RON SCHALOW: Give Me Your Tired

“Syria is slightly larger than North Dakota. Did you know that, Orville?”

“No, and I don’t really care, you doorknob. What does slightly mean, anyway, bland Stan?”

“This canvas disturbs me inside. It’s a seizure waiting to happen.” Stanley stares at a painting on the wall of the restaurant for a couple of minutes, appearing to be in deep thought. “Slightly is definitely an obscure form of measurement. Maybe it’s a Mideast thing.”


“Should I ask our waitress? She looks to be a bright young college woman. She’ll live to regret that tattoo, though. Unless the poor girl expires abruptly, sooner than planned. Then, she probably won’t care. Syria abuts the Mediterranean. That would be nice. Unless you live in one of the spots that gets bombed every 10 minutes. I suppose you could stand in the sea and hope for the best.”

“What’s your fascination with Syria, while I try to enjoy my salad in peace, anyhow,” Orv barks. And don’t bother the waitress. She has enough problems, without dealing with a Norwegian code talker peppering her with nonsense.”

“Peppering. That’s clever, since she is packing one of those spice clubs. She’s an attractive young woman, since I mentioned it.”

“About 40 years out of your league, you gray-bearded billy goat. You can’t even eat soup unless someone spoons it into your Marxist gullet for you, after a large man puts you in a headlock, to steady your gourd.”

“I do OK with the thick ones,” argues Stan. “And it just so happens that I recently had a tall attractive blonde in my life. An old younger flame.”

“Dreams don’t count, you mentally impaired lib&^#$,” growls Orv. “You know the rules. You’re the one that wrote them up. Used up my copier ink. Another gimlet, please.”

Stan ponders. “I do have splendid dreams, that’s for damn sure. Usually violent. Lots of choking is my MO. You wouldn’t believe my dream-induced hand strength. The dreams are way better than the comatose periods I encountered, when I drank for a living.”


“I think she was real, though,” Orv. “I haven’t had a monthlong dream for years, and there is damning evidence all over my computer. I should be jailed, then pummeled, for experimenting with those cutesy emoti con-men. My poor old Dell innards look like a 14-year-old girl confiscated my brain and upchucked her room decor all over my medulla oblangotcha. I’m ashamed.”

“But it’s over,” concludes Orville. “You got the brush off. If I liked you, I would commiserate.”

“Oh, of course,” answers Stan. “Brushed off like dandruff. Right on schedule. I knew exactly what was going to happen, right from the start, and did it anyway. A lot like my numerous gym memberships.”

“You’re not too smart.”

“You’re telling me, and feel free to choke on an olive, or a chunk of under-chewed steak, or one of those frilly toothpicks. Whichever is more painful. With your face of crevices, the ‘Mona Lisa’ wouldn’t smile at you. ‘The Scream’ fits your looks and personality.”

Orv ignores Stan’s last utterance and encourages him to get back on topic. “Syria, you liberal loon.”Stan ignores Orv’s last utterance and excitedly exclaims, “golf!”

“Oh, gawd.”

“When I used to golf; I can’t do it anymore, thanks to some benevolent deity. But when I did, I always knew exactly what was going to happen, but I did it anyway. Repeatedly. You were there, you Titleist hacker. What a waste of good golf balls and clubs and green fees, you were.”

“You weren’t no Chi Chi Rodriguez, either, moonbeam. And a crappy cart driver.”

“I only rolled one twice, Orv Orv Pina Colada.”

“Not if you count all of the rotations on that hill, Stan. We got banned from that course!”

“That was a long, steep hill. Larimore? I maybe should have bailed. Lost a full bottle of Windsor. I was sad.”

“You never had a full bottle of anything, you kook.”

“I could never chance buying part of bad batch, Orv. I’ve explained this to you!”

“Well, they sure didn’t like you at Happy…”

“Yeah, yeah, but ANYWAY, I always had great expectations on the first tee, but it was hours of misery, acceptance, joy … in the woods, balls in the water, a club, or two, in the water, cooler incidents, sunburn, callouses, threats from the manager, tall grass, concussions, seven decent shots, mosquitoes, five putt greens, sand, lots of cursing, more sand, and then it would end.”

“And once, you nearly killed a guy with a ball to the head.”

“I was drunk, so the ball inadvertently went straight and far. I yelled fore! Totally an accident, but he got back up. Briefly. I really drilled him, but I don’t see how his kid hitting me in the shin with a three wood solved anything. A sand wedge? Maybe.”

“Could have happened to anybody named Stanley, but what does any of that sports nostalgia have to do with anything?” grouse Orv. “Not Syria!”

Stan massages his temples. “It was a tall blonde woman analogy! Good grief. This was your general attitude on the golf course, too. Deafness and anger, followed by more alcohol and uncontrollable rage. But, I keep talking to you, in spite of the predictability and disrespect. Another analogy! And you shouldn’t have to wear shin guards to play golf! A helmet, maybe.”

“Anyway, what’s yo …

“Orville, this is serious. Syria has a population of 17 million, but 12 million Syrians have been displaced, and a quarter-million have been killed in the last few years. A quarter-million without a place to be are children. What do you see when you look out of your back door?”

“My turn to talk? Gosh, thank you, Stan. Waitress, another drink when you have time, please. We might be here for …”


“I don’t see a goddamn thing except flat, Stan. The only thing that keeps me from seeing the Rockies is the curvature of the Earth. Does that satisfy you in some way?”

“It does. You see it, too. We have space coming out of our ears … yet there is always problems with parking. That SOB knew I was going … no … no …”

“SNAP OUT OF IT!” yells Orville. “Stupid hippy.”

“Me calm.”


