Riding the Bench
by Jim Farrar (1978)
I’m a park bench. A very good park bench. I’ve been on the force twenty-two and a half years now. My laurels are many. I’ve never put a splinter in anyone’s po-po. I’ve always warned my patrons about wet paint. (If you’ve never seen anyone who’s sat on a freshly painted bench, they look like a green zebra.) I even caught a criminal once. One day, God willing, I might even win the “bench of the year award.”
I was awakened this morning by what appeared to be a freight train ramming in to my spine. To my surprise, some idiot had placed an elevator on my seat. I really didn’t need the lift. (Get it?) Some gumball just having fun, I guess.
I’d better show you what I look like. Here’s my most recent photograph, taken at the recent Park Bench International Convention here in New York. (Theme: Sit down and cheer!) I had it cropped down for publication.
A couple of old gentlemen visited me this morning. I think they were intoxicated. They had a very touching philosophic discussion about death and the drunk-after. I tape all conversations held on me. You can read the transcript of their conversation, if you wish. The man smelling like Tokay will be assigned the letter “T.” The other, smelling of Pagan Pink Ripple, shall be designated “R.” It goes as follows:
T: Ya know who uh died yesterday?
R: Nupe. Tell me, shport.
T: I forgot.
R: Sho did I. Have another drink, shport.
T: Okay Tokay.
R: Yeshiree bob. I believe..
R. Shay What?
T: Ralph. He died yesterday.
R: Really. Shad to see the old (expletive deleted) go.
T: Zo wash I.
R: I propose. A Toast.
T: To Ralph.
R: To Me (hick).
T: Goot night Ralph.
R: I’m Fred.
T: No I’m Fred.
R: I am.
T: I am.
R: I’ll hit you in the liver.
T: Ball shot.
R: Goot night Fret.
Just met another weirdo. He sat down and started singing a real doosy of a song. It went something like this:
Who can make your wick burn?
Melt a little wax?
Take a couple molds
And make a miracle or two?
Oh, The Candleman can!
(Eat you heart out, Sammy Davis.)
One thing about public service, you do meet a variety of people.
It rained this afternoon. I guess business is all washed up for awhile. I did have one customer, however. A dog. He just stopped and left his mark. Not much company, a dog. But it did ease the monotony for a short while. I get lonely. In fact, sometimes I envy my friends in the bleacher business. When they get business, they get business. I suppose I won’t feel so depressed when the sun comes out again.
After twenty-two and a half years in the same place, I think I’m ready for a transfer. Maybe to Firth Avenue. I think I’ve seen everything there is to see in Central Park.
I was just visited by another singer. I think his bell was cracked even more than the other one’s. His “masterpiece” (as he tagged it) was called “Born Fat.” It goes something like this:
As fat as the hog grows!
As fat as the gut grows!
Born fat to clog up your heart.
As fat as you want to
As fat as you care to
So fat you can not walk!
So no belt surrounds you!
You’re fat as a tub of lard!
So you can’t ever hide!
Like I said, the guy was different. Funny thing is though, the guy couldn’t have weighed over 95 pounds and he was rather asthmatic. It seems that I get all the nuts.
My next customer was fat. He sat down and promptly broke two of my boards. I should go to the hospital. I won’t though. I’ll be brave and won’t cry (it warps my boards). Hopefully my insurance will cover this.
Night has fallen. Time for me to go bedy-bye. I think I’ll watch the muggers for a little while before I go to sleep, it’s always good for a couple of laughs.
Hey! It’s been nice sharing my thoughts with you. If you’re ever in New York, come visit me, I’ll be more than happy to serve you. Goodbye.
Editor’s Note: None of us will ever get the opportunity to visit this bench. Two days after he completed this collection of his thoughts and impressions of the world around him, he was cut and destroyed by a band of nomadic hippies who used him as firewood. Such is the fate of the great.