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Di Leo: Sundae Time with Basement Joe – Maple Walnut Sundae & the Meaning of Thanksgiving



6a00d834515c5469e20282e1344fea200b-300wiBy John F. Di Leo - 

Introduction: Imagine, if you will, an alternate universe in which a confused old man – Joe Buckstop – stumbles into the presidency, and spends his entire term in his basement. Each evening, an aide walks downstairs and serves him his evening snack, and engages him in conversation about current events, in a losing effort to keep the old man's mind somewhat sound. Tonight's episode is an excerpt from the ongoing series, "Evening Soup with Basement Joe," by John F. Di Leo, a fictional chronicle of the events of 2021, a political satire available in paperback or eBook from Amazon.

"Hello Down There, Boss!"

"Huh? Who's that?"

"I'm your cook, old man! Can't you hear me hobbling down the stairs?"

"Oh, right. Do you have soup?"

"No, boss, we have ice cream sundaes now, remember?"

"Oh. Right. Darn. What is it tonight?"

"Well, boss, since it's a big holiday, I figured I'd go with a nice all-American dessert: a maple walnut sundae. Here you go, sir!"

"What are those?"

"Nuts, sir."

"Come on, man! I know enough about trees to know what a maple leaf looks like! There's one on the Canadian flag! It's got five segments, and, lemme see now… a stem coming down…"

"That's a maple leaf, boss. We don't put leaves in sundaes. It would be weird."

"It would?"

"Yes, boss, it would. It's vanilla and cinnamon ice cream, with maple syrup, and walnuts, sir. And some chocolate sauce and whipped cream to top it off, of course."

"But what are these things?"

"Nuts, boss. Those are nuts."

"What for?"

"I thought you should have something you could identify with, boss."

"Huh? What's that? You're mumbling again."

"Oh, sorry, boss. Well, enjoy your maple walnut sundae, anyway."

"Where's the maypole?"

"There's no maypole, boss."

"Aw… I was looking forward to that."

"To a maypole, sir?"

"Chasing girls around the maypole. That was fun. In the old days."

"Boss, you can't possibly remember chasing girls around a maypole. That hasn't been a thing in centuries!"

"It hasn't?"

"No, boss, it hasn't. Maybe you read it somewhere?"

"I don't know…. I don't think I read… do I read?"

"I wouldn't know, boss. I just know you couldn't have chased girls around the maypole. It's a European folk thing. They don't do that here."

"I'm not from here."

"You're not?"

"Nope! I'm from Scranton! Bet you didn't know that, huh? I'm from Scranton. Scranton boy. Lifeguard. Coal miner. Cargo ship captain on the Lackawanna."

"I beg your pardon, boss?"

"Cargo ship captain! Yup, on the mighty Lackawanna! Great place to grow up. Hard work. Real Americana. Worked hard. Kicking the boiler when it didn't start up, hauling people and cargo up and down the Lackawanna… Storms… slugs… marshes… I remember this one time, when Katharine Hepburn poured all my gin out of the boat…"

"Umm, boss… you're confusing your childhood with a movie again."

"Huh? What's that?"

"The African Queen, boss. You're confusing yourself with Humphrey Bogart."

"Huh? No…. I'm from Scranton!"

"Yes, boss, but you moved away when you were ten. You couldn't have been a riverboat captain on the Lackawanna at that age, boss. And you certainly wouldn't have been drinking gin and annoying Kate Hepburn."

"I couldn't have?"

"No, boss, you couldn't have. So anyway, let's talk about your day, shall we?"

"What day?"

"This day, boss! It's Thanksgiving! I just got back from a big dinner with my family … left them to clean the rest of the dishes, and I headed over here because we couldn't get a temp. The holiday, you know."

"Holiday? What holiday? Doc Holiday? That was a great character. I like Doc Holiday. He was cool. Boy, could he shoot…. not that anybody should ever have a gun, of course, I just mean, umm, in the movies… um…. what were we talking about?"

"About today being Thanksgiving, boss. The holiday, Thanksgiving. What did you do for the holiday, boss?"

"OHH!!! Right, right… Thanksgiving. Right. I mostly just watched it on TV. You know, the news stations go from place to place, showing scenes of people celebrating Thanksgiving, thanking me, you know, all over the country, even all over the world!"

"Uh, boss, excuse me, but I don't think I heard you right there… how did you describe Thanksgiving, boss?"

"Well, you know, people all over the world, going out in the streets and cheering, or sitting around the dinner table, or going to restaurants or buffets, or churches and homeless shelters, and all of them thanking me. I love it. Does a heart good, to see that, you know?"

"Um, boss, I don't know how to tell you this, boss, but… they're not getting together there, to thank YOU."

