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Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2008

Hey, hey, hey…hey, hey, hey

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I'm Art Kumbalek and man oh manischewitz what a world, ain'a? So there I was last Saturday, woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head, and then began my search for a pair of clean, matched socks so as to gentlemanly complete the ensemble I intended to wear for what would be the 40th reunion of the high school class I ended up getting a diploma with. I'd never been before to one of these shebangs; so I wanted to look my best, to show up as a lucky man who made the grade; and especially consid ering that as a candidate for the presidency of the United States, I figured my fellow former gradu ates would clamor that I say a few words as to how I planned to turn a nation's lonely eyes back toward a vision of peace and love; coo, coo, ca choo, power to the people you bet, what the fock. Temporarily exhausted by my sock search, I found my way to the couch to rest, had a smoke and I went into a dream.


Could it really be 40 focking years since I flunked a geometry test with flying colors; since I group-showered with naked male teenagers fol lowing a rigid 50 minutes of calisthenics and dodgeball; since me and a couple, three fellow wags snuck into Mr. K's vacant geography class room at lunchtime so as to unroll the big-ass world map affixed above the blackboard and then to roll it back up, but not before we taped the centerfold of Playboy's Miss June of 1968 vertical ly up-down the Atlantic Ocean? A lot can happen in 40 years, I kid you not-if you figure from 1910 to 1950, you got yourself the rise of the automobile, commercial air flight, radio, two world wars, movie palaces, federal income tax, Charlie Parker and what-not.


And then if you figure the 40 years from '68 'til now, wonders never cease, don't they; although I'm not too keen on having to pay money for good TV. Sucks.

Then, a knock at my door. "Artie, I got the stuff," the voice from the other side said. The stuff. It was my buddy Ernie. "Give me a sec ond," I said. I grabbed a Kleenex and blotted the pool of drool that had collected on my shirt collar, recon noitered the living room of my dinky apartment to make sure there wasn't any loose change in plain sight, clipped a toe nail that was starting to give me trouble, made a couple phone calls, tapped a kidney or two and quickly let Ernie in.

He had the stuff all right. Ernie was holding 42.5 centimeters of prime-golden Rhinelander brew carefully measured and divided equally into 12 tightly sealed aluminum cans. "Jesus H. Christ, Ernie," I said. "Do you realize you're car rying a hundred and forty-fock ing-four ounces there? What the fock, I hope you went to a dealer 'cause if you copped this on the street, you must've paid plenty."

Ernie was act ing all uptight. He said he'd come from his lady friend's house and now he felt just like a rolling stone. Toking on a Chesterfield in between hits off a can of Rhinie, he let it all hang out. He was having some kind of psychotic reaction 'cause his lady friend said she had to get him out of her life. She felt their relationship was suffering from a lack of diversity, in that Ernie skewed too heavily white European male. I had to be honest and tell Ernie that I knew where she was coming from. Whenever I flash backed to each and every of my nearly several personal relationships I'd sustained over the years, I remember always having been sensitive to gender and bravely asserting that more females get involved. My reward for baring my chest was the pink slip-but not in a good way. "Artie, what's with the new shirt and the slacks? Are you going to a funeral or something?" Ernie asked. And so I told Ernie I was going to my high-school class reunion and had to make the bus in seconds flat so's I could be in time. He said he went to one of those once the other year. His high-school girl friend was there.

She said hello and then gave him his class ring that he hadn't seen since they were a couple way back in sen ior year. He asked her how she came by the ring, and she said that she'd just had one of those lady hys terectomies and wouldn't you know, her doctor found it. Ernie asked if he could crash by my place while I went off to saunter memory's lane. As I was leaving out the door, Ernie said, "You know, Artie, no man is an island, ain'a? Hope you have a good time at your reunion."

You bet, Ernie. Like the old Jefferson Airplane song said, "No man is an island. He's a peninsu la." And a good time I did have, 'cause I'm Art Kumbalek and I told you so.

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