March of the Lemmings
by Michael McCue
Illustration by Ans Purins
(Author’s Note – written after eleven Budweisers, with one eye barely open, grasping the bar for stability at Cronin’s Publick House in Quincy … MWM)
Beneath my breath I butchered the words to “I Am Sixteen, Going On Seventeen” from The Sound of Music. The gravestone against which I leant read “von” something. The volume of our radio was pegged with its speakers face down in front of the stone, beaming an entirely different song directly at the grave’s occupant six feet below. One of my group took a healthy pull from the container of clear liquid which swung in his hand. The other lingered around the street bordering the cemetery scouting for the authorities. We knew it would be one thing if the police rousted us for drinking in a graveyard, but it would be another thing altogether if they caught us trying to raise the dead.
This sepulchral scene was set in motion a week before. I thought I had died and gone to Hell when I was forced to endure the pre-game foolishness at a Major League Soccer match, namely as a mascot representing some unidentifiable animal leading the sparse crowd in that abomination known as the Macarena. Things escalated to intolerable at the end of the half. Some bloated buffoon, announced as a local radio DJ, waddled towards midfield, calling on separate ethnic groups comprising the audience to lend their cheers as they were identified. I slowly positioned the keys in my pocket so that one protruded from between each of my fingers. I then balled my hand into a fist, fearing I was witnessing a warm up for a race riot.
After a little more inane chatter, the insufferable melody returned, blaring from the enormous stacks of amplifiers surrounding the field. It was then I noticed that two dozen cheerleaders had gathered on the sidelines and, along with the aforementioned clown, were leading the masses in the gestures which accompanied the noxious noise. I screamed as I fought my way past the automatons participating in my row. I didn’t stop screaming until I reached the erstwhile comfort of the beer concession beneath the stands.
To my chagrin I found the beer stand to be far from the haven I hoped. First, the music was being piped into the concourse. Secondly, its presence was prompting several of those behind the counter to contort to the beat. There was no escape as the effects of the beer I whistled down my gullet would take far too long to dull my senses. Fortunately, the spectacle stopped abruptly mid-song. It was presumably a technical glitch, but I hoped that some like-minded fan had hopped on the field and, shrieking, chased the DJ off with a rusty meat cleaver. One must have one’s dreams.
I arrived home that night to watch the national news in disbelief as that day’s events at the Democratic National Convention were recapped (I couldn’t bring myself to endure live coverage of the adulation of the adulterer because I don’t hate myself enough). With revulsion I watched every manner of political hack, festooned with picture buttons depicting their liar of choice, flailing their arms about to the notes of the Macarena. From the television the song’s now all too familiar strains tortured me, each beat like a capillary popping in my head. The low point came when the Vice President delivered a speech in which the line receiving the most response was some vapid reference to the song. I realized the insidious tune was an infection reaching some of the highest echelons.
Time was, I thought the most dangerous assault on Western Civilization was the advent of the “wave.” I would, and still do, sit in disgust at Fenway Park as those around me succumb like lemmings to the mob mentality inherent in the “wave.” Unfortunately, unlike the oceanic form, the elements at the end of a human wave didn’t smash unmercifully against jagged rocks. It just keeps going and going and going… ad nauseam. However, at least it doesn’t have theme music other than the mundane beat of the ballpark organ.
The Macarena’s wiles attack both the senses of sight and sound. Merely the first few strains of the piece are enough to conjure up repellent images of faceless millions gyrating about like people attempting sign language after free-basing. The actual event can occur most anywhere, as the song possesses the ability to instantly turn groups ranging in size from two to several thousands into an undulating mass. “The individual dies, the group is immortal.” Surely it is Orwell’s 1984 realized, only twelve years late.
Pondering this, it dawned on me that much darker forces may be at work. I recalled a Biblical passage which describes the coming of the Antichrist and the mark, 666, he and his followers would bear (Rev. 13:18). Of course the Bible was not meant to be taken literally. Since most people were, and to a great degree still are, dumb as posts and unable to grasp even slightly complicated concepts, the Bible uses images and outlandish stories to convey its messages. Perhaps instead of sharing a physical mark, Lucifer’s conscripts would be recognized through the medium of the Macarena! Slowly I became convinced that the song was a portent of the coming of the Apocalypse. It was recruiting the unsuspecting to the legions of Satan.
While discussing this with friends I posed a transitional question: Might the insidious song have an effect, not only on the living, but also the dead? Staying with the Biblical theme, I recalled another passage from Revelations which prophesies the dead rising from the grave (Rev. 20:12). Might the Macarena be the very catalyst which triggers this phenomenon?
After careful consideration and a 1/4 barrel of ESB we realized there was only one way to find out. As a former history major, I was taken with the idea of journeying to Boston to raise Paul Revere or, better yet, Samuel Adams (Patriot, Brewer), but decided we should find a newly deceased subject. In the end, we all had problems with the idea of bursting in on a wake with the Macarena blaring. For the sake of convenience, we settled on a cemetery within stumbling distance, hoping there may be a few recent additions. That night found us in the graveyard armed with a portable radio and a tape of the demonic chant in question (we had taken turns enduring several hours of top 40 radio to capture it on tape). As an afterthought we toted a gallon of Stoli-doli (cut pineapple soaked overnight in straight Stolichnaya).
When we found what we decided was the newest section of the burial ground we set up shop. I kicked at the ground in front of a few sites hoping for fresh dirt. We had forgotten a flashlight, but in the condition we were in, even the full glare of 1000 suns wouldn’t have helped us much. Finding a suitable spot, I assumed the role of DJ, holding my nose and starting the tape. We took up positions and waited for our own personal Walpurgis Night. I rested against a nearby stone, while one comrade lingered to my right in a state of ready, wielding a spade in case events went awry and a corpse turned anthrophagus and needed to be brained. The third drifted toward the street, returning at regular intervals to fortify himself with our 80 proof concoction.
Though we thought we saw plenty of unexplainable things during the course of the evening, especially once the vodka was gone and we’d started eating the pineapple, in the end the experiment proved a failure. The dead did not dig their way out of the ground and start dancing.
So… I may have overestimated the power of the song, but in no way should this downplay the danger inherent in it. It is a pathogen which seeks to eviscerate the soul. It must be stopped! Arm yourself with a baseball bat at all times so you can quickly dispatch any radio playing it. Teach your children to run to a neighbor’s house and seek shelter when they hear it approach. Avoid civic functions, minor league baseball games, and wedding receptions like the plague. The individuality you save may be your own.