Imagine, if you will, a heavenly club as large as the solar system to which the gentle giants of the sky go to see and be seen. This isn’t some sort of new age metaphor, but a luxurious getaway complete with a nine-hole golf course, modern facilities (with resplendent brass fixtures), marble floors, swaying palms, and wait staff willing to go to the ends of the universe, literally, to please its clientele. Most will never see this club due in large part to its strict entry requirements: applicants must be voluminous in nature, must possess their own gravity, and, most importantly of all, must structure every aspect of their lives to revolve around the club’s president, Mr. Illuminatius J. Sun. This is, in fact, the Holst Club, renamed in 1918 after Gustav Holst, maestro-in-chief, composed a delightful suite for the swank casa with the Hobbit-like front door and custom-molded seating made to fit the ten unique derrieres of the club’s ten unique denizens, who referred to themselves, unimaginatively, as The Ten. It was here, on August 24, 2006 (according to a ridiculous system of time set up by the amoebae on Earth, the club’s great unwashed member), that The Ten met to discuss the possible membership of three entities sponsored by their newest inductee, Pluto. Pluto may have been in the club for seventy six years, but that was a drop in the bucket compared to six of the club's members. These six – Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn – weren't the least bit prepared to take this evening seriously, but were doing so as a favor to the well-entrenched greenhorns, Uranus and Neptune, who had been Pluto's joint sponsors back in the day. Filing into the room one by one, each member solemnly took their seat at the table to the sweet air of his or her respective Holstian theme song. All, that is, except for Pluto, who danced in to the tune of "It's a Small World," much to the consternation of Mars, who would spend the remainder of the proceedings trying to get the ridiculous song out of his head. It hadn't gone unnoticed that falling in behind Pluto were the three potential inductees, Ceres, Charon, and Xena, each possessing the grace and aplomb of Larry Fine, Moe Howard, and a female version of "Curly Joe" DeRita (complete with the shaved head). "Tsk tsk," whispered Mercury to Jupiter. Nonmembers weren't allowed to enter before Mr. Sun took his seat. Jupiter paid no heed to Mercury's alarm, instead taking the time to fidget with his poles. "Do they look right?" inquired Jupiter. Mercury rolled his eyes. The lights slowly dimmed and everyone trained their attention to the grand staircase in the apse. The sound of Roger Waters singing "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" filled the room (jealous of their light show, Mr. Sun had contracted Pink Floyd to give him a more spectacular entrance back in 1973). Fog bellowed forth, its chalky, heavy opalescence lending a touch of gravitas to the occasion. At that very moment, Illuminatius J. Sun, President, entered the room and promptly tripped on his gold lamé robe, tumbling down the stairs toward his nine comrades who stood, frozen, like pins in an unholy bowl-a-rama of carnage. Before the scene could become more Robert Smith than Robert Frost, a bouncer pulled the switch that raised the diversion wall, sending Mr. Sun into a spiral tube not entirely unlike the gumball slides that mesmerize many dimestore children worldwide (as well as an escaped mental patient named Ernest Hargrove, but that's another story). The switch was there for a reason: this had obviously happened before. Many times before. Roughly thirty seconds ticked by before Mr. Sun was deposited (screaming like a little girl, according to one off the record account) into his seat, having traveled the length of the tube system like a fiery marble in a Dyson vacuum cleaner. The room erupted in applause. Mr. Sun bowed, raised his gavel skyward, and brought it down with such a mighty blow that the room shook. The four larger planets, true to their reputations as gas giants, each broke wind in the tumult. "Now, if the air has cleared, we may begin," said Mr. Sun, fanning his nose. Venus looked as if she was about to pass out as she scribbled a single word on her steno pad: CORKS. She underlined it twice for good measure. Clearing his throat with a roar, Mars, ever the general, stood up to read the evening's itinerary. Though he would swear on pain of death that his authoritative voice put General George S. Patton to shame, he sounded more like Huckleberry Hound after sampling a helium pipe and an unhealthy dose of amphetamines. In