Published on December 12th, 2018 | by Randy Weeks0
The View from The Balcony: The Sheik Saves Christmas
It’s cliché to write about New Year’s resolutions this time of year. So I will. I posed the question to my balcony-dwelling friends: “What’s your New Year’s revolution?” They laughed,having caught my twist on the time-honored tradition (except for Burt the Wheel Man who’s just happy to be anywhere).
My good friend, Leon, a most inciteful man, lowered his eyes and rubbed his beardless chin in contemplation. He lookedup and said, “I see what you did there, Weeks. I’ll get back to you on that.”The other comrades of the Supreme Order of Balcony Dwellers and Raconteursfollowed Leon’s lead and went into contemplative mode. There was an eeriesilence as my friends re-considered the trivial and searched for their inneranarchist.
The Sheik, who commonly has uncommon things to say, shot from the hip: “My New Year’s revolution is to start paying for my own drinks.” “What?” we said. “Yeah,” he continued, “it’s pretty easy going to the bar and telling one of the Knights of the Long Table, ‘This one’s on Leon, this one’s on Weeks, and so-on.’ Y’all didn’t notice it the first time so I figured, why not keep it up? As long as I don’t put more than one drink a night on somebody’s tab they won’t notice.” And we didn’t.
Leon’s main squeeze, No Account Addie, whipped out her calculator and went to work. “Let’s see…on the conservative side you’re here 3-4 nights a week. You drink about three drinks a night. Allowing for vacations and other variables, that’s about 45 weeks, times four is 180 nights, times three is 540 drinks. At happy hour prices that amounts to 2700 pre-tax dollars!”
The Sheik chuckled. We didn’t. His laughter soon faded into a disconcerting silence. His chin dropped to his chest in pseudo-shame as he melted into his chair. Then he pulled out the oldest trick in the book: he started crying. The sorry SOB started crying! No one knew what to say – or either they did and just kept their mouth shut.
One by one the Balcony Dwellers – Burt the Wheel Man; ZZ Bullfrog, a pythy man; Spicy; the Angler; Queenie; King Cobra; even the Sheik’s main squeeze, Cotton, – silently deserted The Balcony, shaking their heads in disappointment as they went inside. In a matter of seconds only the Sheik and I remained. I reloaded my pipe.
The Sheik stopped whimpering and, with his head still bowed, gave me a sideways glance and a s**t-eatin’ grin. “Y’all really believed me, didn’t you? Took the bait hook, line, and sinker. Get everybody back out here.” I took a long draw from my pipe, a sizeable swig of Absolute Ruby Red, and stared at him. “This better be good,” I said as I went in to gather the crew.
They reluctantly came out – still royally pissed off – and just stood there in a semi-circle, looking like grand inquisitors, the Sheik, the grand inquisitee. He reached in his coat pocket and produced a stack of envelopes, each with a different Balcony Dweller’s name on it. He passed them out and told us to open them.
Inside the envelopes were receipts for donations to the Salvation Army, United Way, Food Pantry, Humane Society, and other local charities. “I started this out as a joke,” said the Sheik. “I put a drink on Leon’s tab at the first of the year. He never noticed. I thought it would be funny to pull that stunt on the rest of you. Then I started feeling guilty and decided I’d turn the trick into a treat.”
He continued, “That $2700.00 you calculated – that was pretty close to what I got from you. I kicked in a little of my own and gave $3000.00 to these local charities in your names. Merry Christmas, chumps!”
With that the Sheik slapped his thighs, laughed in delight, popped up out of the chair, grabbed Cotton, and skedaddled on outta there. We all watched – slack-jawed – as they headed north towards St. Leo’s. The Sheik donned a Santa Claus hat, then turned to look at us. He waved, and, as they walked out of sight he yelled, “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night! Freakin’ ho-ho-ho y’all!”
…and that’s the view from The Balcony.