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Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012

Theology Whiz

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I'm Art Kumbalek and man oh manischewitz what a world, ain'a? So, here we be at the starting line of another Lenten season, for christ sakes. And me, lapsed Roman Catholic—big-time, ever since years ago the priests forgot their Latin and all of a sudden geeks with acoustic guitars got up on the altar and you had to shake hands with Joe Blow next to you in the pew, and Mass had turned into one boring-ass hootenanny cum Rotary Club meeting—have yet to decide from what I ought to be abstinent 'til the Easter Bunny hides his eggs this April's second Sunday, what the fock.

But just to keep my beatific bases covered, for starters I choose to give up writing you's an essay this week, and instead recall a conversation I had with my favorite waitress awhile back—that time I planned to perform the miracle of changing a $20 bill into bourbon and then minister to my crowd over by the Uptowner tavern/charm school—except they weren't open yet, so I swung by my favorite open-24-hours restaurant to gird my loins for the day's daily shit-storm to follow. Come along if you want but you leave the tip, just like last time. Let's get going.


Bea:
Hey there, Artie. What's your pleasure?

Art:
How 'bout a nice cup of the blackest, thickest and cheapest cup of whatever you're calling plain-old American coffee today, thank you very kindly.

Bea:
Can do, Artie. There you go.

Art:
Jeez louise, Bea. This coffee tastes like mud.

Bea:
That's peculiar. It was ground not a minute ago!

Art:
Yes, ma'am. Ba-ding! “Ground not a minute ago.” You just can't beat good coffee-shop humor like that can you, Bea.

Bea:
You surely can't.

Art:
Hey Bea, got any idea the kind of coffee they served on the Titanic?

Bea:
Couldn't be Sank-a, could it, Artie?

Art:
Ba-ding-ding-ding! Sank-a. That's a good one, ain'a Bea?

Bea:
Pardon me for being nosy, but is that the classified section of the newspaper you got open there, Artie? I do declare, you're not looking at the “help-wanted” section are you?

Art:
A job? It'll be a cold day in hell when I look in the papers for some kind of a job. Cripes, it'll be a cold day anywheres that I'm looking for a job, Bea. No ma'am, the optimist in me forces me to check out the want-ads because I do want to believe that one day there will be the call for a laborer who's creative and imaginative, needs to show up only whenever he feels like it, and gets paid in cash—by the shovelful.

Bea:
Let me know if you see one of those, would you Artie?

Art:
Abso-focking-lutely, Bea. I also look in these want-ad papers when I need a good chuckle or two; 'cause when you peruse these blurbs, 10 times out of nine of them always want you to be some kind of “self-starter” on top of everything else they want you to do for next to nothing.

Bea:
“Self-starter,” Artie?

Art:
Self-starter, they say, Bea. I believe that means these days not only are you supposed to show up on time—and reasonably sober, I'm guessing—and schlep through whatever kind of hell you're expected to schlep through on your job, but you're also supposed to start something—all by yourself. What the fock, are there no bosses anymore? You're supposed to be your own boss, like we're all communists? Focking-A, if that's the case, I'm taking the rest of the day off—tomorrow to boot. Cripes Bea, carve me out another cup of that porridge you're calling plain old coffee, would you please?

Bea:
Right at you, Artie.

Art:
And then, Bea, there are those kind of help-wanted ads that just plain gast my flabber, I kid you not. The kind of ads some people call “personal,” but I call “Help Wanted—Lonely Loser.”

Bea:
“Lonely loser,” Artie?

Art:
I'll give you an example, Bea. I heard of this gal who once placed a personal ad. She wrote: “Seeking male companion: must enjoy delightful long walks on the beach and through the woods; a gentleman who holds hands over candlelit dinners and always opens a door for the lady; and above all else, must be a satisfying lover.” So a couple days later, there's a ring at her door. She goes to answer, but sees no one there until she looks down and there's a guy at the stoop with no arms or legs.

Bea:
Lordy.

Art:
He says, “I came about the ad.” Well, she's quite embarrassed and doesn't know what to say: “Well, forgive me, I'm not sure if you're quite what I'm looking for—you know, 'long walks,' 'holding hands,' 'satisfying lover'...” And the guy says, “Wait a second, toots. I rang the bell, didn't I?”

Bea:
Isn't that something.

Art:
Yes ma'am, she's a lucky gal. Like the old song says, “You better knock on wood, baby.” Got to mosey, so thanks for the coffee and for letting me bend your ear there, Bea—utiful. See you next time.

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

(It's off to the Uptowner. If I see you there, then you buy me one 'cause I'm Art Kumbalek and I told you so.)