APRIL / 1 MAY YEAR OF THE DEPEND ADULT UNDERGARMENT 1 page
The choreography of interface had settled into the form of Steeply smoking, his bare arms crossed, going up and down slowly on the toes of his high heels, while Marathe hunched slightly in his metal chair, shoulders rounded and head slightly forward in a practiced position that allowed him almost to sleep while still attending to every detail of a conversation or wearisome surveillance. He (Marathe) had drawn his plaid blanket up to his chest. It was increasingly chilly at the altitude of the shelf. They could feel the remains of the U.S.A. Sonora Desert’s heat rising past them into the clotted spangle of stars that were above them. The shirt Marathe wore beneath his windbreaker was not of Hawaiian type.
Marathe remained unsure in this time of what exactly it was that Hugh Steeply of U.S.O.U.S. wished to learn from him, or verify, through Marathe’s betrayal. Near midnight Steeply had given him the datum that he (Steeply) had been on the personal Marital Leave over his recent divorce, and was now back in the field of duty, wearing prosthetic breasts and woman-journalist credentials, assigned to cultivate some of the Entertainment’s alleged filmmaker’s relatives and inner circles. Marathe had made gentle fun of the inoriginality of a journalistic cover, then later less gentle fun of Steeply’s cover’s false name, expressing humored doubts that the meaty electrolysized face of Steeply would be responsible of launching even one ship or vessel.
There’d been that first brutal winter night, early in the O.N.A.N.ite temporo-subsidized era, soon after the InterLace dissemination of The Man Who Began to Suspect He Was Made of Glass, that Himself emerged from the sauna and came to Lyle all sloppy-blotto and depressed over the fact that even the bastards in the avant-garde journals were complaining that even in his commercially entertaining stuff Incandenza’s fatal Achilles’ heel was plot, that Incandenza’s efforts had no sort of engaging plot, no movement that sucked you in and drew you along. 144Mario and Ms. Joelle van Dyne are probably the only people who know that Found Drama 145and anticonfluentialism both came out of this night with Lyle.
It’s not like Boston AA recoils from the idea of responsibility, though. Cause: no; responsibility: yes. It seems like it all depends on which way the arrow of presumed responsibility points. The hard-faced adopted stripper had presented herself as the object of an outside Cause. Now the arrow comes back around as tonight’s meeting’s last and maybe best Advanced Basics speaker, another newcomer, a round pink girl with no eyelashes at all and a ’base-head’s ruined teeth, gets up there and speaks in an r-less South Boston brogue about being pregnant at twenty and smoking Eightballs of freebase cocaine like a fiend all through her pregnancy even though she knew it was bad for the baby and wanted desperately to quit. She tells about having her water break and contractions start late one night in her welfare-hotel room when she was right in the middle of an Eightball she’d had to spend the evening turning unbelievably sordid and degrading tricks to pay for; she did what she had to do to get high, she says, even while pregnant, she says; and she says even when the pain of the contractions got to be too bad to bear she’d been unable to tear herself away from the ’base-pipe to go to the free clinic to deliver, and how she’d sat on the floor of the welfare-hotel room and freebased her way all through labor (that new Joelle girl’s veil’s billowing in and out with her breath, Gately sees, just like it also was during the last speaker’s description of the statue’s orgasm in the catatonic’s dysfunctional Catholic mother’s devotional photo); and how she’d finally delivered of a stillborn infant right there alone on her side like a cow on the rug of her room, all the time throughout still compulsively loading up the glass pipe and smoking; and how the infant emerged all dry and hard like a constipated turdlet, with no protective moisture and no afterbirth-material following it out, and how the emerged infant was tiny and dry and all withered and the color of strong tea, and dead, and also had no face, had in utero developed no eyes or nostrils and just a little lipless hyphen of a mouth, and its limbs were malformed and arachnodactylic, and there had been some sort of translucent reptilian like webbing between its mucronate digits; the speaker’s mouth is a quivering arch of woe; her baby had been poisoned before it could grow a face or make any personal choices, it would have soon died of Substance-Withdrawal in the free clinic’s Pyrex incubator if it had emerged alive anyway, she could tell, she’d been on such a bad ’base-binge all that pregnant year; and but so eventually the Eightball was consumed and then the screen and steel-wool ball in the pipe itself smoked and the cloth prep-filter smoked to ash and then of course likely-looking pieces of lint had been gleaned off the rug and also smoked, and the girl finally passed out, still umbilically linked to the dead infant; and how when she came to again in unsparing noonlight the next day and saw what still clung by a withered cord to her empty insides she got introduced to the real business-end of the arrow of responsibility, and as she gazed in daylight at the withered faceless stillborn baby she was so overcome with grief and self-loathing that she erected a fortification of complete and black Denial, like total Denial. She held and swaddled the dead thing just as if it were alive instead of dead, and she began to carry it around with her wherever she went, just as she imagined devoted mothers carry their babies with them everywhere they go, the faceless infant’s corpse completely veiled and hidden in a little pink blanket the addicted expectant mother’d let herself buy at Woolworth’s at seven months, and she also kept the cord’s connection intact until her end of the cord finally fell out of her and dangled, and smelled, and she carried the dead infant