By Scott Sullivan
I get no respect. Being in media I’m entitled to none. But at least, in the land of the free, I can mock politicians as they do me, elevating the discourse level. That’s why I’m heading for North Korea.
The Kims do respect right. Last week a high-level delegation from that land flew to Kuala Lumpur looking for the body of Dear Leader Kim Jong-un’s half-brother, Kim Jong-nam. Nam was killed there Feb. 13 by a nerve-gas attack many suspect Un orchestrated.
Every family has its quarrels. Get past this, Un ordering his uncle’s execu- tion, all his uncle’s relatives wiped out and his deputy security minister immolated by a flame-thrower and I bet they have great reunions.
Other dead Kims include Kim Jong-un’s grandfather Kim Il-sung, North Korea’s President for Eternity; and father Kim Jong-li, Supreme Leader for Eternity. They held those jobs for Life till they died, because only then can Eternity be conferred.
Kim In-between had 1,200-plus other titles including Guardian Deity of the Planet, Ever-Victorious General, Lodestar of the 21st Century, Eternal Bosom of Hot Love and Greatest Man Who Ever Lived. That’s the kind of respect I mean.
“Flannery,” I would tell my daughter.
“What now?” she’d say.
“Your education has been bereft. Asian students are outperforming Americans. Luckily, Betsy DeVos will fix that.
“In the meantime,” I’d go on, “we can learn from the North Korean schools, which teach that Kim Jong-li was able to walk at three weeks, talk at eight weeks, wrote 1,500 books during his three years at Kim Il-sung University and penned six full operas in two years, all of which are better than any in the history of music. Has your school taught you that about me?”
“See? Kim In-between first picked up a golf club in 1994 at North Korea’s only course and shot a 38-under-par round that included 11 holes in one.”
“Tough shoes to fill,” she’d say.
“But there’s hope for your generation too. The new Kim learned to drive at age three and was a yachting champ at age nine. Even though it’s too early for Eternity, he holds titles like Supreme Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic, Chairman of the Workers’ Party and Marshall of the People’s Army. Plus he has great hair and hangs out with basketball’s Dennis Rodman.”
“Why can’t our family be like theirs?” she’d sigh.
“We can! Skull cap fragments found in Lingjing, China, suggest modern man’s relationship to Neanderthals is closer than scientists had thought previously.”
“In the Age of Trump, why am I not surprised?”
“Show some respect for our own Greatest Man Who Ever Lived,” I would order. “Plus Neanderthals get a bad rap. Sure, they were troglodytes, shorter and stockier than us, and their skulls, unlike ours, featured heavy brow ridges. But they crafted tools, tamed fire and wore talon necklaces, the first jewelry. Plus they gleaned a few things from early humans, like genital herpes and tapeworm parasites.”
“Heartworming,” I’d correct her. “Anyway, the skull fragments, from a site thought to be inhabited during the Pleistocene epoch 105,000 to 125,000 years ago, have features never seen before in the hominid fossil record, sharing both human and Neanderthal characteristics …”
“What does that have to do with respect?” she would ask. “Or my education?”
“I’m getting there. First, is Eternity retroactive?”
“If Kim family values make Sung President and Li Supreme Leader forever, does that mean for the Pleistocene epoch on back as well as forward?”
“Why ask me?”
“Aren’t there theological implications? What would God say?”
“Why don’t you ask?” she’d ask.
“When I pray, I hear my own mind back. Unless I’m out of it.”
“Aren’t there middle men who can tell you?”
“Plenty. But they say different things. I still have to decide. Who can respect that?”
“Me,” God would say.
“Are you sure you’re not Kim?”
“Yes, everyone,” S/He’d say.