The wit and wisdom of Dr. Wally Crankset
Wally and I were at the bar in Larry's Cafe one night recently. We'd been there long enough that Larry had to field two calls from She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed, who was wondering where we could be found. Larry can tell tall tales with the best of them, but he's a terrible liar. She-Who-etc. knew we were there and she grilled him mercilessly during that second call.
"Um, I'll have to shut you guys off after this one," he said. "I'm sorry, but that's the way it is."
Wally and I understood. The part he was leaving out was the threat she'd made to call his wife and give her an earful too. Larry's a great guy and he didn't need that kind of grief, so we settled up and finished our drinks. We speculated that wives formed the first-ever union back in cave man days, and that led inevitably to things like agriculture and civilization. Otherwise, we'd still spend the bulk of our time grunting and chasing animals for food. Despite being a little boozy, we were aware that stuff rolls downhill and we were not at the top of the slope.
Time spent in Larry's is never wasted. I've learned many astonishing things while perched on a barstool, though to be honest, many of them are not suitable for a family discussion. I've learned of the best places for trout fishing by listening carefully to determine what those lyin' sacks of fishermen left out. Grouse hunters are the same. They never mention their favorite places, either, so rapt attention to detail is essential.
But I learned more from my best friend Wally than all the others combined, and it didn't take intelligence analysis worthy of the CIA. I'd just buy a couple of rounds.
When I got home that evening, I pulled a crumpled paper napkin out of my pocket. One corner was missing, torn off by Wally because a young woman had written her phone number on it. The rest of the napkin was covered with my cramped handwriting. I played James Boswell to Wally's Samuel Johnson.
In no particular order, here's what I learned that night:
"Unless you're e.e. cummings, learn how the caps key works. If you are e.e. cummings, the unfortunate news is that you're dead."
"The Dustbuster was originally intended for picking up rocks on the Apollo moon missions." Wally said this to an attractive young woman who probably hadn't been born when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Of course, he insisted it was Neil Young who'd first stepped onto the lunar surface, but the sweet young thing missed that too.
"Ronald McDonald is a god in some primitive cultures and most of the southern states." I couldn't argue with this one.
"Many in Oklahoma are proud to be out of step with the rest of the nation, yet I'm proud to be out of step with the majority of Oklahomans."
"Franch dressing: Ranch dressing with a dash of ketchup." I had to make a face at this one, but I know people who would love it.
"I graduated from the University of Old Men." No argument there. We're both graduates.
"I keep meaning to get the senile citizens discount, but then I forget to ask."
"Integrity is admirable, but hypocrisy pays better."
"Them library police....they'll throw the book at you." Sweet Young Thing laughed very prettily at this one.
"...so men desperately need to have an all-consuming hobby like hunting, fishing, sports, or even bicycling in order to distract them from the ultimate reality. And that's the plain truth that no matter what we do in life, no matter what we achieve or the wealth we accumulate, at the end we all die. I'm tellin' ya, it's the fear of death that drives us, nothing else." This one prompted Sweet Young Thing to write her phone number on the napkin.
"Broken Elbow, Oklahoma, received Tin status from LAB's Bike Friendly City program." This is true, but I can't decide if it's more disparaging toward Broken Elbow or the League's awards program.
"He's been given the urine-soaked crotch of courage award." This was directed at another 'bicycle' advocate at the far end of the bar, a man Wally despises for his hypocrisy and fear mongering. They have a long-standing feud peppered with more acrimony than any of Wally's ex-wives. He never hesitates to make fun of the man, particularly by mangling his name.
"Dog Porn would want a bike lane up his..."
And this is where Larry cut us off. Perhaps it was just as well.