everywhere, even when turning sordid tricks, because single motherhood or not she still needed to get high and still had to do what she had to do to get high, so she carried the blanket-wrapped infant in her arms as she walked the streets in her velvet fuchsia minipants and haltertop and green spike heels, turning tricks, until there began to be strong evidence, as she circled her block — it was August — let’s just say compelling evidence that the infant in the stained cocoon of blanket in her arms was not a biologically viable infant, and passersby on the South Boston streets began to reel away white-faced as the girl passed by, stretch-marked and brown-toothed and lashless (lashes lost in a Substance-accident; fire hazard and dental dysplasia go with the freebase terrain) and also just hauntedly calm-looking, oblivious to the olfactory havoc she was wreaking in the sweltering streets, and but her August’s trick-business soon fell off sharply, understandably, and eventually word that there was a serious infant-and-Denial problem here got around the streets, and her fellow Southie ’base-heads and street-friends came to her with not ungentle r-less remonstrances and scented hankies and gently prying hands and tried to reason her out of her Denial, but she ignored them all, she guarded her infant from all harm and kept it clutched to her — it was by now sort of stuck to her and would have been hard to separate from her by hand anyway — and she’d walk the streets shunned and trickless and broke and in early-stage Substance-Withdrawal, with the remains of the dead infant’s tummy’s cord dangling out from an unclosable fold in the now ominously ballooned and crusty Woolworth’s blanket: talk about Denial, this girl was in some major-league Denial; and but finally a pale and reeling beat-cop phoned a hysterical olfactory alert in to the Commonwealth’s infamous Department of Social Services — Gately sees alcoholic moms all over the hall cross themselves and shudder at the mere mention of D.S.S., every addicted parent’s worst nightmare, D.S.S., they of the several different abstruse legal definitions of Neglect and the tungsten-tipped battering ram for triple-locked apartment doors; in a dark window Gately sees one reflected mom sitting over with the Brighton AAs that has her two little girls with her in the meeting and now at the D.S.S. reference clutches them reflexively to her bosom, one head per bosom, as one of the girls struggles and dips her knees in the little curtsies of impending potty — but so now D.S.S. was on the case, and a platoon of blandly efficient Wellesley-alum D.S.S. field personnel with clipboards and scary black Chanel women’s businesswear were now on the prowl in the South Boston streets for the addicted speaker and her late faceless infant; and but finally around this time, during last year’s awful late-August heat wave, evidence that the infant had a serious bio-viability problem started presenting itself so forcefully that even the Denial-ridden addict in the mother could not ignore or dismiss it — evidence which the speaker’s reticence about describing (save to say that it involved an insect-attraction problem) makes things all the worse for the empathetic White Flaggers, since it engages the dark imaginations all Substance-abusers share in surplus — and so but the mother says how she finally broke down, emotionally and olfactorily, from the overwhelming evidence, on the cement playground outside her own late mother’s abandoned Project building off the L Street Beach in Southie, and a D.S.S. field team closed in for the pinch, and she and her infant got pinched, and special D.S.S. spray-solvents had to be sent for and utilized in order to detach the Woolworth baby-blanket from her maternal bosom, and the blanket’s contents were more or less reassembled and were interred in a D.S.S. coffin the speaker recalls as being the size of a Mary Kay makeup case, and the speaker was medically informed by somebody with a clipboard from D.S.S. that the infant had been involuntarily toxified to death somewhere along in its development toward becoming a boy; and the mother, after a painful D&C for the impacted placenta she’d carried inside, then spent the next four months on the locked ward of Metropolitan State Hospital in Waltham MA, psychotic with Denial-deferred guilt and cocaine-withdrawal and searing self-hatred; and how when she finally got discharged from Met State with her first S.S.I. mental-disability check she found she had no taste for chunks or powders, she wanted only tall smooth bottles whose labels spoke of Proof, and she drank and drank and believed in her heart she would never stop or swallow the truth, but finally she got to where she had to, she says, swallow it, the responsible truth; how she quickly drank her way to the old two-option welfare-hotel window-ledge and made a blubbering 0200h. phone call, and then so here she is, apologizing for going on so long, trying to tell a truth she hopes someday to swallow, inside. So she can just try and live. When she concludes by asking them to pray for her it almost doesn’t sound corny. Gately tries not to think. Here is no Cause or Excuse. It is simply what happened. This final speaker is truly new, ready: all defenses have been burned away. Smooth-skinned and steadily pinker, at the podium, her eyes squeezed tight, she looks like she’s the one that’s the infant. The host White Flaggers pay this burnt public husk of a newcomer the ultimate Boston AA compliment: they have to consciously try to remember even to blink as they watch her, listening. I.D.ing without effort. There’s no judgment. It’s clear she’s been punished enough. And it was basically the same all over, after all, Out There. And the fact that it was so good to hear her, so good that even Tiny Ewell and Kate Gompert and the rest of the worst of them all sat still and listened without blinking, looking not just at the speaker’s face but into it, helps force Gately to remember all over again what a tragic adventure this is, that none of them signed up for.
