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The Essay
Show #237
The Good Old Days: 430,000 BC
David Gunn

When people talk of "the good old days," they typically are referring to a time in the not so distant past when hazy memories cause reality to blur. Incidents that were humiliating or hideous are forgotten; only benevolent and sanguine recollections are permitted to surface. The mythic gods of Mount Olympus are wont to describe their era of enlightenment four hundred and thirty-two thousand years ago as the good old days, but they, too, would be disremembering certain embarrassing events. One such incident involved a supernatural being new to the area, Aquerulous, the god of peevishness and grumbling. Many of the other deities thought such a god was unnecessary and inappropriate to life on their blissful mount. They believed he represented some of the more unpleasant aspects of the new bacterial life forms that were evolving in the aqueous matter on the planet far below. But Hera, queen of the Olympian gods, renowned for her own quarrelsome disposition, championed the new grouch and would not be deterred. In fact, the one time that her consort, Zeus -- who was also her brother, but thatís another mortifying story for the gods -- tried to prevent Hera from sponsoring Aquerulous on Olympia, she turned his covey of concubines into a set of wicker lawn furniture.

After Aquerulous had moved into a dank cavern on the fashionable outskirts of Olympus, he began to set up his business: a chain of grumbling parlors. Gods, demigods and service workers who had bones to pick with those higher up in the mythological food chain could vent their frustrations in private without fear of being turned into sentient vegetables, a reprisal visited upon most overtly vocal complainers on Olympus. It seemed like a great idea, and Hera even allowed Aquerulous to hire some of her other brothers as business associates. Eager to raise money for anticipated corporate expansion, these aides fanned out across Olympus with all of the subtlety of ravenous piranha in a guppy factory. Targeting every god who was reputed to have a little spare cash in his toga, these aquerulouts, as they called themselves, spared no expense in trying to sell the concept to potential investors. They wined them, they dined them, they took them on overnight cruises in the Aegean, they handed out Aqueruparlor® ballpoint pens and tee-togas by the hundreds. But then they gave them the contracts and snarled, "sign here!" This abrupt change of tactics caused glimmers of doubt to form in the mind of even the most amenable financier, which in turn made the aquerulouts irritable and, in some cases, murderous. As a result, most potential entrepreneurs were either driven away or converted into vegetable matter. But this didn't stop his aides from running up huge tabs on Aquerulous' letter of credit in the increasingly ill advised pursuit of venture capital. Eventually, his bill became due, and then past due, and then way past past due. The Olympus Collection Agency was sent out to shake down the grouchmaster, but his cavern, save for two prototype grumblometers, was empty. Aquerulous had skipped town and had left no forwarding address. Worse, his letter of credit turned out to be as solvent as a candy drachma. The agency briefly considered putting the touch on Hera, but she was not legally obligated to cover the peevish god's bad debts, and it would be folly for anyone interested in maintaining his corporeal status quo to try anyway. Thus, it was left for them to go after her brothers, the business associates. It was a long and harrowing struggle, one that would one day be celebrated in song as "the Dunning of the Aides of Aquerulous."

Fortunately, the good old days never left Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, including this 237th episode, which is already a hazy memory to those of us with metabolisms that harbor forgetful bacterial life forms, the antipode of which, for the foreseeable future, anyway, is Kalvos.