Mercury Retrogrades Anonymous

28 Jul

The scene opens on a basement room in a church. On a blackboard, someone has printed in capital letters, No smoking, drinking or fornicating in God’s house. Please use the cemetery across the street. On the opposite wall, a tired Christ sags on his cross, looking like He’s had it with this existence.

A dozen folding chairs are assembled in a circle, upon which are seated six men and six women in alternating sequence. Their clothing varies widely – a man dressed all in red, a woman covered in floral prints, another guy in plaid, a girl in black, and so on – a very motley crew.

From somewhere far above them, a church bell peals seven times. The moderator, an older man in a worn business suit, and a lapel pin that reads On a clear night, I can see Uranus, stands up and clears his throat.


“Thank you all for coming. As you know, this group meets on an irregular schedule, generally for three weeks at a stretch during three periods spread throughout the year. For those of you who don’t have an ephemeris indicating Mercury’s retrograde periods, please speak to Sister Flora after the meeting and for a reasonable fee she can provide you with a copy that you can carry around with you, or keep under your pillow as a talisman against chaos.”

He nods towards the woman in the floral print dress, who smiles demurely at the group, then goes back to her crochet work, which is either a baby bonnet or one half of a D-cup bikini.


“So, I have just one public announcement to make, which is that our scheduled group outing next Saturday, to see the Dadaist exhibit at the Museum of Strange Art, is cancelled due to… can you guess?”

The group (in chorus):  

“Mercury retrograde!”

Moderator (seating himself):  

“Yes, well there you have the story of our lives. So on that note, let me turn it over to our attendees this evening. Is there anyone here who would like to speak first?”

The man in red stands up. He wears a red sweater, red corduroy pants, and scuffed red shoes. He has a nasty rash on his hands, and his crimson nose looks like a motorcycle tail light.


“Hello, my name is Beelzebub, and I believe in the cosmic power of Mercury retrograde to undo all that is good and orderly in our existence.”

The group  (in chorus):  

“Hello, Beelzebub!”


“Share your pain, brother.”


“Can I rap it?”


“It’s your thing, do what you gotta do.”

Beelzebub starts to walk around the inside of the circle, snapping his fingers, clapping his hands, and stomping hard on the four-beat.


“I was born under Mercury retrograde

And my Ma said I started off real bad.

My life has been like one big old train wreck,

It got derailed and it never went direct.

They say it’s all right, retro Mercury will pass,

But it’s not all right, it’s just a pain in the ass.”

Beelzebub sits down, amid thunderous applause.


“Anyone else?”

The girl in black rises. Everything she wears is black – sweater, skirt, tights, boots, fingernail polish, lipstick, makeup and string of pearls. Even her face seems shrouded in the perpetual shadow that hangs over those who think too much about weighty subjects in basement rooms.


“My name is Moira, and I think that Mercury rules the thirteenth sign of the Zodiac, which is called Hermesopolis, and because the newspapers won’t acknowledge that sign in their daily horoscopes, Mercury’s curse upon the world is that every time, s/he goes retrograde, everything gets all fucked up, because that’s when Mercury has her period, and because she’s a hermaphrodite, it’s like, really a bitch.”

Moira sits down. Everyone squirms in silence, looking at the floor.


“Thank you, Moira. That was very… interesting. Would anyone else like to share their thoughts about Mercury retrograde?”

Sister Flora:  

“I have a Mercury retrograde ephemeris available for sale.”


“I mentioned that already.”

Sister Flora:  

“Oh, I thought that was a voice inside my head. There are two versions. One page is hand-lettered on bio-degradable hemp parchment. After the year is over you can use it as a bird cage underpad, or to wipe up kitchen spills. It’s five dollars because five is the number of Mercury. The other version has a crocheted trim in blue lamb’s wool. The real animal for Mercury is the unicorn but it’s very hard to find unicorn wool, because they only come out during Mercury retrograde periods, and moult just on the day that Mercury is stationary direct. It’s 25 dollars, which is the number of Mercury squared.”


“Thank you, Sister Flora.

Sister Flora:  

“Next year, I may come out with a Bluetooth butt-plug version, which will vibrate intermittently during the entire Mercury retrograde period, reminding you to stay vigilant during those periods of Mercurial chaos. Would anyone be interested?”

Everyone raises their hands. Sister Flora does a headcount and nods her thanks.

Moderator  (clearing his throat):  

“Well, I guess that’s it for tonight. I’d like to say we’ll meet again, same time next week, but because it’s Mercury retrograde, I know you don’t want to make any commitments. Let’s just leave it up in the air, shall we?”

Rx – Rx – Rx

2 Responses to “Mercury Retrogrades Anonymous”

  1. roanrobbins June 11, 2014 at 9:46 am #


Leave a Reply

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 )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: