The Week That Was

THE SOUND OF FURY:

IT'S BEEN a bad week.

Monday morning I woke up late, burnt my toast, and dented my fender trying to get the car out of the garage. My windshield wipers wouldn't work, Iran declared war on the United States, and someone put corn starch in my Cremora.

In the office, my secretary called in sick, the bottom fell out of the stock market, and my boss gave me a bawling out for screwing up the office baseball pool.

By the time I got home I was depressed. My favorite primetime TV show, "Family of Bubble-heads," was preempted by a base ball game, which was bad enough, but the announcer kept on making statements like, "The score is four to one...but who cares? The economy is in a tailspin!"

And the other announcer would say: "Yipes, what a beating those boys took on the floor today."

"Not a pretty sight. Did you take a huge loss?"

"I sure did. And I bet a lot of the viewers did, too...hey hey, looks like a grand slam home run!"

"Over five hundred points."

Finally this got too depressing, so I decided to call an old friend, Rev. Brightside. The Rev was a Krishna during the '60s and then dropped out and made a bundle on mood rings. I met him during an EST session at the Ensalen Institute and we got to be pretty good friends before I was kicked out for parking illegally on a hugging workshop.

Ring, ring.

"Hello?"

"Rev! How ya doin', buddy? Long time no see. Hey, how's the old wolf... get any lately?"

"Just a minute. This is his wife. I'll see if my husband is in."

Yipes, a grievous error. But soon I was reconnected.

"Hello? Who the hell is this?"

"Rev! How are you? This is your old pal, Rutger Fury. I was having a bad time, so I thought I'd call."

"Well, whoever you are, I don't do spiritual support any more. I'm into oil stocks now."

"Sorry, bud," I said. "The Iranians have bombed the Kuwaiti oil terminal and your stocks are now worthless. So what do you say we rap for old times' sake?"

"WELL, ALL right," he begrudged. "What's on your mind?"

"Reverend," I said, "you always managed to see the bright side of things. But things are so bleak, I just can't imagine how anyone could be smiling through this rain. Like the stock market crash for example...I mean, aren't you depressed?"

"Depressed?" he said. "Stock prices are at an all-time low--it's a buyer's paradise! Thousands and thousands of top-quality stocks and bonds at low, low prices...how could you complain about that?"

"I guess I see your point, Reverend," I said. "I should be grateful. But all my savings were in stocks, so now I'm ruined. All those certificates are now just so much worthless paper."

"Which will make them so much harder to redeem," he countered. "And as you know, saving is a virtue. Therefore, taking money out of savings is a sin. You ought to be grateful that you are prevented from sinning."

"That's absurd," I said. "But at any rate, you can't say that the war in the Gulf is a good thing."

"I can't? Who's stopping me? There are a lot of positive things about the Persian Gulf," he said.

"Like what?"

"Like...uh, like a lot of things. Excuse me, my dog is whelping." A few minutes later he returned. "Like for example, with so many ships sinking in the gulf, insurance rates are bound to go up."

"W AIT A minute," I said. "Why's that a good thing?"

"Insurance rates go up, insurance companies make a bigger profit. More profits, more jobs for insurance salesmen. More insurance salesmen, more boring cocktail parties. Bad parties, less drinking. Less drinking, higher efficiency in the workplace, larger profits, a better economy."

"Wow," I said, "I have to hand it to you. I'm feeling better already about our nation's long-term prospects. It would be a shame if it was laid waste in a nuclear war, though."

"Not at all. Real estate prices would finally go down. Except for Nevada beachfront, of course."

"Well, it would be too bad if we wiped out all the plants and animals on the Earth."

"No it wouldn't. Veterinary bills would be a thing of the past."

I thought a moment. "Reverend Brightside," I said, "You'd have to admit that it would be bad if I was savaged by wild animals, died, and suffered eternal torment in Hell."

"Not so bad." the Reverend said. "Better you than me."

Rutger Fury, former national political writer for The National Enquirer, is a close friend of Jeffrey J. Wise.