Friday, February 24, 2006


INSPIRATION CORNER: Religious poetry from Rupert Brooke, of all people! A lesser-known piece by the Great War poet was handed to me by one of our European operatives at the last Yearly Worldwide Domination Refresher Conference, and only last week did I actually read it. In an apparent attempt to be sarcastic and irreverent, Brooke captured all the longing and paradox of the sublime faith followed by every one of our operatives. It even hints at the secret desire of every fish, and half-fish, to see "Land’s End" in her lifetime. It choked me right up:

Fish (fly-replete, in depth of June,
Dawdling away their wat’ry noon)
Ponder deep wisdom, dark or clear,
Each secret fishy hope or fear.
Fish say, they have their Stream and Pond;
But is there anything Beyond?
This life cannot be All, they swear,
For how unpleasant, if it were!
One may not doubt that, somehow, Good
Shall come of Water and of Mud;
And, sure, the reverent eye must see
A Purpose in Liquidity.
We darkly know, by Faith we cry,
The future is not wholly Dry.
Mud unto mud! – Death eddies near –
Not here the appointed End, not here!
But Somewhere, beyond Space and Time,
Is wetter water, slimier slime!
And there (they trust) there swimmeth One
Who swam ere rivers were begun,
Immense, of fishy form and mind,
Squamous, omnipotent, and kind;
And under that Almighty Fin,The littlest fish may enter in.
Oh! Never fly conceals a hook,
Fish say, in the Eternal Brook,
But more than mundane weeds are there.
And mud, celestially fair;
Fat caterpillars drift around,
And Paradisal grubs are found;
Unfading moths, immortal flies,
And the worm that never dies.
And in that Heaven of all their wish,
There shall be no more land, say fish.

I’m not going to belabor the delights of this poem by explicating it, line by line, the way I was taught to do in English class – too sacreligious -- but I must rate it highly, for its educational value, its value as a recruitment tool to turn more Humans into landfish, and because it is a darn good read.

One question that bothers almost all of us sooner or later is the difficulty in looking "normal,"
i.e. mammalian, while you’re halfway through the process that will allow you to enter the sea forever, with the landlocked part of your mission finally complete. (I AM SO READY!)

Well, let’s take the falling hair thing first. Even if you wear a turban or a shaved head reather than the Let It Be look of hair falling out in clumps, people will probably think you’re catching. There are advantages to the way the naked apes avoid their own if they suspect a nasty disease. Even with shaved heads very fashionable at the moment, our missing eyebrows make clear that we do not look this way by choice.

In my mind the real difficulty is that most of us don’t look remotely sick, even without hair. That green skin is so becoming, my dear…Luckily, most of the signs we display in the stages before we enter the water just DO NOT COMPUTE in the brains of the Naked Apes. If you tell them you have a nasty skin disease they’ll usually buy it. But then when they can’t find any such disease on the Internet you have more explaining to do. Never mind, finfolk – soon we’ll all be where we belong. DRY NO MORE!

These days people expect you to tell them about all your body functions if they think you’re going through chemo or have AIDS, but you do NOT need to answer intrusive questions of any sort. If they ask you something that’s out of line, you can also take a page from our own operative at St. Mary’s In The Woods and start crazytalking. I’ve seen her do this myself and aside from being 100% effective, it is a riot. After one good lecture about the way the little green men in the flying saucers made your hair fall out because you ate their intergalactic pancakes, they’ll never ask you again.

I’m here to tell you that wig technology is getting better every year – at least for women – and the men can still just put on a baseball cap that says "Wish You Were Hair" and be done with it. Young adults going through the change have made some very arresting visual statements by simply letting it be, refusing to shave off the remaining tufts, and in a few cases by dyeing each tuft a different color. Not great for high-level corporate job interviews, but we want converts from every walk of life.

NO HAIR TRANSPLANTS. DO NOT TRANSPLANT. We have lost 3 operatives already and disfigured many more. Some of them can’t work any more and may yet die of the effects. We are still trying to figure out why this happens.

A word about living in college towns. On the one hand it’s a great advantage to live openly in a place where you can look like absolutely anything. Wear a ‘Freak Pride’ t-shirt, display your fins aggressively, and you’ll soon have the local precinct of the P.C. Thought Police supporting you as a member of an Oppressed Population. ("I’m not exactly biracial," quips one of our outreach workers, a student at Duke.) I don’t have to tell you how easy it is from there to bring in new faces from the disaffected youth around you. On the other side of that coin you’ll find a whole lot of intrusive questions – and I mean a whole lot – so you need to be ready for those. Practice deflecting questions at your chapter meetings. This is not a suggestion. I mean it.

This is fine, but what about the scales? Matte scales are easy enough to cover with concealer, but nacreous and metallic scales can be a chore, and if you’ve got them I feel for you. I have them myself – metallic scutes, in fact -- but thus far they've appeared only in areas dictating that I can never again wear a string bikini -- yeah, yeah, I know you’re relieved; so are all my neighbors. For obviously-placed scutes, antennae, everted gills, and the kind of fins that don’t fold away invisibly, the news is good: YOU GO TO THE HEAD OF THE LINE to enter the Briny Lairs. There are openings at every single location and your arrival there can only speed your transformation, getting you in ahead of the others for the underwater-demolition detail and other elite duties such as the farming, culling and training of fully aquatic operatives.
For those still not ready to make that move we have placements available in large cities where you can look like anything, have a midnight-shift job of almost any sort and still have easy access to the Source. Of course swimming the local waters can be repellently nasty because the larger the city, the more polluted the waterway. Remember your local chapter’s charter-boat fund to get you out past the filthiest areas.

Of course we all need social lives even during the transformation, but that’s what the phony support groups are for. And some of you have perfectly good rec rooms at home. Invite the neighbors over to show them that in spite of your tragic illness you’re still – chuckle – a human being. Keep trawling for converts as long as you are drawing air, ladies. I don’t need to tell you how your options taper off in the networking department once you have become fully aquatic.

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