Thursday, May 13, 2010

Recreational Madhouses, The Era of

The period during which recreational madhouses became hugely popular, when the stigma against mental illness had decreased to such a degree that people actually volunteered for it, and prominent experts appeared on CNN saying that it was even good for you, now and then, to be insane.

The first recreational madhouses offered a 12 hour stay, during which you were free to drink yourself into a stupor, howl inconsolably, make animal noises, expose yourself, or any combination thereof. Running screaming down the corridors screaming was popular -- so popular that the hallway was delineated using tape into lanes and half was reserved for runners, sprinting screaming naked raving up and down the halls.

The recreational madhouses soon became hugely popular. It became necessary to make appointments months in advance. This despite critics who continued to scoff: What, the subway isn't good enough for you?

This surge in popularity swiftly led to the creation of mad spas, mad resorts, and the mad three day two night packages so popular with the Japanese. (As soon as you sat down in the plane, the flight attendants came around with strait jackets.)

Violent insanity was not a problem. Those who wished to be violent were placed in 'V' wards, where there were always others who wished to be beaten.

There was even a mad retirement facility, which aired highly memorable advertisements: golden-agers rolling down a sunny hillside, rouge-laden grandmas smiling straight into the cameras: "I'll lose my marbles from the start -- and have nothing left to worry about!"

"Independent Living? Who needs it! I want full-time hands-on care NOW, while I can still enjoy it!"

Meanwhile, outside the madhouses, things were much quieter. Folks were pretty much content to go to work and then straight home to their spouses, knowing they had two weeks in May reserved for touching themselves inappropriately and screaming obscenities.

Naturally, there was still a segment of society opposed to the Recreational Madhouses. Often these were the very people one would have most liked to incarcerate themselves: the political and the pious. They seemed to believed they'd been called upon by God to be insane in the public arena. Also, some philosopher types speculated that it might be unwise to try to separate sense and madness. Just like you didn't repair your own watch because you were likely to lose some small essential part.

During some public holidays, the streets of the sane were almost entirely empty: everyone had checked themselves in to the madhouse.

What would happen to sanity, the pundits wondered, if no one was interested in participating in it? Would reality languish? Might it go the way of democracy?* Or was it like the ocean floor, which went on existing even though we rarely saw it, while we acted like it wasn't there, and kept on piling crap upon it?

After less than a year, a conservative government came into power and all Recreational Madhouses were abolished. (We're not exactly sure how this happened. It was during our madhouse vacation.) Now everything is pretty much the same as before, we ride the trains with too-tight faces. Now and then someone admits to being Jesus or opens fire or bursts out singing, On top of spaghetti! All covered with cheese!


* Democracy was abolished in 2012 after 84% of the electorate said that free will was bothersome and they wished simply to be told what to think.

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