They’d been the odd couple of libations, the muscled fitness-guru and the tall slope-shouldered optician/director, often down there in the weight room til all hours, sitting on the towel dispenser, drinking, Lyle with his Caffeine Free Diet Coke, Incandenza with his Wild Turkey. Mario literally standing by in case the ice bucket ran out or Himself needed moral support getting to the urinal. Mario often fell asleep as the hour got severe, drifted in and out, slept upright and leaning forward, weight borne by his police lock and lead receptacle.
James Incandenza was one of those profound-personality-change drinkers who seemed quiet and centered and almost affectless when he was sober but would move way out to one side or the other of the human emotional spectrum, when drunk, and seem to open up in a way that was almost injudicious.
Sometimes, libated late at night with Lyle in the newly outfitted E.T.A. weight room, Incandenza’d open up and pour his heart’s thickest chyme right out there for all to be affected and potentially scarred by. E.g. one night Mario, leaning way forward into the police lock’s support, drifted awake to the sound of his father saying that if he had to grade his marriage he’d give it a C–. This seems injudicious in the extreme, potentially, though Mario, like Lyle, tends to take data pretty much as it comes.
Lyle, who sometimes would start to get tipsy himself as Himself’s pores began to excrete the bourbon, often brought some Blake out, as in William Blake, during these all-night sessions, and read Incandenza Blake, but in the voices of various cartoon characters, which Himself eventually started regarding as deep. 146
8 NOVEMBER YEAR OF THE DEPEND ADULT UNDERGARMENT GAUDEAMUS IGITUR
If it’s odd that Mario Incandenza’s first halfway-coherent film cartridge — a 48-minute job shot three summers back in the carefully decorated janitor-closet of Subdorm B with his head-mount Bolex H64 and foot-treadle — if it’s odd that Mario’s first finished entertainment consists of a film of a puppet show — like a kids’ puppet show — then it probably seems even odder that the film’s proven to be way more popular with E.T.A.’s adults and adolescents than it is with the woefully historically underin-formed children it had first been made for. It’s proved so popular that it gets shown annually now every 11/8, Continental Interdependence Day, on a wide-beam cartridge projector and stand-up screen in the E.T.A. dining hall, after supper. It’s part of the gala but rather ironic annual celebration of I.-Day at an Academy whose founder had married a Canadian, and it usually gets under way about 1930h., the film, and everybody gathers in the dining hall, and watches it, and by Charles Tavis’s festive fiat 147everybody gets to two-handed snack instead of squeezing tennis balls while they watch, and not only that but normal E.T.A. dietary regulations are for an hour completely suspended, and Mrs. Clarke, the dietician out in the kitchen — a former Four-Star dessert chef normally relegated here to protein-conveyors and ways to vary complex carbs — Mrs. Clarke gets to put on her floppy white chef’s hat and just go sucrotically mad, out in West House’s gleaming kitchen. Everybody’s supposed to wear some sort of hat — Avril Incandenza positively towers in the same steeple-crowned witch’s hat she teaches all her classes in every 10/31, and Pemulis wears the complex yachting cap and naval braid, and pale and blotchy Struck a toque with a kind of flitty aigrette, and Hal a black preacher’s hat with a stern round downturned brim, etc. etc. 148— and Mario, as director and putative author of the popular film, is encouraged to say a few words, like eight:
‘Thanks everybody and I hope you like it,’ is what he said this year, with Pemulis behind him making a show of putting a maraschino on top of the small twizzle of Redi-Whip that O. Stice had sprayed on the top of Mario’s head-mount Bolex H64, which counts as a hat, when the dessert-course’s zenith had gotten slightly out of control near the I.-Day gala supper’s end. These few brief words and round of applause are Mario’s big public yearly moment at E.T.A., and he neither likes the moment nor dislikes it — same with the untitled film itself, which really started out as just a kids’ adaptation of The ONANtiad, a four-hour piece of tendentiously anticonfluential political parody long since dismissed as minor Incandenza by his late father’s archivists. Mario’s piece isn’t really better than his father’s; it’s just different (plus of course way shorter). It’s pretty obvious that somebody else in the Incandenza family had at least an amanuentic hand in the screenplay, but Mario did the choreography and most of the puppet-work personally — his little S-shaped arms and falcate digits are perfect for the forward curve from body to snout of a standard big-headed political puppet — and it was, without question, Mario’s little square Hush Puppy on the H64’s operant foot-treadle, the Bolex itself mounted on one of the tunnel’s locked lab’s Husky-VI TL tripods across the overlit closet, mops and dull-gray janitorial buckets carefully moved out past the frame’s borders on either side of the little velvet stage.
