It was already well-past ten, well-past the old man's bedtime, so at first I was startled to hear from him. When your 88-year-old surrogate father calls in what is for him the middle of the night, well, it's more than a little nerve-wracking.
"Uncle Slappy," I said, picking up the horn. "Is everything ok?"
"Ach," he spat, "this is not a question you should be asking. The question of the ferstunkeneh 21st Century is this: is anything ok?"
I gathered in what he was saying like a squirrel after acorns.
"Is anything ok?" He went on. "Will we be killed by terrorists, by deranged gunmen with military rifles, by global warming, by rising sea levels, by Zika virus, by carcinogens in our food, or by a mad toupee who somehow becomes president?"
"Boychick, nothing is ok. The very fact that this cranial merkin is a candidate is proof that as a planet we are getting dumber, proof that we are skidding out of control, proof that the world has been shaved by a drunken barber."
"Well, Uncle Slappy, Hillary is about to speak."
"That is a good thing," he said. "And your Aunt Sylvie is a good woman. While we are watching on the Philco she has just brought me a dish of my favorite."
"What else? Of course, that gives me something else I should worry about."
I let his "timing" sit there like Harry von Zell used to do with Jack Benny.
"And what's that, Uncle Slappy"
"If somehow all the things I mentioned before don't kill me..."
"I'll be too fat to move."
And with he hung up the horn.