Sunday, May 31, 2009

Me and Dale Learn New Things

I got this neighbor named Dale. Me and Dale been neighbors neigh on six years now, but we never talked that much. I been busy doin my thing, and I assume he's been busy doin his thing, too. Of course, he could very well have been sittin over at his house, lookin at my place, his chin tremblin like a newborn Chihuahua puppy, just wantin a little human contact, but too shy to say anything to me. Could be carvin up old ladies, too, for all I know. The long and short of it is, Dale and I ain't done much talkin until today when we happened to meet each other at the mailbox. He was strugglin with a giant package that looked like someone was shippin him fresh elephants, and I offered to help.

We was takin a break on the road when we got to talkin. I inquired about the package, tryin not to sound too nosy, and he told me it was somethin for his job. He said he got a package like that two or three times a week. When I asked him why he was tryin to carry it all on his own, he told me he had some helper up until about two weeks ago, but they left to pursue other opportunities. I told him that was too bad. Then we was quiet for awhile.

I was rootin around in my head for somethin to say, but all I could find was ridiculous stuff about robots wrestlin bears, and I didn't think he'd be interested. Meanwhile, he asked me, "Did you get new glasses or somethin, Pat?"

Every time I'd seen Dale, I'd been wearin the same old glasses. I been told by my nephew that they're old fashioned, bein horn-rimmed, tortoise shell rims on a long chain around my neck, and they may be ugly because they're held together by a combination of duct tape, JB Weld and sheer determination, but they sure worked to keep stuff out of my eyes while I was sanding. I didn't really need glasses, you see, but safety glasses is expensive and I picked these up down at the Goodwill for fifty cents. With the money I had left over, I bought myself a cup of coffee and a Tuesday newspaper. This was on a Thursday, I recall, and I wanted to relive the excitement that I felt before finding out that I, once again, did not win the powerball. I guess the moral of the story is, even if they're very distinct, sometimes people just won't notice you're wearin glasses. I do the same thing, sometimes. I went four whole years without noticin my sister was married and had a baby. Honestly, I don't even know what order the two came in. I tried doin the math on it once, but math ain't my strong suit and, by my calculations, the baby was born 3 1/2 months before my sister was born, but it was certainly born into wedlock. Like I says, I ain't too good at math. Either that or my family has a much more interestin history than I give 'em credit for.

I bring all this up with Dale and we start talkin about how easy it is to miss stuff, even on people you see regularly. It's right about this time I start to notice that Dale ain't got no thumbs. So I ask him, "Did you always have no thumbs, there Dale?"

"I used to have thumbs," he said, "when I was younger. There was an accident."

"Is that the same accident that made you all red?" I was tryin to be tactful, but I don't think I was successful at it.

"Yeah," he responded, "can we talk about somethin else?"

I felt bad for the guy. "Sure, Dale, whatever you say. What line of work are you in?"

"Distribution," he said bluntly.

"That's great," I told him, "what is it you distribute?"

"Can we change the subject?" he asked. He was gettin pretty dodgy and I was runnin out of things to talk about.

So I asked him, "If a robot wrestled a bear, who would you put your money on?"

"Pin or tap-out?"

"I dunno, does it make a difference?"

"It sure does," he said, "bears have large bottoms, so they're very hard to pin, but robots are notoriously good at submission moves. So, if it were a tap-out situation, my money would be on the robot, but if it were a pin situation, my money would be on the bear."

"Huh," I humphed, "I never knew those things. Where'd you learn all that?"

"You see a lot of weird stuff in the carnival, man."

All rested now, we carried the package the rest of the way to his house. As he opened the door, I caught a glimpse of a couple of black light posters hangin on his wall. I started to piece things together.

"Dale," I told him, "we been neighbors six years now, and I don't even know your last name."

"McClawenstein," he said, "Dale McClawenstein." Then he held out a hand to shake and I saw that it was actually a lobster claw. Now, one time, I had a rhino in my livin room for a whole month before I noticed, but I ain't never felt as unobservant as this.

As I shook his hand, he asked me, "You know, Pat, now that you mention it, I've never learned your last name, either."

"O'Neil," I told him, "Pat O'Neil."

"Wait..." he looked wary, "You're THE Pat O'Neil?"

"Well, I wouldn't say 'The' Pat O'Neil. Just google it, and you'll see that I'm really just one of many Pat O'Neils worldwide. It's a pretty popular name. Well, good talkin to ya, Dale, I gotta get going."

"Wait," he gently grabbed my arm with his claw, "we both know what's goin on here. I think we need to talk."

"Well, that's mighty neighborly of ya," I told him, wondering how on earth I was gonna get out of this, "but I got some weldin to do at home and some light paintin, plus, I got that friend I gotta call to ask about the bear/robot fight tonight. He's gettin it on pay-per-view, you should come by..."

He didn't release his claw. He did release a whompin butt bomb, though, and I felt very, very sleepy. Then I blacked out.

1 comment:

kaploy9 said...

Well, I guess that's what happens when your entire identity as a civilian/hero is on the Internet. Of course, then what would we have left to read, Twitter?? Oh, and Best of Luck getting out this one, "Batman".