Forgive me for my lack of output the last few weeks, but I have recently returned from a hitherto undisclosed location. As many of you know, I’ve never been exactly over-the-moon about my association, however tenuous, with this shabby excuse of a publishing concern. In truth, the feeling is somewhat mutual. So, you can imagine my shock when the Flappr’s irritable and overworked editor-owner asked me to represent the firm on a matter of delicate international importance. Yes, my friends, I was dispatched as the Flappr’s special diplomatic envoy to the great nation of Mauritius.
Why Mauritius, you ask? Well, as strange as it sounds, in the past year the Flappr has (inexplicably) risen to become the island nation’s most visited web publication (Editor's Note: this fact remains highly unconfirmed). Who knew? Thus, my formidable services as a corporate plenipotentiary were suddenly much in demand.
My assignment was part public-relations tour and part fact-finding mission. It happens that Mauritius is a small island chain, situated in the lower Indian Ocean, about 500 miles off the coast of Madagascar. Its reef-shrouded islands are home to about 1.2 million souls, $31.75 billion in GDP, but not a single satirical publication of note, which might perhaps explain the Flappr’s enormous popularity there.
Apparently, the islands were uninhabited when a series of European explorers first made the island a pit-stop on their way further east. First came the Portuguese, then the Dutch, and then the French, who established a colony there, importing slaves and political prisoners from Africa. Finally, the British joined the party. In the early 1800's, they smacked the French around, stole their colony, abolished slavery, and imported laborers from India instead. Mauritius finally gained its independence in 1968.
Anyway, with such scanty information as I had to go on, I hastily packed my bags, booked a flight to South Africa, and told Gladys I was stepping out for a smoke. I left Chappiqaw County that very night, bringing only my wallet, my house keys, my garden shed keys (for some reason), five grand in cash, a map of Cape Horn, and a little black notebook, which (if worst came to worst) I could always roll up like a tube and conceal within my nether regions. I planned to purchase a firearm from a clandestine dealer as soon as I landed.
And let me tell you, the flight from [LOCATION REDACTED] to Cape Town is no goddamn joke. Now, I've never been the world's best flyer. In fact, the last time I was up in the air, I spent half the flight gorging myself on black licorice only to vomit all over the stewardess when I asked for the time. But this trip transcended anything in my experience. Seventeen goddamn hours! Stuck in a hollow aluminum tube with the worst sort of riff-raff imaginable. Apparently, they’ll let just about anybody onto an airplane these days. One man even had the temerity to wear shorts. Shorts! While traveling! Have you ever heard of such a thing? The indecency!
At long last – and with my finest brown suit covered in vomit and licorice crumbs – we landed in Cape Town at God-knows-what-hour. I immediately proceeded towards the next leg of my journey, which would take me overland through Johannesburg and Pretoria to the coastal town of Maputo, capital of Mozambique.
Alas that my fellow passengers were even more insufferable than those on the airplane ride. Enroute from Pretoria, I endured the disagreeable experience of sharing a train compartment with a certain M. Dvořák of Budapest. This man, seemingly so cultured, proved to be nothing less than a shameless mountebank.
He invited me back for a game of billiards in the parlor car, to which at first, I readily agreed. There we met the Countess Petrova (Bulgarian, I think), Jafaru Mapunda (a disgraced Zulu prince), and Li Fāng (a renowned Chinese kickboxer, supposedly). Long story short, what began as a friendly wager (and a round of blueberry vodka cocktails), resulted in M. Dvořák defrauding yours truly of nearly all my cash reserves and emergency per diems.
Suffice it to say, I woke up in my train compartment half-naked with my underwear over my head, my antique portmanteau cracked open and rifled through, and a pile of counterfeit Swiss Bank Notes strewn on the nightstand – the corners fluttering a bit from the breeze of the open window, as if the worthless paper was laughing at me.
Luckily, I had concealed $200 and my little black notebook into the area previously described, and so was able to afford the flight from Maputo to Mauritius. Eight hours later, I finally landed in Port Louis, the capital, with absolutely no money and a pounding headache. After aimlessly ambling around the airport for some time – wondering in God’s name what day it was – I was met at the terminal by a man calling himself Tibor Ravipundi, who offered me a ride. In my somewhat disordered state of mind, I at once accepted and was driven forthwith to the seat of government.
As I discovered later, Tibor Ravipundi was none other the Mauritrean Minister of Culture and Fisheries, which would’ve been helpful to know beforehand, since I spent half the car ride praying I wasn’t about to get robbed, raped, and stabbed (and not necessarily in that order).
We arrived at Government House in good time and Tibor conducted me into the Office of the President. Now, in preparation for this assignment, I had spent a few weeks brushing up on my Spanish, fully intending to greet the government officials with a hearty “Buenos Noches Señors!” However (and much to my chagrin), the official language of Mauritius is in fact French – of which I can’t understand a word – and this greatly befuddled the assembled officials.
To recover from this regrettable contretemps would take a wisecrack of the highest order, I thought to myself, so I broke the tension with a sheepish laugh and said, “Well, it was worth a shot, right?” And lo and behold, a sincere chuckle swept through the assembly. This one diplomatic masterstroke had perhaps salvaged my entire mission.
