Near 500 words: Chair sitting

I wasn’t always a chair sitter. Then late one night, I saw a master of the chair, performing his art in an episode of “All in the Family.” Saint Archie of Bunker sat down on his throne and revealed the secret to the truly blessed life. There was no problem that could not be solved, no challenge that couldn’t be met, no secret that could not revealed. When he sat on that chair, he was the all-wise one.

Once I fell under Saint Archie’s spell, I took the road not taken so much and have been thankful to the Blessed Archie since. Under his guidance, I learned the art of contemplation. Navel gazing, if you will. I learned to stare blankly into space with nary a thing on my mind.

I learned to pontificate as well as the speakers in Hyde Park. On any number of subjects I know absolutely nothing about. Archie taught me the art of laziness. If a job needs doing, there’s always an Edith to do it.

After months of practice, there was only one thing left to do. Saint Archie had his special chair. I needed mine. I spent many an afternoon, wandering the showrooms of God’s green earth. But no chair fit my bottom’s criteria. Just as I was about to give up I met her.

I remember the moment like it was just yesterday. I gazed across the Ikea showroom. She was a wooden framed, canvas covered goddess of a chair.  She saw me. It was love at first sight. I introduced myself. She told me her name was Chaise. I immediately proposed and she accepted. The cashier performed the nuptials. Then she pronounced us man and chair with the word, “Sold.”

Our honeymoon was a long one. I kept asking myself how had I gone so long without such a creature. She was a perfect fit for my bottom. Her embraces were ecstasy.

Whole days went by without my moving. Once I took my respite in her arms it was like the poet Omar Khayyam said. “A can of beer, a remote control, and thou.” We learned the nooks and crannies of each other like we’d been married for decades. I knew her mood swings. She knew where to scratch my back when an if I had an itch.

Then it happened. Like Sheldon Cooper says, there is a Special Place for each of our bottoms. And for us alone. One night some friends came over. And lo and behold, one of those former friends rested his bottom on my beloved. With tears pouring down my face, I screamed, “Sitter, beware.”

But it was too late. My beloved had embraced his bottom as she had embraced mine. As the old saying goes, “Hell hath no fury like a chair sitter scorned.”

When they left, I sat down in my beloved’s arms. The sound was different. In the past, there had always been an ahhhh from Chaise. Now there was a burp. A burp! I ask you, “Have you ever heard such a thing?” The fit was too loose for my bottom. And she retained his smell. The smell of dirty socks.

Needless to say I did not get a divorce and take her down to the local Goodwill. No. I gave her what she truly deserved. Forty whacks with an ax.

In the months that followed, I found myself alone. Distraught. Nothing could satisfy my depression. I watched “All in the Family” episodes for weeks on end, hoping for inspiration. I prayed to Saint Archie. Nothing would do. And then I was at Ikea.

Needless to say, I have lived happily ever after since. And perhaps when I die, I will be buried sitting up in Silla’s lap.

The passing of Arthur

It is evening and Arthur walks his rounds in his camp, speaking to each man with a friendly jest here, a smile there, comforting one, urging another he can bear up well. Then Arthur, king of the Britons, returns to his fire and warms his hands. His squire gives him a spit of meat. Arthur bites into the meat. It is tasty, roasted as he likes it. As he sits there, he realizes that he is a king without a country.

Soon, maybe tomorrow, he will join his friends and his family in the west where men sit by the hearth and tell their tales of great deeds. Tonight he thinks of what might have been. He thinks of how he failed all those who believed in him. He thinks of his two closest friends, Guinevere and Lancelot du Lake, and how they failed him. They didn’t fail him. Can those you love and those who love you ever fail? He failed them. Thinking upon these things, he drops off to sleep.

It is a night of fitful dreams, tossing and turning. He rises before dawn. He calls his squire, Richard, out of his sleep.

“Yes, sire?” the squire asks.

