An Afternoon Convercussion with Arnold

Sometimes it’s hard to know whether someone is malapropsic or just plain tongue twisted. Arnold is one or the other. The jury remains deadlocked.


Arnold is an old friend of mine, literally and figuratively. We go way back to the days of shade-tree mechanics and corner service stations, the days when somebody would pump your gas, check your oil and wash your windshield, even with a couple bucks of gas purchase.

I think it’s safe to say I met Arnold’s feet before I met him. They jutted out from beneath a ’36 Rolls Royce Phantom he was lying beneath while trying to change the oil in the old clunker.

He rotated out on his little flat bed with rollers and I asked, “What’s happening under there?”

     “Lugging an oil leak,” he said.

     “You mean ‘plugging’ an oil leak, right?”

      “Lug, plug, what does it matter when you’re back on your flat looking up at the bottom side of oil pan ready to lump its contents on your head?” It took me a minute to figure that response out.

Anyway, that’s when our friendship began. The year was 1967. And a lot has happened since then for both of us. He’s no longer ‘back on his flat’ but living well in retirement. Me? Well, us real estate speculators are still suffering from a nervous shakedown from the ’08 downmelt.

Arnold comes by when he’s on the coast and we catch up. He has a way of analogizing all events, past and present, with engine functions.

Like dialogues between friends, conversations provoke laughs from escapades of the ‘old days’ mixed with what’s happening now: in America, the Covid curse, the economy, politics but only peripheral reference to women. Age has a way of simplifying some things in life.

     “What do you make of Basement Joe’s politics?” I ask.

     “I’d like to illiterate him and the rest of them from memory.  They all rewind me of burnt-out sparkplugs.”

     “Some say the Covid curse is just a hoax. What do you think?”

     “Well, you gotta take it with a grin of salt, I think. Now you take that Dr. Fogie. Why, he really didn’t say everything he said. He’s amphibious, talks from both corners of his mouth. Plus, he has lots of lavatories to develop the vaccine in.”

      “Well, the president sure has a lot of confidence in him.”

     “The President? Our Exhausted Ruler? The pineapple of politeness? He reminds me of that old pickup I once had that kept backfiring. A lot of hot exhaust. He needs a new set of ball bearings.”

      “Are you referring to our Exalted Head of State by chance, the Immortal One, the suppository of all wisdom?” I’m finding it easy to fall into the malaprop trap.

     “Yeah. I’d like to give him a mind of my piece, some well-frozen words to express my sentiments. Still, he did get rid of some of the allegories that live in the DC swamp.”

     “What do you think about what’s going on in Portland and Seattle?”

      “Things have got out of hand in those smelting pots. They should round up and comprehend all auspicious perpetrators and jail them off to herd.”

      “Looks like there’s a race by women to be the Democratic VP,” I say.

     “Oh, you talking about the woman’s lubrication movement?” He grins even as he says it. I think that comment had been simmering in his brain, looking for a spot to roll in ever since he rolled out from under the Rolls.

I complain about the 108-degree heat index, to which he comments, “It ain’t the heat, brother, it’s the humility” Now, no truer statement has ever been uttered.  Heat and humility are tough to bear.

We get around to speculating on the outcome of the upcoming elections. I ask him, “Arnold, which state do you think will tilt the balance of power?”

He thinks for a minute and replies, “I think California. It’s like the wiring harness in your car. California has a lot of electrical votes.” I think he means ‘voltage,’ but hey, this is Arnold doublespeak.

After we have disgusted, uh, discussed, the state of things, and dissed most politicians, we conclude that even Napoleon had his Watergate, which is the sure fruits of all fruits who have desecrated our national monuments.


Old friends are the best friends. We go together like two peas in a pot or stay connected like a horse and carrot. Now you figure this all out.


Bud Hearn

August 3, 2020