Get Shorty

Albany, NY

Last Christmas, Uncle Bill got us a microwave. Lillian and I didn't really
want one, but Lydia did; so he did. Immediately Lydia made soup, popcorn,
re-heated entrees, toast, hot chocolate, boiled eggs, souffles, etc., while
we watched. 

It didn't take long to learn that we couldn't do anything else electrical 
while the microwave was operating. We couldn't make coffee and microwave,
or toast and microwave, run the blender and the microwave or listen to the
CD player while we microwaved. In fact, we couldn't run the microwave with 
the kitchen lights on at the same time, which was OK during the day but
difficult at night: load the microwave, set the timer (a chore in itself),
hit the start button and run across the kitchen to turn off the lights
before a fuse blew out. 

Six months and sixty eight fuses later, we've got an electrician in the
house installing a new circuit from the fuse box to the kitchen to handle
the microwave and the refrigerator. It turns out that the entire first floor
of our house is on one ciruit, except for one socket in the kitchen that runs
the dishwasher, air conditioner and Lydia's bedroom. Our bedroom has one socket
that's on it's own circuit as well. The house was built in 1830 and re-wired in
1930, with 15 and 20 amp circuits. Who knows what device used to be in our
bedroom which demanded its own 20 amp circuit?

Roger, the electrician, stops me as I'm headed out the door.

"What do you do for a living?" he asks.

"I make computer graphics, for a science laboratory, just a few blocks from here,"
I reply.

"Computer graphics?" he says, "That's interesting. My neighbor does computer graphics.
She works for herself though. Produces two magazines on the computer. One on
Country Western music and the other about Bennie Baby collecting. Actually, that
reminds me of a funny story; but I guess you're leaving?"

"No, go ahead," I tell him, "I've always got time for a funny story."

"Well, for many years now, I've been going to a bar, up river in Watervilet.
Until just recently it was a man's bar. You know, a small neighborhood place,
a bunch of working guys stopping off for a few drinks at the end of the
day, on the way home from work. Kind of a run-down, seedy place, sports pictures
and naked women on the walls. Then about five years ago, the owner decided
to fix it up and open it up to mixed company. Well, all of us guys who were regulars
and did construction work, pitched in to help him make the change over. We'd work
evenings and weekends. Have a few drinks and do a little work. I did all 
the electric, helped lay the tile and even built a new 9 foot extension off
the bar, with custom wood inlay and everything.

Two months later the bar re-opened. New name, new look, new customers. Pretty soon
the women outnumbered the men."

By now, Roger had set aside the wire he'd been stripping and was deep into his
story, hand gestures and everything.

"One night, not long ago, me and four buddies were in there, having
drinks after work. Figuring we were all alone, we got going on the
bullshit, pretty heavy. Cussing about work, about our wives, about sports,
blah, blah, blah.  Then the bartender asks us: 'What would you do if you won
the Lottery? Not those scratch and sniff cards that don't pay shit, but the
real lottery, a few million bucks?'  We look at each other. One guy's a painter,
one a carpenter, a mason, and the other guy does plumbing. I answer him: "Me,
I'd take the money and open my own business. Quit this working for the other
guy thing right away. I'd have me a business where I did custom cabinetry. Make
beautiful things just like this extension I built for the bar. You know
what I'd call it?"

"No," they replied, "What?"

"Fuck You! Custom Cabinets. That's what."

"You want your cabinets ready by when? Fuck you!"

"You don't like the way this job turned out? Fuck you!"

"Something's not right with the way the cabinets look? Fuck you!"

"Yeah, I'd like that; that's what I'd do; and not a minute too soon."

Well, that got the guys thinking. Pretty soon the plumber pipes up:
"I know what you're saying. I'd do the same thing, only I'd do 
a decorative tile business."

"What would you call it?" we asked.

"Up Yours! Decorative Tiles."

"You don't like the way the tiles look? Up yours!" he snorted.

"That cracked us up pretty good."

"What about you?" we asked the carpenter.

"Me?" he said. "I'd start a decorative painting business. I always wanted
to do that. Know what I'd call it?"

"No," we replied, "what would you call it?"

"Kiss My Sweet Ass! Decorative Painting."

"Hey, you don't like the way my trompe-loeil job looks? Kiss my sweet ass!"

By then we're knocking over our beers, we're laughing so hard.
Then it was the painters turn.

"I got it," he says. "I'd go into custom woodworking. Furniture, lamps,
functional but decorative items for the home. I'm pretty goddamned good
at that stuff already; and I'd call it Polish Knob! Custom Woodworking."

"Don't want to buy my beautiful custom gun rack made out of solid mahogany
with pearl and lapus-lazuli inlays? Polish my knob!"

We were on the floor, we were laughing so hard.

Finally, the mason spoke up:  "O.K. guys. I'd take my million bucks and start
a specialized electrical contractor business. I'd only take the high end jobs
from big money clients. Laser lights, computer controlled dimmer systems,
remote-controlled electrical switches, electric eyes, the whole nine yards."

"Yeah, sure," we said. "What'd you name it?"

"Eat My Shorts," he replied.

Shit, that did it. I busted a gut, I was laughing so hard.

So anyway, about two days later, I go into the place again. The usual, on
my way home. Stop in. Have a few beers. The bartender calls out, "Hey Roger,
I got something for you." 

I go over to see what he's talking about, and he hands me an envelope. It's
got my name on it. I open it up and out falls about fifty business cards.
Five groups, ten in each group. I pick one up and take a look. It says:
FUCK YOU! CUSTOM CABINETRY and it's got my name, address and telephone number
on it. Same thing for the rest of them. Each guys name and fantasy business,
all laid out like the real thing. Inside the envelope there's a note. It says
'Hope you like your new business cards; and good luck on the lottery.' It was
signed by my neighbor, the computer graphic designer. She'd made them 
and printed them out for us on her computer. Seems we weren't alone that night
after all. She was there, by herself, over in a corner. We just didn't see her.
Ain't that the shits?"

"Pretty funny story," I tell him. "Thanks! I gotta run; gotta get to work.
Give me a call when you're done with the wiring and I'll come back and
write you a check."

"Okey dokey," he says, picking up the wire and returning to his work.

"By the way," I tell him, "it'll be nice to be able to reheat my coffee,
make some toast, blend a fruit-power-cocktail and listen to the Ramones
on my CD player all at the same time."

"Huh?" he answers.

Copyright 2000

Jan Galligan
All Rights Reserved
Last modified July 1, 2000