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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution

The Essay
Show #483
David Gunn

Once upon a time, towards the end of the Mud Age, there lived two beautiful nymphs named Scylla and Charybdis. By "nymphs," we mean babes heavy on the pulchritude, not the larval form of silverfish and grasshoppers. One day, a fisherman-turned-sea god named Glaucus got the hots for Scylla. However she was not attracted to someone who, frankly, looked like the consequence of a one-night stand between a lard crab and a pile of kelp. Plus he smelled ranker than a randy coelacanth. But Glaucus was not to be denied. He asked the goddess Circe for a love potion. She obliged but, later blaming it on a woefully antediluvian herbal database, she mixed up a brew of pure poison that turned Scylla into a six-headed snaky monster with a bad temper.

Charybdis was once a cutie-pie nymph-daughter of Poseidon, god of water and horses. Although she preferred the equestrian side of his business, he forced her to work a dull middle management job in his Water Department. (Well, it was an era dominated by gods and goddesses. There were no nymph rights.) It was her job to flood the lands for her dad's underwater kingdom. Then the earth entered an aeons-long period of drought. Eventually, Zeus, king of the gods, instituted severe water restrictions. But at the behest of her father, Charybdis continued to flood the lands, grudgingly disobeying the official decree. Zeus was incensed. He couldn't scold Poseidon, who was his brother, so instead he punished his daughter, turning her into a passive-aggressive monster whirlpool and sticking her in a cave on one side of the Strait of Messina opposite Scylla. At first, the two former hotties, angry at their unjust fates, railed at one another, but later they decided to channel their resentment and work together. They made plying the Strait of Messina shipping lanes a risky business, indeed.

Time inexorably passed. Uncountable sailors and mermen were snatched from the sea and killed in the most gruesome manner imaginable. But eventually, the two monsters mellowed. First they merely drowned or decapitated their victims. Then they allowed a few sailors to escape their clutches unharmed. Soon thereafter they quit the terrorizing business altogether. But they both needed jobs. For sure they couldn't get by on their good looks! Charybdis's brief foray into animal husbandry gave her an idea, and Scylla immediately approved of it. And so, on the northern shore of Sicily in the year 850,000 B.C., they opened "Borborygma," the world's first restaurant.

Having slaughtered sailors for as long as she could remember, Scylla was a natural at the butchering end of the business. That left Charybdis free to focus on decor, waitstaff and menu planning. They both agreed that Borborygma was to be a meat eater's paradise, and the menu reflected the diversity of mythological creatures that frequented the area. Centaurs, griffins, chimeras, minotaurs, sphinxes, unicorns--they all found their way onto a dinner plate in the form of a savory chop, cutlet, sausage, shepherd's pie, blood pudding and the occasional meat tart. And there was no shortage of customer base. Mortals long subjugated by these monsters lined up in droves to enjoy a flambéed or sautéed pound of their flesh. The restaurant did so well that plans were made to franchise the business. But one unfortunate incident scuttled that idea.

During a morning meeting one day, Charybdis told Scylla that demand was rapidly beginning to exceed supply. Sphinxes had mysteriously started to evolve into sphincters, and griffins had disappeared from the vicinity altogether. So Scylla got in her car and drove down to Hades. Her aim was to implore Pluto, the ruler of the Underworld, to donate some carcasses to the restaurant. She could see them piled by the hundreds just inside the gates. However Hades was guarded by Cerberus, a monstrous three-headed dog. And he set up such a racket with his barking and baying that her suppressed bad temper suddenly kicked in, and she gunned the car and ran over him.

While Cerberusburgers were a huge hit back on Earth, down below, Pluto was furious at the loss of his pooch. And he was keen to exact revenge. He summoned Medusa--the snake-haired Gorgon who had eyes that, if looked into, turned the beholder to stone--and turned her into a food inspector.

Medusa visited Borborygma on a Saturday and ordered the daily special, Unicorn Dogs--"batter-dipped slivers of succulent meat roasted to perfection and served in the animal's unique spiral horn," according to the menu's blurb. It was so tasty that Medusa was tempted to order seconds. But she had a job to do. She retrieved a little animatronic cockroach from her purse, jammed it into the bottom of the unicorn's horn, and activated it. It wriggled and buzzed crossly, attracting the dyspeptic attention of nearby trenchermen. When Charybdis came out to see why her restaurant was abruptly hemorrhaging patrons, Medusa triumphantly held up the cockroach wrapped in a Writ of Restaurant Condemnation and Closure. Charybdis stared at the writ, then she stared at Medusa. Instantly, she turned to chalcedony. Watching from the kitchen, Scylla recognized the Gorgon's snake hair curling out from under her adobe hat. Unnerved, she gulped a beaker of curdled cream as Medusa turned to gaze at her. Due to the high level of lactose in her system, Sylla turned to syllabub. Soon thereafter, the waitstaff fled and the restaurant closed.

If there's a moral there, it isn't clear to the proprietors of Kalvos & Damian's 483rd New Music Bazaar. Better to just get on with the program and look for logic later. Or at least for Kalvos.