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Rant #50
(published July 26, 2001)
I Am a Bootlicker
by MLQ3

I am a journalist. I dabble in publishing. My life revolves around writing editorials, columns, the occasional longer cultural essay and opinion piece, wading through piles of papers in order to write commissioned biographies and histories. I live in constant fear of deadlines; I pay for my vices by meeting— sooner, or later, but always soon or late enough to merit a check at the end of the month or the stipulated contractual period— those deadlines. But mainly I manage all of the above by being a bootlicker of the first order. Ironic, that: to support my vices, I indulge the vices of others.

My lot in life is to lovingly gaze at the feet of people whose pockets bulge with cash, or at least show the tell-tale sign of a checkbook that will lead to my being given cash, and do to those feet what pleases the person to whom those feet belong. My fate, it has been ordained by God-knows-what, or whom, is to not just spit-shine the boots of people but to alternately tenderly or vigorously apply my tongue, my mouth, to their boots and clean them like no shoeshine boy has ever done before.

Which is not to say, in this politically-correct neofascist word of writing we pensmiths— or penwhores?— belong to these days, that I look down on shoeshine men or women or persons . . . Or that I even want to hint that shoe-shine people have an obsession concerning the footwear they shine. It's . . . it's . . . an analogy, a comparison. Now pipe down and let me finish my rant.

As I said, I tenderly, vigorously, enthusiastically bootlick. And, if need be, inhale deeply and apply my tongue to the hopefully pleasing probing of their anal orifices with my tongue— what is vulgarly called rimming: not just kissing ass, but licking ass.

And I love it. I'm good at it. Good enough, at least, to live a lifestyle well beyond my actual means.

From analogy to metaphor. Metaphor, dear reader, metaphor: I am not a writer by day and paid footwear fetishist by night; nor am I one of those prostitutes that get paid to lick away what the toilet paper missed or the bidet spray failed to wash away. I am a writer: a writer through-and-through. It— writing— is all I know how to do. Besides spending money, writing is what I do, and do best. The process of writing, of being paid for that writing, and being paid more than paltry sums for that writing: that is where bootlicking comes in— and the metaphor.

My being a bootlicker is a metaphor for how I have climbed the proverbial greasy-pole and gotten to be where I am: which is, in a word, to be in a position where I can look forward to climbing the greasy-pole to greater, greasier, and I hope, surely more lucrative heights, as far as the insignificant life of a third world journalist and dabbler in publishing is concerned.

Greater, greasier heights, that is, if my tongue, doesn't give out, and my zest for kissing ass, for licking feet, for tonguing orifices anal and feet shod in the leather of endangered creatures does not diminish.

Ah, but sometimes I get tired. And I look at myself and ask my reflection, what the fuck sort of life is this that you have become a pen-pushing —or shall we say, wordprocessor-manipulating?— courtesan? What sort of existence is this that has led you (me, I, not you, dear kind reader) to feel pleasure at the thought of unctuously approaching the aged, the infirm of body or mind, the bloated of ego, merely because they possess bank accounts so vast that they would consider, for the right services rendered, to scribble on a check or two and drop it on the floor, for you to fetch like some drooling dog?

And sometimes, because of being tired, thinking morbid thoughts, I am filled with self-loathing. I am filled with self-loathing now. Which is why I am writing this as a sort of— what? A collection of mixed metaphors, rather dodgy analogies, and more? Well, there is a Filipino columnist of great antiquity and immense respectability, who happens to be a bootlicker of the first order, and if you think my mixed metaphors and muddled analogies are bad, examine this gem of his: apropos of a crooked President about to be impeached, he once wrote, "the Indians are circling their wagons." Amusing, no? And do I not write better, yes?

So what is it that I am trying to write by way of a rant? A sermon.

Yes, a sermon. A sermon to those that aspire to becoming bootlickers one day. Bootlickers to be— perk up your ears, look upward, listen, attend, learn! Forego the anticipation of the smell of the boot and the odor of the asscrack and listen to one who has been there, done that, and who, after this rant, must go back to doing that which you only dream of doing now.

Kissing ass.

Have you heard of a movie titled Vatel? Probably not. You Americans, you developed country people, you gas-guzzling, Kyoto Agreement back-stabbing consumers of everything but true culture. I spit on you!

Oh wait, no I don't. I love you. I want you. Give me a greencard and I shall lovingly write you essays for all eternity, round-eye. I writey-writey for your Statue of Liberty hospitality, gimme money thank you very much.

You see what a bootlicker I am? Good. So back to the sermon. I believe I was informing you that there was a movie you missed titled "Vatel" and that I feel culturally superior to you because you did.

But you remain the kind reader so let me spell out the gospel of bootlicking which is a useful one indeed.

In the beginning was the Patron and the Patron was God. The Patron remains God. The Patron— or God— goes by many names, depending on what pleases the Patron. Sir. Ma'am. Madam. In the once-upon-a-time hispanicized culture I belong to but which now is about as Spanish as the chihuahua that has a voice over proclaiming love for Taco Bell, the society I belong to clings to a parvenu desire to tack on Spanish honorifics before the first names of people whose vast bank accounts merit the pretense of a near-noble title.