Ann Kittenplan and two older crew-cut girls sit in identical snap-brim fedoras with their arms crossed, Kittenplan’s right hand bandaged. Mary Esther Thode is grading midterms on the sly. Rik Dunkel has his eyes closed but is not asleep. Somebody’s slapped an ad hoc Red Sox cap on the visiting Syrian Satellite pro, and the Syrian Satellite pro sits with most of the prorectors, looking confused, his shoulder taped up with a heatable compress, being polite about the comparative authenticity of Mrs. C.’s baklava.
Everyone gathers and all’s quiet except for the sounds of saliva and chewing, and there’s the yeasty-sweet smell of Coach Schtitt’s pipe, and E.T.A.’s youngest kid Tina Echt in her giant beret gets to be in charge of the lights.
Mario’s thing opens without credits, just a crudely matted imposition of fake-linotype print, a quotation from President Gentle’s second Inaugural: ‘Let the call go forth, to pretty much any nation we might feel like calling, that the past has been torched by a new and millennial generation of Americans,’ against a full-facial still photo of a truly unmistakable personage. This is the projected face of Johnny Gentle, Famous Crooner. This is Johnny Gentle, né Joyner, lounge singer turned teenybopper throb turned B-movie mainstay, for two long-past decades known unkindly as the ‘Cleanest Man in Entertainment’ (the man’s a world-class retentive, the late-Howard-Hughes kind, the really severe kind, the kind with the paralyzing fear of free-floating contamination, the either-wear-a-surgical-microfiltration-mask - or - make - the - people - around - you - wear - surgical - caps - and - masks - and -touch - doorknobs - only - with - a - boiled - hankie - and - take - fourteen - showers - a -day - only - they’re - not - exactly - showers - they’re - with - this - Dermalatix - brand -shower - sized - Hypospectral - Flash - Booth - that - actually - like - burns - your -outermost - layer - of - skin - off - in - a - dazzling - flash - and - leaves - you - baby’s -butt - new - and - sterile - once - you - wipe - off - the - coating - of - fine - epidermal -ash-with-a-boiled-hankie kind) then in later public life a sterile-toupee-wearing promoter and entertainment-union bigwig, Vegas schmaltz-broker and head of the infamous Velvety Vocalists Guild, the tanned, gold-chained labor union that enforced those seven months of infamously dreadful ‘Live Silence,’ 149the total scab-free solidarity and performative silence that struck floor-shows and soundstages from Desert to NJ coast for over half a year until equitable compensation-formulae on certain late-millennial phone-order retrospective TV-advertised So-You-Don’t-Forget-Order-Before-Midnight-Tonight-type records and CDs were agreed on by Management. Hence then Johnny Gentle, the man who brought GE/RCA to heel. And then thus, at the millennial fulcrum of very dark U.S. times, to national politics. The facial stills that Mario lap-dissolves between are of Johnny Gentle, Famous Crooner, founding standard-bearer of the seminal new ‘Clean U.S. Party,’ the strange-seeming but politically prescient annular agnation of ultra-right jingoist hunt-deer-with-automatic-weapons types and far-left macrobiotic Save-the-Ozone, -Rain-Forests, -Whales, -Spotted-Owl-and-High-pH-Waterways ponytailed granola-crunchers, a surreal union of both Rush L.– and Hillary R.C.–disillusioned fringes that drew mainstream-media guffaws at their first Convention (held in sterile venue), the seemingly LaRoucheishly marginal party whose first platform’s plank had been Let’s Shoot Our Wastes Into Space, 150C.U.S.P. a kind of post-Perot national joke for three years, until — white-gloved finger on the pulse of an increasingly asthmatic and sunscreen-slathered and pissed-off American electorate — the C.U.S.P. suddenly swept to quadrennial victory in an angry reactionary voter-spasm that made the U.W.S.A. and LaRouchers and Libertarians chew their hands in envy as the Dems and G.O.P.s stood on either side watching dumbly, like doubles partners who each think the other’s surely got it, the two established mainstream parties split open along tired philosophical lines in a dark time