“It is time to ready for battle this one last time.”

The squire suits up his master and king. As he looks into Arthur’s eyes, he sees loss. When the king is completely suited in his armor and ready for the battle ahead, he turns to his squire.

“Boy,” the king says.

“Majesty?” the squire says.

“Kneel,” the king says.

The boy kneels. The king raises his sword and taps the squire on each of his shoulders.

“I dub thee knight,” King Arthur says, warmth in his voice. “Rise, Sir Richard Bonnesworth.”

The newly knighted rises.

“Today you will ride forth,” his king tells him, “from these battlements and tell the land of the great things you have seen. Never let the dream of Camelot, the dream of Justice and Compassion for all who are Weak, die. That is your charge. Now go.”

Then it is over. Arthur defeats Mordred. Arthur receives a mortal wound.

It was a marvelous dream, Camelot. And now we enter into the dark times. The long shadows at the end of the day are upon us. Who will hold back the night? Camelot and Joyous Gard are in flames. Arthur stands, watching the work of Mordred and his henchmen. Lancelot is dead and Guinevere has gone away to a convent. It is the time of the waning of the west. Arthur’s dream of being a just king has died.

The king is heavy with grief. How did it come to this? Where was Merlin when he needed the wizard most?

**********

We all know how Arthur passed into the West, how he was accompanied by three Queens, how Guinevere returned Excalibur to the Lady of the Lake. As Arthur sailed to the healing lands of the West, the evening set into the horizon. Soon there was the long darkness. But dawn would return.

As it has so many times before. With the defeat of Hitler and the Nazis, with the fall of the Berlin Wall, with the release of Nelson Mandela, with the shaking of the hands of Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin. The sun shall rise in the East and the day shall come again.

As Merlin once told Arthur, you can never determine the outcome of things. But, if you live with a pure heart, the dawn shall always bring in a new sun and the light shall return for a new day.  So do not despair.

Arthur sent forth his messenger to bring hope to all those who are dispossessed and might despair. That they know that hope is alive, that the King has not forgotten them. Arthur will return from the West and the days of Camelot shall be upon us again.

As it was written, so it shall be.

Enter Hamlet

A little touch of Harry in the night. Henry V Act 4 Prologue.

For Hamlet’s plot till now, see Hamlet So Far.

Act 1. Scene 2. On one side of the stage, there is a party going on. King Claudius and Queen Gertrude and a roomful of courtiers, dancing, boogeying to the music of The Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Five. It’s a bit James Brown, Rick James and ABBA, thrown into one big stew. The crowd is really getting down as Rosencrantz sings their signature hit, “By the Time I Get To Wittenberg”.

Out on the dance floor, Claudius and Gertrude are so happy. Maybe they are like Ronald and Nancy Reagan. They love each other to an extreme, even above the children, and always singing, “I only have goo-goo eyes for you.” One thing is for sure. They are one happy couple. Of all the couples in Shakespeare, they may be the happiest. Happier than Romeo and Juliet or Anthony and Cleopatra anyway. And they put the Macbeths to shame.

The folks on their side of the stage are really with it. The booze is good. So is the food. And the comradery is the comraderyest. Folks are lining up to shake hands with the king and get a good gander at the queen’s new dress.

Alone on the other side of the stage sits a man in black. I would call him the Man in Black but Johnny Cash already laid a claim to that one. He has such a gloom on his face that it would make one think he invented melancholy. His name is Hamlet. He is the son Gertrude and the Daddy Hamlet, a Prince and heir to the throne, nephew to the current king. He is also the star of the show. He is the reason the play is called “Hamlet”. Otherwise it would have been called “Laertes” or “Ophelia” or “Claudius and Gertrude Make Whoopee Big Time” or “All’s Not Well That Ends With All The Main Characters Dead”.

Claudius glares over at Hamlet. He is thinking, “That young snot of an s.o.b. Who does he think he is? Sitting over there in the corner and taking the spotlight off Claudius.”

