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Thread: Auntie's Fairly Flailing Tales #6: "Why The Sea Has Oil Slicks"

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    Auntie's Fairly Flailing Tales #6: "Why The Sea Has Oil Slicks"

    Auntie’s Fairly Flailing Tales #6: “Why the Sea Has Oil Slicks”

    by Aunt Shecky
    All Rights Reserved

    Despite his seemingly bullish persona, Butchie Falzone had spent every day of his conscious existence in a state of sheer bemusement. That it happened to be Christmas Eve made not a nickel’s worth of difference.

    For instance, an occasional oasis of romance materialized only between extended periods of drought. For the time being, Butchie crossed his fingers that this latest lady friend was more than a mirage.

    On the upside she’d been dropping hints about taking the relationship to “the next level;” Butchie desired a similar course, though not necessarily in the same building. From the woman’s perspective, the way to her heart was for Butchie to “bond” with her son.

    That opened a whole ‘nother can of nematodes right here. He had a hard enough time remembering the name of the Skirt herself, let alone that of her spawn. (The lad had one of those trendy handles that drove teachers nuts at the prospect of distinguishing among six or seven Jaydens or Finns on the same roster.) Butchie had been trying a serviceable workaround of addressing the kid by the universal movie term for males under the age of ten, but Butch knew deep in his gut that “Buddy” would never comfortably evolve into “Son.” Which brings us to the crux of the issue: Butchie couldn’t stand the brat.

    Case in point: the lad had hurled himself supine upon the kitchen floor, while propelling his lower extremities round and round like the hands on a haywire clock and screeching an alarm loud enough to rival the fabled Last Trump.

    Undoubtedly accustomed to such outbursts, the gal pal took it as calmly as an undertaker at the peak of a plague. She extended her hand toward the floor, demonstrating that this episode could represent a breakthrough in the family dynamic for Butchie – a golden opportunity, as it were.

    “Who me? No, no, I don’t think it’s right to intervene,” Butchie said, adding. “I mean, it’s not really my place –“

    Even so, she didn’t back off. She brought to mind the Ghost of Christmas Future from Scrooge (1951) as she stiffly stood above the tantrum and its perpetrator and coldly pointed down.

    At that point dropped halfway to his news to confront the beast. “Hey, Buddy–“ an overture offered in good faith instantly rejoined with a demonic snarl straight out of The Exorcist (1973.)

    Butchie shot the mother a helpless look. “What set him off?”

    “Oh, he just happened to hear the weather report saying we have little or no chance of snow tonight.”


    “So he’s afraid Santa can’t come without snow.”

    Butchie shook his head. “You lost me.”

    She sighed the kind of “exasperated sigh” only sitcom moms can pull off. “Because Santa’s preferred method of travel is by sleigh.”

    “Yeah,” said the kid, finally changing the gasping grunts to a semblance of discernible language, “and sleighs can only run on snow.”

    “Wait–uh, ain’t there reindeer ? And don’t they fly? Fugedabboutit, kid. Santa’ll get here by any means necessary. If worse comes to worse, he could always call an Uber.”

    Another matronly sigh, this time a nostalgic one, ŗ la June Allyson or Dorothy Maguire in a two-hankie biopic on the Turner Classics channel. “Still, it would’ve been nice to have a white Christmas this year."

    “Yeah, right, just like the ones we used to know. But nobody ever thinks about all the problems a blizzard can cause, especially on Christmas Eve – flight delays, airport closings, highway accidents – all on account of that cockamamie song!”

    This last opinion was particularly ill-advised, for its mere expression plunged the tiny tot into a fresh exhibition of weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. Almost as vociferous were his mother’s pleas for Butchie to “do something.”

    “Like what? Call 9-1-1?” It crossed Butchie’s mind that a solid wallop across the kisser would do the job.

    The lady persisted. “Can’t you see the poor thing is upset? Why don’t you try to distract him?””

    Not a simple solution, at least from Butchie’s point of view. He and the kid had zero in common. The youngster most assuredly did not share Butch’s passion for movies or horse racing. Butchie couldn’t even interest him in a friendly little round of liar’s poker, even with the offer to stake him to a couple of dollar bills to play with.

