THAT’S HIS PROROGUE-ATIVE

Lately Yours Truly couldn’t help noticing the large numbers of his real-life Canadian friends and good acqaintances who have been joining the Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament group on Facebook. YT — still a relative newcomer to the land of the maple leaf, whose grasp of the finer points of its political system (such, for instance, as the very fact of Canadian Parliament’s existence) remains rather tenuous — must confess his ignorance as to the meaning of that term: proroguing. Confident as he is, however, that none of the above-stated quality individuals, each sharp as a tack and possessed of a moral compass the size of Montreal’s Olympic Stadium (Stade Olympique), would ever make the mistake of affiliating him/herself with an unjust or wrongful cause, he also would like to get on the right side of history on this issue (whatever, again, the issue may be) and declare his vociferous, Slavic-acccented opposition to parliamentary proro… hell, to the proroguing of any kind, period! (When in Rome, be more catholic than the Pope and run with the wolves.)  That’s right: as of this moment, YT would like for everyone to know that he’ll be adamantly opposed to proroguing of any variety, in any and all of it possible ways, shapes and permutations! In particular, purely from the standpoint of the more enjoyable public sloganeering,  he will be against proroguing anything that alliterates with the term itself:

No to proroguing my local Provigo!

No to proroguing Reggaeton! No to proroguing Rogaine! No to proroguing Gwynplaine! 

No to proroguing road warriors! No to proroguing J.K. Rowling and bowling!

Etc.

But honestly, YT, some might say. Wait a minute. Why don’t you just Google that word combination, “proroguing Parliament”? Then, in no time flat, you’d know that…

Ah, but see, who says YT actually would like to know? That’s not a given. He that increaseth knowledge with regards to the proroguing of Canadian Parliament increaseth sorrrow. With so many genuinely important (he feels) things unknown to him (he really is a very superficially educated man), how, in what imaginable way could the remainder of his life be enriched by this one extra bit of a thoroughly non-essential (in his, perhaps excessively rigid, judgment) information? There are some important advantages to not-knowing — to writers, in particular (for excerpts from Domald Barthelme’s seminal essay on the subject, check here: http://74.125.93.132/search?q=cache:fSPD1KA5Lw0J:www.themodernword.com/SCRIPTorium/barthelme.html+%22not-knowing%22+barthelme&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=ca). Knowing things (or stuff) is greatly overrated — just ask, well, Sarah Palin, the current leader of the million-strong American army of the proudly aggrieved ignoramuses (or ignorami) and the putative author of the oral libretto to her book of autobiographical fiction titled — that’s right: “Going Rogue.” No to proroguing “Going Rogue”!

As Hunter S. Thompson once said, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”

A propos of the Canadian (and not only) Parliament: a little anecdote from YT’s personal experience. One evening several years ago in St. Petersburg, in a spacious restaurant around the corner from the hotel where most of the SLS partcipants  stayed, one of the program particpants and YT were standing at the bar, enjoying their… whatever it was they were drinking. The participant — a school teacher from Houston (not that his occupation and place of residence matter any, in the context of this account; but, to quote Nabokov, there’s “pleasure in the telling”), who did not speak any Russian — asked YT to ask the bartender (an almost excessively lovely young woman, as most people tending bar in St. Petersburg’s historic downtown area tend to be, with multiple facial piercings and body tattoos) for a pack of cigarettes of her choice, provided the brand were reasonably inexpensive. YT did as he was bid, and the bartender tossed over a pack of cigarettes. The participant paid up, opened the pack, lit a cigarette, pulled on it and gave a satisfied nod: “Pretty nice.”

“What did he say?” the bartender asked YT, with polite disinterest. She didn’t know any English at all, apparently, which was somewhat strange, YT thought, considering just how tourist-ridden that particular part of the city is.

“He says the cigarette is pretty nice,” YT replied.

She smiled absently, preoccupied with the process of drawing a slow mug of lemonade-colored local beer from the tap.

“Is he from America?” she asked, after a pause. YT told her he was.

“And you?” She wanted to know. “How come you speak English so well?”

“I’ve been living there for many years now,” YT explained.

There did not seem much else to talk about. The participant was smoking his cigarette, repeatedly failing at an attempt to blow a smoke ring from his nose. The mug of oddly pale beer was still only half-full. The bartended started whistling some catchy tune under her breath. “Oops, I Did It Again,” YT believes now it was. (Did YT mention this was a long time ago?)

Then, rather unexpectedly, she asked, “And in America, is there Parliament there too?”

“Parliament? No,” YT told her.

Why did she want to know? What was America to her, with its complex political structure, so dissimilar from Russia’s?.. It was refreshing, YT thought, this entirely random curiosity on her part. Maybe she was a political-science or economics major in college, or something along those lines? All those fierce-looking tattoos and hardware in her face notwithstanding? But then again, if this had been the case, wouldn’t she have known at least some English, YT reasoned, even to the bare extent of recognizing the quintessentially American word nice?.. Yes, of course… Regardless, YT was impressed. Back then, he was living in a miserable, perennially dying small city in upstate New York, and it struck him as quite improbable, at the moment, that any of the people pouring beer in his local bars there might for no apparent reason ever start questioning him about the finer points of post-Soviet Russia’s political system, its shaky balance of power, the composition of the Duma, and the like.

“No parliament, but there’s this bi-cameral thing, you know, federal legislature called Congress, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives,” YT proceeded to tell her. “Each state, and there’re fifty of them, is represented by two senators and a whole bunch of representatives, all of them chosen through direct elections, and…”

He was about to launch into a detailed disquisition on the three branches of the US federal government, when she interrupted him, by saying gently yet impatiently: “No, no. I wasn’t asking about anything like that. What I want to know is, do they have, you know, Parliament, I mean, Parliament, in America?” She pointed a finger with ruby-red nail at the pack of cigarettes she’d just sold the SLS participant from Houston (who, by that point, had already repaired back to his table in the other room, where a few other program participants were sitting). It was a white-and-blue pack of Parliament Lights.

“Oh, I see,” YT said, laughing. “I misunderstood you. Pretty funny, actually. Parliament! Of course we have it there too.”  

Oh sure, this story — if that’s what it is — could have been told in a much punchier and more abbreviated fashion. No question about it. But hey! YT feels it’s his prerogative, on occasion, to make short story long, or stretch an insignificant anecdote into a semblance of a bona fide story, provided nobody gets harmed in the process. A story is a story is a story. We only have one life to live. 

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