Time to come clean.
It has leaped to our attention here at the The Trying Times bunker that the name of the perp at the console who’s responsible for the blather upon the platform has not been disclosed. And that anonymity would have remained so if not for the existence of a podcaster out of Nooh Yawk who bears the same handle as your humble editor, Joe Cozzo.
It also seems unduly shy, if not cowardly, to remain anonymous for positions taken here at 3T. This is especially true in reference to the following piece, Tergiversatyrs’ Ball. With much of its ridicule heaped upon so many, it becomes a matter of honor that this Joe Cozzo stands up to be counted against the rising tide of scum we might call passionate politics, besides the lifestyle surrounding its absurdities.
If anything deserves ridicule, it would be most of what is encountered on any TV broadcast, and not necessarily politics. Jarghead majorities have taken us so far afield in every field— merchandise, entertainments, language, education, social values— there seems to be nothing but scarecrows left standing.
In a previous 3T entry reference was made to a certain Greek philosopher named Democritus who was struck by fits of laughter whenever he left his abode and observed the jargheads of his time. In an effort to avoid succumbing to death by laughter in this era, falling to a democritic seizure, I devised these works over the years as a psychological shield.
And there has been no shortage of absurdity available. In fact, quite the opposite. The difficulty was sifting through the compost for the ripest ones. Tergiversatyrs’ Ball offers a prime example of that effort.
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. 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 up to the top of 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.
He wants to satisfy that ceaseless hunger for strokes which 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 familiarly 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 memory of crying for his mommy, burbling to see more happy baby commercials. Caught hankering wantonly for life as it should be lived. Like everyone else’s.
You know, normal.
But Pop Cant won’t let him rest. “You showed so much promise when you were that age, you schmuck,” Pop chided his lackadaisical son. “Now look at you!”
The rest is silence, bumming after school, slouched… er, vegged out on the easy chair, captured by flickering TV ghosts. After graduation, let the CRT talk. Let the tube (when it really was 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 touchdown pass? Slam dunk, thank you ma’am? Can’t you see them again, suited and numbered heroically, ramming themselves 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 merges all too easy with his LayZboy— “Man, I feel like relaxing… Yikes! No, like vegging out.”
“Then hit the remote,” suggests his 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 digging 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, beige— 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 observed 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 motel 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 precious motions of fleshy idols suggestive of 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 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 bellowing around the ankles like skirts, and an obsessive attention to hair. They emptied 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-voice fossils— no Vaughan Monroe, no Perry Como— these faux BeeGees 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. 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 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 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 Vichy folks danced for the Nazis.
“And me? I was one of those others”— Boyman suffers a momentary recollection 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 every magazine 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 gated place where the sun schmoozes an equatorial sea, or dancing till dawn at the Tergiversatyrs’ Ball.”
But that was then. So it’s easy to imagine how proud Boyman feels presently, finally being 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 dazzling exclusive circle. And who does Boyman snag first but the actual CEO of The Ball strolling by, one quite willing to share the wonder of his own creation:
“You wanna know the thing that really fascinates me?” Says the head of Tergiversation Funding (And damn proud of it!). He’s been more than a little responsible toward promoting… uh, that is, 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 a dollar. In fact, your average tergiversatyr flaunts his turncoat as openly as the hottest design for next spring’s collection strutting its style 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 secretary butts in. She seems to be ragging… that is, putting him on, as both of them belly widely up 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 White. 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, Benny Arnold is the EmCee Square of The Ball. 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 those similars 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?” the 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.”
“These minus moralities, subtracted from material pluses… Ah, the whole thing presents such a heady equation of daring emptiness, don’t you feel that?”
Yet Boyman is still puzzled. “But how come we never outgrow our ideological pimples?” he asks in his inimitable puckish style.
Munching on brieburgers, a group of ball-goers revolve around him, sipping on 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.
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 1940 model face stretched tighter than a snare drum, having had five full centimeters of redundant skin snipped from her vanishing forehead.
