THE RAD FLEA PARTY
“Alice sighed wearily. ‘I think you might do something better with the time’ she said, ‘than wasting it in asking riddles that have no answer’”
L. Carroll “The Mad Tea Party”
The Rad Flea Party
Pfeffer dropped Alex off at the door to another conference room. It was labeled “New Employee Orientation.” It was another one of those non-descript doors found in the halls of most furtive organizations (whether labor, religious, city hall, or law firms).
Alex thought out loud “I hope this is not like the previous meeting I had with my sad sack mentors.”
“WHAT WAS THAT?” demanded Pfeffer.
“I hope this is just like my meeting with those glad-tact mentors” lied Alex.
“What is glad-tact?” insisted Pfeffer.
“It means that I was glad that they were so tactful” answered Alex.
Pfeffer was pleased that Alex perceived the meeting as beneficial. “In you go” said Pfeffer as it shoved Alex towards the door. It glanced back only once and that was to ensure itself that Alex had opened the door and entered the room.
Much to Alex’s surprise there was a long table in the room. Sitting on one end of it was the moose and the beaver (one to the left, the other on the right.) In between them and setting in the middle of the table was a bowl of water with the fish inside.
“Hi guys” stated Alex enthusiastically. He was really glad to see more sane beings than those he had encountered on this strange morning.
“Guys? GUYS?” asked the beaver apparently incredulous at Alex’s term of familiarity. “How about a little more decorum and awe?”
“But guys” insisted Alex “don’t you remember me? We floated out of the flood together. You deemed me ‘vexing yet benign.’ We engaged in a raucous caucus the day the frog died from all that silence.”
“Don’t be silly” said the moose. “There is no silence during a raucous caucus. Even so, a frog does not croak from silence; he is silent from croaking.”
“But I am Alex” insisted Alex; thinking that insistence might make it more true.
“More pleasure, less nicotine” bubbled the fish that was eager to join the conversation but neither having much to say nor wishing to be too opinionated. “Lite taste, more refreshing” he added as an afterthought.
Alex resigned himself to the fact that they would not admit knowing him (even if they didn’t know him). “Now I am getting as looney as they are” he said to himself as he pondered his previous thought.
“We should be moving along with the orientation” remarked the beaver.
“Orientation – – – Orientation” bubbled the fish with obvious glee. He clapped his fins together and puffed out his gills with anticipation.
The moose opened the session by asking Alex if he was more comfortable with a republic form of government or a radical form.
Alex stood back with furrowed brow. He could not place the question in the context of a corporate orientation session. His mind tumbled over and over the possible (yet nutty) combinations and permutations of what the question really meant; if it meant anything at all.
He finally asked the moose “What do you mean by your question?”
“My good man” replied the moose, “I mean nothing by my question. Questions search for answers; and meaning. A question is incapable of meaning. Now answer my question.”
“I meant nothing by my answer” stated Alex.
“You didn’t answer” retorted the moose. “You asked a question and therefore I know that you did not mean anything by it.”
“O.K. moose” answered Alex with contempt. “Let’s restart this orientation.”
“MR. MOOSE” said the antlered one and quickly added “to you!”
The fish became nervous about the impending confrontation. “New formula. More suds. Whiter whites” gurgled the piscine one.
The beaver forced his way into the conversation. “Look. We are here to orient you to our culture. The questions don’t do anything to clarify our views. What the moose meant by his question was to open the conversation about conservative versus radical viewpoints.”
“I meant nothing of the sort. Questions have no meaning” repeated the moose under his breath.
“Our orientation is designed to result in your viewpoints becoming radicalized. I believe the moose was attempting to determine a starting point.” With this said the beaver ended his remarks. The moose and the fish remained silent.
“I am quite conservative” said Alex. “Let’s start from there.”
“You have earned my admiration with your frankness” retorted the moose. “In the spirit of being candid I withdraw my question.”
“Thank you” said Alex in a more relaxed manner. He also wanted to tell the moose that it was not a really good question but more of a rhetorical comment with meaning. He decided not to push the point for fear the moose would become illogical again.
The beaver once more stepped into the middle of the conversation. “Here is the scoop. We are strong supporters of the ‘Radical Flea Party’ and wish for you to join our cause.”
“Never heard of it” said Alex. “What does your party stand for?” he asked.
“More” said the moose.
“More of what?” asked Alex.
At this point the fish gurgled in. “Less is more more or less. Think out of the box. Walk the talk. Pick the low hanging fruit.”
They all looked at the fish bowl and simultaneously had the same thought; to empty it. But no one voiced or acted on the thought.
After a moment of silence the moose finally said “More fleas, we need more fleas.”
“But” interrupted Alex, “more fleas mean more misery for you and the beaver. Why do you want more fleas?”
“No, no, no” answered the moose. “We want more fleas that are radical. Radical fleas don’t live on us; we live off them. Radical fleas seek radical lives and therefore don’t bother us.”
“Hallelujah” yelled the beaver.
“I still don’t get it” said Alex. “Can you expand on that thought?”
“Sure” responded the moose. “Radicals keep the hoi-polloi stirred up. And the bourgeoisie are so busy keeping an eye on the radicals that they forget what we are doing to, I mean FOR, the country.”
“What are you doing to the country?” asked Alex incredulously. “Since when did you start controlling the country?”
“We, the Radical Flea Party, are the orientation team in every industry. We forced our way in with the threat of law suits; animal rights activists are fully behind us” stated the moose.
“Rad Flea – – – – Rad Flea – – – – Rad Flea” chanted the fish in garbled tones.
“You know what?” asked Alex not waiting for an answer, “I think you guys are nuts. In fact I don’t even think you are the original moose and beaver. I think you guys are imposters. So long and good luck with your Rad Flea Party. I’m going to find my new boss in Forging.”
As Alex walked out the door he gave instructions (in a loud voice) over his shoulder. “If Pfeffer comes looking for me tell it that I can find my own way around.”
As Alex walked down the hallway hear could hear the bubbly little voice of the fish demanding to be put back in the bowl of water. The moose and the beaver were laughing maniacally.