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Thursday, May 19, 2022
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“Throne Together, how can I help you?”

“Yeah, hi. I ordered a chair a while back, and it hasn’t come yet… This is the king.”

“And your name, please?”

“Xerxes.”

“I’m sorry?”

“Xerxes.”

“Can you spell that?”

“I can try. Okay, that’s X as in… I don’t know anything that starts with X. Xylophone?”

“What on earth kind of name is Xerxes?”

“It’s Persian.”

“No, it’s not. What’s your real name?”

“Achashveyrosh.”

“Oh. There. Was that so hard?”

“I was afraid you wouldn’t be able to pronounce it.”

“Seriously? There are guys here named Ahmadinejad. You think Achashveyrosh is such a big deal? Xerxes, on the other hand, is ridiculous… And what’s your order number?”

“I’m the king. I need an order number?”

“I can probably just use your name. Please hold.”

“Hold? I’m the king!”

“Sir? Your order doesn’t seem to be coming up.”

“Are you serious? I’d like to speak to your manager.”

“Sir, if I let everyone with a problem speak to my manager…”

“Wait a minute. Am I talking to India?”

“Yes sir.”

“Good. I’m sorry; I’m just very frustrated here. If something doesn’t happen, I’m going to have to start beheading people.”

“Sir, I’m trying my best to help you here.”

“Okay, listen. I called you guys three years ago. I said, ‘I just became king, I have a party coming up in three years, and I need a chair.’ That was almost three years ago. I still don’t have a chair. I need it for business!”

“I understand, sir.”

“It’s a chair, right? What is taking so long?”

“Sir, we have other customers.”

“What other customers? You call your company ‘Throne Together’; I can’t imagine you have a lot of other customers, considering I rule pretty much the whole world, and I’ve only ever ordered this one chair!”

“We also make other kinds of chairs.”

“Okay. So your contractor comes in three years ago, he takes measurements, he breaks down a wall—I don’t even know why. He’s building a chair here. And then he disappears. I’ve had this hole in the wall for almost three years now. I’ve got a big tarp hanging behind me.”

“That’s unfortunate, sir.”

“And now we have animals coming in through the hole. One morning I come in, there’s a raccoon. I had to chase him out of here with my scepter.”

“Why isn’t your order coming up? My system is frozen.”

“I can’t believe I can get a phone in ancient Persia, but I can’t get someone to build me a chair.”

“Sir, we’re talking into tin cans here. Look, it says here there are some complications with your order. We’ve had a lot of customer dissatisfaction with this model. Have you considered changing your order? Maybe a nice recliner?”

“I had a recliner. I fell asleep in it like eight times a day. Snoring. Did you know that when the king falls asleep, no one wakes him up? That first year just flew by.”

“Oh.”

“I sit all day; I’ve been wearing out chairs like there’s no tomorrow. All different kinds.”

“I see.”

“For a while, I had one of those ‘captain’s chairs,’” It was nice. Those things have two cup holders! Is that really what ship captains use? How do they keep them from blowing overboard?”

“I don’t know, sir.”

“Then I had one chair that squeaked every time I moved. I spent all day saying, ‘That wasn’t me. That was the chair.’”

“I don’t know what to say, sir.”

“Neither did anyone else. And for one day there, I had a folding chair. That was embarrassing. It said like ‘N’shei something’ on the back.”

“What about swivel chairs, sir?”

“I tried those for a while. But after a certain amount of time, the mechanism breaks, and the chairs start sinking. I’m sitting there, passing judgment on others, and while they’re talking, I’m slowly getting shorter. You know how many people I beheaded for laughing at me? I need to swivel? Everything’s in front of me. I swivel, I’m facing the back wall. Or actually, the hole.”

“I see.”

“And you know what else keeps getting in through the hole? The royal seal. That thing is annoying. It keeps leaving trails of water all over the palace; the whole place stinks like fish…”

“The seal, sir?”

“Yeah, I’m new at this king thing, but I heard you’re supposed to have a royal seal.”

“I think that’s like a ring that you seal envelopes with.”

“Really? I’ve been having my seal lick them for me.”

“That’s one way to do it.”

“You know, you’d think that as a king, everyone’s in charge of making you presentable. But no one ever tells me, ‘Hey, Achash, you smell like fish.’ Except my wife. Through a messenger.”

“Come to mention it, sir, I think I do smell fish. Either that, or it’s the can.”

“And my advisors are no help. They don’t tell me anything. I tried hiring two advisors, I figured that two heads is better than one, right? But they’re not. Bigson and Seresh, they’re called. They’re never around when I need them. They’re always off in a corner talking to each other in hushed tones. I can’t even understand what they’re saying. I want to listen in, but I don’t want to get up, you know?”

