ROHTUL: Off of me, you sausages!
I had no idea such an innocent-sounding line from a play as silly as The Nastyheroes would land me in such big trouble. It was my intent to share an early work I thought was amusing but I ended up offending the entire Indian population.
I was so desperate to settle things with the Indians that I took them up on their invitation for me to appear at a town hall meeting at the Indian reservation where they lived. I was nervous about it but I knew it needed to be done.
So there I was, following the printed directions to the reservation that took me to the middle of nowhere, hundreds of miles from home. Finally I saw the sign pointing to the entrance of the reservation, which led to a dirt road.
I turned onto the dirt road leading to the Palmetto Pond Indian Reservation. If only I were here for a reason other than the reason why I was here. At least the traffic wasn’t bad.
I pulled over and read the e-mail I printed before I left home.
When you arrive at the reservation, stay on the main road until the very end where you will find a group of tall buildings. Park at the library and then cross the street to town hall. When you arrive ask for Eddie Barking Bird for further instructions. Here’s a hint: There won’t be a standing ovation.
I drove further down the dirt road until I reached the set of buildings described in the email. I recognized the library and the town hall across the street. So far, so good.
I parked at the library and walked across the street, smiling politely at some people sitting on a bench in front of the town hall building. They did not smile back, as if they knew who I was.
I entered the town hall building and walked up to the front desk. There sat an Indian man at the front desk.
“I’d like to see Eddie Barking Bird.” I told him.
“That would be me,” the man said. “You must be that awful writer who thinks Indians are sausages.”
“Aw, come on, it was only fiction!” I protested. Maybe that wasn’t exactly a smart thing to do in this situation.
“I do not care,” Eddie countered. “You offend a fictional Indian and you offend ALL Indians. Here, put this on.”
He placed a large box on the desk. I was flabbergasted. I was already wearing my best outfit complete with dress shirt, slacks, a tie and sports jacket. Why change to something else? Or was this a traditional Indian costume they wanted me to wear?
“The meeting starts in 30 minutes,” Eddie said, interrupting my thoughts. “Go in there and change. I want you ready when it’s your turn to speak. Here’s a hint: There won’t be a standing ovation.”
I went to the restroom where Eddie was pointing. Once inside I opened the box.
What the hell is this??
Knowing I was short on time and that this was the only way to settle the ongoing feud, I quickly changed and reemerged from the rest room to see Eddie. When he saw me, he was smiling and pointed to the meeting room behind him.
“Go in there and sit at the table on the stage. There is a card with your name on it,” Eddie chuckled. “You have the play with you, right?”
“Yes,” I said, producing my printout of The Nastyheroes I was to read at the meeting.
Eddie kept laughing harder and harder and motioned me to enter the meeting room. “Go in there and have a seat on stage. Here’s a hint: There won’t be a standing ovation.”
Already humiliated, I slowly walked into the meeting room where I was greeted with smiles and laughter from the other Indians attending the meeting. I took my seat at the table on stage and was ready for the meeting to begin.
The meeting did begin, with the residents airing their concerns about life at the reservation. This went on for nearly an hour, with endless complaints from around the room.
Finally, it was my turn. After I was introduced by the tribe’s chief in charge of the meeting, I stepped up to the podium and was greeted with laughter from the audience. After waiting for them to calm down, I began my reading of The Nastyheroes while dressed in an oversized sausage costume.
When I read the line “Off of me, you sausages”, everyone in the room stood up and began throwing sausages at me. It wasn’t easy reading the play while being pelted with sausages but I finished the reading and then promptly fled the building with the sausages still flying in my direction. I tore off the sausage costume, jumped in my car and began driving out of the reservation. Even then the flying sausages were bouncing off my car. Man, was I happy to be out of there.
I have been punished enough, quite enough.