Everyone recognizes her as a swell dame… I mean, very toney. 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.
[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,” says the lady’s forced words.
“Sorry, would you mind explaining?”
“No explanation necessary. Just look for 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 to the ripeness of adolescence,” he suggests to the reclining lady. “Ripeness is all.”
“Maybe for you,” she says, obviously bored, “but 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 emanated 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 sociological 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 during a diaper change, 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 are 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.
Then they were going to select the soulful Feline Mohammed for his soft… um, his mellow sound, but he disappeared. Next time he showed up he was in another incarnation, thrown in the slammer after attempting to blow up a peace train.
Afterward, 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 person 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, ah, 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” just comes off so flat, don’t you feel that?
“But there’s an advantage… sorry, there’s an up side to tergiversating” declares one of the guests. “Tergiversatyr’s don’t have to deny anything; they just take what they said yesterday and walk it back.”
“Right on. That’s why I’m making money selling popsicles to stop global warming.”
“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.”
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? 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 joining 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 amazing little unicorns. 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, jumping from cloud to cloud of fluffy white cotton in skies of last year’s In Tint— cerulean blue.
But the Committee unanimously changed them all to donkeys. Not the kind that kicks and brays, no, no. The donkeys they chose were just cute 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!
“What a blast!”
“What a ball!”
“So what are we waiting for? Let’s go join the crowd.”
Many of the residents of Burlington [Latte Town] probably suffer from Sixties Amnesia; they have repressed the memory of exactly how radical they were in 1968. But even those who fess up to their youthful infatuation with Mao are now discovering that the collectivist and holistic ideas that seemed so anti-capitalist in the sixties actually jibe with current management theory.
(David Brooks, The Weekly Standard, Sept 97)
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 somebody else. 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 looks on with 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’s this former yippy in a three-piece yuppy suit, tergiversating like crazy: one step forward, two steps back. There’s an old Playboy stud, a bunny on his T-shirt, tergiversating with an equally old female eunuch still changing her mind at each step. Two bad-ass black men… Scuze me, I mean African-Americans tergiversating like panthers, doing the limbo under a burning cross. John Kerry (done up like Lincoln) tergiversates 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 who can barely get around anymore 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 dragony decor, caterers serve snacks of lite-Chinese lox during the raffle of wooded mountain property to pay production costs for the film “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 looking for a place to cast their votes again. “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 only receives polite applause.
Even presidential candidate John Kerry is invited to sing his most popular song. Sharply dressed in military fatigues, he croons, “I’m Against The War I’m For.”
But when Bill and Hillary come out— 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 William Jefferson breaks off for his solo number. Everyone is so happy to see him perform even though he really isn’t eligible as a true tergiversayter. He’s not that kind of satyr.
Billy Jeff was always consistent in his love for truth, for honor, and for his own special fans. Those are the ones he’s dedicated 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 flurry of pelted bras and panties. The motorcade returns him to the presidential motel while Hillary remains behind to give a most rousing 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 pols 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. And if the sight of him weren’t enough, Barry shocks them out of their votes by opening his performance with nothing less than an old country western favorite:
I got words that go jingle jangle
as I go riding merrily along
I got herds that I can scramble,
Down the lone prairie…
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 change me,
But you can hope to keep me
And, yes, please do,
Keep me in your heart.
Give me all your pain,
Give me all your change,
But keep wanting me.
Anyone, any dull soul able to remain unmoved by those compelling… no, no, those amazing 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. Benny 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 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 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, Demos are 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 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.
Only he’s just in time to catch another bigger act. He gets to see the latest spotlight artists like Nancy Speak in a Bo Peep costume singing about her lost sheep. And she’s teamed up with Chucky Schmucky Humor who’s made up to look like he’s Uriah Heep playing Fagin, and all his senate boys playing Oliver. And the entire consort is teamed together with this the new group known as The Squat because the members of that group are known for the dance they do by squatting in a place they call their own and crying.
JoCo, 2021 (ATV 71)