for example. With what tune, everyone asks, will tergiversatyrs swing their hips with meaning this season? First they hired some Jewish guy who sings the blacks, and he was going to play folk music. But he couldn’t stay with that and switched to folk-rock, then it was knock-rock, and before long he was singing knackwurst. The times, they were a-changin. But then, at the last minute, they canceled on him because he was getting a little too churchy, you know. The God-thing is alright, you know, but there are limits.
Finally, the committee gets all swoony over… I mean, the committee finally opted for the hep… scuze, the hippest band, Different Drummer. That’s the group featuring this swell… I mean, this dynamic chick… I mean, this amazing personality who actually for real swallows the mike. And their hit song is based on the notion that you can sell your soul for freedom. “The Dialectical Boogie,” they call it. Starts off like this:
We’ll do anything, ya ya ya!
We’ll pay anything, ya ya ya,
We’ll say anything, yay yay, yay,
To be ourselves!
The word, yes, the word. Four little syllables beating it out in four-four time. So let’s see. Let’s conjugate tergiversate: I tergiversate, you tergiversate… It just sounds so… so sexual. It exudes such an uncapturable rapturable essence, don’t you feel that? Dictionary definition just doesn’t do it justice: “Deserting one’s cause or party.” That just comes off so flat, don’t you feel that?
[tergiversate L. tergiversatus, p.p. of tergiversari, to turn one’s back, decline, shift <tergum, the back + versari, to turn: see verse 1. To desert a cause, party, etc.; become a renegade; apostatize. 2. To use evasions or subterfuge; equivocate…]
Who knows what tergiversayters actually contain? We can’t penetrate anything so dense, don’t you feel that? Flesh-and-blood examples are always so much more pithy? And The Ball itself will offer plenty of those. We’re on our way there right now. But here, while we’re cruising in the convertible to The Ball, while we’re rolling along in Jerkomatic, let’s conjugate together:
You, yes sweetness, you tergiversate.
(Perfect vehicle for porting a bunch of tergiversatyrs, the convertible, no? We go top-up or top- down, depending on the weather, no? But let’s continue.)
He (the rascal) tergiversates.
She, after every meal, tergiversates.
Then all plural parties form a circle jerk, and they tergiversate.
So after the Committee decided on the beat, there was the theme of The Ball to consider. We thought they’d stick to English unicorns like last year, but once again they insisted on a change. The whole place was already plastered up with those campy… er, those chic… no, those sweet little unicorns. Their horns, so golden and plump and not at all threatening. Some old Freudians started cracking wise… I mean, they started giving us some attitude about horns or phallic symbols. Something like that. But those guys aren’t welcome here anymore, so they left early. How could you deny unicorns? They’re so cute, leaping from clouds of fluffy white cotton in skies of last year’s In-Tint— cerulean blue.
But the Committee unanimously changed all the unicorns to donkeys. The producer of The Ball was proud of it as a cost-cutting measure: “Just lop off the horns and you got a jackass.” But the donkeys they chose were not the kind that bray and kick, no, no. Theirs were just cute little furry decals you could stick all over the bandstand. All over everything, in fact. So by the time the beat gets going and Different Drummer begins to wail, cranking up vibes, twitching hips, the donkeys follow the same gyration:
We’ll fake anyone, ya ya ya!
See what they say, yay yay!
Say what they see, ya ya ya!
To be ourselves!
“So what a blast!”
“What a ball!”
“Then what are we waiting for? Let’s go join the crowd.”
To enjoy this part of The Ball, though, we have to go freeze-frame in history. Not ancient history, but just-around-the-last-corner history. It’s the part everyone thinks the most fun, the look-alikes dancing together who are made up to look like supreme others. You can’t tell if it’s really the person or somebody who wants to be that person. They serve the myth of fingerprints by revering those who arrived in the past. There are the sweethearts, the perennials of The Ball whose fingerprints make the myth. So you’ll always see Jack and Jackie hugging and Marilyn trying to hold her dress down while Jimmy Dean goes into a slouch.
