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Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2009

Hail to the Grief

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I’m Art Kumbalek and man ohmanischewitz what a world, ain’a? So what the fock, another Presidents’ Day has come and gone and yet I am agog with wonder about just where the time goes. It seems that just the other day I couldn’t figure out how the Packers weren’t able to hold a lead with two minutes left in the game, and now all of a sudden it’s goddamn Ash Wednesday and as a sort-of Catholic kind of guy once, now I’m supposed to figure out from what I ought to be abstinent ’til the Easter Bunny comes to hide his eggs on the April 12 Sunday.

Good lord. Whenever confronted by the decision of which and what worldly pleasures to forgo, I always enjoy to dick around with that choice whilst ensconced within the friendly confines over by The Uptowner tavern/charm school located on the Hysteric Corner of Center & Humboldt, where today is always at least a day before tomorrow, and yesterday may gosh darn well be today. Come along if you’d like, but you buy the first round. Let’s get going.

Lem: Hey dere, Artie. Artie Kumbalek.

Art: Lem? Lem focking Radke. Behind the bar, what the fock. I haven’t seen you since hell froze over. What brings you down here from Crivitz?

Lem: The taxidermy business; she’s always a little slow this time of year for me. And then this economy we got going dere these days, I hear there’s no stimulus package money for the people whose work is stuffing dead animals to make them look life-like again.

Art: Art is dead to this country, I hear you. You ever think of giving up taxidermy, maybe get into the plastic surgery and set up shop in Hollywood, Lem?

Lem: I don’t know, Artie. I got the talent to restore a four-foot muskie or a beloved hunting dog, but I don’t know if I’d be able to stuff and mount a movie star for presentable display.

Art: Lem, if you saw Goldie Hawn on the Oscar’s show last week, you’d know you’re not alone about that, so relax.

Lem: Yeah yeah, Artie. So I’m bartendering today ’cause Steve, the owner here god bless, he calls me ’cause one of his regular bartenders couldn’t make it in what with religious obligations to fulfill. So I come down from Crivitz to help out and make myself a buck two-eighty.

Art: Religious obligation. Now that’s a good excuse, what the fock—wish I would’ve thought of that one when I phoned in to work on what turned out to be the last day of the last time I had a regular job.

Lem: A good excuse is the workingman’s friend, ain’a dere, Artie.

Art: That it is, Lem. And let me tell you ’cause I know, that unless you’re itching to get canned, do not, I repeat, do not, call your boss and say you can’t make it in to work ’cause the voices told you to stay home and clean your guns, instead.

Lem: Isn’t that something dere, Artie—that in this day and age, there are still people who do not understand the importance of the proper care and maintenance of the firearm.

Art: Hard to figure, ain’a Lem?

Lem: So what’s your pleasure dere, Artie?

Art: A nice bourbon Manhattan, Lem. Heavy on the bourbon, maybe an ice cube if you feel like getting fancy, no garnish and hold the vermouth, hold it ’til sometime tomorrow, what the fock.

Lem: Can do. So dere, Artie, what do you hear, what do you know.

Art: I know you’re a big outdoors guy, Lem; so how’s the ice fishing this year Up North there?

Lem: Couldn’t really tell you, Artie. The ice this year, she’s pretty thick dere—what with all the cold weather, but gosh darn wouldn’t you know, by the time I get done chopping and drilling a hole big enough to put my boat in, it’s time to turn around and come back home.

Art: Oh yeah. That’s a problem.

Lem: I prefer the summer fishing dere, Artie. You just go out to the lake, put your boat in and start the fishing. No chopping and drilling.

Art: Safer that time of year on the lake to boot, Lem. Thickness of ice is something all sportsmen and/or married guys should constantly monitor throughout the year. Let me tell you a little story about that.

Lem: I’m all ears here dere, Artie.

Art: I know these three guys, last summer, hot-hot day on the Upper Eau Claire Lake north of Hayward. They’re out in the middle of a lake fishing and working on a case or two of ice-cold bottled beer. One of the guys, he’s had a little too much to drink. Gets a big hit on his line, stands up, and falls right out of the boat. After an hour or three, it finally dawns on the other two guys that one of their party is missing and must’ve gone overboard. So they dive in and start groping around in the dark water. Finally they get a hold of the guy, bring him up and haul him into the boat. One of the guys starts with the mouth-to-mouth to bring their pal around, but suddenly stops and says, “Jeez louise, I must be getting drunk ’cause I don’t remember that Erv had this kind of bad breath that could stop a train.” And the other guy says, “Yeah, and I don’t remember that he was wearing a snowmobile suit, do you?”

Lem: Cry-I, who the heck wears a snowmobile suit to go fishing on a hot summer day dere. Go figure, ain’a Artie?

Art: Yeah, go figure, Lem. (It’s getting late and I know you got to go, but thanks for letting us bend your ear, ’cause I’m Art Kumbalek and I told you so.)