other words, it was a perfectly ordinary Martian voice. "If it may please your lordship," Mars began, "we have only one matter before us tonight on the table that is laid out here in this magnificent hall." Brevity was not his thing either. "We gather here to solemnly consider the matter of club membership to this assortment of hooligans harnessed to Private Pluto, seated at the opposite side of this resplendent rectangle of finest ash wood, thusly." His index finger darted sharply in Pluto's direction, but his gaze never left the eyes of Mr. Sun. Pluto suddenly noticed with horror that he had forgotten the harness and his young charges were nowhere to be seen. Mars continued: "Furthermore, it should be recorded that a vote of 'yea' is a vote to allow said scalawags entrance to the Hall of Noble Gases, access to the reverse gravity antechamber, and full use of the lavatories with the latest in black hole suction technology. A vote of 'nay' would be a vote for—" "I think we know what the voting process entails," interrupted Saturn with his usual saturnine tone. "I'm dying to spend a penny, so may we please speed up the process?" "Depends," quipped Jupiter, followed by his usual stentorian laugh. "Again, with the toilet humor," snipped a disgusted Venus with a gaze so burning that it could have melted icy Pluto from ten million light years. “If I may please continue with what it was that I was trying to say before because it was terribly important and you insolent buffoons wouldn't know important if it was handed to you on a piece of paper with ‘IMPORTANT’ stamped on it in red ink from my mahogany desk WHICH IS ALSO MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOU COULD EVER UNDERSTAND IN ALL OF YOUR BORN DAYS!!” shrieked Mars. He paused for a second to catch his breath, his face turning more red than usual. Across the table, also sporting a red face and mimicking every action Mars had just made, was Charon. “You charlatan,” Mars seethed. “That color is my exclusive intellectual property and you’d best wipe it off your ugly mug before I take you to court to face a judge who will…” “Cripes!” proclaimed Saturn. All eyes turned his direction. Xena was swinging on his rings as though they were monkey bars, a blade clenched between her teeth, her bald head reflecting Mr. Sun’s radiance directly into Uranus’ eyes. “I've gone blind! I've gone blind!” screamed Uranus, failing to remember that he needed to open his eyelids in order to regain sight. His schoolteachers often said that he wasn't the brightest cookie in the box, an observation noted by just about everyone who crossed his path. He had only been let into the club because he could toss a mean egg salad. “That’s not very ladylike,” the prissy Venus interjected, shaking her head admonishingly at Xena. “My cousin, Ms. de Milo, would certainly not approve of that kind of behavior. Neither would the Lady Willendorf, but then again, she’s a… nudist.” Nudist wasn’t a word that slid easily off of Venus’ tongue and had to be whispered, of course. Plop. Earth suddenly hit the table face first as something struck him in the back, plunging deep into his Atlantic and knocking him out cold. Ceres, sure enough, had found the rock garden just outside the lavatory door and was flinging any loose stones he could find at Earth, jumping up and down like a giddy schoolboy and grinning with delight at the sound the stones made when they struck pay dirt (or pay water, as the case may be). Plop. Carefully calculating the tilt of Earth’s axis to be 23.5 degrees, Ceres aimed for the trifecta and won heartily. His next stone skipped off the Arctic Circle (Plop), bounced off of Mercury’s charred and rocky noggin, and burned up in Mr. Sun’s illuminating face. Not to be outdone, Xena had slithered on over to Jupiter and was trying to pop his Great Red Spot, taking it to be a zit. Producing a tub of Clearasil, Xena wiped the spot down and Jupiter screamed. His mighty arm sent Xena flying across the room, a flight that was not equipped with an emergency manual, an in-flight shopping catalog, or an airsickness bag. Venus discovered the latter when Xena passed over her head. Mr. Sun surveyed the situation from his seat at the head of the table and belched forth a colossal roar that nearly shattered the stained glass likenesses of himself embedded in every wall of the club (each one in a different pose and appropriately captioned: “Long John Sunver,” “Elvis Sunley,” “James Deansun,” “Ringo Sunn,” and “Bea Arthur”). He sent out four solar flares like lassos to corral Ceres, Charon, Xena, and, surprisingly, Pluto, who had