© Wanderer -- all rights reserved
I almost bounce into the bar this evening, my cape snapping in my personal slipstream. A howl of greeting rises from the Lupines' table, and a lot of regulars smile. They hold their hands over their ears, of course, but at least they smile. And so do I. I stride over to Jack's piano, where he's tinkling away at something that sounds like "The Entertainer".
"Hey, Jack, you mind a request?"
He looks up from the keys, but keeps right on playing. "Not another ballad, I hope. I think we're almost over the last one now." He smiles to show he doesn't mean it, but I blush anyway. Fur does have its advantages. "No, I was hoping to do something a bit more fun tonight. You up for it?"
"What'd you have in mind?"
"Just play along with me. I'll need "Lydia, the Tattooed Lady", "Mr. Ed", and "Mack the Knife". Think you can handle it?"
He grins, showing his large white teeth. I'm sure he recognizes the target of at least one of the songs I've chosen ... but he might be surprised later. "You pitch, I'll catch."
"Great. I'll cue you when I'm ready." I turn and walk quickly to the space where we get together for a sing some nights, then raise my hands for attention. Say what you will about capes, they do draw the eye. I get the quiet I want.
"First off, no, I'm not going to sing another ballad." They laugh pretty well at that one. "Second, the reason I'm up here is to share some good news with you ... I GOT THE PART!"
The applause is very nice, even if most of these folks don't see live theater too often. "Yeah, they're reviving Irma Vep, and I got the part of the werewolf." I cock my head and smile. "I wonder why?" The laughter is a sweet nectar, and I hurry on. "Since my life's going so well, I decided to come and sing a few things for you ... just for you." My grin starts showing teeth, and some of the newer folks get a mite nervous, while Donnie shakes his head knowingly and Rydia gets a strange look on her face. I'm just glad I finally convinced her none of the Lupines pulled that brush gag on her. I do not want to try to outrun a cheetah/tiger/lion mix. "Okay, Jack ... hit it!"
I sway a bit from side to side with the rollicking beat as we start the first song.
"Rydia, oh Rydia, oh have you met Rydia, Oh, Rydia, the FE-e-line la-dy ..."
She shoots me a black look and I scoot away from her with my eyes wide for a comedic effect.
"With the cat's eyes, Men adore so ... "
I scoot a bit farther over at the look on Rydia's face. I wonder why she's taking this so personally?
"And that torso (Mm!) even more so ... "
I hope she calms down soon, or I'll be offstage!
"Rydia, oh Rydia, Oh, have you met Rydia, Oh, Rydia, the queen of the BAR ... When some girls are catty it means that they're mad, But this fine feline's much too good to be bad, And she'll scratch your eyes out if you play the cad, Such a LOVE-ly gal is Rydia!"
Jack catches the ending idea only two notes after I stop. Then, he starts up the next one ... but I hold up a hand.
"This one's for a guy we all know and love ... and wish were here. Okay, Jack."
I lay into this one with the speed that made me a tongue twister champ in grade school.
"Aaaaa horse is a horse, of course, of course, And no one con-sults with a horse, of course, That is, of course, Unless the horse Has a med-ical degree!"
They laugh as it hits them. I'm just glad Rydia's calming down. I hate to see anyone so pretty mad at me. (Never mind the fact that she could probably shred me.)
"Go right to the source and ask the horse That all of the AMA will endorse. He took a vet-rina-ry course, Our Doc-tor Pos-ti!"
Again with the two notes, and then Jack starts up with the staccato notes of the last song. I gyrate slightly as I go into a lounge-lizard impression.
"Oh this guy. Has. Really long. Ears. When he sits. On. The pia-no stool.
Right there play-ing, All these songs. Dear! Is that guy. Called."
Turn, snap, point!
Jack hits a few clinkers on the last measure, he's laughing so hard. I bow and get ready to leave the stage.
Then Jack starts another song.
"Ohhhh, he's the kinda wolf, that never quiets down. When you hear a howl, then You know that he's around. He wears a shiny cape, wears it lately without fail. I think it hides the pants hole that he cut out for his tail, Oh, yeah, he's Wanderer. Yeah, that's Wanderer. He jokes around, around, around, around, around, around, around ... "
I'm so embarassed, I almost hit full wolf to get below most of the room's eyeline. After a moment's thought, I reach down, roll up my pants legs to mid-thigh, take off my cape, and shift anyway. With my cape in my mouth, I dogtrot over to the usual table and decide to go hide in a cola for a while ... at least until he quits with that "Wanderer" spoof. As I straighten up and pull in my muzzle, I overhear the (heh) tail end of a conversation.
" ... so he asks me, 'Say, is Kibbles and Bits really that good?' and I say, 'Well, I really like steak ... but have you ever heard of a wealthy wolf?' He just about fell over laughing, I mean it!"
"Yeah, some guys'll laugh at anything."
"Yeah", I say as I slide into the bench seat. "I mean, some stuff really is as funny as they think ... but other stuff? Yeesh!" I roll my eyes and get a chuckle from my packmates. "I mean, the number of times I've cracked someone up with, 'So, how much for a Little Red Riding Hood sandwich' ... it's unreal!"
