Saturday, May 1, 2010

Pelfrey and the Alligator

Mike Pelfrey was moping at the aquarium.

"They didn't get any of my jokes," he grumbled.

His eyes were transfixed on an alligator, who was barely moving. Once in a while the gator would rotate or position itself so a different part of its body was in the water.

"Who do you think wins in a fight?" Pelfrey asked the alligator. "You or me?" The gator swung its tail around. This was not necessarily a response to the question, but it was the most movement that Pelfrey had seen since he started watching it, which was half an hour ago. He found this encouraging.

"It's purely hypothetical of course. I'm not going to jump in there, and you're not coming out here. So don't take it as an affront gator. I'm not trying to be aggressive toward you. A guy thinks about these things sometimes."

The alligator lifted a leg and put it back down.

"I tried to be funny this time. You know anything about that gator?" It was still. "Of course not. You go straight for the jugular. Your attack is effective but lacking in subtlety. And that- now before I finish this sentence I want to remind you that I have nothing but good will toward you alligator- but that is why you are in the cage and I am out, and why I will leave to go back to my hotel room when I'm done here, and you will stay here, and others will come and look at you. You are powerful, but artless, totally unironic."

At this moment, Pelfrey became aware of the fact that he was speaking very loudly, and a crowd of people had gathered to look at him. In New York he would have been comfortable with the situation, but in Philadelphia, he felt a sudden tug to return to his hotel.

As he approached, the crowd backed away, but only out of surprise. They seemed to sense an invisible barrier between them and Pelfrey, much like the invisible barrier between Pelfrey and the alligator. There wasn't an obvious path through them to the door, so he found himself moving around the perimeter of the crowd, which reinforced the notion that he couldn't cross the undrawn line between him and them.

A tour guide arrived and began pointing out features of Pelfrey's hair and face. Pelfrey froze, paralyzed by fascination and confusion.

"While this beast has a notable physique," the tour guide continued, "it's most distinguishing feature is its inability to recognize, comprehend or produce irony."

"I GET IRONY!!" Pelfrey roared. With that he stormed through the crowd, past the invisible line.

Pandemonium ensued.

Women grabbed children and ran for the exits. Men tried to look fierce, but inside were utterly terrified. The tour guide fainted. Many people broke into a run, but they all ran toward the center of the crowd, were repelled by the force of everyone else and fell backwards like dominoes.

Pelfrey ignored them all and made his way to the door. He was fuming. Just as he reached the door, he heard a voice behind him.

"Well played sir!" It was a charming baritone. No one he saw when he turned around seemed to have spoken those words. "I for one, believe in your ability to understand irony."

"And that may be the most ironic thing of all, alligator." said Pelfrey with a grin.

"Indeed," said the alligator. "And please, alligator is but my species. Call me Reginald."

"You got it Reginald," said Pelfrey, and departed. Smiling. Because he had understood irony when no one else had. And made a new friend along the way.

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, Johan Santana was just killing the crowd with his stand-up routine.

"The irony, of course, was that my third wife had said the same thing, and we know how that turned out." He made a bizarre gesture, holding his thumbs to his nose and flapping his hands, moving his head as if his nose was flying away. The audience exploded into laughter and several of them fell out of their chairs.

Jayson Werth laughed too. He couldn't help it. But he knew if he couldn't contain himself by tomorrow, Santana would beat him.

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