(SCENE: A brightly lit set at a local television station, decorated like a child’s treehouse. An audience of children await the beginning of the show. Cheerful theme music plays.)
ANNOUNCER: Hey kids — it’s time for everyone’s favorite new after school program,The Uncle Saturn Show! Here he is… Uncle Saturn!
(A tall figure in a long black robe walks onto the set. His face is obscured but could quite possibly be a skull. The children clap and cheer loudly at first, but this soon fades into nervous silence. After a long pause, Uncle SATURN speaks in a deep resonant English voice that sounds vaguely familiar to any of the parents out there watching)
SATURN: Hello children. I am Saturn, the Lord of Endings. Even though we’ve just begun this show, it will end eventually — so pay attention while it’s still here. And here is my co-host, the ever cheerful Hilaria the New Age Astrology Clown!
(HILARIA enters. She is an overly-enthusiastic 25 year old in a clown suit with a star painted on each cheek)
HILARIA: Hi kids! Everything is wonderful if you use your imagination!
SATURN: (to HILARIA, with no hint of amusement in his voice) Aren’t you delightful. (Addressing audience) Today children, we’re going to learn about something very important… your limitations.
HILARIA: Life is magical and you can create your own reality!
SATURN: No. No you can’t. Not really. You see, life is defined more by its boundaries and limits than by its potential. Eventually, everything falls apart or decays or dies. Everything.
HILARIA: (to SATURN) You’re a big meanie!
SATURN: No I’m not. It would be far more cruel to lie to these children about life. (Pointing into the crowd) You there, young man. What would you like to be when you grow up?
SMALL BOY IN THE AUDIENCE: A professional athlete!
SATURN: That’s just lovely… except of course you do realize that the vast majority of people who try to be professional athletes don’t make it, don’t you. And many of those who could make it have their careers ended early by injury. And even if you do make it you likely won’t be able to work through your thirties. What will you do with the rest of your life? Live off your savings? (SATURN chuckles) Trust me. I rule bones and joints, young man, and I know a bad set of knees when I see one. Stay in school. (SATURN picks another child in the audience) You there, young lady. What would you like to be when you grow up?
SMALL GIRL IN THE AUDIENCE: I want to be an astronaut!
SATURN: Well now — that’s hardly realistic given that most of the world’s governments are spending much more on warfare than on exploration, and the trend is unlikely to end anytime soon. Also, you are only seven and you’re already wearing glasses. Astronauts need to have excellent eyesight. They also need good educations… and your parents haven’t provided for that have they? Daddy is still drinking, yes? (The SMALL GIRL starts to sob uncontrollably. SATURN turns and whispers to HILARIA.) Future drug addict. Just you watch.
HILARIA: (Very upset) You’re a big meanie Saturn! I thought you ruled boundaries and structures and limitations, and not just being a jerk!
SATURN: Oh yes… yes I do rule those things. Whether or not you can wrap your hopelessly optimistic worldview around that or not is your problem… not mine. (Addressing the children) now here is a delightful little song about the relentless march towards mortality…
(The children in the audience are now silent except for some quiet sobbing and a couple of kids struggling to hide under their chairs. HILARIA is on the verge of tears.)
HILARIA: You’re terrible Saturn! I still say that despite all our limitations we can still create our own reality and make our lives a wonderful adventure! Don’t listen to him kids!
SATURN: How charming — you recognize that there are rules to life, but then you seek to impose your own rules over that of the entire Universe. That’s very Jupiter of you, all boundless enthusiasm and such. But of course I rule limitations, not boundless growth and expansion. Boundless growth and expansion isn’t always a good thing you know.
(HILARIA suddenly grasps her lower abdomen and turns pale. She grunts in pain and collapses on the floor.)
SATURN: (to the audience) Boundless growth and expansion can be a problem, children. Without order and limitations, it can lead to terrible results (Looks down at HILARIA, lying in a ball on the floor and moaning) Like the word of the day for today: endometriosis. Look it up.
HILARIA: Oh my God the pain!!
SATURN: (turning to address the camera) Tune in tomorrow children when we will unveil the amazing secret the REAL magical adventure Mommy sent your pet that never came home again. Goodbye everyone. Enjoy your youth while it lasts.
ANNOUNCER: That was The Uncle Saturn Show, which will be back tomorrow, and every other day. Whether anyone likes it or not… even if you refuse to watch.