“The Swan” Episode 4

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The doors of the mansion open and in strolls host Ana Recxique. Tonight one woman will make the journey before your eyes from unbearably average to drop-dead gorgeous to be crowned “The Swan.”

Meet the contestant. D’Andrea Milton is a florist from Springfield,
Massachusetts. Deenie would love to look in the mirror and be happy. That dream was far from her experience growing up. She remembers a time in middle school when she was spit on by her peers. Fortunately, Deenie has a boyfriend who loves her for who she is but believes their relationship could be better if she were softer and more graceful. Deenie doesn’t want to feel sorry for herself. She wants to become a Swan.

Enter the experts. Their goal is to transform ugly ducklings into beautiful swans. They’ve got their work cut out!

The panel agrees, Deenie’s got potential. A nip here, a tuck there! Deenie will receive complimentary: chin and legs liposuction, hand amputation, collagen, feather extensions, wing augmentation, Lasik eye surgery, bleaching, brow removal, nose and mouth reconfiguration, beak and webbed-feet formation, tummy tuck and a stomach staple.

As she is escorted to makeover mansion, Deenie makes her first discovery: not only will she be cut off from family and friends, but there are no mirrors.

Let’s meet Deenie’s surgeon, Dr. Ivantew Kelyu. His patented neck extender won the Surgical Prize in 1994 and again in 1996. He has written articles for YM, Yankee Fisherman, and American Cowboy. Deenie’s major liposuction is par for the course, but Dr. Kelyu says, “Creating wingspan is going to be a truly
awesome experience.”

After catching the late-night movie, Marathon Man, Deenie is all nerves over her visit to her reconstructive dentist, Tina Schellbern. But Dr. Schellbern is a real softy. When not making people smile, she goes for walks with her girlfriend Maia and their three dachshunds. Dr. Schellbern admits Deenie will be her first beak. “This seemed like a real challenge, and I thrive under pressure, especially televised pressure. Also, this will be a milestone for the gay community: the first time a lesbian performs beak construction in the U.S.” After surgery, Deenie cries out, possibly in pain, but no one understands her.

Up next is a visit to Dr. Vish Inless, renowned laser-eye-surgery specialist. Deenie’s baby blues will be replaced with small jet-black eyes and her peripheral vision will be reduced. Dr. Inless hails from Johns Hopkins, where he earned three degrees, each more advanced than the former. He is the go-to guy for the Bette Davis Eyez procedure. He has performed surgery live on Regis and Kelly, Montel, and the 2002 PBS telethon.

Deenie comes through just fine, and when the bandages are removed, her eyes are coal-black and her five-foot-six frame is nearly one third the size. But how will Deenie keep the pounds off? Deenie, welcome TaHeill.

Malcolm TaHeill is a fitness guru who has trained CEOs of failed Fortune 500 companies. Known for his bestseller You: Only Less!, Malcolm’s CD of romantic fitness songs, Just Do It: for Love, hits QVC in June. Malcolm’s primary focus is to build wingspan.

Enter nutritionist Debbie Ornadahby. Through a feeding tube, Debbie introduces Deenie to her new diet: arrowhead, pondweeds, sedges, cattail, duckweed, and — an extra treat — water moss. Debbie’s approach is no-nonsense: “If she wants to live to thirty-two, knowing which roots and stems are right for her is essential.”

At last Deenie’s jaw is healed; she is ready for speech therapy with Anuncia Talowdenclehr, of the Academy of Dramatic Arts. She instructs Deenie on maximizing her double-looped windpipe for a deeper call. Deenie takes to it like a pro, and everyone is inspired by her dedication and motivation. Soon she will have a lovely, sonorous cry!

Now it’s time to evaluate Deenie’s mental health. Annette Ifufall is a life coach and therapist who has read tons of Freudian theory. Her audiocassette From Anal, Oral and Back Again with a Sense of Humor is on bookstore shelves. Dr. Ifufall has been featured on A Current Affair, Joe Millionaire, and Good Day Detroit.

Deenie is progressing! But she’s a long way from her goal weight. In fact, the scale claims she’s gained weight. Time to cut back on some of those late-night seed binges.

With a picture of Audrey Hepburn for inspiration, Deenie swings into high gear, and as the pounds shed, what was once a thin layer of downy fur is fast becoming a beautiful coat of feathers.

