Life is beautiful but people are crazy. It’s just the way we are. Of course I’m crazy, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong. The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. And that’s what Louie-duh-too-sane-lawyer was trying to explain to crazy-Ian…

Louie-duh-lawyer isn’t the only one over at the Twin Cigar Shoppe who is absolutely certain that Ian is insane — even for this planet. Which is why we dub him ‘the alien.’

Apparently Ian thinks mostly when he’s squatting on the john, which is no doubt why his thoughts smell mostly shitty.

Among other things he is propounding, of late, is that Zeus is the devil; that a mother-ship has been snatching entire families of hikers out of shady mountain forests; And that the Jews are at fault, about most things, even the Russian invasion of Crimea and the continuing Afghanistan debacle. But that I am the exception… as long as I am willing to bullshit him a good recommendation for something he’s been allergic to in the 7 years I’ve known him – a job.

But then again, I think Louie-duh-lawyer, who is always abstaining to keep his body fat too low, his physique too fit, his blood flow too healthy and his diet too tasteless is absolutely a tad too-too-too rigidly sane.

You know… brittle.

I mean, just the other day a hot young woman tried to pick him up in one of his well-fitting, upscale, lawyer suits outside the courthouse. She said he looked like he belonged in the men’s fashion magazine ‘GQ.’ Even slipped him her phone number.

And naturally, Louie told her, sorry but he had to go work-out.

After all Louie had only been to the gym five days (and nights) that week. Obviously the man has some dumbbell issues.

And then again, I shouldn’t talk. There was that woman with the bawdy laugh I woke up with the other morning. Would you believe she had the abject, ineffable audacity to accuse me of forcing her to drink too many potent cosmopolitans. Then of locking her in my bedroom-without-a-door and having my 11-second-way with her – yet again!

And then she proclaimed that: ‘You’re not crazy enough, D.I!’

Who, moi?!

Hey, I’ve been strapped to a bed in a drooling academy. Then again, even my psychiatrist – finally! — was able to convince my insistent brother-duh-heart doc and his wife-duh-lawyer that I wasn’t really crazy enough to be put away there — forever! But it doesn’t seem to bother them much, now… now that my mother’s will, that my sister-in-law ‘assisted’ in formulating, was finally probated. Including the part that disinherits anybody — no matter how little I’m getting — who attempts to sue.

Hmm…

Actually I don’t get upset if people think I’m crazy. If you go to a mental hospital and someone calls you a name, would you get upset? Of course not. Well, that’s the way I think about the world. They don’t know any better.

In other words: You can’t control all the crazy stuff that happens to you. All you can control is the way you handle it.

And you wonder why I don’t own a gun!

But of course!

We all be crazy… it’s just a matter of degrees. Like many of my fellow cigar puffers in the South Philadelphia Twin Smoke Shoppe.

Like Petey, who is anal about getting his overly groomed, short-short-hair cut every, single week. And the other hazy Petey who is always slapping himself in the crotch. And the in-heavy-debt Little Anthony who perpetually claims he’s going to start saving money, but then goes out and buys yet another car. And all-of-650-pound-Frankie who gobbles up every cheese doddle, pastry and box of chocolates in the shoppe, except for the very last piece. And way-over-Grizzly-bear-size Freddy who after hibernating all winter still moans and groans daily that he’s tired. Or Keith the bartender, who after another overnight of tequila shots swears again he ain’t drinking no more…

Hmm…

But in Ian’s case, I have to admit there ain’t no 6 degrees of separation. In fact he’s the f-king mayor of crazy town. He’s the blind man in a gun fight. And did you ever notice that crazy people don’t sit around wondering if they’re nuts.

And, in truth, I like Ian… most of the time… kind-of. When he isn’t overly animated, proselytizing in a domineering tone that even penetrates my deaf left ear.

Admittedly he can be interesting. Even impressive. He’s got a photographic mind that
can recite long poems by Keats and Byron — verbatim.

After all, I’ve always accepted that craziness and madness are a perfectly rational adjustment to an insane world. However, you should never, ever forget that ‘crazy’ is a term of art; ‘insane’ is a term of law. Remember that, and you will save yourself a lot of trouble.

I perpetually remind Ian of that… even to the point where I poignantly explain the difference between stupidity and genius:

Genius has its limitations, I tell him again… and again… and again.

But I’m wasting oxygen. Even when I repeat over and over that the object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.

