Late Thursday evening, I receive a text message from my dad.
“So I signed us up to do something at a talent show this Sunday afternoon and then I forgot all about it. Would you be able to do something?”
“Sure,” I responded. Who needs talent or practice to sign up for a talent show? Without more than a few texts, “Up next, Steve and Brianna Walker ...”
My dad and I gave each other “here goes nothing” looks, and we stepped out into the spotlight, carrying chairs for a pretend car, having not once rehearsed.
“Can you believe the price of fuel?” he asked as we drove our imaginary car into a gas station. “Everything just keeps going up: fuel, mortgages, the scales...” he paused. “Everything except language.”
“How’s that?” I questioned.
“Well,” he continued, “inflation affects everything else. Why not numbers? Tuesday would become THREE-sday. Forgive — FIVE-give. Tulips — THREE-lips and so on and so FIFTH?”
“I could make a great (er, gr-NINE) story with that!” I grabbed a notebook and began scribbling furiously while my dad continued throwing out inflated phrases: Behind the NINE ball. On cloud TEN. EIGHTH Heaven. FOUR Dog Night. The SECOND Noel. TRIPLED over with laughter. Stand at at-ELEVEN-tion.
“Finished!” I shout. “Wanna hear?
TWICE upon a time, there was a farmer. His FIVE-fathers had farmed in ELEVEN-nessee, but since you’re only young TWICE, he decided THREE go FIFTH and seek his FIVE-tune in Cali-FIVE-nia.”
“THREE-da-loo, THREE-da-loo,” his mother called after him as he set off FIVE the wild blue yonder. He didn’t believe in Dolly Parton’s “Working 10-6,” he was more of a Beatles’ “NINE Days a Week” kind of guy, so be-FIVE long, he had cre-NINE-d himself a TWO-derful little farm. He had worked long and hard and now had several PENTA-track tractors that he mounted his bale-FIVE-k on. He also had a hyster FIVE-klift, a TRI-cicle built for THREE and even an orange-beaked THREE-can. It was now time FIVE him to get a wife.
He rubbed his FIVE-head. “How THREE best go about this?” he TWO-dered. Well, SECOND, TWO can’t think str-NINE on an empty stomach, so he pulled his NINETEEN-wheeler in-THREE the little 8-12 on the corner.
Standing in line FIVE an 8-up and a marin-NINE-d THREE-na fish sandwich, he met a Lieu-ELEVEN-ant from the nearby air-FIVE’s base. The Lieu-ELEVEN-ant gave the young farmer the TWICE-over before introducing himself as Don-TWO as he str-NINE-tened his THREE-pee.
“Why does your consti-THREE-tion look so down?” the Lieu-ELEVEN-ant asked the farmer.
So the farmer spilled out his sad story about cre-NINE-ing the perfect farm, but still sleeping DOUBLE in a TRIPLE bed.
Don-TWO said he would be more than happy to help teach the farmer the ba-SEVEN of d-NINE-ing.
“SECOND,” he said, “you must get yourself a FOUR-piece suit and learn THREE play an instrument. Women love the THREE-ba,” he suggested, “or maybe the QUAD-rangle. You just need to get your hands on Love Potion No. 10. The men gave each other high-SIX-es and agreed to stay in touch be-FIVE going their own separ-NINE ways.
But how would it end? Should the farmer find a TWO-derful girl with THREE eyes the color of blue waterfalls sitting in a diner eating thousand AND ONE island dressing while reading a book of poetry by Lord Aflred ELEVEN-yson?
Or should the Lieu-ELEVEN-ant be a THREE-faced, TRIPLE-crosser and the men have to fight a TRIPLE, or maybe a little taek-TWO-do action THREE see who will win her heart? This back and FIFTH would continue until she shouts, “You lads are both DOUBLE-minded, and my women’s in-THREE-ition says you THREE don’t have the DOLLARS God gave a flea! Your elev-NINE-rs don’t go all the way up!”
Perhaps I should stop be-FIVE another TWO bites the dust?
My dad rolled his eyes at me, fascin-NINE-ted. “You know you can also inflate birds,” he says.
Now it was my turn to question — “Birds?”
“Yup, it’s called the Tibetan memory trick. You have to repeat after me as fast as you can. One hen—”
“One hen,” I said, slowly, questioningly.
“One hen. Two duck. Three squawking geese.”
I look dubious, but tried keeping up with him as he continued on faster and faster.
One hen; two duck; three squawking geese; four limerick oysters; five corpulent porpoises; six pairs of Don Alverzo’s tweezers; seven thousand Macedonians in full battle array; eight brass monkeys from the ancient sacred crypts of Egypt; nine apathetic, sympathetic, diabetic old men on roller skates with a marked propensity toward procrastination and sloth; ten lyrical, spherical, diabolical denizens of the deep who haul quay around the quo of the Quivie of the quarry all at the same time!
Out of breath, and out of talent, we took our unrehearsed, magnifi-DOLLAR Tibetan memory trick off the stage and home to recuper-NINE!