Thursday, September 06, 2012

This is the way our ancestors worked off their aggressions

But even the flightiest girl could not ignore Danton's lack. He was liable to weary after only a few hours of Mass Dancing, when the fun was just beginning. At Twelve-hand Bridge, Danton's attention frequently wandered and he would be forced to ask for a recount of the bidding, to the disgust of the other eleven players. And he was impossible at Subways.

He tried hard to master the spirit of that classic game. Locked arm in arm with his teammates, he would thrust forward into the subway car, trying to take possession before another team could storm in the opposite doors.

His group captain would shout, "Forward, men! We're taking this car to Rockaway!" And the opposing group captain would scream back, "Never! Rally, boys! It's Bronx Park or bust!"

Danton would struggle in he close-packed throng, a fixed smile on his face, worry lines etched around his mouth and eyes. His girlfriend of the moment would say, "What's wrong, Edward? Aren't you having fun?"

"Sure I am," Danton would reply, gasping for breath.

"But you aren't!" the girl would cry, perplexed. "Don't you realize, Edward, that this is the way our ancestors worked off their aggressions? Historians say the game of Subways averted an all-out hydrogen war. We have those same aggressions and we, too, must resolve them is a suitable social context."

"Yeah, I know," Edward Danton would say. "I really do enjoy this. I — oh. Lord!"

For at that moment, a third group would come pounding in, arms locked, chanting, "Canarsie, Canarsie, Canarsie!"

In that way, he would lose another girlfriend, for there was obviously no future in Danton. Lack of Fit can never be disguised.

— from "The Native Problem," in Store of the Worlds, by Robert Sheckley.

Ah, subways. And here I thought they were the source of my aggression.

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