How are you? Not too well, I hope, because I've been sick myself and I can't stand people who walk around telling everybody how good they feel when I feel like a 1959 VW stalled on the inside lane on the Golden Gate bridge, in a rain storm, during rush hour.
[quoteright]Actually I don't feel all that bad. I think it's just one of those contrary spells where I go around talking to catfish and dropping lighted matches in peoples' hip pockets. They call it the 'compulsive hot-ass.' It goes over big with the kibitzers, especially when the victim is a pretty girl in tight jeans. I suppose you'd call that last phrase a tautology (tightology?) because all jeans are tight. One girl here wore jeans so tight they cut off her nether circulation and she turned blue from the waist down. She stopped wearing them and nobody noticed except a couple of people who asked her where they could get a pair of those boss jeans with no pockets and a fur crotch.
As far as talking to catfish goes, almost everybody here does that. You get a better brand of conversation out of the catfish than out of the humans because the catfish are born wittier, more intelligent, and they stay in schools all their lives. If there was a catfish Mensa they'd have to limit admission to the top tenth of one percent to keep out the riffraff.
(It seems this whole letter so far is typical of the conversation you get from both catfish and humans around here. They never stop to think that a person could go to a Mensa meeting if all he wanted to hear was some wise-ass making puns.
The entire crew here at the ranch says to send you their love, and to tell you they're looking forward to seeing you at our annual BoozeCruise celebration in July. This year the mosquito mavens are planning to scull their flat-bottomed scows loaded with drunks the entire length and breadth of the Liz Berry Memorial Swamp and Loon Sanctuary. That's a half-acre plot replete with carnivorous butterflies, man-eating frogs, and vampire gnats. The Sanctuary parking lot lies along old Highway 53 between the Last Chance Saloon and the Burnham and Danz Mortuary. Be sure to lock your car otherwise you'll likely come back to find it's either gone, or there's a corpse in it.
But you can't miss it, just go to Calistoga and hang a right. That is if you're coming from San Francisco. If you're coining from Santa Rosa you'd better hang a left at Calistoga or you'll wind up in Chief Rotten Dog's back yard, which is not a place anybody should wind up in on a hot July afternoon.
But at this point in time, as they say on the six o'clock news, it'd be pretty hard to imagine what it's like anywhere on a July afternoon because it's colder here than a snow-snake's lovelife. My toes think they've been marooned in Siberia. The kids built a snowman, and he built a fire. Fishermen set immersion heaters in their fishing holes to get the fish warm enough to bite. They keep the bait warm in the refrigerator. "Two-Step" Swenson, the postperson, went into complete hibernation a week ago. And firewood has gone to ten dollars per cubic inch.
Of course not everybody hangs around for the freezing. Javot the butler, who, you may remember, thinks he's a pedigreed race horse named Handsome Gilbert, packed his nosebag a couple of months ago and cantered off to Hiaieah. But it seems he's not doing too well. Had a collect telephone call from him this morning, said he was running from a group of gentry who wanted him for a 'Baron of Horse' at a barbeque, and fell over an AIDS victim and broke his leg. Says the police are holding him on suspicion of contamination and will either shoot him or send him to San Francisco. He can't make up his mind which he prefers but in the meantime he wants me to send him his back wages so he can bribe a judge.
What back wages? I never hired him for anything. He just showed up on the front porch one morning wearing ceramic flower-pots for shoes. He was trying to peddle some year-old Bay Meadows tickets door to door, and the nearest door to mine is ten miles away. If I owed him anything I wouldn't pay it. But I was feeling magnanimous today so I gave him the Technical Virgin's telephone number at Camp Pendleton where she holed up this winter to console the Marines who didn't get to Granada. She'll help Javot out.
Old Casey, the retired ape who sleeps in my basement, my little sister Vernalee, Old Lady Scaggs who comes on Tuesday to bring the eggs, and that stupid cat who sleeps in the oven, and me, are all healthy now and full of P'n' V as usual, although that stupid cat who sleeps in the oven must have come down with a serious death wish because she has taken a dislike to her cat box and keeps doing her business in Casey's hat.
But Casey stays laid back. "Females," he says, "they all have their little harmless quirks. She don't mean no harm by it, and you've got to admit that I do look debonair with a turd on my head."
The same to you,
cartoon by Burt Schmitz
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