Digressions of a Dilettante

Digressions of a Dilettante
Vignettes of Inanity by Bud Hearn

Monday, December 31, 2012

Folding the Tent

Well, our lease on 2012 is about to expire. Time to pack up and move on. Time is a fickle friend…it never gives, it only lends. And our loan’s coming due.

It’s been an interesting year. But now it’s time to fold up the old tent and find a new spot to erect it. There’s something sad about packing up. Like moving from one house to another…some things are just worn out, past their useful life. We have to leave ‘em behind.

The problem with tents is that they are at best temporary. My favorite recollection of tents is the ‘pup tent’ we used to camp along creek banks, back yards and dense woods. Purchased used from Army-Navy stores, we were warriors on the move, armed with Daisy, lever-action BB guns and firecrackers. We were terrors to small creatures. Now we are small creatures subject to terrors. Life turns tables.

A couple of times a year the carnival came to town. It was exciting, seeing the set-up, anticipating the sideshows with their grotesque and parallel universe of characters. We paid real money to see these tent spectacles. Reminds me of Congress today. At least the carnivals moved on when our money ran out or the novelty wore off.

Life’s like that. Like it or not, it demands we clean up, pack up and move on. Which, on the eve of a new year, is exactly what we’re doing at our house…ruthlessly casting out the old rubbish, making room for the new.

No, The Hearns are renouncing the urge to make rash resolutions this year. Why? A futile endeavor. Like promising yourself you’ll shed those unwanted pounds, only to realize that you covet the chocolate more than you hate the heft. That’s what resolutions are for anyway, to expose the weakness and frailty of human flesh.

Mark Twain was prescient when he wrote in 1863:

Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual. Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink and swore his last oath. Today, we are a pious and exemplary community. Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation to the winds and gone to cutting our ancient short comings considerably shorter. We shall reflect pleasantly upon how we did the same old thing last year about this time.

New Year’s is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls and humbug resolutions, and we wish you to enjoy it with a looseness suited to the greatness of the occasion.”

Today I’m resolved to organize the cabinet. The photograph explains why. Enough clutter…cast out the duct tape and floor wax and mosquito repellent and empty oil cans and gummy emulsions of suspicious origin that occupy perfectly good space. I keep only the $9.99 Home Depot rubber knee pads. Successful marriages demand husbands keep a pair handy and wear them early and often.

We were forced to fold our Friday Forum lunch tent in October. We had our own sideshow for eight years, a pretty good run. Fed about 22,000 hungry islanders with Chef Mike’s down-home, country cooking, sprinkled with spices of occasional insults and humorous gravy. Alas, it was casualty to Chef Mike’s knee gone gimpy and accentuated by local governmental powers gone berserk. You know, small bureaucratic minds inside of big empty heads on the public dole.

But all sideshows, tents and bright lights lose their luster sooner or later. Like all the clutter we collect and keep. Outta sight, outta mind, you know. We’re like dogs burying bones in the trackless desert sands on the way to Mecca…we’re not coming back this way!

Soon, one short second, an infinitesimally small measure of time, will forever send 2012 packing, DOA and toe-tagged, soon to be buried in history. We can hold a wake for it, look back with longing, but we can’t go back and retrieve the bones we buried there.

Meanwhile, History moves on in its inexorable pace toward an unforeseen and indeterminate conclusion, kept entirely secret in the sole counsels of Divine Wisdom.

Here’s hoping you find pleasant meadows in which to stake your claim and erect your tent in 2013. For your evening revelry, I offer this toast from Benjamin Franklin: “Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors and let each New Year find you a better person.”

Happy New Year. Bottoms up and Auld Lang Syne!

Bud Hearn
December 31, 2012

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Crossing the Threshold of Christmas

Christmas is about to come down the chimney. With time on my hands lately, I’ve been thinking about it. About the improbability of it, among other things.

Christmas is really not something you think too much about. It’s a time of action, of shopping, of parties, of joy to the world, more shopping, family visitations, giving and getting, cooking and eating, especially chocolate, and a lot of Bing Crosby’s Silent Night. Things like that make up Christmas. And if you think too much about it, you would cancel pretty much all of it!

One of my favorite authors, Harry Crews, RIP, once wrote: “Knowing, like thinking accomplishes nothing. Thinking always leaves you precisely where you were. You couldn’t think your way out of a gas chamber or across barbed wire. The act is the thing.” Christmas is like that…it’s just not logical. The finite mind grapples with it. It must simply be accepted and acted upon with stone-blind faith. Maybe not knowing is the better choice.

So I decide to get back to the Christian’s concept, or faith, if you will, of the origins of Christmas. You can read it for yourself in Matthew, chapters 1 and 2. It’s a real stretch to believe in virginal conception. But that’s the threshold we have to cross to get to the rest. Without that, it all breaks down in the spray of a super nova, falling out of a black, impenetrable sky.

Go sit beside your fire, ponder the possibilities of an immaculate conception, the incredulity of it all, and see where it takes you. Around in circles, that’s where. Yet, without it, Christmas is not born. So, it has to be acted on as being a fact, as strange as it may seem. That’s faith, always has been, always will be…a notional hypothesis, a profundity, improbable, un-provable and above all incredible.

Of course, a virgin birth is just one set of steps in crossing the threshold of Christmas. There are the appearances of angels in dreams, encouraging this, warning that. And strangely, we’re asked to believe their advice…talk about blind faith. Today we are offered so many competing ‘celebrity stars’ to follow that we are confused. I’m pretty sure following any of these stars will end in a black hole.

Then there’s the journey of the wise men. Read it. They traveled through the deserts, following a star to locate a baby that had been prophesied for centuries as the redeeming King of the Jews. Celestial navigation has been around for centuries, but this is the only instance of it leading to a baby in a manger. Think about it, night after cold night, in a desert, following a star to who-knows-where. What did they have that we don’t? They weren’t thinking…they were acting. They had faith. Quite a threshold to cross, huh?

Now, my wife never much subscribed to the notion of ‘wise men.’ Every Christmas she manifests this belief in an embroidered hand towel placed in the guest restroom. It reads: “Three Wise Women would have asked directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable, made a casserole, brought practical gifts, and there really would be Peace on Earth.” I leave this to you to contemplate while sipping on your eggnog.

Add to all this the political intrigue of King Herod, a brutal, stalking arch-enemy of all that might threaten to usurp his kingdom. Viola, you have a story so full of improbabilities even the new Sherlock Holmes couldn’t untangle this Gordian knot.

As children, we debated endlessly the reality, and improbability, of a jolly, fat man in a red suit who mushed reindeer and descended chimneys, delivering gifts to all good little boys and girls. Always we heard, “They receive who believe.” We didn’t get it, didn’t question it, but only believed. We were never disappointed…until we figured it all out. Ah, the immense wonder of children!

These are some steps leading to the threshold of Christmas. Every year we have opportunity to ascend them, and cross again into that heavenly mansion of mystery, where miracles never cease. But we get there, not by thinking, but by faith.

This year we will have another opportunity to cross the Christmas threshold. I hope you will join me in the child-like wonder of it all…they receive who believe.

Then shall our voices ring together with the Heavenly Chorus, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Glory to the Newborn King!”

Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Bud Hearn
December 20, 2012

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Uncle Elvin's Epiphany

This week has me hanging out at home. I’m waiting on healing and being force-fed, like a pate-bred Christmas goose, the news about a ‘fiscal cliff.’ After my femur has just given birth to a new titanium hip, a fiscal cliff would rate only a mild inconvenience.

I’m thinking about December 21, 2012. Doesn’t resonate with you? Then check the Mayan Stone Calendar. That’s when doomsday dawns, the climax of civilization. Apocalypse Now! Whatever.

Last year, Climax, Georgia got on the map when Uncle Elvin predicted a world holocaust would occur on May 21, 2011. He’s really nobody’s uncle. People in the South assume identities. He didn’t devise this date of doom. He’s a political opportunist, a shady sort who lives in the shadows, digging up dirt and details for dinero. He had done research on a California nutcase, the Reverend Harold Camping.

Remember Rev. Camping? He spent millions on billboards predicting The Rapture with money gleaned from carcasses of his cult’s groupies. His prediction failed, at least in this hemisphere, anyway. He recanted after experiencing visions of the afterlife from inhaling hallucinogenic herbs. Expositors of such hoo-hah often receive recompense commensurate with the prognostications of this rubbish.

Millions have been manipulated with this same scenario…doomsday’s coming, get ready. Just guessing, but I’d say ‘getting ready’ means cashing in and buying a ticket out of the coming conflagration. Money is the motivation for most scams.

Mt. Vesuvius in year 79 was a biggie. Pompeii was enveloped in ash, whole bodies engulfed and mummified, lying spread-eagle in the streets like cast-off stone cadavers. So sudden was it that no one cashed out, but the Italians are now cashing in with tours of the devastation. There are perils of staying anywhere too long. They say it inspired the prototype for the popular Pompeii Pizza Ovens. ‘They’ say a lot of things.

Halley’s Comet came close in 1910. It incited a short-lived panic. The sale of indulgences in the Catholic Church hit a record high following the speculation that the comet’s tail contained a gas that would ignite the atmosphere and snuff out all life. Well, it didn’t happen. But the frenzy did open a door for disciples of the Green Movement to successfully plunder the national treasury by preaching carbon emissions. Hysteria is a terrible thing to waste.

A prominent TV evangelist envisioned a Freaky Friday scenario of his own, prophesying utter destruction in 1982. He went live on his $7000 Money Club to tuned-in nitwits that Armageddon was imminent. Nothing happened, except the usual worldwide violence, a stock market crash and several tsunamis. He’s now dean of intergalactic studies at Oral Roberts University.

The True Way, a Taiwanese cult established by Hon-Ming Chen, predicted God would appear on American cable television on March 31, 1998. God didn’t oblige. He was being entertained by the Clinton impeachment proceedings on C-Span. Chen dodged crucifixion because his follower’s visas expired before they could accommodate him. Be careful with predictions.

