by Ron Singer
“Penny,” said she.
“Chickens. I was thinking of Jeff and Jen.”
“They’re not …”
“Of their chickens.”
“Yes, aren’t hens that lay eggs called ‘layers’?”
“Of course. Hmm, do they become ‘roasters,’ ‘broilers,’ or ‘friers’ only after they stop being layers?”
“Or are ‘layers’ already ‘roasters,’ etc?”
“Hyphenated appellation, perhaps. ‘Millie is a roaster-layer.’ ”
“I think not. Too elaborate for a chicken.”
“Well, duh. There are probably cultures where chickens bear the hyphenated name of mother plus mate, perhaps with a first name, as well.”
“Like ‘Cluckie Penny-Chanticleer.’ ”
“That smacks of henophobia, you pig!”
“Whatever. You allude, I take it, not to my … er, my rooster chauvinism, but to my porcine layer. Not to change the subject, but to change the subject, layers are basic to life. Let’s play The Layers Dozens. You go first.”
“Layers of meaning.”
“Psychological layers: subliminal blah-blah.”
“That gets to the bottom line.”
“Cake, skin, history, brick, deceit, understanding. There’s even a technical term in gardening: a bent shoot covered with soil so that it takes root and becomes a new plant. Not to mention ‘layer’ as a transitive verb.”
“’Speaking of which, would you like to get laid now?”
“Hmm, depends. Can I be on top, the layer? Will you be my lay-ee?”
“Why not? But, first, one (or twenty) more layers: I was recalling that transformational-generative analysis you did back in grad school of the famous line from Milton. How does it go? ‘Him the almighty hurled headlong flaming from the ethereal sky with …”
“ ‘almighty power hurled’ … and so on. That’s just the surface structure.”
“My analysis, you will recall, was inspired by Roman Jakobson’s famous unpacking of “I like Ike.” I thought, ‘Ha ha, my sigma is so much bigger than his.’ As I recall, the deep structure begins, THE POWER [THE POWER BE ALMIGHTY]. The rest, as they say, is all in the predicate.”
“Or, as you put it, ‘God is lonely in the diagram.’ How many embedded sigmas did there turn out to be, thirty-eight? With thirty-six of them in the predicate. Talk about a right-heavy structure!”
“Yep, right heavy, podner.”
“But hold! Enough!”
“Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 8. ‘At least we’ll die with harness on our back.’ ”
“No, no let’s take off all our clothes. Now! … . Mmm. All set, Ms. Penny-Chanticleer? … Ouch! Hey!”
Satire by Ron Singer (www.ronsinger.net) has appeared in numerous magazines, e-zines, and newspapers. He has also published three books: A Voice for My Grandmother, The Second Kingdom, and The Rented Pet. Between 2009 and 2011, Singer traveled to six African countries in order to interview pro-democracy activists for Uhuru Revisited (Africa World Press/Red Sea Press, forthcoming).
Note: Readers who are interested in receiving a copy of the author’s “Transformational-Generative Analysis of a Famous Line from Milton” should use the email address on the Contact page of www.ronsinger.net.
Richard Edwards has a BFA in Creative Writing and Journalism from Bowling Green State University and an M.S. in Education from the University of Akron. Managing editor of Drunk Duck, poetry editor for Prairie Margins, reporter for Miscellany, Akron Journal, Lorain Journal, and The BG News. He has also worked as a professional writer and editor in the medical publishing industry for several years. For the last 15 years Richard has also taught literature and writing at the secondary and post-secondary levels. He works much of the time with at-risk students.