By Varda One


sadness requires orchestration

     Arlie Robinson taught people how to mimic sorrow and grief. The lion’s share of her profits came from politicians and entertainers, but there were many others who paid for her services, including those who had to attend funerals of people they loathed and fake bereavement, especially widows of abusive husbands.

     Politicians brought her business because, thanks to apathy, there was no opposition in many elections. In order to keep the party machine alive in various states, candidates were induced to run, knowing they would lose. When voters saw sad faces after the returns were in, it kept alive faith in the party system and democracy. Thus it was that Arlie was busy this morning with Halwell Hanson, sure-to-be-losing Mayor of Methopolis.

     “No, Hal, you’re overdoing it. No hand wringing. Sadness is mostly body posture.” Arlie pressed his shoulders down a bit. “Let them sag. Now think of your dog dying. That’s good, keep that look of loss in your eyes.”

     After they turned off the videocamera, she showed him the film. “Watch it a few more times and you should have it down pat by Tuesday.”

     He took a copy of the video and left.

     Her next client, Sallye Stuart, floated in. Sallye was to appear next week on her final segment of “MAKE MINE MILLIONS,” a hit quiz show. The producer warned Sallye that ratings showed her time was up. She was delighted. Her contract payed the same whether she was on the show or not. Now she would have time to visit her dream city, Rome.

     Arlie had already consulted with the producer about muting the lighting and the makeup artist about  changing the way he did Sallye’s face. But it would mean lots of hard work to change this bubbly personality. She pressed Sallye’s shoulders. “Let them droop. Think of losing your boyfriend. Can you tear up a bit, honey?”

     After working with her for  thirty minutes, Arlie had made a little progress, but the light in Sallye’s eyes, thinking about her upcoming Roman holiday, was hard to extinguish. Arlie scheduled another appointment for tomorrow. Then she awaited her next client, Mrs. Carnosi, the recent widow of a Mafia chief.

     Mrs.  Carnosi had been suspected of having engineered her husband’s execution. This one would be rough. Grief was harder to fake than disappointment. Arlie sighed.

     Sometimes being a sadness coach was hard. She had started out as a happiness coach, but that was worse, because her clients had been in real pain and had to fake joy. And much worse was her cousin Jim in Abasia, who was an emotions coach too. Abasians were so numbed they had no feelings at all.

     Oh, well, life wasn’t perfect.