Tending bar at the safari guesthouse, I overhear a Rasputin-like character telling everyone that the world will end in 2012. Accursed fool! Apocalyptic blabbering of that sort is tremendously harmful for our tourism industry, because people never visit Africa when they know their days are numbered. India has pretty much cornered the last-hurrah market thanks to its mystics and gurus, who can offer gullible visitors a final shot at enlightenment. In Africa we only have witchdoctors, who can offer gullible visitors potions that will make their eyebrows bushy.
Fortunately, I have the perfect titbit of news to change the subject:
“Ladies and gentlemen!” I declare, “I must inform you of an extraordinary development in Iran! A 21-year-old man is suffering from a permanently aroused appendage after getting his penis tattooed. This is a clear sign that the Iranian missile programme lacks a reliable guidance system and is therefore quite harmless. I’m not making this up, I’ll print out the news report if you want to read about it.”
As I anticipate, the guests turn their back on the doomsday prophet and focus their attention on the Iranian erection.
“Oh my God!” exclaims a middle-aged American woman. “Where can my husband get one of those tattoos?!”
The other guests weigh-in with their own suggestions and observations, and a lighter mood prevails in the evening’s social intercourse.
All joking aside, I don’t think a woman would really want the man in her life to have a permanent stiffy. The novelty is bound to wear off eventually. As the Roman nobility discovered, if every day is a party, partying becomes a chore. There would also be the problem of inadvertent prodding whenever she brushed within range, which would bound to get annoying after a while.
One point not covered in the news bulletin is whether the man’s todger was taut while the tattoo was being inscribed. It might have been necessary to provide a suitable surface, but how many tattooists could perform their art on an aroused sexual organ? One would need the hand of a surgeon and the nerve of a bomb-disposal expert to pull off a tricky stunt like that.
Now, the mad monk who was pontificating about the end of the world was actually an insurance salesman from Bulgaria. He had allowed his hair to grow unkempt to give himself a prophet-like appearance, and had financed his vacation in the Congo with the maturity value of one of his own policies. I later asked him what he knew about the Mayan doomsday prediction:
“No more than any gypsy who reads a newspaper,” he answered. “I was using this story to practice my English-speaking on the guests. If I appear convincing to them, maybe I call sell insurance in America.”
“I’m sure you could sell anything in America,” I replied, “but please lighten-up when you’re in the Congo. If you go around staring intensely at people over here they assume you’re in league with the snakes.”
He stared intensely at me like a snake, so I gave his beard a tug to snap him out of it.
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