Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Hungry Manhole


Author's note: (If one is not aware of the awesomsauce that is the "ped", one will find this treatise rather confusing, so to eliminate the casual reader's consternation I would preface with this excerpt from the famous ode "Ped's Xing".



I once saw a street sign that cautioned “Peds Xing!!”
I thought to ask dad how a ped might appear
But just then my manhood denied me the question
A “man” wouldn’t ask, he’d just burp and drink beer

So I pondered the issue while riding to nowhere
I figured a ped must be human of sorts
Perhaps one was tiny, like ants, or amoeba
Well surely the peds would have pedlian sports!

They’d play, in their tournaments, “Run through the traffic”
The rules would be simple; “try not to get squashed”!
For most of the peds this advice was well heeded
(Except for ped “Brewer”, who often was sloshed)

To prove that one made it across the wide pavement
An “X” drawn in crayon would herald one’s deed
And that’s how the humans knew peds were in danger
From millions of “X”s that marked the stampede


Ped Baker was furious. He’d expressly ordered Thunderfoot to deliver the cake to the wedding site just across the road in the wee hours of the morning, before the inevitable day’s traffic began to churn. He’d only visited his shop to make sure it was locked before heading to the festivities. Baker had donned a tux that morning, and most certainly wasn’t dressed for a delivery. But there seemed little choice now. He donned his most clean apron and snatched up the inch tall, 13 layer kransekake and headed for Johnny Cake Ridge Road.

Luckily, peds were all but invisible to humans. It was said that were the beast able to see peds, they would aim their cars for them, as they aim toward slush droppings and puddles. So while some pedlian philosophers might argue that it was a tragedy that peds were unnoticed, thinking as philosophers do that all creatures are kind at heart and surely humans would welcome the peds into the family of Earth bound vertebrates and never ever run them over for fun, most common sense peds understood the difference between deep thought and reality, and learned to sprint at a very early age.


Ped Baker stood on the western curb of Johnny Cake Ridge and hollered over to the wedding party. “I have the cake” he called out to ped Lifesover and his wife to be, ped Ballen Chain; “as soon as I can dodge the traffic I’ll be right there!”


Sadly, ped Brewer had already been celebrating, well before the vows were taken, in fact well before the sunrise if you must know, and he volunteered himself to assist ped Baker with the wedding cake, immediately dashing into the street and drawing an “x”, as all peds must do whenever they touch pavement.


“Gods NO!” ped Baker screamed, as ped Brewer wound his way through the whizzing tires. It was too late, Brewer was nicked by a passing valve stem and was flopped to the ground, right in the middle of the street!


The wedding party gasped! Not one of them was a member of the Pedlian Fire and Rescue squad, nor had training in ped dragging, nor were any of them particularly quick on their feet. Of course they all wanted to help, but the risk of being squished flatter than ped Breastless’ chest (poor thing) was too frightening to bear.


Ped Baker moaned. Naturally he was the only ped who might affect a rescue. He was Pedlian foot race Xer of the year, every year in the last decade, and he was a certified Road Ranger to boot. Still, he had a problem. Assuming Baker would need both hands for the job and would need to leave the cake before running, were he to snatch ped Brewer, which way would he drag him? If he were to bring him back “cake side”, Brewer would no doubt awaken sometime later, see the wedding was taking place across the road and try to stumble back to it so as to share in a few more brews, and likely end up in the same pickle yet again. But if he were to drag Brewer to the wedding, he would need to cross Johnny Cake Ridge twice more, just to fulfill his cakey contract. There was really no choice; he would have to bring the cake along.


Well as I’m sure you can guess, trying to drag a Brewer across a road through whizzing traffic with only one hand, whilst balancing a one inch tall 13 layer kransekake in the other hand is a feat that defies imagination. And as with most things that defy imagination, it didn’t turn out so well.


Yes, Brewer was saved, in spite of himself. And Baker was roundly cheered for his bravery and swiftness; the legend was enhanced that day. And yes, the wedding went off without a hitch; that is save the one… there was no cake.


You see, the particular spot in which ped Brewer had decided to have his consciousness removed by a random valve stem, also sported a manhole cover, unbeknownst to the majority of peds (save Ped Magellan who had charted every inch of the tarmac from McAndrews Road to Pilot Knob, but who also hated his fellow peds and so, never gave out his information) and as ped Baker was trying to get ped Brewer across his back for a fireman carry, he’d set the cake down for just a moment and whoosh!, away it went!


