Bull and Scones — An American Story

Once, there was a college named Stale University. And at Stale University, there was a secret society. It was so secret that no one could even talk about it. It was called Bull and Scones because, it was rumored, its members sat around without any clothes on, eating steak and quick bread sandwiches while they guzzled pitchers of beer.

Bull and Scones had, at one time, two mascots called, respectively, Pompous John and Gorgeous George. Pompous John, who had been in a terrible scrape years before, said to everyone who would listen, that he would never fight again for anything. But Gorgeous George, who had managed to avoid getting into any scrapes except for minor traffic violations, told anyone who would listen that he would get into a fight with anybody, any time, over anything.

"Bow Wow!" went Pompous John, signaling that although he would not fight again, he was, nevertheless, very brave. "Yap Yap!" countered Gorgeous George, indicating that, although he looked and sounded like a wimp, he could bite you on the ankles and make your life pretty miserable, so you had better watch out for him. He attended stock car races and yap yapped to sound very tough and regular, while Pompous John liked going to fancy dinner parties, at which he would bow-wow until everyone was bored to tears.

One day, the members of Bull and Scones decided they could afford to have only one mascot, so they held a contest to see if it should be Pompous John or Gorgeous George. So they let Pompous John and Gorgeous George loose to run around the whole country bow wowing and yap yapping, so the people could decide which would win.

Pompous John bow wowed everywhere that although he was totally against fighting, he had been the bravest and fiercest of them all in the old days when lots of others, like Gorgeous George, had run away from the fight and didn’t even turn up for mascot duty. Gorgeous George produced lots of pages of records to show he had turned up and attacked Pompous John for palling around with Hanoi Jane, who had consorted not only with the enemy, but also with everyone else.

So the people could better make up their minds, they put Pompous John and Gorgeous George on television to participate in something called a "debate," in which a bunch of media types with fancy haircuts would ask them questions they had to answer in ten second sound bites.

"The first question is for Pompous John," announced the moderator, Dan Dither, who looked like an embalmed corpse in a snazzy suit.

"What is your favorite color and why?"

Pompous John took a deep breath and threw his shoulders back.

"Thanks for asking that Dan. It’s a really important question and everyone is entitled to know where I stand on that. There are lots of really nice colors, blue and green for example. White and yellow are good, also. I know a whole bunch of people who really like purple and sepia. Now, if you could say that plaid was a color, I might go for that, but I think there could be problems with that if you look at the side-bars describing how to make plaid out of which colors. I mean, this gets you into the entire question of the plural of color, which is colors. Black watch plaid for example, has a nice look to it. "

"Gorgeous George, you have ten seconds to respond."

"I appreciate the opportunity. Just look at the straightforward way Pompous John has dodged that question. My answer is clear as mud. Brown. It’s a color that everyone can relate to. No one who is not prejudiced in anyway cannot relate to brown. Brown covers all bases, if you know what I mean. If you stick to brown, you can avoid a lot of mistakes, like misjudging the color of your enemy’s socks. Say "brown" and you’re bound to be at least partially right."

"May I respond to that?" Pompous George, bow wowed. "Brown is an evasive answer, unworthy of anyone who could possibly be a mascot. It is exclusionary and unilateral. Before you select your favorite color, you should consult with your friends and get their input."

"Let’s move on," Dan Dither pressed. " Let’s get some questions from the panel. I’ll ask Jeter Pennings if he has a question.

"I do have a question," Pennings sneered. "This is for Gorgeous George. If you are selected mascot, what will be your first priority?"

"Excellent question, Jeter," Gorgeous George yapped toothsomely. "My first priority would be to bite everyone in the room and then, go out of the room and bite everyone there. That way, there will be no one who can bite me first. And I will bite them until they bleed."

Pompous John became agitated. He turned his large head towards Gorgeous George and bow wowed: "That would be one dangerous mascot. How would you know whom he would bite next? It could go on forever."

There was thunderous applause to this, and while no one was noticing, Pompous John got down on all fours, crawled over to Gorgeous George and bit him in the leg. And while Gorgeous George was yapping and limping around, Pompous John took a bite out of Dan Dither and Jeter Pennings. The entire audience fled out of fear of Pompous John, who was bow wowing at the top of his lungs, and Gorgeous George, who had bitten him back and was yapping around, looking for someone else to bite.

Back at Bull and Scones, the members were all watching this spectacle and decided that maybe they would be better off entirely without a mascot. They caught both Pompous John and Gorgeous George and put them in cages. They threw bones to them from time to time to shut them up and went about their business. And having decided, once and for all, that business was their business; they never again held a competition to see which nasty beast should be mascot.

Richard Cummings [send him mail] taught international law at the Haile Selassie I University and before that, was Attorney-Advisor with the Office of General Counsel of the Near East South Asia region of U.S.A.I.D, where he was responsible for the legal work pertaining to the aid program in Israel, Jordan, Pakistan and Afghanistan. He is the author of a new novel, The Immortalists, as well as The Pied Piper — Allard K. Lowenstein and the Liberal Dream, and the comedy, Soccer Moms From Hell. He holds a Ph.D. in Social and Political Sciences from Cambridge University and is a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers. He is writing a new book, The Road To Baghdad — The Money Trail Behind The War In Iraq.

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