Hamlet glares back. To understand what Hamlet is going through, imagine that your daddy suddenly dies. In two shakes, your uncle moves in and marries his wife, then the Board of Directors votes him Honcho-in-Chief to run the family business.

Hamlet (mimicking the crowd): Blah. Blah. Blah.

Hamlet (speaking to the audience): So why am I sitting my ass over here in this downright uncomfortable chair? And with a big frown on my face? They are saying that I look so unhappy Bergman could make an entire film of my sulking. It would show the Swedes a thing or two about melancholy.

Gertrude (to the audience): Gertrude here. But you can just call me Gertie. Everybody does.

Gertie’s thinking a Jack Nicholson kind of thinking when he played the President of the United States in “Mars Attacks” and said to the Maritans, “Why can’t we just get along?” Could be that she is a Libra on the cusp of Scorpio.

Gertie (To Ham): Why are you always spoiling the party? You’d think somebody went and died around here. Don’t you know that this is the very reason your dad and I gave you to poor Yorick to raise. Thinking you would cheer up some. But, no. Your sulk did even him in.

Hamlet: Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Gertie (to Ham): Sure, your father is deceased. But he paid no never mind to me. And to you neither. We were just fodder in his crown. A trophy wife and a trophy son. Do you know how many dumb blondes that man slept with? I don’t know either. I do know it was a lot. He kept a slew of lawyers settling paternity suits. And now you mourn for him.

Gertie (To the audience): Hamlet was a hard birth, you know. Took eighteen hours, and finally there he was. The doctors told me I couldn’t have any more children. I considered it a fair exchange for this one. (Points to Ham.) He was a handsome baby boy. He has his father’s red hair and my eyes and the cutest little dimple.

Hamlet: If I was such a favored son, why did you give me to a clown to raise?

Gertie: It was not my choice but your daddy’s. You were such a sulker he wanted to do something to cheer you up. I can see that it didn’t work. Maybe it’s all that thinking you do.

Gertrude (to the audience): That clown, Yorick, almost cured him of the sulks. Almost but almost only works in horseshoes. Unfortunately Yorick had to get a hold of some bad stew and die from food poisoning. Something called salmonella. That is English for bad stew. Hamlet was seven.

Claudius (to the audience): Claudius here. (To Gertrude) What Hamlet needs is a girl friend. A little whoopee never hurt no one.

Gertie: He had one. Ophelia. Polonius put a nix on that.

Claudius: I am going to have to talk to that Polonius about that.

Ham (again): Blah. Blah. Blah.

Gertie: That’s no way to talk your new daddy.

Ham: He ain’t nuttin’ but a hound dog. Cryin’ all the time. He ain’t never caught a rabbit and he ain’t no friend of mine.

Gertie: What’d I tell you about that sass.

Claudius: Now Ham, Gertie, can we not reason together?

Ham: Isn’t that what LBJ said when he got the USA into that Vietnam? “Can we not reason together?”

Claudius: There’s reasoning together, and then there’s reasoning together.

Ham: Go away. I have a soliloquy to do. I don’t need you listening in. It’s for the audience only.

Claudius (pouts): How come you get to hog all the soliloquies?

Ham: ‘Cause I am the main dude.

Claudius and Gert (together): Well, be that way.

Claudius (to Ham): We’ll leave only if you promise to stay in town. Your mother has missed you a lots and I want to teach you the king business.

Ham looks at his mother. There is a pretty please in her face.

Ham: I’ll stay just to please Mom. But I won’t like it.

Gertie: That’s a good boy.

Claudius and Gertie head for the door.

Claudius: Maybe I can arrange for you to have a soliloquy in “The Murder of Gonzaga”, Dollface.

Gertie: You would do that for me, Sugar Pops?

Claudius: I would even go downtown with you.

Gertie (giggles): Oh, that’s great. I love shopping.