Stately Blaska Manor

Your embattled Squire endures a Sunday morning confrontation in a Madison coffee house

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So I’m reading the Wisconsin State Journal at the Collectivo coffee shop on Monroe Street in the bleeding heart of liberal Madison. I am slurping extra-dark, dangerously caffeinated brews between bites of a nutritious, life-sustaining cowboy cookie. (They wouldn’t make them if they weren’t good for you.)

Using a jet-black ball point pen, it is also my custom to make incremental improvements over the Sunday journalism product, particularly its editorial section. On the photo over an opinion piece proposing that “Truax Field [would make] a great fit for [the] F-35A” fighter jet, I drew bombs dropping from the aircraft even though this particular make and model doesn’t drop bombs, per se. (Air-to-ground missiles, sure.) The subhead to the State Journal piece reads “Local airport’s location, history, resources should land the fighter jet in Madison.” To which, your scribbler added “to bomb Brenda Konkel’s house.” (Why the State Journal doesn’t put me on staff …)

I know, I know. Politically incorrect. So I lead a rich fantasy life. So sue me! First Amendment, blah blah blah. Anyway, I paid for my copy so it is mine to do with. In my defense, it’s the kind of paranoia our liberal-progressive-socialist acquaintances specialize in: that the U.S. military would seek to stifle dissent through force of arms. In my further defense, everyone needs a good enemy and Madame Brenda is as good as any. Wm F. Buckley had Gore Vidal. Muhammed Ali had Joe Frazier. Comrade Nichols has Paul Ryan. Bluto Blutarsky had Doug Niedermayer.

So, if you see her, tell the Madame she just got a left-handed compliment. Like my hero, Richard Nixon, Blaska needs his enemies. He really does.

Anyway, if the Stately Manor gets advance notice of a local bombing campaign, we promise to e-mail Brenda and tell her to GET OUT NOW! (Yes, we’ll use ALL CAPS!) Having amended the State Journal editorial page to my liking (so therapeutic!), I left my window counter seat for a reload of the dark, room for cream.

At the counter, in a rare act of consideration, I also ordered a single-serving carrot cake for my bride, who was back home viewing the Hallmark Channel’s holiday treacle. (I worry about her blood sugar.) The counter person takes my cash, hands over the coffee and asks, “is that all?”

NO, IT IS NOT ALL! I respond, with the asperity the Blaska family is known for. Where is the carrot cake?

Quizzed and confronted

Standing next in line was a pleasant young woman, diminutive in stature. Directly addressing the Squire of the Stately Manor, with the sincerity of a young one asking if Santa was real, this person of the female persuasion inquired:

“Are you a curmudgeon?” 

Strangely enough, I’ve been asked that question before, so I was fully prepared to answer except that Ms. Nosy Body followed up with a second question more rapidly than Sam Donaldson on meth. Her question, in its entirety:

“Do you need a hug?”

Well, that one threw me for a loop. That sacked me behind the line of scrimmage. That one — oh, the hell with metaphors. I was momentarily gobsmacked. Speechless. My mouth was making motions but the larnyx was paralyzed, the cerebral cortex numbed, various synapses, misfiring. I was trying to think but nothing was happening, as Curley Howard once explained.

I may have confessed to being a Republican; I’m not certain. I don’t think I gave away the secret codes but we’ll find out soon enough. Anyway, in the midst of this confused state, Your Squire found himself the object of a good, old-fashioned hugging! (I must say, it was a rather pleasant, if unfamiliar, experience.) This person half my age and of a completely different gender wrapped her short arms as best she could around my ample waistline and squeezed with all the aplomb of a barista at an Orange Julius stand.

Blaska staggered back to his counter seat, his feet numb, the graffiti’d newspapers now a blur. With difficulty he focused on the small card Miss Huggie had thrust into his sweaty palm. Might it be a Miranda warning?

Straining to focus, the Squire was able to make it out. It said:

A forgiveness card! Better than a Get Out of Jail card!

The conclusion was inescapable: This conservative had been hugged by reality.

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