The party was a rousing success. Mr. Beard played his part perfectly, berating the guests, coloring all over the walls, food and even the face of an extremely young Drew Barrymore. The man who later went on to play Mr. Belvedere was disturbed so deeply by Mr. Beard that he suddenly began speaking in a British accent. The Beatniks – Gloria and Solomon couldn’t have been prouder. Their new art had produced the kind of buzz, hippy Beatniks like they were could only dream about. Child furniture was like playing checkers. In finding a deranged homeless guy with a disgusting beard, they had elevated their artistic game to chess.
Conversely, my attempt to play a touch lamp had failed so spectacularly that they had to convert me into a coat rack. It took me two years to scrub the anchovy smell out of my hair, courtesy of Neil Diamond’s embarrassing habit, which he kept silently in his coat pocket. To this day I still shudder when I see a cat coming towards me.
It wasn’t until the wee hours of Sunday morning that I had the opportunity to fall asleep, so you can imagine how disgruntled I was when Mr. Beard side-saddled up next to me. Fearing another green kangaroo on my face, or worse, I slid up against the wall. But instead of a bearded rampage, I saw the kind eyes of a man who simply didn’t own a razor. As if to assuage my fears he drew a magnificent smiley face sun using a yellow crayon on the floor in front of me. Nothing says friendship, truce or nut ball like a big smiley yellow sun face and so I stepped forward, somewhat confidently.
I’ll never forget the first words he said to me. Settling down onto his knees, our eyes met at the same level. He smiled, paused for a second and said, “Adverbs are an artist’s worst enemy.”
I didn’t know how to respond (mostly because my vocabulary stood at a gigantic nine words) so I shook my head dumbly. He repeated the statement again, and then winked with both eyes before a wide grin settled upon his face. I was so close to his face I could count the teeth. (If I could count) Despite my math deficiency, I was smart enough to know it was not a pretty sight. Confusion reigned supreme and the answers I needed were in scarce supply. Fortunately Mr. Beard had some in his deep beard. What followed was an extended monologue, said surprisingly in a deep Russian accent. Of course I will transcribe his every word here, but you will have to say them in your own deep Russian accent. Regardless, it will still sound great when this is all turned into an off-Broadway play:
“Let me start by saying how big a fan I am of you in the future. When it finally happens you will be grand, of this I have no doubts. Now, as for me I have no need to burden you with my real name so Mr. Beard will do. In reality, I am one of the long standing Fraternal Order of Bearded Ones, or FooBo in a pinch – which one day you will need to say aloud for one of us to come. My job is simple, to free you from the yoke of furniture impersonation and to get you started on your quest. For now take this. (Mr. Beard reached into what was now a long but tame beard and pulled out a “The Very Best of Paul Anka” cd) Leave the cd in the stereo here in the living room. The Beatniks love Paul Anka and will not question how they came into its possession. When the song, “Eso Beso” comes on, slowly move towards the door. He says the word “mucho” three times to end the song. On the second one, and it HAS to be on the second one, walk out the front door. If you walk out on the wrong “mucho”, you will be cursed to live here another nine years.
Mr. Beard took a deep breath and continued.
“The Beatniks – Gloria and Solomon love Paul Anka so much, they will have a hard time getting through the album. This means you must be patient, because “Eso Beso” is the eighteenth track out of twenty on the album. You will not hear it for at least three weeks. In the meantime, listen to the songs, for they will teach you enough English to get by.”
My head was swimming and about to drown in the tidal wave of information. I began to ask him where I would go after leaving the house but he cut me off to end his extended monologue:
“Trust in the Eso Beso and understand that the knowledge you need to get to the places you’re needed will come when they have to. As for me, my time has come and gone. Goodbye Tom Starita, it is an honor to eat myself to death in front of you.”
Before I could question that last line, Mr. Beard shoved his entire beard into his mouth. With an impressive display of throat muscles, he took a deep breath, swallowed his beard and died.