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The Art of Politics in the Gutters of the Bowling Lanes

Now do not get me wrong. When it comes to following the current political scene, I am as focused as the next guy. I figure it is my civic duty, like returning library books on time.

But I have also heard, maybe on Dr. Phil, that one can become too focused, which is not such a good thing, and may be the reason Einstein looked the way he did.

That is why, to clear my mind, I found myself at the track the other night, where the races are strictly of the nonpolitical variety, not to mention more enjoyable.

And it is there that I run into Shorty.

Normally, I do not see Shorty, who is not short in the slightest, which is how he gets his name. Normally I do not see him at the track on Saturday night on account of that is his bowling night. Shorty has always been the exercise nut of the group.Naturally, I ask him what’s what.

“What’s wrong,” he tells me, “is that whoever it is who says bowling and art do not mix is right on the money.”

I mention to Shorty that I do not think anyone has ever said such a thing, although I do recall once hearing something about relatives and dead fish.

“Well,” he says, “if no one has said it yet, I am saying it now.”

At this point, I am not sure what is the correct reply. Fortunately, Shorty does not wait for one.

“I cannot speak for others,” he says, “but personally I do not think it takes much to pee on a cross, other than perhaps extremely poor upbringing. I certainly do not consider it much in the way of art.”

It is a statement with which it is hard to disagree. Or understand.

“Shorty,” I ask, “exactly what is it you are talking about?”

Well, it turns out what he is talking about is someone peeing on a cross. Or more precisely, the woman who is the mixed portion of his mixed doubles bowling team has been talking about it.

“There we are,” continues Shorty, “in between frames, when out of the blue she begins to swoon about how she is sorry she missed said piece of urinary art when it was on display a few years back, if display is the correct term.

“This is when I mention to her that I have seen pee in jars at my doctor’s office for years, often being a contributor myself, and not once did anyone refer to it as art.”

“Well, Shorty,” I say, “I understand how you feel, but you are wrong to let such a difference of opinion ruin your evening at the lanes.”

Shorty quickly sets me straight.

“The problem is not that she does not agree with me,” he explains,” “I figure if two people cannot have different opinions then I am not living in the country I thought I was.

“But I am more than a little miffed at being told I am some kind of numbskull for not agreeing that a peed-on cross is art. And that is when I get an idea to find out just whose skull is really the numbest.”

“For a minute or two, I am still as the night. Then I say to her that perhaps she is correct, and I will keep an open mind when I view for myself the latest work of this same fellow, which, of course, piques her curiosity as planned.

“She says, ‘Andres Serrano has a new work?'”

“And I say, ‘Yes, I hear this time he will take a glass beaker and inside put a deceased puppy, similarly submerged.

I ask Shorty what happens next. It obviously is not bowling.

“Well, she says that is disgusting, which, of course, it is, but I do not tell her that. Then she realizes exactly what it is I have pulled off at her expense and begins screaming words which I have never said, even after tossing one in the gutter.”

It has taken a good while, but I believe I am finally beginning to grasp just what it is Shorty is saying.

“You see,” concludes Shorty, “she does not really believe a peed-on cross is art. She just uses it to make fun of something she does not care for.

“And that is why my bowling experience is ruined. I do not care for such dishonesty, especially in someone I thought was always on the up-and-up.”

It is at this moment that the race gets underway. I suggest to Shorty he keep his eye on Number 7.

I am thinking that this is why I like horses over people. Horses may win. Horses may lose. But they are as honest as the day is long.

I am also thinking that Shorty would be a great political analyst.

Dennis Maurizi lives in Hancock. His feature on Tammany appeared in the Feb. issue of American History.