Hey nah, hey nah, my coffee shop boyfriend’s back.
Yep, Joel rolled back into town but ever so briefly between institutional shake downs last week. He parked the cobalt blue Spyder out front and wore his shiny black leathers up to the favored table. (Obviously he ordered them pre-owned because they were creased by a man with formidable abdominal and pectoral muscles, neither of which Joel possesses.) Fresh from the nation’s capital banker and mafia mob boss/ lobbyist conference in D.C. to the University Foundation’s annual Snuggle Fest in historic Bedford Springs, he hauled the scuttlebutt and skullduggery involved in both professional deceptions like fresh raw milk that hadn’t time to separate. We hardly had time to catch up on his comings and goings and tales of Swamping the Drain in a post factual world caught in a dystrumpian nightmare.
He had that familiar glint in his eye of another successful white collar bank job completed. “Shimmy shimmy shake down”, he sang to himself in a reverie driven by the rumbling road beneath his troika’s rambling tires. He broke off into a little Johnny Cash, “I’ve been everywhere, man. I’ve been everywhere”; segued into Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild”; and concluded with Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive”. His swagger was comparable to a puffed up boy pigeon during its first junior high mating dance: if you removed all the bluster and feathers and after shave, you might get one decent chicken finger out of the entire bird. He was pumped on high octane, unsweetened iced tea.
There was no time to fully catch up until this morning when he sat opposite me in his black suit and purple shirt, with his white summer Panama hat on the table. “Don’t touch that”, he ordered me as if he were Don Corleone and I was some schmuck Sicilian stevedore, part time Uber driver from the docks. I saw right away that he was fully impressed with himself and had over-inflated his tubeless self esteem once again. For his own good, I knew I had to let some air out before he exploded from rooster poop induced spontaneous combustion… one of the leading causes of biker deaths while in a state of dismount. The old jokes goes like this: what do Harleys and Hoover vacuum cleaners have in common? Dirt bags on the handlebars.
“Joel, I can see you are feeling your oats again. You know what happens when you pop figurative wheelies in your imaginary Shriners’ parades, don’t you?”
“Well, I, uh, yessss. But while riding back on I–99 I made up a jingle to celebrate the Bud Shuster Byway. I thought to myself, ‘Why should Burritospecial be the only creative genius on the block? And why can’t non-Shriners pop wheelies?'”
“YOU broke into verse?”
“I most certainly did.”
“Well, let’s hear it, my good man.”
“Ummm, I can’t remember it.”
“Did you hit a jersey wall or a rock outcropping along the way?”
“No. I just forgot how it went.”
“I see. So, Michael Corleone, when you go to the bathroom I want you to come out with the gun in your hand, not your….”
“I’ve seen the movie. I remember the gun behind the toilet.”
“Good! I was hoping to trigger a familiar long term memory that might get you to connect to your lost song ditty about another gangster.”
“Oh, I remember now. Ummm, let me get the touba bass line.”
“You are gonna sing to a tuba solo?”
“It’s more of a rap.”
“Okay, I can’t take any more titillation, Joel. Hit it!!”
“Okay, okay, it’s set to the melody from “The City of New Orleans”.
“Good. Steve Goodman and Arlo Guthrie are hard to beat. Go man.”
“Riding on the Bud Shuster Byway
From Breezewood to Bedford, PA
Hardly any cars and nary any riders
My three wheeler and no one on my tail”
“Joel, it gets better, right?”
“Oh yeah, I’m just getting my lips warmed up for the big chops.”
“Okay, chop, chop, then.”
“Ah, second verse…
There I am on my southbound odyssey
Fifth gear hums and I have to pee,
As I roll along past houses, farms and fields
Crossin’ roads that have no names
Thru junk yards full of oxidized tin
And graveyards replete with old rusted automobiles.”
“Joel, you do know what plagiarism is, right?”
“Of course I do. I went to law school after all.”
“Then you must know what BAD plagiarism is too?”
“You don’t like my jingle?”
“You hate my jingle.”
“You abhor my jingle with a virulent hatred most severe, and wouldst cut out my tongue rather than be subjected to verse three?”
“But I must continue, even if my life depends on it.
Good mornin’ Breezewood, how are you?
Say, don’t you know me, I’m your native son?
I’m the man who rides the Bud Shuster Byway
I’ll be gone one hundred miles when the day is done.”
“Joel, if one of your mental health evals sang that to you, would you let them out of the State Hospital?”
“No. But what if I do a little soft shoe with my hat and cane? If you can’t sing, then you dance.” Reaches for the hat.
“No Joel. It’s over. Your schtick is beneath even Stormy Daniels on Jack Daniels while impersonating Jeff Daniels singing harmony with Charlie Daniels.”
“Hmmm. That’s a lot of Daniels. How about a round of Danny Boy? Oh Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling. From Breezewood to Bedford, PA, from glen to glen, and down the mountain side, the boys are gone and all their buttcheeks sagging, all along, along the Bud Shuster Super Byway…”
“Again, we have the entertainment equivalent of the Centralia coal mine fire. It never ends, the suffering never ends, my man. As your ethical and spiritual adviser, I cannot in good conscience allow you to continue in the entertainment field.”
“But why not? I’m, I’m funny. I am the Jimmy Fallon of the nursing home circuit.”
“No, Danny Boy. You are humor porn. I’m so, and I truly mean this, sorry for my loss.”
[To listen to the full version of Joel’s rendition of “City of New Orleans”, go to your nearest Youtube railroad track and lie down. Wait until it hits you.]