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.
“Yes?” I asked, obligingly.
The Old Man hung up the blower.
I sat and did nothing.
Like a one-legged lion.