FURTHERMORE SAVES MANKIND
Furthermore, my Masonic raven (does that make him a Maven, do you think?) has been politically incorrect most of his life. If you listen to him tell it, that means since sometime before the Dark Ages and the Inquisition. Now, there were some folks who really put teeth in Political Correctivity! Say the wrong thing and they burned you at the stake.
Furthermore always liked that part. Even today, he occasionally mopes around the charred wooden stake in my third sub-basement. I haven’t used the stake in centuries, but Furthermore still seems to take solace there when he’s in a black mood.
He was depressed, sitting atop the stake muttering to himself, when I slipped past the hydra the other night. It was easier than usual. The day before had been the hydra’s birthday, and I’d send down a drum of cheap red wine ($7.95 a 55-gallon drum). Well, you can imagine what happened. With nine heads, it knocked off the entire thing faster than a bunch of Shriners. Today it’s not feeling so good. And it’s slower than usual. What can I say?
Furthermore regarded me with one eye as I dropped into my easy chair and reached for my battered old briar pipe. “That wasn’t very nice, you know,” he groused. “The hydra’s underage, and that wine would kill a banshee.”
I lit my pipe and reached playfully toward his tail feathers with the still-burning match. He jumped straight up with a screech and made a rude remark about my inability to accept criticism. I just smiled and settled back, waiting for him to tell me why he was in such a fowl temper.
“That’s a terrible pun,” he noted.
“You weren’t supposed to see it,” I shot back. “You’re reading the script again!”
“Hrrrumph,” he replied. In a spirit of compromise, I fixed him a double Manhattan with an orange slice. He likes those, though he’s getting a bit old to be knocking them back regularly. He dipped his beak into the dark mix and speared the slice of orange.
“A great many good men will die if you don’t do something about it,” he announced, flipping the orange rind into the air and catching it in mid-flight.
“Okay,” I sighed, spotting a setup when I see it. “What men? And why me?” I attempted to spear the orange slice in my Manhattan with my tongue. It’s easier with a beak, I decided.
“All men,” he announced with slightly drunken dignity. “All men. And you’re going to help kill them. You’re a writer, after all.”
“I wasn’t aware you’d noticed.”
“Well, it’s not that obvious. Still, you work with words and you’re letting all those politically correct people ruin it.” He did a little wobbly backflip and said, “Your writing has to be politically correct. No gender specific words, right?”
I admitted that this was a concern of the moment.
“So what happens when you kill all the men? Or man? No more chairmen. You’ve got chairpersons. No more Amen at the end of the hymn! Now it’s Aperson! No more manhole covers in the street. Now they’re metallic circular individual person maintenance access hatches.”
I considered his point. “In restaurants, you’ll order from a personu? Menace becomes personace? Mental is personal? Promenade becomes propersonade or propeopleade? And what about Manila and mango and manifold and manager and manger and mane and mandate and...”
“Frightening, isn’t it?” the old bird hiccuped. “A world without men?”
Reaching for my glass, I agreed, saying, “Now that you mention it, I agree!” It sounded more like “menshun it” but the bird understood and slurred, “That’s personshun it.”
I gave up on the mandarin orange slice. We both took deep gulps from our Personhattans, and pondered the death of mankind at the mandibles of manifest and maniacal mankillers, wondering if we were still sober enough to say it out loud and make sense. Or if being sober makes any difference when it comes to political correctivity, anyway.