Los Osos, Calif.
I have a friend who worked for a livestock newspaper for 40 years who has newspaper ink clogging up his veins. Recently he’s been involuntarily checked into cell block 314 of the Old Farts Senior Dying Center by his three ungrateful children who are getting tired of waiting for their inheritance.
No sooner had he put away the contents of his single suitcase, what was left of a very full life, than his kids put his house up for sale and ripped up the carpet and tore the wallpaper off the walls looking for a safe filled with Krugerands that was no place to be found.
My friend is one of those people who has had a rough life but who has taken advantage of every bad break he ever had. He’s the proverbial person who, when handed lemons in life, made a delightful vodka/lemonade cocktail with the kick of a Missouri mule. So I wasn’t surprised to hear that he’s making the most of being relegated to Heaven’s Waiting Room.
In our last phone conversation my buddy actually seemed excited about his new surroundings. “Just think Lee, Is there a better niche left in the publishing business than a ‘weakly’ newspaper in a rest home? I’ve got a captive audience, they have money to spend and there’s virtually no competition. My readers aren’t plugged into the internet but they’re still desperate for news outside the walls of the convalescent prison. And since they have no short term memory, I can run and re-run the same copy every week and they’ll never catch on. I don’t even have to waste money on an editor.”
He promised to send me a copy of his most recent issue.
I waited with anticipation and a week later I got a copy of Rawhide’s Old Rag. I saw my friend’s photo above a column that was datelined, “Alive, From the Rest Home” in which my friend reported, “It was a slow week here at the Gulag as no one kicked off, there were no new recruits to indoctrinate and only one brave soul attempted to escape. At press time the missing prisoner is being hunted down by bloodhounds and two Swat teams because it’s that time of the month when room rent is due.
“The food continues to deteriorate and there have been rumblings of a food strike because every meal tastes the same, like deep-fried rat, boiled woodchuck’s liver, bird’s nest soup with beets, botulism on a bun with sweet and sour Twinkies for dessert.”
My friend continued, “With 104 female prisoners and only two male inmates there have been no new reportings of the female mugger who continues to try and crawl in bed with my roommate, who remains comatose. There was some excitement last Tuesday when one occupant mistakingly took a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night. And that snap, crackle, pop you heard wasn’t breakfast but our friend Angie falling and breaking her hip. In other news, when ‘the rat lady’ made her special weekly visit she came with five rats but left with only four. The nurses were a little antsy and kept on edge until the missing rat was found in Sonja’s sock drawer. Upon being discovered Sonja said, ‘That rat paid me more attention than my three husbands ever did. And smelled better, too.’”
In the sports section it was reported, “In last week’s wheelchair races Ball Chaser paid off at 5:2 and beat Joy Ride in the worldwide record time of three and a half hours down the hall. Of course we are all looking forward to next week’s champion walker races to see if AirBag can hold off Miss DaMeaner to retain the title. Place your bets with Crooked Kate in room 236. Kate also has two boxes of Cuban cigars that came in with last months contraband. Just remember to shut off your oxygen before lighting up.”
In the calendar section of Rawhide’s Old Rag were listed such exciting activities as how to apply makeup without getting lipstick in your eye; watching the oven preheat; the pros and cons of timed voiding; and how to tell the Somali Prince “no” when he calls and asks for $100,000, even though he seems like a really nice guy and is the only person who ever calls. ❖