Antoine Bargel

The Timely Profits of Education

I entered the dining room wearing the least plush of my Gucci bathrobes — feeling a thinner version of myself —, found the table set with Tiffany silver and Cellini dishware, nodded in acknowledgment that it was thus Thursday, and lifted the sterling globe. Underneath, I discovered a roasted chicken, topped with a branch of thyme, and to the side, one purple potato. I heard the call bell before even cognizing that my hand had seized it.

The noise tore through my brain, sore as that organ was from the previous eve’s libations, as well as from having achieved that morning some rather cardinal advances in the field of analytic philosophy, and I brought a few ringed and weary fingers to my sorry forehead.

Anita, my wife, came in:

“Yes, Masta?”

I paused to examine her appearance: nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Her face was polite and expressionless as instructed, her French maid uniform tidy and adequately starched.

“Anita, what is this meant to signify?” I said, indicating the deficient offering on the plate.

“This, Masta, is all that circumstances allow.”

The words did not compute. I remained still for an instant, considering whether I felt like taking it upon myself, at this time, to reinstate in Anita’s feeble mind the proper respect for Boileau’s maxim that

Whatever is well conceived is clearly said,
And the words to say it flow with ease.

or just beat her.

But, deciding that I had, under the gable of science, contributed enough to the public good for half a day, I simply raised an inquiring eyebrow.

“Masta might want to look outside,” humbly offered Anita.

Recognizing not a touch of insolence in her tone for which to censure her initiative, I elected to approach the window which, two floors below, provided a view of Paris’s Place Vendôme. Where usually an elegant parterre of polished cobblestone and marble was at most transitorily occupied by one or two limousines, a throng of garishly clad, apparently human, in demeanor and shape at least, beings, now stood or sat in small groups, holding placards adorned with barbaric acronyms and minuscule percentages, as well as a dismaying array of improvised confections intended, it seemed, as weaponry: cutlasses made of shredded traffic signs, maces fashioned, evidently, from various automobile parts, and the odd antique rifle of the sort formerly favored by peasants. What was this? And indeed, how was my wife supposed to procure my favorite Noirmoutier potatoes from Fauchon? With a military escort?

As I gazed in amazement at this most intriguing plebeian display, kind Anita came up behind me and delicately loosened my bathrobe. I presumed her purpose to be, in this moment of disquiet, the appropriate tendering of hand-powered comfort, and shrugged off the garment entirely in order to direct her combined attentions to my backside as well.

Stark naked, nobly erect, I suddenly felt a vigorous shove between my shoulder blades and plunged through the window, surrounded, like the feathers of a lubricious swan, by the expanding explosion of a myriad glass shards. And this is how the Revolution truly began, my dear friend. How I came to lead the people into this most glorious hour of our New Nation.