Now I’m only telling you this story because one day you might find yourself wandering through the rain sewer that lies precisely 8 feet under the middle of the road called Johnny Cake Ridge, and you could find yourself quite famished (as it is rather strenuous work to venture along in a rain sewer as we all know). If this is ever the case, be aware that the most fabulous one inch tall 13 layer pedlian master baker kransekake wedding cake is sitting right in front of you, and you have the entire wedding party’s permission to have a piece without so much as sending a card of congratulations in return. I just thought you might want to know. I hate to see a great cake go to waste!


Sincerely,


Ped CircumScribe

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mechanokitty


It bounded toward me from deep within the recesses of a just opened garage. A mechanical construct I figured, a Borg creature, part animal, part metal scrap and diodes. I stood transfixed as it leapt much like a wallaby must, and as it passed I recognized its form and began to laugh hard enough I was unable to catch my breath for a moment. You might visualize the scene, if you think of the quintessential Halloween black cat cutout that people are fond of taping in their living room windows; one of arched back, tail upright, hair rigidly elongated, and a face that could be described as pure evil attempting to hiss away all remnants of good in the world. With that in mind, one must alter the visual slightly. Put a Progresso soup can on the head of the beast, and then make it jump forward a meter high and wide again and again until you laugh yourself silly.

The news carrier who had just entered her garage came running past as well, in that "my baby is running off the edge of the Grand Canyon" pose, aiming for the bounding mechlokitty and howling like a manually cranked fire engine siren wound by a man in the midst of having a grand mal seizure. "Help me" she wailed as she got hold of the alien creature while trying to protect herself from the whirling of the claws. I did run to her side, though my feet were opposed, and I did take the thing from her arms and attempted to grip it in such a way that it would never escape, yet neither suffer a rib crushing. The cat objected, and for my benevolence I was given a scar or two (in progress) that went unnoticed until it appeared kitty was bleeding, at which time suffrage became important. Once I was found to be the red font, my injury was overlooked as I am big and manly and can take being bled to death, while poor little kittzy wittzy still had an evil can over its skull!

The woman pulled, I pulled back, the cat clawed. For what seemed like minutes, more likely seconds, we yanked and twisted and moaned ("Oh poor little thing") as we worked to free the animal from its folly. Luckily it happened to have been a pop-top type can, which laves no jagged edge to contend with; yet the lip on said can acted to pin the cats ears inside its recess, making it a little more difficult to extricate the animal. One couldn't simply hold its tail and twirl it around until the can popped off, as I may have done in other circumstances. No, it was delicate work for the surgeon, and for the human restraint, a special challenge to hold the flailing beast still, all the while being maimed.

Finally with a slight "pop", the can came loose and kitty calmed to the point of paralyzation. Within moments the animal within my tattered arms recognized its black face was awash in lovely, tasty orange soup byproduct, and began to purr and lick its eyebrows, as cats are wont to do. I could only envy his prowess, as my tongue can barely reach my nose.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

In Your Name


Ronald Mtumbo could not stop thinking about it. Does taking the possessions of a dead man constitute a sin? Hell, he wasn’t even certain it was a crime, though what he was engaged in at this point certainly was. But having to witness what he had was both a crime and a sin, and something he would likely never wash from his eyes so long as they were attached to his brain.

The man was just trying to help. A visitor; a not so bright visitor considering the danger he’d put himself in so as to see his dying mother one last time, but what is a good son to do? When the gunfire started, Ronald knew to hide away. From experience he knew there was nothing one could do that wouldn’t get one killed. The world gave no mercy, even children offered no compassion.

The warlord who’d killed him was only a boy, thirteen at best. His army of a dozen lost souls, all his age or younger were already damned by their actions. Trained and equipped by some random militia, now apparently operating on their own, laying waste to everything they touched, they swept into Ronald’s village like locusts, aware of nothing but their infinite hunger for blood and money.

This stranger had run to help a small child in the street, one cut down by a lesser thug, but for his crime of Samaritanism, he was executed by the leader, like a goat on a sacrificial altar. Ronald had not been able to turn away as he could not move lest he risk discovery. He so wanted to cry out his misery and shame that he’d had to bite through his tongue to keep silent. These were his people. killing themselves, killing for nothing, becoming anything but human.

