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Thursday, Jan. 10, 2008

A Buck Two-Eighty and Change

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I'm Art Kumbalek and man oh manischewitz what a world, ain’a? Listen, I got to tell you that I’m getting a tad nervous, lo, these days, when it comes to the presidential compartment of The Art Kumbalek Democracy Express 2008 For Any and All Political Office—Whatever You Got Needs Filling I’ll Fill It ’Cause That’s The Kind Of Guy I Am Campaign, I kid you not. The Iowa and New Hampshire shindigs have come and gone, and gosh darn if I don’t seem to claim a blip on any kind of radar, what the fock.

So rather than take the time to whip out yet another lofty position essay about my positions, I plan to waylay my campaign brain-trust over by the Uptowner tavern and charm school to see if they’ve got a focking clue as to what, at this late date, the Kumbalek strategy for Super Tuesday Feb. 5 ought to be. And I’ll tell you, all these logs of presidential timber are talking “change.” Fock the change. Let’s talk “dollars,” as in “Vote for Art Kumbalek and I promise you got $28-grand right off the top coming to you. The only question you’ve got to answer for yourself this election is this: Do you want your dough in cash or is a check acceptable?”

Problem is the Uptowner isn’t open yet, so I’ll first 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, happy new year. 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.

Bea: You’re in luck, Artie. I still got the bottom of a pot from last Wednesday. Is that “plain old” enough for you?

Art: Suitably aged I’d say, Bea. I’ve always respected a cup of coffee that had the whiff of maturity about it—a cup that’s been around the block and knows what for, that can give just as good as it’s got, a cup that’s taken a couple, three lumps but gotten right back up again…

Bea: Here you go, Artie. And it’s lumpy all right. You want a fork with that?

Art: And a knife. God bless you, Bea.

Bea: So what do you hear, what do you say, Artie.

Art: I say that now that our state government has raised the tax up-the-jock on each and every pack of cigarettes so’s to keep afloat the corporate- welfare craps game they’re running out of Madison, a truly compassionate government would at least get rid of that stupid “Surgeon General’s Warning” and replace it with a nice “Thank You For Smoking” note, don’t you think?

Bea: Could be. So haven’t seen you for a while, Artie. You have a nice Christmas and all?

Art: Not yet, Bea. I never celebrate the Christmas in December. It’s too depressing and too goddamn expensive. Besides, I really don’t believe there’s enough evidence to suggest that the baby Jesus was actually born on the December 25th. Cripes, those people back then thought the Earth was flatter than a 4th-grade Girl Scout, if they thought about it at all, so how the heck could they come up with any kind of accurate calendar dictated by our world floating around the sun?

Bea: Beats me. Artie.

Art: No ma’am, I always wait ’til way later in January to celebrate ’cause it’s just too gosh darn practical not to. By then, people you’re supposed to get a gift for have probably forgotten about it, and if they haven’t, you go to the store and pick up some knick-knack for half-off. And by mid-January, I got all the free Christmas trees I can carry, just sitting by the curbside, and some of them even have a little tinsel.

Bea: Well then, Artie, I promise to bake you a special batch of cookies for your belated holiday.

Art: I would appreciate that, Bea. It’s true, the men sure like to have their cookies for the special occasion, don’t they? Reminds me of a little story: There was a very old man, and here he is upstairs in his home, laying in his bed at death’s door—he’s ready to kick the bucket but good. All of a sudden, he smells the aroma of his favorite chocolate chip cookies coming up from the kitchen. With all the strength he’s got left, he pulls himself out of the bed, leans against the wall and slowly makes his way out of the bedroom to the stairs, grips the railing with both hands and somehow makes it downstairs. Now he’s really shot but he’s got to make it to the kitchen where that delicious smell is coming from. So he gets on his hands and knees and crawls all the way down the hall to the kitchen where he sees a sight that if he wasn’t still breathing—he would’ve sworn he was in Heaven. There on the table, all spread out on waxed paper are literally hundreds of those chocolate chip cookies, I kid you not, Bea–obviously one final act of love from his devoted wife; so that he would die surely a happy man. He painfully pulls himself across the kitchen floor to the table, his lips parched and parted; the wondrous taste of a chocolate chip cookie already in his mouth seemingly bringing him back to life. His aged and withered hand trembles as he reaches for a cookie at the edge of the table. WHACK! He takes a wooden spatula right across the knuckles and the wife says, “Stay out of those, mister. They’re for the funeral.”

Bea: Never heard that one before, Artie.

Art: A miracle, that would be. But got to run, 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.)