Missing pages (372-373) from Vonnegut’s ‘Unready To Wear’.
I’m not crazy about the parade. With all of us there, close together in bodies –well, it brings out the worst in us, no matter how good our psyches are. Last year, for instance, Pioneers’ Day was a scorcher. People couldn’t help being out of sorts, stuck in sweltering, thirsty bodies for hours.
Well, one thing led to another, and the Parade Marshal offered to beat the daylights out of my body with his body, if my body got out of step again. Naturally, being the Parade Marshal, he had the best body that year, except for Konigwasser’s cowboy, but I told him to soak his fat head, anyway. He swung, and I ditched my body right there, and didn’t even stick around long enough to find out whether he connected. He had to haul my body back to the storage center himself.
I stopped being mad at him the minute I got out of the body. I understood, you see. Nobody but a saint could be really sympathetic or intelligent for more than a few minutes at a time in a body –or happy either, except in short spurts. I haven’t met an amphibian yet who wasn’t easy to get along with, and cheerful and interesting –as long as he was outside a body. And I haven’t met one yet who didn’t turn a little sour when he got into one.
The minute you get in, chemistry takes over –glands making you excitable or ready to fight or hungry or mad or affectionate, or –well, you never know what’s going to happen next.
That’s why I can’t get sore at the enemy, the people who are against the amphibians. They never get out of their bodies and won’t try to learn. They don’t want anybody else to do it either, and they’d like to make the amphibians get back into bodies and stay in them.
After the tussle I had with the Parade Marshal, Madge got wind of it and left her body right in the middle of the Ladies’ Auxiliary. And the two of us, feeling full of devilment after getting shed of the bodies and the parade, went over to have a look at the enemy.
I’m never keen on going over to look at them. Madge likes to see what the women are wearing. Stuck with their bodies all the time, the enemy women change their clothes and hair and cosmetic styles a lot oftener than we do on the women’s bodies in the storage centers.
I don’t get much of a kick out of the fashions, and almost everything else you see and hear in enemy territory would bore a plaster statue into moving away.
Usually, the enemy is talking about old-style reproduction, which is the clumsiest, most comical, most inconvenient thing anyone could imagine, compared with what the amphibians have in that line. If they aren’t talking about that, then they’re talking about food, the gobs of chemicals they have to stuff into their bodies. Or they’ll talk about fear, which we used to call politics –job politics, social politics, government politics.
The enemy hates that, having us able to peek in on them any time we want to, while they can’t ever see us unless we get into bodies. They seem to be scared to death of us, though being scared of amphibians makes about as much sense as being scared of the sunrise. They could have the whole world, except for the storage centers, for all the amphibians care. But they bunch together as though we were going to come whooping out of the sky to do something terrible to them at any moment.
They’ve got contraptions all over the place that are suppose to detect amphibians. The gadgets aren’t worth a nickel, but they seem to make the enemy feel good –like they were lined up against great forces, but keeping their nerve and doing important, clever things about it. Knowhow –all the time they keep patting each other about how much knowhow they’ve got, and about how we haven’t got anything by comparison. If knowhow means weapons, they’re dead right.
I guess there is a war on between them and us. But we never do anything about holding up our side of the war, except to keep our parade sites and our storage centers secret, and to get out of bodies every time there’s an air raid, or the enemy fires a rocket, or something.
That just makes the enemy madder, because the raids and rockets all cost plenty, and blowing up things nobody needs anyway is a poor return on the taxpayer’s money. We always know what they’re going to do next, and when and where, so there isn’t any trick to keeping out of their way.
But they’re pretty smart, considering that they’ve got bodies to look after besides doing their thinking, so I always try to be cautious when I go over to watch them. That’s why I wanted to clear out when Madge and I saw a storage center in the middle of one of their fields. We hadn’t talked to anyone lately about what the enemy was up to, and the center looked awfully suspicious.
Madge was optimistic, the way she’s always been since she borrowed that burlesque queen’s body, and she said the storage center was asure sign that the enemy had seen the light, that they were getting ready to become amphibians themselves.
Well, it looked like it. There was a brand-new center, stocked with bodies and open for business, as innocent as you please. We circled it several times, and Madge’s circles got smaller and smaller, as she tried to get a close look at what they had in the way of ladies’ ready-to-wear.