To steal the man’s wallet and papers; was that a sin? Ronald knew it was. Yet shortly after he'd rifled through the man's pockets and come up with a handful of materials, the stranger was dragged to the town’s garbage dump and thrown on a pile of flesh, and then soaked in gasoline and burned. There would be no identification, no information sent to relatives, no headstone in commemoration. This man was gone, vanished, never to be seen again. Yet, was he really.

It took virtually every penny saved over the course of Ronald’s 43 years to have the passport altered and to purchase airfare. He’d never wanted to leave his Somalia. He’d had hopes that he could somehow make a difference, until his wife and child were killed in a spurious firefight between two passing factions. But now, there was nothing to eat, nowhere to go, nothing to live for. His only choice was to begin again, as an entirely different person, in an entirely different life.

“Mister Sengbow? Sir? Have you anything to declare?”

By the time he heard the man addressing him Ronald realized he’d said his name 4 times already. Not HIS name really, but his name.

“Cheng-bot’” he said accenting the last syllable. “In our tongue the TS sounds like your CH, and the W is a click sound much like your T.” It was true, though he had no idea if Thomas Tsengbow had pronounced his name tribally, or favoring his new language.

“You seem a little preoccupied sir” the customs agent asked while lifting an eyebrow. “Are you sure you have nothing to declare?”

Ronald, err, Thomas smiled. “I am truly sorry” he said. “I was trying to recall if I’d turned the stove in my hotel off this morning when I left for America.”

The agent laughed. “Been there, done that sir. Might I ask why you were in Somalia?”

“To attend a funeral” Thomas stated calmly. “To say goodby to an old friend.”

The officer nodded. “I see. It’s a hard thing to put a loved one to rest” he said.

“I believe at every death there is born a new life” Thomas offered. “And as to Ronald’s death, I believe this is exactly so.”

“Good attitude” the agent said as he stamped Thomas’ passport; "I wish it were mine. Well, welcome back to America Mister Tsengbow. Welcome home.”

“To the land of the free” Thomas said smiling. “Thank you so much” he added.

As he stood on the walk waiting for a taxi, Thomas embraced his future with a promise. “I owe you my life and I shall make you proud Thomas Tsengbow” he said to himself; “you will be known as a good man, a kind man, a generous man. I will atone for my sin, in your good name. ”

Monday, March 26, 2012

From Buddy to Bubba, A Maury Povich Story in the Making


My Boy Bubba

 Long, long ago while I was still attached to my second ex-wife to be, I started a teddy bear collection. You wouldn't think of a big scary testosterony man to like teddies, but the fact is I love almost everything in miniature.

It began with an antique, more a rag doll than a fuzz bucket. He looked sad sitting on the serpentine armoire, as if he knew he was out of his class atop cherrywood and polished brass, and just wanted to be any ordinary place but there. I empathized. I could relate. I named him Buddy. I'd needed one at that moment. He approved, and consented to leave the facility under my care.


Of course it wasn't long before living at my house wasn't enough for him either. He became lonely and sullen. He needed a partner; a chick I figured, though I wasn't entirely sure he was a he to begin with. But then by the 80s, that hardly mattered anymore.


I found Hilda in a northwoods craft shop. She wore a gingham dress, but she had a cute face so I couldn't hold her bad taste in clothing against her. Her little arm was just barely long enough to get around half of Buddy's back, but once I'd positioned her there, I swear I saw Buddy grin. Later that day I overheard them talking "A little to the left" Buddy said. "Hey, I'm not your personal back scratcher" Hilda replied. They sounded like my parents. I knew they'd be ok.


Later that year I found Larry, Moe and Curly at a toy store, Bob, Carol, Ted, and Alice in a Goodwill shop. I purchased non branded bears in the main, but I did add a dozen or so Steiffs. I only knew of them because for a few years I'd bought my sister Royal Doulton figurines for Christmas, and once you're within range of the upper crust, they infect you with the names of all their overpriced pleasures.


By the end of my tenure as King's Ursikeeper I had near 50 in all, the largest about 20 inches tall, and the smallest sized to fit on the eraser of a pencil, whose name of course was Thumbearlina. They all shared a space atop an antique washtable in my foyer. And then as always, I lost them all.