    “Now, now,” she cooed, “let’s see my big boy quiet down –“

    Butchie did a double-take. “Wha? Wha? I wasn’t saying any–“

    “I was talking to my son! Now, why don’t you just calm down and let Mr. Falzone tell you a nice bedtime story, Honey. Okay?”

    A story? Really? Who did she think he was? A reincarnation of Mr. Rogers? Captain Kangaroo?

    “Gee, Kid, I’d like to help you out, but I don’t know no stories.” He said, attempting a faux apology amid decided limited acting skills, his success with the aforementioned liar’s poker notwithstanding. Wait. Yeah, he did remember a couple of tales – only they weren’t rated G or even PG-13.

    “On second thought, maybe I do ‘member one. My aunt told it to me way back in the day when I was just a little sh–, er, squirt like you. So you ready?”

    Despite the absence of sugarplums –whatever the heck they were – the kid was all nestled and snug under the covers with Butchie sitting next to the little youth bed like Peter Falk in The Princess Bride. (1987)

    “Okey-dokey. Here’s my aunt’s story “– cleaned up a bit – “which goes a little somethin’ like this:

    “Once upon a time, make that one Christmas Eve, there was this guy who was having a hard time makin’ ends meet, ya know what I mean? The poor schlub tried his damned-er - darndest, but he always came up short. So you gotta feel sorry for the poor bas-er, guy when he had to go home and face his wife with the bad news: there was no dough for Christmas.

    “Hey, and what d’ya know the little woman takes it like a trouper. She goes, ‘Oh, that’s all right, Dear. My brother’s dropping by with a couple of stockin’ stuffers for the kids, and he staked us to a free turkey!‘

    “Well, maybe the wife’s thinking everything’s hunky-dory with her big hero brother saving Christmas like Ernest (1988), but I gotta tell ya her husband wasn’t all that thrilled.

    “Soon enough the brother-in-law shows up, in his fancy-schmanzy duds -- custom-made suit, cashmere scarf, the whole nine. He struts around the dingy apartment, all the time looking like he’s smelling something really, really bad.

    “Then he goes ‘Just dropping by to wish you a very Merry Christmas, Sis.’ He gives his sister a quick hug and moves in to shake our guy’s hand, but at the very last second he fakes ‘im out. That must’ve been pretty humiliatin’ but what made it even worse was that the guy thought maybe the rich dude was gonna lay an envelope on ‘im, a little sompin’-sompin’ to help get the family through the holidays, ya know what I mean? But let me tell ya about these one percenters, kid. Tryin’ to get cash out of ‘em is like tryin’ to get that last bit o’ mustard from one of those plastic bottles. You can squeeze and squeeze but ain’t nothin’ ever gonna come out.

    “Anyway, the brother as usual says he’s runnin’ late and has to run, which means of course he wants to get the heck out of there ASAP. But he stays just long enough to stick the needle in our guy, smart-mouthin’ and dissin’ him with how he’s got it made and the poor guy ain’t got squat. Lord it over him, ya know what I mean?

    “The rich brother-in-law presents the guy with a turkey, which if ya wanna know the truth looked like it was way, way past its sell-by date. A scrawny looking thing if there ever was one. It looked like a reject for the stand-in for the lead in
    Howard The Duck (1986.) And would you believe, the brother-in-law gets all pissed -er, mad as heck that the guy didn’t thank him enough! To top it all off, instead of saying Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, not even a cold-hearted Season’s Greetings, he goes, ‘You know what? I think you should take this turkey and go straight to -– forgive me, Kid, there’s no family-hour way to say this –- go straight to Hell!’

    “And what d’ya know, the poor guy he puts on his jacket, takes the turkey and makes for the exit. Naturally the wife wants to know where he’s headed and he says, ‘Exactly where your brother told me to go!’

    “So here it is Christmas Eve, getting late, all the stores are closed, most folks are already home enjoying the holiday with their families, and the streets are deserted. Not a soul is around except for one straggler – a pretzel man closing his cart down for the night.

    “The Pretzel Man is hardly looking at our guy, and he’s all ‘Too bad, Mac, you’re too late, come back tomorrow, blah-blah-blah,’ but then he actually sees him, all forlorn and depressed and everything– so he feels sorry for him, ya get me? Then he goes, ‘You know what? Ya look like the kinda guy that’s been through the wringer. And on Christmas Eve yet! Maybe life’s been handing you a raw deal lately, am I right?’

