My good friend, Leon, a very inciteful man, doesn’t exactly cotton to holidays.
When Leon was a wee lad, he was the smallest child in his church. Leon got drafted to play Little Baby Jesus in their live Nativity scene. When they were wrapping him up in swaddling clothes his arms got stuck inside the material. They wrapped him so tightly that his face got beet red. He looked like a cardinal wrapped in a floured tortilla. Little Baby Jesus Leon’s manger was in close proximity to the donkey’s ass. Two days prior the donkey had gotten into some soured hay and developed colic. The choir of angels was singing “Away in a Manger.” When they got to the line, “…but little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes…” the donkey let loose a burst of flatulence with the force of a ten-megaton methane bomb.
Once he got his breath, Leon wailed at the top of his lungs. Mary tried to shush him. Nothing doing. Joseph slapped his hand over Leon’s mouth, which might have worked if Leon hadn’t just gotten his full set of baby teeth. Little Baby Jesus Leon bit the bejeezus out of Joseph’s hand. Joseph jerked his hand back, but the four teeth Joseph ripped from the jaws of eternal live dug deep and hit a bleeder. Joseph screamed, “Damn you little s**t!” and absconded to the ER. That was the last time Leon’s church had a live Nativity scene.
A couple of years later, Leon wanted a bunny for Easter. Leon’s parents begrudgingly obliged him. They put Leon’s Easter basket in the cage with the bunny. After Leon loved on the bunny a while, he went for the mini malted milk balls scattered liberally throughout the basket. Leon was a dozen balls in before it struck him: these weren’t mini malted milk balls at all. That night they had fried rabbit for dinner. Leon just ate more mini malted milk balls.
Leon despises St. Valentine’s Day, a holiday created by Hallmark to sell cards and spread guilt. Up front Leon told his main squeeze, No Account Annie, that he didn’t observe St. Valentine’s Day―the massacre excluded.
Thank goodness for friends like Shawty, Doctor of Juris Impudence. Addie confided in Shawty that, despite Leon’s aversion to St. Valentine’s Day, she had gotten him a card and a gift and planned to surprise him. Shawty, being the sly fox that she is, gave Leon a head’s up. Leon, frustrated as hell over No Account Addie’s turncoatitis, went Krogering for a card and some expensive chocolate.
The day before St. Valentine’s Day Kroger was overflowing with the hapless, next-to-the-last-minute gifters. All the St. Valentine’s Day cards were gone, so Leon got one of those blank any-damn-occasion-you-please cards and some Milli Vanilli chocolate. He met Shawty on The Balcony for her approval and discovered that the chocolate didn’t make it to the bag. Shawty told Leon in no uncertain terms to get his scrawny ass back to Kroger and get that Milli Vanilli chocolate and some flowers, too.
Leon flew back and got the chocolate, but the only flowers were two dried up begonias. He decided to get mylar balloons instead, but all that was left were three “Feel Better Soon” balloons. He bought them anyway.
Back on The Balcony, Shawty was exasperated. With firm finger punctuation in Leon’s chest she screamed, “THERE-AIN’T-NO-DAMN-HOPE-FOR-YOU-LEEE-ON!” She stomped the hell out of Leon’s right foot with one of her six-inch spiked heels, spun around, and marched out of the bar, leaving Leon writhing in pain, existential and otherwise. On the way home, Leon picked some Black-eyed Susans from the side of the road.
The next morning No Account Addie gave Leon a syrupy Helen Steiner Rice Hallmark card and a pair of Taco Bell fire socks. Leon shed a few tears. Addie thought that maybe Leon was getting sentimental. Leon knew it was the shooting pain in his right foot.
Leon had written a poem in Addie’s blank card:
“My love for you will ever flow
Like water down a tater row.”
He gave her the card, the Milli Vanilli chocolates, the balloons, and the Black-eyed Susans. Addie took a bite of the chocolate and leaned in to Leon. She put her left foot on top of Leon’s right foot and applied enough pressure to make Leon wince and tear up again. She whispered, “Next year start a little earlier, Leona, or you might start finding rabbit pellets in your Cocoa Puffs.”
Leon’s Post-Traumatic Rabbit Pellet Stress Disorder kicked in. He swallowed hard.
Addie added, “And Shawty’s gonna crush both your feet next time.”
That’s the story of how Leon succumbed.
…and that’s The View from The Balcony.