Swans Commentary » swans.com May 23, 2011  



Our Classless Aquarium


by Peter Byrne





"Delusions of grandeur are one thing. Delusions of being middle class when you earn less than the average income, and are indeed struggling, may suggest the class war is not going that well. It's really difficult maintaining a class war when everyone says that they are on the same side."

—Suzanne Moore


(Swans - May 23, 2011)  

•   Go ask your father. That's not a question for a mother. I'm terribly busy.

•   He's busy too. He's cleaning his fish bowl.

•   Well you can hold his goldfish for him. Or his fins and flippers. Who's been talking to you about the middle class anyway?

•   I read about it at school.

•   At school! That's not the kind of class we had in my day. No wonder they're not putting across the three Rs.

•   That's something else I wanted to ask you. Reading starts with R, but not Writing which has only one R and two Is. Arithmetic that has two Ts as well as two Is and only one R.

•   I said I was busy. Watch out that your father doesn't overfeed the fish again. He scatters that food like snow just because they can't read the sell-by date.

•   Yeah, and they're tropical fish. But the whole country is overeating -- oh-beast.

•   Obese. I bet now they're telling you about that at school too, the obese middle class.

•   No, I read it in the newspaper while Mrs. Florida was telling us about her chihuahua.

•   You should pay attention to your teacher.

•   The newspaper said we're all middle class now.

•   So? That's good, isn't it?

•   And that the whole country is too fat.

•   That's democracy. When only millionaires are fat that's not, you know, so good.

•   Millionaires? Aren't they middle class too?

•   Yes and no. It's complicated.

•   Yes or no?

•   You'll understand when you grow up.

•   If we're all middle class, then millionaires....

•   Your father will explain.

•   Explain what?

•   You see, we're all millionaires, but some of us aren't quite there yet.

•   I understand that. Because middle class doesn't stand up on its own. There has to be something on each side of the middle. We can't all be crowded together there in the middle.

•   Didn't Mrs. Florida teach you about ambition? Your father surely told you that you always have to be ambitious. To get anywhere you have to keep your eyes on your next goal.

•   He told me his big fantail fish is always on the lookout for the next thing to eat. It even gobbles up its own eggs! He says that if it doesn't stop being so ambitious, its tail will be too big for his round fishbowl and he'll have to get a salmon-sized 'tangular aquarium.

•   Over my dead body. This is a house not a glass bottom boat. And we have to pay for new storm windows first. Your father talks like we're millionaires.

•   And we're not there yet?

•   Exactly, not yet.

•   But we're ambitious, with our eyes open.

•   That's right.

•   So the fantail is like the millionaire who got there?

•   You could say so.

•   And the eggs are us?

•   Not exactly.

•   The eggs closed their eyes? They weren't ambitious enough?

•   They were ambitious and on the way to being millionaires like everyone else. Only the fantail's goal was lunch.

•   The eggs weren't oh-beast anyway. So they can't have been middle class.

•   I wish you'd pronounce that right. It's obese. But it's better to say overweight, stout, portly, heavy-set, or dieting. Why hurt some fatso's self-esteem? It would make him less ambitious.


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Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915
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Published May 23, 2011