when all landfills got full and all grapes were raisins and sometimes in some places the falling rain clunked instead of splatted, and also, recall, a post-Soviet and -Jihad era when — somehow even worse — there was no real Foreign Menace of any real unified potency to hate and fear, and the U.S. sort of turned on itself and its own philosophical fatigue and hideous redolent wastes with a spasm of panicked rage that in retrospect seems possible only in a time of geopolitical supremacy and consequent silence, the loss of any external Menace to hate and fear. This motionless face on the E.T.A. screen is Johnny Gentle, Third-Party stunner. Johnny Gentle, the first U.S. President ever to swing his microphone around by the cord during his Inauguration speech. Whose new white-suited Office of Unspecified Services’ retinue required Inauguration-attendees to scrub and mask and then walk through chlorinated footbaths as at public pools. Johnny Gentle, managing somehow to look presidential in a Fukoama microfiltration mask, whose Inaugural Address heralded the advent of a Tighter, Tidier Nation. Who promised to clean up government and trim fat and sweep out waste and hose down our chemically troubled streets and to sleep darn little until he’d fashioned a way to rid the American psychosphere of the unpleasant debris of a throw-away past, to restore the majestic ambers and purple fruits of a culture he now promises to rid of the toxic effluvia choking our highways and littering our byways and grungeing up our sunsets and cruddying those harbors in which televised garbage-barges lay stacked up at anchor, clotted and impotent amid undulating clouds of potbellied gulls and those disgusting blue-bodied flies that live on shit (first U.S. President ever to say shit publicly, shuddering), rusty-hulled barges cruising up and down petroleated coastlines or laying up reeky and stacked and emitting CO as they await the opening of new landfills and toxic repositories the People demanded in every area but their own. The Johnny Gentle whose C.U.S.P. had been totally up-front about seeing American renewal as an essentially aesthetic affair. The Johnny Gentle who promised to be the possibly sometimes unpopular architect of a more or less Spotless America that Cleaned Up Its Own Side of the Street. Of a new-era’d nation that looked out for Uno, of a one-time World Policeman that was now going to retire and have its blue uniform deep-dry-cleaned and placed in storage in triple-thick plastic dry-cleaning bags and hang up its cuffs to spend some quality domestic time raking its lawn and cleaning behind its refrigerator and dandling its freshly bathed kids on its neatly pressed mufti-pants’ knee. A Gentle behind whom a diorama of the Lincoln Memorial’s Lincoln smiled down benignly. A Johnny Gentle who was as of this new minute sending forth the call that ‘he wasn’t in this for a popularity contest’ (Popsicle-stick-and-felt puppets in the Address’s audience assuming puzzled-looking expressions above their tiny green surgical masks). A President J.G., F.C. who said he wasn’t going to stand here and ask us to make some tough choices because he was standing here promising he was going to make them for us. Who asked us simply to sit back and enjoy the show. Who handled wild applause from camouflage-fatigue- and sandal-and-poncho-clad C.U.S.P.s with the unabashed grace of a real pro. Who had black hair and silver sideburns, just like his big-headed puppet, and the dusty brick-colored tan seen only among those without homes and those whose homes had a Dermalatix Hypospectral personal sterilization booth. Who declared that neither Tax & Spend nor Cut & Borrow comprised the ticket into a whole new millennial era (here more puzzlement among the Inaugural audience, which Mario represents by having the tiny finger-puppets turn rigidly toward each other and then away and then toward). Who alluded to ripe and available Novel Sources of Revenue just waiting out there, unexploited, not seen by his predecessors because of the trees (?). Who foresaw budgetary adipose trimmed with a really big knife. The Johnny Gentle who stressed above all — simultaneously pleaded for and promised — an end to atomized Americans’ fractious blaming of one another for our terrible 151internal troubles. Here bobs and smiles from both wealthily green-masked puppets and homeless puppets in rags and mismatched shoes and with used surgical masks, all made by E.T.A.’s fourth- and fifth-grade crafts class, under the supervision of Ms. Heath, of match-sticks and Popsicle-stick shards and pool-table felt with sequins for eyes and painted fingernail-parings for smiles/frowns, under their masks.