“Maybe a chair with wheels.”

“Maybe. Knowing me I’ll probably roll down the stairs by accident. I should behead them, no? Two beheadings is better than one.”

“Sir, I just sell chairs.”

“Right… Seriously, I don’t need to keep this seal? I think I’m going to get rid of him, then. I’m more of a dog person. That seal left trails of water everywhere. The other day I slipped and landed wrong, couldn’t sit for a week.”

“I understand, sir.”

“So listen, I got a big party coming up. Like a year-long. I need my chair done by then. Where am I gonna sit?”

“Aren’t you gonna rent chairs? There should be like a Gemach or something. Who’s coming over?”

“Everybody. Seriously everybody.”

“You’re going to invite everybody to your palace? Have you met everybody?”

“I’m at an age where what I want most of all is a nice chair. When people hear of the king, I want them to think, ‘Oh, he must have somewhere nice to sit.’”

“No one’s going to come all the way to a party just to look at a chair.”

“They will if I serve alcohol.”

“Yeah, but a whole year to look at a chair?”

“Well, we probably won’t spend the entire year looking at the chair. Maybe my wife will have some ideas. But you know who’s not going to be invited to this party, after making me wait three years for a chair? You guys. You need food? You need drinks? Everything will be closed for a year, buddy. Maybe three! Unless something major and unforeseen derails the party.”

“Don’t you already have something you can use? What kind of chair did the guy before you have?”

“Yeah, he took it with him.”

“Can I interest you in a nice lawn chair, maybe? Those are very comfortable.”

“Yeah, but where would the lions go?”

“The lions?”

“I need lions. On all the stairs. The lions have to roar when someone’s not being honest with me.”

“How are the lions going to know Persian?”

“They’re not real lions.”

“Then how are they going to roar?”

“Look, I don’t understand why this is so difficult. I just want a simple chair made of ivory covered in gold and gems, with six steps leading up to it. And on the steps, I need 13 lions, an ox, a wolf and lamb, a leopard, a kid, a deer, a bear, an eagle, two doves and a hawk, and they all have to be made of gold but operate as if they were real! Why is this so difficult?”

“Sir?”

“Wait… Not a leopard and a kid. A tiger and a giraffe. Hang on… You know, there are different Midrashim here.”

“Sir?”

“Oh, and a menorah on top of the throne that has 14 branches, with biblical names carved into them. You know -- Abraham, Isaac, Job, Moses, Eldad and Meidad…”

“Sir, are you Jewish?”

“I don’t know. Look, I hired you to build a throne.”

“With Jewish names carved on it?”

“There could be non-Jewish names. Nimrod, Esau, Pharaoh the Lame, Pharaoh the Short…”

“Well, with all those animals, at least you won’t fall asleep.”

“And at the base of the menorah, there needs to be a jug with the seal of the Jewish high priest.”

“You know that there aren’t any Jewish high priests right now, right? There’s no Temple.”

“Yeah, but what about the last guy? What happened to his seal? Did it just go back to live in the ocean?”

“Different kind of seal, sir.”

“Oh, seal. Now I get it. And on the top, above the menorah, I need a dove holding a hawk in its claws, symbolizing the dominion of Israel over the gen… You know what? Maybe no dove.”

“Well, the kid we can do. We can just hire a kid.”

“No, it has to be a kid goat.”

“Oh. So everything has to be difficult.”

“And the animals have to each lift me up to the next step.”

“Why?”

“I don’t want to have to do steps.”

“So don’t have steps!”

“Then where will the animals sit?”

“Okay. So what if we put one of those chairs on the side that goes up and down the steps?”

“No, the animals have to lift me.”

“The dove is going to lift you? You’re just going to step on it? Boy, you’re gonna go through doves.”

“They’re not real doves!”

“Sir, don’t you have servants who can lift you?”

“So I just have like 24 servants crouching on the stairs?”

“You can put them in animal costumes.”

“Where am I going to buy costumes this time of year?”

Look, my manager says we tried your animal thing, and our biggest success was when one of our guys got bitten. It wasn’t even covered by workers’ comp – “Bitten by a Throne”… How about we take real live animals and cover them in gold?”

“Real animals? What happens when the lions get hungry?”

“Isn’t that what the goat is for?”

“NO!”

“Then can we at least put blinders on the lions, so they don’t see the other animals? This is gonna be a bloodbath.”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“What about statues? Can we go with just statues of the animals?”

