by Chris Okiishi
HOST: Okay, I'd like to call the meeting to order. First of all, we'd like to thank Rob for the delicious apple turnovers, stunning as always.. [everyone claps] ..and remind everyone that Prairie Lights is giving us a discount because they expect us to buy the book there. With that, I'd like to welcome our new member, Jeff Murphy. [to JEFF] Welcome Jeff, we hope you'll be happy in the Thursday Night Men's Book and Poetry Club. [everyone claps]
JEFF: Thank you, I hope I can contribute something.
HOST: Oh, I'm sure you will. But first, as I'm hosting, I'll start. As it is spring, of course we're reading short poetry, and since it was my turn I picked something English. Indulge me while I read through it once for us. Ahem..
[Everyone sits up with their books in front of them, to read along.]
Row, row, row your boat.
Gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily.
Life. Is but. A dream.
[Everyone marvels and claps. JEFF appears confused.]
HOST: I had trouble getting into this poem initially. I kept thinking, "row? Row? What could this mean?" Then I looked at the end of the poem and realized that "dream" ends in "m." Row! "M"! Row! "M"! ....ROME! Don't you see? Rome, Rome, Rome!! The initial Caesar triumvirate! That means the stream can only be the Mediterranean Sea! A clear reference to the early Peleponesian Wars. Therefore "merrily" can only be meant ironically, and "life" really means death, passing quickly like a dream.
JEFF (turning to ROB): I didn't get that at all. Is that what you--
ROB: Secular nonsense! The only true interpretation is to recognize that in a four-stanza poem one must add the fourth letter in order to get a clear picture. So instead of row "M," it's row "D"! Road! Now whether this is the road to Galgotha or Damascus I'm not sure, but surely one cannot confuse the four "merrily"s with anything but the four gospels, ending of course on "life," delivered by the "stream" of inspiration!
JEFF (turning to CHRIS): Okay, now I'm really lost. Did you understand what he just--
CHRIS: Now Rob... surely everything can't be a Christian metaphor... Sometimes in your puritanical ways you miss the obvious point. I mean, "row, row, row your boat"? I mean "boat." Now there's a vaginal metaphor if I've ever heard one. And "gently down the `stream'"? Merrily [grunt], merrily [grunt], merrily [grunt], merrily"? I mean, we all know what this is about...
HOST: Now gentlemen, I think we've been taking up too much of the time. Let's find out what our new member thinks.
[Everyone turns to JEFF.]
JEFF: Well, um, I'm a little confused now. But when I first read it, I thought it was pretty simple. You know, that life can be drudgery, but there can be nice stuff like rowboats. And when it's all over, what is life but just a dream?
[All burst into ferocious laughter.]
HOST: Dear God, where did you come up with that??
CHRIS: I mean, you just can't read stuff into it, it actually has to be there!
ROB: Jesus, man, what were you thinking?!?
[All laugh simultaneously, as evil gay men will.]
HOST: Okay, so next week, meeting at Rob's, which means it's Chris' turn for hors d'oeuvres again (and please don't bring pigs in a blanket again). And the text, of course, will be that modern classic of childhood incest, "Mary had a little lamb." See you all next week...
[Everyone smiles viciously. Jeff looks confused.]
"Book Club" debuted April 10, 1998 performed by Adam Burton, Jeff Hansen, Rob Frisch, Chris Okiishi.
Performed again at the Best of No Shame on May 1, 1998.