The Moment of Truth — October 23, 2003

The Invasion of Indomachina: An Historical Perspective

When Our Peacekeepers invaded Indomachina back in ‘303, Ataxerxes was a correspondent for the Daily Scapegoat. And that fact, the fact of Ataxerxes holding that journalistic position at that particular organ of the Fourth Estate at that time in history, is better remembered than who was President that year. In fact, if the President hadn’t had the entertaining name Idiot Svengali, it’s probable no one would remember him at all. And that wouldn’t be altogether a bad thing. Because, let’s face it, there have been any number of Idiot Svengalis down through human, partially human, quasi-human, and non-human history. And it was really only of the first handful that anyone found it necessary to say, “We must never forget so-and-so, lest the memory of his pusillanimous demagoguery fade and mankind et al doom themselves to repeat it.” After a while it began to sink in that the phenomenon of the Idiot Svengali — or the Murderous Clown or the Flower-bedecked Vampire or the Razor-blade-spitting Pajama-puppy — wasn’t going anywhere regardless of whether or not he, she or it was remembered. So one might as well focus on the happy memories, look on the bright side, and not dwell on spilled blood. And the historical consensus seems to be that, since adopting this view, the great masses have experienced an appreciable increase in their luck. Even more promising, the number of true, out-and-out sociopathic boneheads who vie for high office is said to have dwindled. It’s just not worth their while anymore. The whole doom-or-prosperity thing, it turns out, is merely a function of popular optimism.

Of course, in our own time, one must consider in addition to these factors the recent spate of game shows awarding prizes for political assassinations. The programs are frowned on by those in power, but sponsors are sponsors and the markets are the markets. And who’s going stand in the way of Free Enterprise in these glorious times? And they really are such popular programs. And exciting. And funny! It’s impossible to watch one and not be swept up in the spirit!

Yep, the trend is up for the masses. It’s a shallow slope, admittedly, but it does seem to be inclining away from gravity. Then again, there could be optical illusions or even inner ear problems at work. Only time will tell. Or not.

Even back in ‘303, when Our Peacekeepers invaded Indomachina and Ataxerxes was doing his stint with the Daily Scapegoat, the upward trend for the lowlife had already been well underway for decades. Which trend was certainly a factor in the fame of Ataxerxes the journalist at the expense of that of then-President Idiot Svengali.

Though it certainly didn’t help engrave Svengali in the popular hippocampus when he was chosen as the object of a manhunt on the popular show, “Off With Their Heads.” A lucky lady whose name is well-remembered, Hoshka Napkinski, went home with a new bedroom set and an Evanrude outboard motor that night. A vacancy at the top was then created, of course, which ushered in the ill-fated What’s-his-face Administration.

Sitting here writing this memoir, I couldn’t help feeling buoyed by the thought that, as well as things have been going, nonetheless the best of history is yet to come. The entire morning my soul was fluttering like a tissue on an updraft of bliss. Sunlight filtered through the bamboo. A hummingbird hung in the air outside the open door to the garden, then darted among the flowering basil, then actually flew over to me and hovered next to the celery stalk sticking out of my Bloody Mary — then it flew up to my face and poked me in the eye with its beak! It drew blood! A hummingbird’s beak is sharp! I instantly felt like crap.

Screw Ataxerxes and his fame. And screw the ‘303 invasion of Indomachina. Or as the French would have said, “Indomachine.” Whatever lessons might be learned from the adventures of Our Peacekeepers in the Indomachinese peninsula have probably been learned a thousand times before and since and eventually reconsidered, deemed unimportant, and thrown into the recycling bin of history.

Have we forgotten the three wise kings of old: Brokaw, Rather, and Jennings? Have we forgotten their three competing thousand-year dynasties that engulfed and laid waste to the democratic society their politicians and citizens were struggling to manifest? Aren’t these ancient memories awoken in the collective consciousness when their contemporary counterpart events come to pass in the present day? No they aren’t. Because we look on the bright side rather than dwell on the fact we’re running in circles, repeating our bloody mistakes over and over. Because history is really what you make it. And good history, happy, fulfilling history, is a matter of perception. So of course a crabby historian is going to write crabby history. And a peppy historian is going to write peppy history. So, assuming we’re doomed to repeat history, since we’re so incapable of remembering it, which history would you rather repeat? Crabby or peppy? Me, I’m an upbeat kind of guy. And I like to think I’m pretty representative of Joe Average abiding in these Peaceful Lands. That’s why I love my country. Because it thinks positive! Therefore I choose peppy history.

And that’s why, when I’m wounded by an act of God or by one of nature’s creatures, I consider it an affront to the nation. Because it messes with my mood. Mess with my mood, whether you be God or innocent hummingbird, and you’re messing with my country.

I will refrain from describing my retaliation against the treacherous bird, the ornithological agent provocateur. Mine were the acts of a crabby person, and worse yet a crabby historian, and so to recount them would be a doubly crabby act of historicism. Suffice it to say that it’s times like these when I think I know how the Indomachinese felt while under the occupation of Our Peacekeepers. Such empathy for the enemy isn’t something I’m proud of, and I’ll be the first to call myself a traitor when in that state of mind. I’ll be the first to call Ataxerxes a traitor as well, just because I’m so angry at myself for letting myself get so angry. And maybe Ataxerxes was right. Maybe we were wrong to occupy Indomachina and raze their villages and violate their temples and butcher their saints and let loose our ravenous attack baboons against their priests and smuggle away their sacred relics in sacks surgically stitched into our ass cheeks.

But I will say this, in defense of my nation and my people and Our Peacekeepers and even of then-President Idiot Svengali: If those Indomachinese were half as big a pain in the ass as that god damn hummingbird turned out to be, they had it coming.