As I alluded to earlier, the Blartists of today bear little resemblance to the long-deceased statesman from whom their brand derives. To be brief in summarizing a long and dusty biography, which I pulled from my grandmother’s shelves (she collects histories of anything “queer”, as she deems it), R. F. Blart broke into Hyan politics before they were known as Hyan politics by throwing outrageous parties. He was an instant star, with a keen instinct for brokering alliances, and a flair for speeches that served as accessory to a bold appearance; he was never seen in anything but purple.
Blart set his stamp on the original Charter and Constitution of the Hyan Economic Zone (HEZ) as one of its first eleven High Councillors, and after a few goods years, he proceeded to ricochet from highs to lows – from diplomatic triumphs to day-drunk rants in the Senate. Such erratic behaviour ate into his popular support until only the most hardcore remained dedicated to him; town criers, and foot masseuses1.
However, by this point hardly anyone was continuing the sham that public opinion meant anything in the HEZ, and as Blart was well-moneyed and well-entrenched in the innermost of the uppermost echelons, he kept his seat as a token member of the Hyan High Council and had plenty of leisure to try various detours in terms of public persona. Towards the end of his career, High Councillor Blart quieted down into a placid sort that spoke nonsensicalities except in relation to his line of pet policies, which were, of course, geared towards creating jobs for town criers and foot masseuses. With great equanimity he eliminated anyone in the Senate downstairs who voted against his Bills, and this went on until the day he died.
Now if it were not for my grandmother’s collection, I would never have recognized the eyes-averted, loud-voiced, identically-clad, maroon-haired loiterers about the aquahydrant on my fathers’ street as having anything to do with one of the most meteoric political careers of early HEZ History. Today, “Blartist” is a heterogeneous term that may or may not refer to the maroon type described above (if not, then to any subset of characteristics associated with the maroons), and that may or may not be spoken with clear negative connotations. This uncertainty creates ideal conditions for bizarre suppositions and misunderstanding. For myself, although there is precious little occasion in day-to-day life to mention Blartists, who subsist on the most insignificant periphery of LEZ society, they are a subject that I would not raise until after common sympathies have been established between myself and my audience.
That said, “Are you a Blartist in disguise?”, was plainly intended as a joke, which made the ensuing silence all the more intolerable. I glimpsed the whites of Voya’s eyes before he sank into his armchair2 – and I was not to see him again that day.
Miggs Upselom’s initial, scrunched expression of confusion was far from aesthetically pleasing – but a moment later, I would have rathered that e’s confusion lasted a lifetime. For it was far preferable to the dawning comprehension, the spark of indignation, and the full-fledged sneering outrage that were next to zip across e’s face, one after the other.
“Blart – Blartist?! What’s that, a bunch of d*****bags? Where do you get off –”
Ungrammatical bursts of words and cusswords, clearly inspired by a belief that ‘e could stereotype Pallorians and say whatever ‘e wanted about our attitudes, but that nothing was to be implied about Miggs ‘eself, were blessedly cut off as a brave soul leapt up from beside the stage to press the large black microphone button. The Conference Lounge was stunned, but not motionless. A dozen MV&SR heads turned in our direction. The other dozen vacillated between us and Miggs Upselom.
Without looking right or left, I wiggled to the edge of my chair, and slipped around the arm, around the back, knees still bent at less than my full height. I scarpered – as did my fellow mathematicians.
Thanks to the reappearance of Miggs’ handler, we were not chased out of the Lounge by an incensed, 200 pound threat as we made our escape. “Gone sour” was hardly sufficient to describe the remainder of the afternoon, and indeed I can only imagine how Voya was devastated, as he never spoke of it again.
Though the episode had come as a severe shock – by the Great Xuiran Law of Relativity, may I never again witness such a scene – the office social group rallied. Jokes emerged around the lunch table about the inherently uncivilized nature of CREPEs, and in my own writings (mainly the poetry) I have reflected that nothing is so unifying as a solid sense of alienation from the past. Era-ism, if you will permit. Historical novels are all very well and good, but their romanticised figures from 1000, or 10,000 years ago conceal all the stray hairs, hangnails, and offensive habits that would, in reality, make those people intolerable.
However, things could not really be the same in the aftermath of Miggs Upselom’s talk. Conversations petered out faster, laughter was more liable to be forced; there wasn’t really a good reason for this, as sunk costs (in this case, the unalterable reality of having been berated by a CREPE and stared at by MV&SRers) should not affect future behaviour (in this case, getting along in the future)3. Yet this is what happened. The crowd in the kitchen shrank. I gradually resumed eating my lunches in my cubicle, and within a few months Hellinder had accepted an excellent offer to work at ITSI4. Various other transfers took place, eroding the ephemeral social group unto nothingness, and there followed the quietest two years of my life.
This period of tranquility would at last be broken by a forced, nightmarish foray into tax policy, during which researchers all across the LEZ government were subjected to an emergency draft re: the infamous5 Crooning Roamers Debacle. But that is another story.
1He was a great patron of foot massage parlours but I cannot seem to find any explanation of the town criers.
2 I have since wondered whether he activated his HUI so as to quite literally disappear, something which I yearned to do but could not, restrained as I am by asinine ideas of manners
3The Sunk Cost Fallacy: where a cost already paid (which cannot be recovered) affects decision-making going forward, although individual utility could be otherwise optimized in the future, i.e. the most common reason for remaining in a longstanding partnership that has been steadily growing more and more “meh”.
4 They had lost his credentials, it seemed, in the monumental shuffling that was their yearly hiring blitz, and having found him again they decided they wanted him even at the cost of yielding several perks. I knew it was strange that an extrovert had come into our office.
5 Infamous, at least, in the offices of tax policy analysts