RON SCHALOW: The Aftermath

“Hi, Orv!” chirps Stan. “What did you get for Christmas? Another 10,000 acres of dirt? Hair plugs? Personality injections?”

“What’s it to you, Marxist boy?” hisses Orville, as he takes another sip of his vodka gimlet. “Are you 10 years old or something?” He mimics the voice of a small boy. “What did you get for Christmas? Geez Louise.”

Stanley thinks hard. “Or something. That would be my best guess. Ten? That’s a stretch. I was about 10 when I got one of those electric football games. Do you remember those, Orv?”

“I …”

“Seems like every male kid had one of those, and I don’t think it was because of good word of mouth, either. After the first time out of the box, you knew the plastic players weren’t going to do anything that resembled a football game. Why would they?”

“I don’t …”

“At least the little guys all stood for the National Anthem. We can be thankful for avoiding that societal maelstrom. And even though there was no way it would ever work differently, young dudes kept trying, every day … at least I did, and the green board hummed and vibrated, and the little green football players bounced around randomly and eventually they all got clogged up on one side. Only an occasional concussion. So, what did you get for Christmas? Sir, can I get a Coke?”

“Oh. You’re staying?” groans Orv. “I got a belt sander for Christmas, among other things, if knowing that, will shut your trap. Sit a few stools down, will ya?”

“How many belt sanders do you now have, if it isn’t classified?”

“Seventeen,” murmurs Orville.

“Oh, a Quakers dozen. Cool. Got anything that needs sanding?”


“I was using a circular sander one time,” recalls Stan. “Who knows why? Wood was in front of me, I guess. Anyway, I must have taken my left hand off the sander, and it skipped off the wood and sanded the back of my left thumb. I never bowled with any precision again, after loosing that skin … it threw off my finely calibrated balance. I was already crappy at golf, so no harm done on that front. The things you learn when you’re 12. I still have the scar. Wanna see it?”

“You keep your thumbs and the rest of your body at a safe distance,” warns Orv. “What are you in such a good mood for, anyway? Did you save the life of a tree, or something sappy, you hippy?”

“Mood?” contemplates Stanley. “I hadn’t noticed. It’s good, huh? News to me. It could be the 4 pounds of prescription pharmaceuticals I’ve ingested so far today. Or I could be relieved that Christmas is over. Now, I can start obsessing about next year. Mandatory shopping stresses me out, and I have a hard time understanding the whole ruckus. And no, I’ve saved no trees. I witnessed the opposite. Trees don’t belong in living rooms. They belong in forests, parks or stuck firmly in a front lawn. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, although that ship has sailed, and we’re cutting them down to put tinsel on? None of this was in my Bible.”

“What do you care, you commie atheist?”

“Because it’s stupid, and it’s so huge, everyone gets sucked into it, and I’m a huge hypocrite on the matter, but I’m in its vice-like grip. The kids don’t understand, so you can’t let them down. The egregious consumerism, lights, the conspicuous consumption, snow, Santa Claus, December 25, dead indoor trees, pie … none of that has a thing to do with the birth of Christ. Makes my stomach hurt and my brain go haywire, but it doesn’t get to you, does it, Orv?”

“Nope. I know all that stuff. Every adult knows the phoniness of the whole racket. You can’t fight it, socialist jerk. Get used to it, accept your Black and Decker sander, and eventually die.”

“I was a Lutheran, you know, Orv. They say you’re born that way, but I’m not so sure. I felt more like a Presbyterian on the inside, so sometimes I would go over to their church across town and use their bathroom. Then, pedal back. It was good exercise, but my soul was still troubled.”

“Why would I care, Stan?”

“I don’t know. I don’t try to figure out your level of caring in advance. Once, I tried to be a Catholic. They didn’t allow divorced people to receive Communion, or get married, in the Church, though, which was antithetical to my aims. I wrote Pope John Paul II and pleaded my case, but he didn’t care. I sure read him wrong. He had some flunky write back and tell me to talk to a local priest. I already did that. I needed divine intervention. It was about a woman. Regular intervention wasn’t going to cut it.”

“No kidding, a woman.”

“I would have become anything she wanted. I would have joined those snake- handling kooks in the reptile church or pretended to worship Charles Manson. What did I care? I don’t care that temperature goes down one degree for every 1,000 feet rise in elevation, but it does it anyway, and I wouldn’t care if it didn’t. And objects fall at the same rate in a vacuum. How many people did Galileo kill by dropping bowling balls off the leaning tower, trying to figure that one out? At least Manson is behind bars. Knowing about this Christmas con bothers me, though, since next year is staring me down, and the cycle starts again. Why do I care? I don’t know.”

