The guiding principle of Six Ridiculous Questions is that life is filled with ridiculousness. And questions. That only by giving in to these truths may we hope to slip the surly bonds of reality and attain the higher consciousness we all crave. (Eh, not really, but it sounded good there for a minute.) It’s just. Who knows? The ridiculousness and question bits, I guess. Why six? Assonance, baby, assonance.
1. You just died and your adoring public is so distraught they’ve decided to create a religion with you (not your corpse, but the you you used to be before you died) as its focal point. What should the new religion be called? What would its primary tenets be? Would it ultimately prove beneficial to humanity?
The religion would be called, simply, “David’s Boyhood Home,” and would involve people venerating the house I grew up in, except it would encourage disagreement about where this house was. Adherents to the religion would, instead, re-christen their own homes as “David’s Boyhood Home,” or even construct new ones with this title. They would thus be expected to consider themselves guests in their own homes, just as many religions ask people to consider themselves guests in their own bodies.
As the religion spread, more and more houses would be seen as the one I grew up in, and an increasingly fragmented narrative of my childhood would emerge, while an increasing number of people, of all ages and genders, would start claiming to be me as a child. At its extreme, the religion would encompass every house, built and yet-to-be-built, on Earth. Seven-and-a-half billion Davids and counting. In this way, it would benefit humanity.
2. Unbeknownst to the public, you are actually a superhero. What’s your origin story? Please be as detailed as possible, bearing in mind your everyday identity is the same. It’s the superhero part no one knows about. Yet.
My superpower is that, for any given person, I can irrefutably prove that Pee-Wee Herman is their dad. My origin story must never be revealed.
3. There’s an old adage, maybe a Bible verse, I’m not sure, stating that, “Money is the root of all evil.” Is this true? Would the world be better off without money? Why or why not?
“Evil has no root. It is the root / There is no money. I have the money.” (From The Second Holy Book of David’s Boyhood Home, “Unattributed Sayings,” 22:11.).
4. In a thousand years, what will historians see as the three most significant events of the 20th century? What about in a hundred years? Ten years? Next year? Also, let’s assume historians (and humans) will still be around at all those points in time.
1) The Tunguska Event, because it will turn out to have opened a rift in the so-called space-time-continuum through which poltergeists will find a way into our lives; 2) The closing of the Northampton State Hospital, because it will turn out that the next incarnation of the incorporeal entity that previously possessed Jack the Ripper and Todd Browning was released into Western Massachusetts in the form of David Leo Rice; and 3) The lead-up to the release of Pearl Jam’s Vs. on October 19, 1993, because it will have created a specific anticipatory atmosphere in the Holyoke Mall, which will then radiate out to infect all of contemporary culture and the unrelieved eschatological anxiety that we are still laboring under today.
5. Say you’re a poltergeist and your latest posting (polsting?) has just come down from the home office in… wherever the poltergeist home office is. They’re giving you a choice actually, since you’re done such a great job tormenting people previously. You can take over: A. a deserted gold mine; B. an active (as in, live humans come to use it) graveyard; C. a crowded shopping mall; or D. a little-used dumbwaiter in the US House of Representatives. Which do you choose?
As anyone who was or is still there can tell you, I chose the Holyoke Mall, during back-to-school-shopping season, where I made a single date—Sept 5, 1993—recur in perpetuity. This is only weeks away from the release of Pearl Jam’s Vs. The anticipation in the stagnant mall air is palpable, never to be relieved, though a large helping of bourbon chicken and dirty rice in the lower level food court will go some ways toward taking your mind off it.
6. You’re hanging out in a bar for cartoon tigers. The bar is not cartoon. It’s real, and it’s called You’re a Tiger, the World’s Going to Shit, and You Probably Could Use a Drink. But the tigers are all definitely cartoons. What drink would you order to try to fit in? Say Tony the Tiger and Tigger got in a knockdown-dragout fight over something or other. Would you: A. leave; B. call the cartoon tiger cops; C. attempt to break it up; or D. establish odds and start taking bets on the outcome?
I would order a “9.5.93”—the bartender would know what I mean—and I’d definitely start taking bets on the fight, the higher the better. Who knows how this thing will turn out, but at least it’ll serve as a welcome distraction from the endless waiting for Vs. to drop. There is, after all, only so much bourbon chicken you and your mom can eat.
David Leo Rice is a writer and animator from Northampton, MA, currently living in NYC. His first novel, A Room in Dodge City, came out in 2017, and his second, ANGEL HOUSE, came out in 2019. His stories and essays have been featured in The Believer, Catapult, The Rupture, Black Clock, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, and elsewhere, and are online at: www.raviddice.com.
Kurt Baumeister has written for Salon, Electric Literature, Guernica, The Weeklings, Entropy, The Nervous Breakdown, The Rumpus, The Good Men Project, and others. Now a Contributing Editor with The Weeklings, Baumeister’s Review Microbrew column is published by The Nervous Breakdown. He edits the Under the Influence feature for Entropy. His debut novel, a satirical thriller entitled Pax Americana, was published by Stalking Horse Press in 2017. He is currently at work on a novel, The Book of Loki, and a hybrid collection of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry entitled Superman, the Seven Gods of Death, and the Need for Clean, Romantic Poetry. Find him on Facebook, Twitter, or at www.kurtbaumeister.com.