Annette Ifufall returns for one last coaching session. It’s up to Deenie to decide which side of the V she’ll fly in, the shorter side or the longer side, and whether she’ll be in the middle or near the front. Annette reminds Deenie that mating season is in the summer, and Louis for now means Louis forever, or at least until he dies. After a few last words of wisdom about choosing a wetland with a sufficient breeding population and what to expect from post-hatch moulting, Annette is finally ready to release her charge.

Remember, Deenie has been in seclusion and hasn’t seen herself in seventy-six mentally and physically challenging hours. She’s received text messages from Louis, but she’s been unable to push the buttons to read them.

Time for the reveal!

Deenie weighed in at thirty-five pounds, a mere five pounds over her goal weight! It’s time for Deenie to have a look at her new self. She takes a deep breath. Host Ana urges her toward the mirror.

Deenie sees her gorgeous, white reflection.

“Is that me?” she thinks. She briefly wonders if it’s one of those fake mirrors that make you look like a swan. She looks at herself, and preens. She is thin, beautiful, and the most graceful creature on earth. She is sure when Louis sees her, they will mate for life. She marvels at her snowy white feathers, slender legs, and jet-black feet. Looking closely, she sees Dr. Schellbern’s added touch of a thin orange line on her lower bill. The workouts have had their desired effect: her eight-foot wingspan is toned and glistening and her neck is more beautiful than Audrey Hepburn’s.

Ana has one last surprise for Deenie: Louis is standing behind the curtain.

But wait, there’s more. In front of everyone, Louis gets down on one knee, places Deenie on his other knee and asks to marry her. The look on Deenie’s face tells you all you need to know: she now believes dreams really can come true.

Louis leans in to kiss Deenie, but surprised by his looming silhouette, she squeaks and bites his fleshy cheek. Clutching his bloody jowl, Louis shrugs it off, “She’s got cold feet — my mother and father fought like cats and dogs the day they got engaged.”

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An Interview With Mr. Bluesman

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Interviewer: Good morning, Mr. Bluesman. If I could just say, those are some fine leathery old hands you have.

Mr. Bluesman: Dees hands be made for a geetar, or drinkin’ in a bar, heh heh heh!

Interviewer: I hear you, Mr. Bluesman. Now, Mr. Bluesman, I got a dog won’t hunt at all. I say, Mr. Bluesman, I got a dog won’t hunt at all.

Mr. Bluesman: You take that dog and get him on the ball. You know you take that dog and get him on the ball.

Interviewer: You’re right, Mr. Bluesman, that should prove helpful. But you see, Mr. Bluesman, times is gettin’ hard at home. Ain’t no doubt, Mr. Bluesman, times sure be gettin’ hard at home.

Mr. Bluesman: One and one is two, two and three is five, it always tough to stay alive. I say it always tough to stay alive.

Interviewer: You’re correct, Mr. Bluesman, that’s sound thinking. But the thing is, Mr. Bluesman, my woman she cold and mean. My woman she cold and mean too, Mr. Bluesman, what can I do?

Mr. Bluesman: What can you do? Buy a new pair of shoes. Shake dem blues with a new pair of shoes.

Interviewer: Merci, Mr. Bluesman, I can’t thank you enough. And thank you for talking with us today.

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Les Miz: Spring Drama, Midland High School —
Production Notes From The Director

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Hi, gang!

Overall, things are going great! We’ve got a killer show on our hands this year! I know if we all pull together, we can make this a show to remember.

Just a few itty bitty notes…

COSTUME

Prostitutes: Let’s tone down the makeup a bit, ladies. Too over the top. You are just hookers on the street, not in a Christina Aguilera video.

ACTING

Javert: Keep up the good work! Oh, but can we get you to move a bit? I know you aren’t used to the lifts and last week’s mishap was unfortunate, but maybe you could wear them around school just to get used to them. (But please check with administration about the school insurance policy first.)

Eponine: Welcome back, my Broadway Baby! We missed you! And I want you to hold your head up high around school. You have nothing to be ashamed of. Rehab did wonders for you,darling!

Crowd: You are sooooooo important! Just because you don’t have speaking roles doesn’t mean you aren’t valuable members of our little troupe. You’ve got to get involved in the action on stage. No cell calls while on stage! I mean it!.

Student soldiers: Concentrate. No clicking of triggers unless you are actually fighting someone.

And remember — good soldiers do not put rifle barrels in their mouths.

Fantine: It’s your death scene. You don’t want a dry eye in the house when you finally come to your demise. Sell it, my dear! And lose the gum.