The list is long. Remember the Y2K hoax? That swindle emptied the vaults of entire nations with more efficiency than a snow storm will empty Budweiser from the shelves of stores. People are very predictable! But back to Uncle Elvin.

He looted the locals on Camping’s soothsaying. His high-tech billboards belched smoke, predicting The End with thunder and flashing lightning bolts. His junk yard became a shrine. His pond burned mysteriously, like Vesuvius. Visions appeared in the smoky heavens. Caravans of pilgrims clogged the compound, like Nevada’s Burning Man Fest. Brinks set up a bank. Hollywood showed, Disney offered cash. May 21, 2011 drew nearer. Panic ensued.

But Uncle Elvin cashed out early, which, coincidentally, coincided with the last day of his probation. He ceased imitating Jackson Pollack’s drip art of punching pin-holes in eggs and blowing out the contents on canvases in shapes of Mother Mary. He sold out to Disney and left town like he arrived…late at night on Trailways. After May 21, 2011, Climax attempted to change its name to Toad Suck. But Arkansas beat them to it.

Uncle Elvin? Well, in typical American tradition he was reincarnated as Mo Elvinsky, and joined the Washington PAC firm of Deadlock, Leech and Filch. He’s now Counsel Emeritus in the West Wing.

Stone carvings or fiscal cliffs notwithstanding, as for the future I will augur this with certitude: Taxes will thrive, my dog will still beg food and on December 21, 2012, the winter solstice will return. How’s that for accuracy?

What’s yours?

Bud Hearn
December 13, 2012

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Christmas List

Christmas creeps closer. My angst rises. The stalking horror of ‘what to get’ knocks. I mistake panic for inspiration.

I remember the old days of mall-wandering on Christmas Eve, bereft of ideas, toting an empty shopping bag. Like zombies, clueless men in rumpled suits with hopeless stares roam the corridors. Multitudes of angels play golden harps. Christmas cheer echoes down the decked halls.

Store clerks prey on the vulnerability of such shoppers. They’ll buy anything, at any price. The trick is to lure them into the store. They achieve this seduction with chocolate cookies and box wine. Men are easy pickings for such cheap tricks.

But not me, not this year. I’m getting ahead of the curve. No more last-minute terror. Get organized, shop early, get bargains. I’m on it.

But just like last year, here I sit, searching for ideas. Nothing. Catalogues and coupons confound me. So much, who can choose? A blank list exposes my ambivalence. It mocks my vacuous mind. The deadline is a time bomb strapped to my body…tick, tick, tick. Terror torments me.

Christmas is supposed to be joyful. Joy to the world, holly jolly and mistletoe, right? Not a season of self-mutilation. Music of red-nosed reindeers and choruses of winter wonderlands gush forth. It confuses us. How can anyone get worked up about winter in 75 degree weather? The ruse isn’t working.

Commerce assaults us. Buy Now. Save. Hurry. Last Chance. It’s all too much. My ideas are asleep in stasis. What to purchase? The tyranny of the urgent attacks me. Intensity builds...the pressure, the pressure.

I leave the table, walk in circles. Nothing resonates. Suddenly, out of the blue, an epiphany of enormous magnitude hits…registers 10 on my Richter. Check the Bible for leads, you dummy. Now ideas don’t talk, but they sometimes drop subtle clues to see if you can pick up on them. I waste no time consulting my Bible for a sign.

I’m not sure the Bible has all the answers. It raises more questions than it answers. For example, it’s yet to reveal a loophole in the law that will pardon past iniquities. But at this point, I’m desperate for ideas. What can I lose? Tick, tick, tick.

I scroll through the pages, searching for a tip. I’m about to give up when I discover the story of some ‘wise men’ following a star in a desert, looking for a Baby. Is this believable? Star gazing maybe, but following a star? And these were wise men. Really? Incredible. No woman would ever believe such nonsense. They know a wise man has yet to be found on the planet.

But the wise men are bearing gifts, which is exactly what I’m looking for. Nothing complicated…gold, frankincense and myrrh. These gentlemen were obviously Semitic. Who else has all the gold? What an idea…gold. My mind does some quick math. If these were gifts fit for a King, then surely for a queen. And one lives in my house.

I read on. More clues emerge. I conclude that the wise men may be of the nomadic tribe of Neiman, which later merged with Marcus after the locust plague and opened a department store in Dallas. Their icon remains strikingly similar to The Star. Speculation, of course, but stranger things have happened, like immaculate conceptions. Which is certainly an unusual gift anytime.

So I solve two problems…gift ideas, and where to find them. I check out all things gold. Sure, the prices are high. But I ignore that, plunge headlong into debt. Fiscal cliff? Who cares. Worry about that later. It’s Christmas.

I recall Christmases past. I always seemed to be tight for cash, which is code for being destitute. But I had Visa in my hand. Later it had my throat in its grip. Insolvent shoppers rarely get respect from clerks. It’s better to avoid their condescending attitudes and deceitful tricks. Shop online and by phone. They’ll never know. Or care!

I return to my list, rip through the catalogues. Ideas flow. After hours of toil I’m exhausted. But now it’s over. Done. List complete. The bomb stops ticking. My wife entices me with a plate of chocolate cookies and a glass of Pinot from a bottle won in a Salvation Army raffle. In the background I hear the voices of radio angels singing sweetly o’er the plain.

I reach for my phone, make the call. Neiman Marcus answers. Soon my cart runneth over. Visa smiles again.

Good luck with your list. But if ideas are slow to come, don’t panic. The Good Book of Ideas has an answer: “Wine makes merry, but money answers all things.” Yes, really! Ecclesiastes 10:19.

Tick, tick, tick…..

Bud Hearn
November 30, 2012

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving…More Than Just a Meal

Thanksgiving, 1958. I’m 16, wearing my feed and seed store hat, stalking Tom turkey. My 16 gauge shotgun, # 6 shot, ready.

It’s early, barely dawn. The air is still. Nothing moves. A chill lingers in the deep woods. A soft dew lies on molding leaves. My steps are Indian-like, soft and silent. I pause, listen, wait. Tom wakes. He gobbles. Twice.

I crouch. The sunrise sky silhouettes his regal form in the branches of an overhead tree. I whistle. He flies. Bam! The gun erupts and feathers explode. Thanksgiving dinner lies lifeless on the forest floor. A young boy’s Thanksgiving memory is made. A tail feather becomes part of the treasures of things past.

Thanksgivings consist in memories. They’re more than single, isolated recollections. There’s a transcendent quality about it, something more difficult to pick up on than hot, buttered biscuits oozing sorghum syrup. It resides in our collective and shared remembrances, the building blocks of tradition; and in the allure of something more permanent than the fugitive concept of ‘home.’

There’s something more about Thanksgiving than just a meal. Something more than turkey and dressing, rice and gravy, cranberries and creamed corn, sweet potatoes and marshmallows, green beans and field peas, ambrosia and heavenly hash, caramel cakes and pecan pies and sweet iced tea.

It surpasses the nomadic, annual family gatherings…cooking, talking, catching up, slowing down. It’s something difficult to define. Its evanescence floats in the air of a roasting turkey. It’s subsumed in smiles, in laughter and hugs, and in the traits of family dysfunctions…a peculiar uncle, a hippy cousin, a camouflaged hunter, a teenage Fashionista. It’s all that, yet more.

There’s more to it than the dining room table setting, the family patriarch at the head. Children relegated to the kitchen table, waiting for the day of promotion to the ‘big table.’ The ‘seen-but-not-heard’ rule still applies.

It’s more than the essential ritual of the Blessing of the Meal. Cold horror grips us as we anticipate the breadth and duration of the petition. My grandfather always prayed. A devout Baptist deacon, he asked for God’s grace on everything…our sinning souls, the turkey’s last measure of devotion, the farm animals, the old sow, the worn-out mule and the hunting dogs. Kitchen doorknobs were sometimes mentioned, and once something about my grandmother’s hairdo. It never came up again.

Thanksgiving is more than orange pumpkins, frost on the grass, the red-leaf sumac, crisp fall air, the hint of burning leaves and the dew’s diaphanous mist over a cow-filled pasture. Time slows to its circadian rhythm, and breathing is possible again.

Still, there’s more to Thanksgiving than afternoon naps, TV football, a neighborhood stroll and the clipping of Black Friday coupons…all of which happen after the kitchen cleanup and the left-overs are stored for the next pot-luck meal.

Thanksgiving in our small town included an afternoon drive to the farm to ‘check on things.’ Change is slow on farms after harvest. You have to look twice to see it. Our family was inextricably connected to lands purchased in the mid-1800’s. We needed to make certain it was still there. It always was.

The list of ‘more’ goes on. You have your own. So, what is the essence of Thanksgiving? What is its ‘transcendent quality?’ It’s elusive, even profound. Our hearts define its existence.

This year only my wife Carolyn, my daughter Leslie and I celebrate the occasion. Small, yes, but somehow we put another tail-feather in our treasures of things now past. Our son, Alex, remains in Colorado, working on his house renovation. Our extended family has become feeble, fractured and far off. The farm has been sold. Another farmer’s family ‘checks on it.’ Thanksgivings change and often can be sad!

I stand outside while the dogs complete their nightly business. I gaze into a thick black sky studded with stars. I try to comprehend its transcendence. A useless endeavor…it’s awesome, intellectually impenetrable and hopelessly unfathomable. Such is Thanksgiving to me. In the final analysis, it is what it is, and I leave it at that.

Yes, Thanksgiving is more than just a meal and a transitory home. But what would it be without either? So while you gnaw on the last left-over turkey leg, meditate on the miracle of it all…even if you don’t understand it. And thank God for the bounty in your life. Gobble, gobble.

Bud Hearn
November 22, 2012

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Drilled Again

Well, the election’s over. Animosity seethes in silence. The Battleground is empty, the bodies are all interred. Excuses are Styrofoam cups. They litter the landscape. The winners laugh and light cigars; the losers cry Play on! The Big “I” won---the Idol for the Idle--- frozen solid in a block of ice inside a glacier of pride.

