Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Tale of Oliver Twisted

In the course of doing research for our sensational revelations concerning a recently-unearthed Dickensian manuscript (See:  A Lost Fragment of “Our Mutual Friend” ), conscienciously earnest, scrupulously to avoid the slightest faintest hint or whiff of hoax or hi-jinx, we discovered that, while such merry jests in the past were usually scholarly and humorous, the trend in America, in recent years, has been for totally fake weepy sob-stories about miserable childhoods or tragic female suffering and victimization, dressed up as nonfictional memoirs.   And so soon as our initial indignation had passed (sharing it in virtual communion with the shade of Cato the Censor), it suddenly struck us:  this sh|t  sells!

Now as it happens, I myself have a story to tell -- the tragic, passionate, suitable for the big screen (or small, against suitable guarantees for later syndication) true story of my life!
My childhood out-sucks your childhood, totally.  Mine sucked big-time;  yours, small- to medium-time.
So here you have a sample, under my nom de gloom.  (Agents:  Call my agent, and my people will get with yours.)

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My Tragic Childhood
Oliver Twisted

I was raised in a windowless box, suspending from a ceiling by a wire.  Feeding took place through a knothole, via a long, long spoon;  I never saw the hand that held it.  Excretion took place through another knothole in the floor.
The fare never varied:  a gritty, greyish mush, consisting of ground-up pig fetuses, spiced with shards of glass, then fed to a dog which vomited it back, and then to me.  Since I was starved to a weight of no more than seventeen pounds, I was still desperate for this humble repast, which sometimes did not arrive for weeks on end.  One time, in fact, bowl in hand, I quaveringly squeaked out,  “Sir -- Whoever you are -- Sir, may I have more?” -- And danged if he didn’t comply, another bleeding blob promptly squirting in through the knothole into my face!  So, I can’t complain in that regard, I did get seconds;  shouldn’t write protests about anything that isn’t true.

For all companionship, I had a particularly ill-tempered scorpion who had somehow slithered into the box to escape the bitter cold without.  He was all that I knew in the world;  and as such, I cherished him, with something like a kind of stunted love.  He repeatedly stung me, injecting the venom deep into my flesh, but I little minded, for such was all I knew of creaturely relations:  it was, I imagined, just his way of showing his affection for me.   I returned the tender demonstration by repeatedly stomping on his body with my bare heel;  but his carapace was tough to crush.

I never heard a human voice, and learned to vocalize only by listening to the screams of other inmates being tortured in solitary confinement in distant boxes of their own.   Yet it was difficult to make out these cries above the general din of Nazi propaganda that yammered at top volume from gigantic loudspeakers positioned at strategic corners of the room.  Yet I was patient, and gleaned what I could;  for there was nothing else to occupy my time.


Once a year (or once a decade -- it was difficult to assess the passage of time, whether diurnal or annual, since everything passed in total darkness and an invariable frigid chill) -- one in a time, as a special treat, I would be taken out of my cage by an unseen paw, and sexually molested.

Once, I had a rabbit;  but it died;  and so, like Mr Bertrand Russell in similar circumstances, I became a committed atheist.


At last the great day came when it was time to graduate, and be sold into slavery to a malevolent dwarf.   I and the other monads stood in a long line, and solemnly were granted our diplomas.   We were told that we had been a great disappointment, and would never amount to anything.

And it was then  that the real misery began. 
To hear the rest, tune in to Oprah.

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There.   Top    that.  

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[Note:  Dickens himself already provided what is in effect a biting satire of Twistian sentimentalism, in the marvelous figure of Bounderby, in Hard Times.]

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