Afterwards, Tibor, the President, and the Prime Minister took me for an inspection of the Special Mobile Force, the 1500-strong elite of the Mauritrean military. It consisted of two armored squadrons, an engineering squadron, five motorized infantry companies, and a dedicated search-and-rescue team. “My God,” I remarked to Prime Minister Pravid Jugnauth, “I pity the poor dumb bastards who have to go up against those ferocious tigers!”
Right about this time, I began to suspect my Mauritrean handlers were under the impression that I was also an agent of the United States government – a misconception I carefully and assiduously failed to correct. They kept casually dropping hints about how they wished to annex the neighboring (and disputed) Chagos Archipelago at the soonest possible moment. I made a note of it in my little black notebook and told the Prime Minister I’d take it up with my superiors.
In the evening, I was feted to a lavish banquet, at which I was served the the most inedible fare I have ever seen since my ill-fated trip to Taco Bell. Seriously, the food is outlandishly bad, a lot of assorted aquatic balderdash - fried tentacles and that sort of thing - which I painfully forced down in a show of politesse. Thankfully, the conversation was remarkably pleasant. The government ministers repeatedly reiterated their deep admiration for the Flappr and its nearly widespread popularity among the Mauritrean people. I am pleased to report the following anecdotes:
Pravind Jugnauth, the Prime Minister, doubled-over in riotous laughter as he recalled the infamous Hickenlooper piece, which he proceeded to recite word-for-word in my presence. He also enjoys the what dumb thing did Biden say today articles, which are, in his words, ebullient knee-slappers. At one point, he asked me, “How can your immensely influential and most prestigious website have allowed such a bumbling ignoramus to become president? Surely the great Flappr should have put a stop to it!” I went on to explain that in America, the Flappr is not nearly as popular as it is in Mauritius, to which the Prime Minister snorted with indignity.
Later on, President Prithvirajsing Roopun expressed his disgust at somebody called Lena Dunham and applauded the work of the Flappr staff for exposing her hypocrisy. “In Mauritrius," he declared, "we would’ve hanged such a woman from streetlamp !” To this, I laughed along politely – not being entirely sure who (or what) a Lena Dunham is.
On the other hand, Chief Justice Asraf Ally Caunhye especially enjoys the work of a “Cocaine Bear” and wishes that this person (animal?) will one day visit Mauritrius so that they converse about politics in his native French. I told him I’d pass along the invitation as soon as I can figure out how to make contact with the aforementioned party.
Meanwhile, Arvind Obeegadoo, Minister of Finance and Parking, was very keen on a recent piece brilliantly exploring the vagaries of cryptocurrency. He informed me, furthermore, that Mauritius is heavily invested in bitcoin and similar forms of electronic specie. Quite on a hunch, I broached the possibility of Flappr and Mauritius partnering together on our own cryptocurrency, tentatively named “FlapprFlorins”, to which the Minster of Finance expressed significant - and might I add, gleeful - interest.
I myself can personally attest to the popular enthusiasm for the Flappr as I walked the streets of Port Louis that very night. Speculative printers have compiled digests of the Flappr’s best work*, which swiftly sell-out at newsstands by the Flappr-rabid general public. Additionally, many coffee shops and internet cafes have taken to posting window signs like "Read Flappr Here!” or “We Have The Flappr!” in both French and English. Suffice it to say, it put a smile on this author's face.
* On a side note, Flappr management may want to look into this.
The rest of my stay was rather uneventful. After having solidified the Flappr’s ties with the great nation of Mauritius, Minister Tibor – tears streaming from his eyes – bestowed upon me a genuine stuffed Dodo Bird, the last living example of which died sometime in the 1660’s. Profoundly touched, I pledged the Flappr’s unyielding support in the effort to liberate the Chagos Archipelago from the wretched administration of the Republic of the Maldives.
After a ticker-tape parade down La Paix Street, the government ministers and the entirety of the National Assembly accompanied me back to the airport. There, on the tarmac, I shook hands with all and sundry, bid my farewells, and turned towards the waiting airplane. I was just about to board the gangway when an adorable little girl ran out from the crowd, sprinted to my side, and handed me a beautiful red Trochetia Boutoniana – the national flower of Mauritius. “God bless the Flappr,” she said, in a sing-song voice that couldn't be sweeter. As a final display of my considerable diplomatic skill, I picked the child up and kissed her softly on the cheek. Thunderous applause erupted from the joyous onlookers.
Thus I departed, satisfied that I had secured a durable entente between this internet publication and the magnificent island nation of Mauritius. The Dodo Bird, which I have nicknamed “Dodo”, is at this very moment sitting on the right-hand corner of my desk. I herewith propose that it become Flappr’s official mascot. As I understand it, Flappr management already employs a bird in its marketing materials. Why not name this bird “Dodo” in honor of our stalwart Mauritrean allies? I trust that you, dear reader, shall take up this cause as your own.
And with that I think I shall retire to my hammock for a well-deserved rest.
God bless America! Long live Mauritius!