The Debaters

It was Lucerne Museum’s Annual Debate. Dimpy (Dimples) was pleased with herself. Who would have imagined, five years ago when she became Director, that an event at the Museum could be sold out – jammed! There was a waiting list for tickets, even a small black market she’d heard. She was a natural bringer together of people. It was her gift from God – or gods if there was more than one.

Dimpy was inspired by many sources. She recalled watching parliamentary debates in her childhood. Though the subject matter was generally uninteresting, members’ logical strategies and emotional appeals were fascinating. She had always enjoyed the Massey lectures – presenting original points of view. Recently she’d been impressed by a radio show called The Debaters, where pairs of comedians tried to provide the best combination of “facts and funny”.

Topics of debate were chosen by the Museum Board. In the past four years they had included, “Is Lucerne Village an independent entity or a slave to Strattus?” It was felt that Lucerne was basically a big bedroom for the local resort town of Strattus. “Should Lucerne Village retain its capacity or double in size?” It was felt that Lucerne should double in size. “Should Lucerne Village support old farms or modern industry?” This was declared a tie. Last year’s debate was controversial: “Should Lucerne Village create population quotas, or remain laissez faire?” The audience supported gender, racial, cultural, sexual orientation, religious, disability, and age-related quotas. People asked Dimpy why she had promoted debate on such a divisive issue. She said “That’s exactly why. People should speak freely, and think fiercely.”

Today’s topic was safer. More abstract. “Who is the true guardian of Lucerne Village: St. Lucy or Cernunnos?”

It was traditional for debaters to dress up. They did not disappoint. St. Lucy entered. She had long, blonde hair bound in plaits, topped by a wreath of greens which held seven lit candles; she wore a plain white dress, belted by a red sash; she bore a golden platter on which were small biscuits shaped like eyeballs. These symbolized the eyes that she had herself removed to be rid of a pagan suitor. She offered the biscuits to audience-members. Dimpy felt that this may be unfair, but let it go. Being eight months pregnant – the less effort expended today, the better.

Cernunnos danced in to cheers. He was dressed head to toe in a woolly brown goat skin, and bore twisting black horns. His long black boots gave the impression of hooves, and both arms and legs bore heavy golden bracelets called torcs. He carried a goatskin bag of liquor, and criss-cross belts filled with shooter glasses, which he rapidly filled and passed to audience-members. This was definitely not allowed, but Dimply also let it slide.

It was time to begin. She addressed the audience. “Welcome to the Museum’s Annual Debate. As you can see, we have a pair of very engaging characters present this evening. So without further ado, let us debate the motion of who is the true guardian of Lucerne Village. There will be four rounds in total. The first is their Arguments.”

St. Lucy wondered why they were even discussing this topic; the answer was apparent in her name. “Lucy comes from lux,” she said, “meaning light. What is more welcome in this land of long, cold, dark winters? Lucy brings light and warmth to your frozen souls. In Central Europe on St. Lucy’s day, bands of fortune-telling boys sing her songs of life; in Scandinavia, eldest daughters make warm breakfast for their families, and join processions of moon-girls and star-boys, lighting up the streets. Her Italian form, Juno, is goddess of childbirth, bringing babes into the light; and throughout Christian countries, she is the kind-hearted patron of the blind. Wherever she goes, Lucy brings joy and light.”

There was great applause from the ladies in the audience. Cernunnos made obscene gestures and leered, before beginning his Argument.

He said, “Cernunnos is a mysterious god. He moves in dark ways. His name comes from kornan, the Gaulish word for horn. His having horns or antlers shows his kinship with beasts, of whom he is Lord, and he sits cross-legged, surrounded by stags, bulls, serpents, dogs, and rats. His horn is both a ceremonial trumpet and military horn. He loves all kind of adventures, and the wealth they lead to – both as tribute and as experience. But most of all, he is horny, period. His horn shows his love of life – symbolizing its cycles of birth, death, and rebirth. So good people, be horny and vote for me!”

Every man present cheered. St. Lucy averted her eyes.

Dimpy said “Now the Bare Knuckles round,” This became pretty heated, with Cernunnos calling St. Lucy a prude, and her calling him a pervert. He didn’t seem to mind this moniker and made further obscene gestures. The Firing Line round involved questions about Lucerne Village. St. Lucy fared better on social issues and family affairs; Cernunnos performed well on leisure and economic matters. Then their final Summations: St. Lucy spoke of brightness, faith, and culture. Cernunnos extolled self-expression, darkness, and nature.

When Dimpy asked the audience to vote, there were big cheers for both sides. She requested a re-cheer. Again it was impossible to decide. A third and final round of cheering caused her water to break and her labour to start early. Fortunately Dr. Bungawalla was in the audience and took charge. It all happened in a flash, and a babe emerged before them.

St. Lucy said that as goddess of childbirth, this miracle was hers. Cernunnos said that as a fertility god, the credit was all his. Dimpy ruled that the baby was crying out for them both. Lucerne Village was a place of light and dark. They were both her newborn’s guardians.

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One Response to “The Debaters”

  1. Gets 5 for sure. However still a few minor slips and :- /–/
    “Now the bare knuckles round,” The comma indicates there is to be a continuation of the sentence. Should be a period. /–/
    Doing a Google search with punctuat dialog (to embrace -ing and -ion as well as -e, and US as well as Brit) I found many very good references, and have printed out terencekuch.com and a couple of others. I like : “The comma must serve two masters, grammar and rhetoric. At times these masters disagree.” /–/

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