Well, Roman Catholics have proved they can get people inside the door of the carnival tent with the "Pope Elvis"-- now what are they going to do with the crowds?
They should be charging admission to see the guy, for one thing. That might dissuade a few folks. (Then again, waiting 24 hours for a minute's view hasn't done it.) It'd at least pay some of the church's lawsuit bills. They could be selling Pope souvenirs to the people, and Pope t-shirts. Colonel Parker would. We should probably be there handing out ULA material and selling our house zeen "Slush Pile." These people are obviously bored out of their minds and desperate for things to do. We'd tell them: "Literature is exciting also!"
Meanwhile, the McSweeney's Cult is taking note, wondering when their Leader/God passes on how they'll be able to top the Pope's funeral. Eggers will be laid out on a bier in San Francisco, covered with flowers from his weeping acolytes, most of whom resemble Squeaky Fromme. Heidi, Maud, Lee, Whitney, Claire, Neal-- the whole gang will be there. (By this time The Dave will have established his own College of Cardinals, so his leading followers will be garbed in long robes, with miters on their heads.) The line of blank-eyed demi-puppets will wind through the streets for miles. They'll be chanting, and singing the McSweeney's theme song. (Please see an earlier post.) Trolley cars will run some of the mourners over. No one will notice. The body will be carried into the Cathedral of the Dave on Valencia Street. Requests will have gone out to all former Presidents to attend the ceremonies. Only Jimmy Carter shows up. John Kerry is there also, arriving late, attending as thanks for having graced The Believer's cover (though miffed because it caused his election loss). "I'm a loyal McSweeneyite!" the Senator proclaims, though he follows none of the McSweeney's rules. (No MFA degree; no relatives on staff at Columbia.) He insists on being given communion anyway. As Head Carlengo Vendela Vida begins to hand him the wafer (the image of The Dave imprinted upon it), the Senator trips and falls, breaking his leg. Mysterious black-robed McSweeney's monks carry the inept politician out of the church.
Near the end of the service, an aid lights unsold copies of The Believer placed in high stacks under the bier. They want to imitate one of those showy funerals in India. The many thousands of copies begin to burn. Flames are seen; smoke rises. Fire detectors installed to meet San Francisco fire codes go off. Ceiling sprinklers douse the crowd. Yuppies begin running everyplace. The body atop the stacks doesn't light, but instead becomes soggy. It begins to melt! Journalists in attendance suddenly realize it's only a wax dummy. The Dave's death was, typically, a hoax!
ANOTHER FUNERAL: This week, New York City. Saul Bellow is laid out in a tiny funeral parlor on the upper west side. The silent mourners pass the coffin reverently. They notice a man to the side holding a large white handkerchief who is sobbing with loud gasps. "Sob!" Huge tears run down his face. His grief is uncontrollable. "Who is this man?" people whisper among themselves. "Why is he here?" "He must have been a great friend of Saul's, a very great friend."
It turns out the sobbing man is a literary critic at The New Yorker. Someone finally recognizes him. An aged mourner pats the critic on the arm and says, "There, there. Saul is at last happy. Nothing more to complain about. Why be glum?"
"Because," the lit critic tells him. "The Pope got four million people for his funeral. Look around the room. Saul Bellow only got twelve!"