“What are you babbling about, you moonbat freak?” barks Orville.

“Doesn’t Christmas stress you out, at all, Orv?”

“Nope. My wife does everything. I just have to show up.”

“Oh, that’s right. You’re still living in the ’50s, liquored up, with Wally and the Beaver. When is the last time you made a sandwich or washed a dish? I’ll bet you don’t even know how to work the washing machine, do you? Without Christy, you would be dead within a week and wearing dirty undergarments. Losing several hundred pounds wouldn’t hurt you, though.”

“Don’t worry about it, you nosy bastard,” yelps Orv. “It works for us. Just because you ruined your marriage, doesn’t give you the right to make personal insinuations about mine. Move down another stool, where I can’t reach you. I make the money, and she does that other … stuff. I stay out of it.”

“Yes, I #%$*&ed up my marriage, but I wasn’t looking to the woman to do that other … stuff. Even when I was a drunk, I knew better than that, and it’s your broker making the money. Your @$$ is stuck to that bar stool, and she’s still doing that other … stuff.”

“Look, you lib%$!#,” shrieks Orv. “I don’t care how many woman’s studies classes you took in that fancy four-year college, we don’t go for that liberal crap.”

“Did you spoil the grandkids?”

“Of course.”

“Did you make them try the lutefisk,” asks Stan. “Possibly at gunpoint. I know you had it. I can smell the offensive aroma on you, from here.”

“Of course not. We happen to like the little gutter snipes. You keep your sniffing to yourself.”

“I had a full portion of that evil gelatinous reconstituted fish, under emotional duress, when I was about 20. I maintain that my future mother-in-law was trying to kill me. But she failed to account for my ability to put most anything in my body, that didn’t belong in my body, and survive. Norwegians in olden times would spread chunks of lutefisk outside around the house to keep the bears 200 miles away. Vikings hung a net full of the stuff off that scary head in the front of the boat, and it would clear the way in whatever land they intended on pillaging. People scattered, except the really stuffed up ones. DayQuil wasn’t available in those days. Ironically, lutefisk will clear your sinuses permanently, if you get close enough. Not that I’m recommending it.”

“Are you finished?” growls Orville. “I’m getting a headache!”

“Lutefisk, a liter of Smirnoff and three packs of Pall Malls will do that.”

“It’s you …”

“What are we going to do now, Orv? After months of buildup, it’s over, just like that!” Stan snaps his fingers. “The family has scattered. It’s done. Like somebody said, ‘It’s not the fall that will kill you. It’s the sudden stop.’ The sudden stop knocks me out of whack. New Year’s is coming up, but I don’t participate in that amateur fest, so my holidays are over, but I can’t get back into whack. Millions of people, most who never took the requisite time like we did to build up a tolerance to nonalcoholic beer are going to hit the bars and hit the sauce and hug the toilet … vomiting up food they ate last summer. It’s good for commerce. That’s the key.”

“Just get over it,” shouts Orv. “Don’t you have a pill for postholiday malaise? Talk about quick swings. Crimony.”

“I’ve checked my inventory twice. Get it? Nothing fits the bill for this void. Maybe some marijuana would help. It doesn’t matter, though, because I don’t have a clue on where to buy it. This country is drowning in illegal drugs, and I don’t know how to participate in the marketplace. What do I do? Stand on a corner in downtown Fargo, looking like an idiot, and wait for a dealer until I freeze solid? How do you get your weed, Orv?”

“What!? I don’t smoke that stuff, so how would I know, you @$$hat clown?”

“Sorry, Orv. I assumed you were connected. I tried it a handful of times, many decades ago. Never owned any, but it would be passed around at a party every now and then. Once, after me and my buddy partook, he tried to drive us from Bismarck to Mandan, which are practically sharing the same turf, so not a huge challenge, but we ended up in New Salem. Big cow. Way past Mandan. It was a pleasant drive, with good conversation, though, so it wasn’t some big tragedy. That’s a damn big cow. Have you ever walked up that hill to see the cow up close without having cardiac arrest? I did once with some other guys. Must not have had anything better to do. It’s not exactly Kilimanjaro, so I didn’t have any T-shirts made or try to impress any girls with my death defying walk up cow hill.”

“Why don’t you go find another cow lover to bother, so you can leave me alone. I’m not your giant farm animal or holiday therapist, you goofus lib%&*#?” snarls Orv.

“Naw. Thanks for the offer, but I think I’ll have my meltdown right here.”

One thought on “RON SCHALOW: The Aftermath”

  • susan gorr December 27, 2016 at 1:46 pm

    Excellent, vivid and funny!


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