This supremely ironic New York Times headline from February 10th reads like a ripe premise for a comedic bit. And in a sense it is a bit. It’s one of 3000 sad little bits that fell into my hands as a result of the explosion. They’re called smithereens, and like a dutiful sleuth I’ll attempt to piece this accident back together smithereen by smithereen to discover just how something so awful could go so right. In Iraq suicide bombers have become obscene background noise like rap music is in this country. What drives these suicide bombers? Where the Beach Boys once promised “♫Two girls for every boy♫,” the Taliban promise 77 virgins for every boy in the afterlife. With this sheer volume of women, one assumes there are also towelettes.
What We Know so Far
We know the noble gas Xenon (Xe) is No. 54 on the Periodic Table of Elements. We also know Xenon is considered a “noble gas” due to its philanthropic work with underprivileged elements like Bismuth and Tin. Xenon is an odorless, colorless gas similar to Senator Harry Reid. But that bears little impact on today’s story and probably shouldn’t have even been included in this reconstruction.
More to the point, on February 9th 2014, at a secluded militant Sunni encampment north of Baghdad, Commander Hosni Al-Upchuck was instructing 21 members of his dojo on the finer techniques of blowing up innocent people in the name of some vague entity, when something went terribly wrong (or terribly right depending on whose side you’re on). Immediately after pulling the yellow safety cord clearly marked “Test Detonator” Commander Al-Upchuck was heard to quietly utter “Oh sh*t.” before a powerful explosion ripped through the tent instantly blowing everyone in it to their new residence in Kingdom Come. Outside the ring of destruction a soldier of good fortune named Hakeem bin-Loafing remarked, “This is a tragedy. All 22 dead. But on the bright side there’s now work available for 1694 virgins.”
What I’ve Surmised so Far
From my research on Iraqi social media sites such as FaceBoom and InstaCide, I initially determined that Commander Al-Upchuck may have been trying to impress Jodie Foster with his matchless skill in recruiting aspirants to be explosive pawns in a deadly game of human chess. His was the perfectly orchestrated crime with no one able to point fingers back at the ringleader; especially since the few fingers left pointing would usually point in a variety of directions. Being disabused of Ms. Foster as a motive force, I continued my examination.
As you may imagine, most of the recruits came from very sandy backgrounds and were easily blown away when the time came to be blown away. They led a nomadic existence prior to finding their new career path as Shrapnel Greeters at the Bazaar. The Nomads were very hostile and yet oddly enough they were called No mad. The Bedouins on the other hand wanted nothing to do with this lethal treachery and true to their name would often hold Bed-o-ins for Peace. This whole intertribal sectarian business can get quite convoluted. And an exasperated public would like nothing more than to stamp out the entire region with a punch press to excise the interminably ignorant turmoil that defines the Middle East. Imagine a map of the world with that one piece missing. Another more organic solution has been offered by my Hillbilly Handfishin’ friends: “I say kill’em all and let God sort’em out.”
I discovered Commander Al-Upchuck would entice his recruits with promises of early retirement packages. Very early retirement packages – most of them filled with shrapnel. He sought adolescents who perhaps came from a broken tent and needed a strong male role model. Generally they were poor and impressionable. Many were so poor their camels had no humps. In fact humping is something few had experienced yet, and that’s why promises of 77 virgins in the afterlife was so compelling. I don’t get it. Who needs 77 virgins when we all know 1 virgin is a load for any man; especially if she understands Community Property Laws. Wouldn’t you prefer a woman with a little more experience who knows a prostate from a coccyx? I know if I was making the “ultimate sacrifice” I’d request more than Virgins on Demand at the Berka Singles Bar. I mean sometimes there’s a reason they’ve got that bag over their head. What’s so sexy about a room full of what looks like 77 grieving female beekeepers?
As if the aforementioned virgins weren’t enough, recruiters also offered a Bereavement Package to the surviving family members of recruits who successfully completed their mission. It includes unlimited breadsticks at the Olive Garden and a complimentary subscription to Sand & Garden magazine. But the joke is on the family because the Olive Garden already gives everyone unlimited breadsticks. It seems even extremist militants can be accused of gilding the lily. Nice to see them exhibiting such a human trait. Conversely if the bomber fails to complete his mission and lives, the family is humiliated by being forced to sign up for ObamaCare.
Countdown to Disaster
Commander Al-Upchuck’s cell had successfully contracted with designer Vera Wang for smart-looking, form-fitting suicide vests complete with hollow-core buttons and stainless steel lapels. According to rival cell members, Wang’s color coordinated suicide vests “really popped.” In more ways than one as we’ll soon discover. But in an effort to trim costs Al-Upchuck unwisely subcontracted the detonating devices to Foxconn in China. Big mistake. After performing a series of test on the vests, I discovered there was an incompatibility between the two systems that led an unplanned hail of spikey metal to penetrate their comrades-in-arms. But not only in arms. In other places to. Explosions tend to be very non-discriminatory.