The Mormon has been vanquished. On the way out he offered up his obligatory word of congratulation, a simple word, anatomical, quite descriptive.

The world’s safe for democracy, marijuana is making a legal comeback and the color red is now a ‘Symbol of the Lost Cause.’ Money is worthless…$2 billion spent. Nothing’s changed. A nation still divided.

But I feel safe, leave my gun, venture outside. Time for a simple visit to the dentist. My tooth broke while gnashing on a political pundit about impending fiscal horrors. Time for a new crown, a gold one. Why not? Men like jewelry. Besides, gold chains are, so New Jersey now. But gold teeth, why not? An inflation hedge.

You’ve been to a dentist, you know it’s never simple. I open my mouth; he looks inside, backs away, whistles and exclaims, HolyMoly (dentistspeak for a molar approaching sainthood). What’s this, Detroit? Resembles a curated exhibit of urban and industrial decay. Man, you need a root canal.

I feel violated, and wasn’t even kissed. No, Doc, just a gold crown. Please, no root canal. He laughs. I cringe. He gloats. I know what that means. As if the election weren’t enough, I have to get drilled again by two dentists…Dr. Terror in the Tooth and Dr. Pain in the Purse.

He arranges the procedure with his friend. Says I’ll like him. Says he’s from a long German heritage of teeth drillers. Dentists are conspirators. They’re adept at extracting your last farthings. How? In the chair, they have leverage!

I show up. The door sign announces, J. Mengele, Endodontistry. The name causes a sudden shutter. I can’t identify it. I go inside. Essence sticks emit a faint odor of formaldehyde and cloves. The nurse wears a mask. She confiscates my Visa card. A tiny woman wearing a monocle validates the credit limit. I’m ushered to a chair. It has ankle clamps and wrist restraints. I ask why.Your comfort, of course, the nurse replies. I feel a smirk lurking inside the mask.

I wait, look around. On a shelf sits a collection of eyeballs. Dull glints of light stare back. They stand suspended on tiny wires, sway gently from the air of an overhead fan. A blue eyeball winks at me. A pedestal at its base reads, H. P. Long, Politician. A tableau of teeth occupies another shelf. All sizes. Dull drill bits dangle from their roots. I don’t have to ask the meaning of this exhibit…Leverage.

The doctor enters. He wears eye goggles with a laser light in the center. He resembles an alien from the May issue of Mad Magazine. He lowers the chair to a vulnerable position. I can’t move. He swivels the tray of torture tools they pass in front of me. He sharpens the drill bits with a lathe. He wears a wicked grin.

The nurse covers my mouth with a blue rubber mask. I ask why. She tells me it’s to muffle the screams, that there are other patients to consider. She puts dark glasses over my eyes, to hide their terror. I feel helpless. I am helpless!

The dentist fondles the syringe. The needle resembles a crooked railroad spike. He clutches my throat, says to relax, that it won’t hurt long. He jabs it into my gums. I swallow my muted scream. I hear the whirr of the drill. It grinds nerve and tooth and bone. I lose consciousness. So goes the experience of a root canal. But I survive.

All this for a gold crown! I check the price of gold. I can’t afford it. So I burglarize my wife’s jewelry box. I snatch the golden pig’s snout, a gift from me, purchased from a homeless street vendor. It was never one of her favorites. I’m all about recycling.

Events need closure. Otherwise, they hang around like ghosts of old girl friends going for the gold. In January, America will put division aside for a day and crown its reigning ruler. But nothing’s really changed. New battle lines are being drawn, new warriors are chosen. Politics is a continuing root canal, a blood sport.

Yet America moves on. We survive another day. Maybe one day we can agree with the great union organizer, Eugene V. Debs: “When we are in partnership and have stopped clutching each other’s throats; when we’ve stopped enslaving each other, we will stand together, hands clasped, and be friends.”

May we live to see the day! I hope that you’re satisfied with the Coronation.

Bud Hearn
November 14, 2012

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Catharsis

Today’s the 8th anniversary of my release from the power of The Incubus.

Not familiar with an incubus? Really? You probably have one, or maybe a host of incubi. I once had a Stage 4 incubus. ‘Had’, past tense. I’m now incubus-free, thanks to Ann and Doris.

I first encountered the term, incubus, while reading a book on the South. Some obscure Baptist preacher tongue-lashed the “incubus of Northern Aggression.” The reference was to a sociopath named Sherman, a much-maligned misfit who loved to play with matches. He was a mommy’s boy and often mistaken for Little Lord Fauntleroy. Poor man, he ended his fiery career in the pest control business.

Now you have a clue…an incubus is, in short, a demon. Or, figuratively speaking, a cause of distress, a nightmare. I’m loath to print the primary meaning of incubus for fear of offending the heinous fiend. The metaphor has greater meaning…consult Webster.

An Incubus is a stealthy beast. It’s everywhere. It creeps into homes, especially those with teenagers. It inhabits rap music and iPhone apps. Teens are prime incubators for the incubi. Even my dogs find scents of incubi on sidewalk shrubs, the Facebook social network for dogs.

They’re sneaky bastards. Their petri dish consists of ecclesiastic institutions, liberal college campuses and especially Congress. They hide inside black robes, cling to slick smiles of lobbyists and bed down beneath the collars of clerics. They preach the gospel of greed and debt, pimp politicians and pander to unstable sociopaths.

So much for incubi. Let’s bring Ann and Doris back.

Ann calls, all excited. Says she and Doris have just completed the 30-day course in Demon Exorcism 101, a Baptist on-line course for bored widows. Says I popped into her mind. Says she and Doris will feed me lunch if I’ll consent to their laying hands on me and extracting the incubus inside. I tell her I’m fond of my demons. We share a cozy relationship in this lump of dust. But being a fool for food, and for the hands of women, I agree.

I ask if she’s relegating these poor cast-off incubi to the herd of swine in her backyard. Baptists can’t appreciate such humor. It only supports the fact that, like Sherman, I’m a living witness to the despicable consequences of incubi. Pork loin is on the lunch menu, she adds.

Driving over I think, why not get rid of a few demons? Makes room for others. With my collection of friends, surely I have been seriously infected. After all, I’ve consorted with lawyers, bankers, politicians and not a few preachers. Which is better, the devils I know or the ones I don’t?

They sit me in a straight-back chair. The room is dark. I remember the experience with a Gypsy soothsayer, where I levitated wildly from the chair and voices emanated from the walls. My nerves are on edge. They begin the exorcism.

Hands move slowly on my shoulders, my back. A pair grips my head like a vice. My eyes bulge out. Tongues resonate from the ladies (nothing new there), wild, exotic glossolalia of indecipherable context. Hands explore my face, pinch my nose, and grab my hair. Fingers probe my ears. They search diligently for the exit for my incubus.

The exorcism is interminable. My incubus is intractable. They plead intensely with some unknown power to release my alien villain. They shout, sweat, shake me violently. I think of lady wrestlers who hate men. Is this a Baptist hoax? I decide to join the drama. YouTube may be interested.

My legs twitch, my arms flail. I recite poetry from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and a few lines from the Koran. The ladies dance wildly, become feral, savage beasts. Maybe worse than my incubus.

In a dramatic swoon I leap to my feet, shout, “Free at last, Free at last.” I collapse onto the floor in epileptic contortions. I peek out with one eye. Ann and Doris are giddy in the ecstasy of achievement, their first success.

They search the house for my incubus. My stomach growls. Somewhere a door opens. A cool breeze blows in. Can it be? Either I’m starving or the incubus has departed.

I stumble to the table, devour the pork and apple pie. Then leave. I hear them working the phones, spreading the news. Wow! What a scam…a cottage industry, better than Mary Kay.

On Tuesday we’ll get a chance to lay our hands on a computer screen. Hopefully we’ll purge the body politic of its insidious incubus. Even Mormons will certify this exorcism!

Bud Hearn
November 2, 2012

Friday, October 26, 2012

Ashes of Love

The dying fire of enthusiasm should leave ashes to provide disguising makeup for our faces.” Stanislaw J. Lec

I’m sitting in Studio 412, a hair emporium, or salon, waiting for Michelle to cut my hair. It’s strange, sitting in the midst of women who are yapping it up. In the old days, at least where I grew up, a salon was called a ‘beauty parlor.’ No man would have been caught dead inside of one.

But things have changed. Everything is unisex now. Old stigmas have disappeared. Men are women, women are men. Women have short hair, men have long. Everyone has tattoos. Who can tell anymore? So here I sit. The women eye me suspiciously. Or lustily...who knows what women think.

The subject du jour was ‘Falling in love.’ Being the lone male, I lay low and kept my mouth shut. It’s not wise to take on a bunch of women in such places. Especially those who are paying big money in hopes of finding, or continuing, love affairs with someone or something.

Soon Michelle starts snipping. My hair falls, sliding down the black silk robe to the floor. It mingles with other hair clippings. I recall a visit to the New York Stock Exchange. Slips of pink paper, like so much hair and confetti, lay strewn in profusion throughout the floor. Traders walked on it, oblivious to each slip’s past significance. Old news, old lovers, they said. Some love gone good, some bad. But all past. Ashes of love.

I listen to the women carry on about love, how to find it, how to keep it hot. I want to tell them fried blonde hair won’t do the job, but hey, I’m outnumbered. Old loves come into my mind. How many were there, I wondered. Too many to count.

My first recollection of falling in love was with my bicycle. Like all loves, it’s a means of escape. The affair lasted until I was 13. A motor scooter replaced it. Boys are fickle…no loyalty to old lovers. The bike rusted. I moved on. Ashes of love.

I fell in love with music. I had every Elvis 45 rpm made, not to mention Jerry Lee, Chuck, Little Richard and Bo Diddley. I lay awake at night, straining to hear snippets of WLAC, Nashville, Tennessee, or WCKY in Cincinnati. One can lose a lot of sleep when in love. Music is a great lover. It’s as capricious as the listener. Songs wear out and lose their fire. Ashes of love.