watched this entire fiasco with his mouth agape. A roving theater columnist might opine about Pluto that "never was there a finer guppy impersonation since Sir Laurence Olivier’s riveting performance in the 1983 made for-TV-version of King Lear." "I think we've seen all that we need to see," said Illuminatius J. Sun in his most regal tone. He silently beckoned four bouncers to relieve him of his captives. The bouncers, all members of the International Astronomical Union (Local 124), gladly lent him their muscle. “Though it saddens me to do this, I fear we must take extraordinary measures based on this evening’s charade. Not only will we pass judgment on the three potential members, but also on Pluto’s standing as a member for failing to exert some modicum of control over his guests.” A pause, and then: “Someone please wake him up,” Mr. Sun groaned, motioning toward Earth, who was still flat out on the table and was beginning to drool. Neptune grabbed a glass, scooped some water from Earth’s vast blue expanse, and dumped it all over his land. As Earth came to, Chillicothe, Missouri was reporting the flood of the century. “What did I mish?” Earth asked in a concussed slur. “We’re voting now,” said Venus, tickling his knee and blowing him a kiss. “Make mine a cheeshburger,” Earth replied. “May we proceed?” asked Mr. Sun, just a trifle impatiently. “Don’t let me shtop your bead,” answered Earth. “Oh, brother,” sighed Mr. Sun, rolling his eyes. “All those in favor of extending club membership to Ceres, Charon, and Xena, give me your ‘aye’ vote now.” Silence filled the room. “Motion denied unanimously,” Mr. Sun concluded, and then turned to face Pluto. “Before we pass judgment on you, Mr. Pluto, have you any words to say in your defense?” “Yes, your worshipfulness,” replied Pluto, respectfully. “I love being here, I want to remain, and I humbly request that you all vote in my favor. You see, I don’t know what happened here tonight because those three have never caused trouble before. I had meant to muzzle them per club rules for guests, but I suppose it slipped my mind. I’m just a planet, like all of you. Sometimes I make mistakes. As the poets say, 'to err is planetary, to forgive is...'” Pfft. A small gas cloud escaped from Puck, Uranus' 15th moon, the mischievous one. Pluto passed out mid-sentence. “Good heavens,” sighed Mr. Sun. “Yes?” the room asked in unison. “It was just an expression,” Mr. Sun replied. “I suppose we’ll have to vote without delay. Simple majority: five votes and he’ll be expelled. Those in favor of expulsion, give me your ‘aye’ vote now.” “Aye,” barked Mars. “Aye, aye,” said Venus, standing up for emphasis. “Aye,” moaned Saturn. “Aye,” snapped Uranus. “I sponsored him, but all he ever does is make fun of my name. Hmpf.” Silence flooded the room, but as Mr. Sun opened his mouth to speak, one more voice chimed in. “Aye.” It was Neptune. “Let me get this straight – you’re voting to expel your neighbor, Mr. Neptune?” inquired the Sun. “He snores,” Neptune retorted. Mr. Sun threw up his arms and declared, “then I guess it’s carried, five to four in favor of expulsion. I must admit that I’m filled with no small amount of sadness, for I've just lost my ruling planet and feel as though I’m adrift in an ocean of metaphysical uncertainty.” Jupiter thought about this cryptic comment for a second and then surreptitiously checked his day planner. It read: NOVEMBER 8, MR. SUN, B-DAY. Jupiter’s hunch was right; Mr. Sun was the club’s lone Scorpio. Illuminatius J. Sun sighed wistfully and continued. “Never mind! This is a fair democracy. The sentence will be recorded in the minutes and carried out forthwith. Pluto is hereby demoted to the status of ‘dwarf planet’ and is expelled from the club. Bouncers!” Four International Astronomical Union (Local 124) bouncers burst into the room and chucked Ceres, Charon, Xena, and the still-unconscious Pluto out into the street. Seven months later, Xena discovered showbiz and changed her name to Eris in the hopes of landing better gigs. Her most recent role was the heartwarming portrayal of Apple #4 in a Fruit of the Loom men’s underwear commercial. Charon ate his “I’M A DWARF PLANET” commemorative pin and, without it, is now little more than a moon. He proudly displays his true nature to all passersby and his continued efforts have earned him the tannest rear in three galaxies. Pluto and Ceres tried to form a Laurel and Hardy tribute act, but since they both resembled the portly Oliver, they came to be known as “The Hardy Boys.” They’re being sued over the name. Representatives of the Holst Club declined an update.