Our dependence on the shopkeep

This was my unsuccessful entry into McSweeney's Internet Tendency's contest for new writers.

I set it up like this:

Dear Sirs and Madams -

Please accept the below column for consideration in McSweeney's. I am a huge fan of the material with which you are associated, and I am very glad to have this opportunity to be associated with it.

If you've ever read The Confederacy of Dunces, you might realize, as I did, that Ignatius Reilly could have been the world's greatest blogger were it not for the accident of time.

I envision a series of articles written from such a perspective as Mr. Reilly's, with a little bit of The Extra Man's Henry Harrison throw in for volume (wait, were they the same character?). These would be on the normal stresses and irritations of modern urban living, seen through the eyes of a fat, lower-class, over-educated, loquacious, aristocratic idiot with access to the Internet via his local branch of the Brooklyn Public Library.

This would not be as much of a "character" column as you might think. The columns would be short, because our man's writing style wears upon the brain, but I can promise you that my ability to find his point of view is extremely reliable.

And this was my entry:

The politics of everyday life are really quite impossible.

The gentleman who runs the tiny convenience store near my home was standing with his back to the door, facing the waist-high sink that is inexplicably (until today!) located behind the counter, and I got the distinct impression that he was micturating into it! Now what is a gentleman of high moral standing to do!

No matter that he immediately washed his hands and pretended that nothing had happened. I simply depend on this man to supply me with cheese-flavored snacks and cola. So I am loathe to make an enemy of him by confronting such a distasteful situation head-on (as it were)! The power, I am sad to say, is almost entirely in his hands, along with his genitals on this particular day.

Thus it has always been in human society: those who control our simple wants and pleasures are soon drunk with the power of it. I am half tempted to cease my patronization!

There are, as I am sure he realizes, no less than seven such establishments in the surrounding three blocks. You would think that the simple realities of economic competition would drive prices to zero and the quality of service to unparalleled heights of orgasmic delight!

I suppose one could say that we are responsible for the fomentation of our own decline via the simple mechanism of self-imposed dependence on the creature comforts. That by having no more sophisticated requirements than a crunchy way to experience the simulated flavor of cheddar, we implictly engender a society with similarly retarded sophistication.

To this point of view I take great umbrage, for as I must habitually remind my many hangers-on at the 4th Avenue Dunkin's Donut Cafeteria in Bay Ridge, a truly great society would treat each citizen in accordance with his own personal greatness. Such a society would not visit upon him the consequences (punishments!) of a life less great than his own.

For some of us, even taking into consideration our own chosen sweet and salty gustatory comforts, are Truly Great Men, and it is through such great men that the future of the species is improved. And we will neither grovel for the resources needed to fuel a Truly Great Life, nor will we settle for less than we require.

I didn't win.

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