The Hullahoo Bar is noisy with THE FRIENDS arguing loudly about America’s hugging frenzy.
“I hear one woman got pregnant from a Biden hug,” alleges Frank.
“Impossible,” counters Melissa. “She hadn’t washed her hair.”
“Why can’t we hug anymore?” Ted wonders. “All that’s left in today’s sex craze is hugging your pillow.”
“Ridiculous,” cries Fred. “When I went to my first prom, we hugged. At my second prom, we kissed. At my third, we did it in my car. At my fourth, we had a baby and still love each other.”
“Romance is out the door,” Cindy complains. “I feel it in the office. The guys look at me as if I’m enemy number one.”
“Can you imagine,” says Tom. “I like a girl in the office and what do I do not to get fired? How about saying, ‘Hey, I’m sentimental about you. May I please give you a hug?'”
“You might try having a coffee with her in the cafeteria and, while she is sipping her latte, text her the question first,” Céline suggests.
“What if she leaks my text to my boss, saying I sexually harassed her?” Tom asks.
“Tell him the Biden doctrine,” Céline advises. “It was never your intention to hug her sexually, only to empower her.”
“Empowering her for what?” Cindy scoffs. “A pretext for impregnating her?”
“See, that’s exactly what this Me Too movement is all about,” Frank says. “They weaponize the natural drive of human love to stop procreation.”
“How would the world survive with only Me Too women left on earth?” Ted asks, raising his arms in desperation.
“Easy,” Melissa says. “There are enough plentiful sperm banks to make babies. Me Too’s favored vibrator and babylube make up for the fun.”
“And what would the male babies do?” enquires Fred.
“Do like the priests,” Melissa says. “Celibacy and feed the sperm banks. Use sex dolls. What do you think they’re doing now?”
“That’s preposterous,” yells Frank. “Worse than Orwellian!”
“It would solve today’s sex craze,” Cindy agrees. “No more Biden or Trump jokes. No more Weinstein predators. And Kamala Harris wants to make prostitution legal.”
“Do you think that’s where the US is going?” Tom asks.
“That’s where the world is going,” Cindy says, prophesizing.
Nobody feels like finishing their drinks anymore.
“What if we go back to ‘Love makes the world go round,’ Cindy?” suggests Frank after the depressing silence.
Mary laughs. “Without love, the birdies would not sing this spring.”
“Damn Me Too!” Ted hollers, hammering on the counter. “Love cannot be killed or swept aside.”
“‘Cause we hear in our heartbeat a beautiful sound,'” follows Mary, her eyes lighting up.
“Cheers to love, Mary!” Frank shouts, raising his glass, and everybody does.
(with due credit to Deon Jackson and Jennifer Lopez).
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Mars Man is back at Lu Kung Si’s office in the Empire State Building for an interview with the Governor of China’s Province America. Mars visits Lu on behalf of Mars City TV which is interested in hearing Lu’s views about China’s Plans to invade Mars to make it a Chinese Province as well. The interview is relayed through Omaha TV with charming anchor Kathryn. Lu speaks first.
“You know, Mars, that Planet Earth’s Napoleon in his days already said that China was a sleeping giant and that Planet Earth should worry when it awoke. You see what happened to what was previously called the USA. You ask what China’s Plans are for Mars? Tell your audience they would never have it any better: daily access to Peking Duck and Chinese food, the main staple of America’s carry outs, even long before it became a Chinese province.”
“May I remind you Lu that Mars people have different bodies than you have. We live underground, have worm farms, plant farms, eat olms, salamanders, and wild bats, a delicacy as good as Peking Duck. We do not keep messy flee-infested poultry. Chinese could not live on Mars.”
“China would build structures above ground, Mars, acclimatized to Planet Earth conditions, bringing in our own food and drinks.”
“Unlike Planet Earth, we manage our climate and would make sure that storms, heat and cold would wipe you off our surface. My wife Kathryn cannot come with me. I have to come here but I have the ability to change into a human body, and that’s a secret you cannot steal.”
“I must remind you not to speak in adversarial terms, Mars. China does not steal. We acquire technology through partnerships, ‘Made in China.’ Find me one box in Province America without that label. We make things together and in exchange, we use our label. Walmart likes it, so does QVC and so many others, and so do we. Those that do not go out of business.”
“Lu, on Mars, we do not use cheap malnourished Chinese labor to make a profit on what we sell. You have no future on Mars. So spare yourself the trouble and stay away.”
“You don’t understand China, Mars. China aims to rule the universe and Mars will be one of our provinces in space from where we dominate Planet Earth.”
“Mars will import redundant flatulence from the failed New Green Deal and make your landing impossible.”
“Don’t fool yourself, Mars. We acquired NASA and the Russian Space Station. We put our footprint on the Moon. Mars will be next. Venus and Jupiter will follow.”
“The inhabitants of these planets will eat you alive, Lu. Contrary to Marsians, they like Chinese food. It’s a suicidal move.”