The Sicilian Mafia moves you like— and don't deny that you do like anything featuring Italian mobsters, dear, divine reader— should make the term familiar to you: Don. Not Don Ameche, but say, Don Vittorio. You get it? Bene, bene.

So you may be senile, you may have Alzheimers, you may ravish your maidservants or bugger your chauffeur, you may produce imbalanced offspring and steal from the national treasury to support your mistresses, but if you have power, influence, and the money that makes the former and latter possible, I might just call you Don. Or if you are a lady, Doña. I would call you Obersturmführer too, if you liked it and were a prospective Patron, but such possible Patron-types seem to have all ended up in Argentina.

The Patron, the God, the deity that I desire to serve— and be paid for for my services— may be fat, unattractive, have foul breath or treat me like a shoeshine boy (man, person) at an airport or Amtrak station, but whatever they do, whatever whims they inflict on me, I love. I love whatever they are or do because I love money and money is the root of all sycophancy. With apologies to St. Paul.

So how does this tie in to Vatel? We have established the identity of the Supreme Being; now on to describing what the Supreme Being does. The Supreme Being, the God, the Patron, must have servants; they are nothing without someone to pander to their perversion; to pump up their vanity; to remind them that they are superior because I am so obligingly eager to prove I am inferior.

Not that I think I am actually inferior: I am not. I am a writer. That is clear; and it is clear that anyone who thinks he is a writer also maintains he is an artist; and artists are superior to all. Even God. Even the Patron. Though this is something the Patron needn't, and mustn't, know.

Vatel was a historical figure and the film says he was tasked with bailing out his patron by producing grand spectacles of the culinary and celebratory sort, in order to please the prospective patron in turn, of his patron: that is, Vatel was the servant of a Duke; the Duke was the servant of the King; Vatel was obliged to serve the Duke by serving the King so that the King, Louis XIV of the famously booby-minded Bourbon dynasty, would rescue the Duke from penury by handing him a command and a juicy racket or two.

Now Vatel did all he was told to do; unctuously, creatively, he pandered to the Kings' and Dukes' every whim, producing haute cuisine and tableaux tres tres vivants: only for the last feast, the apotheosis of Louis XIV as Neptune, if I recall correctly, to be imperiled by the failure of the fishmonger to deliver the vast quantities of fish necessary for the final feast.

Disaster; shame for the Duke, possibly anger from the King, disgrace for the chef-cum-events manager, Vatel.

So like any true artist, Vatel, seeing his piece de resistance about to flop, suddenly looked back on ancient Rome and, to save his honor, hurled himself upon his epee.

Of course the fish arrived as Vatel died in twitching, self-inflicted agony in his garret room, the feast went on, and the only sadness felt was a momentary twinge of regret on the part of the King because, the night before, he had won Vatel in a bet at cards. Kings never lose card games and it was a sure thing; but not even a King can prevent a chef from committing suicide.

The lesson? All we are is not dust in the wind, dude, to pirate a line from a movie you probably recall, but rather, we are all servants treated with little oblige by the noblesse; but to realize that you are the servant, the asslicker, the bootlicker, the sycophant is not bad. It is to know your place in the order of things. Patron at the apex, servants forming the pyramid: but as Imelda Marcos of shoe fame once proclaimed, "some are smarter than others." And some bootlickers are better than others.I aspire to be the best bootlicker so that my bootlicking will inspire awe in others; so that the tongues of my fellow bootlickers will hang out, black with shoe polish, in drooly despair and envy, at my achievements. I want to be better at guiding the old, nearly blind Don to take a pen in his liver-spotted quavering hands and sign me nice checks so that I may write books glorifying his life, immortalizing his family, turning his ancestors from mere looters and freebooters into dashing Sir Francis Drakes who once upon anon draped their cloaks on mudholes out of gallantry and thus secured the patronage, in turn, of someone who made them what they are.

For the essential truth is that all Patrons are the descendants of bootlickers, too; and it is my duty to bootlick well so that one day I too will have my boots lovingly licked, if not in life, than in death, for bootlicking is as much a vicarious thrill as it is an actual pleasure. To know that one day writers may weep at your tombstone and sigh over what you have done: not knowing, or only faintly knowing how you managed to do what you have done: ah, that is the delight. It is a delight that even the thought of death cannot diminish.

It is every writer's dream; the common aspiration of the artist. At least where I come from, where artists are more in tune with the master-and-servant scheme of things that had the Renaissance greats licking the boots, slippers, iron-clad feet, of pederast popes, degenerate European princes, and now, where I am, captains of industry, and yes, even princes of the Church, doyens of society, grand pooh-bahs of politics.

My lips may sometimes be numb; my tongue raw; my mouth dry; my fingertips numb. But by God it pays the bills. And I am content. It allows me, democratic American reader, to afford servants. Yes, servants.

Not bad for a bootlicker. Now if you will excuse me, I have a wrinkled old ass to tongue, and a gnarled old hand to kiss, a hand-made, cap-toed-shoed capitalist foot to fondle. I smell the mothball-scent of old money and I want some of it.

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