Another Fistful of Fruitcake
I thought to take a look-see over by the Uptowner tavern/charm school, where today is always at least a day before tomorrow and yesterday may very well be today. The future may be hiding out there. Problem is the Uptowner isn’t open yet, so I figure to swing by my favorite open-24-hours restaurant where a guy like me can get a jump-start on girding his loins in preparation for the day’s daily shit-storm to follow. Come along if you want but you leave the tip. Let’s get going.
Bea: Hey there Artie, what’s your pleasure?
Art: How ’bout you shovel me a nice scoop of the blackest and thickest
cup of whatever you’re calling plain-old American coffee today. Thick—coffee you could sculpt, if you were so inclined.
Bea: Coming right up. You want a spoon or a putty knife?
Art: Give me the knife, Bea.
Bea: No problemo. So Artie; what do you hear, what do you say.
Art: My buddy Little Jimmy Iodine’s birthday is Christmas day, so I was looking for a birthday card. I wanted one a little more serious than what I usually send—the sad-eyed bulldog wearing a party hat on the cover and the inside says, “In dog years, you’re dead.”
Bea: I’ve sent that one.
Art: But cripes, Bea. The serious cards read like a Sunday school teacher wrote them—they go on and on yapping about the “gift of life” ’til I’m ready to puke, I kid you not.
Bea: They can get bit sappy, that’s for sure.
Art: “Gift of life,” give me a focking break. I tell you, the one I got sure didn’t come from some fancy boutique.
Bea: Is that so?
Art: Seems the “gift” I got was marked way down on discount in the discontinued bin—all sales final. If it was really such a great gift, how come I can’t return it for a better one, or at least one that fits me better, like a life where I make a million bucks a day for sitting around doing nothing.
Bea: Good question, Artie. After my shift, I’m helping my landlady with her fruitcakes. I’ll ask her.
Art: Fruitcake. If the Cro-Magnon man, thousands of years ago, had the technology, the knowledge—not to mention the stomach—to bake focking fruitcake, I’d bet a buck two-eighty that the archaeologist would discover, alongside the fossilized bones and fossilized tools, Cro-Magnon fruitcake. Perfectly preserved and just as edible as if baked yesterday. It’s the one so-called food for which the scientist has yet to determine an expiration date.
Bea: You don’t say.
Art: You see on the TV news all the stories about the holiday travelers? Must be nice to have that kind of dough. I wouldn’t mind getting out of this town somewheres far, far away just once in my life. Like the movie what’s-its-name they always show for Christmas, where George Bailey plays that character who wants to see the world but every time he tries to leave town, someone or something chews him a new one and he’s forced to stay.
Bea: That’s my favorite movie, but to me what’s interesting isn’t what the world would be like if you’d never been born—it’s what the world is like if you haven’t been born yet. You’re always luckier if you get born as far into the future as you can ’cause the future’s always better than the past.
Art: Carve me out another cup of that coffee there would you, Bea? The poor slobs who got born a couple, three thousand years ago as opposed to today sure got screwed, ain’a? For starters, a guy’s got more ways to piss away his spare time in the modern day. Long, long ago you wouldn’t even have spare time on any kind of regular basis ’cause you were too busy slaving, fixing something, starving, or getting slaughtered. And when maybe you did have a little spare time once every couple years, all there was to do was paint reindeer on a wall inside your goddamn cave.
Bea: So I hear.
Art: Eking out a living in the past was not much of a wonderful life compared to the future. The future has just always got to be better, ain’a? ’Cause if it isn’t, what’s the point? What the fock is the point.
Bea: I wish I had an answer, Artie. I really do.
Art: Anyways, I got to run, so thanks for the coffee and for letting me bend your ear there, Bea—utiful.
Bea: My pleasure, Artie. Always nice getting talked at by you. Now you be sure to celebrate this holiday good and plenty. You just can’t ever be 100% sure that it may not be the last one you’ll get; so make it a good one. Take care.
(It’s off to the Uptowner, if I see you there, you buy me one ’cause I’m Art Kumbalek and I told you so.)