Saturday, August 2, 1997

Titanic - the God-proof boat

The boardwalk at Brighton, England, early in the 20th century. An Eric Idle-esque huckster in a straw boater is making a pitch to the well-dressed passersby. A booth behind him says "White Star Lines." A cloth partly covers it.

HUCKSTER: Hello, good sir. Good evening, madam. Are you considering an ocean cruise? May I be so bold as to suggest a cruise on a White Star liner?

TEDDY, a knockabout cockney walks by. Too well-dressed.


HUCKSTER: Ah. You can't afford it?

TEDDY: I can afford to have you killed, mate.

HUCKSTER: Then cruise to your heart's content and then have me killed!

TEDDY: No. I hate the stupid bloody ocean, all right? It's dangerous.

HUCKER: Ah. Fear of drowning and so forth. Safety concerns?

TEDDY nods sheepishly. A small crowd starts to gather.

HUCKSTER: Well. Let safety concern you no more! White Star Lines has just the boat for you! For all of you! It is nigh indestructible, ladies and gentlemen! The safest ever created! It is proof against the injuries of coral, typhoons, whirlpools, sudden swells and violent waves. A triumph of British engineering!

TEDDY: What about acts of God?

HUCKSTER: Excuse me?

TEDDY: You heard me. That bloody safe boat of yours. Will it protect me from the wrath of a vengeful God?

HUCKSTER: Why on earth should you that concern you?

TEDDY: I dunno. Hypothetically? Theft, adultery, the odd bit of murder. I've read the bloody Bible, mate. I know how He thinks. He's just waiting to get me out in the middle of the Ocean where He can kill me for my sins.

HUCKSTER: Ah. So the fear of divine retribution is a factor in your vacation plans?

TEDDY: Why take the risk, eh? I'm not bloody stupid. I know for a fact your bloody engineers can't make a God-proof boat.

HUCKSTER: What if I told you they can? Behold ladies and gentlemen!

He whips back the cloth, revealing a gleaming painting of ...

HUCKSTER: The HMS Titanic! The God-proof boat!

The flowing cursive caption reads "God Himself can't sink her."

The crowd goes oooh.

HUCKSTER: Yes, that's right, ladies and gentlemen. The HMS Titanic. Fully God-proof! That's the White Star Lines difference! "God Himself can't sink her." We dare to make this bold claim!

TEDDY: Can you back it up?

MAN: (OS) This man is an obvious shill!

Sound of beating and a scuffle.

HUCKSTER: Yes! We're prepared to back it up. Here's our chief engineer, Nigel Throckmorton.

NIGEL walks up.

NIGEL: Hello. Well. (holds out model) This may look like a toy. It is not.

WOMAN: It's so cute!

NIGEL: As may be.

WOMAN: I want it.

NIGEL: You can't have it!

WOMAN: I want it for my bathtub!

NIGEL: No! It's my little boat! Well. As I saying. This is not a toy. It's a full-scale model of the real thing, identical to the original in all respects except for size. We subjected it to all manner of product testing. I believe you have film?

HUCKSTER: Yes, we do. Edison's marvel will make Nigel's assertions clear!

A screen at the White Star booth plays the film.

A tank in a lab where scientists are attacking the model Titanic.

NIGEL: As you can see, we subjected this little boat to every manner of divine retribution imaginable. Plague, locusts, fire from heaven, etcetera. After hundreds of hours of product testing, it survived every Biblical challenge. On that basis it is scientifically safe to assert that "God himself can't sink her." Like it says on the poster.

HUCKSTER: Very good Nigel.

NIGEL: I will now answer relevant questions.

TEDDY raises his hand.


TEDDY: God's omnipotent right?

NIGEL: Yeah. Theoretically.

TEDDY: Well. What if God chooses to violate his own physical laws. Create a miracle, as it were?

NIGEL: Well, he could, I suppose. That wouldn't be cricket, would it. Can I go?

HUCKSTER: Yes. Thank you, Nigel. (hands him a cookie) A round of applause for Nigel!

The audience applauds.

HUCKSTER: And there you have it! Step right up, ladies and gentlemen. Fear has made you shut-ins! Well, fear no more! Stop crouching in your mansions where God can't hurt you. The Titanic is fully God-proof! Your doom will come, ladies and gentlemen. God will punish you for your sins. But not on our boat! You can relax in the delightful luxurious ambiance knowing that God can't touch you. Experience the thrill of the open ocean! Purchase your tickets now!

They flock and feverishly buy tickets for the cruise.

NIGEL steps up. Whispers to the HUCKSTER.

NIGEL: Hey, whatever your name is. I just thought of something.

HUCKSTER: Not now.

NIGEL: Hubris.

HUCKSTER: This is really bad timing.

NIGEL: I forgot to test for hubris.


NIGEL: Overweening pride or something.

TEDDY appears.

HUCKSTER: Take Nigel out for a pint, eh?

TEDDY: Come on, mate.

TEDDY puts his arm around NIGEL's shoulder and takes him away.

HUCKSTER: Bloody engineers.

No comments:

Post a Comment