Enemy Agents
(In My Kitchen)
The older I get, the more clearly I see the conspiracy of enemy agents against me, or possibly against all of my contemporaries. For one thing, they are unquestionably plotting to starve us geezers out, the modern equivalent of the Eskimo tactic of putting us out on the ice. The enemy agents have taken over the packaging industry, in order to keep us from opening anything containing food.

Nowadays, you need a chainsaw to get at the food inside any cardboard package. The pineapple chunks that I sometimes like at breakfast are marketed in plastic tubs which cannot be opened without the use of a diamond-cutting drill. Even the used doughnuts I sometimes pick up from the day-old bakery shelf are each encased in a cocoon of shrink-wrap which require a flame-thrower to unseal.

This morning, to take a different example, I planned simply to have a poached egg for breakfast. To this end, I picked an egg, and deftly tapped it on the side of the saucepan to crack it. But the enemy agents had fortified the eggshell with titanium-steel, so it refused to crack. I tapped it again, harder, and then again, even harder. On the third tap, it shattered into a zillion tiny fragments. As a result, instead of a poached egg, I ended up with an eggshell fragment omelet. Not quite what I had in mind, but the enemy agents had deflected my plan. Once again.

As I was eating, one forkful of the egg flew off my fork and onto the floor. This too happens more and more often - - - things take flight as I try to manipulate them and land on the floor, clearly the work of enemy agents using anti-gravity rays against me. Most such things are invisible on the the floor's brown rug, but the egg stuff, being white, remained visible and I was able to pick it off and dispose of it.

Most dropped objects, being invisible, stay where they land forever. However, occasionally I encounter some long-lost object when I either trip over it, or inspect parts of the floor with a powerful search-light. In this way, I found a pair of eyeglasses that had been missing for a year, and a medallion that had gone AWOL four years earlier. Sometimes, the enemy agents leave missing objects for me to find in unexpected locations. For example, one day I recovered a jar of Nate's Pickled Shrimps in the laundry hamper, then found a pair of dirty socks on a music stand, and then a book of music in the refrigerator. The agents had obviously been shifting things around.

My refrigerator itself is the subject of archaeological investigation. A couple of lady-friends periodically inspect it to find things that they designate out-of-date. It is not unusual for them to excavate vegetables covered with primeval mold, or packages of pasta salad from earlier years. Their champion discovery, a true collector's item, was a jar of Nate's Pickled Shrimps dating from the 1990s. I suggested that Nate's Shrimps, like fine wine, only improve with age, but my interlocutors insisted on removing them to a museum. They warned that some of the foods in the back of my fridge were evolving, and might soon develop the power of speech.

My interlocutors sometimes suggest that these events are really not the work of enemy agents, but a sign that my own mind is evolving, if that is the right word, in a certain confused direction. Could it be that I am heading down the path followed by King Charles VI of France? He was known initially as Charles le Bien-Aimé, but after a time as Charles le Fou (Charles the Loony). Wikipedia describes the evolution of Charles' mental processes as follows:

    As the king and his escort were traveling through a forest on a hot August morning, a barefoot leper dressed in rags rushed up to the King's horse and grabbed his bridle. "Ride no further, noble King!" he yelled. "Turn back! You are betrayed!" The king's escorts beat the man back, but did not arrest him, and he followed the procession for half an hour, repeating his cries. The company emerged from the forest at noon. A page who was drowsy from the sun dropped the king's lance, which clanged loudly against a steel helmet carried by another page. Charles shuddered, drew his sword and yelled "Forward against the traitors! They wish to deliver me to the enemy!" The king spurred his horse and began swinging his sword at his companions, fighting until one of his chamberlains and a group of soldiers were able to grab him from his mount and lay him on the ground. He lay still and did not react, but fell into a coma. The king had killed a knight known as "The Bastard of Polignac" and several other men.

    The king continued to suffer from periods of mental illness throughout his life. During one attack in 1393, Charles could not remember his name and did not know he was king. When his wife came to visit, he asked his servants who she was and ordered them to take care of what she required so that she would leave him alone. During an episode in 1395, he claimed he was Saint George and that his coat of arms was a lion with a sword thrust through it. At this time, he recognized all the officers of his household, but did not know his wife or children. Sometimes he ran wildly through the corridors of his Parisian residence, the Hôtel Saint-Pol, and to keep him inside, the entrances were walled up. In 1405, he refused to bathe or change his clothes for five months."

Personally, I make a point of changing my clothes every month or two, whether I need to or not. And I have never, ever claimed to be St. George. However, the enemy agents could be aware that my secret identity is that of Ban-Ki Moon, Secretary-General of the UN. But those of us with secret identities (like Bruce Wayne and Batman), do our best to keep them secret. Why, if our other identities became public, we would go down in History in the same way as Charles le Fou, or his near-contemporary Albert the Peculiar of Austria, or Haakon the Crazy and Eystein the Fart of Norway, not to mention Ivaylo the Cabbage of Bulgaria. Amongst nick-named royalty, my own favorite, and my rôle-model now late in life remains the last Merovingian king of the Franks from the 8th century: he is known to posterity as Childeric the Idiot.

--- Dr. Phage
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