The Johnny Gentle, Chief Executive who pounds a rubber-gloved fist on the podium so hard it knocks the Seal askew and declares that Dammit there just must be some people besides each other of us to blame. To unite in opposition to. And he promises to eat light and sleep very little until he finds them — in the Ukraine, or the Teutons, or the wacko Latins. Or — pausing with that one arm up and head down in the climactic Vegas way — closer to right below our nose. He swears he’ll find us some cohesion-renewing Other. And then make some tough choices. Alludes to a whole new North America for a crazy post-millennial world. First U.S. President ever to use boss as an adjective. His throwing his surgical gloves into the miniature Inaugural crowd as souvenirs is Mario’s own touch.
And Mario Incandenza’s idea of representing President Gentle’s cabinet as made up mostly of tall-coiffured black-girl puppets in shiny imbricate-sequin dresses is also of course historically inaccurate, though the honorary inclusion, in that cabinet’s second year, of the Presidente of Mexico and the P.M. of Canada is both factual and of course seminal:
PRES. MEX. AND P.M. CAN. [in unison and green-mask-muffled]: It is tremendously flattering to be invited to sit on the cabinet of the leadership of our beloved neighbor to the [choose one]. GENTLE: Thanks, boys. You have gorgeous souls. It’s not the cartridge’s strongest scene, heavy on stock phrases and two-handed handshakes. But the historical fact that the Presidente of Mexico and P.M. of Canada are honorarily appointed by President Gentle to be ‘Secretaries’ of Mexico and Canada (respectively) — as if the neighbors had already become sort of post-millennial American protectorates — is fore-shadowed as ominous by a wavered D-minor on the soundtrack’s organ — Mrs. Clarke’s Wurlitzer, at home — but the two leaders’ respectively dusky and Gallic expressions seem unperturbed, under their green masks, as more stock phrases are invoked.
Because budget and broom-closet constraints make artful transitions between scenes impractical, Mario has opted for the inter-scenic ‘entr’acte’ device of having Johnny Gentle, Famous Crooner doing some of his repertoire’s bouncier numbers, with the cabinet-members undulating and harmonizing Motownishly behind him, and other puppets bouncing in tempo on- and offstage as the script requires. Audience-wise, most of the E.T.A.s under twelve, cortexes spangling with once-a-year sweets, have by now emigrated hyperactively under the long tables’ tablecloths and met up on the dining-hall floor below and begun navigating on hands and knees the special children’s second world of shins and chairlegs and tile that exists under long tablecloths, making various sorts of puerile trouble — investigations from last year’s I. Day are still in progress w/r/t which kid or kids tied Aubrey deLint’s shoelaces together and Krazy-Glued Mary Esther Thode’s left buttock to the seat of her chair — but everyone glycemically mature enough to sit still and watch the cartridge is having a rousing good time, eating chocolate cannolis and twenty-six-layer baklava and Redi-Whip by itself if they want and homemade Raisinettes and little cream-filled caramel things and occasionally heckling or cheering ironically, every so often throwing sweets that stick to the screen, giving the smooth sterile Gentle a sort of carbuncular look that everyone approves. There is much cracking wise and baritone mimicry of a President roundly disliked for over two terms now. Only John Wayne and a handful of other Canadian students sit unhatted, chewing stolidly, faces blurred and distant. This American penchant for absolution via irony is foreign to them. The Canadian boys remember only hard facts, and the glass-walled Great Convexity whose southern array of ATHSCME Effectuators blow the tidy U.S.’s northern oxides north, toward home; and they feel with special poignancy on 11/8 the implications of their being down here, south of the border, training, in the land of their enemy-ally; and the less gifted among them wonder whether they’ll ever get to go home again after graduation if a pro career or scholarship doesn’t pan out. Wayne has a cloth hankie and keeps wiping his nose.