"You lying dogface pony soldier! Of course they are! That's what they do! That's what they say! THANKS is in the name !!!"

"Well, yes, boss, but you're not the one they're thanking, boss."

"Sure they are! It's a national holiday! They're thanking the government! And I'm the government!"

"Boss, this goes all the way back to the first settlers, in St Augustine, Florida and Jamestown, Virginia and Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts, boss. They're not thanking the government, boss.

"Sure they are!"

"Boss, they were running AWAY from their governments. Running away from persecution, because they were Calvinists escaping a Lutheran country, or Puritans fleeing an Anglican country, things like that, boss! They came here to be free of government. They didn't get together for dinner to thank their government!"

"Oh really? Well then, smarty-pants, who are they thanking?"

"They're thanking God, boss. They said a prayer, just like we do today on Thanksgiving… they thank the Lord for all his gifts… a free country in which to live and work and prosper!"

"Heh heh. I don't THINK so."

"Um, boss… no disrespect here, boss, but … there's really no question about it. They're not thanking you, boss."

"Who gave them a stimulus check? That was me!"

"Well, it was your side in Congress, actually, boss, but the jury is still out on whether that was really a good thing, you know…"

"Who gave them a vaccine against Covid? That was me!"

"Umm, no, boss, that was a Trump policy, actually, all the vaccines were developed and manufactured and in distribution before you moved in, boss…"

"You lying dogface pony soldier! Well… anyway, umm… I gave them the mandate to make everyone get it!"

"Which the courts are pretty sure to agree was an illegal order, boss, and it's being abandoned all over the place because OSHA wasn't allowed to issue such an order…"

"Well, I gave them an oil release!"

"I beg your pardon, boss?"

"Oil! Umm… Petroleum! Umm… The Strategic Petroleum Reserve! I just released a brazilian barrels of oil to help with gas prices!"

"Sir, look, umm…. a Brazilian is a person from Brazil, boss."

"Well, uhh, what did I release then?"

"Millions, boss. About 50 million barrels of oil, boss."

"Well, there ya go then! That's the ticket!"

"But you sent about a third of them to China and India, boss."

"Well, they're Americans too!"

"No, they're not, boss."

"Sure they are! Chinese Americans and Indian Americans are Americans too, you know!"

"Well, yes, boss, but you aren't giving the oil to Chinese Americans and Indian Americans, boss. You're giving it to China and India, boss. The countries, boss."

"You sure?"

"You promised it to China and India, boss.

"Well, I can always change that. "

"I don't know if it's that easy, boss."

"Oh, sure, I'll just send the Chinese share over to that nice Chinese restaurant on the corner… what's it called, the Dim Sum House."

"Boss, you can't send ten million barrels of oil to a restaurant."

"Oh, sure I can. You have any idea of how much oil those Chinese restaurants go through? Man, they're always pouring oil in those pans of theirs… what do they call them? Pots? Pans? Hmm…bowls?"

"Woks, sir?"

"Yeah, that's it! Woks! They're always putting oil in those woks and frying food…"

"It's not actually that kind of oil, boss… and I don't think you have any idea of the proportions involved… boss, do you have any idea of how much fifty million barrels really is?"

"Well, we're not sending it ALL to the Chinese, you know. Some of it's going to the Indians."

"India is also a separate country, boss, and they're expecting you to send a lot of oil to them now…"

"No, problem, we'll just send it to Indian Americans. That won't be hard… gotta get my poll numbers back up…"

"Boss, I don't think you quite see how this all works…"

"Yup, we'll just send it to the Indian Americans… now let's see… maybe I'll send it all to that 7-11 down the block… That'll do it…"

"Boss! You can't do that!"

"Oh, right… right,… that's the old one… I'll send it to the one on the other end of town, the one that just opened last month. The last time I met with some Indians, they all said they were going back to the new deli…"

…end of transmission…


Copyright 2021 John F Di Leo

John F. Di Leo is a Chicagoland-based transportation and trade compliance professional, writer and actor.  A one-time political activist and former county chairman of the Milwaukee County Republican Party, his columns have been published by Illinois Review since 2009.

John's first book, a collection of his short stories about voting fraud originally run in Illinois Review, is available on Amazon under the title "The Tales of Little Pavel."

Also available on Amazon is the first volume of his new fiction series from Free State West Publishing, "Evening Soup with Basement Joe," a political satire, set in a parallel universe not quite identical to the Earth of 2021… in which a confused, crooked old man becomes president, and a young aide brings down his nightly bowl of soup and engages him in conversation, in a losing battle to restrain the onset of dementia.  Volume One covers the first ninety days of this strange new world. Stay tuned for Volumes Two and Three, coming soon!

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