I’m Just Paranoid about Parody

And now on to what I consider to be a near-flawless parody. It’s by Ian Frazier, and it appeared in the The New Yorker Magazine on 26 February 1990. Context: The piece is from the plaintiff’s opening statement in a product liability case brought by Wile E. Coyote against Acme Corporation:

We come now to the Acme Spring-Powered Shoes. The remains of a pair of these purchased by Mr. Coyote on June 23rd are Plaintiff’s Exhibit D. …

To increase the shoes’ thrusting power still further, Mr. Coyote affixed them by their bottoms to the side of a large boulder. Adjacent to the boulder was a path which Mr. Coyote’s prey was known to frequent. Mr. Coyote put his hind feet in the wood-and-metal sandals QT_IanFrazierand crouched in readiness, his right forepaw holding firmly to the lanyard release. Within a short time, Mr. Coyote’s prey did indeed appear on the path coming toward him. Unsuspecting, the prey stopped near Mr. Coyote, well within range of the springs at full extension. Mr. Coyote gauged the distance with care and proceeded to pull the lanyard release. At this point, Defendant’s product should have thrust Mr. Coyote forward and away from the boulder. Instead, for reasons yet unknown, the Acme Spring-Powered Shoes thrust the boulder away from Mr. Coyote. As the intended prey looked on unharmed, Mr. Coyote hung suspended in the air. Then the twin springs recoiled, bringing Mr. Coyote to a violent feet-first collision with the boulder, the full weight of his head and forequarters falling upon his lower extremities. The force of this impact then caused the springs to rebound, where upon Mr. Coyote was thrust skyward. A second recoil and collision followed. The boulder, meanwhile, which was roughly ovoid in shape, had begun to bounce down a hillside, the coiling and recoiling of the springs adding to its velocity. At each bounce, Mr. Coyote came into contact with the boulder, or the boulder came into contact with Mr. Coyote, or both came into contact with the ground. As the grade was a long one, this process continued for some time. The sequence of collisions resulted in systemic physical damage to Mr. Coyote, viz., flattening of the cranium, sideways displacement of the tongue, reduction of length of legs and upper body, and compression of vertebrae from base of tail to head. Repetition of blows along a vertical axis produced a series of regular horizontal folds in Mr. Coyote’s body tissues, a rare and painful condition which caused Mr. Coyote to expand upward and contract downward alternately as he walked, and to emit an off-key, accordion-like wheezing with every step. The distracting and embarrassing nature of this symptom has been a major impediment to Mr. Coyote’s pursuit of a normal social life.

Let’s face it, no creature, real or imagined, on the face of this planet ever had a better product liability case to pursue than Wile E. Coyote. The original reference is from any number of Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote cartoons (created by the legendary animator Chuck Jones). The excerpt is from Frazier’s parody of a plaintiff’s opening statement. I think it is over-the-top hilarious. The entire piece is available in Ian Frazier’s book, Coyote v. Acme, originally published in June 1996.

More recently, Frazier published his first novel, “The Cursing Mommy’s Book of Days.”  Marketing copy for the book describes the cursing mommy character as existing somewhere between Phyllis Diller and Sylvia Plath.

 

 

 

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