the p.r.o.b. pronoun affair

It was a confusing time for the citizens of the People’s Republic of Brokenistan, or PROBers, as they are commonly known. The Ministry of Identity had banned all personal pronouns amid a general frenzy of disillusionment over who was who and what was what. I happened to be passing through P.R.O.B. on business and overheard the following exchange take place in the square outside the offices of the Ministry, where a multitude of PROBers had gathered to debate the recent decision.*

Bork took a vow of silence, said an ancient PROBer who was wearing an enormous velvet stocking cap.

Unheard of in this day and age, replied Stocking Cap’s interlocutor, whose tight pants were patterned in an intricate black-and-white geometric design.

Indeed, though the reaction is understandable.

Maybe, replied Pattern Pants. Though Bork never says much anyway.

True. Bork’s reticence is known throughout P.R.O.B.

A protest of sorts?

Perhaps, said Stocking Cap, nodding slowly while stroking the velvet cap, which seemed to elongate in response, though I may have been hallucinating due to lack of sleep on account of the drunken Amway representatives who’d kept me up all night during my train ride through Brokenistan’s stark, extensive Flatlands region.

Where’s Bork living these days, asked Pattern Pants.

In a hut on top of Mount Uncertainty. Been gone for about a month now.

Huh. That’s a long way from the capital.

Several weeks by yak, is what Bork reckoned before leaving.

Just then a commotion broke out near the steps of the Ministry building. The noise shattered the spell cast upon me by Pattern Pants’s pants, the lines in the design of which had begun fluctuating in length and width to the point of extreme distraction. Though, again, a possible hallucination.

Oh look, the Minister is coming out, announced P. P., whose exceedingly long legs afforded an unobstructed view of the action.

The Minister stood on the marble steps looking nonplussed in the face of so many PROBers staring back with pupils dilated to unsettling proportions, a side effect of the herb commonly known as divinium, which most PROBers chewed all day to relieve anxiety.

The Minister made a throat-clearing sound.

Attention, citizens. As a result of emergency subcommittee proceedings convened in light of communication difficulties following the ban on personal pronouns it has been concluded that the populace shall henceforth and until further notice be permitted to now use the personal pronouns ‘you’ and ‘I’. Future decisions on whether to reinstate any or all remaining personal pronouns into everyday speech will be forthcoming, should they be deemed necessary by the Ministry and its associated governing bodies. That is all.

The Minister returned to the Ministry’s inner sanctum and I looked around to gauge the reaction to this doubtlessly monumental proclamation. However, most PROBers had merely returned to quietly murmuring among themselves. In front of me, Stocking Cap turned to Pattern Pants.

Say, would you like to go on a divinium harvesting excursion? I found a secret patch out near the edge of the Flatlands.

Yes! I would. I’ve almost used up what I have on hand and I can already feel the old nerves acting up.

I watched the pair set off toward the city limits, the one’s shiny velvet cap undulating in the late afternoon sun and the design of the other’s pants shrinking and expanding with each of its wearer’s jaunty steps. When the two were only tiny dots in the distance I turned and walked back to the train station, my step light with the knowledge that the Amway representatives—passed out cold in a sleeper car when I disembarked—had continued on toward the mountains, where in a tiny hut perched on a crag of Mount Uncertainty, the lone PROBer Bork maintained a silent vigil, unaware of the latest news about ‘you’ and ‘I’.

*Since I am not a citizen of the Republic and I am also writing this report from outside its borders, I am not bound to follow this ban, though you will of course see its effects reflected in my transcriptions of PROBer dialogue.

Leave a comment


  1. I like this ! I’m reminded of Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

  2. taidgh

     /  April 21, 2016

    Really enjoyed this Sean! Thanks for sharing. It has stayed with me. And I keep on reading it. Cheers!

  1. grey man | lost gander


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  • Recent Posts

  • Navigation Station

    The links along the top of the page are rudimentary attempts at trail markers. Otherwise, see below for more search and browse options.

  • In Search of Lost Time

  • Personal Taxonomy

  • Common Ground

  • Resources


%d bloggers like this: