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"White Wizard Summer," short story excerpt

Thursday 7/14/22

There was a wizard who wrote a song called "Ugly Girls Have Vaginas 2." He titled it that way because he loved Prince. In fact, he had such a large collection of unreleased Prince recordings that when MoMA was putting together an exhibit of the Purple One's art, they asked the wizard if they could use his tapes. Some people didn't understand that the 2 meant "too," and asked, "Hey, what about 'Ugly Girls Have Vaginas 1'?" like they had been screwed over and made into a special victim who alone had missed out on something. A lot more people who called themselves activists leveled charges of rampant and disgusting misogyny that needed to be removed from society, with this perfidious new number being the worst example yet. They said the wizard should be shot, or have his own ugly face hacked off. But then the song became a huge hit. The biggest hit ever. The wizard granted a single interview and said that it had to do with the modulation on the chorus. He didn't tell anyone that he was a wizard and the song’s success was inseparable with a spell he had cast into that chorus that deepened in intensity with each subsequent chorus. If you heard the song three times, the spell took hold, and you couldn't manage to hear the song less than that if you wanted to. It was just everywhere that summer.

The wizard thought about billing it as a white wizard summer the way that some country music guy had talked about his white boy summer, but that would blow the wizard’s cover as a wizard, and also sounded like the Klan. He also pondered writing a Netflix series—because he was big, newly platformed, and bankable, and could do what he wanted—on this guy high up in the KKK who is conflicted because he loves Prince so much. Can music save your life? Or your soul? Can it de-racist you? That was going to be part of the pitch but the wizard was aimless in those warm months, telling himself that he deserved his me time. The kids were almost grown and his bitch of an ex-wife remarried in July, which made it ironic to the wizard that now that he could afford it, he didn't have to pay alimony anymore. Still, wizard life was good. The wizard got his first ever pedicure, and his cuticles looked healthy. It’s the little things, he told himself.

Everyone was so happy. People were falling in love, and choosing to be vulnerable and real and, most amazingly, themselves, but there was just a lot of love of all kinds. Popular historians went back and changed the name of the Summer of Love in 1967 to the Summer of Mild Interest and Horniness and Non-Consent Because of Drugs. People would think, with great respect, wonder, and awe, that, yes, "Ugly girls do have vaginas," and other thoughts, too, like "dumbass white guy jocks maybe shouldn't be boiled down to paste." Tolerance was general over the land.

Then some aliens came down to the world because they bought other planets as fixer-uppers. Everyone was talking about the wizard, because this was, like, about a week and a half into August, so there was still some summer left. You have a huge summer hit, and you hope it remains a hit in autumn, but there's a reason why summer hits are summer hits, and you don’t have to be a Beach Boy to know that, any more than you have to be a blacksmith to know when iron is right for striking.

The aliens went to the wizard's new condo, having quickly apprised that he was the main person in this society because he had the most celebrity just then. He'd only lived there a couple weeks, but he was already on the condo board and responsible for hiring an all-female team of groundskeepers to cut the grass. That was a historic first, because normally the condo used Mexican guys who had crossed the border unlawfully and just wanted to send money home for stuff like their grandmother's funeral, and to keep themselves in taco chips, as one joke went. An old man named Errol who was condo treasurer whose father had made his fortune in Sri Lankan ruby mines told the wizard that if he played his cards right, he could be the next condo president. So it was big.

The wizard and the aliens took iced mint tea at one of the tables down by the pond in the condo village—it was modeled on a resort in the Alps—and the wizard heard them out. They liked to buy up these worlds that maybe weren't doing so hot, give them an influx of cash for the economy, render certain forms of weaponry like automatic rifles not just illegal but nonexistent—they had this big atomic fryer they used—and pump everything full of their proprietary alien juice. They also said that they'd make sure the wizard was condo president, and get him on the board at MoMA, so there could be lots of Prince exhibits and a permanent Purple One wing, of which the wizard's tape collection would be the centerpiece. Their financial offer was quite reasonable, too, after they understood to use dollars and not potatoes, which is what the aliens had mistakenly considered for many years to be the proper unit of recompense as a result of the data from their anal probes of Idahoan farmers. The aliens hadn't been to earth in a while, so the deal was contingent on a tour, and they'd be back. Meanwhile, the wizard sat tight.

A couple days later, the aliens had gone over the whole world, and everyone was so damn happy, grounded, considerate, and kind to each other. "It's that song, man," the chief alien said, breaking into a bit of the chorus. "You should be congratulated," the alien told the wizard, as the other aliens likewise made this tooting, clapping sound suggestive of a syncopated Theremin. "But we can't buy this place, brother man. There's nothing to fix up. This world is perfect!"

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