In 7th grade I think I fell in love with my second cousin ten times removed. At that genetic distance, I figured it was safe. Blue eyes, and some crossed eyes, ran prominently in our family. The entire town showed up at our family reunions. Who would notice, I thought.

Marriage crossed my mind. But in 8th grade she was hustled off to a ‘finishing’ school for girls. They took no chances. So that was that. All that remained were love letters. I learned an important lesson: women are unpredictable! I later burned the letters before my brother could expose my feminine side to the world. A man can’t take chances with ink. Even at age 13. Ashes of love are ageless.

I’ve fallen in love often…with dogs, boots, back packs, cars, guns, airplanes, to name a few. But they got old, like most lovers do. I ruthlessly discarded them without remorse, waiting for something new to show up. It usually did. Inanimate divorces are cheap. Ashes of love litter my past.

Some fall in love with sports, like golf. My idea of hell is being chained to a chair and forced to watch golf on TV 24/7. I once fell in love with running. A new hip ended that affair.

It’s dangerous to fall in love. Risk is involved. Like dreams, love often evaporates into illusions, then remorse when the novelty wears off. Relationships, human or inanimate, often have a short shelf life. We live for the next new thing.

Suddenly I’m jolted back into the present. “Mister, what’s your opinion of keeping love hot and burning?” the woman asks. I shake my head and shrug.

Somewhere in a back seat of my youth I hear Loretta Lynn singing, “Love is where you find it, when you find no love at home; and there’s nothing cold as ashes, after the fire is gone.”

I look at my haircut in the mirror. I smile, say aloud, “You handsome devil.” Some loves never die!

Bud Hearn
October 26, 2012

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Titans Tangle

It’s the event the world has been waiting for…the challenge match between two fierce titans. One, a pontificator of platitudinous innuendo and self-proclaimed, reigning Ruler of the Green Planet. And the other, The Sovereign, his stalking nemesis and best friend of billionaires.

The referee is the legendary Jimmy No Nonsense. He holds the PBS scepter and rule book. He has been tutored by fill-in NFL refs on how to give certitude to questionable calls.

The crowd is tense, warned that any show of emotion would incur the wrath of roving hall monitors brandishing black batons. The wall décor is a banner of the US Constitution. Tonight’s winner will be temporarily enshrouded in the banner and depart the ring to cheers, boos or hisses. The final matchup extravaganza is November 6th.

In the TV Land of Oz, fifty million political junkies surf for an entertainment fix. They’ll stumble on the spectacle. They’ll gape in stark horror and giddy amusement as the contestants rip, claw, gnash, thrash, pummel and flail one another with sharp barbs of statistical weapons and aspersions.

TV sets will hemorrhage blood as combatants bludgeon each other senseless with clubs fashioned with figments of The Truth. They will watch in amazement as the fighters repeatedly hurl insults and taunts like the clash of raging bulls in a Spanish bullpen.

The announcer breaks the tension and speaks. “In this corner, wearing a red tie, lurks the challenger, Morton Mittman, aka Mr. Plastic. His opponent, wearing a blue tie and a classic smirk, Blabber Barack.” The camera pans the ring. The crowd becomes restless. Two mahogany rostrums separate them. A coin is tossed. The Blabber wins and launches the first volley. With that, the match begins.

It’s a weak, glancing blow. Mostly hot air as it whizzed by the challenger’s pasted-on smile. Mr. Plastic does a head fake, dodges the blow. He counters quickly like a coiled cobra with a salvo of statistics. Blabber bounces from the ropes, comes back swinging like a teenage girl, beating the air with generic verbal assaults.

The ref calls time. The adversaries prepare for the next round. Mr. Plastic finds Blabber’s chink, pounds three quick body blows to the Master Manipulator. But he’s prepared this time, shoves some statistics of his own into the Mormon’s face. The ref marks down “Foul.” Seems the statistics were contrived fabrications.

The challenger is quick, pulls out five fingers and jabs them into the Harvard Hack’s ears in retaliation. Blabber stumbles, fends off the assaults with empty platitudes laced with ‘Uh’s” and rhetorical questions. A barrage of words without meanings spurt into thin air as he swings wildly, hitting nothing. And back and forth it goes.

Finally, the challenger senses his opponent’s weakness by the dismissive grins and condescending sneers. He seizes the moment and lands a punishing body blow that takes the final wind out of the dissembler. He then climbs on the podium, prepares for a full body slam to end this torturous punishment of the Union Lackey. He shouts as he lurches forward, “Keep your house, your plane…the facts are not yours to manipulate.” With that, he leaps, soars through the air, every hair in place. It’s an ugly conclusion.

Life demands closure. Tonight, facts overcome vacuous rhetoric, laying bare inane repetitious clichés. The Mormon is victorious over Muhammad. But it’s not over. There’s another winner-take-all contest coming up… for the big money.

Tonight reminds me of the Saturday night WWF wrestling matches of the 60's and 70’s. We’d sit in front of the TV and marvel at the brutal treatment meted out on a canvas mat. Andre the Giant, the Behemoth, rips Gorilla Monsoon apart. Killer Kowalski, the most feared wrestler ever, claws the stomach out of Haystacks Calhoun, a 600 pound block of granite. Stone Cold Steve Austin and tag-team partner Hulk Hogan brutalize Bruno Samartino and Gorgeous George. And on and on the list goes.

Little did we know then it was all choreographed, a Hollywood version of mayhem. A chimerical make-believe, a good way to down a few beers and pass a boring Saturday night. And even when we discovered the reality, like Santa Claus, we still believed!

There are a couple more debates, uh, matches, coming up. The next one will be a tag-team comedy event, featuring Bite The Tongue Biden versus Ryan, The Raging Accountant. Stock up on beer for the show.

I don’t know about anybody else, but a few punches would have improved the carnival. Perhaps duels are better ways to resolve issues. Just saying…..

Bud Hearn
October 4, 2012

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Hard Nut to Crack

I hear him before I see him. His ponderous footsteps shamble up 23 stairs into my office. He pauses at the top, grips the door jamb, and totters. His breath wheezes. It’s Larry. His friends call him Pappy.

He comes by every Friday with vegetables from his garden. Whatever’s in season. On that day it was blueberries. And always eggs from true, free-range chickens. He’s retired from the Postal Service. Unlike certified mail, it’s good news…certified organic! He lives on a small farm outside of West Green, GA. It’s a town so small you miss it if you ride through. You can barely see it if you walk. Even the zip code’s retired.

He plays poker with his pals every Thursday night. I never ask how he does…facial expressions don’t lie. He plops down in the plush leather chair. He pulls a pistol from his hip pocket. It’s dull-black. Menacing. He twirls it carelessly. Says nothing. He has my full attention.

Another bad night?” I ask.

“About the same as usual,” he says.

What’s with the cannon? Murder or suicide?”

Maybe both.”

How much did you lose this time?” Something about pistols in a gambler’s hands is unsettling.

It ain’t the losing that bothers me. Chump change. I’m used to it. It’s just I don’t much like them laughing and slapping their legs when I leave. You know it hurts a man down deep.”

Which one you gonna pop?” I say it with a grin. Pappy’s wound tight. He needs relief.

None of them bastards. It’s my wife,” he spurts. I sit up, take note. This is serious.

I rub my chin whiskers. “Hmmmm.” It’s all I can summons at the moment.

Look at this text I got from her today.” He shoves his cell in my face.

The message reads: “Larry, you dirt bag, your favorite rooster shit on the steps. I stepped in it…again. I told you to do something about this rooster. But don’t worry. I took care of the problem for you. You’ll have roasted rooster for supper tonight.”

Damn, Pappy, does this warrant murder? You’re getting all worked up about nothin,” I hand the cell back.

He growls, “She’s never satisfied. Without that rooster my egg crop will dry up. That boy was a stud, kept me in business now for five years. I loved that rooster. We bonded. He rode with me in the pickup. He was like my son.” He spins the cylinder of the revolver and looks into the pistol chamber. Six silver-tipped .38 hollow points stare back. They’re the shade of his goatee.

“Man, it was just a rooster, for christ’s sake. Get another one. Enjoy your dinner tonight.” My tinny voice sounds like a TV evangelist.

You don’t get it. That rooster could talk. His name was Red. He told me secrets of his hen house exploits. He was a ladies’ man, if you know what I mean.” A faint smile cracks the corners of his goatee. “I learned things. I’ll never find another rooster like Red.” He lays the pistol on the table, fingers its curved pearl handle.

Sounds like he was more than a rooster, Pappy. Maybe he was your repressed alter-ego.” I had read Freud’s notes on repression.


You know, sometimes we have other things that represent something in our lives. You see that skeleton sitting at my conference table? His name’s Lazarus. I consult him on all decisions. All I’m saying is maybe you were living a vicarious life through the rooster.”

“Man, that’s sick. You’re a strange dude sometimes.”

Takes one to know one, buddy.”

"I need advice, now that Red’s gone."

“OK. What’s the problem?”

“She’s mad as a wet hen.”

“Who, your wife?”

You been listening? Of course. She’s fixin’ to be my victim.”

Why’s she mad? All women get mad at husbands. What did you do?”

Forgot her birthday, our anniversary, and I snore. Just to name a few. You got any advice before I fill her heart with lead?”

Let’s consult Lazarus.” We did. He told Pappy exactly what to do. I opened the cabinet and pulled out the Jack Daniels. We both took a slug. Several. The gun went back in his pocket and the smile returned.

I thanked him for the blueberries and offered my condolences on his loss of Red. He left.

Relationships are complicated. Men are like hickory nuts…hard to crack. Forgiveness and saying "I'm sorry" don’t come easy.

Lazarus and I avert another catastrophe, hopeful for a continuation of these free-range eggs. Thank God for alter-egos!

Bud Hearn
September 27, 2012

Thursday, September 20, 2012

I Used to Care…But Things Have Changed

Gonna change my way of thinking, make myself a different set of rules…gonna put my good foot forward and stop being influenced by fools.” Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan sang these words. I borrowed them. I seem to have no original thoughts anymore. I stay confused.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been sick lately. It doesn’t pay to be sick these days. You get no sympathy. “Hi ya doing?” they ask. “I’m dying,” I say. They shrug, roll their eyes, blow me off. Nobody cares. Only politicians do. So they say. Just the other day I lost my voice. What did my friends do? Applaud and jeer.

