Archive for March, 2013

Previously: If Barry “took care” of Ahmed, I’d never have a falafel again. I had to get involved.

And now: Just what I wanted. Barry was not a favorite of mine. He was bad looking, but smelled worse. Just one affliction short of an unpleasant trifecta of human refuse. But he was there wanting his money. Well, not his actually. He was just the faceman, if you could call it that, for an even worse individual, Tranks. Yeah, like Cher he favored only one name but at least Tranks wasn’t in evidence.

This was not Barry’s regular time to come calling. So, if he was there which he was, something was up and it wasn’t going to be good. There was some good news in his presence…he didn’t want his money this visit. But he was there on Tranks business. Could this day get any worse? Uhhh, yeah.

It seems that the PETA dust-up was of Trank’s doing. He thought a diversionary tactic, such as the buffalo mozzarella cheese flap, would deflect attention from his real and much more miserable activity. Tranks was running a scam animal rescue operation. He and his gang of community college miscreants were rounding up dogs, there’s a good reason for leash laws folks, and advertising them as rescue dogs.  Hey, no overhead except for the dog food bought at Target. He commanded a high dollar for each one of these Sarah McLachlan represented pooches. Gordon Gekko once said “Greed is good.” Tranks paraphrased that to “Guilt is good.” And it paid off for a while until PETA got wind of it.

5305214442_56a5231e04 Gordon Gekko, not Tranks.

In order for Tranks to get his pups out of town, he had to stage a diversion, hence the Great Buffalo Mozzarella Protest. Damned if it didn’t work. But now Pops was branded as some heartless capitalist and animal hater. OK, he is a capitalist, but he loves dogs. Certainly not as what PETA portrayed him. That said, he wasn’t selling much vegetarian pizza these days. Thanks Tranks! But the diversion was just that for all involved. See, Barry was there to let Pops know what Tranks wanted from him now. An offer that he surely could not refuse was coming down the barrel of this gun and we were all waiting for the blast.

“Pops, Tranks likes you and wants to save you some money and make you some money. You interested?,” Barry coughed up. Those words were like music to Pops but it was the symphony he was about to regret.

Barry continued on with his phlegmy monologue, “It seems like Tranks is really missing his meat pizzas. He wants you to start offering them now.” Pops was suspicious with good reason.

From under his flour-crusted eyebrows, Pop looked at Barry and asked, “Why?”

Barry replied without giving away anything, “Because Tranks has come into quite a supply of fresh meat and wants you to start using it.”

“No, no, no, no,no!” Pop screamed. “No meat! No meat! Did you see what happened here with all those hippies protesting my pizza? No. No!”

“Well Pops, it ain’t gonna be that easy. You see, Tranks has to get rid of those dogs somehow and you’re gonna make them the specialty of the house. Get it?”

4895522092_c111398306 New specialty of the house? Stay tuned!

If Pops could have gotten any whiter, hard considering he was covered in flour, he would have passed for Pat Boone. This was not how he saw this day continuing. “Fog, son, help me with this. Polly, ahh, no forget it Polly. Fog, you, you gotta do something! Barry, you gotta be kidding right?”

Barry wasn’t kidding nor was the newly arrived Trank. OK, it wouldn’t have seemed possible but Pops turned even paler. Could anything be whiter than Pat Boone?

Previously on The Bruce: So the mystery of the envelope was solved; the mob was dispersed; Ahmed was back to polishing the same frigging glass; in short all was as it should be. But not for long. Barry came in looking for his weekly order of baksheesh.

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And now: For those of you out there who don’t know what baksheesh is, here’s a brief explanation. It’s thought to be Persian in origin and means a tip or some such gratuity. It more recent years, it usually mean bribery and that’s what Barry was looking for. And he was looking right at Ahmed and that damned glass. Ahmed was doing his best not to notice Barry which in itself would be an incredible feat to pull off. Barry is, how can you say this diplomatically, (something I’m not really known for), unusual looking. If while under the influence of any number of mind-altering substances, Ovaltine included, one could describe him as the illegitimate love child of a seven foot tall Jeff Goldblum, Sally Struthers, and A-Rod. If not under that kind of influence, that description is still pretty accurate, but nothing would explain the red hair. Don’t ask, but it ain’t my family!

Barry wanted his money, now. Ahmed feigning concern over his falafel grill, was still trying to ignore Barry. With Barry’s shadow looming ever larger, Ahmed was losing his battle. Finally, he gave in, turned and promptly dropped the glass he had been so dutifully polishing for probably 6 years. Well, all good things must end and a new glass started, right? And as far as ending goes, Barry was looking to end Ahmed right then and there. What were we into now?

