Overly decent proposal
“You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide. You have nothing to hide if you have nothing to fear. So fear nothing and you need not hide. Hide nothing and you need not fear.”
With that flourish of reassuring, unassailable logic, you're ushered into the doubleplusgood world of the “Department of Homeland Decency: Decency Rules and Regulations Manual.”
Mrs. Sharon Flue, spokeswoman [“spokesperson” is an indecent word connoting equality between the sexes] for the Department of Homeland Decency, will be giving a stern lecture on the manual and then taking thoughtful, patriotic questions (as well as names and addresses) from audience members at Barnes & Noble, 3216 W. Lake St., on Tuesday, August 15 at 7 p.m.
Mrs. Flue and the Department of Homeland Decency (motto: “marching proudly backwards to our future”) have outlined in the manual how to live a good, decent life by way of proper nutrition (“nutrition is Mommy's responsibility”), proper behavior in the workplace (Homeland Decency researchers have determined that bathroom break should take no more than 41.8 seconds) and during sporting events (prayer is now required “before the ‘Star-Spangled Banner,' before extra innings or sudden death between commercials for those in the penalty box or on the injured list; when the fat lady sings”) and so on.
The Department outlines all sorts of fun, easy-to-follow rules about the tiniest details of life (how to watch television, for instance) that, if strictly adhered to, enable us to achieve American decency acceptable to the newly created federal agency charged with overseeing behavior.
When asked if it's OK for good, decent Americans to occasionally relax and enjoy a backyard barbeque without worrying about decency and indecency, Flue said it was theoretically possible to do so.
“If we're certain that all of the neighbors around us, for instance the people who live next door to us or across the street, if we're certain that they're decent folks; if we're certain that they are supporting the homeland by buying meat from our large corporations instead of buying foods like hummus; if we're certain that our neighbors are taking care of their yards and displaying Christmas decorations as they should; if we're certain that their homes contain at least one copy of the Bible and one copy of the Department's Rules and Regulation's Manual; if we're certain their children are going to school and not learning about evolution; if we feel safe in our neighborhoods, then we'll feel safe enough and enjoy a barbeque and not look over to our neighbor's house and see that they're letting their lawn go to native grasses, that they're using a gas mower, in other words, we need to be surrounded by decent people in order to enjoy what we have. If we're not, the terrorists can just walk right into our barbeques and sit right down and eat our meat and take our women, our remotes and our gas mowers. We have to be vigilant.”
As you might have guessed, Mrs. Flue and the Department of Homeland Decency are fictitious. You might not have guessed they're the work of Susan Fuller and her husband, Frank Fuller.
The Twin Cities couple wrote the humor book in response to what they describe as an overzealous Bush administration eroding personal freedoms in the name of a war on terrorism.
Said Frank Fuller, “Maybe 30 years ago, we were just kind of liberals. But the whole scene has shifted to the right. I suppose now we're considered kind of radical, but I think we're just kind of liberal people.”
Susan Fuller, who plays Sharon Flue at book signings such as the one at Barnes & Noble, is a former member of the Brave New Workshop.
She said her Flue character would be the first one to condemn the Fullers.
“We support indecent causes,” she said with a laugh. “We support gay marriage. We support stem cell research. We believe in evolution.”
Added Frank Fuller, “We read books and go to movies.”
“I might wear pants to work,” said Susan. “I leave the house. I think daycare is a good thing. Mrs. Flue would find us to be the root of the evil.”
They published the book as a lark and hope it strikes a chord with others displeased with the administration.
If you'd like more information on the “Decency Rules and Regulations Manual,” or the eye-opening discussion to be delivered by Mrs. Flue, go to www.homelanddecency.com.
Cary, Kate and Low
The Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board continue their “Summer Music & Movies” series at Loring Park on Monday, Aug. 21 with a performance by Duluth superstar minimalists Low. Their performance at 7 p.m. is followed at dusk with a screening of George Cukor's Cary Grant-Katherine Hepburn-Jimmy Stewart classic, “The Philadelphia Story.”
The event is free. Call 375-7600 for more information or go to www.walkerart.org.
Michael Metzger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 436-4369.