There used to be a lot of Jimmy Stewarts and Myrna Loys, but they don’t show up very much anymore. And you see a lot of young women barely recognized before they disappear. Over there is this former yippy in a three-piece yuppy suit, tergiversating like crazy: one step forward, two steps back. There’s an old Playboy stud in a bunny T-shirt tergiversating with a female eunuch of the same age still changing her mind at each step. Two bad-ass black men… Scuze, African-Americans tergiversating like panthers, doing the limbo under a burning cross. John Kerry, in fatigues, started tergiversating with Hanoi Jane, who switches partners in the middle of the dance to jazzercise with a handicapped, er… with a differently-abled Viet vet. Even old Bridget Bardot can barely get around anymore as she is everywhere freaking out… rather, obsessing over young women showing off too much skin.
But that isn’t the only entertainment. It’s the Tergiversatyrs’ Ball. Nothing more exciting since the whole Great Commotion Opera was born. Under the donkey decor, caterers serve snacks of lite-Chinese lox during the raffle of wooded mountain property to pay for the production of “Weep For The Environment.”
Next item on the program is from the National Tergiversation Archives, a rare NTA film honoring veteran tergiversatyr Rich Nixon, photographed on-stage and belting out a so familiar solo. “There’ll be a change in the weather and a change in the sea,” Dick croons, with the crowd going wild and crying for a place to cast their votes in the sky. “And from now on there’ll be a change in me…” He sings about how his talk will be different, even his name. When he gets to the part about how he’ll even change the way he struts his stuff, well, dang it, you can bet there’s not a dry eye in the house. After tremendous applause, Nixon introduces the act that made him famous: Acrobats from Peking… sorry, Bejing. Quicker than the old Red baiter had the fans crying, he has them thrilling to the leaps and somersaults of the capering commies.
House lights go up and Nixon’s performance is followed live on stage by an equally stirring set of presidential solos. George Bush The First, to every one’s delight, sings his short-lived hit single, “There will Be No New Taxes in Texas.” But that was only a warm-up number, so he merely receives polite applause.
So does former Secretary John Kerry, still wearing his military fatigues, is invited to croons his most popular song: “I’m Against The War I’m For.”
But when Bill and Hillary show up on stage— durn!— it’s like Jack and Jackie all over again. And things really get weepy when they start off with their most popular duet: “O, Promise Me.”
Then Willy Jeff (known by others as Jeff’s Willy) breaks off for his solo number. Everyone is so happy to see him perform even though he really isn’t as famous as a tergiversayter. He’s not that kind of satyr. Billy Jeff was always consistent in his love for truth, honor, and for his own special fans. They are the ones he dedicates his inimitable rendition of an old favorite, “Thank Heaven For Little Girls.”
Thank Heaven for little girls,
(Chevalier couldn’t do it any better),
For little girls get bigger every day.
Thank Heaven for little girls,
They grow up in the most delightful way!
Hardly finished, Billy Jeff requires an escort to help him off the stage and shield him against a pelted flurry of bras and panties. The motorcade returns him to the presidential motel while Hillary remains behind to give a sincere rendition of her own hit single: “One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you.”
Any right-thinking tergiversatyr would’ve thought that to be the highlight of the evening, only forgetting one thing. The Double-Speak Janus award has not yet been presented. The press never shuts up about the Janus, the most prestigious award of them all. Mere speculation of its recipient leaves the pols, polls, and public breathless.
So it’s easily imaginable the volume of noise erupting when the Double-Speak Janus is awarded to none other than Barry Barack. How amazing is that! The very fact that he’s Barry and Barack shows how true he is to the tergiversatyr form. Say either name and it’s directed toward the same tergiversatyr. So no way, there is absolutely no way to describe the thrills when Barry appears in medical scrubs to sing his biggest hit, backed by that special chorus of congresspersons, “The Obamanations.” Under a white hot spotlight, the blues man with the red hot sound, Barry Barack delivers his own: “You Can Keep Me.”
If you want me,
You can have me.
Hope you got me,
Hope to never change me,
For I’ll be ever true to me.
You can hope to keep me
Keep me in your heart.
Give me all your hope,
Give me all your change,
But keep me.
Anyone, any dull soul able to remain unmoved by those compelling… no, no, those heartfelt repetitions should have his heart (or his wallet) examined— at no extra cost.