But this time Ian even got me rankled. Perhaps because I was too sober. And perhaps Louie-duh-lawyer, who is always too abstemious, continually seems to need to engage, to lead Ian to the light — of an oncoming freight train. And I don’t just suspect – but know! – that Louie would have a better chance of convincing the venal bar association to embrace ANY ethics. Or at least lower their legal fees… down to retail.

Hmm…

Anyway…

During one of our grand, recent, sunny afternoons we were blowing smoke and chawing with a new cigar rep. He was a big-ol’ Texas boy with a ponytail and muscles who waxed easily about spending his impressive years with that notorious oxymoron – Military Intelligence. Or was it Home Security. Or Special-Ops…

Whatever… But I did notice his feet were bathed in handmade Italian cowboy boots. And he was just the right combination of charm and bullshit that made you immediately like him.

But then gangly, tall Ian popped into the shop, booming with his high-pitched interruptions. And I warned the cowboy — in the midst of one of his tales how-the-Russian-KGB-couldn’t-torture-a-confession-outta-him — to hold on because he was in for a bumpy ride. So he grabbed onto his Texas-size belt-buckle and settled in for the stampede of neon-Ian.

And Ian started out giggling impishly about Trump dropping the (MOAB) Mother Of All Bombs. And like Trump, was confused about whether it was detonated in Iraq or Afghanistan. But geography didn’t stop him from another upending peroration.

And then after eyeing the new cigar rep Ian shifted immediately into how he (Ian) is undoubtedly the only guy who understands the cigar business. And lectured the new guy how he is doing everything wrong even if his cigars are already in 40 states… and this is what he should be doing.

And Gary-duh-good-looking-cop-who’s-never-seen-a reflection-of-himself-he-didn’t-adore tried to change the subject to a local missing person story. But Ian lassoed in the Texas rep with long dark tales of the shady mountain forests where entire families have gone completely missing.

Poof! Without a trace.

No shit! Please, take me!

And while Ian continued to ignore my pleas that roared into screams to give the new guy a break: “We want him to come back again!” Louie-duh-lawyer tried to veer the topic off to missile launching North Korea.

Oy-vey! Oh-no! More ammunition. Cock and load! Batten down the hatches.

Ian, of course, insisted he was against any intervention anywhere. He had already forgotten that he started his mad-mad-world of mad moments gleefully about Trump dropping that MOAB somewhere to the mid-east of us.

Ian was even against our intervention over 60 years ago to hold off the crazy communist at the 38th parallel.

At this point, perhaps I should point out that Ian is a product of that Korean war… which, you may remember,wasn’t a war, but a police action that still cost 54,000 American lives. And at least twice that number who got their brains frozen in time.

It seems that Ian’s Italian father met his Korean mother in between combats there. And brought her back to South Philadelphia. And conceived Ian.

And when Louie pointed this out, that our intervention (at least this time) helped formed a prospering country, a loyal ally and brought forth Ian himself, it didn’t seem to register any more or less than an illegal immigrant.

“Isn’t that something,” insisted Louie. “Isn’t that something wonderful?”

Hmm… Lou had me and a lot of others, going there. At least until that last point: That Ian was initiated in a moment of passion.

And look, I have to admit that I am more than a tad reluctant to intervene, and especially shed American blood in another country’s squabbles. However, when their refugee problem becomes our immigration problem I draw more than a line in the sand.

Arm the nuclear warheads.

I mean, there are times when crazy is not so crazy. Or at least, it’s the safest place to be. You know, somewhat like Ian – over the edge. Although you may agree that there is no honest way to explain the edge because the only people who know where it is, again like Ian, have long gone over it.

Louie, however, went almost apoplectic that Ian couldn’t grasp the obvious. And I pointed out to Lou that sometimes that’s the precisely the way I feel when I’m talking to him. That is, Lou. Mister arch-conservative. Wears nothing but Catholic black. And can’t fathom how the world doesn’t operate ‘According to Lou.’ And the Wall Street Journal.

And I am sure, I informed him, that he demonstrates his tolerance when he thinks I proclaim something that’s crazy by merely smiling and saying: ‘That’s nice.’

Hmm…

And don’t we all.

But at this point, thankfully, Ian received a phone call from his mother ship and scurried out the door. And the cowboy cigar rep, made his excuses to escape and go find the nearest shot-and-a-beer bar.

And as everyone departed I leaned back, chuckled, and exhaled a few oversize smoke rings. And while they drifted across the open spaces of the newly renovated Twin Smoke Shoppe, I got to wondering:

Am I, or is it everybody else, that’s crazy?

Hmm… then again, if we weren’t all crazy, we’d just go insane. It’s just the way we are.

And dats yDrewIS on dis penal colony…

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