Mme. Thenardier: Remember, she wants everyone to think of her as high-falutin’ when actually she is just French white trailer trash. (No offense to our mobile home-living students — or our white or French-ancestry students, either, for that matter.) Sweetie, see if your parents will let you watch “The Anna Nicole Show.”

Valjean: You can be so good when you really set your mind to it! But what can I do to get you to stop giggling? And I must ask you to refrain from overt displays of affection with Cossette during breaks. Yes, I know in real life you two are dating, but in the play you are like adopted father and daughter and quite frankly, it’s freaking some of us out.

SCENERY

Way to go guys! I can almost smell the croissants! Your dedication to authenticity is an inspiration to us all — which brings up one small point. Standard fake stage blood (which we want) does not coagulate and turn brown. Some in the cast (who did quite well in biology mid-terms, I might add) are concerned that your desire to “keep it real” may have gone a bit too far. I’m not going to ask questions. Don’t ask, don’t tell. But please, boys, remember we are representing the entire school and we want to be on our best behavior. Yes, that includes you, Ernie. Geeks rock!

FINAL THOUGHTS

I’m excited! Are you excited?! Just think, a few weeks ago we hardly knew each other, and now we are a family!

And yes, families have squabbles but — and this is important — they stick together.

Now I know some in the community have voiced protest over our interracial casting of our young lovebirds Marius and Cossette, but I’m glad to say that the school board is standing behind us 100 percent.

Keep your fingers crossed, but there’s talk that even the fathers of our two actors…Mr. Khalid and Mr. Bronstein, may attend.

And please inform your family and friends that the tickets will be one dollar more than originally advertised. I’m told the additional funds will support the extra security.

Exit stage left,

Ms. McCorlicum

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Roses Are Red, Or: The Terror In Our Topsoil

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helmutluchs@sbcglobal.net

Man’s history is full of brutal killings, rapes and unimaginable tortures. He overflows with hate and envy and is afflicted with more psychotic disorders than you could spell with a Dr. Seuss alphabet. I’d say all in all he’s a pretty swell guy when you don’t get to know him.

Lately, however, I’ve become aware of the violence that surrounds us, which is perpetrated not by man, but by happy little animals, buzzing insects, and yes, even by those shy, reticent plants.

I recently learned that there are no less than 367 known species of carnivorous plants (isn’t Mother’s Day coming up?). I remind you that’s only the known species. God knows how many take a bite here, a nibble there, when you’re not looking.

I always knew that those common-as-dirt platitudes about plants living for nothing but water and sweet sunshine were a lot of fertilizer. They’re out for blood and raw meat. They’re the worst sorts of maniacs, so quiet and unassuming. Yet we’re lulled by their beauty and charming manners. We take them into our homes, provide them with shelter, water them, and even play music to stimulate their growth. I am now certain that the only reason they like music is because it covers up their wicked conversations about how they’d like to swim in pools of our blood.

Right now, as I sit here, the plants in this room are watching me, hungrily waiting for me to nod off. Good Lord, how evil they look when you know the truth! I can almost see them licking their thin plant-lips, and when I come near I can read their damp, pungent thoughts. They wish I would fall and crack my head open on their ceramic planters so that my vital fluids would drain into their miserable leafy clutches.

Some will argue that man is the only creature that kills for pleasure, while plants and animals kill only for food. But this is not so. Just look at the variety of plants that use poison as a means to your end. They are the Sidney Greenstreets of the plant world, the gentlemen killers, very refined, very discreet and very deadly. They don’t kill for food. To them, killing is a game of wits, and their victories (as they would call them) are tabulated and run up on a scoreboard. Of course, if you were to confront one of them with this, he would give a deep, hearty laugh and say, “Sir, you sorely misjudge me. I’m not a machine, you know. I take exquisite delight in holding the mysterious elixir of life in my tendrils. I kill with passion, I kill because I find it exhilarating, because it quickens my blood and electrifies my soul. I like best the face that is made when they first realize what has happened, and that it is too late. It is a peculiar face, almost comical, and one I suppose I shall never tire of seeing.”

It has been said, “the meek shall inherit the earth” (I believe I saw it on the back of a flower seed packet). I don’t know about you, but I intend to do my part to make sure that “the meek” don’t come in the form of green chlorophyll monstrosities. I’ve already taken a flamethrower to my neighborhood and if my petrol holds out, I’ll make it to yours soon. So what are you going to do, tree hugger? How much more will you take before you stand up and scream? I suggest you do so now. A loud, sudden noise frightens plants temporarily, and it may give you time for that last cigarette.

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