Monger Games

We all know people who take advantage of other people. The mooches, the sponges, the freeloaders, scrubs, deadbeats, parasites and hangers-on. Their behavior can be attributed to a plethora of rationales: not enough support from parents during their formative years; those who instinctively detect weakness in others and are wont to exploit it; being born in a generation that somehow feels they're owed a living (you know who you are); the "beautiful people" who realize they can get away with murder just because they're, well... beautiful. And let's not forget those out-and-out lazy, good-for-nuthin' sloths who'd rather feign some kind of debilitating mental or physical malady than hold their own in this grand rat race we call life.

Interestingly enough, these same lowly attributes can also be applied to words. That's right, they're every bit as capable of being the no-account, free riding, panhandling leech as us humans. And one in particular that fits the bill?... "Monger", an over 1,000 year-old moniker that desperately clings to other words for support in order to stay alive. Indeed, its appended reliance on the likes of "fish", "fear", "war" and "hate" are the only reason it's still here. And that's a shame because it's one ugly-assed word that should've been retired at about the time Napoleon was exiled to Elba (ya' know, before the whole syphilis thing). So I guess that begs the question... why? Why would these oft-used, everyday words let themselves be attached to such an outdated, repugnant-sounding, archaic name? What's behind it; who's applying the pressure?... Could it be... dare I say... a lobbyist?... Whoa!... I know, when you think about it, it makes total sense, doesn't it? I mean, that is the way of the world nowadays, right? It's how you play the game. You want to get the other side on board, you need to bring in help; you need to get yourself a lobbyist...

So, yeah, I knew with that thought I was onto something. I knew I had to hit the pavement and dig a little deeper. And what I came up with totally blew me away. Below is an alleged transcript given to me by a friend of a friend close to someone considered a possible connection to a person of interest. The conversation takes place between a Monger Lobbyist (ML) and a member of the Department of Fear (DOF):

ML: First off, thanks for seeing me on such short notice. I was just in the neighborhood and--
DOF: (unenthused) Yeah, yeah, just got off the phone with the people at War. Said you were makin' the rounds.
ML: Yeah, War, Hate... Rumor... saw 'em all, actually.
DOF: And how did that go?
ML: Fine. Everybody seemed in good spirits; business as usual. Hate sends his best, by the way.
DOF: And yet, from what I hear, no one signed on?
ML: (nervously) No, but we're close. Very close. There's just one, ah... one little fly in the ointment... one tiny... condition?
DOF: Condition?
ML: Yeah, everyone's all set to proceed as soon as I get your John Hancock. With Fear's signature on the dotted line they're all ready to rock and roll--
DOF: And without it... no rock, no roll?
ML: They never said that. Not in so many words but, ya' know, there is a certain logic to it, right? I mean, once there's Fear then Hate and War tend to fall right into place. It's only natural.
DOF: Honestly?... can't say as I'm feelin' it.
ML: "It"?
DOF: Yeah, word is Monger's time has passed; gone the way of the dinosaur--
ML: Dinosaur? C'mon, that's a bit harsh--
DOF: Nobody wants to use it anymore... Look, I know this is tough to take... Hey, it had a great run--over a thousand years--but its time has come. And if I'm being honest here "monger" is not an aesthetically pleasing word in today's culture. It's actually kind of off-putting--
ML: Maybe by itself but coupled with "fear" it really pops, don't ya think?!
DOF: Was a time, centuries ago, when it meant "trader", an honorable term, but now it's anything but. Heck, nowadays you hear the word "monger" and you think snake-oil salesman--
ML: Oh, now you're just being mean--
DOF: Do you have Fish?
ML: Excuse me?
DOF: You heard me. Is Fish on board or not?
ML: (heavy sigh) They're, ah... considering--
DOF: Considering?... My god, man, if "fishmonger" isn't in play then what're we even talking about here? They've been your ace in the hole from the very beginning. Without Fish its lights out, game over... put a fork in it!
ML: They've hired a bunch of younger people lately with wild, new ideas. They prefer hooking up with words like "distributor", "importer" even... "merchant" if you can believe it... C'mon, you know kids, they're all over the place. It'll all shake out soon and "monger" will be back on board--
DOF: So maybe that's what we do; we wait it out. What say you come back in a few years, if and when the tides change, and we can--
ML: (panicked) Whoa, whoa, easy now!... C'mon, man, you and I, we go back a long way, through good times and bad... I mean, you remember when Wall Street was making money hand over fist and the word "fear" was hardly getting any play?... Who stuck with you then?... It was Monger, wasn't it? Same thing back when employment and oil prices dropped. Suddenly Fear was a ghost and there was good ol' Monger holding you by the hand, telling you not to worry, bad times were right around the corner.
DOF: (heavy sigh) Oh man, not this again--
ML: Look, all I'm saying is don't be a fair weather friend. Stick by me until this turns around... Tell you what, sign on for the next couple years if things are still the same then fine, we'll part ways amicably. No pressure, I promise.
DOF: I, ah... gee, I don't know--
ML: Hey, that single malt whisky you're so fond of?... Holidays are comin'. Wouldn't be surprised if a case of it made it's way to your office in time.
DOF: Huh, I do love that single malt--
ML: (brightening) 'Course you do; it's the best!... C'mon, just two years!
DOF: (long pause... finally) One... One year. Final offer; take it or leave it.
ML: (big smile) Done. Excellent. Yeah, I'm sure things'll turn around come this time next year--
DOF: Yeah, okay, kinda busy here and I'm sure you have some phone calls to make?
ML: (taking his cue) Oh yeah, the others are gonna be tickled pink--
DOF: Alright, Heather will see you out.
ML: Right. Hey, happy holidays. Best to the wife and kids--
DOF: Same here. Don't forget the--
ML: Single malt, got it!

The sound of a door opening and closing and a heavy sigh from DOF.