Encouraging, supportive words in times of trouble

January 06, 1995|By MIKE ROYKO

When we met for our traditional New Year's drink of Ovaltine, Slats Grobnik said: "Tell me about those pills. You buy them across the counter or does a doc have to write a prescription?"

Pills? What pills?

"Those Stupid Pills I figure you been taking lately. Boy, they really did the job, didn't they?"

I am not familiar with Stupid Pills and have not used them.

"You did it all on your own? Boy, then you're a natural like that baseball movie with Robert Redford. Maybe they'll make a movie like that about you, except at the end the only fireworks will be in your head."

Do you mind if we talk about something else?

"Hey, no problem."

Thank you. I gather that you, too, have been on vacation. Did you have a pleasant time?

"Sure. And I didn't get arrested even once."

That wasn't what I meant. Did you go anywhere?

"Yeah, I took a little trip. You wanna hear about it?"


"Well, I got where I was going without having to put up any bail money."

Forget it.

"Just making conversation. But I guess you don't wanna talk about it, huh?"

About what?

"How you got to be public enemy No. 1."

That's a slight exaggeration. But, no, my attorney advised me against saying anything until we go to court.

"Oh, that ought to be fun with the cameras being shoved in your face and the TV reporters asking you how you feel, and if you regret being a jerk, and if you're ever going to do it again, and if you are thinking about hanging yourself, and how now you ain't got no credibility no more, and are you going to get in another line of work, and did your boss say you ought to go to the Betty Ford clinic, and how you are going to get around without wheels, and is your wife going to get a divorce, and how are you ever going to write something bad about someone else when now you are such a bum, and if you decide to hang yourself will you do it where they can get a good shot for the 4 o'clock news, and . . ."

Excuse me, I said I would rather not discuss it.

"But you ain't; I am. When you come out of the courthouse, you gonna take a swing?"

At who?

"The reporters or the camera guys. Even if the punch don't land, it would make a great bite for the 4 o'clock news, and they'd probably use it again at 10. You might even make the networks again."

Of course not. Why would I do something like that?

"Well, as long as you're taking those Stupid Pills, you might as well get all the benefits."

I told you, I am not taking any such pills. And let us change the subject, please. How are things at work?

"Just fine. And when I pull into the company parking lot, everybody don't run to call their insurance agents, and nobody asks me if I can walk a straight line and touch my nose. Speaking of that, with your nose, you should have been able to pass the test by touching it with your foot."

And how is the family?

"Everybody's fine. Why not? When they go out, they don't have to wear bags over their faces because of me. How about yours? Have they tried to have you committed yet?"

No, but it's nice of you to ask.

"What about Oprah or Geraldo?"

I don't watch their shows, but what about them?

"Have you thought about going on? I'm sure they'd be glad to have you even if you didn't wear a sequined gown and high heels."

Why in the world would I do that?

"Geez, to talk about your rise and fall -- how you went from being a highly respected bum to a pathetic, sad, down-and-out bum. They'd probably bring on some other once-mighty bums -- maybe ol' Spiro Agnew, Darryl Strawberry the ballplayer, and that guy Keating from the S&L scandal -- so you could compare notes on how you turned into social outcasts. Then the audience could ask questions about how it feels to be such lousy lowlifes.

"It could be a heck of a show, and you could get a tape to leave to your grandchildren so they'll know what a live wire you were."

Thanks for the suggestion, but I believe that I'll decline the honor and instead go through the normal legal process.

"That's all? Just go to court?"

That's customary, isn't it?

"I guess so. But it don't seem like enough. Hey, how's about if I go rent a white Bronco with a car phone, then we can go for a ride on the expressways, and I'll drive, and you can announce that you're going to end it all, and . . ."

How about if we just have another Ovaltine?

"You're no fun."

Yes, and it's about time.

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