“China has 1.5 billion people and that’s too many. We must ship the overload off to space, starting with the Tibetans and Urghs, and unruly residents of Province America. Those deplorables as defined by comrade Hillary Clinton, including racists, sexists, homophobics, xenophobics, Islamophobics. Like the Brits did with sending their criminal crop to Australia. Only true collaborators of China are allowed to remain on Planet Earth.”
“How will China get to Mars?”
“Before you leave, we will X-ray your body to re-engineer it and replicate it for our own use.”
“X-rays do not work on my body, Lu. Besides, if you try that I will turn you into a Mars bar with devastating power. When somebody eats that bar, that person will also turn into a Mars bar, and so on. That might be a better policy to deal with your population problem.”
“Don’t try April Fools Pranks on me, Mars. I can arrest you for disrespect of a senior Chinese official. I insist you follow me to our health room.”
Lu rises, but his face and body crumble with a painful scream. All that’s left on his desk is a Mars bar.
When Mars Man leaves Lu’s office, he pushes the icon ‘Utilities’ on his smartphone to restore Lu to his human condition. He needs him for further interviews but knows that Lu will think twice before trying to take his body next time.
While stationed in Dhaka, Bangladesh, between 1980 and 1984, for the World Bank, we traveled with the two kids, David and Samantha, (8 and 6), through India on several occasions, from east-west to north-south: wonderful and unforgettable experiences. Some pictures you may remember from your own travels in that intriguing part of the world.
How did we travel? By air (it takes three hours to fly north-south), taxicabs, and rickshaws. We visited palaces and temples of artful architecture which showed the richness of India in the Middle Ages and earlier, while Europe was building its own cathedrals and palaces.
We watched the Gometeswara statue above in awe on our way from Bombay (now Mumbai) to Bangalore. The kids were still too young to feel ‘shocked’ by the enormous penis, but on a beach in Goya later, daughter Samantha pointed startled at a live male nudist’s penis because to her big shock it dangled precipitously.
Dave and Sam in front of the impressive Palace at Mysore in southern India, a huge complex designed by Englishman Lord Henry Irwin and built between 1897-1912 after the old wooden structure burned down. Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV and his mother Maharani Kempananjammanni Devi, commissioned Lord Henry to build it. The royal family lived in these palaces since the 14th century.
A photograph of the Hoysaleswara temple at Belur. Here is where Sam and Dave disappeared in the dark inside. Worried about child kidnapping in India, we found Sam later sitting with a local family, selling mango fruits as if she had become Indian. They did not want to be photographed. When Sam ran back to us I sneakily took a picture of them anyway.
Notice the natural Indian beauty of the young women selling mangos, squatting with – probably – their mother.
The ancient Indian art of temple sculpture is breathtaking. You see much of that art spread throughout South Asia and the Far East (Indonesia).
Of course, we had to visit the Taj Mahal (“Crown of the Palaces” – in Hindi) in the city of Agra while staying with friends in New Delhi who kindly babysat the kids for this trip. Joy is shown with the Taj Mahal in the background. My grandfather, a great-uncle, and father went there too, so it became sort of a pilgrimage for me. For Joy, all travel in India, in particular Bombay and the south where her family hailed from, was an all-out pilgrimage to visit her roots. Her family name in Guyana being Jaundoo, we searched the English language Bombay telephone book, which listed the name Chandoo. In Guyana, it had become Jaundoo. The pronunciation was exactly the same in Hindi, but spelled differently in English in British Guyana.
The inside of the Taj Mahal glorifies Persian, Mongol and Indian art. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan (who reigned from 1628 to 1658), to house the tomb of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal (source Wikipedia) Next to the Taj Mahal is the tomb of I’timad-ud-Daulah, commissioned by Nur Jahan, the wife of Jahangir, for her father Mirzā Ghiyās Beg, originally a Persian Amir in exile. I’timad was an important Persian official in the Mughal Empire, whose children served as wives, mothers, and generals of the Mughal Emperors.
From Agra we traveled to nearby Fatehpur Sikri, a remnant of the capital of the Mughal Empire in 1571 built by Emperor Akbar, serving in this role from 1571 to 1585 (Wikipedia). It is a remarkable assembly of impressive buildings which excel in structural simplicity.
From there, we traveled to Jaipur to complete the Taj Mahal ‘triangle.’ A historic old town with a remote castle on top of a mountain that one can only reach by elephant.
A ‘Joyful” elephant rider: the elephant seems to like her.
Following are two local Indian paintings we bought in Jaipur. The one with the Hindu figures we could not get because the store where we saw it displayed in the window case was closed. Indian friends of ours – thanks again Anand Seth if you read this blog! – who are from Jaipur purchased it for us later. The other painting displays a typical Indian rural scene as we encountered them on our travels by car.