“Well, will they move?”

“No, they won’t move.”

“Well, they need to move. And they need to attack strangers who come near the throne, but be nice to me.”

“And you want this to be the centerpiece of your party.”

“Yes.”

“That everyone in your kingdom is going to be invited to.”

“Yes.”

“With food. And these lions are just gonna sit there. At a party featuring meat and drunk people.”

“They’re not real lions!”

“What if we just make it seem like they moved? Like we can smash all the statues, and then we can put the scepter in the hands of the biggest lion...”

“No one’s going to fall for that. But that reminds me, I need a little holder for my scepter. And maybe some magazines. It should also have like a mini fridge in the armrest.”

“Sir, I don’t know if three years is enough.”

“Look, I know this is possible. I’m basing this on another guy’s throne.”

“It doesn’t really sound comfortable.”

“No, this other guy had it. It was the coolest thing. Have you ever heard of someone named Solomon?”

“No.”

“Shlomo.”

“Oh, him. He made that chair himself. That wasn’t us. Look, maybe you can just find his throne. Buy it used somewhere.”

“I have it. I got it from my wife’s grandfather. Nebucadnezzar. Ever heard of him?”

“No.”

“That’s weird. It’s all she ever talks about: “My grandfather was the best king,” and “My grandfather could hold so much alcohol.” Hang on, my messenger just heard that. (‘Yeah, don’t tell my wife I said that. Hey, where are you going?’) Anyway, the guy breaks his hip trying to get onto the throne. “Oh, the lion hit me,” he says. Yeah, right. Probably holding too much alcohol, if you ask me.”

“Sir…”

“And you know Pharaoh the Lame?”

“Yeah, he was pretty lame.”

“I know! Do you know how he got that way?”

“No.”

“He was attacked by the lions. And then he fell down the stairs.”

“Oh. So you want to rethink the stairs? I mean, this thing is going to be huge. How are we gonna get it in through your door?”

“Well, I have this hole.”

“I see.”

“But it’s a custom chair. The guy took my measurements for it three years ago. You know what I’ve been doing in those three years? Sitting. Sitting and ruling. And eating. If you’re a king, no one makes you get up. And you know what I haven’t been doing? Exercising. Pharaoh the Short used to jog down to the Nile every morning, I don’t even get to do that. You think I’m still gonna fit into this custom chair?”

“We can make a sofa.”

“I had a sofa once. I kept losing my change behind the cushions.”

“That’s not a big deal, sir.”

“You know how much change I have? I’m the king. And our entire currency is coins. I lost billions.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah. I only kept it around because it turned into a bed.”

“I see.”

“But I get no exercise. It’s like I was saying to my wife the other day. I was like, ‘Messengers? Tell Vashti that I need to start working out.’ And my messengers said, ‘Vashti said that her grandfather never needed to work out.’ But seriously, I need to get more exercise.”

“What about your ceilings, sir? This is a pretty tall order, if you don’t mind me saying. You know, because of the steps.”

“Yeah, my ceilings are tall enough. I got this guy to come in; he punches a hole in my ceiling… Don’t even get me started on him. Two years. Whenever it rained, we had to put out buckets. He finally put in a taller ceiling, and now there’s an echo in there. But I’m all paid up with you guys, right?”

“Well, there’s also shipping.”

“Yeah, I see that on the bill now. Wow. So much for shipping?”

“Yes. We use actual ships. We drag them over the sand.”

“Well, can I get it expedited?”

“Maybe. That’s ground shipping. We can also get you air. Same day.”

“How does that work?”

“Well, we have this catapult. You give us your coordinates…”

“I don’t think so.”

“Really? We’ve never been off by more than like five miles.”

“This is ridiculous, you know. If your guy hadn’t already made a hole in my wall, I would call someone else.”

“I know, sir. That’s why he does it.”

“Because there are other companies I can call. I can call ‘Cheers!’ I can call ‘Beis Hakeesei’… But definitely, next time I’m taking my business elsewhere.”

“I thought this is the only throne you’ll ever need to build, sir.”

“Yeah, but I might have wanted you to make me a bed. The one I have right now is horrible. Some nights I can’t even sleep.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. By the time I wake up, it’s like three hours into the day.”

“Very well, sir. You have a nice day. Please stay on for a customer service survey. Anything else I can do for you before I hang up?”

“Yeah. Do you know anyone named Choor?”

“No.”

“Oh. Because I’m planning this party, and my wife made me a shopping list. I need choor, karpas, and techeiles. I got the blue wool, I got the karpas vegetables…”

By Mordechai Schmutter

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