There was once a young woman who was obsessed with obsequiousness. She had heard someone being referred to as obsequious, liked the way it sounded, and resolved to one day become obsequious herself.
Unfortunately, the young woman was not entirely sure of what the word meant. Being of a somewhat proud nature, she was reluctant to ask anyone for a definition. The young woman was convinced, however, that to be obsequious was to be grand and important.
The picture the young woman had in her head was of herself, dressed in the most beautiful gown in the world, descending a marble staircase that ended in a huge ballroom filled with the most elegant of the elegant. As she came into sight, heads would turn in her direction, there would be gasps, and someone would say quietly to her friend, "Isn’t she just too too obsequious?"
On only one occasion did the young woman ever tell anyone about her dreams of obsequiousness. She happened to have been in bed with a young man of whom she was quite fond -- dreams of marriage alternated with dreams of obsequiousness -- and they were exchanging secrets of the heart. The young man had just finished telling the young woman of his longing to be the manager of a Denny’s restaurant when the young woman suddenly blurted out, "I want to be obsequious!"
The young man laughed. It was the most ridiculous thing he had ever heard. The young woman, who on rare occasions might say "please" or "thank you," and who would butt in lines and when asked to pass something at the dinner table would say, "You’ve got arms. Get it yourself," wanted to be obsequious. It was to laugh.
The young woman, however, did not laugh. She was deeply hurt and angry. She thought that the young man was laughing at her for wanting to be grand and important. She thought he was laughing at her dreams. "Get out," she screamed at the young man. "Get out of my bed! Get out of my house! And get out of my life!"
The young man sat in stunned silence for a moment, very quietly said, "O.K.," and wordlessly got dressed, gathered up his things and left the apartment.
That was the last the young woman ever saw of the young man. She would often think of that night and how things had gone wrong. As the years went by, she grew more and more convinced that the young man had meant to hurt her and, thus, she grew to hate him. Eventually, her hate grew too much for just the one young man and she began to hate all men.
One day she received a letter notifying her that her aunt had died leaving her five million dollars. "I’m rich," she thought, "I can quit my job and do anything I want. I can be obsequious now. First, I’ll go out and buy myself the most beautiful gown I can find."
The woman, who by this time as no longer young, made plans to throw a huge party in the most exquisite hotel in Vienna, Austria. She invited everyone who was anyone, and a few who weren’t, and she even invited the man, who was also, of course, no longer young, who had hurt her.
After months of preparations, the day of the party finally arrived. The woman boarded the jet airliner that would carry her to Austria. She was eating caviar and drinking champagne when the airliner went into a nosedive and crashed in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
News of the disaster reached the party at midnight. At first a hushed silence fell over the crowd. Finally, a Texas millionaire broke the silence. "Well, shucks, as long’s were all here, let’s make this the best goddamn wake Vienna, Austria’s ever seen!"
And so they did.
[written circa 1982/1983]