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NOTE: in a recent column, Brian Lageose—quite possibly, the funniest male blogger out there (see how I did that? Not that I’m competitive or anything…)—issued Writer to Writer: The 3-Word Challenge. I took him up on it, of course, and the three words he sent me were clandestine, sordid, and pasta. Out of sheer laziness In honor of Throwback Thursday, I’ve slotted those words into an updated post from a few years back.


Of Pasta, Cloning, and Elvis: A Clandestine and Sordid Tale

You can tell this is a really old post because people are listening to each other instead of looking at their phone…[image credit: Pixabay]

When I was in the grocery store the other day, the ladies in front of me began to discuss their dissatisfaction with a gentleman of their acquaintance. While the behavioral modification techniques they proposed would have awed the Marquis de Sade, those of us standing nearby were left with three choices:

  1. The Better Part of Valor: discretely move to another checkout aisle, hopefully near enough to have a clandestine listen. [note: this was the choice of all nearby men, although it can’t have been easy with their legs crossed like that…]
  2. Rudeness: listen openly to every sordid detail. Unfortunately, not only would Miss Manners disapprove, but it might make them lower their voices and I would never have heard what happened when bail was posted after the arrests.
  3. Etiquette: eavesdrop while pretending to load the squid-ink pasta onto the check-out lane conveyor belt so that it covers the industrial-sized yeast infection meds, case of probiotic yoghurts, and the store’s remaining stock of cranberry juice. Then I would pretend to memorize the contents of the magazine rack.

Usually Choice #3 is the most educational. Not only do I get to hear the rest of the conversation—“…and after she cut it off and threw it out the car window, the police found it and the doctors SEWED IT BACK ON!”—but I can catch up with the latest tabloid news: Oprah’s diet du jour, the latest member of the President’s team to be kidnapped by space aliens working for Russian trolls, or Extreme Makeover’s country-fresh design approach for the the last remaining unrenovated house in New England, a three-bedroom contemporary in Vermont. (“Classics Scholar barricades door with Danish Modern furniture, swears “Death before remodel”.)

But that day I noticed something strange. Every publication, from the tabloids to Pretty Good Housekeeping, was focused on one topic. Was it the crisis in Syria? Not so much. Hurricane damage in Puerto Rico? Seriously? (Please. Isn’t Puerto Rico like, part of Mexico? As if real Americans don’t have enough to worry about already.) Dismantling what’s left of Obama-care? Get real.

No, this week enquiring minds apparently only want to know one thing: what do Brad and Angelina think of Jennifer Aniston’s breakup with Justin Theroux? Did he Lead Her On? Did she Drive Him To It?

Come on, America, get a life. The big issues are still out there. What about the strength of the yuan vs dollar after Trump’s trade wars? The deficit? Poverty? Unemployment? Cellulite? How about Elvis? Doesn’t anybody care where the King is appearing this week?

Or what about science? I heard a panel of scientists on the radio recently debating how long it would be before we could successfully clone higher organisms like Stephen Hawking, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, or the Beatles. It’s been 20 years since Dolly the Sheep, they reminded us, and these days almost anyone can clone things like frogs. But frogs are not higher organisms. We know this because even though cloned frogs have a larger vocabulary than the average college freshman and like to watch the Daily Show, frogs lack opposable thumbs, leave home without their American Express Cards, and don’t support health care reform. And even if they escape their little electrified pens at the Jurassic Frog Park and go on a rampage, cloned frogs tend to chow down on raw flies instead of raw attorneys.

“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers”.—William Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Part 2, Act IV, Scene 2. [When good clones go bad…]

Of course, cloning higher organisms does have its dark side. What if, for example, they discover that after all these decades of appearing in Vegas and on the odd pancake, Elvis is still actually dead? Cloning scientists could recover his DNA from one of the roughly half a million Actual Elvis Rhinestone Jumpsuits currently advertised on eBay, and next thing you know we’ll have “Elvis Park.” Then comes the power failure, disabling the electrified fences keeping all the Elvis clones trapped in ersatz-Graceland. Suddenly, the country would be overrun with rhinestone-studded hordes singing, “You Ain’t Nothin But a Hound Dog.” 

Attack of the Elvis clones [image credit: remarkableleader.com]

Since each fan of the King could now have their very own Elvis clone, the bottom would fall out of the Elvis Memorial Plate, Elvis Memorial Underpants, and Elvis Impersonator industries. Thousands would end up on unemployment, while the fragile economies of Tennessee and Nevada would take a nosedive.

Or what if they clone Young Republicans, flooding the country with people with names like “Biff” and “Payton?” Or how about Bob Newhart or Dianne Feinstein? (Actually, I think they might have cloned those two already…)

There can NEVER be enough tennis ball throwing.

What if they cloned my dog Peri? Packs of tailless Aussies would overrun small towns, whose only hope for survival would be to keep throwing tennis balls and the occasional UPS deliveryperson.

Clearly, science may need some guidance here. Therefore, I am asking the help of all you readers. Since you’re already reading this blog, you obviously possess the taste, wit, and intelligence to make these difficult decisions. [Plus, it’s a way to see who actually reads far enough down in this post to see this bit…]

Please, send me your cloning choices. All I ask is that you avoid the usual “good clones” like my mother, Lydia who cuts my hair, and Mother Theresa. And don’t list the obvious “terror clones” like your boss, Sister Mary Eighth Grade Arithmetic, or Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

I promise that all suggestions will be reviewed by my panel of experts (unless my dog is busy that day). Winning clones suggested will be published in this blog and will also be forwarded to the National Science Foundation. Remember act now, or don’t blame me if the streets end up full of cloned Jennifers and Justins.


Or even better, pop over to Brian’s hilarious blog here and ask for your own three words for the challenge.

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