Monday, December 14, 2020

Literary Corner: Theater of the Intellectual Dark Web

Trying to imagine what kind of universe Ben Shapiro lives in... 

The Short Soprano

by Ben Shapiro, J.D.

SCENE: An American dining room in a middle-class American home, with American furniture, four easy chairs around a coffee table in the foreground, and in back a dining table seating eight and set for four, with a large flower arrangement as centerpiece, an American credenza holding American china and cutlery left, with a cuckoo clock above on the wall. and an American home bar unit right, where Mr. Smith, an American accountant in comfortable but elegant cardigan and chinos, is mixing a cocktail as his wife, Dr. Smith, an American musicologist, enters from the living room, wearing a caftan, with their American dinner guests, Mr. and Dr. Shapiro, he in suit and tie and she in white lab coat, with a stethoscope around her neck.

DR. SMITH: Darling, here are our dinner guests, Mr. and Dr. Shapiro! Say hello!

MR. SMITH: How splendid to meet you! How is the weather, Mr. Shapiro?

MR. SHAPIRO: The weather exists by means of complex and chaotic systems in the atmosphere and the ocean, not to mention the gravitational effects exerted by the Moon and the Sun. 

DR. SHAPIRO: I am so pleased to meet you, Mr. Smith. I am Dr. Shapiro, a specialist in women and behavioral health, and this is my husband, Mr. Shapiro, a dark intellectual.

MR. SMITH: I am delighted to hear it! I am just making myself a cocktail. Did you have difficulty finding the house?

MR. SHAPIRO: Fortunately, it was right here.

DR. SMITH: It's a very good house. It never goes anywhere.

DR. SHAPIRO: And what a lovely American dining room you have!

DR. SMITH: Yes, with a door to the kitchen at one end and a door to the living room at the other.

MR SMITH: And would you care for a cocktail, Mr. Shapiro?

MR. SHAPIRO: Only if it conducted itself in such a way as to merit my esteem, Mr. Smith. I do not believe in indulging the faults of others. You are Mr. Smith, are you not?

MR. SMITH [walks around the table to shake hands with Mr. Shapiro]: I am! This is a pleasure, Mr. Shapiro. And this is my wife, Dr. Smith!

DR. SMITH:  I am so pleased to meet you, Mr. Shapiro.

MR. SHAPIRO [shakes her hand as Mr. Smith returns to the bar]: And I you, Dr. Smith. Tell me, do you practice?

DR. SMITH: I hardly practice any more, I am sorry to say. I am mostly engaged in theory. My harp sits neglected in the studio, off the living room, with a nice view of the garden.

MR. SMITH: Allow me to make you a gin and tonic, Mr. Shapiro.

MR. SHAPIRO: Certainly, if you wish! Please feel free to make me a gin and tonic, Mr. Smith. I would prefer a whisky and soda, but I will not interfere with your liberty to make your own choices.

MR. SMITH: I will make you a whisky and soda.

MR. SHAPIRO: Why, thank you! What a pleasant surprise! 

MR. SMITH: And you, Dr. Shapiro? Would you like a cocktail?

DR. SHAPIRO: I only drink white wine.

MR. SMITH: How splendid! But please sit down, in our American easy chairs!

DR. SMITH [as the three of them sit]: And do you have children, Mr. Shapiro?

MR. SHAPIRO: Certainly not! I am a man, Dr. Smith. Dr. Shapiro, who is a woman, has had children on several occasions, and I must say that is enough for me.

MR. SMITH [finally bringing the drinks, on a silver tray, and sitting]: I can well imagine! Our own children, Walter and Adele, are in the nursery with their nanny. Walter studies piano.

MR. SHAPIRO: Pianos do so little, though, unless you play them. I would advise him to study a more lively and interesting subject.

DR. SMITH: It is probably my fault for encouraging him.

MR. SHAPIRO: Yes. And yet I do not hold with this fashion of blaming everything on parents. Surely the government has some responsibility.

[Silence as the cuckoo clock strikes 14 times.]

DR. SMITH [leaping out of her chair and heading out toward the kitchen]: Good heavens, eight o'clock! I must see if the appetizers are ready!

DR. SHAPIRO [as Dr. Smith exits]: What a charming woman! I feel we will be friends.

MR. SMITH: Indeed, you are friends already. That was our very reason for inviting you to dinner! I said to Dr. Smith, let's have friends for dinner on Wednesday! And here you are! Tell me, what do dark intellectuals do?

MR. SHAPIRO: My face feels strangely weak.

MR. SMITH: What an unusual occupation!

DR. SHAPIRO: Yes, I have often thought so too. But I love him for his inner strengths.

MR. SMITH [standing]: Shall we move to the table?

DR. SHAPIRO [joining him]: Yes, I am famished! And something smells delicious!

MR. SHAPIRO [head beginning to droop slightly]: I am having difficulty smiling. I can smile easily on the left side of my mouth but not on the right side.

DR. SHAPIRO: Would you like to smile, dear? Perhaps our host could offer a pun, or a limerick?

MR. SHAPIRO [standing up, but staggering slightly]: No, I—

[Mr. Shapiro falls to the floor]

DR. SHAPIRO [kneeling next to him]: Darling!

MR. SHAPIRO: I shink I may be having a shroke!

MR. SMITH: This is most unfortunate! But how lucky we are that Dr. Shapiro, a professional physician, is here to help you!

DR. SHAPIRO: Oh, dear! But I'm afraid strokes are not a behavioral issue. They involve the circulatory system. I am out of my depth.

MR. SHAPIRO: But Dr. Shmish—

MR. SMITH [striding to the kitchen exit as Dr. Smith enters with a tray of canapés]: Of course! Darling—

DR. SMITH [hurtles into him, drops the canapés to the floor, and screams]: Oh! Look what I've done!

MR. SMITH: Never mind that, darling, we can clean it up later. Mr. Shapiro is having a stroke!

DR. SMITH: How terrible! We must call an ambulance immediately!

MR. SHAPIRO: But you—doctor—help—

DR. SMITH: I'm sorry, Mr. Shapiro, I'm a musicologist. I apply critical race theory to the works of the Second Viennese School. I have no experience with strokes.

MR. SHAPIRO: I knew thish—happen—shum day. O tempora! O moresh! Rather—upshet—

DR. SHAPIRO [who has competently taken a phone from her handbag, punching 911]: There, there, darling.

MR. SHAPIRO: Head hurt! Poshmodern—relativish—

[Swift curtain]

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