Among some 15,000 people who have been made SEMs is my dong, Bolshoi the Boxer. He was telling me this morning: "Why don't you put my photograph in the paper and congratulate me."
"Because papers don't put them free. It costs money to put an SEM's photograph in the papers and congratulate him on his appointment," I said. "And I have no intention to spend money."
"Others are spending money," Bolshoi said. "Others don't count their money when they have to congratulate their friends on the great honour bestowed on them. Why can't you?"
"Because I am not others," I said. "Besides, becoming an SEM is not some great honour bestowed in you. Anybody can become a SEM, all you have to do is to apply to the chief minister, have some slightly influential person to push your application throught, and before you know it, you are an SEM. What good as it?"
"You are saying that because you are not an SEM," Bolshoi said. "I know you want to be an SEM, everybody does, and because they have not made you, you are upset and running down the title."
"I am not upset, I am not one bit upset, you are only making me upset by talking like this," I said. "And please do not go about calling it a title. It is not a title. At the most you put it on your visiting card or letterhead."
"Yes, that reminds me, I want some visiting cards and letterheads with SEM written on them," Bolshoi said. "Otherwise, if people do not know, how will they come to me for attestations of their documents, passport photographs, school certficates, etc. I have decided not to charge children for attesting their school certificates and stamping my seal on it."
"That's very generous of you," I said. "I spend money on your cards, letterheads, and probably the seal also, and you give it free to children. You get it yourself with your money, or ask the government which has given you the SEM certificate to give you the money. Also, I don't want all sort of people coming to this house for your signature and seal. This house is not going to be turned into an SEM's office."
"I have to do my duty," Bolshoi said. "If the government has appointed me SEM, it expected me to do my duty. You cannot stop me. And one last tiem, are you going to put my picture in the paper or act mean and petty?"
"Very well," I said. "But remember this, the government evidently does not know that among the thousands of SEM titles it has freely distributed, there is one given to a dog. Once they see your picture, they may take away your seal from you."