“Ahmed, you haven’t been behaving. Why haven’t you been returning my calls?”, Barry wanted to know as if he didn’t know already. Barry knew and Ahmed knew he knew and couldn’t stall him any longer. For too many years, Ahmed had been paying Barry off and while I knew it was happening, I didn’t really know why. That was about to change. Dumb-ass me, I never saw the connection. Yeah, Fog Calamari couldn’t figure out some marriages were arranged and others, well, they were ARRANGED if you catch my drift. Only this one involved my half (and half-wit) sister, Polly. Yeah, the same name as our mother. Polly, my Sterno-huffing mother, gave birth to my sister fathered by cheating on Pops with some Electrolux salesman. Yeah, it sucked and in more ways than one. During one of her huffed-up binges, she decided to name her new daughter Polly as if it was the cutest thing in the world. In the family, daughter Polly was called Po as if we were prescient about her life to come. Hell, all one had to do to suss that out was to look at her mother. I didn’t learn this until many years later after I’d been calling Ahmed “Uncle” for the whole time. Now it was time for Ahmed to say “Uncle.” Karma, man.

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For a not small amount, Ahmed, who was later revealed as the Electrolux schmuck and father to Po, paid Barry to marry her. What Ahmed didn’t count on was Barry expecting a regular payroll check for his efforts. In Barry’s favor, he was kind to Po, but not particularly loving or faithful, but then neither was Po to him. Ah, love, right? Barry’s latest visit was due to Ahmed being more than a little late in his continuous dowry. Who knows how long Barry’s kindness would last without his stipend? This had to end now or sooner. If Barry “took care” of Ahmed, I’d never have a falafel again. I had to get involved.

Previously on The Bruce: But, still I now had protesters to deal with along with the ominous thick envelope on my dashboard.

And now:

Leave it to some oozing, warm-blooded, do-good organization to screw things up royally. Pops had been making his buffalo mozzarella pizza for years without a hitch and along comes some hairy-armpitted, unkempt group hell-bent on exacting their pound of flesh or in this case, cheese, from this poor working stiff. Polly was besides herself, which isn’t unusual since she often battles with one if not several of the personalities that dwell with her cranial cavity. Talk about your extended family. Distended would be more like it.

340512743_508b5f403b Part of the extended Calamari family.

Fortunately the protest was peaceful if not somewhat malodorous as most of the protestors hadn’t had intimate relations with a bar of Zest for some time. But then again, Pops pretty much smells the same way all the time, shower or not. But he was getting the kind of gleeful press one reserves for Sarah Palin. The press smelling blood, which again in this case was NOT the case, was going for it all and at the center of it was Pops and by extension Polly and me. And Ahmad wasn’t too happy either. And there was that envelope too.

We called a few of our friends, lapsed Guardian Angels, to help us quell the crowd. The appearance of them in their worn but still proudly worn red berets was enough to instill just the amount of fear into the cheese-huggers. No doubt the large clubs they were carrying also had some effect on them and they left none too quickly. Polly returned to  huffing her almost depleted Sterno can, Ahmad said a prayer with his beads, and Pops offered free pizza to all who helped out. Me, I was just pissed.

The nearest we can figure is that this was a poor version of a flash-mob with nothing better to do, but isn’t that what all of them are about anyway? There didn’t appear to be any real organizing group behind it and we put it behind us. But, now I had to open that envelope.

There was a return address on it, but not one I could identify with anything specific. It was heavy, pretty thick, actually. I opened it with no small amount of trepidation fearing it might contain some biological equivalent to Polly’s cooking, known to render all who partook immobile almost immediately. It’s why Pops did all the cooking. It was Pops manuscript. He had an idea for a book and had sent it out to who knows how many publishers. He thought the world would beat a path to his door with his vegetarian pizza recipes. Pops was nothing if not ever-hopeful.

Well, it was no surprise. The publisher hated it. They thought a cookbook with the questionable title: Roadkill for Vegetarians might turn some people off. Hell, it might even offend them. Pops was crushed. But since he was of good peasant stock, he thought, he believed, another publisher would find the intrinsic merit of this gustatotrial tome, that it would only be a matter of days before it hit the New York Times best seller list. Hey, stranger things have happened in the Calamari family.

DSC_0374 Cover art for Roadkill for Vegetarians cookbook.

So the mystery of the envelope was solved; the mob was dispersed; Ahmed was back to polishing the same frigging glass; in short all was as it should be. But not for long. Barry came in looking for his weekly order of baksheesh.