“Not long ago, some people thought we should just turn the Dakotas, and a few other states in the red belt, back to the buffalo’s and other critters. We certainly have room for some Syrians, but noooo. They are so scary. KVLY has probably given them all Zika, or Legionnaires disease, by now. Get Arick on this STAT!”

“Here we go,” groans Orville. “They can’t be properly vetted. Trump said, ‘lock their doors,’ if you have any Syrian refugees in your town. They’re a ‘Trojan Horse,’ for terrorists in case you weren’t listening to him.”

“Oh, I was listening. Cheeto man is the dangerous one. Hide your wallet. And they don’t build horses of that size anymore. Sheesh. Did the first one have bathroom facilities? I doubt it, and terrorists, these days, don’t do anything unless a toilet is included. Besides, fat@$$ is an idiot and a liar and wasn’t properly vetted.”

“Trump doesn’t lie like …”

“And I already lock my doors,” notes Stan, “but I would be more frightened of your next door neighbor with the underground bunker in the backyard and his stockpile of weapons.”

“That’s a root cellar,” yelps Orv.

“Right, with cable TV and bunk beds. There’s no roots down there … a hellava supply of chicken noodle soup, though. It looks like a mini Costco down there.”

Orv puts up a hand, while he thinks. “I suppose you keep your soup in the house. Rube.”

Sigh. “And all refugees coming to the States, are already extremely vetted, so Trump lied to all of you ‘gullibles,’ including most of you alt-righters, and you bought it. He once lied nearly 100 times during a one hour rally to rousing applause for every one. That’s a feat. Besides, you and your genius buddies already opposed the resettlement of any non-Aryans, so it wasn’t a hard sell. Syrians! Ooooh, I’m so scared. Wimps.”

“How would you like to get stabbed with a fork, cuck?”

“Hand or upper body, and I still don’t know what cuck means?”

“I can only reach as far as a hand, so hand.”

Stan ponders. “My left hand is near useless already, so go for it, but it doesn’t change the facts.”

“I suppose you believe the Lutheran Social Services. Pipecorn doesn’t. All they want to do is rake in the Federal money.”

“Well, it is a religion. Your religion! You’re a Lutheran and go to church. Don’t you believe what they’ve been telling you, since you were a youngster?”

“Well …”

“We’re part of this world, Orv. It doesn’t seem like it sometimes, living way up here. We have a military base on most parts of the Earth, so I think our government has conceded that the whole world counts for something, if only as a target for a Hellfire missile.”

“Trump is going to change all of that.”

And our foreign policy is clear on the refugee issue,” says Stan. “Has been for decades.”

“I don’t care what the Feds say. We need to take care of our own, first. There’s still homelessness, and vets who need help.”

“You only care about those people when somebody mention refugees. In this state, we take care of oil companies first. They even get to use our police force. Who knew we had so much mace on hand? When the Legislature had a chance to help our weakest and vulnerable, they chose to turn down over $50 million in Federal funds.”“Carlson had his reasons. I’m pretty sure.”

“The Fargo Forum’s own Rob Port actually wrote that our deep thinkers in Bismarck were worried about the national debt when they turned their noses up at the millions. How noble. How much horse$#!@? Now, the blogger wants the Feds to chip in for security to watch people camping because that’s oil versus the Natives, so you know where his loyalties lie. What a putz.”

Orville regroups. “Our land isn’t exactly unoccupied and ready for an invasion, and you can never have too much mace. We grow crops on our soil to feed the world, and nobody seems to know what these refugees cost the Fargo taxpayers, or why they’re sending them here. That’s what got Pipecorn all apoplectic.”

“First of all. Commissioner Piepkorn is just trying out his Trump imitation, and it’s lame. More arm gyrating. More cowbell.”

“Oh yeah, Commissioner. I can see where that’s possible.”

“We know what we need to know. Some people just refuse to accept the facts. They won’t believe that refugees aren’t causing taxes to jump, and they aren’t committing acts of terrorism. The unstable home-grown dudes who shoot up cinemas and grade schools are, though.”

“I don’t.”

“Secondly, crops are grown to make money. If the demand from the ethanol plants is high, and the price spikes, more corn is planted, and not for food. Now, there’s some good corn squeezings.”

“Don’t even think about it, Stan. You would be way more fun, though.”

“And if you want to talk about costs, the biggest, most profitable, farms, like Gov. ‘Garden Gnome’ Dalrymple’s, get tons of Federal money, and most of those gentlemen farmers are packing a firearm, to protect their $60,000 pickups, and drinking single malts at the local pub, at all hours. So, who is the most dangerous?”

“But …”

“I’m all for the Farm Bill, but if tax money is a sticking point, then I’ll work up a list of stupid things this country does with its money.”

“Too many food stamps!”

“If ambiance is a big deal, and I can tell by looking at your house, Orv, that it isn’t, Syrian kids are adorable and would dress up the city. Some from Syria have blue eyes, which should be a selling point for the alt-right or, at least, be confusing for them. They could have Viking blood. Ragnar Lothbrok got around.”


“All of the Lothbrok boys were incorrigible sexists, like Trump, they also grabbed what they pleased. Lothbrok University was a dud, too. And Americans with Syrian ancestry include Steve Jobs. Can we risk missing out on the next Steve Jobs? Crazy talk. The Germans are going to get all of the good ones, and we’re left with those Duck Dynasty clowns.”

“I still don’t care,” barks Orville. “They can solve their own problems. I’ve got my own, you socialist.”

“Did they cut your grass a quarter-inch too short again? The agony.”
“Shut up,” snarls Orv. “The lawn will die without proper care.”

“Yes, it will.”

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