I walk into an obnoxious red room. The ceilings reach three stories up, and it looks to have been a warehouse at one time. Those tacky classroom cutouts of Cupid and the heart with the arrow are stapled to the walls. The only seating available is a row of heart-shaped, silk-lined beds, and the only music to choose from is Barry White's Cherry Cordial Chocolate Love-A-Thon collection (government issue only).
Read: Target Commercial from Hell
From the "Take a Number" machine I pull out #436. I stand, opting not to share a bed with the numerous divorcees, drunkards and various arguing couples.
The receptionist, with a red crossbow around her chest, screams out "FOUR THIRTY SIX"; I am struck in the ass by a fiery plastic dart.
From across the room, the bitch screams for me.
"Get your ass over here and gimme that collection dart!"
I limp over to the counter, handing.. Magda.. her dart.
"Ah, yes, plenty of blood and lipids from a fine ass for our DNA cross-reference.."
"I'm well aware of my lipid-accumulation, thank you."
"Yeah. It's a wonder you're here, eh?"
I glare white-hot lasers at the skinny caucasian beast while she throws the lipid dart into the system.
"Looks to be none other than the ass of the one and only Mr. MacArthur A. Parker, 949-85-0888. Good god! 22 years old and this is the first time we've called you in here.."
I inquire: "Can I see my file?"
"Fuck no! You lived it, you can remember it. This file is for our reference and subsequent mockery around the water cooler later on."
A few more keys are punched into the system as I help myself to a marzipan truffle in the red heart-shaped candy dish. My tooth crunches into the metallic core waiting in the center.
"GAaRg! Blarg! OW!"
Chimes Magda: "I see you've elected to participate in the Marzipan Squad Project! Congratulations! This voluntary implanting of the 'Love Chip' into your chewing tooth will allow us to collect anonymous aggregate information which will be used to better serve you in the future by our pre-screened, select affiliates."
She hands me the list of "affiliates"...
"So what exactly is collected?"
"I will gladly give you full detailed information based on the Freedom of Information Act, Mr. Parker! Erm.. Um.. it collects.. samples of.. various fluids from.. erm.. stuff..."
"Say, for example, I drink a Rum and Coke. The chip will register this and share the information with--"
I glance at some names on the list...
"--the Rand Corporation and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints... and they will do what with this information?"
Magda glares at me.
"Perhaps you're not the guinea p--donor--team player we're looking for in this study."
"Oh, no, I'm quite intrigued by the purpose my swallowing a load will serve for your collaborations with.. let's see.. the Mcilhenny Company..."
The ever-loving Magda darts towards my face with a strange looking tool, much like a tiny crowbar.
"Give it up, Porker!"
"Parker!" I mumble.
The both of us yell and struggle as the mini-crowbar tears up my gums in Magda's prodding for the marzipan chip.
"Oh, to Hell with it," she grunts, as I am punched in the face and fall stone to the ground. I fall unconscious for a slight moment and come to, viewing the snarling face of my aggressor.
I cough. The chip flies out of my larynx and into Magda's eye socket.
The eye circuitry shorts out. Steam shoots out of every pseudo-orifice imaginable. Magda flies up into the rafters and becomes one with the air as she showers bitch-chips and prosthetic limbs down towards the crowd. The Barry White music stops, the waiting beds set ablaze.
I am knocked again unconscious by a falling stiletto heel to the forehead, in classic slapstick fashion.
"Ungh! Curse you, Rockwell.."
I wake up in a much less colorful room, sitting in a chair in front of a plain vintage 1970s desk. A man with obnoxious horn-rimmed glasses, stone-faced, glares expectantly at me. He's wearing a powdered curly wig, and nothing above the waist except for a bow, complete with the red heart-tipped darts.
"Ah, good to meet you, Mr. Parker."
I shake the man's hand. Dazed, I inquire:
"Are you... Cupid?"
"Well, my real name is Yoichi Tanaka, ID number 145A4342809. But, call me Cupid."
"This isn't an AA meeting, you tart."
