Friday, May 4, 2012

On the Train to Scarborough

I wouldn't have believed it unless it were me telling the story (which it is) and yet the event is still hard to believe--almost as hard as believing in the microscopic process of mitosis on the wings of minuscule fairies.

And yet.

It happened.

It happened as fast and as furiously as the flapping of the wings of fairies on a very, very small planet not unlike Planet Earth (but a little unlike Planet Earth in that the Planet on Which the Fairies Reside is almost fully land, with very little water, and each fairy that lives There has a free lifetime supply of Doritos (Cool Ranch flavor)).

(The water that does exist on their planet is of a purple-ish hue and smells like teen spirit, and so it is often avoided. Yet, when brought into contact with toenails, it has the incredible capability to produce the oddly riveting sensation of being slowly tickled--as if one were eating a deliciously crunchy Dorito while being slowly tickled, that is.)

So there I was: on the train from York to Scarborough. I was heading to the seaside for a conference that was to take place there, entitled HOW WRITERS CAN LEARN TO CRAFT BETTER FICTION BY BUILDING SANDCASTLES. I was very interested in this conference, and Jennifer encouraged me to attend the day-long festivities, which were going to include lectures by William Faulkner, Langston Hughes, and Margaret Wise Brown. I say "were going to include" (in the line above) because I will never know. I never arrived in Scarborough.

(Nor did any of us on that train that fateful day (which was today).)

See, the events that transpired on the train that fateful day (today) prevented any of us from getting to Scarborough, and therefore prevented me from ever hearing the deliciously wise and probing words of the aforementioned authors. (Furthermore, it also prevented me from taking part in the Literary Sand Castle Building Contest, in which I totally would have taken Faulkner easily. I know it.)

Because on the train that fateful day (still today), I happened to overhear the conversation of a man talking aloud to himself. He looked vaguely familiar, yet I couldn't be sure so I asked Rush Limbaugh if he was, in point of fact, Rush Limbaugh. The events that transpired from this seemingly innocuous question have changed the course of my life forever---as well as of the other people on the train with me that day, including Lisbeth Salander, Ryan Gosling, and Aunt Jemima.

So as to prevent any further unnecessary intrusions of my narration, I will henceforth allow the ensuing conversations and events to speak for themselves (as much as this is possible, which, according to Jacques Derrida, is highly possible, though not probable, but exists in a state of eventual occurrence (perpetually)).

Rush Limbaugh: Yes, I am Rush Limbaugh. And who are you?

Me: I am Luke Reynolds. I am on this train to Scarborough in order to attend the HOW WRITERS CAN LEARN TO CRAFT BETTER FICTION BY BUILDING SANDCASTLES conference. And you?

Rush Limbaugh: I am here to bring my message into the burrows and the wurrows of England.

Me: Oh.

Rush Limbaugh: It is a message that desperately needs bringing. True 'dat.

[From the seat behind me, I hear a massive crunching noise--much like a bag of Doritos being smashed underfoot steel toe work boots, except multiplied by a thousand. Then, a mysterious young woman with jet black hair emerged from the smoke and crunching sound (there was also smoke).]

Mysterious Young Woman Who Emerged from Smoke and Crunching Sound: How dare you bring such a message here!

Rush Limbaugh: I dare!

Mysterious Young Woman Who Emerged from Smoke and Crunching Sound: I dare to you to dare!

Rush Limbaugh: I already dared! I am here, daring. You can't dare me to dare something I am already daring to do. See, this is the thing about women's libbers like yourself--

Mysterious Young Woman Who Emerged from Smoke and Crunching Sound: Enough! Silence!

Rush Limbaugh: How dare you to dare me to be silent! Nobody cuts me off! That's MY job to--

Mysterious Young Woman Who Emerged from Smoke and Crunching Sound: [And another Dorito bag crunching sound emerged as this woman ripped an empty seat off its attached space to the floor of the train. Much smoke ensued, and the sound was like a bag of Doritos being crunched underfoot the leg of a large dinosaur--only the sounds would have been like a thousand bags being crunched underfoot of said dinosaur (simultaneously, but of varying Dorito flavors).]

Rush Limbaugh: Who ARE you?

Mysterious Young Woman Who Emerged from Smoke and Crunching Sound: I am Lisbeth Salander. And I WILL BE HEARD.

[And suddenly, in that very instant, the temperature of the train rose almost the length of the full thermometer that I happened to be holding in my hand (it was a very cold train to begin with). I looked around, and there--dare I report it--stood Ryan Gosling.]

Ryan Gosling: And I am here to make SURE her voice is heard, Rush. You've been trying to stomp out women's voices for far too long. You've been using the mindless power of the microphone to synthetically magnify your message of misogyny for far too long; because that message doesn't transmogrify the souls of the men and women who hear it. No, Rush. No. It may provide ratings for a while, but the enduring qualtiy of such a message of patriarchal posing does nothing but offer a pose of poise, never the real thing, Rush. Never. People are too perspicacious for that. It's high time you get taken to task for the reckless message of misogyny you proffer--preying on the weaknesses of men and women. Not here, Rush. Not now.

Lisbeth Salander: YES!

[I stood up from my seat in that instant, in a show of solidarity with both Lisbeth and Ryan. If it was going to be the two of them versus Rush, I wanted them to know they could count on me. I was in. Fully. Committed. Even though we were outnumbered (Rush had brought various microphones with him, and could broadcast direct worldwide from the train, which meant that he had about 20 million people with him, while we had various crunching noises and an incredible articulate man, we didn't have the microphones.]

A Voice from Behind The Three of Us Standing in Solidarity: And you three are not alone. Mmmm-mmm, no.

[The three of us turned around at that EXACT moment, and we saw the reality of a mocked-up, stolen-by-advertisers woman. In reality, as she stood before us, Aunt Jemima's smile was less sweet and more strength. Less doormat and more I'll-slam-your-fingers-in-this-door-right-now-if-you-don't-respect-me.]

Rush Limbaugh: No, it can't be. I ate your pancakes as a kid, I--I--I--

Aunt Jemima: Enough.

Lisbeth Salander: That's what I said!

Ryan Gosling: Me too, just with a few more words.

Aunt Jemima: And you were both spot-on right. Rush, you've been stepping on women for far too long. Now it's time you got a real education.

[And right there, before my very eyes, Rush was speechless. He faced our quartet, and he was speechless. And what ensued, I can honestly report, was nothing short of magnificent. Miraculous. Rush listened as Ryan, Lisbeth, and Jemima told him about Other Experiences of Life, in which power was shared, growth occurred, and people treated one another with respect, dignity, and compassion. (I even managed to sneak in a sentence or two, but my input was like a single Dorito in the presence of a Dorito Factory from the triumvirate with whom I stood shoulder to shoulder.)]

Since all this occurred on that fateful day (today), much has changed. Rush Limbaugh now no longer verbally abuses the rights and dignity of women on his radio show. He has lost a view listeners due to this change. But he has gained three listeners for every one he's lost. (That's like going to the grocery store and walking down the SNACKS aisle and seeing a "Buy One Bag of Doritos, Get Three Free" sale--which is pretty awesome.)


No.  Not by a long shot. In fact, I'd trade lifetime supply of Doritos (Cool Ranch flavor) just to be back on that train, in that very moment, again.