The Mermaid Tavern: Benchley Re-Born?

7 07 2004

‘indiejade’ of The Mermaid Tavern (Born Feb ’04) is helping to redefine the blog by exploring its creative possibilities. Forsaking the standard socio-politico-cultural-personal rant/analysis format in favor of humorous or satiric monologues and set-pieces on the vagaries and anomalies of everyday existence, she uses her own life as a launching pad for exploring all the stuff we only notice when it drives us nuts. In the process, she dedicates herself to providing potential solutions to problems or answers to complex and difficult questions like ‘What’s the deal with shampoo?’ Asked by a supposed reader, ‘Do you believe the “repeat” part of the directions is a ploy by the shampoo companies to sell more shampoo?’, she answers:

Congratulations on bursting the bubble. You have inadvertently destroyed $1.4 trillion dollars worth of potential profit for the shampoo companies with your discovery. And now it is time for the truth to come out.The first part of the truth is that the shampoo companies are actually fronts for the National Committee of Librarians against Harry Potter.

The National Committee of Librarians against Harry Potter believes that there is a direct linkage between the number of bottles of shampoo sold and the amount of sorcery that occurs at Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. This linkage has actually been prove[n] in a complex algorithm that nearly shut down the Internet and mysteriously caused the pine tree needles of the world to stand on end. The algorithm has since disappeared.

The second part of the truth is that the shampoo companies have been deceiving consumers for years. Most people do not know that shampoo is simply a by-product of a chemical called “air” that has the amazing ability to purge itself of toxicity.

Or trying to explain one of THOSE days:

*the sky turns dark and thunder crashes*Do you know what I mean? THOSE days are days that you wish you hadn’t gotten out of bed. THOSE days are days when absolutely nothing goes your way. In the morning, you burn your bagel, pour orange juice into your coffee (instead of milk), and accidentially lose your keys. Later you realize, halfway through the day, that you are wearing your shirt inside out. Your shoes keep coming untied. You cannot remember where you parked your car. The deli has run out of smoked turkey breast, when, that’s all you really feel like eating. Rush hour traffic is at a standstill (ironic that they call it “rush hour” while everyone is stuck going nowhere, eh?). Your dog has had a heyday while you were away — taking every single pair of underpants you own and decorating the living room.

So yeah, it’s been one of THOSE days.

Or commenting on a recent scorpion outbreak in Seattle:

Recently in Seattle (motto: “You smell like a two-day fish”), residents reported an outbreak of scorpions. Perhaps you think there are no scorpions in Seattle. Perhaps you are an idiot.As the French say, au contraire (literally: “Yo momma’s so fat that when she stands on the scale, it says: TO BE CONTINUED!”). I have here on my desk a copy of an Associated Press article sent in by alert reader Ziggy, whose name can be rearranged to spell “ZYIGG”, although that is not my main point. “Ziggy”, by the way, only has the letters “iy” in in common with “Monica Lewinsky,” so there is no other reason to mention Monica Lewinsky in this article.

But her glory is showcased in a 2-part piece titled ‘The Hangover Monster’. It’s a hilarious send-up not just of hangovers and what they feel like, but of why we tell ourselves we do them: ‘Somebody made me.’ The evening starts out reasonably enough–

It was to be a simple gathering with friends . . . well, okay, I lie. It was to be a simple gathering of burned-out college students who may or may not know each other, all gathered in the name of social drinking. The simple gathering of college students milled about, chatting “small talk” while the water cooler bubbled moodily in the background #. The vibrant notes of Erasure pulsed out of the speakers.The philosofairy was proud of herself, for a moment, as she surveyed the scene. She’d actually dragged herself away from the house and attended . . . dum da dum . . . a Social Gathering!

(Please hold the applause)

–but with the arival of ‘Beatrice’ (‘names have been changed to protect identities, affiliates and potential lawsuits’), things start to slide downhill. Mud-slide, actually.

“Yeah,” says Beatrice*, finishing her drink. (Imagine ravenous gulps of alcoholic beverage consumption followed by insane laughter and punctuated by the slam of an empty glass on the counter) “I’ve just been workin’. Goin’ to school. . . .. Girl, you look great! Hey, you need a drink? You look like you need a drink.””I don’t really –”

But by then it’s too late. The philosofairy has a coconut mudslide in her hand.


Fast forward one hour, and the philosofairy is suddenly taking generous shots of tequila, sipping (something) and drinking some more of (something) which is 49.2 percent alcohol, but, for legal purposes, has been spiked with (something) that contains 110 percent alcohol.

In Part II, the predictable results of this behaviour are described with ruthless precision:

Sunday: 10:20 a.m.When she finally has the courage to open her eyes, the philosofairy realizes that the scientists have been right all along. There really are things called “molecules” and “sound waves” swimming in the air around people. Trillions and trillions of molecules and sound waves. The philosofairy knows this because she can feel every individual molecule and sound wave assaulting her poor, bedraggled body. If she closes her eyes and concentrates very carefully, she can feel every molecule and sound wave bounce off her body at speeds of perhaps three hundred thousand miles per hour. She is especially aware of the sensation on her left foot because her left foot has somehow become sockless in the course of the night. She is also aware of the sensation acutely in temples.

It’s a molecular homicide, of sorts, wherein the molecules of the earth have, sometime during the night, conspired with the sound wave of the earth to create a cacophonous symphony of discord. The philosofairy winces when the symphony reaches its crescendo. All she can do is utter a groan which, when she thinks about it, sounds something like a water buffalo giving birth.

And which of us hasn’t been there?

The Mermaid Tavern is Robert Benchley translated for a modern audience, and the good news is: when she’s on her game, indiejade writes every bit as well as Benchley, sometimes better. But even when she’s off, she’s still one of the funniest and most human reads on the net. If she’s not as flat-out funny as Fafblog!, that’s because it’s a deeper kind of funny, the kind of rueful, ‘O jeez, I did that?’ funny that comes with recognition and self-awareness of your own foibles, flaws and weaknesses. You know the ones: those little ones you think nobody notices. indiejade knows all about them and is exposing them for all of us, god bless her.

So read and enjoy. Pretend she’s not talking about you if you have to, but understand this: we know who she’s talking about….

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