Hard Times

Times are getting tough in the world of homo sapiens. A Chinese businessman, no longer able to afford his five mistresses, forced them to compete in a talent show for the position of undisputed concubine. The winning contestant, literally drunk with success, killed herself in a reckless joyride. Her grieving family then sued the businessman for hefty damages, and his wife divorced him after finding out about his affairs. When it rains, it pours, as we say in the Congo. Not that the man deserves much sympathy, of course. The ape who steals ostrich eggs should expect to have his arse pecked, as we also say in the Congo.

Some of you must be wondering why the mistresses agreed to participate in such a humiliating charade. Couldn’t they have found another Sugar Daddy? Well, although China now has many rich men, they are spread very thinly over a population of 1.5 billion. For every genuine plutocrat, there are twenty or more fakers who would jump at the chance of tricking a woman into bed. I don’t blame the mistresses for sticking with the devil they knew.

I also have a feeling that the women were actually quite fond of the fellow. Any man who can make his girlfriends compete in a game show must have a fairly persuasive manner, to say nothing of a flair for the theatrical. I suspect he may be a Chinese version of Bruce Forsyth, capable of buttering up a woman by calling her “my love” and making silly faces. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on the panel of judges at a beauty pageant, shacking up with Miss Shanghai after the show. These smooth operators always land on their feet.

In times of economic hardship, humans are all the more eager for frivolous diversions to forget their troubles. The Great Depression was a golden age for comedians, contortionists and dwarves. No surprise, therefore, that the celebrated
toothpick-in-beard competition has made a comeback during the current financial crisis. This amusing pastime was invented by Angus “Beardy” McBeard during the Great Haggis Famine of 1889. It involves embedding toothpicks in one’s facial hair until one’s chin appears to be sprouting a hedgehog.

It is a sad sign of the times that these tournaments are now decided purely on the number of toothpicks implanted. Artistic impression and utility count for nothing. I would like to see the contestants model their creations on the great beards of history: Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, Bill Oddie, etc. The wooden whiskers might also be judged by their ability to relieve itches. People with skin conditions could rub their affected regions against them and measure the satisfaction gained until full depilation.

An economic slump is a heaven-sent opportunity for such recreations, but one person who isn’t feeling playful is President Obama. The man has spent his first month in office projecting glum faces and dire warnings to lower people’s already rock-bottom expectations. Small wonder that Bill Clinton, who knew how to party when he was in office, has been telling Barry to lighten up. What the president really needs is an upbeat song like Happy Days Are Here Again!
to bounce people out of their torpor. I would assign a bald dwarf to his bodyguard detail, whom Barry would slap on the head in Benny Hill style when the tune was playing. As John Maynard Keynes said, a recession is 80% psychology and 20% phrenology.

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