Was there a special Mess you had in mind, sir?
If you could be a little more specific …
As you can see we’ve every size and kind, sir,
From In Your Face to Mildly Soporific.

Adultery is very popular—
It’s our perennial favorite, you could say:
The Shocking Pink? Most customers prefer
Discreeter models, like this Sordid Gray.

Self-poisonings are on sale, and very buyable:
We stock Old Fogey’s Alcoholic Haze,
The Sixties’ Acid Test, and this reliable
La Mode Cocaine; it’s ultra-chic these days.

Loony obsessions can be quite attractive—
Religious Manias are on that wall,
They come in Solitary or Interactive;
Some say they make the biggest Mess of all.

There’s Basic Selfishness, a classic line,
And always guaranteed to stay in style;
I know I couldn’t function without mine—
It makes a Mess that’s wonderfully worthwhile.

Still not convinced? A canny customer!
I’ve one more product that might interest you:
This cut-price Boredom is a beauty, sir—
And it’ll do what all the others do.

A new initiative for discerning readers—and our close friends. Join The New Criterion’s Supporters Circle.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 24 Number 1, on page 55
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