    “The guy shrugged. He couldn’t deny it.

    “Then the Pretzel Man starts jumping up and down, all excited and happy and sh--, er stuff. ‘So I was right! Can I call ‘em or can I call ‘em? I really wanna help you out, and after all it is Christmas Eve. So listen, fella, I’ll tell you what I’m gonna do. I know some–- uh, people -- who owe me a favor. They’re fences–, er, they used to install fences till they switched careers to become antique dealers. Let me send ‘em a text, and they’ll give you something nice for the holidays, free of charge. What d’ya say?’

    “Our guy starts shaking his head. He’s like, ‘Oh, no, you don’t have to do this. I mean, it’s very, very kind of you, and I appreciate it, but please don’t bother.’

    “The Pretzel Man won’t take no for an answer. He goes, ‘It’s no bother! Like I said, these guys owe me a favor. Your end of the deal is a piece o’ cake. Just give ‘em that turkey that’s in your hand.’

    “Our guy can’t believe it. ‘This here turkey? This half-defrosted thing that’s dripping all over the sidewalk? Why would anybody in his right mind want this?’

    “ ‘Beats the hell, er, heck outa me,’ The Pretzel Man says. ‘These dudes can buy all the fresh and frozen turkeys they want. And I ain’t talking off-brand or store-brand, we’re talking top-o-the-line Butterballs, ya get me? Alls I can think of is that they don’t want to think they’re givin’ up anything for nothin’. So when they give you the item, you give ‘em the turkey, no questions asked. I’ll let ‘em know you’re on your way,’ he says. ‘All you gotta do is walk down this street about a half a block until you come to the abandoned warehouse. Knock on the door and my pals’ll take it from there.’

    “So the Poor Guy starts heading down the avenue, when all of a sudden the Pretzel Man yells after ‘im, ‘Wait! I forgot to tell ya – they’ll offer you anything in their storehouse, but whatever they offer you, not matter how good a deal it seems, turn ‘em down. Hold out until you get your hands on the item on the third shelf behind the shopkeeper’s left shoulder. Tell ‘im you want the quern and nothin’ else.'

    “ ‘Got it. Take the quern. Right.’ So the poor guy starts walking, then stops short and turns around. ‘Uh, what’s a quern?’

    “The Pretzel Man shrugs and goes, ‘Beats the hell,heck outa me, but that’s what you should ask for. The quern.’

    “ ‘The quern. Ho-kay. The quern. Right.’ The poor guy starts walking aagin, but now there’s a little bit of hesitance in his step. He’s getting a little nervous bout the whole deal, ya know? The Pretzel Man is still a little ways up the street, watchin’ his every move, every once in a while going, ‘That’s right, Pal. Keep going. Go ahead.’

    “Around this point the poor guy feels a little like Lorraine Bracco in that scene with DeNiro in Goodfellas (1990.) He sees the abandoned warehouse, and is about to raise his shaky, white-fingered fist to knock on the door when it crashes open. The poor guy gets a whiff of something really putrid, ya know? all smoky and chemically that would’ve made him lose his lunch, if he actually had enough dough to buy lunch that day.

    “So now the poor guy takes one look at the shopkeeper and nearly sh–,er, does a mess in his pants. That’s how scared he was. The shopkeeper looked like a cross between Freddy from The Nightmare on Elm Street franchise and Rudy Giuliani. All around him are his helpers all scurrying around like Minions in the three Despicable Me flicks and the one with their own name, but physically they looked more like the mogwais in Gremlins and Gremlins 2.

    “Anyway, the shopkeeper makes the poor guy give him his turkey and goes, ‘What d’ya want in return? I ain’t got all night. How about a nice Rolodex watch?’

    “The poor guy couldn’t believe it. ‘A Rolex watch?’

    “The shopkeeper goes “No, a Rolodex watch. It comes with a built-in index with names and addresses of all your business contacts. No? Then how about this fine objet d’art, this
    lovely statue of a naked lady with a clock where her stomach ought to be?’ *

    “The creepy store owner keeps making suggestions. “No? Toaster-oven? Single-cup coffee maker with those hideously expensive drop-in pods? What about a Blender/Mixer Combo? George Foreman grill?’

