Paul Barresi, Jeff Lowe and I had lunch recently in downtown Washington, DC. The conversation was stimulating, but would you want to linger over dessert with someone who belches loudly, eats with his hands, and wipes his lips on his tie? Neither did Paul and Jeff.
I ran into Jeff again at the Tidal Basin a few weeks later; he was looking at the cherry blossoms with his wife and kids, dodging about 6 skillion other people who had the same idea. They were looking for the trees that beavers had nibbled on a few years ago. Yup, these stately, carefully groomed century-old gifts from the Empire of Japan are, to a beaver, brunch. The people in our noble democracy rose as one and said "Save the cherry trees!" And the National Park Service said "Nolo problemo." And the people continued "but don't hurt the beavers!" And the National Park Service said "we'll get back to you on the beaver thing." Their plan, it turns out, was to have Officer Jerry bring his 10 gauge in the next day and give the toothy rodents a taste of federal hospitality. A box of shot would have cost three bucks, but instead they had to trap and relocate the beavers and fence in some of the tastier trees in case they missed a beaver, or in case the beavers came back and ignored the "No Beavers" sign. Pay your taxes!
John Peterson recently had lunch with the long-lost Dean Atkinson, who is a professor of chemistry at Portland State University in Oregon. Dean-o is hale. His wife is a college professor, too, but their two boys are unemployed moochers. Maybe they'll start paying their way when they get to high school. Dean, like me, has been published! My paper, "Our Friend the Crossing Guard," was a masterpiece of primary school literature, while Dean squanders his meager talents on such drivel as "Ozone Modulation of Volatile Hydrocarbons Using Membrane Introduction Mass Spectrometry." How the hell else are you going to modulate volatile hydrocarbons?! I bet he got grant money, too.
Dreamgirl and professor Leslie Weston, wife of deer camp legend Paul Weston, is moving to Australia for some academic thing. She'll be there for years. Paul told me about it, but it involves some pretty big words and my mind wandered. Anyway, he will finish raising future dreamgirl and current high school student Nicole, then join Leslie down under. Paul is looking forward to hunting kangaroos, which, unlike deer and Leslie, rarely hide behind trees.
Somewhere in Japan a family proudly displays a photo album featuring our very own Monti. Bob Montione was visiting Niagara Falls with his wife, Jennie, and their two kids, Allison and Justin, when he noticed a car load of Japanese stuck in the snow. He helped them out, then, on a hunch born of his observation that their tires sucked, followed them around town, pushing their car out of snow every couple of hundred yards. Now they think that this is a service provided for foreign tourists, and next year when they visit Minnesota they will ask for Monti. Soon cars in Japan will have "Monti Buttons," which, when pressed, will summon hearty men to push the car out of trouble. Statues of Monti will start appearing across Japan, and he will be revered as a god.
Neil Best and Mike McCoy continue their weekly tennis matches. Mike and Neil are fraternity brothers as well as brothers-in-law through marriage. This is, as we know from our study of Kentucky, incest. They don't seem to mind, and we may consider them further victims of our permissive "anything goes" culture, in which underage girls walk around nearly nekkid, and the hippity-hoppers with their baggy pants annoy the bejeebers out of the rest of us. It's a world gone mad. Nekkid except for the silky drawers and tight halters. Silky, silky drawers.