Smile Politely

A Sentimental Journey Through Champaign and Urbana: Volume 1

Champaign-Urbana is a place of many exciting events and affairs. Most of these notable happenings are reported on by the local fourth estate. However, to my great surprise, one of the most sensational and important occurrences of recent years has passed by with nary a news brief or report. I am talking, of course, about the visit of Parson Yorick to Champaign-Urbana last week.

The esteemed Parson chose Champaign-Urbana as the locale most suitable for his reintroduction to human society after meditating in isolation for 240 years. I was fortunate enough to be his companion on his journey through the Champaign and Urbana.

The beatific Parson arrived in Champaign on the 6:17 from Sutton-in-the Forest. We walked out of the station, and he was immediately struck down by girl talking on a cell phone while riding a bicycle (one of the scourges of Champaign-Urbana). As he fell he exclaimed, “Vile virago velocipedist!” The viperous vixen sped blissfully on totally obliviously to her treachery. After yelling fruitless castigations towards the lily-livered grimalkin, I bent to check on the state of my beloved Parson. He was unconscious, but still breathing. I flagged down the nearest trishaw and directly him to make haste to Carle hospital, which incidentally, is the very same place where I was roped into witnessing the signing of dying man’s will.

Yes, indeed. I was reclining in my residence when my bothersome neighbor Dr. Slop ran into my parlour without even being introduced or presenting his card (which upsets me because of the breach of decorum but more so because of the insult to my dear manservant Trim, who has served me faithfully and adroitly for many years. Introducing my visitors is one of his greatest pleasures in life, and his eloquence and tact in introducing never cease to bring pleasure and delight to me and my visitants. Later that day, I could see the heartbreak and woe that Dr. Slop’s indecorum had caused Trim, and I vowed never to forgive that diabolical doctor). He grabbed me by the hand and claimed that if I did not come with him immediately, a family’s fortunes and future would be lost. I acquiesced to his demands and….. What’s that Goodly Reader? You’re worried about Parson Yorick? Hmm? I suppose I have wandered off a bit. No matter. The Parson will survive this excursus. I promise you. Fear not.

Now, as I was saying, Dr. Slop tugged me all the way to Carle Hospital, where I was called upon to witness the signing of a will. The dying man was indeed dying, and I happily lent my signature. The whole matter seemed to have gone off swimmingly until I made a grave solecism. I asked the dying man if I could have the tapioca pudding that was sitting on his tray. I figured that it was fair recompense for my services and that as he was in fact dying that he would not really miss the pudding. How wrong I was! He bitterly rebuked me and flatly refused to give me the pudding. I was dumbfounded and began arguing with the man. Surely, he should understand that he was going to die anyways and no quantity of pudding could save him, whereas I was flush with health and would truly able to enjoy the pudding. He disagreed, and I was forced to strike him. Needless to say, things quickly escalated, and I am not quite sure that I am ready to relate the remainder of the story. It would upset me far too much. Let us suffice it to say that it was not one of my prouder days.

Now let us see. Where was I? Ah, yes. Our peerless Parson had been injured, and I brought him to the hospital. Unfortunately, his injury was no mere scratch. His right arm had been grievously hurt, and the doctor’s were forced to amputate. Thankfully, the good Parson took this setback with unmatched equanimity and vowed to continue on his journey.

We left the hospital, and I led him to the Quad. The very first thing he noticed was the proliferation of cell phones throughout the Quad. At first he marveled at the device, but his opinion of the gadget soon soured. He thought back to his youth — to nights with inauspicious starts and joyful ends, to long absences of friends that made his heart grow fonder, to reunions filled with new tales and news, to days in the park free from interruptions. He could see chronic dissatisfaction and discontent in the eyes of the cellular students. He told me that he could understand the uses of stationary phones, but could not understand how these youth could ever feel content with what they were doing when they could always simply call someone and see what else was going on. He related the story of the greatest day of his life. He said that it had started out execrably and had he been in possession of a cell phone at the time, he probably would have just called his buddy Taco and gone somewhere else, thereby missing the greatest day of his life (He would never specify what had happened on this day, but I always suspected it had something to do with buggery). The Parson wept for our youth. He pitied their dependence and servitude to the malign master cell phone. After a few more minutes on the Quad, our poor Parson could handle no more. He dubbed the Quad “The Land of Cell Phones” and asked me to take him elsewhere. I understood his distress and granted his wish. Unfortunately, I was to unknowingly take him to much sadder and more deplorable place —“The Land of Text Messaging.”

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