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The Cliché in the Mirror

by Paul Kesler

 

It's easy enough to convince yourself that the skeleton staring back at you is outmoded, a tired cliché, even a prank conjured up by a bored subconscious. The point is granted, even as you comb your hair for the day, making the skeleton half-jealous, standing there as it does with a contorted smile, grinding its teeth. At least it could dress decently, you think --- that Nehru jacket went out decades ago, and the madras shirt likewise. Is it trying to impress you with these tawdry anachronisms? If so, it's failing.

You've watched it many days, and wonder what it does after closing the door of its clumsy front porch. You never hear the slam, but it always seems peevish as it leaves. God knows you've tried to teach it, to at least bring it up to the 21st century. But it just sneers, walking around in those ancient 60s getups like an unregenerate hippie. And the signs it brings back --- "Ignorance is Strength," "War is Peace" ---- is Orwell the only author it's ever read?

Lately, it's taken up TV, but only the most tasteless shows --- the morning news, for instance. Apparently it thinks it's cool, and you hate to disillusion it. After all, you have nothing better to do in the early morning but watch it make an ass of itself. In any case, you've had ample opportunity to prove you can't reform a cliché.


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