This whole rousing roaring Great Commotion Opera of The Ball gets Boyman to wondering. It gets him thinking about the entire consort of cons dancing together. It’s almost mystical to behold, that great endemic square dance of expediency: druggies turned counselors, revolutionaries turned capitalists, antis turning into yes-men, criminals into probation officers and probation officers dealing dope on the side, pro into con, environmentalist into lumberjack, judges on the take, wives on the make, the confused snake swallowing its jittery tail, and all surrounded by spies. It’s like Benjamin Arnold came bopping right out of this glorious land of ours pre-fab.
And there he is himself, ol’ Benny, the EmCee Square in charge of The Ball. Boyman is lucky to catch Benny backstage. He’s so excited he can’t help himself. He must ask Captain Arnold the one burning question. He doesn’t care about loose lips sinking ships or anything. He has to know: “Why is it, Benny, why is it we die Tories?”
There it was. Out in the open. And what does Benny Arnold do?
Nothing really, he does nothing but smile. After all, he’s his own argument. His great-great-great-grandfather Benjamin Arnold began as a revolutionist and wound up dying for the English Tories, regretting how he had only one cause to tergiversate for his country.
“But I can’t understand it,” Boyman puzzles. “How can we have stability when everything is changing faster than a new-born’s diapers? Just like us. We start out yelling, ‘Hell, no, we won’t go!’ And we always do. Seems no matter how we start, we wind up like Tories. We die Tories.”
At that, Benny has only one reply. “That’s the key,” he explains. “We die.”
“You mean that’s all there is to it? Death?”
“Not just death, but the whole schizo-bozo paradox process. First the hardening of the ideologies, then the absolute lust for stability, and then, Bingo! Schizo-bozo! You realize that change has become another ideology. Certainly change is a must, otherwise you’d remain a three year-old. But if you lust for it just because you are a horny satyr for change, then you lose any principle and fall easily into the tergiversatyr mode.
Just like the Demos. All for slavery when there was slavery; when there was Jim Crow, they were for Jim, too. Next thing you know, the Donkeys were the only saviors of the ghetto. Then you look at what happened to the Abolitionists who became Repos, and consistent in their principle. Well, that’s their problem, principle. So they’re not much invited to The Ball.
“Then change is the thing to catch the conscience of the King.”
“Or the mob. Sure, you got it— all those speeches blowing in the wind, promising this, promising that. Best you can say is that the only final certainty in change is Death. That’s what makes him the highest ranking Tory. You can see his sickle, but you can’t spy the powdered wig under his hood.”
“Right, there’s one thing sure about him. Death knows his onions by changing the deal on us all the time, and then we always wind up losers. He deals mainly in futures. And is he bullish on humanity! But his reckless manner of stopping the game makes him a bit of a downer. Sooo serious! Count on him for breaking up the party.”
“Maybe that’s why everybody tries to whoop it up before the fucker fouls the fun at the Tergiversatyrs’ Ball.”
But Boyman doesn’t want to think about that stuff. Death is so yukky… um, so dark. He wants to enjoy himself some more. He wants to veg out and soak up some tunes the way he did with his pal, Jarghead. Boyman just wants to get out front and see ol’ Dylan sing like a Baptist preacher.
But he’s surprised instead with a special treat. He gets to see the whole chorus sing special songs by all the favorite solo tergiversaytrs. He gets to enjoy Harry Reid braying his memorable complaint about too many illegals crossing the border. And how great is Chuckie Schmuckie Humor, costumed as ‘umble Uriah Heep, wailing for economic stability? Or Chutspa Hillary demanding to see Trump’s e-mails? But the biggest follow up has got to be Eric Swalwell, in coolie costume, singing for national security. Or that favorite duo of Nancy Pelosi braying for more science with Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Then there’s this rising group playing in that famous club called the People’s House— a special ensemble known as “The Squat.” As squatters, they are really not eligible for tergiversation status being still faithful to their original native oaths. So they can’t be seen as tergiversatyrs. But they’re rousing favorites anyway, as torch singers, delivering a most lively version of their million-hit single: What’s So Great About Gratitude?
And how they swing when they do The Squat! It’s the driving dance sensation that’s sweeping the nation. Boyman loves it. So does everyone else at The Ball. The kids think it’s swell… er, awesome. So you’ll probably be doing it too.
And soon. Or answering why not.
JoCo, 2021 (ATV 66)