FURTHERMORE DISCOVERS EL NINO
With the possible exception of fire and the New World, I think I may have accidentally stumbled upon the greatest discovery of modern times. Okay, with the exception of Dilbert.
It goes like this:
My car decided to assert its individuality recently and refused to start. It does this occasionally and I’ve learned to live with it. That doesn’t mean I like it much. Even replacing a simple battery takes a chunk out of the day and is not high on my list of fun things to do. All of which accounts, more or less, for the fowl mood I was in when I arrived in Furthermore’s domain below the house.
“That’s a terrible pun, you know,” he chided. “And it’s not like you haven’t used it before.”
“You weren’t supposed to see it, bird,” I shot back. “I’m the writer here. Watch it or I’ll write you out and replace you with a Masonic rat or something.”
“Ooooow! Touchy tonight are we?” He did one of those pretty triple loupes that I like so much and settled on my shoulder. “What’s the problem?”
So I told him about the car. Sometimes he can be a good listener. Other times…well, you know Furthermore.
This time, he just shrugged his shoulders and headed for the bar with a single comment.
“El Nino,” he tossed back as he beaked through the empty gin bottles. “El Nino. It’s that nasty little weather thing that everyone is talking about.”
“I know what it is! The question is this: What’s a spoiled little brat of a weather condition got to do with my car battery?”
“Everything, I think,” he mused as he selected an olive. “If I read this correctly, the national media—Jennings and Brokow—say that El Nino is responsible for everything from rain storms in California to the flu in Resume Speed, Iowa. The local media—you’ll pardon the expression—agree. K-Bimbo television seems to think we should just commit suicide right now instead of waiting for El Nino to pounce on us in a month or so. Oh. And I still can’t tell the difference between Jennings and Brokow.”
He capped the martini shaker, grabbed it tightly in his claws and spiraled upwards, shaking it as he went. Shaken, not stirred. James Bond was right. Settling back on the oaken table, he proceeded to pour for both us.
“It appears to be simple,” he continued, spearing the olive with his beak. “What we have here is the perfect scapegoat. This is better than having Nixon or Clinton to kick around. El Nino is responsible for everything that goes wrong. Your car battery, the latest recall of Fords, Madonna’s bad taste, everything!”
Well. Here was a concept worth studying. This is almost better than the Presbyterians and predestination. Same result but you don’t have to listen to the sermon and shell out for the offering. The news media clearly has studied this closely. I certainly trust them and I’m sure you must, too. They must be right. El Nino is responsible for everything bad. This lifts a lot of bothersome responsibility off the rest of us, I can tell you.
Pleased with ourselves, Furthermore and I toasted each other and decided to erect a small brass marker on the site to commemorate this discovery of the perfect scapegoat and the dawn of a new era of irresponsibility. We’ll have the dedication one day soon and you’ll be invited. Assuming, of course, that El Nino doesn’t somehow screw things up for us.