Conversation was thick at the Cigar Inn today. Mostly over lunatic James W. von Brunnm who walked into Washington, D.C.’s Holocaust museum and murdered guard Stephen T. Johns, who had the bad luck to be on duty. von Brunn was shot, but unfortunately he is still alive. Word is that he is in critical condition, so there is still a chance for justice to take place.
Irv Levine (we call him Lefty because he always grips his butts with his left thumb and pinkie) was holding forth, as usual, but with special passion today, as you might imagine. He raised his Cohiba to his lips, which engulfed the cigar. He was so near apoplexy that he forgot to light it.
“What galls me is that it happened in a place whose entire purpose is to teach tolerance and acceptance of other people’s views.”
“You mean,” I chimed in, “that we should tolerate and respect beliefs other than ours?”
“Exactly. Especially if they’re different.”
“What if those beliefs include the thought that all Jews are evil and should be shot inside museums?”
Lefty didn’t answer and silently chewed on his cigar, glowering.
Finally Bob Greene laughed. “He’s got you, Lefty. All that tobacco smoke has had its way with your noodle. You’re not thinking straight.” Greene didn’t smoke, but the Cigar Inn was close to his corner on 72nd street, where he distributed literature and tried to win converts for The Earth is Doomed. When the action was light, he wandered in and vainly warned us of the dangers of smoking.
“You just never understood, Lefty. Some opinions are so wrong that they just can’t be tolerated.” He waved some non-existent smoke from his face. “You should know that better than anybody.”
“Global warming is serious business. The Earth is in peril and if we don’t do something now, the end could be near.”
“Maybe so. But I heard Dr. X and others are bandying about words like ‘treason’ and ‘traitorous’ for anyone holding a skeptical view. That the way you see it?”
“And traitors should certainly be jailed, maybe even executed, right?”
“I wouldn’t say…”
Lefty chimed in, “Hey, Greene, how about gassing the skeptics? That outta teach ’em.” He had his cigar lit by this time and blew a choking blue ring towards Greene.
While this was happening, Lefty’s wife Dorothy came in, as she frequently did, to let him know it was time to leave. Lefty refused to carry a cell phone, but he was found easily, as he was either here or at Finnegan’s Wake soaking up a beer.
“Now just you start being nice,” she said. “You shouldn’t talk like that.”
Lefty mumbled a barely audible, “He started it.” Then louder, “I’m not ready” holding up his cigar to show it had barely burned. Dorothy rolled her eyes and looked at her watch.
The TV was on a news channel and a picture of Sarah Palin appeared. Dorothy, already primed to be upset, said, “I can’t stand that woman!”
“I don’t know,” I said, “she’s pretty hot for a governor.”
Greene, whose eyes were tearing from the smoke, added, “She’s evil.”
I said, “I heard that David Letterman made a joke about one of the Obamas’ kid, one of the little girls. They brought the girls when they visited the city last week. Letterman said, ‘One awkward moment for Michelle Obama at the Yankee game, during the seventh inning, her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez.'”
“WHAT!” Dorothy screamed, “THERE IS NO WAY HE SAID THAT!” She stood over my chair and thrust her finger right at my head. Dorothy was a big Obama supporter and active in women’s rights.
“Yeah, statutory rape is hilarious isn’t it?”
But before she could jump down my throat, I held up my hands and said, “No, you’re right. Just kidding. Letterman actually said it about Sarah Palin’s 14-year old daughter.”
Lefty smiled but kept quiet. Dorothy looked like she had just been asked an algebra question and had her foot stepped on at the same time.
“I think Letterman was irked that Palin wouldn’t come on his show so he could make fun of her in person.”
“Wait a minute,” said Greene. “I heard about this. Letterman later said he meant Palin’s 18-year old daughter and not her 14-year old daughter.”
“Oh, that makes a big difference,” said Lefty.
“Letterman lied,” I countered. “The man’s entire career has been devoted to inane chitchat with half-rate actors and actresses. There can’t be much left upstairs. What else could he think of saying?”
Dorothy had recovered her composure. “Let’s go, Irv. Right now.”
As she was picking up his raincoat, I said, “Slutty flight attendant.”
Luckily, Lefty had stood up to put out his cigar and was able to stop Dorothy from gouging out my eyes.
“Not you. Letterman also said Palin looked like a ‘slutty flight attendant.'”
“NOW, Irv.” Lefty put on his coat. Dorothy marched out the store, Greene trailing behind her, late for his shift. Lefty took another glance at the television and said, “She don’t look bad at that.”
I nodded. “That’s tolerance what is all about.”