My symptoms surfaced while watching the recent political conventions. Both parties dished out the same rot, though some sounded more exotic than others. Whatever the menu, it was prepared by the same Wall Street and White House kitchens. I should not have swallowed it. Mexican burritos from dumpsters are safer.

The conventions were entertaining, if you like circuses and carnival sideshows. It’s hard to figure which one did the most damage to their cause. Ancient Republican extras from a 1950’s Western showed up. They sat stoic, wearing plastic cowboy hats. Huh? Fire the choreographer! It resembled a Texas wake…big hats, no cows, no breath. Were they manikins? Things have changed.

The Democrats were more entertaining. Comedians did most of the talking. They filled the stadium. How? Free fried chicken, Bubba, delivered in boxcars from KFC. It drew a big crowd, literally and figuratively, mostly from Alabama. Sweat poured from them in tidal surges. It gave a new dimension to Roll Tide. The Rainbow Coalition and Gay Pride activists had to suck up their pride and munch on Chick-fil-A handouts.

Do you know about the new war in America? News to me. A ‘war on women?’ Republicans started it. Democrats discovered it. Who’s the enemy? I asked my confused mind. I find out it’s The System, stupid. It’s rigged against women. Men stacked the deck. What’s new? Women have taken to the streets, demanding equal work for equal pay. Or, is it the other way around? I’m still confused. I always thought women were at war with men. Things have changed.

Of course, women are always demanding. Nothing new here. But since Sandra Fluke and Elizabeth Warren are off the leash, no man’s safe. Not now. The truth’s out…people can marry anybody, or anything, they love. Eric Holder will soon define love. Free contraceptives will make babies extinct. Women have been justified. It was bound to happen. No more Prada…jackboots are in.

The seminal, most poignant moment in the Democratic convention occurred when President 44 burst onstage and clutched President 42 in a tender, loving embrace. The crowd erupted in ecstasy. I broke up. My tears flowed freely watching two grown men passionately cuddle and nuzzle one another. The only thing missing was a French kiss. It was almost as touching as seeing Lyndon Johnson expose his abdominal surgical scar that resembled the DMZ in Viet Nam.

I’m confused about “QE3...Quantitative Easing 3.” It appeared alongside an article about McDonalds putting calorie and fiber counts on Big Macs. In that context it sort of made sense. A Big Mac has no fiber. It’s a chemical concoction of sodium and sugar. So naturally, I thought ExLax had introduced a new suppository for the low-fiber fast-food industry. Wrong again. It’s about flushing the system with money, a laxative of sorts, a kind of Quantitative Greasing of taxpayers, if you will.

As for speaking out of context, the real Mitt has emerged from the muck. We discover that Joe Biden’s genes are in his biological woodpile. Presidential candidates should never speak the truth. Only lies and distortions work. Ask Huey P. Long. So what if half of all American families get a government check and don’t pay taxes? Are you confused about this? Not me. Even a fool knows money from the government is tax-free. We’re entitled. Where have you been?

Today I took a look at my life’s Bell Curve, a mythical graph that traces life’s transition from diapers unto diapers. I’m at that point where it’s time to just throw up my hands and shout, “What the hell!” and forget about girth, gray hair, wrinkles and poverty, and go back to smoking Cubans and sipping aged scotch whiskey.

Yes, things have changed. You’d best get yourself a new way of thinking, because if you don’t like today, tomorrow will be your worst nightmare!

Bud Hearn
September 20, 2012

Thursday, September 13, 2012

France…Saga of a Tour de Farce (Part Three)

Endings come. After two weeks, we parted on good terms before the last threads of genteel civility unwound. Though banal, we could say, “and a good time was had by all.”

For breakfast we shared shards of a rock-hard baguette, slices of moldy sausage and dregs of our last bottle of wine. It was a special breakfast blend, Non Plus Ultra Grand Cru. Infused with Red Bull, it was France’s answer to Starbucks lattes, vending machine favorites. With one last toast, our communal living concluded.

A vote was taken on the picture best representing the essence of our trip. The one entitled, “The Morning After,” (shown here) was runner-up. The hands-down favorite was the one entitled, “Alternative Uses of a Fig Leaf.” Yes, there’s a story here. Though not Madame Bovary, a woman stands in the shadows. In this case, three French maids.

Not all French maids are created equal. Those in Burgundy are not of the variety fawned over in voguish magazines. They’re sturdy girls with large frames and enormous forearms. Some shave. They eat diets of onions and garlic. This discovery shattered yet another illusion of my youth. France is known for contriving romantic frauds.

Ours were ingénues with a fault…they trusted American men. Two of our still-immature boys cooked up a poolside ruse. Something about modeling fig leaves. However, the madcap scheme slid sideways at the unexpected advent of their wives. The maids fled into the vineyards and vanished. This reckless adventure ended in infamy. It’s best that the curtain fall on this disgusting scene.

Dr. Duck was our obsessive-compulsive germ inspector. He traveled with a magnifying glass, microscope and bag of petri dishes. He stalked tiny micro-organisms. Our kitchen was his lab.

His Freudian psychosis was the consequence of 25 years of teaching germ research at a university in Florida. With a halogen light strapped to his forehead he skulked at night. Talking to himself and laughing hysterically he scraped bacilli from pans and dishes. He ranted daily on impending salmonella attacks. Some dismissed him as a kook.

Vacations end with a final expense reconciliation. Ours was done by a Princeton MBA, aka ‘Spread Sheet Jack,’ the eminent creator of “The Princeton Hypothesis: The Algorithmic Equalization of Random Movements of Motion.” We wondered how such wisdom could come out of New Jersey. We asked his wife.

She said it was inspiration from Above. Said it happened on the 11th green. A bolt of lightning lit up his 8-iron in mid swing. She said that he now lives in the parallel universe of spread-sheets, concocting algorithms on all things moving. Said his latest postulation was an algebraic equation. It measures the optimum number of chews to maximize caloric intake from a rib eye steak. Whatever!

His tracking system of expenditures was genius. Communal expenses required a signed receipt. ‘Spread Sheet’ tallied them in an elaborate computer-model format. He equalized all expenses to parity. Freeloaders on the communal pacifier were exposed and severely excoriated. Two were flogged. Unfortunately, discussions turned violent on the final settlement value of the Euro. Money often provokes bitter conclusions.

French departures demand obligatory dual-cheek kisses. It didn’t suit our reigning Chateau Grande Dame, president of The Women’s Cotillion and chair of her local DAR. Nothing less than French kissing, the tongue-touching type teenagers try in the back seats of cars.

Her epiphany arrived recently while in a chocolatier on the Rue de Chocolate, a back street in Beaune. She craved French kisses, a la Hershey. Her French was poor. The proprietor mistook her request. He swept her into his arms and passionately demonstrated the technique. Her lotus flower blossomed that very moment. She has not been the same since.

So as we are departing she stands there with outstretched arms. Her thick lipstick shimmered like a red neon sign in a Hollywood speakeasy. Dr. Duck shouted warnings of oral germ infestations caused by wine fermentations. We fled. She sobbed inconsolably at the rejection.

The sun set on our two weeks in a burgundy chateau, a riotous excursion full of fun and memories.

So, Au revoir, with this thought…The road goes on forever and the party never ends. Let the good times roll!

Bud Hearn
September 13, 2012

Thursday, September 6, 2012

France…Saga of a Tour de Farce (Part two)

Choosing bedrooms is the first order of business in a two-week sleepover. Assignments were made based on the most obnoxious snoring habits. Wives signed sworn statements as proof. Nocturnal quiet enjoyment ensued.

Infirmity had a minor vote. Frailty entitlements wear thin. Like welfare, unfair but humanitarian. Strong drink eliminates bad hearts and creaky joints, but not innate laziness. Some suspected closet Democrats had crept in unawares.

The trip was about wine. We wasted no time in procuring ample supplies. We took no chances and purchased the entire stock of a local winery. It was delivered under lock and key by two large Wackenhut trucks with guards. The proprietor effused delight in selling his left-over vintages and laughed uncontrollably while booking reservations to Las Vegas.

We engaged a local chef. His credentials, other than being occasionally sober, were that he had appeared on Martha Stewart. Her post-prison picture was tattooed on his left forearm. He achieved fame with a recipe for beef bourguignon and escargot. Like his flask, he kept the secret close to his vest. The 18 empty bottles of merlot gave us a clue.

We closely monitored wine intake and were cautious not to appear conspicuously-consumptive Americans. Republicans are reviled in Socialist cultures. We devised a method of determining how many bottles were sufficient for ‘enough’ before crossing the threshold of ‘too many.’ The determination was based on conversational decibel levels, measured precisely 3 hours into dinner. The perfect balance was 48 bottles. The results will appear in the Wine Connoisseur magazine.

Dinners were noisy. A certain Francophile used them to pontificate on his superior grasp of French. He desecrated it with a flatulent mixture of Italian and wild gesticulations. Finally we could take it no more, and appealed to his wife for relief. She had a grasp of her own, and used it by grabbing him where it counts. We felt his pain and cringed as she dragged him off, ranting and raving, and bolted him in the broom closet. He returned to polite society after singing 50 refrains of 'O sole mio'. He pouted for days.

Chateau toilettes are dangerous!! Never stand close when you pull the trigger. I did. The mistake cost me my favorite shirt. Toilettes have a button on the top lid…small, large flush. Unintentionally I hit the large flush button. A tsunami of tidal proportions erupted and a giant sucking sound ensued. I swam shirtless back into the bathroom. The sleeve of my shirt hung limply from the bowl. If seated, one could easily have disappeared.