    “ ‘No? Why not please your wife with a silky negligee? What about your girlfriend on the side? Perfume? Designer chocolates? Two dozen long-stemmed American Beauty roses in the middle of December?’

    “The poor guy stood his ground. He gpes, ‘Gimme that contraption on the third shelf. Up there. Right behind your left shoulder.’

    “ ‘You men the quern? That piece o’ junk? Ya sure?’

    “ ‘ Yeah,’ the poor guy says. ‘That’s what I want. I ain’t leavin’ here without it.”

    “So the poor guy could tell the creepy merchant wasn’t crazy about giving up this quern thing, but a deal’s a deal. He goes, ‘And you ain’t leavin’ here till I tell ya how to operate it. This is old, but it’s a pretty powerful piece o’ equipment. So this is what you do–‘ Then he whispers in the poor guy’s ear.

    “ The poor guy says, ‘Wow! That’s amazing! If it does what you say it does, my life just got a whole lot better! Thanks a lot!’ He starts heading out the door, but the shopkeeper grabs him by his shirt and pulls him back, just like an usher did to me years ago when I was kid trying to sneak into the Strand Theatre in downtown Hogwash.

    So the Giuliani lookalike tells the guy that though it’s great he knows how to get it going, it’s more important to know how to make it stop. So he gives him instructions for that too.

    “Long story short – I know: too late. Anyway, the guy brings the contraption , slams it on the kitchen table, and says, “Grind, grind as fast as you can. Make something nice for the poor little man. Beer!” With that, the machine started to hum, whir, then rumble, rock back and forth and then out pops a nice frosty glass o’ beer. Then another. Then another.”

    “ The poor guy goes, ‘Whoops! That’s enough.’ He didn’t forget what the creepy guy said about how to make it stop, so he followed those steps, and it stopped.

    “The wife couldn’t believe it, until the poor guy conjured up a nice steak dinner for the whole family, a Christmas tree, toys for the kids, anything, everything.

    “They were having a swell time. It was beginning to be the best Christmas they ever had, you know? Then the brother-in-law has to go and show up again and ruin the whole night.
    The poor guy and his wife hastily grab the quern and kick it under the table. The rich guy goes, ‘ Sorry, folks,’ “had to pop back to retrieve two hundred fifty dollars’ worth of my custom-made suede gloves. Oh, here it is! ‘ When he bends down to pick up the lost glove, he notices the machine. ‘And what have we here?’

    “The poor guy tries to cover. ‘Oh, nothin’! Just an old piece o’ crap I was gonna take to the dump, nothing to be concerned about –‘

    “But one of the kids kinda put the kibosh on it. ‘Oh, no, Uncle!’ he cries. ‘It’s a magical machine. Look at this.’ Then the kid goes and demonstrates how it works, conjures up a whole army of little wooden soldiers, all marching out of the mouth of the machine, one by one.

    “The rich brother-in-law is so impressed he doesn’t notice exactly how the poor guy makes it stop. Anyhow, he sees it, he wants it for himself. ‘I’m just gonna borrow this for a little while,’ he lies. ‘I’ll bring it right back tomorrow morning.’

    “The poor guy tries to stop him. ‘Wait! I have to tell you how to –‘

    “ He says, ‘Tell me tomorrow, Bro. Right now I gotta run.’

    “So now the rich guy is in a tizzy. He’s got no intention of ever returning the magic machine, but he’s so greedy, he’s going to get everything he can out of it. He’s already filthy rich, but like all filthy rich folks, he wanted to get even filthier. He says to himself. ‘Hmm, let’s see. What kind of commodity can I get that will bring me a ton of dough real quick?’

    “Well, right now the price of a barrel of crude oil is up a little after being dirt cheap for a while. But back when this story all went down oil was the thing everybody in the whole wide world wanted. It was going for around a hunert and five bucks a barrel at the time. Oil! That’s the thing the rich guy wanted the quern to make.

    “He had his chauffeur drive him out to his estate on the southern shore of Long Island. Nice little fourteen million dollar shack right on the waterfront. For all his dough, he was a really dumb bunny, but he knew enough to know that he needed a place to store all this oil so he could sell it. So he hires some workers with bulldozers to come on the grounds dig a big hole, like the deepest well in the universe, ya know? Then he places the quern right next to the hole and lets ‘er rip. The oil starts flowing, first slowly, then at a pretty good clip.

