Circle the Wagons. It’s NOT a Test. Lamont and Dude Discuss Literature

“Is this a test, Lamont?”

“Is what a test?”

“All these iterations?  Are they exams perpetrated by a mastermind who controls everything?”

“Whoa, Dude. Where did you get that idea?”

“I was reading a novel and the mother of the heroine said, ‘God tests us in many ways throughout our lives. That’s why we don’t always get what we want’.”

“Victorian chick lit again, Dude? I’ve warned you!”

“No! Lamont, they’re pioneers crossing the Great American Desert looking for a better life.”

“Exactly. And the little girl — the heroine —  is a little girl, right?”

“Uh, yeah, so?”

“Her dog has just been eaten by a coyote?”

“Something like that.”

“And mom is consoling her?”

“You’ve read it?”

“It’s a formula, Dude. There is a whole itchy rash of literature that follows that line. Anything else happen?”

“They’ve circled the wagons several times.”

“It’s a stragedy to help young readers — that sure isn’t you, Dude — learn that life is full of unpleasant as well as pleasant surprises and a stoical perspective is the most useful. Books like that inculcate a certain philosophy of life.”

“You mean it’s telling me what to think? And did you say ‘inculcate’? Really?”

“Well, yeah. But is that bad? I don’t know. It’s a way to endure the old ‘kill-or-be-killed’ isn’t it, knowing that you gotta’ know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em…”

“Not again.”

“Personally, I think those pioneers should have read Paradise Lost before they took off half-cocked looking for 40 acres and a mule.”

“What are you talking about?”

The mind is its own place, and in it self Can make a Heav’n of Hell, a Hell of Heav’n.”

“That’s for sure. Well, the little brother of the protagonist is loving the whole thing.”

“Yeah, well, he’ll either be shot by Indians and the mom will lose her mind OR their dad will be shot by Indians and the family will be in the hands of the little boy. How old is he?”

“Ten or eleven.”

“OK, in twenty pages Dad dies. I’ll bet five bucks on that. And then the absurd thing is that the little boy will become the ‘man of the family’ because every family needs a man even though their mother is there, a fully grown adult, and — how old is the little girl?”

“Thirteen or fourteen.”

“See? That’s marriageable age in some cultures — and that one, too, but the mom and daughter won’t be able to do anything without a ‘man of the family’.”

“Have you read a lot of these?”

“Oh an interation or two ago I wrote them.”

“And now you’re making fun of them?”

“Not at all. They’re entertaining and push a viable philosophical stance which is ‘suck it up; it could be worse tomorrow’.”

“That’s certainly true.”


Lamont and Dude are characters I came up with a couple of years ago. They have the uncanny ability to remember many of their past incarnations which gives them a unique perspective on life, the universe and everything.

7 thoughts on “Circle the Wagons. It’s NOT a Test. Lamont and Dude Discuss Literature

  1. ” God tests us” is usually followed by its corollary: “God never gives us more than we can bear.” I cannot begin to tell you how much I detest people who say that to other people whose suffering they can never begin to fathom. In my Lexicon of Loathsome, it’s up there next to “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”

    As for the man of the family, I’ve been married to two men, both of whom thought successfully changing a light-bulb was worth a victory lap. I was the man in the family … until my son grew up. He is convinced until he showed up in adult form, I was helpless against the slings and arrows of (outrageous) fortune. So, now he does all the stuff I used to do. Turns out to be okay as I can’t do them anymore. Age tends to bring us all a new perspective on manhood — men and women alike.

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