Iphigenia pokes at her cereal.
“It seems wrong, ” she says.
Saul looks up from his grapefruit.
“This Bush-Cheney 2004 commemorative cereal, ” she says. “It just seems wrong.”
Saul has learned to respect Iphigenia’s intuitions. “How so?”
“The heart of the cereal is presumably the orange Bushes, ” she says. She fishes one out. She shows it to Saul. “Observe.”
Saul studies it. Hesitantly, he says, “It looks a little like the badges Jews wore in the fifteenth century. Before the Magen David became standard.”
“There’s a limited vocabulary of shapes available in cereal marshmallows,” Iphigenia says. “It’s a star, just like the silver Kerry in the Kerry-Edwards cereal. That’s not what disturbs me.”
“Are you really allowed to purchase both cereals?”
“I’d originally been intending to have them fight,” Iphigenia says. “But they’re both so tasty, I’ve just been eating them.”
Iphigenia looks down at the cereal, frustrated, and then fishes out another marshmallow. “Pink Attorneys-General,” she says.
“I thought he frightened you?”
“He concerns me,” Iphigenia says. “But this is not so true of the marshmallow as of the man. This fragile pink heart does not make me feel unsafe, nor does it reassure me.”
“It is simply . . . sugar,” Saul concludes.
Iphigenia nods. Then she goes back to picking out marshmallows.
“Green Cheneys,” she says. “Yellow Rumsfelds. And . . . I suppose the oat pieces represent the White House staff. Do you understand?”
He hesitates. He takes a guess. “It disturbs you to see political figures putting themselves forth for the populace to symbolically devour them?”
“A little,” she says. “It’s deep, you know. Eating people. It’s sacred and it’s horrible. It blurs the boundaries between person and consumable, person and luxury, person and necessity. That’s why human sacrifice makes such unruly gods.”
Saul looks at her with an odd, unfeigned blank shock.
“But no,” she says. Iphigenia looks helplessly at the cereal. “It’s just, these are icons of important political figures. How come they only talk when they’re in milk?”
There’s a pause.
“Snap, Crackle, and Pop presented themselves viable third-party alternatives when God and Lucifer warred,” Saul says. “Their preaching so offended His ears that he set a curse upon them. Now no cereal may speak save in soft crackling whispers as milk soaks into its bones.”
“Oh,” Iphigenia says.
“It’s the way things are,” Saul says, apologetically. “I’d just assumed you knew. ”