My ex-wife to be, finally was, and chose as a portion of her parting gifts, the entire collection of bears. I'm not sure which collection I lost grated me more, the bears, the china, the hunting lithographs, the crystal, all three of my freaking can openers... but I do know once the bears had fled, I could no longer enjoy a chat with myself (as me and a bear) in the foyer, I no longer had a reason to smile at inanimate objects and wave hello, I no longer had a Buddy.


I'd show you a picture of the gang, but in my zeal to peck my own eyes out, I stuffed all the photographs taken over the five years together with the wife who never was into a box or six that I knew were about to exit the house. A foolish thing for certain, but on a scale of one to ten, ten being the suicide I'd contemplated, it seemed a one or two, so I long ago forgave myself.


For better than a decade I had no association with bears; nor pillow snakes nor little lambs nor wind up barking stuffed dogs. I did have a six foot creature named Oiseau, but he was more a scary op-artwork than a stuffed toy and was given me by a girlfriend who told my parents in casual conversation she was dealing cocaine at the time, so he doesn't count.


A few years ago my current wife who's possibly everlasting bought me a bear. He's a biker bear, like me. I tied him to the rack atop my motorcycle trunk and we go everywhere together. He watches my back you see; and I protect his, as it should be. His name's Bubba. Closer to when I die, I'm thinking of sending him to live with the ex-wife who never was, so he can meet his many brothers and sisters; presuming they weren't only taken for spite and dumped in a garbage bin somewhere. I'll have to hope they weren't, and I swear, I'll never tel Bubba of that possibility. He's so excited he may one day have a giant family, I don't want to burst his balloon.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Destumpification 101





I’ve always loved the forest. Maybe it’s because I’m a shade person, a lover of moderated temperatures and flickering shadow. Some of my earliest memories involve sitting beneath huge elms sucking strained peas from a Gerber jar and joyfully wetting my diaper while watching tiny shafts of light dance through the canopy and across my face. I am not a tree hugger in the conventional sense, but I do sometimes hug trees, because trees need love as much as anyone; and though many people pay lip service to the idea, few actually reach out and touch a tree with purpose.

This may seem hard to imagine, but I haven’t always been able to understand trees. I know I seem the kind of guy that was probably conversing with trees since birth, but the fact is I didn’t learn tree empathy until I was well into my twenties. Sure, I loved trees, admired them; even thought often about if I were a tree, what tree would I be? But chat with them? Hardly.


Then one day I was camping alone on a solo canoe trip, and it got colder than normal; a change for which I was wholly unprepared. I needed to build a fire, a real fire not just a warm up the beans in the can embers type fire. I like the latter type fire because I’m basically lazy and hunting for wood is a chore I can live without. It doesn’t take much to heat a can of beans, so generally I’d just pull up scraps from around the site and coax them into a little pot warmer glow. But this time I was freezing and needed a little bon in my fire. So I headed into the woods a bit to find some dead wood I could scavenge.


Now having to bend over gives me a headache, not to mention a sore back, so anything at eyeball height was fair game for me. As luck would have it I came across a nice fat limb that looked to be dead and just waiting for someone to break it off. So I grabbed and pushed, hoping it would snap before I’d expended too much energy and needed a rest break. But it didn’t snap at all. In fact, what happened was….


“Vat da hell d’ya tink yer doin!”


Well, it scared the heck out of me! I thought I was alone!


“Let go o’my branch dis moment boy or by yiminy I’ll knock you ten miles to da vest o’here!”


It was the friggin tree! The tree was talking to me! I let go of the branch and stepped back a few feet.


“Dar now” it said, “var sa god. Vat da hell is it ya vant anyvays! Ya can’t yust go breakin branches offa any old tree ya know!”


I…I was cold” I stammered; “I need a fire or I’ll surely die!” (It was an exaggeration sure, but when you’re talking to a tree things come out that you might not have said to, say, a park ranger.)


“Vell den; vy didn’t you say so! Dars a dead villow behind me dare. Go ask him if you can take some vood den. I’m sure he von’t mind!”


It was obvious by his accent that he was a Norway Spruce, so I answered him with words my grandfather had taught me as a boy. “Tak sa myecket! I said. “Tusen tak!” I shouldn’t have done that of course, as then he started blabbing in Norse as if I knew more than a half dozen words. I quickly turned away as if I hadn’t heard him.


