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From where he's standing -- on top of a couple of old soft-drink cases stacked next to the barber's chair -- this is what Pee-Wee can see, from left to right:

Jimmy Chimichanga, the Professor, me my own self, a guy who looks like he participated in the Battle of Gettysburg, and a father-son team who resembles the once and future generations of the Episcopal school system. We are all competing for the available supply of magazines. Winners get the Penthouses; losers get the Mechanics Illustrated.

"Next! Next!" growls Pee-Wee. "I ain't getting no taller, you know."

"You're already looking down on a gerbil," quips Jimmy, sinking into the barber's chair. "A very short gerbil."

"The way this works," explains Pee-Wee, "is that you tilt back your head exposing your throat and I hold the razor."

"Say, why do they call you Pee-Wee?" asks Jimmy.

Pee-Wee used to be a bantamweight boxer or wrestler. "I don't have a clue," he answers.

"That makes you clueless," notes Jimmy.

"Hmmph," says Pee-Wee. "I wouldn't talk so much if I was you. My hands got sorta shaky."

"Say, did you see where they filmed that movie about John McCain at the Falstaff Brewery?" I ask the room. "Said that part of Gravier Street looked like the Hanoi Hilton."

"I remember that rooftop beer garden; they used to give company parties up there," Jimmy Chimichanga pipes up. "One night, I'm a coupla quarts up, and I try to walk down some steps, and I got lost in that place."

"How long were you lost?" inquires Pee-Wee. "McCain got out after five years."

"Daniel Boone once said this," reports the Professor, "'I have never been lost. But once I was bewildered for three days.'"

"Here's something that bewilders me," asserts Jimmy. "The last few weeks, I've been reading about these raids; they're hauling in all kinds of pit bulls. Thirty-seven in this place, 143 in that place. Like they're all being liberated -- and then you read that they all get the gas chamber. Boy, I bet them dogs really appreciate getting away from those cruel owners ..."

"... And into the loving arms of those compassionate executioners," finishes Pee-Wee, with a dramatic flourish of his barber's scissors passably close to Jimmy's cheek. "Now here's what bewilders me. I'm watching Miss Universe on TV and it's coming from Thailand. And some of the contestants -- and by the way, this was very good year -- are frolicking on the beach, where they've got this huge tower. Must go up about 50 feet, and at the top is this little hut with an old guy inside. And they have the nerve to call this the Tsunami Early Warning System. It's not a pretty sight."

"I'll tell you fellas what ain't a pretty sight!" the Gettysburg veteran chimes in excitedly.

"Now see what you've done!" the Professor complains in our direction. "You've gone and wakened the dead."

"What ain't pretty is my son getting arrested for petty theft. Breaking into vending machines," says the Gettysburg veteran in a squeak that makes it hard to tell if he's laughing or crying. "Petty theft, and he's 60 years old. The baby of the family."

"That's rough," agrees Jimmy. "You musta been mor-tee-fied."

"I want a new shuffle," declares the Head of the Crime Family. "I'm trying to get a hold of some of them Marilyn Monroe pills. You know, you take three, wait about a half hour till you're feeling as good as you felt in years. Then you take the other 25."

"Wait. Get your haircut first," protests Pee-Wee.

"I'm not sure if they're covered by my Medicare," concedes the Gettysburg veteran.

"Don't worry," Pee-Wee says. "You're too old to die."

"Abstain, you jumbo shrimp!" cries the Professor. "That man has the years, if not the desire, to be your father!"

"I didn't mean nothing," sniffs Pee-Wee.

"Don't bother my barber," intercedes Jimmy. "Pee-Wee, can you get me a dozen of them little blue ones?"

Pee-Wee mumbles something only he can hear.

"How's that commercial go?" continues Jimmy. "'In case of an erection lasting more than four hours, consult your physician.' Four hours! My physician! I'm calling everyone I know! The Saints cheerleaders and a professional photographer!"

At this time, the Episcopal Poppa has gotten all red in the face and he sputters, "I didn't bring my son here to hear this sort of talk."

"No, I'm sure you never," soothes Pee-Wee. "But sometimes, life just hands you a little lagniappe."

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