Two-Bit Bird 

And a quarter-pounder with Cheney

"Good thin' ya' phoned, Cope. Ah been wonderin' what y'think o' dat bird."

Ah, Jeez, here we go again. And to think I brought this on myself. But I had to call Red. Had to! See, bowling starts in about two weeks and we lost a teammate. OK, not lost, exactly. We know where he is. Iraq. He's in the Reserve and they called him up. Nice, eager young guy. David. We call him "Davey." Just got married. I hated like hell to hear he was going, and not just because it leaves our team one guy short.

But there was that to consider. So I called a few guys that I thought might be interested in getting on a team, but no luck. Then I called a few guys that I thought might know someone interested in getting on a team, but no luck. Then I called a few guys that I thought might know someone who've heard about someone interested in getting on a team, but no luck. Then I called Red.

I went about it as delicately as possible. I needed to find out if he knew of any loose bowlers without giving him the impression I was asking if he wanted to be on our team. That sounds mean, doesn't it? But listen, you try picking spares when someone's pestering you to admit the "gull-durn lib'ral med-ya ain't telling the good stuffs 'bout Eyez-Rack!"

"So Red ... uh ... the reason I called is ... uh ... I know a guy who wants to remain anonymous and who's trying to put together a bowling team way over in Gem County. Know anyone who might be interested?"

"Wells maybe ah do, Cope. Ahs mahself ain't yet got on a team."

Drat! "The deal is ... uh ... this anonymous guy needs two guys, see? And if you know someone else who wants to bowl, I can give him your names and he'll get in touch with you. And ... uh ... if he doesn't get in touch with you, that means he ... uh ... that means his wife won't let him bowl. Yeah, that's it. He's got a bossy wife, see? That's why he wants to be anonymous."

Sure, I feel guilty about what I did. I should be horse-whipped. But being horse-whipped would be a small price to pay for not having to put up with Red every bowling night for the next 36 weeks.

But let me start at the beginning of the conversation. You'll see what I mean.

"Good thin' ya' phoned, Cope. Ah been wonderin' what y'think o' dat bird."

"What bird is that, pal?"

"Dat bird what ended up on the Idy-ho quarter. Dat pendergrass fawkland."

"Ah, the peregrine falcon, you mean."

"Whats ever. Mah point bein', ain'ts Idy-ho got sump'in' better t' put on our own special quarter than a durn bird?"

"Gosh, buddy. I don't think I have an opinion on this matter. I suppose if I were the King of Idaho, I probably would have picked something else. Like maybe the nuclear waste dump down by Arco. Or how about a smoke-belching sugar beet processing plant. You know... so maybe out-of-staters would think twice about moving here. But frankly, I doubt there's many people who make their travel plans from what's stamped on a coin."

"Sos let me get this straight. Yew ... Mister-Got-A-'Pinion-On-Ever'thing-Cope...yew ain't bothered what we got us'n a durn quarter wit' nuttin' better than a durn bird on it? Hell, they di'n't e'en put the whole bird on it! Don' yew think Idy-ho deserves a whole bird?!

"Calm down, Red. All I'm saying is, I don't think it matters much what Idaho has on its quarter. After all, it's not like it's important or anything."

"Ain't importan'?! Ain't importan'?! Lets me tell you sump'tin', Mister-Idy-Ho-Ain't-Imporan'-'Nough-F'r-Nuttin'-But-A Durn-Half-A-Bird-Cope! Vice Pres'dent Dick Cheney thinks Idy-ho is importan'. Vice Pres'dent Dick Cheney thinks Idy-ho's importan' 'nough to even come here! An' he's th' vice pres'dent o' all them other states, too. Dat makes Idy-ho purdy durn importan', if'n' y' ask me."

"Well, if you ask me, that just shows how unimportant Idaho is, when the least-popular man this side of Kim Jong-il shows up here to pimp for a low-grade fever tick like Bill Sali. Besides, I didn't say Idaho wasn't important. I said the Idaho quarter wasn't important."

"Make up y'r mind, Cope. Is we importan' ner ain't tcha? An' if'n I were yew, I wou'n't be callin' Bill Sali no low-greever fadin' tick, neither! He's 'bout importan' a feller as Idy-ho got ner Dick Cheney wou'n't be comin' here t' pimp fer 'im."

"Think about it, Red. Idaho's about the last place in the world Cheney can go without a having to wear a bag over his head. Most Republicans anywhere else would be running from him like 250 pounds of West Nile virus. But here's our own little loony-tune Congressional candidate, licking up to the most discredited, most dishonest, most manipulative, most corrupt sack of Wyoming crap maybe to come out of the whole history of America. All that says about Idaho is that we're the last to get it."

"Dang y'r hide! Juzz 'cause ev'r 'un else knows sump'in don' mean Idy-hoers gotta know it, too! Tha's what mades us special, Mister Keepin'-Up-Wit'-The-Know-It-All-Joneses-Cope! If'n ya' ask me, dat oughta be our state mottle. 'Idy-ho Ain't Got What Ev'r Body Else Gets! ' Yup. Tha'd be a mighty fine state mottle, if'n ya' ask me.'

"Well if you ask me, Red, I have the perfect picture for the Idaho quarter. Daffy Duck! Yeah, a detailed engraving of Daffy Duck, making a speech in Congress, all worked up over something with drops of duck spit flying every which way. And next to Daffy is a little map of Idaho with a bag over its head. From embarrassment, see what I'm getting at? And off to the side, all the rest of the country laughing their asses off. At us! Because we sent Daffy Duck to Congress. How's that for an iconic Idaho image? Huh?"

"Dang, Cope. Da's a lot t' fit on one measly quarter, don' tcha' think?"

"Uh, well ... well ... maybe," I said.

I cooled down some and remembered why I'd called him in the first place. "So Red ... uh ... the reason I called is ... uh ... I know a guy who wants to remain anonymous and who's trying to put together a bowling team ..." ... And so on and so forth.

But do you see what Red does to me? Makes me nuts. Jeez, Daffy Duck on the state quarter? Only one guy can make me come up with crazy stuff like that. And imagine trying to bowl worth a damn with that sort of thing to look forward to every time I sit down.

Oh, and Davey ... be safe. Your wife needs you. Your dad needs you. And Lord knows, your team needs you.

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