I tried to divine the proper response to my situation. I could run to the tent, jump in the sleeping bag and shiver myself to unconsciousness, hoping that by morning I would wake and discover that I was actually home in bed with a fever and had dreamed the whole thing; or I could lay down immediately, curl into a fetal ball and start babbling and drooling until I either froze to death or the funny farmers came to claim me. Neither option seemed doable; I was damn cold and I wanted that fire! So, what else could I do? I walked around the spruce and found the willow. Sure enough, there it was, dead as a doornail.


I thought about just ripping a few heat bearing logs from it’s girth, but the previous encounter had me spooked. “Excuse me mister willow” I said, cringing at the insanity of it all; "I heard you were dead, so do you mind if I take some scrap wood to make a fire so I don’t freeze to death?”


“What does it matter” said the willow. “I’m dead don’t you know. It’s not like I could do anything about it if you tore me apart. Go ahead, deface me!”


It was at that moment I learned tree empathy. I felt bad for the old guy. Here he was actually dead, and I wasn’t even hypothermic yet! I relented, hung my head and turned to walk back to my camp and accept my fate. Then I felt a poke.


“He vas yust kidden” said the spruce. “Tell da boy you vas yust kidden villow or I’ll move outa da vay da next time a big vind comes blowin tru!”


“Oh alright then” said the willow. “Of course you can have what you need. We dead trees know how to share. Why, I’d rather see me used for a good purpose than simply rot in place. I was joking youngster, take all the wood you’d like. Just… just don’t peel my bark if you would. I hate looking like a leper.”


I was overjoyed. Though I was prepared to lie and wait for the grim reaper for the sake of my new friends, the forest, I was really thinking that curling up next to a nice cozy fire would be a far better way to spend the next few hours. I thanked the willow and gathered enough scrap for a long night’s conflagration. Lucky I did, or I may not have made it out alive, and I could never have written this story!


But, why
did I write this story you ask? Well, because I have another, much shorter story to tell and I wanted to give you some context, lest I simply blurt out my ability to talk with trees and have you suddenly think I’m nuts or something. I’m sure this way is much better for both of us.

Well anyway, I was walking through my back yard the other day when I heard a muffled voice say “Hey you! Down here!” Yes, I looked around and didn’t see a soul; not even a tree for gosh sake! So I kept walking, but on my second step it seemed as if a root came right out of the ground and tripped me! From my newly acquired prone position I said “ok, who’s the wise guy”. And then I heard “I see I’ve gotten your attention.”


“Hey, wait a minute” I protested; “You’re just a stump! That means you might have been a tree once, but now you’re definitely dead!”


“Yea sure, don’t rub it in. I’m dead alright, and I deserve some dignity!” The stump seemed a bit indignant, if stumps can indeed even be ticked off. “I need you to do something for me!”


I wasn’t sure I wanted to hear his request. After all, what might a stump want? Human sacrifice? A lamp, jug of cheap wine and a Gideon’s Bible? A female stump to make eyes at? I tried to step away but up came another root to block my toe’s path. It was inevitable that I would need to speak to him eventually. He was in my own backyard after all. It wasn’t like he was on some boulevard somewhere and I could just take another route to work. So I answered him.


“What do you want then?”


He whispered. “I need you to remove me. Could ya do that for me? Just eliminate what you can and leave what you can’t buried underground where I can rot in peace.”


“Why would you want to be destroyed?” I was beside myself. Sure it wasn’t a tree, but at least it could see the sun, and hope for the day when a volunteer branch might spurt from his innards and start him back on the climb.


“I know what you’re thinking” he said. “It’s no use. I’m dead. I’m not growing again, I’m not that kind of tree you ninny!”


“But” I insisted, "but there’s always hope!”


“If you were dead, would you have hope?”


He had a point. “Well no, but my dead and your dead are two different things!”


“Not so much” he countered. “And think of it this way… if you were dead and they buried you, only they left your big butt sticking out of the ground… wouldn’t you be mad as hell?”


“I suppose I would.” I stared directly at the stump. “You mean… that’s your butt?”


“Well” he said, “in a manner of speaking. So, will ya do it?”


I though about his request. I thought about the local cemetery, and tried to visualize what it might look like if all the dead bodies there had their butts sticking out of the ground. It was gross. It was humiliating. Of course I had to help the stump.


