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Mediocrity hits a home run

So that we all understand each other: Sic is nothing more than a toiler toiling in the journalistic vineyard who tries to scrape the blue mold from the Zeitgeist and keep people who want to jump off a cliff from doing anything more drastic than a good cry.

(And who happens to be infallible.)

* * *

James Somerville of Pfafftown shudders at the political prospects:

If it’s four-letter words you deplore,
Can you sit there and blithely ignore
The need to be hesitant
In a vote for a president
When the choice is a Bush or a Gore?
* * *

George W. Bush has given the term “empty suit” new stature. Sure, W. is an empty suit, but if you ask Sic, he’s a minor empty suit compared to some ESs we all know.

The Bush candidacy raises all kinds of issues. How does one become an empty suit? Does one start as a full suit and work down? And if so, what empties first? Do the sleeves, for example, start flapping? Or, on the other hand, is an ES born that way? And if you are born that way, is it obvious from the first time you put on a suit that it’s empty?

Someone should write a dissertation: “The Empty Suit: Nature or Nurture?”

* * *

Don’t feel bad. Sic realizes that, from now to November, every time you see Bush on television, you’ll think Empty Suit. But it’s nobody’s fault.

* * *

John K. Skelly of Canyon Country said the following is from a Merchant Marine Veterans’ newsletter:

Old folks are worth a fortune: silver in their hair, gold in their teeth, stones in their kidneys, lead in their feet and gas in their stomachs.

Some might call me a frivolous old gal. I’m seeing five gentlemen every day.

As soon as I wake up, Will Power helps me get out of bed. Then I go to see John. Then Charley Horse comes along and demands a lot of attention. Next, Arthur Ritis shows up and stays the rest of the day (he doesn’t like to stay long in one place, so he takes me from joint to joint). After such a busy day, I’m glad to go to bed - with Ben Gay.

The preacher said I should be thinking about the hereafter. I do, all the time. No matter where I go, to the kitchen, upstairs, the basement, I ask myself: Now what am I here after?

* * *

Last time, we announced that readers tired of calling us Sic may instead call us John Paul III. This was a mistake. We would prefer to be called John Paul VIII in memory of Henry VIII, the wife guy, or of Alexander the Great or Attila the Hun or whatever.

* * *

As already announced here on the Straight Talk Express, Sic is striving fiercely to be a moderate, like Jesus. So we’re working on a book, Right Down the Middle: Kicking Mediocre Butt for the Kingdom. There will be chapters on moderates Peter and Paul, James and his brother John, Philip and Bartholomew, skipping Judas the hothead, probably a liberal, moving on to moderates Dorothy Day, Gandhi, Oscar Romero. And Luther, just to keep the ecumenical thing going.

* * *

Bill Murray wrote in from Taos to Big Daddy (Inside NCR), who had expressed an unexpected burst of optimism in the March 3 issue. Murray brought W.B. Yeats to bear: “Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.”

* * *

Some say this empty suit thing is not natural. Or that it is an objective disorder. This raises the question of whether detox or counseling or confession or a good meal would help most. Experts are divided on this. It’s common knowledge that, if GW is elected president, there will be vast sums of money for ES research. But this, too, raises conundrums. If a cure were found, and if GW were to recover, so to speak, would he still be president? After all, we the citizens would have elected an empty suit.

* * *

Two contestants thought (wrongly) that our contest (now defunct) was all about the pope at the window ignoring bombs bursting in air. Charlotte Arendt wrote from Neenah:

… as fireworks burst all around,
His Holiness heard not a sound …

And Monica Owens of Ashland actually gets inside the papal head:

I concentrate on my ex-cathedra text,
The populace thirsty for what I’ll say next,
The populace, worldly and oversexed.

(Note the subtle repetition of the word “populace.” This probably means nothing, only that Owens needed a word. She goes on:)

I take most seriously my pre-ordained role,
I know exactly what’s good for the soul.
Get rid of the fireworks - they’re out of control.
* * *

These are “actual” personals from Israeli newspapers, according to Chicago’s Head Rabbi Tim Unsworth:

“Divorced Jewish man seeks partner to attend shul with, light Shabbat candles, build Sukkah together, attend brisses, bar mitzvahs. Religion not important.”

“Sincere rabbinical student, 27. Enjoys Yom Kippur, Tisha B’av, Taanis Esther, Tzom Gedaliah, Asarah ’Teves, Shiva Asar, B’Tammuz. Seeks companion for living life in the fast lane.”

“Yeshiva bochur, Torah scholar, long beard, patos. Seeks same in woman.”

“Worried about in-law meddling? I’m an orphan. Write.”

“Nice Jewish guy, 38. No skeletons. No baggage. No personality.”

“Female graduate student, studying kaballah, Zohar, exorcism of dybbuks, seeks mensch. No weirdos, please.”

* * *

What follows is nothing so frivolous as a competition. It’s research. High or low though your regard for W. may be, we know you know emptier suits than his (or than he?).

The project is to list your Top Ten Empty Suits. (For those with a penchant for the obvious we’re excluding the pope, who doesn’t wear a suit; and we also exclude Cardinal Ratzinger (calm down) of whom John Paul VIII - that’s us - feels especially protective this balmy spring day.)

If you can only think of three or four, remember, three totally inane suits are better than a score of merely loose-fitting or ill-fitting whatnots. We’re after what the Greeks called pleroma, the ultimate pit of emptiness, or what NASA and people from outer space call a Black Hole.

We plan to call this the Big Sic Shameless Empty Suit Survey.

National Catholic Reporter, March 31, 2000