I see Rydia moving across the room ... but 'Norm' gets here first, so Rydia stands back for a bit.
"So", our local lady reporter asks, "You're going to be in a play?"
"Yep", I say with a non-toothy smile. "Equity and everything. But I do need one special effect."
"Uh-huh. No way am I really going to relieve myself onstage."
She laughs at that one as I waggle my furry brows at her and shake a mocking finger.
"So", she goes on, "You Lupine Boys seem to be dealing with SCABS real well. How do you keep things from getting you down? And could my readers take a few tips?"
I duck my head and grin as the other guys start in on her.
"Oh, yeah, it's a barrel of laughs. The barrel's full of pickle juice, but still ... "
"Oh, it's wonderful to be a wolf. My vet says it's taken 70 years off. That's 10 to you and me."
"Sure, I have words for 'em. Never slide down a chimney. Those pigs're tricky."
"I have a few words for them. Whatever you do, never frnap ngyada minch and certainly don't nyapgada hoomp." 'Norm' was looking worriedly at one of our full 'morphs as the strange sounds came out of his 'voder, so I butted in. "Don't worry, he's just playing, aren't you, Jim?"
"Jim ... "
"Do that a few more times and I give you a Nylabone for Christmas."
'Norm' was about ready to fall out of her chair laughing with all the banter flying around ... and an idea grabbed me by the throat and shook me by the scruff. I jumped up and ran to the stage, where I snapped open my cape and struck a pose.
"Ladies and Gentle-men!"
Silence. Even Jack stopped playing.
"Okay, and you folks, too."
"Our resident reporter has asked a most important question. A question that has NEVER! Before been asked."
"What makes a Lupine Boy he way he is? Now keep it clean, folks!"
A laugh and a murmur chased each other around the room. I continued.
"Now, aside from the ... ", I smoothed the fur at one side of my head, " ... obvious good looks and charm ... " Wait for the laugh. "There is an additional element ... and no, I'm not talking about wanting to run your hands through Rydia's fur. That's everyone."
As they laughed again, I forged ahead. "No, it takes a particular type of person. A person with style, with dash, with a tail ... "
"But most of all", I called through the laughter, "It takes someone with a great sense of humor. I mean, let's face it, folks, looking like this is not going to start a fashion trend." I smiled wickedly and the audience laughed along with me.
"Now, some folks call it whistling past the graveyard. You know, the whole", and I broke out my Shakesperean English for this, "'Alas, my life is ended! Verily, I must hide my face from the world, that none may see the true extent of my sorrow! Oh, alas! Alack! Alack-a-day!'" I raised my hand to my head in an over-the-top move straight out of melodrama ... then turned my head to the audience and smiled wickedly. "Hey, if a wolf can't chew the scenery, who can?"
"But the whole idea", I said as the laughter rolled around me, "is that, beneath our", and I grew melodramatic again, putting my hand to my chest, "brave, smiling exteriors, there lurks a shattered, broken, shell of a man! A tragic figure, whose outward show hides the heartbreak that is his, whose ... whose ... " I broke down laughing. "Sorry. I got too silly for myself. But you get the idea. A lot of people think this whole 'Lupine Boys are silly lechers' business is an act. That we're just doing this to play at being happy."
"You know something?"
I raised my finger and pointed it at the audience as I spoke the next words.
"They could be right." The laugh that followed really wasn't big enough to be out on its own.
"I mean, let's face it, folks, there's a bit of that here. A bit of that Old Southern humor, better known as, 'Suh, iffen ah doan laugh, ah am shorely gonna cry.'" My accent provided me with just enough laughter to finish up on.
Then I smiled and shrugged. "But, hey. It's a life."
Into the silence, I decided to put a bit more laughter. "Now, my old life ... that was a pill. Do you know I was the oldest movie concessionaire in the entire theater?"
They laughed. "No, really. We had a manager younger than me. But I liked her anyway. Even helped her with her homework."
As the laughter began to grow, I went on. "Hey, I didn't have a choice. I mean, when McDonalds won't hire you ... "
And the jokes, and the life, went on. --------------------- When I finally returned to the table, 'Norm' was just turning off her recorder ... but she turned it back on for me.
"So, how much of that was real?"
I smiled sadly and a bit wisely as I answered. "Does it matter? Really? I got up and made them forget about the rest of the world for a while. And all I had to trade for it was some time and some old stories about my life."
"Not a bad trade, in my opinion."
She turned off the recorder and nodded sagely ... then left the table.
Rydia stood there, her head cocked.
"May I help you?", I said, "Please say yes." I waggled my brows to complete the joke.
She just smiled, shook her head and turned away.
I looked at her as she walked off. "Mm-mm. To use the vernacular, my friends, it must be jelly, 'cause jam don't shake like that." The accompanying whistles (wolf whistles, of course) drove the point home.
"So, anyone up for pizza?"
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