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Sounds Like Fun



Jimmy Chimichanga is holding this dollar bill up to the sun and eyeballing it like there was a picture of Daryl Hannah on it.

"I don't care how many times you look, it's still just a dollar," I say helpfully.

"Yeah, boy," says Yogi. "Every morning I wake up, I peep under the sheets. But it's always just my old lady there, permeating the landscape."

"No, no," says Jimmy. "Look at the back of this bill."

So we look and in red ink is written: "May this dollar go to someone who needs it much more. L.J.D. Ohio."

"Ain't he the philanthropist?" complains Jimmy. "Why didn't he put his good wishes on a twenty? One of them pretty pink ones that makes Andrew Jackson look like a stud muffin?"

We are sitting around on the benches across the little stone bridge by the City Park Casino. Sometimes we come here with a Sunday paper and a box of donuts and discuss how the world should be operated.

I am stuck with the front section and an apple fritter. "Say, did y'all see that old dude popped that lawyer on TV the other day?" I ask.

"Yeah, boy!" roars Yogi. "Man, them TV cameramen just kept filming while the shooter walked away and the victim's laying on the ground beggin' for help. 'Like to help ya, pal, but this is great TV.'"

"And when the shooter's trying to shoot him, the lawyer is jumping around behind this tree," Jimmy says. "It looked like two kids playing 'Gotcha Last.' Boy, if not for that tree, we got us one less lawyer."

"It's enough to put you against urban green spaces," snorts Yogi.

"Here comes that sad sack Anton," I observe. "You might want to bury them donuts."

"Man, if I could just get retired," says Jimmy, licking the glazed sugar off his fingers. "It's a role I was born to play."

"My girl told me I was a couple of prepositions short," I contribute. "She said first I had no place to retire from and second, I had nothing to retire with."

So Anton walks up, and we bat it around for a minute and he says, "Man, you got some dirty ways!" a couple of times until I ask about it.

"It's a catchphrase," he explains. "Like Clint Eastwood saying 'A man's got to know his limitations.' It'll make me cool."

So naturally we ask all about it. It turns out that some dame -- maybe it was several -- told Anton he was no fun. So he has set out to become more popular with catchphrases and things. "All I have to do is be more fun," persists Anton.

"Yeah," murmurs Jimmy. "And all I gotta do to be president is get elected."

"You got the prepositions all wrong," I say helpfully. "You're to be made fun of, not someone you have fun with."

"You better listen, Anton," agrees Yogi. "That boy knows his prepositions."

"I can't help you, Anton," Jimmy Chimichanga says gravely. "I was just born with a great sense of fun."

"Seriously, I'm plenty of fun," insists Anton. "I've been working on my catchphrases, and I've taken every dance lesson known to man. Ballroom, swing, Cajun, tango ..."

"You're a host's delight, all right," agrees Yogi. "But you got a lower lip that hides your chin, and you probably frown in your sleep."

"He's Eastern European," I say by way of explanation. "They only get chuckles out of pogroms and famines."

"I been at a party with you," remembers Jimmy. "We was at my niece's wedding reception before the little tramp asked me to leave. Anyways, you just kept talking about, what, fasting and purging? People with their jaws full of free food and you wanna talk about purging? Like they say, you walking into a room is like three other people walking out."

"Yeah, I seen you in action, Anton," I say. "A party and you was surrounded by skirts, all full of somebody else's tequila. And what was you talking about? About how many email questions you answered every day. You know, 'Do you think Saddam will enter the Iowa primary?' Man, those skirts fled."

Anton looks a bit crestfallen. We all swap sections of the Sunday paper. I get the society section and am crushed to learn that my name is not in there for the 4,672nd straight edition. Yogi gets the money section and says, "Here's another one of them economic-impact stories. Says it'll mean another 274 jobs for this area. Man, if all these stories was true, everyone in New Orleans would have to work three jobs."

"You fellas give me a call the next time there's a party," says Anton, leaving. "Don't forget the forgotten man."

A large group of kids pile out of a Sunday-school bus across the lagoon and start climbing over the playground stuff, making a joyful noise unto the Lord. "Parkview Tavern ought to be open by now," says Jimmy Chimichanga, glancing at his watch. "Let's get a Bloody Mary. It's starting to sound too goddamn much like fun around here."


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