Just prior to the accident Commander Hosni Al-Upchuck was giving a rousing speech to his minions on the satisfaction to be found in self-destruction. It was a tortuous and labored effort, but he pulled it off with his usual maniacal brilliance. The group was whipped into an adrenalized fervor when he asked Anwar to bring him the Test Vest so he could demonstrate the proper technique for mingling. Little did he know that Anwar had neglected to note his “lazy eye” on his terrorist application and he mistakenly delivered his commander the explosive vest designed for tomorrow’s big Sand Festival in Fallujah. The attentive commander caught the error and Anwar fell to the ground in abject shame. He couldn’t look any one in the eye for the remainder of the session, but that’s the nature of lazy eye anyway. Hosni retrieved the correct Test Vest and continued his demonstration.
Commander Hosni Al-Upchuck: Anwar made an honest mistake and as such he will give him the honor of going first tomorrow. The Sand Festival in Fallujah is yours.
Anwar: God is great.
Commander: Now when you approach the crowd Anwar, you want to be very nonchalant.
Anwar: OK. But what if I’m feeling chalant?
Commander: Actually Anwar, you’re going to go on your mission tonight. Just take this high explosive belt. Walk 3 kilometers from camp then detonate it. Ok?
Anwar: Of course chief. 77 virgins right?
Commander: Yes Anwar. All waiting for you.
Anwar: Do I detonate in any place in particular?
Commander: No. Three kilometers should serve our greater purpose. Now go. Please. Thank you Anwar. (The men begin clapping and with that encouragement Anwar grabs the belt and leaves the tent.) As I was saying my brothers, don’t draw any attention to yourself. Act very casual. Talk about the weather or the quality of the sand this time of year. Now gather round closely zealots, I don’t want anybody to misunderstand the technique. OK, you slowly wander into the busiest section of the market or crowd and then gently pull the cord like this (everyone hears an audible click). Oh sh*t.
A Very Bad Case of Friendly Fire
There was no pain, there were no screams and it was all over in an instant. Kinda like my first sexual experience. Anwar hearing the explosion 2 kilometers from camp was miraculously saved from self-immolation and as a tribute to his fallen comrades he vowed to never eat hummus again. The remaining militants immediately called a board of inquiry moments before storming the Vera Wang production plant, killing everyone and letting God sort them out. As usual justice was poorly served. Thank God she’s blind and never saw it.
End of Story.
General Comments on the Phenomenon of Suicide Bombing
The genesis of suicide bombing can be traced back to people getting so mad that they couldn’t control their own environment they decided to ruin everybody else’s. Some early Star Trek scripts were based on this demented premise. Of course in pre-explosive antiquity the stakes were a little lower, so you might expect to have your earth salted or perhaps scorched as a penalty for not following someone else’s idea of what God is. Fire and salt was about all they had. As the stakes were raised with the advent of gunpowder, not only was your combatant willing to ruin everybody else’s party, they were willing to crash their own because God told them to. And thus righteous suicide bomber was born. Then just as quickly died, as they only have a shelf life of about 6 months before they literally expire.
When man first created the concept of God thousands of years ago, the real God had no choice but to go along with it, having imbued his children with Free Will. If only he had imbued them with Moderately Priced Will instead of Free Will, people might not be so profligate with it. This was a benighted time when Facebook was known as yelling and maggots were a side dish. With man’s limited view of things he quite naturally created his God(s) with the understanding that if he pleased him during this lifetime (or appeased him if the particular God was vengeful), he’d get the best seats in heaven. Y’know, down front, close to the Rapture. He might possibly bestow backstage passes upon his loyal groupie or maybe even a luxury suite overlooking all of Eden. This thinking is all very linear. Very quid pro quo and very much based on fear and certainly not the transcendent God I’m banking on.
Man’s heaven was a place created by those fearful of eternal nothingness. So man merrily ascribed all sorts of features to God and then defended them to the utmost. In this tenuous fantasy world these conjured-up tenets now represented his unshakable core beliefs and to trample on them would be heresy or blasphemous depending on how you like your apostasies spelled. It’s an interesting model whereby you create the unquestionable, get a lot of people to buy in, and then defend it unquestionably. Sounds like simple peer pressure to me.
According to Jerry Seinfeld, the NFL has pretty much done the same thing by creating a system where people fanatically root for certain colored laundry. Even though God has never said anything publically, people have had no trouble speaking for him as if he appointed them ambassadors to Earth. I have one personal statement to make in reference to God, “___________!” And you can quote me on that.
End of Comments.
Outtakes, Edits and Deleted Scenes
Please credit the description of grieving beekeepers to comedian Wil Durst. Who knows where he got it.
Lieutenant Commander Abdul Al-Kablooey would cunningly employ the charged issue of crushed garbanzo beans (hummus) to separate the boys from their families. Many Arab men fear eating this staple food – hummus. And the resultant hummusphobia is characterized by an irrational fear that if you enjoy hummus too much, you might be a hummusexual. Al-Kablooey kept a hummus-free camp thereby eliminating any uncomfortable garbanzo urges a man might feel.
End of Civilization.