What a beautiful Saturday, summer evening, I think as I walk out to the mailbox to get the post. Out of the brown, metal box, I retrieve a hand full of the usual bills, advertisements and magazines. Flipping through the pieces as I return to the house, the picture on the cover of the magazine stops me in my tracks. Literally. Staring back at me from the cover of The AARP Magazine is actor/director, Ron Howard. HOLY MOLEY! Little Opie, from The Andy Griffith Show, is old enough to be on the cover of a senior rag. We are the same age. Is it not bad enough that I face the monthly reality of my Methuselahism when this buggering magazine arrives? Apparently not! Now I have to acknowledge that I, and the Richie Cunningham of Happy Days that I grew up with, are models of senior citizenry--waiting for a Viagra moment.
When did this happen? How did this happen? Wasn't it only yesterday that I was looking forward to who was on the cover of Rolling Stone? I mean, brown sugar, is Mick Jagger next month's cover feature? And this isn't the only thing that's bothering me about this whole gig. There is something else zinging around in the back of my bio-computer's gray matter like a firefly that I can't quite catch. What is it? Continuing my walk to the house, wearing long ago memories as if they were yesterday's clothes, I wonder if my peppy, young person's, bouncy step has turned into the "little, ol' lady shuffle." Fearing so, I pick up my feet and clip along with a saucy sashay.
And then...that firefly of a thought? I slap it to the wall like a mosquito to an arm. The cover of The AARP Magazine reminds me of MAD magazine. These two men on the covers look so similar they could be twins. What is going on here?
Just for a moment, my world goes black and I hear only a high-pitched buzzing in my ears which turns into singing.
Don't worry 'cause I'm a comin'
I'm a soul man...
"John is that you?," I ask.
"That's right, kiddo it's John Belushi. Live from the Bardo state, It's Saturday Night!
What the freak?
Of all the beings in all the galaxies in all the universes that I could channel, I get John Belushi. He tells me to type the name belonging to the man featured on the cover of MAD into the search bar on the computer:
I read the search engine hits and learn that Alfred E. Neuman is MAD magazine's "What -- Me Worry?" kid. He's a young man with a thatched roof of red hair, large ears and a gap-toothed, goofy-grin.
John says, "Give me 10 little, chocolate donuts and an eight ball of cocaine, and I'll tell you the secret connection between Opie and Alfred E."
Well, I don't have an eight ball, but I really want that secret, so I tell John that unlike him, I like being in my body and swore off all that stuff years ago. He starts fussin' with me, tellin' me I'm not gonna get that secret if I don't share the blow. I stand my ground. I'm not punting my karmic orbit for some ol' 12-Step dropout. Finally, he sees it my way and we start to parlay. I raise the 10 chocolate donuts to 20 and add a cheeseburger with a Coke. He tells me Pepsi--no Coke, and we have a deal.
"First off, Ron Howard and Alfred are the same age, 55. Do you think it's a coincidence?," John asks.
Thinking for a minute, I consider how much they look alike, I sez,"You mean..."
"Yeah," says Belushi."In the most magnificent Face/Off in history, Alfred E. rose off the illustrated page like the pointer on a Ouija Board and took on the physical appearance of Ron Howard."
"But why?," I ask.
"Well, he's a tricky one and is hard to read. But he detests being a one dimensional, paper boy and he plans to take over the world." says John.
I have to agree. Who's going to believe you're going to become the world sovereign when you're considered a carefree, idiotic paper doll--a pawn of "The Man." Before he leaves, Belushi makes the bargain good by giving me this extra special bonus secret.
"There are two other casualties of Neuman's deviltry that I will share with you. The next time you have an opportunity to see Charles, Prince of Wales and ABC newsman Ted Koppel, look closely. All is not as it seems."