Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
Jimmy went into his relationship with Vonetta with his eyes wide open. He knew that she was a kleptomaniac. He knew that she drank liquor from an old fruit jar. He knew that she had dated the entire starting lineup of the Atlanta Braves. And since she lived in Chicago, it had to be when they were playing the Cubs, which meant it had to be some very concentrated dating.
But Jimmy's Uncle Bernard had brought him up to see the best in people and give them the benefit of the doubt. Uncle Bernard was later diagnosed as clinically delusional, but his lessons stayed with Jimmy nonetheless. Like the one about checking under the bed to make sure Sasquatch wasn't there.
It was September, and Jimmy was feeling very lonely in Chicago, as Vonetta had just gone on the road with the Philadelphia Phillies. Jimmy called Uncle Bernard at the insane asylum for advice, but all he heard on the phone was a funny gurgling sound. Well, it would have been funny had it not been terribly sad, that is.
Jimmy decided he needed something to occupy his time until the end of baseball season. But what? A hobby? An affair? A drinking problem? He decided on all three.
His first step was to go to a hobby shop and purchase a wood-burnishing kit. For his first project, he burnished "327" on his front door.
A half hour later his doorbell rang, and it was Mrs. Potter, his landlady, complaining about the front door. Apparently, "327" was not the correct address, and she felt that this would diminish the value of her property. He apologized profusely and invited her in for a drink. One thing led to another, and another, and the next thing Jimmy knew, he had a fulfilling hobby, an adulterous affair and a serious drinking problem.
Was this a great country, or what?
Jimmy's burnishings eventually made a name for him as an "outsider" artist, and his works sold for tens of thousands of dollars apiece.
Mrs. Potter divorced Mr. Potter and moved in with Jimmy.
Uncle Bernard escaped from the loony bin and went into politics.
The Phillies went on to win the World Series. Second baseman Chase Utley told Sports Illustrated that the team felt very relaxed toward the end of the season, but he wouldn't elaborate.
Vonetta was arrested at the final game for stealing a bobblehead doll from a concession stand. When she got out of jail it was football season, and she is now going steady with the Dallas Cowboys.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
I ran into a friend of mine in a bar a while ago. Let's call the bar the Dew Drop Inn. (That's not really its name, but I don't want it to be overrun by tourists.) Let's call my friend Doug. (Actually, that IS his name, but I don't care if Doug is overrun by tourists.) After several drinks, Doug brought up the expression "lion's share." As in, "Candidate X got the lion's share of the votes," or, "Doug drank the lion's share of the beer." He said he had a problem with that expression.
"What problem?" I asked.
"What does that mean, exactly?"
I said that, being King of Beasts, a lion gets most of the food.
Doug pointed out that since lions tended to hang out with other lions, they would each get the same amount of food out of a kill, so really, a lion's share wouldn't be all that much.
Doug had a point, but I didn't want to concede it. I'm competitive by nature, and Doug has an annoying way of flaring his nostrils when he's right about something.
I ordered another beer and thought about it.
"What if," I posited, "a lion and a penguin are friends, and they go out to lunch together one day. The lion kills a caribou, and they chow down. Who gets the 'lion's share' then, Doug?"
"That's ridiculous, Bob," Doug said. (Bob is not my real name, by the way.) "Penguins live at the South Pole and lions live in Africa and India."
He was flaring his nostrils.
"Think outside the box, Doug!" I yelled, slamming my bottle down on the bar for effect. (The main effect was that the bartender told us to keep it down.)
We batted it back and forth for a while, and several beers (and shots) later, right before we were asked to leave, I not only had my friend convinced that "lions share" is the perfect expression for the most of something, but also that "penguin's portion" should become the corresponding expression for the least of something. As in, "Candidate Y got the penguin's portion of the votes," or, "Doug got the penguin's portion when they handed out the brains."
Since then I've been trying to get my other friends to use my new expression. Half of the people I've told this story to think I should be in Bartlett's Quotations. The other half think I should be in Alcoholics Anonymous.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Ah, the cruel world of the comics.
Chet and Sally were in love. But they lived in separate panels of a comic strip, and were forever separated by whatever the hell you call that area between panels. It was just a little strip of newspaper (or online pixels), but it might as well have been an ocean of broken beer bottles and maggots.
Making matters worse, they had no word balloons to speak their love. The sadistic cartoonist who created their little comic world was a big fan of the old Henry strip, featuring the bald boy who communicated in pantomime. The cartoonist thought Henry was hilarious. (He was not alone. There was one other guy who felt that way.) They didn't even have thought balloons, and were forced to think their love below the neckline. Luckily, that's not a bad place to think love.
They had to settle for communicating their feelings for each other through mime. Chet would point to himself, then close his eyes and smile a smile of love, then point to Sally. Whatever else he was doing with his hands was outside of his panel, and nobody's business, he thought. On occasion, Sally also appeared to be doing something "outside panel," and newspaper editors would receive angry letters from concerned parents.
But Chet wished that he could express his love not only in thought balloons and word balloons, but also, frankly, in pants balloons.
When his frustrations reached the boiling point, Chet began giving the cartoonist the finger. Readers assumed he was giving it to them, and one by one newspaper editors began dropping the strip from their comics pages.
On the final day of syndication, the cartoonist relented and allowed the lovebirds to not only speak their love, but consummate it in one giant panel, on the familiar grass background under the warming, cartoon sun.
Now they are in that big newspaper in the sky, where all comic strip characters go when they die.
Chet and Sally, happy at last.
And when Chet isn't screwing Sally's brains out, he's beating the piss out of Henry.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Monday, September 1, 2008
Howie was in love with Jessica, and why not? Jessica was a beautiful young woman whose lustrous blond hair cascaded down to her hips, hips which kept Howie awake at night. Which was a drag, because there's not a lot to do in a bedroom closet at night. That's where Howie spent most of his time. He was, after all, a hanger.
Sometimes, the best times, Jessica would hang him, and the dress that was hung on him, on the hook on the bedroom door at night, to remind her of what she had decided to wear the next day. On these wonderful nights, Howie could watch her sleep and imagine that he was lying next to her. In these imaginings, he was not a hanger, but a real man, and his body extended down beyond his chest, down to and including feet, and all the other parts that a real man has. He didn't really know what they all were, but he thought he would have fun using them.
Then one night Jessica brought home a man named Don. Howie was hanging on the bedroom closet door, and he could see them sitting on the couch in the living room, drinking martinis and laughing.
Then she brought him into the bedroom and they got undressed. When Howie saw the full male anatomy, he sensed trouble. Sure enough, his worst fears were trumped by all the things Don did to Jessica with that disgusting THING he had on him. And she seemed to LIKE it! Did he really know her after all? Who WAS this person?
Disillusion is a terrible thing. Especially if you're a hanger, and your illusions are all you have.