[lit-ideas] Sunday Something

  • From: David Ritchie <profdritchie@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 22 Feb 2015 12:12:17 -0800

We have all become accustomed to Cheddar hanging back.  When I distribute food, 
four chickens crowd my feet.  Not Cheddar.  When I throw bread into the coop to 
get them in at twilight, I count the chickens in: one, two, three, 
four...and... five.  When I look out the kitchen window I often see a patrol 
moving through the underbrush in a tight pattern...followed by Cheddar.  No 
wonder, we agreed, last week Cheddar asked what exactly a disciple does; if 
ever there was a bird likely to go off and join religious splinter group, she 
is it.  Imagine my surprise therefore to come upon her in the middle of the 
five chickens.  They were discussing the profit motive.  I put my coffee down, 
sat, listened in.
Mimo, "We have to own the means of production."
Rocky, "But gods produce bread.  We can't own gods."
Appenzeller, "Define own."
Pecorino, "I own up.  Sometimes."
Cheddar, "I sat under a Juniper bush, and the spirit of Wensleydale cameth unto 
me and she...spoketh..."
Mimo, "What's 'spoketh'?  Is that bread?"
Rocky, "You're think of Spelt..."
Mimo, "There's no eth in Spelt."
Rocky, "Yes there is...it starts with 's.'"
Appenzeller, "We're straying from the point.  In business it's important to be 
clear.  What do we mean by the profit motive?"
Cheddar, "That's what I'm trying to explain.  I have it.  In me."
Mimo, "Me too."
Appenzeller, "I think we're agreed on that.  If we're capitalists, we have the 
profit motive."
Pecorino, "Unanimously."
Cheddar, "Wensleydale said she could set fire to a bush if that would help you 
to accept me."
Rocky, "How on earth would setting fire to a bush help us get bread?"
Appenzeller, "Maybe bread is made with fire?"
Pecorino, "Oooooh.  Hadn't considered that possibility.  We should accept her 
offer.  Was it made lately?"
Cheddar, "I can't remember exactly.  When you're reflecting on spiritual 
matters, you lose track of time."
Mimo, "That's awkward.  The offer may have expired."
Cheddar, "So where does that leave us?"
Pecorino, "Short of bread, I believe."
Cheddar, "We all should believe."
Rocky, "I be leaving."
Mimo, "Why don't we ask god?"
They wandered closer to me and cleared their throats.  
Mimo, "Sorry to interrupt your introspection..."
Pecorino, "It's just that..."
I asked them how the prospecting was coming.  "Any gold tablets?"
They looked about as sheepish as chickens can be.

A delegation was at the door again.  I slid the glass open.  "Yes?"
Mimo, "We've decided you're too enigmatic."
"I beg your pardon."
Rocky, "Freely granted."
"I meant to say that I don't understand what you're talking about.  How am I 
"Well," said Cheddar, stepping forward, "it's my view..."
Pecorino, "Which we voted on..."
Appenzeller, "Unanimously..."
Cheddar, "It's my view, now that mysteries have been granted unto me by our 
Dear Departed Leader Wensleydale..."
Appenzeller, "We didn't agree on D.D.L."
Cheddar, "...have been revealed to me by a chicken who is a little bit 
dead...that...you are unknown to us..."
Mimo, "She doesn't mean we're shunning you."
All, "No, no, no, no, no."
Cheddar took a breath to continue but was shushed by the others.  They looked 
at me expectantly, moving their heads from side to side, changing angles to get 
maximum visual information.
"What would you like to know?" I asked.
I remembered a set-up line from my childhood, "The story of the three wells?"
Mimo, "You could tell us, for example, what you were thinking about immediately 
prior to our arrival."
"Arrival in my life or arrival just now?"
Mimo, "Er...just now."
I considered whether they were likely to understand and then thought, "why not 
be frank?"  "I was wondering how some people...gods in your world...attain 
adulthood without understanding the conventions of conversation."
"Shy ones, perhaps?" Pecorino was clearly struggling with the concept of a shy 
"Gods can be she," I confirmed, "but I was actually thinking of theatre people."
Pecorino, "Ooooh drama!  Personally I wish we hadn't abjured it in favor of 
"Freedom!" shouted Rocky.
Cheddar shushed them.  "Do carry on."
"Well," I said, "I was at a party yesterday evening.  Lots of theatre people.  
To get the conversation started I asked one of them, as you do, a nice 
open-ended question, 'What are you up to?'  Seventeen minutes later I checked 
my watch, not believing that she was *still* talking about herself.  Two of us 
were nodding and smiling and waiting for a pause.  When it came, I expected a 
return question from her.  Nope.  Nothing.  So I turned to the other fellow to 
ask, 'And what do you do?'  Turns out he writes plays...and has exactly the 
same sense of conversation.  Fifteen minutes more of 'me...me...me...' was all 
I could take.  When they started me-ing one another, I excused myself and went 
to get water."
Pecorino, "You remind me of something I discovered while directing 
Appenzeller, "The Scottish parrot!"
Pecorino, "There was no parrot in the play."
Appenzeller, "Was too.  Alexander Macaw Smith..."

David Ritchie,
Portland, Oregon

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