This story riffs off the ambiguity inherent in the punctuation of the following sentences:

  To my parents, Ayn Rand and God.

  We invited the strippers, JFK and Stalin.

  The highlights of his global tour include encounters with Nelson Mandela, an 800-year-old demigod and a dildo collector.

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To , or Not to ,


“Do these sentences even go together?” asked Ayn Rand.  “A demi-god is the child of a god and a mortal.  I grant my mortality; but there is no God and I have no children—unless you count my philosophy, novels and disciples.”

“In the Soviet Union, we abolished all gods, organized religion and capitalism,” declared Stalin.  “I have to admit, though, there are those who idolize him, which comes to much the same thing.”

“And the dildos?” asked JFK, with a wink.  So far no one else had brought them up.  He was less than fully dressed (as was Stalin); but no one had commented on stripping Presidents and Chairmen, either.  Or—given Stalin’s propensity to send malefactors to Siberia—on stripping Presidents, and Chairmen.  (Let’s face it:  there are some subjects that are prudently avoided in Moscow, Washington and polite company.)

“How did you get demi-deified, by the way?” inquired JFK.  He thought of his modern Camelot, Vietnam and grassy knolls.

“By the respect of my people and the international community,” said Mandela, “without apposition.”





This story was written for Baniszew in the New Year’s Resolution gift exchange for 2016, and posted to AO3 on 7 October 2016.  It was added here on 9 October.



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All original material on this webpage copyright © Greer Watson 2016.