“Sure” I said, knowing that I was still as lazy as I was in my twenties and it might take quite a while before I’d actually put shovel to sod and hand axe to tap root. “I’ll make it right for you dead tree. I’ll destroy you so no one will ever see your rotting carcass again.”


He sighed, as only a stump can sigh. “Thanks” he said; “I’ll tell the other trees in the neighborhood what a great guy you are.”


I’d have been better off without his promise. Now every time I walk the dog, some tree is asking me a favor. “Can you trim up my branches? Water me please! Hey buddy, I have a canker here, can you cut it out for me, it’s embarrassing!”


Oh well. At least my life is interesting. I guess I have a summer chore to do. Destumpify.


 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Last Day When Everything Clicked


It was October 10th, 1983 when last I had one of those days. It technically started a day earlier, but only because I went to sleep 18 hours before, and sleep is one of my favorite things. Usually I get 7 hours, I need 8 and I lust after 10; so as is obvious, I was in heaven for an extra 8 hours of choking and gasping in my apnea burdened, emphysemic way. And then, upon the opening of my eyes, my lovely wife du jour Marie performed oral sex, on me of course, as we had only been married for a few months and it would be months yet before she’d found greener grass.

Suddenly I heard the clanking of dishes coming from my kitchen. It was hard to imagine my dog Nikky whipping up breakfast, so I asked “who might that be? Surely not your mother who hates me above all others?”

“Why no” my beautiful short lived companion answered; “It’s Martha Stewart! She’s thinking of starting a television show and thought she could get some practice cooking for the plain folk.”

“How would you like your eggs Ronnie?” I was stunned naturally. Here she was in my own house, as cute as she looked on TV, asking me how I’d like my meal prepared! I could almost forgive her for using the name Ronnie. So once explaining to her that I would slap her silly should she make that mistake again, I said “basted soft please!”

Well, as she sauntered back to the pots and pans in her extra sexy Martha way, I jumped up to run to the bathroom so I could soak my head in the sink and make my hair lay down rather than stick straight up like a clown’s. (I didn’t want Ms. Stewart using my morning hairdo as a favorite humorous anecdote once she’d started her reign on daytime television.)

The moment I stepped into the space I was stunned by the changes that had taken place while I was asleep. Where once there had been a simple tub and window, there was now a Jacuzzi and bay; and over the newly replaced marble sink, with gold handles and drain, was a compact shower head, perfectly suited to addressing Bozo hair!

“Wha” I said as I turned towered the ever perfect Ms. soon to be ex Wife-o-mine.

“Oh I forgot” she informed me; “Bob Villa was here last night while you were sleeping. He’s thinking of leaving This Old House and starting his own show, so he thought he could practice his impossible renovation technique here!”

“Bu” I tried to inject a question yet she sensed my query and answered it before I could finish the syllable.

“It was all free” she rambled; “once he found out Martha Stewart would be here to cook him dinner.”

Well, I couldn’t believe my luck; but I really had to pee. So I shooshed the woman that once had access to all my worldly possessions from the room, took care of business (leaving the toilet seat up as I had a perfect right to) and then rinsed my head in the wonderful miniature shower. It was amazingly warm and soothing; the jets were just strong enough to massage my cranium and the ever so slight cigarette smoke headache that loomed was washed away along with my cartoon character appearance. In fact, when I finally finished and combed my hair into its regular style, I could swear I had actually grown a few follicles in my sleep! Good Lord what a day!

Breakfast was grand! Just like Gramma B used to make me when I’d mow her lawn and trim her shrubberies. Martha’s a hell of a cook if you ask me; it’s no wonder people give her insider trading information!

Still reeling from the outrageousness of my morning so far, I was loath to pick up the phone when it rang. But dutiful husband that I am, it was my responsibility to scream at telemarketers, so I answered. Of all people, it was my boss on the phone!

“You don’t have to come to work today Ronnie, and we’re paying you double anyway because we like you so much!”

Holy Crap I thought! Paid to screw off? Overtime hours? I thanked him profusely, after of course I’d warned him of the corporal punishment he might suffer for using my toddler name. I only wondered, what would I do with the day?

Just as I was pondering my freedom, my then partially committed mate hauled me off into the bedroom for another round of you know what. I had barely had time to catch my breath when the doorbell rang.

It was a local car dealer. He explained to me that my father had so admired my work ethic, my incredible responsibility and my having turned out such a near perfect man that he’d bought me a new Corvette! Wow! You can’t imagine what I was thinking! My dad liked me! Who would have thought!

