At a low period in my life I was seeking enlightenment. Lounging in my empty bathtub, fully clothed, I pondered the state of this sorry world. Wondering why there was so much confusion and strife afflicting so many; wondering if this was this and that was that, and whether tit really did anything for tat. Realizing that I wasn’t philosophizing anymore and merely invoking Suess I decided that it was time to move outdoors, for fresh air and sun, to seek my enlightenment in the world.
On the sidewalk I found an Oh Henry bar. Looking around, I saw nobody who seemed ready to lay a claim on it – the bar seemed to be up for grabs. I crouched down and examined it closely, without touching it, of course. I wasn’t about to become insnared by some intrepid alien or big game hunter. I didn’t detect any strings, and the sidewalk around the candy seemed kosher. The bar was mine. Snatching it up, I moved to a bench to consume it in comfort at my own leisure. It was chocolatey, it was caramely, it was nugety, it was sweet and it was gooey. It did not, however, enlighten me.
Sitting on the bench, I sighed. Where next should I seek my enlightenment? As I mulled this query over I noticed a small book on the bench next to me. Curious, I picked it up, and read the cover; it was the Collected Short Stories of O. Henry.
This was a stunning coincidence. This, undoubtedly, meant something. As I opened the book to peruse the contents I was struck by something that made the book altogether more strange – all the pages were torn out, save those between fifty-five and sixty-nine, a story entitled The Green Door. I felt this story must be of cosmic significance, and so devoured it on the spot. Here would be the answers to the cause of all the strife and confusion in the world. I read the story in a few minutes, and chuckled once or twice, was saddened at least once, and sighed at the end. The story was touching and amusing, but I did not, however, answer my questions.
I felt perplexed. I felt confused. I felt discombobulated. I did not, however, feel enlightened.
Still searching, I walked.
I walked five blocks, and was then struck down to the pavement with another stunning coincidence. A porno theatre was showing a revival of Behind The Green Door. This was a stunning synchronicity. This, undoubtedly, meant something. I paid my admission, bought another Oh Henry bar at the candy counter, and ventured into the theatre. The movie had already started as I made my way through the sickeningly clammy sound of about fifty people beating their meat in the audience. I shuffled into the back row and tried to find a seat which hadn’t been issued upon. As I sat down -just for a laugh- I began to smack the palm of my hand against the back of my neck furiously, and moan overly loud. The monkey spanking subsided for about seventeen seconds. I chuckled to myself, and began to unwrap my candy bar.
As I took the first bite I realized the movie had stopped in place on the screen. Marilyn Chambers’ legs were spread-eagled, and all her glory was center stage, so to speak. So many euphemisms which are inappropriate rattled through my brian . . . tacos and beavers should not be compared to the same part of the body described as The Mound Of Venus. As this thought fluttered through my mind I also noticed the silence in the theatre. There were no sounds of auto eroticism whatsoever, in fact my fellow patrons seemed to be petrified in the more literal sense. I became alarmed by this, but was even more alarmed when Marilyn Chambers’ bush on-screen burst into flames, and began to speak to me.
BARON VON HOOPLA, a satiny female voice called from the burning bush. YOU MADE LEVITY IN A PLACE OF SOLEMN WORSHIP.
I gulped, since there seemed little else to do under the circumstances.
HOW DO YOU STAND AGAINST THESE CHARGES? the female voice asked. Guilty, I hiccuped. I had mocked the meat-beaters. My candy bar was melting in my hand. I could feel it.
GOOD. said the voice. YOU’RE ONE OF MINE.
Who, who are you? I asked.
I YAM WHO I YAM, came the reply.
Popeye?! I exclaimed. It didn’t sound like Popeye.
NAY, I AM CALLED ERIS NANCY DISCORDIA. GODDESS OF CHAOS CONFUSION STRIFE CREATIVITY AND BUREAUCRACY. I AM THE HODGE OF THE RISING PODGE AND THE PODGE OF THE SINKING HODGE – GRAND WAZOO OF ALL THINGS FUNNY.
Why have you chosen me? I asked, not cowering as blatantly as a few minutes prior, but still cowering nonetheless.
FOR YOU ARE A GOOD APPLE. YOU ARE AWAKE ENOUGH TO QUESTION, SKEPTICAL ENOUGH TO QUESTION THE APPARENT ANSWERS, GULLIBLE ENOUGH TO FOLLOW MYSTERY, HUMOROUS ENOUGH TO MOCK THE SERIOUS AND SERIOUS ENOUGH TO AWAKEN IN THE FIRST PLACE. YOU EMBODY THE IDEALS OF THE SACRED CHAO, AND LO, I DEEM YOU A KEEPER OF IT. Onto the ceiling of the theatre, the fire from the burning bush traced out a design. It was a circle bisected by an ‘S’ shape; on one side was depicted an apple emblazoned with a ‘K’, on the other a pentagon.
It’s some for of Yin Yang? I asked.
THE YIN YANG IS A FORM OF THE SACRED CHAO. IT IS A REPRESENTATION OF THE UNIVERSE. ALL THE ANSWERS YOU SEEK WILL BE FOUND WITHIN THAT CIRCLE, WHICH IS THE SERPENT SWALLOWING ITS OWN TAIL.
That’s the answer to why there is so much strife and confusion in the world? I don’t understand . . . why an apple and a pentagon?
CHAOS IS THE ENTIRE CIRCLE, ONE HALF IS ORDER, THE OTHER DISORDER. THEY ARE BOTH NATURAL MANIFESTATIONS OF THE UNDERLYING CHAOS. ONCE YOU UNDERSTAND THAT, YOU UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING. FARE THEE WELL-
Wait! One more question! What’s the best way to deal with the strife and confusion of the world?
LAUGHTER! came the reply. FARE THEE WELL-
Wait! One last question! Why Nancy??
Why Eris Nancy Discordia? I asked. Why Nancy?
NANCY’S A NICE NAME. FARE THEE WELL KEEPER OF MY SACRED CHAO! SPREAD MY WORD – ALL MEN SHALL BE SAILORS THEN UNTIL THE SEA SHALL FREE THEM!
Wait! I called, You stole that from Leonard Cohen!
NAY – HE STOLE THAT FROM ME.
Thus, I was enlightened.
The bush ceased to burn. The film ran forward. The manhandling kicked back in, but sounded more serene this time, like a gentle rainfall on a tin roof. I stood up and noticed a small book on the seat next to me. I took it out into the light of the lobby and read the title, ‘Principia Discordia’, I heard a female voice in the center of my head say READ IT: BELIEVE ALL OF IT, BELIEVE NONE OF IT. I walked outside, and promptly slipped on a banana peel, while thinking ‘Indeed, do many strange things come to pass.’