Our washing machine was smaller than a thimble. The dryer operated by candle power. Mold set in. Dirty laundry mounded into monstrous proportions. Men’s underwear fermented. Women pushed and shoved. Finally a man was posted to monitor the laundry queue. Hair pulling slowed significantly and the “B” word was seldom heard thereafter. Hedonists paraded naked in the sunlight for lack of towels. The outside clothes line worked well except for the ravens. The sheets were later incinerated.

Mike preferred the basement. He contrived an invention that enabled him to ingest wine at flow rates measured over a consecutive 48-hour period. The design was simple, patterned after Lance Armstrong’s doping paraphernalia. A five gallon jug of wine was suspended from the rafters. It pumped wine directly into Mike’s veins via an IV. The flow was one liter per hour. He slept with it in the steam room and accomplished a net-zero weight gain with max hallucinatory effects. He has since patented it, “Mike’s Mighty Max.”

Hunger for food and shopping drove us into the outlying villages. Driving was risky when blood-alcohol content was north of 5.0. Except for excellent produce vendors, gypsies and Bosnian refugees ran the markets. Clothing appeared to be used consignments from Russian military outposts. It had the distinct odor of cadavers. Jewelry and tawdry trinkets were made by prison labor on the Isle E$ba. We mourned for The Moulin Rouge cabarets.

More of our Animal House adventures will appear in the final sequel, arriving next week. In it our entire visit will be distilled and epitomized, including the disastrous ‘Fig Leaf Escapade.’ Until then…..

Bud Hearn
September 6, 2012

Friday, August 31, 2012

France…Saga of a Tour de Farce (Part one)

It happened on a rainy night of serial wine-tasting. We agreed to expose ourselves again…to France. We blame the adventure on our sanctimonious Grand Cru pals. Something about a chardonnay-fountain-of-youth shrine. Irrational exuberance often follows Bacchanalian excesses.

The French economy appeared to be deep-sixed. A slight pang of obligation urged us to toast its wake. So, risking the vicissitudes of a volatile Euro, we went, over-spent and now repent. Twelve of us…les enfant terribles abroad!

We began as friends. The consensus is now murky. One couple remains at large…the cheapskates. Who would rent a car named Leon with a hand-held GPS that worked only when held outside? They disappeared in a blinding rainstorm somewhere near Dijon.

We rented an ancient but venerable chateau for two weeks in the wine region of Burgundy. It rose from the midst of surrounding vineyards like an aged phoenix, grand and bold as a 5th century Burgundian baroness. It had one bathroom and no running water (kidding). It stood stately atop a hill like a past-prime debutante, whose baked-on makeup did little to disguise the ravages of age. Like its former mistress, it clung tenaciously to the fading afterglow of its once glorious past. Yet, what it lacked in functionality it made up with 15th century character and charm. Blanche DuBois once dined here.

The chateau overlooked Mercurey, a quaint farming village the size of a tennis court. It’s invisible on Google Earth and failed Fodor’s postcard list. Lethargy seemed to be the lifestyle of choice…until we showed up. The day’s amusement consisted of, as best as I could determine, absolutely nothing.

A figment of old France flirted with the tiny village. In particular, the patisserie, their answer to Waffle House. We found mischief there. The locals loathed our intrusive plunder. Every day we purchased all the freshly-baked croissants. Seems we ignored the sign, “il y a un par personne” (one each). A violent protest broke out and famished farmers fell on us with staves and pitch forks. We were forced to flee in retreat to our hilltop fortress. It was the most action the village had seen since the Romans invaded Gaul in 222 BC. It remains a sordid blemish on our vacation.

Most villages have quieted down measurably since the ruthless revolution of Francois Robespierre’s Reign of Terror in 1793. The French are no longer interested in revolution since the debut of Carla Bruni. They prefer to be Hollywood extras, posing as artists, waiters, vintners and chefs. The French suffer from APD…affected personality disorder.

Driving in France is easy. Escaping the airport is the challenge. We stumbled from an Air Canada red-eye into the Charles de Gaulle airport, a cavernous nether-world and convocation of lost souls. Confusion ruled. It’s intimidating. It occupies a land mass slightly larger than Portugal. Hordes of German itinerants and not a few Armenian gypsies live there permanently.

In a search for Hertz, we groped the corridor walls like zombies in a sleep-induced stupor. It hid in the belly of the beast. Renting a car is easy…if you have a six-figure bank balance. They’ll even program the GPS for you. Good thing, since the instructions come in a binder the size of my wife’s suitcase. Written in French, of course.

We fled from Dante’s third ring of de Gaulle hell. Heated spousal discussions ensued, punctuated by a heavy emphasis on the “S” word. Divorce was frequently discussed. After winding fifteen times in a full circle, we finally escaped the horror of the dreaded Labyrinth of de Gaulle.

Never trust your idiomatic Berlitz in France. They’ll curse you to your face for prostituting their language. The French know prostitution…they invented it. Arm yourself with pre-printed flash cards written in French, like, “Where’s the toilette? I’m about to soil myself,” and, “Jack the Ripper is gashing out my gut…any cheese and croissants?” Trust me on this.

Listen men, if you want to experience some harmless prostitution by proxy, try this. Find an ancient, crumbling cathedral in a crowded plaza. Breach the queue. Shove your way into a bistro and seize a table the size of a bottle cap. Let the carved caricatures of stony, mutilated saints and bronzed statues of patriots on horses gaze down on you while you sip your espresso and Perrier. Talk of Monet and Camus, of Charlemagne and Bonaparte. Pretend. Pretense is an art form in France. And wait.

Soon the promenade of young women will begin. They have the eyes of assassins. They will lacerate your lecherous stares and leave you drooling on your shirt in public. So, be careful…don’t let your eyes take you on a trip your body can’t handle. It’s the best show in town, and it’s free. Even the overhead gargoyles gawk.

I digress. Our adventure started with wine…and never quit. More soon, on the Saga of a Tour de Farce. Maybe.

Bud Hearn
August 31, 2012

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Dog Days of Dixie

Dog Days…blame Sirius, the Dog Star. The mangy mutt lies under the porches of heaven in late summer and tortures the South. Inhabitants languish in a heat-induced stupor. Work ceases. Including mine.

I languish inconspicuously in a Village diner, picking at a dull, lackluster lunch. It’s just another day on the island. Could be anywhere. Strangers come, they go. An average day.

Average, that is, until they walk in. Actually, they saunter in…elegant, confident, and intriguing. Interesting strangers. French, I’ll bet. A deathly hush descends. Forks drop audibly. Men gasp, some whistle.

The couple chooses the small table next to me. He’s a sharp dresser, expensive threads…maybe an artist or an actor. He wears a double-breasted blue blazer, silk shirt, a yellow ascot and a blue beret. Over-dressed for Dog Days.

Yet, it’s his companion that monopolizes the attention. She’s tall and tanned. Her long, silky-black hair has a glossy sheen. It reflects the sunlight and sparkles like the diamonds she wears. She’s stunningly dressed in brilliant blue, pencil-thin Dior jeans, Prada spikes and a blazing red Versace Tee. OMG, mama, just take me home to die!

Her T-shirt glitters in gold-emblazoned letters…Women Who Behave Rarely Make History. I recall my mother’s warning, “Son, beware of strangers.” I ignore her advice.

I ease my chair over. “Hello, want some company?” Before a ‘No’ could be uttered, I introduce myself, welcoming them to the island. Things go smoothly. Fluent in English, but with an aristocratic flair, they reveal a wild and incredible tale. Since this recital is not a sequel to “Fifty Shades of Grey,” I’ll save you from the salacious details and save them for myself.

We laugh through lunch. Diners come and go in a steady parade of curiosity. Women bristle with envy as their men eyeball the red T-shirt. I overhear a dour lady lash at her husband admonishing him not to let his eyes take him on a trip his body can’t handle. He sulks noticeably.

I push my luck with inquisitiveness. They answer with measured, but furtive glances across the table. I ask why they’re here. He answers, “Exciting plans.” I ask for details. She says, “They involve our yacht, the beach and a movie contract.” I ask where. “Cumberland Island,” he says.

I want to know when. “Later today,” she says. “Why do you ask these questions?” I tell her Dog Days bring out my best qualities. She asks, “Are all Southerners this way?” I tell her no, that most are dull and browbeat.

Slowly the ambient air at the table begins to chill. Still, I press on. “What’s the movie’s theme?” He frowns, “It’s really none of your business.”

Undeterred, I ask why it’s so secretive. She hisses, “You Americans are all alike, pushy.” I ask why she thinks that. She answers, “In Paris, we are not so intrusive with total strangers.”

I tell her this is the South, that we’re all friendly. “I think too friendly,” she says. I ask her if her mother also told her to beware of strangers. She snips, “Of course. Leave my mother out of this.”

I suggest they hire a guide, and I’m currently available. I caution them South Georgia is a dangerous place during Dog Days. I tell them about the movie, Deliverance.

He says, “I saw that movie…shocking. Are people here really like that?” I tell him yes. I ask him if there are degenerates in Paris like Humbert Humbert. It breaks the ice. She smiles, “Yes, they are mostly of Italian descent.” I tell them ours are mostly from Alabama. We laugh.

The dialogue dwindles down. I offer to buy their lunch. They accept. I guess they think they’re entitled. The French behave this way. Our brief encounter ends…with slow music the curtain falls. Life moves on.

We walk out together. The goodbye makes me teary. She notices. The humid sunlight of the early afternoon dispels the chill between us. We exchange hugs and handshakes and au revoir.

But then she looks back and smiles. Her T-shirt message winks at me. She says, “Dinner tonight?” My grin answers affirmatively.

“C’est si bon,” she says. “Our yacht, about eight? We’ll tell you the rest of the story. Until then?”

I stutter, “Yes, until then.”

The story has an epilogue. I go home, dial heaven, and have a long chat with my mother, reminding her that “Women Who Behave Rarely Make History.” Dog Days and strangers…nothing average about it! C’est la vie.

Bud Hearn
August 2, 2012

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Coat Hangers and Other Conundrums

Enigmas rule. They thrive in closets. Coat hangers…a dangerous menace to mankind, a riddle that defies the Law of Probabilities.