I figured I might as well go for a ride so the woman to whom I was once legally obligated and I jumped in the Vette, and after dropping Martha off at the airport we went for a little cruise in the countryside.

There was a frightful moment when a deer jumped from the ditch and ran right in front of us, but suddenly an otherworldy gust of straight line wind shot out from the western side of the road and lifted the deer right up and over the top of the car! I’d never seen anything like it, and if I had to guess, I never will again!

Shortly afterward we rounded a corner and there was a purple limo on the side of the highway with a jack under the right rear wheel. I stopped as I always do for those in need, and to my surprise this little black guy gets out of the back seat and smiles. It was Prince! Well of course we’d met before since he’d worked for me when he was a teenager and not really Prince yet, so he says “Hey Ronnie! How’s it goin?”

Well, after I’d reminded him about the Ronnie thing and he’d apologized, I helped his driver fix the flat tire while Prince and Apollonia sang their greatest hits a capella. Once I was finished he was so grateful he gave me all the master tapes of his latest recordings and said “Ya know, I don’t really need these songs so why don’t you have them? Store them in your garage or something and listen to them when you’re old and lonely and in need of a lot of cash.” Naturally I said “Hey thanks Prince!” I'd have loved to have hung out like we had in the old days, but Prince is kinda shy, even with guys he thinks rock his socks off. And so we parted company.

An hour later we were just driving along when suddenly I noticed we were being followed. I pulled over and waited for them to pass, but they pulled in right behind me and one of the guys jumps out and runs up to the Vette and says “Hey! I saw you guys go by us and thought what an almost perfect couple! I’m a talent scout and the company I work for is doing a demo of a new TV show. How’d you like to be in it?”

I could hardly refuse after he’d been so nice and all, so we followed him to a local studio where they’d made an uplink to the master suite in New York, and who do you think comes on the monitor? Regis Philbin! That’s right! He was the MC for a show called “Who wants to be a Millionaire” and I was gonna be the first experimental contestant!

I said “You bet let’s go!” just after he’d said “OK Ronnie, you ready?”, mostly because while I’d loved to have whacked him upside the head he was in New York, and since I was on TV, even though it was just a pilot that would probably never be shown, I didn’t want to look stupidly vindictive; so I let him Ronnie me for the half hour.

Wow! What a half hour it was! It was touch and go for a while, but luckily I knew a few people to call, so when the question about India came up I called Indira Ghandi’s daughter Lucy, who I’d met at a revival of the play Hair. And when the question about money came up I called Paul Hewson, this Irish guy I’d met in a pub in Paducah Kentucky who told me one day he was going to own half of Dublin. And it was amazing but I happened to have known the answer to the last question… “Who will one day in the future be a symbol for terrorist organizations, that will bring thousands of children into their theological construct?” Well once I’d deciphered the really badly worded question I knew there could only be one answer.

“MICKEY MOUSE” I screamed! And the ceiling opened up and all these 20 dollar bills came floating down like confetti and I was told if I’d want to pick them all up they’d all be mine! But then I noticed Bill Gates standing there looking bored, and I figured he was great at collecting money, so I made a deal with him that he could keep 10 percent of the cash for his garage fund if he’d pick up the dough and bring it to me later. AND HE AGREED!

I couldn’t take it; I was so tired I just had to get home and take a nap for 20 hours or so. The woman who was once my true love drove as I waved at people on the street and they waved back as if they knew who I was and cared deeply about me. At last we arrived at my address, but lo and behold there was a brand spanking new house on my lot!

Well standing in my new driveway was this weird lookin hippy type guy who called himself Ty Pennington, and he said he had this new tv show he was trying out called “Extreme Makeover” and he happened to be driving through my neighborhood and saw my house! He thought it’d be a perfect home to practice on so him and his buddies tore mine down and built one three times as big on the same property!

I did all my thank you’s, though I did demand that he change the mailbox inscription to say Ron J instead of Ronnie, but as indebted as I felt I was just exhausted, so I excused myself and the lady who once pretended to love me and I went inside. There, she gave me you know what again, and I went to sleep, or at least to snoring and wheezing and coughing like I always do.

And that was the day that everything clicked! MAN I love it when that happens! I wonder if anything like that will ever happen again?