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Or Are You Just Glad to See Me

Apr. 29, 2009
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I’m Art Kumbalek and man oh manischewitz what a world, ain’a? Listen, as the poet from out of St. Louis, Eliot what’s-his-name, once said, “April is the cruellest month.” To which I say: No shit, Sherlock. Best for me is to lay low this time of year, so I called the office and told them I wouldn’t be coming in to whip out an essay this week ’cause the voices told me to stay home and clean my guns instead. Take your time and then some, they said.

Since I don’t have any guns, I figured my day was clear. The voices then told me to head over by my favorite open-daily 23-hours and 59-minutes restaurant for a relaxing breakfast ala caffeine du jour, seeing as how it’s a tad early for a nice cocktail over by the Uptowner tavern cum charm school. Come along if you want but you leave the tip. Let’s get going.

Bea: Hey there Artie, nice to see you. What’s your pleasure?

Art: How ’bout a nice cup of the blackest, thickest and cheapest cup of whatever you’re calling plain-old American coffee today. Coffee with a gravitational force of its own, thank you kindly.

Bea: One cup of “Black Hole” coming right up, Artie. So what do you hear, what do you know.

Art: I know that I’m embarrassed by these erectile-dysfunction commercials with kids around whenever I mosey into a Best Buy showroom so’s to catch some free HDTV— which reminds me of a little story:

So this guy goes to the doctor ’cause he’s concerned about the lack of lead in his pencil that his wife’s been complaining about lately. Doctor gives him one of those turn-your-head-and-cough exams and says to the guy, “Well sir, I’ve been able to determine that your male member has but twenty-five erections left in it. I suggest you use them wisely.”

He gets home and tells the wife what the doctor had to say. She says, “Only twenty-five? Oh dear. We better save them for special occasions, like anniversaries, birthdays, Valentine’s Day. Let’s make a list.” And the guy says, “Forget about it. I already made a list, and your name’s not on it.”

Bea: Lordy, I almost forgot. Here. I got you a card—for Earth Day. It’s belated, ’cause I haven’t seen you for a while.

Art: Jeez louise, since when are you supposed to exchange cards for Earth Day? I tell you, Bea, the greeting card industry has got to be stopped before it’s too late. What’s their industry slogan again—“Deforestation is just another way of saying ‘Thinking of You’”?

Bea: I’m told not one single twig went into the making of this card and envelope, Artie. It’s composed of some kind of all-natural multipurpose recyclable high-tech product. They also make a brand of walking shoes from the same material.

Art: Oh yeah, I bought a pair of those babies once. Walking home from the store was a religious experience. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. They recycled themselves back to Mother Earth before I even got halfway home.

Bea: You do believe in the value of recycling, don’t you Artie?

Art: Are you kidding, Bea? Cripes, as a would-be essayist, that’s the bread and butter on my dinner table. So who exactly told you this card is made of some allnatural high-tech product?

Bea: The people at the Earth Day convention I went to the other week.

Art: I went to one of those once years ago. Some of those people need to do more research for their literature, like this pamphlet I got called “Facts You Should Know About Wildlife.” It had this fact and that fact, but they forgot the most important fact.

Bea: Which fact is that, Artie?

Art: “Best served at 350-400 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour or until tender.” No Bea, I can’t celebrate any Earth Day until it becomes an official bona fide holiday, one where you get a paid day-off from work so’s you can go visit relatives and drink their beer all day.

Bea: Aren’t you going to open the card, Artie?

Art: Abso-focking-lutely, Bea. Let’s see here… Good lord! Look at this cover.

Bea: It’s a bonobo chimpanzee.

Art: And is this chimp doing what I think he’s doing to the guy wearing the lab coat around his ankles and bent over the examining table?

Bea: Seems to be, Artie.

Art: Serves him right. Monkeys and chimps aren’t meant to be stuck full of electrodes and needles in a laboratory somewheres. They’re meant to wear bellboy outfits and roller skates at the circus so’s to entertain the Homo sapien. Bea, read the note inside you wrote, would you? I recently lost my reading-glasses during the twists and turns of a bar bet.

Bea: “Dear Artie, don’t forget to cultivate your garden in this, the best of all possible worlds. Signed, Bea.”

Art: “The best of all possible worlds.” Now I’m really depressed. But let me be candid, Bea—without you in it, this world would sure be a lot worse, I kid you not. But I got to run, so thanks for the coffee and for letting me bend your ear there, Bea—utiful. See you next time.

Bea: My pleasure, Artie. Always nice getting talked at by you. Take care.

(Okey-dokey, off to the Uptowner. If I see you there, then you buy me one ’cause I’m Art Kumbalek and I told you so.)


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