Pemulis looked like a hangover.

My favorite scene of last week’s reading takes place LATE P.M., MONDAY 9 NOVEMBER YEAR OF THE DEPEND ADULT UNDERGARMENT, during which Michael Pemulis, “wearing the most insolent ensemble he could throw together,” – maroon paratrooper pants tucked into fuchsia socks with an orange fake-silk turtleneck and purple and tan-checked sport coat with his infamous yachting cap worn “with the bill bent up at a bumpkinish angle” – slinks through the Community & Administration Building in search of what we don’t know. Something.

After passing by Dr. Dolores Rusk’s office, from which issues the voices of Dr. Rusk and Ortho (“The Darkness”) Stice and some very foreshadowing type discussion of Oedipus and the “phallocentric reduction of the mother to an archetype of sexual function,” Pemulis takes a moment to consider Lateral Alice Moore’s desk. One thing we know, having already read the scene in which Hal, Axford, Pemulis, and Ann Kittenplan await judgement in that very same room, judgement for their behavior and/or lack thereof in the Eschaton debacle, is that Pemulis is justifiably concerned that he could be “denied a spot on the trip to Tucson’s WhataBurger, or worse.” So, knowing Pemulis, I figure he’s set out clandestinely on this particular night in search of anything that he can use to his advantage in the case against him. And he finds it.

Specifically, he finds Avril Incandenza and John (N.R.) Wayne in a compromising position.

John Wayne wore a football helmet and light shoulder pads and a Russell athletic supporter and socks and shoes and nothing else. He was down in the classic three-point stance of U.S. football. Inc’s incredibly tall and well-preserved mother Dr. Avril Incandenza wore a little green-and-white cheerleader’s outfit and had one of deLint’s big brass whistles hanging around her neck. She was blowing on the whistle, which appeared to be minus the little pellet because no whistling sound resulted. She was about two meters from Wayne, facing him, doing near-splits on the heavy shag, one arm up and pretending to blow the whistle while Wayne produced the classic low-register growling sounds of U.S. football. Pemulis made rather a show of pushing the bumpkin-billed yachting hat back to scratch his head, blinking. Mrs. Inc was the only one looking at him.

‘I probably won’t even waste everybody’s time asking if I’m interrupting,’ Pemulis said. (p. 552-53)

This scene is hilarious, enlightening, and appalling all at the same time. I am at once incredibly entertained and simultaneously mind-blown the Oedipal and incestuous implications of Avril playing football-themed erotic dress-up games with Wayne given the mommy issues that Orin displays in spades, which issues he works out on numerous Subjects with young children all over the Phoenix metropolitan area.

What’s more, I am unable to contain my glee, Pemulis fan as I am, at the Peemster striking solidly blackmailable gold here and delivering a flippant, scene-closing coup de grace:

‘I predict this’ll take about two minutes at most,’ Pemulis said, smiling.

Wow. The only thing that could be better would be if Pemulis had discovered the Dean of Academic Affairs in this compromising position PRIOR to being called upon the cerulean carpet for his Eschaton crimes. BUT WAIT! Turning back to the aforementioned Blue, Blue, Electric Blue scene (p. 508) in Tavis and Avril’s waiting room, we find that (via a bit of DFW temporal shuffling) the blue waiting room scene occurs on 10 NOVEMBER, meaning that Pemulis’ discovery of Avril and John Wayne occurred the night before. Which means that the Peemster, armed with and scanning a Pink2 printout of his defense (rhetorically crafted by Hal) would seem to have his discovery of the illicit Avril/Wayne affair in his back pocket as well. Sacrebleu!

And, to cap it off, during the blue waiting room scene we find WHO doing “diddle-prevention duty” with the young female students? That’s right, folks. Can you say ironical?


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