14 June 2012

A Happy, Sparkly Birthday!

“Over 4,000 pounds of sequins, Tom...you should have seen it.” My brother Pat was having a great time telling me about his newest project, set in the wilds of deepest, darkest North Dakota.

“So who is paying for this thing, anyway?” I asked, sipping my martini.

“Some foundation based in Fargo, I think,” he said. “As long as the checks keep coming, we keep going.”

Pat's firm had recently begun work on a Liberace memorial theme-park, complete with mini-golf, water-slide, and wildlife exhibit. He had just flown in from Bismarck after inspecting the site, and we were relaxing at Limpy's Place, enjoying cocktails in preparation for the coming evening's festivities. It was Pat's birthday, and I had some very special things planned. Pat was on his third water-tumbler full of single malt and I figured I could talk him into nearly anything. Dwarf-tossing, a Slovakian tapas bar, and jell-o shots would make just the beginning of a great evening.

“What are the sequins for, anyway?” I asked.

“The reef, mostly,” he answered.



“What kind of reef? And why do reefs need sequins?”

“Don't be silly, Tom,” he said, “it's not the reef that needs the sequins. It's the sharks.”


“Well, we have a complete life-size model of the Great Barrier Reef that we're building in this farmer's field – it was the biggest excavation I've ever seen, in fact. But to top it off, the foundation in Fargo asked if we could put in some sequin-covered sharks. I guess Liberace was a great fan of sharks.”

“And sequins,” I added.

“Without a doubt,” said Pat. “So we received a shipment of over 4,000 pounds of sequins this week, and we had to build a special sequin-containment facility for them. It seems the EPA has got involved again.” Pat was continually running afoul of the EPA for one reason or another, be it manatee liver, mint-flavored steel girders (for his “Juleps in the Sky” project in Louisville), or bulk storage of sequins.

“Pharisees,” I said. “Remember what we used to say about 'crazy people looking like assholes to smart people'?”

“It was 'smart people look like crazy people to dumb people,' Tom”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah. Anyhow, we got the sequins safely stored, but it turned out we paid for 3,500 pounds, but they shipped over 4,000, and the facility we built wasn't big enough.”

“Couldn't you just cram the extra sequins in there? Or put them in another building?”

“Don't be silly, Tom. You can't just leave sequins lying around. The stuff is closely regulated.”

“So what did you do with all of it?” I asked.

“Well, Tom...I know you have a big evening planned for us tonight, and I really appreciate the personalized ergonomic blender you got me, but I wanted to do something for you, too, on my birthday.”

“You have always been big on that 'more blessed to bunt than to steal', haven't you?”

“That's 'give than receive', Tom”

“Oh, yeah,” I said.

“Anyhow, I have a little surprise for you today. Something I know you'll like. You'll see it if you go in to work sometime.” Pat knew I was trying to improve my health by avoiding stressful situations like honest work.

“Pat, I don't know how to thank you,” I said, raising my glass to his. “I can't wait to see the gift! What is it?”

“Well, Tom, lets' just say I thought your office walls were looking a little drab...”


“Yeah. And you'll be surprised at how much surface area 500 pounds of sequins will cover.”

“Happy birthday, Pat...” I said, bewildered.

“And a sparkly Flag Day, Tom!”

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