    “It churns and churns and pumps and pumps and all this oil comes keeps gushing out. Pretty soon the deep hole is filled over the top, but the oil keeps coming, flowing out all over the place faster and faster, like the buckets full of water in “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” segment in Fantasia (1940.) The workmen are yelling at the rich guy, ‘Hey! Maybe you oughta stop that thing!’

    “Meantime he rich guy ‘s getting himself covered head to toe with that thick greasy liquid. He picks up the machine and tries pounding it, shaking it, turning it upside down, nothing helps. Like the Hits on early sixties radio, the crude oil just keeps on coming.

    “The oil flows across every square inch of his huge piece of property, it gets both outside and inside his mansion, all over his vehicles, everywhere in every car, except inside the engine where it could’ve done some good , that is, if was refined gasoline and not crude oil. But it kept flowing and flowing, till finally the rich guy picks up the quern, runs across the oil-slicked lawn, slippin’ and slidin’ all the way, and throws the quern into the Atlantic Ocean.

    “The thing gurgled a little, coughed up a couple of dark-colored bubbles, and sank into the sea. But it never stopped pumpin’. And it’s still pumpin’ this very day.
    “So don’t believe anything you see in movies like Deep Water Horizon. This is really why the sea has oil slicks.”

    Having ended his tale, Butchie Falzone uncharacteristically felt pleased with himself, not only for remembering his aunt’s meandering yarn, but also – so it seemed – scoring some points with his lady friend by successfully escorting her child into Dreamland. But not so fast there, my good man–

    The tiny tot was by no means deep in slumber but fully conscious in the edgiest of ways, a fact that did not escape his mother’s notice. “Oh. You’re still awake! You know Santa’s not going to arrive until you’re fast asleep! Maybe you’d like Mr. Falzone to tell you another story.”

    With that, the child sprang up as if a velociraptor from the first Jurassic Park (1993)had caught his scent. “No! No! No!” he shrieked. “Please Mama, no!” I’ll clean my room! I’ll take out the trash every night! “ He jumped on the floor and crawled over to the point where his mother stood. In a reprise ** of the previously mentioned scene from the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol, the kid made like Alistair Sim: while tightly clutching the hem of her garment, he looked up with desperate, pleading eyes. “I’ll do anything! Anything! Only please don’t make me listen to another story from him!”

    That was a pretty good clue for Butchie to take his leave. Romantically speaking, it was back to the desert, like Hope and Crosby in the Road movies. But not before he gave his final line, heard in every holiday film, road show, and animated special ever shown, performed, or broadcast: “Merry (or alternately ‘Happy’ ) Christmas to All, and to All, a good night.”


    Thanks to the late and certainly great Allen Sherman


    That’s “reprise” with a short “I”– rhyming with “refreeze,” just as the late (and also great) Frank Sinatra pronounced the name of his record company after he split with Capitol. It’s not “reprize” as wrongfully pronounced by contemporary emcees and such. Or the folks who think “bemusement” is a word to describe a park with rides. Or put the accent on the second syllable in “formidable.” It’s “FORmidable.” And–well, that’s enough shaggy dog stories for now, except one more thing, for old times sake:

    Merry Xmas Play-by-Play

    Last edited by AuntShecky; 01-14-2018 at 07:49 PM.

  2. #2
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    The funniest story I read of late. I particularly enjoyed the language.
    "I seemed to have sensed also from an early age that some of my experiences as a reader would change me more as a person than would many an event in the world where I sat and read. "
    Gerald Murnane, Tamarisk Row

  3. #3
    TheFairyDogMother kiz_paws's Avatar
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    What a wonderfully told tale, Auntie!
    Loved it!
    Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty
    ~Albert Einstein

  4. #4
    Inexplicably Undiscovered
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    Thank you very much, Danik and Kiz Paws! Since it was Yuletide at its conception, yours fooly must've been channeling Damon Runyon, maybe a little too much influence from Guys and Dolls and The Lemon Drop Kid? In any event, glad you enjoyd this. Happy New Year!

  5. #5
    Registered User fudgetusk's Avatar
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    Hhm. Don't know about this one. Good writing. All the film references seemed a bit much, especially adding the years. The story within the story reminded me of a children's story about a pot that kept producing porridge. I would give this five out of ten.

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