Pull one out, they all come. You curse. They hang tough, come at your throat. You dodge the assault. You lose patience, use brute strength. They defy you. You beat back the aggression, win the wrestling match, scratched and scarred. They litter the floor, elongated, misshapen. You kick them into a pile of useless scraps of wire. Today, my friend, Ace Blackbanks, is not so lucky.

He calls, panic in his voice. “Get over here, now. A coat hanger attacked me,” he shouts. “I’m bleeding.” He’s maniacal.

I laugh. “Are you drunk?” I ask. “Man, this is no joke. I’m dying,” he moans. The phone dies. I hustle over. Attacked by a coat hanger? Interesting. It happens.

He staggers to the door. A ghastly sight…a black coat hanger hangs from his eyeball. It swings side to side as he walks. I recoil in horror.

Do something!” he yells. My adrenaline surges into crisis mode. “Talk to me, man, don’t lose consciousness. What happened?” I shout.

I grabbed a shirt. It jumped me. Get it out,” he begs. I grab the hideous hanger. He howls, “No, no, pain.” I let go. “Where’s your wife?” I ask. “She fainted,” he says. “Never could stand blood.” I go over, nudge her with my foot. She snores. Useless. I call 911.

A machine answers, says, “Hold on.” After an eternity a cheery voice answers “You called?” I say it’s urgent, send an ambulance. A man may die. “Yeah, yeah, they all say that,” the voice says.

Look, my friend has a coat hanger hanging from his eyeball. He’s bleeding, needs immediate medical attention.” I’m insistent. “Calm down, sir. You’re number 5 in the queue. How did it happen?”

It’s complicated. Alcohol may be involved. His wife’s passed out,” I say. “Hmmmm. Fishy,” the voice says. I say it’s a riddle, the Law of Probabilities. The voice laughs. “I had one of those days recently.” I ask what happened. “Cell phones don’t float,” the voice says. “Huh?” I say. Meanwhile, Ace doesn’t move. I jiggle his hangar. His eyeball quivers.

OK, about your cell,” I say. “Oh, I was standing at the toilet, you know, doing my business. The cell slipped out of my hand. I watched it fall. Splash. Sunk like the Titanic. I stood there looking. No good option, a conundrum. How’s your friend?”

Looks dead,” I say. “Quick, mouth-to-mouth, beat on his chest,” the voice says. “Are you kidding? He has dentures and bad breath. I have another idea. Hold on, I’ll be back,” I say. I find his wife’s hair drier, shove it down his throat and turn it on high. I slam my foot into his chest. He bolts upright, gasping. Back from the brink. I’m relieved.

I’m back. How long now?” I ask. The voice answers, “Soon. They’re on break. Two ahead of you.” I yell, “He’s in pain. What can I do?”

I’ll Google. Hold on,” the voice says. “OK. Does he drink?” I answer, “No, he guzzles. Why?”

The voice responds, “Take his best whiskey, a funnel and pour half down his throat, the other half in his eye. Wait ten minutes.” I do. He convulses, screams in pain, passes out.

Now, this is the hard part…” The voice explains the medieval procedure. “Can you perform it?” I look at Ace, wonder if there’s a choice. “Are you sure?” I ask. The voice responds, “That’s what Google says.” We wait.

We pass the time discussing life’s conspiracy theories. Why do white shirts attract tomato sauce? Does one always lick their fingers to turn magazine pages? How can paper clips come hooked in a chain? Why do dropped coins always roll under a dresser? Ten minutes pass. Showtime for Ace.

“Ready?” I ask. “Hold on, another call.” Ace gets worse. Code blue now. I pray. His impaled eyeball glitters wildly as I affix a crucifix on his chest. Ah, the conundrums of life that flesh is heir to…

Seconds are critical. Ace smiles, the whisky works. It’s time. With my foot firmly on his forehead, the coat hanger gripped in my hands, the Lord’s name on my lips, I take a deep breath and jerk…

At times life can go sideways. At other times? Well, ask Ace. If life’s conundrums get you down, forget 911…consult Google!

Bud Hearn
June 28, 2012

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Playing With Fire

Some days I’m superstitious. Today’s one of them. I get the feeling that something exhilarating will happen. It does.

I’m sitting in my real estate office on the second floor of the airplane hangar. It’s a metal building with rip-away siding to make it easy on hurricanes. It’s not built to last. What is? Outside summer swelters, temperature over 200, humidity the same. Shimmering heat monkeys dance like swooning spirits on acres of asphalt tarmac. Nothing else moves. Like my business. I crank the AC down to 35.

I’m putting the final touches on an algorithm that disputes the Biblical notion of the ‘Deceitfulness of Riches’ and that will assure vast, easy money from Wall Street. Johnny Cash is singing on Country 98.9, “Love is a burning thing, and it makes a fiery ring.” I twirl a long-neck Bic lighter, contemplating some burning of my own, and wishing I were holding a frosty, long-neck Miller.

It’s a typical day in this business…sit, wait, pray. Sometimes the phone rings, mostly it doesn’t. The news is disgusting…who cares about Putin’s Botox injections? Who’ll strike the spark that combusts another world conflagration? Syria, Greece? Silence is the answer from prayers. So, I turn up Johnny, “I fell into a burning ring of fire, I went down, down, down and the flames went higher.” I twirl the lighter, thinking.

I decide to torch my old files, repositories of the ‘old days’ I keep around for amusement. It’s good to remember the ‘old days,’ when our exploits were savage and reckless, and how the wild-fires of youth burned uncontrollably across our landscape. O, such memories, now only lifeless chronicles, yellowed scraps of paper, embellished stories that attest to the fact we once lived. I look at the jets parked in the hangar and wonder what one spark of the Bic would do to the strong scent of Jet-A fuel. I decide to risk it.

Memories, boxes of crap…all that’s left. Their fangs dig deep. I’m ruthless…slash and burn. No mercy. Fire is the only solution. Ah, a financial statement from 1973. I read it and laugh. What a joke. Was I a comedian? No wonder the SunTrust thugs tossed me into the street. All smoke, no fire…now cold as the ashes of lovers past. Whoosh, up in flames. Johnny sings on, “And it burns, burns, burns, the ring of fire…”

Whatta you know…old letters. What? I put that in print? Jails and cemeteries are crammed full of writers of such smut and heresy. Some pictures surface. What was I thinking? There’s enough incriminating evidence here to get one divorced, murdered or partially dismembered. Whoosh. Reduced to smoke. Johnny’s words echo, “Bound by wild desire, I fell into a ring of fire.”

What’s this? Thousands of business cards, stuffed into a used manila envelope covered with Kilroy-Was-Here doodles. I flip through them. Who are these people? Some have pictures. Mostly women. They disguise reality by pasting college sorority photos on the cards. Facebook is full of frauds.

Later, I stagger in from lunch, bloated on burritos. Humidity clings like a wet wool shroud. My superstition nags. Nothing yet. I collapse on the sofa for a nap.

The downstairs door opens. A female voice, silky and assured, calls my name. “Are you here?” I stumble from the sofa and wring the sweat from my shirt. “Yes, come up.” Her perfume precedes her. Johnny sings, “The taste of love is sweet when hearts like ours meet.”

Eighteen steps separate us. Her spiked heels click, closer, closer. She mocks the paper Mache tiger and Hindu evil eye that keep guard on my Inner Sanctum. My heart flutters. Then she emerges. My heart soars, my jaw drops.

Hi, I’m Sophia. You don’t know me…yet. I came by to offer you an intriguing business opportunity.” Even my checkbook can feel her smile. She has plenty of legs. Her gilded toenails wink at me. She offers her hand. I tremble. My weak voice offers her a chair.

She sits down. Her white linen dress is in stark contrast with her beach-tanned legs. I fiddle with the Bic. “What’s with the lighter?” she asks. I reply, “Oh, deleting memories, just burning some old bridges I should have burned years ago.

How about building some new bridges?” she says. My heart races. “I’m listening. What’s your plan?” She explains. In the back of my mind I hear Tom T. Hall singing, “It’s faster horses, younger women, older whiskey, more money.”

The Bic twirls faster while Johnny sings louder, “I fell for you like a child, Oh, but the fire went wild. I went down, down, down, and the flames went higher.”

Suddenly flames spurt from the Bic. The fuse is lit. The flares erupt.

Bud Hearn
June 21, 2012

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Pickle Jar Caper and Other Absurdities

It starts out as ‘one of those days.’ The ones when even sunlight augurs ill, your skin crawls and you’re certain The Fates are stacking the deck against you. Your Horoscope warns with words like, “Beware, seek cover, blood, taxes, bankruptcy.” You can feel ‘it’ coming. Not if, but when.

I leave home wary. A black cat crosses the road; a rollerblade skater freaks out. The aftermath is ugly. I scrape her off the street, search for her missing teeth while fumbling with the Band-aids. The stupid strips won’t open. I rip them and curse. They mock me. Time is precious. Aghhh, what idiot packages these, I scream. The woman writhes in pain. I can’t open the bandages. Life hangs in the balance. Somehow she survives.

I walk into my office. Just my luck…the printer’s out of ink. The replacement cartridges are packaged for life. They defy extrication from their clear plastic sarcophagus. I search for opening instructions. In 9-font print I read, “Beware. Good Luck.” Is this a joke? Does this guy package Band-aids too?

I pull, bend, tear and rip at the Gordian enigma. Nothing moves. I search for an entrance. Surely there’s one somewhere. Ah, more small print in the corner. “Try a knife,” it reads. I do. I plunge the dagger into the skin of the steely beast. The plastic cover is like glass. The knife glances, lacerates my hand. Blood spurts. I utter the ‘S’ word. Twice. Somewhere the packaging monster is laughing. I contemplate carving out its heart. Meanwhile, my blood pours from my veins.

One hand is now useless, so I get a bigger knife. I slash open a small crack. I stab again. Oops, mutilation of the other hand. I utter a double-word expletive. Then instantly pray for forgiveness. Blood everywhere. I attack the repugnant package with my teeth and gnaw it like a ravenous dog on a bone. With help from scissors, the package opens. I assess the cost… a quart of blood and two hours of my life.

