I’d like to share one more favorite piece of satire. It’s from Bruce Jay Friedman, a master of dark humor. Context: Mr. Dalton has died but the afterlife is disappointing. For example, there isn’t a clerk making droll remarks in a British accent. What’s worse, he spots Mr. Sydel, a man he knew on Earth to be “not a nice man” and, in fact, a crook. Dalton can’t see how he ended up in the same place as Sydel, with the same benefits. It’s simply not fair. Then, Dalton thinks he’s found the difference. Satire and Dark Comedy often intersect, as they do in this excerpt and the earlier one I posted by Stanley Elkin.
And then Mr. Dalton glanced down at his own sandals. “Tanny’s,” he said. “That’s it. I have these slippers and he doesn’t. He walks barefoot for an eternity, a million eternities, and you give me, us, slippers from Tanny’s and we feel nothing in our feet and he feels every bump, every splinter, every whatever the hell you’ve got here. I have you now, you stubborn sonofabitch. I do, you know. I defy you to tell me Sydel has Tanny slippers on, too.”
“Al Roon’s Athletic Club on Eighth Avenue in New York City,” said the man, and he seemed to have lost his composure the slightest bit. Mr. Dalton waited now, waited for him to speak.
“We, uh, couldn’t get Tanny’s so we got Roon’s. There really isn’t any difference. It’s purely administrative. If we’d gotten Tanny’s, we certainly wouldn’t have used Roon’s. You’re really making a big thing out of nothing. Tanny’s, Roon’s, the spirit is the same, I assure you.”
“But by God, we’ve got the Tanny’s and the Sydels have the Roon’s and never mind the administrative stuff….”
From “Yes, We Have No Ritchard” by Bruce Jay Friedman