Back to New Delhi to pick-up the kids to travel to Srinagar in Kashmir, a state torn by strife between Pakistan and India, now dangerous for tourists. We spent there a week in a houseboat on the lake at Srinagar, from where we traveled around Kasmir with its beautiful scenery that reminded me of Switzerland.
Following are some more pictures of fascinating Kashmir with Joy, Dave, and Sam:
It was great to relax in Kashmir. But on a day trip with a rented car, we got a flat…and no spare in the back! I had to walk to a nearby village to get some young guys to help me carry the tire to a local workshop to get it repaired. The young guys said proudly: ‘Kashmir is Pakistan.’ They were also proudly Islamic. It reminded me later when I sat with Palestinian colleagues looking over the Dead Sea at the West Bank mountain ridge. ‘There is Palestine,” they said, as proudly. Behind the scenic beauty in the world, strife is not far behind.
Meanwhile, Sam took it easy: she ate an apple I plucked from a nearby fruit yard, with the scenic valley and Himalayan mountain ridge in the back.
Next album: Darjeeling and more.
It’s Friday night and Fred, Frank, Tom, and Ted are drinking beer with their regular friends at the Hullahoo bar, talking about the issues of the Me Too Movement. Cindy sitting across from Frank yells, “Me 2 is taking over boys. It’s role reversal. You better take notice.”
“Scary, Cindy, I did,” Frank says. “I stopped dating for fear of being broadsided or perhaps even castrated.”
“Right,” Ted added. “Broads do that nowadays. What are we going to do about love?”
“You guys are all babes in the woods,” Marlene scoffs. “Me 2 wants real men that do not assault or belittle women like calling us broads.”
“Oh yeah?” howls Frank. “You mean those real men with their naked torsos trunked on romance novels?”
“All written by women, including erotica,” Ted adds. “The three Ls: Love, lust, and lasciviousness. Are they also members of the Me 2 movement?”
“You’re hallucinating,” Marlene’s friend Melissa says. “Me 2 women have their own sense of self-esteem, even if they write erotica.”
“Ha, ha,” laughs Fred. “If I write an erotica novel, I’ll be called a pervert and if you do it, it’s called art. Call that a double standard.”
“When I walk the corridors in my office,” Ted says, “I look straight ahead now and say nothing anymore to the girls passing for fear of being accused of sexual harassment.”
“I won’t open the door for any woman anymore either,” Tom says. “For fear of being told off that she can do that herself. And when I am in the elevator, I won’t even try to let the woman exit first. I rather travel up or down to the next floor. For fear of being told that I’m making inappropriate advances.”
“Me 2 is a serious movement,” Cindy buts in. “You guys shouldn’t make fun of it. It responds to a longtime abuse of women in the workplace or domestic violence, and nobody did a damn thing about it. Thanks to the Me 2 Movement they do now.”
“We’re not denying that, Cindy,” Fred argues. “To the contrary, we agree and I personally am glad that this screwy matter has been put in the limelight. But Me 2 has thrown a wrench into the courting ritual. It’s like lighting a firecracker on the Notre Dame square with all this social media hype. Ever seen male pigeons pursuing female pigeons? Aren’t you guys denying nature’s procreative role?”
“Humans are rational people, animals are not,” Melissa says, raising her voice. “Men have been denying female rights for far too long.”
“You say,” Frank exclaims. “What about those female empresses that sent their lovers to the gallows?”
“Kathryn Dunoova, that French movie star, also said Me 2 had gone too far,” Tom says. “You’re throwing your loverboy away with the bathwater.”
“It’s Catherine Deneuve, you butthead,” called out Emily from the other side of the counter. She pretended she could speak French. “She later apologized for critiquing Me 2.”
“Okay,” Tom responds. “Maybe she did. But she and some ninety-nine other famous French women said the usual male courting rituals shouldn’t be called sexual harassment, and that’s what’s happening here in the US. It’s killing our romance. I guess French women are different from their American species. I’ll be moving to Paris.”
“I was going to propose tomorrow at the top of the Empire building,” Ted announces. “But for fear of being laughed at I may just as well throw myself over the railing.”
“Why should you guys have the exclusive right to propose?” Emily wonders. “Why can’t I propose? Waiting for someone nice to propose is very frustrating for women.”
“I’m sure that most of us men were already proposed to in bed by our girlfriends after our cummy, whispering let’s get married,” Frank says. “Most of us would be too embarrassed to say ‘no.’ So Emily, get your act together.”
“Would you like me to try?” Emily asks, her eyes full of seduction.
“Are you proposing?” Frank asks, among loud laughter.
Emily comes around, pushing his friend Fred off his seat and sits next to Frank. “Yes, I am,” she says. “Pay me a drink to seal it.”
The Hullahoo friends raise their glasses, cheering, “Long live Me 2!”
ENCHANTING THE SWAN – REPRINT BY SUN HILL BOOKS.
” A very enjoyable read. Could make a great movie” – Neal Cary.
” A fine romantic thriller” – Daniel Dwyer
” A heartbreaking love story” – Vera Wilson
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