While having a blood transfusion, the cell rings. It’s the neighborhood security patrol. “Sir, we have bad news for you. It’s your wife. She’s safe, but we have her in custody and under observation for her own protection.”

Huh? What? Did she have a pickle jar?” I ask. The voice says, “Yes, in fact. We apprehended her as she hung from the back bumper of the UPS truck. We wrenched an unopened jar of pickles from her iron grip.” I ask for details. I regret it.

He says, “Witnesses say she was standing on the curb, clutching a jar of pickles, shouting for help to open the jar. Somehow she chased down the UPS truck. The driver dropped her off here at the guard gate. Can you retrieve her?”

I pick her up along with the pickle jar. I inquire, “What were you thinking, chasing the UPS truck down the Drive?” As cool as a pickled Cairo cucumber, she says, “I was starving, made a turkey sandwich but couldn’t open this pickle jar. I had no choice. What are turkey sandwiches without pickles?”

I’m about to warn her of the consequences of such outrageous behavior when she blurts, “Do something!!” A woman’s short, emphatic sentence, punctuated by exclamation points, requires immediate action. With mangled hands I open the pickle jar and then call the Cairo Pickle Plant. I plan to give them a piece of my mind.

They expect my call. A mechanical voice answers. It advises me to listen, as the options have changed. An hour later I choose Option 186. The machine sounds sympathetic, says to wait, that other customers are being assisted. Two hours later I hang up. Some packages can’t be opened by design.

Things get quiet. She’s on the phone embellishing yesterday’s hole-in-one on # 7. I pick up the paper. The headlines are bleak: wars, rumors of war, famines, pestilence, disasters and protests everywhere. Some pollster reports the Presidential race is tight. Says the respective machines have ‘neatly packaged’ each candidate. Can’t wait to see what crawls from those packages in November.

As I ponder the day’s absurdities, the words of my Horoscope hound me: beware, seek cover, blood, taxes, bankruptcy. I can feel ‘it’ coming. Not if, but when…and sooner than later.

Bud Hearn
June 7, 2012

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Robots Replace Men

Face it…real men are about to become extinct. Forget caves, they’re getting stuffed into closets.

The news is shocking. Men sweat in fear of being re-programmed while snoring. They know their time is limited. Cloning is easy. This discovery is not surprising…what is, however, is that it took so long for someone to figure out how to hot-wire a man’s brain.

The secret of replicating a man’s brain is simple…eliminate a few parts and re-program the rest. It was inadvertently discovered by a MIT social roboticist. A woman, of course. She reported that all she did was hook her computer hard drive to a Mr. Wonderful Doll. You know, the doll that repeats pre-programmed drivel when its button is pressed. Things like, “You look lovely, dear,” and “Can I rub your feet, sweetie.” Now, with a Wi-Fi connection, the brains of men can be reduced to a bundle of wires and circuits.

The news is staggering. It puts at peril men’s franchise as head of the household. Women have said ‘Enough!’ to the visceral vortex of irrational marital relationships. Future husbands are now being cloned. Soon they’ll be for sale in toy stores. This is the ugly underbelly of research, affirming why women should be confined to kitchens and truck-driving.

But it was bound to happen. Men got lackadaisical, forgot to use florists. They became arrogant and condescending. Women have endured for centuries the crude social gestures of men. Now they’ve done something about it. The world is turning ugly. Payback is a bitter pill.

Waldo Buffett started it by issuing a challenge grant…$10 billion for a robotic substitute for humans. Some say Waldo claims to be an emissary to the Almighty Himself, direct descendent of Mohammed and the reigning Grand Master of reading tea leaves. He’s reported to be hysterical from the delight this discovery is providing.

It was an unfair match. Women had the edge. Men’s brains are simple. By the process of elimination of certain primordial chemistry, the rest was a slam dunk. The result, pictured here, is an absurd caricature and complete defilement of the male anatomy. The New Man is now two feet tall, a complete denigration of the male ego. It’s a plastic wind-up toy, a marionette whose digital strings are pulled by its new master…a woman.

I took it upon myself to interview the researcher. She was quite conversational, even if she did gloat while having a male assistant do her nails. Here’s an excerpt of the interview:

I asked what the key to the discovery was. “Eliminate all trace of testosterone. It’s not needed. Batteries are cheap.” she said. “Miraculously, my six-foot plastic manikin shrank to 2 feet tall.” She added that she patented the process and branded it “T-x.” She sold it to Waldo for uber billions. Says she’s now Waldo’s partner and manages all scientific R & D for his monopolization of the Land of Oz.

Where’d you find the parts?” I asked. “At a junk yard,” she said. “Certain parts were superfluous, like a heart, a brain and, well, you know what else. I simply hot-wired all the circuitry to respond to female commands. It works off a remote.”

I asked what initiated her research. She said, “Well, money. Plus, I dated a boy from Georgia. I got sick and tired of hearing, ‘How ‘bout them Dawgs?’ Now, I’ve eliminated all irrelevant blather and replaced it with 0’s and 1’s. Brilliant, huh?”

Did you replace the ‘missing rib,’” I asked. She laughed. “Oh, that. Well, I found a gnawed T-bone steak bone and shoved it in for old time’s sake. Plus, I put in a crushed beer can so my robot wouldn’t be lonely. You know, like King Tut, who was buried with his stash.”

Ma’am, what are the benefits of such inhumane denigration?” I asked. She laughed, sipped more champagne. “I use my dummy for bar-room comedy. He, or rather it, is learning how to respond with social graces. No more grunts, uh’s, huh’s or outrageous outbursts. I have complete control. No more NFL, NASCAR, and wrestling on TV. Just the Shopping Channel. Best of all, no more hogwash like, ‘What’s for dinner, baby?’”

She asked for my phone number. “Forget I called,” I said. “Thanks. Goodbye.” But it occurred to me that it’s not too late to combat this insidious evil. All that’s needed is to substitute sports for shopping. Get busy guys…the clock’s ticking!

Bud Hearn
May 31, 2012

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Summer Vacation...a Parody

Ah, summer in the Golden Isles…it doesn’t blossom, it explodes. Memorial Day weekend lights the fuse.

Cities empty. Farms lie fallow. Small towns sizzle. Weeds wither. Humidity hovers. The hordes converge. Blanched bodies walk forward in backward-facing caps. Caravans crawl by with bikes bouncing on bumpers. They’re here for fun, no matter what.

The island sinks. The sea rises. So do prices. Tacos are scarce. Food lines form. BBQ is ubiquitous. Pigs are scarce. Watermelons run short. Squabbles crop up. It’s reported that a melon sold for $500 to a fellow from Indiana. A boy from Enigma helped him eat it. Yes, they both had fun, by golly.

Beaches suffer. The heft of humanity sets up shop with chairs, umbrellas and coolers filled with Red Bull. The sands tremble. Teens sneak out at night to stake out spots. They rent them the next day to late arrivals from Lithonia. Nobody’s missing out on the fun.

Drivers of Hummers with big black dogs scour neighborhoods for parking. Residents guard their Bermuda grass with guns. The Lawn Avengers Patrol is armed with tasers. They stalk all license plates from Alma and Atlanta. Not everyone’s having fun.

The traffic roundabout becomes a bumper-cars course. Last year two widows from Willacoochee got confused. Their tractor trailer, loaded with Spam, jackknifed while dodging bleary-eyed ladies in their Cadillacs who were returning from a bridge tournament. Shrimpers from Darien rushed in and highjacked the spoils for crab chum. The widows married them and moved to Darien. The insurance company is still investigating. The fun is just beginning.

Several years ago sunscreen was in short supply. Some mechanics from Macon conspired with chemistry majors from Mercer to make their own. They combined 40-weight motor oil with antifreeze and Old Spice. They patented the process and branded it Quik-Fry. This toxic concoction boiled the skin of users like fried chicken in hot grease. The hospital emergency rooms had a lot of fun with this.

Tommy, the local druggist, anticipated this sunscreen problem. He cornered the market by hedging derivatives on the entire stock of Caribbean Bronze 1000. Lines pushed and shoved into his pharmacy. Words were exchanged. He sold out and held an auction for the last bottle. He reported that an Amish couple from Cordele paid $890 for it, almost enough to pay for a round of golf at SeaSide. Tommy has a lot of fun these days.

But locals plan for these problems. They scarf up all fresh produce before the prices triple. They drain all gas supplies before the price of unleaded rises past $10 a gallon. They flee the scourge for sanctuaries like Daytona Beach. They take their fun with them.

Beaches seduce tourists. Strange things happen. Last year the boy’s Glee Club from Homerville gained notoriety by arriving a week early and staking off prime property, ostensibly for a chorale concert. It was a ruse. They rented chair spaces to young women in miniscule swimwear for modest prices and promises of Bubbas burritos. Fun and games continue.

Linda and Laverne, retired librarians and occasional Sunday school teachers from Ludowici, visited the Golden Isles. They attracted a curious crowd on East Beach with their rented red Corvette. They wore matching leopard tights enhanced by peacock feathers and passed out religious tracts. Things went sideways when a pack of roving raccoons and a lone buzzard attacked the plumage. Neither has been heard from since. No one recalls if the librarians had fun, or if anyone repented.

Tides are unpredictable. Wind surfing was banned recently. The last two surfers mistook a water spout for a gentle breeze. They were last seen passing Key West. Four body surfers from Statesboro were stranded on a sandbar. Dark fins circled the waters. Later, some fingers and a big toe washed up onshore. They were examined and matched those of a New Jersey man named D’Cappellini. He was last seen leaving Two Way Fish Camp on the Altamaha River with Larry and Butch, two local loggers. The fun never quits.

And so it goes, day by day, here on the Golden Isles. Until Labor Day. They come, they go, they spend. They create memories and stories. They all have fun. After all, what’s summer for, anyway? We’ll be looking for you.

Bud Hearn
May 25, 2012