How To Identify A Greyface

I awoke in the hospital following a severe beating. Evangelism and Discordianism do not mix well, a fact I had not yet discovered in those early days of my Lessons in Baloney, as a result I had taken to the streets to spread the word of the Sacred Chao only to be met with fists in response. These are violent times. All times are violent times. I tried to take heart in the fact that ‘Eris’ literally translated to ‘strife’, which I was becoming intimately acquainted with, so in some sense the beatings must have a positive effect. My cheeks and jaw, however, did not agree. Also,I knew that my reason for being in the hospital was to learn about the dreaded Greyfaces, so I was somewhat optimistic.

It was after one of these instances that I woke up in the hospital next to a broken egg which spoke. “Howdy-do” it said, raising a thin weak arm in salute.

“Great Googly Moogly” I said.

“Nope.” the egg said. “Great Humpty Dumpty.”

“Jeez, you don’t look good.” I said, which was perhaps rude, but also true. He was in several pieces; in fact one eye peered at me from a fragment, and the other eye on a completely different piece seemed to pay close attention to a nearby nurse’s hind quarters.

“I feel even better,” he said with glee.

“Why are you in here?” I asked.

“Ha!” the egg cried. “What a ridiculously easy riddle, you must be some sort of maroon. I am in here because this is where I am, of course. How stupid.”

“I meant to say, what caused you to be broken into pieces?”

“If that’s what you meant to say, then why didn’t you say it?”

“I thought I had.” I replied.

“You remembered yourself saying what you thought you said? or you had intended to say what you thought you said but something else completely different came out? or you think someone deliberately changed your words mid-sentence to convey a completely different idea? or you’re just a maroon?”

I considered for a few moments.

“Well?” he asked. “Which is it?”

“I thought that what I asked implied the question I meant to ask.”

“Ohhhh,” the egg laughed. “Implication. Verbal molestation.”

This seemed to end the conversation, and the egg simply lay on the stretcher, one eye following the nurse, and the other blinking now and then. I waited for a few minutes to see whether he was lost in thought and was planning to answer, or whether the conversation was indeed over.

It seemed the conversation was over, but I still wanted to know how he had been broken. I had ideas, but I wanted the story from him.

“Well?” I asked finally.

The eye looked back at me. “That’s not much of a riddle.” he said. “nice sporting chance you gave me.”

“But, I -“

“Wait wait, let me think for a moment.” he said. “All right, bananas.”

” What about bananas?”

“That’s my answer.”

“You’re answer to WHAT?”

“To your terrible riddle. Really, you didn’t give me much to go on. I think my answer was rather clever, though, didn’t you? Nobody would guess bananas just from a single word – well, would they? Gosh I’m good. Was it correct? Was bananas the answer?”

“No bananas wasn’t the fucking answer! I hadn’t even asked you a question yet you silly little shit.”

“Of course you had. You really are stupid. You asked “Well?” which by all accounts is the worst riddle I’ve ever heard in my entire life but still I was respectful enough to venture an answer based on the meagre information given. And as I said, I think my answer was rather clever. Bananas. Imagine. Nobody would guess that. Fantastic.”

“Listen.” I said. “All I wanted to know is what caused you to be broken into so many pieces. It is not such a difficult question.”

“No, it isn’t.” he said. “It’s not overly interesting either, when you think about it. After all, I already know the answer.”

“Well, what IS it?”

“Bananas!” the egg blurted. “What about that time? Was that the right answer? Oh I am so good at these.”

“Forget it.” I said, turning away from him. “I already know how you broke anyway, everyone knows that.”

“Yet, you still asked. You silly silly man.”

“Look,” I said. “The whole point of this story was to teach me about the Greyfaces. Weren’t you paying attention in the opening paragraph?”

“I rarely read exposition.” he yawned. “I mostly scan the text looking for my name.”

“Well, that is what this story was supposed to be about, greyfaces, and instead you have nattered on about riddles and bananas and whatever else meaningless bullshit you’ve been blabbering uselessly about. This has been a complete and utter waste of time so far, thank you very much.”

“You are most welcome.” Humpty said with a wink. At least I think it was a wink, the piece with the other eye had shifted away from my view. “This lesson about Greyfaces has been most enlightening.”

“No it has not. Nobody has learned anything about Greyfaces thanks to you. This has been a huge waste of time.”

“But we got to meet such a wonderful example of Greyfacedness, and all have a good chuckle at how dull and tedious he is, oh I disagree I think this has been loads of fun, and so educational. Except for that riddle of yours, that was dreadful.”

I got up on one elbow and looked over at the mass of pieces on the other stretcher. “What Greyface have we met?” I asked.

“Why you, you silly silly man.” he laughed. “You have been nothing but serious, clinical and humourless since I met you. I’ve never seen such a wonderful example of a Greyface. I couldn’t have done better myself. And I’m rather good. Bravo.”

“Me?!” I rolled onto my back again. Was it possible I could be a greyface? Was I so serious? Was I clinical? Was I humourless? Had I learned nothing? Staring up at the ceiling I began to think about the aspects of greyfaces and how -at the very leat- I could watch for these tendencies in myself more easily now that I could identify them, and just as I was wondering whether my clinical thinking about identifying and eradicating these elements in myself was rather greyfaced in its own way the ceiling above me crashed open and a charred person fell to the ground between Humpty and myself.

“Great Googly Moogly!” I screamed.

“Nope.” the egg said. “Great Humpty Dumpty.”

The charred person stood up and looked at me. “Great Googly Moogly!” he shouted.

“Nope.” the egg said. “Great Humpty Dumpty.”

“You’re ME!” the charred person exclaimed, and I finally noticed that the voice sounded familiar. “I already went through all this!” he, or I, shouted, looking around at Humpty and the hospital. “but, you were me then!” he added.

“I’m just me.” I said.

“I am me and me and me and me and me and me.” Humpty giggled.

Just as I was about to ask the other me why I was so charred and burnt a man in a grey suit and sunglasses came marching down the hall toward the three of us. As he approached us he flashed a shiny gold badge. “Officer Serious, Continuity Officer. You are in direct violation of standard fiction laws.”

“What?” I asked, although I’m not certain which one of me asked to be perfectly honest.

“Two Baron von Hooplas is in direct violation of code 2323 in the fiction law books, go look it up if you don’t believe me.” as he spoke he grabbed hold of the gurney I was on, and began to push it.

“But wait, why is this-” I started to ask.

“If the two Baron von Hooplas both had some reason for being present, such as a clone being made, or a reflection stepping from a mirror it would get through on a technicality, but this is in direct violation. I’m sorry, one of you must go.” he said, and began to wheel me down the hall away from me and Humpty Dumpty.

“Toodles!” Humpty called, waving a thin arm.

“But wait!” I called out to Mr. Serious. “I was the original Baron von Hoopla in the story!”

As he tapped a wall and a panel slid aside opening into a dimly lit lounge, he muttered: “That’s what they all say, bub.”

He pushed me inside and I saw four people already sitting around in the gloom. “Let me introduce you to your new friends. Might as well get acquainted, you’re going to be here for a while . . . this is Ambrose Bierce, Lord Bathurst, Amelia Earheart, and the grown Lindburgh Baby. Get cozy. So long, suckers.”

Mr. Serious walked out, shutting the panel behind him. I looked around at the others in the room. Ambrose smiled, and said “Do you play Go Fish?”

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