Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Uncle Slappy and the Freak Show.

The house phone rang—the land line—which can mean one of three things: 1) A politician is calling asking for money or a vote; 2) A telemarketer is calling asking for dough, or 3) It’s Uncle Slappy with a bug up his nether indignity.

Fortunately for me, it was Uncle Slappy with his usual palaver.

“Boychick,” he began. “Did I ever tell you about your cousin Solly Blattstein?”

“Solly Blattstein,” I repeated, disbelieving the name. “I don’t think you have.”

“I don’t know how he did it, but somehow Solly came into a little money when he was still a young man. Maybe he won it on a horse race—he liked the horses, Solly did. Maybe he held up a grocery. In any event, Solly had a little money.”

“Good for Solly,” I said. “There’s not a lot bad you can say about money.”

“But what Solly did with it,” Slappy continued. “He opened up a Freak Show down a side-street near Coney Island. He called it ‘New York’s Worst Freak Show.’”

“And was it a big success? Did Solly become an Impresario of the Odd?”

“It was the biggest of all successes. And Solly made money hand-over-fist. Who wouldn’t go to something called ‘New York’s Worst?’ The public, such as it is, thought Solly was being modest. They poured in in droves.”

“Oy,” I interjected sagaciously.

“He had some ridiculous acts. The World’s Tallest Midget—he was 5’6. He featured the Bearded Man. The un-Tattooed Lady.”

I repeated my oy and added a veys mir for good measure. That did not deter Uncle Slappy, however.

“But the pinochle of Solly’s Freak Show was his one-armed Lion Tamer.”

“A one-armed Lion Tamer,” I repeated “that must have been dangerous.”

“Not at all,” Slappy assured me. And then he waited and waited until the moment was just right.

“Solly’s lion…”

“Yes?” I asked, obligingly.


The Old Man hung up the blower.

I sat and did nothing.

Like a one-legged lion.

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