"Anyhow, I'd like to get down to business. Do you know why the Social Engineering Administration has required your presence here today?"
"Um, Magda had clued that it might be about my ass."
"Somewhat, Mr. Parker. You're being audited on your activities this last Valentine's Day. You've never been much for celebrating this time-honored holiday. Why is that?"
"I think it's a bit stupid to have one more day out of the year to waste money on cards and jewelry and chocolates to say something that can be said just as well--"
"--Give me a break. You're just bitter because you don't have a girlfriend or wife of your own. Am I correct?"
"I'm a homosexual."
"Christ. Isn't anyone staying closeted anymore? You know what this does to our moral foundation, right?"
"What would your moral foundation be, exactly?"
"Well, it's more of a mission statement. 'One Vagina for Every Man, At Least One Day a Year, Even If it Means Buying Jewels and Chocolate for Some Ho'. You like?"
"That's a bit heterosexist to me, Mr. Tanaka."
"CUPID," he barks back.
"You do realize that 'Be My Gay Valentine' doesn't fit on our standard #1 OR #2 candy heart printing presses. And there's no 'Homomark Card'. Quite frankly, we're happy just the way it is! That would cut into the profits of half that list you have in your pocket there."
I stare dumbfounded. "You mean the Marzipan List?"
"Like Almond Butta, queerbait. Furthermore, you might be in a better place on our files if you at least gave OR received one card from anyone, be it a man, a woman.. Oh, fuck, a goat, perhaps! You're so dormant, you won't even consider drilling a hole in a warm cantaloupe--"
I interrupt: "What's the point already, Cupid?!"
"The point is.. The point is--"
Cupid's face starts to redden.
"You like sex. I like sex. We all like sex. Well, I THINK you like sex. You still have testes down there, right? Is it so damn difficult to buy a bottle of liquor and some boxed chocolates and find a dame--"
"--Right--a sexual deviant such as yourself, and at least boink for your country every now and then?!"
"So you're saying--"
"What I'm saying is that lazy, loneresque, disconnected folk such as yourself are killing our very country from the inside out by hoarding your genitalia and your money. NooOoo, I'm not going to help my country and my economy by participating in Valentine's Day. NoOOooo, I don't care that I'm WRONG and I'm a GROTESQUELY UGLY FREAK for ignoring my cultural guidelines..."
"Cultural guidelines?! Oh, please. I think it's stupid to take ONE day out of the--"
"Just pick 'em up, Porker! The borderline homoerotic men's health magazines! The remote control! Watch a few episodes of Friends, go find some space on a credit card somewhere, spend some time at the gym, start studying your movies and music videos, and help us spread.. er.. free love throughout this great land of ours, and.. um.. er.. thwart terrorists!"
"That doesn't sound like free love to me--"
"Don't argue with me, booooyyy..."
"Are you telling me that I'm not a real American, that I'm too fat, that I'm too cheap, and don't get laid because I don't practice Valentine's Day by wasting money and trying to be some fictitious person I'll never truly be in an attempt to fuck for the good of the nation?"
"What a fucking genius. We don't like to leave too much fine print in there, but that proves even difficult for you to comprehend. Give this man a cookie!"
Open to MacArthur Parker reciting contract-like agreement on stage
I, MacArthur A. Parker, 949-85-0888, pledge to the Social Engineering Administration, and therefore the American People, that I will be a real man this time next year, or the date of my annual SEA review, whichever comes first.
I agree that to do otherwise will make me un-American, and will further alienate me from the popular culture that has loved and cared for me all my life.
I agree to buy no less than ___THREE____ Hallmark cards in the next year as a negligence penalty, and also to consume ___MY_USUAL_GLUTTONOUS_AMOUNT_______ chocolates or chocolate-related Valentine's Day items.
My diamond quota has been set at _____0.5_CARAT__________ per ___SIX_MONTHS____ effective immediately. I understand that my receipts may be requested and required at any time, and the penalty for nondisclosure or negligence has been set to ______TBD___.
After all, what am I, some kind of freak?
MACARTHUR A PARKER
14 FEB 2002