Yikes, Virginia!
The Further Correspondence of Virginia O’Hanlon & Mr. Francis Church

By:

We all know of the Christmas of 1897 when a perplexed young girl wrote to the editor of the New York Sun in her quest to prove the existence of Santa Claus. Mr. Frank Church’s stirring response truly defined the spirit of Christmas for all generations. And the phrase, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus,” has become the rallying cry of all true believers. But the story doesn’t end there.

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4/12/1898

Dear Mr. Church,

Thank you for your wonderful answer to my letter. My family was very happy. And my little friends now truly and forever believe in Santa Claus. But now my friends are saying there is no Easter Bunny! What am I to do? Papa still says if you read it in the Sun it must be so. Please tell me the truth, is there an Easter Bunny?

Signed,

Virginia O’Hanlon

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4/20/1898

Dear Virginia,

How terrible a place this gray little planet would be if there were no Easter Bunny! Why, no Easter Bunny? Then your friends may as well say “No springtime,” “No joy,” “No love!” They are wrong, Virginia, for as long as the human heart beats and carries in it generosity, devotion and charity, there will forever be an Easter Bunny.

Francis Church

Editor, NY Sun

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10/2/1898

Dear Mr. Church,

I lost my tooth yesterday at school and when I told my little friends I was going to put it under my pillow for the tooth fairy, they laughed and taunted me. They said my Mama and Papa place the shiny nickel beneath my pillow during the night and then put the tooth in a jar and sell it to people in Chinatown. Can this be, sir? I know you will tell me the truth as you are kind and forthright. Is there a tooth fairy?

Signed,

Virginia O’Hanlon

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10/20/98

Dear Virginia,

Okay, sure, tooth fairies. They exist. They will exist as long as people need love and hope and dreams. That’s good. There are tooth fairies, Virginia.

Signed,

Frank Church

NY Sun

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7/12/1899

Dear Mr. Church, Is Bigfoot real? Inquiring minds want to know.

Signed,

Virginia O’Hanlon

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8/08/1899

Dear Virginia,

I guess. I’ve never seen him, but a friend of mine has, so, sure, there is a Bigfoot.

Signed,

Frank Church

NY Sun

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8/12/1899

Dear Mr. Church,

Leprechauns? Are there such things as leprechauns?

Signed,

Virginia O’Hanlon

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10/02/1899

Dear Virginia,

No. Bigfoot ate them all.

Signed,

Frank Church

NY Sun

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3/19/1901

Dear Mr. Church,

Where do babies come from? I say the stork brings them. My little friends say that Mama and Papa do vile, disgusting things to one another to make a baby. I know you’ll tell me true, ’cause Papa still says if it’s in the Sun, it must be so. So, does the stork bring the baby?

Signed,

Virginia O’Hanlon

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4/01/1901

Dear Virginia,

I would seriously advise you to stop hanging out with these little friends of yours. Who are these kids? Where are they picking this stuff up?

Signed,

F. Church

NY Sun

P.S. We’re canceling your father’s subscription to the Sun.

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5/23/1910

Dear Mr. Church,

My friends speak of a G-spot, but my boyfriend can’t find it. Is there a G-spot?

Signed,

Virginia O’Hanlon

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5/30/1910

Dear Virginia,

My wife is the NY Sun and my children are its editorials so I have no idea what you are talking about. Virginia, I’m old and tired and the paper just announced it’s folding. I’m passing your letter to Dear Abby. Good luck to you.

Signed,

F. Church

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8/05/1911

Dear NY Daily News,

I’m looking for a Mr. Francis Church, formerly of the New York Sun. Is he working there? I know you’ll tell me if he does, ’cause Papa says that since the Sun folded, you can count on the Daily News. Thank you.

Signed,

Virginia O’Hanlon

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Limestone Luxury Condos

By:

There’s a new feeling underfoot here in Quagmire, Florida, and the new feeling is…there’s nothing underfoot!

Thanks to a patented process called Irreversible Desiccation, great hollows have opened underneath our former residents to make room for you, and you, and millions more just like you — sleek young professionals with Tennis Elbow and PC Pinky, tender but tough, youthful but useless. Sinkhole & Sons Realty is looking for glistening Caucasian physiques in fishnet underwear just tight enough to hurt. For tanned bodies like yours that pose almost naturally, almost believably in the latest styles driving the latest cars (“The Predator,” “The Quasi-Motors Hunchback”) and drinking the latest drinks (“The Vodka Valium”).

Quagmire used to be the place where everyone with nowhere else to go had to go, but they’re all gone now, all of them. All the pensioners without the strength to endorse their ludicrously insufficient checks. All the unshaven old men and unshaven old women who used to shuffle from trash container to trash container saying “I remember…I remember…” when of course they couldn’t remember anything, not even their next of kin. All gone now. One minute they were standing helplessly in their shallow sandy gardens, propping themselves up with hoes and rakes and saying “I remember…I remember…” The next minute, as if by divine fiat, the earth opened beneath them, and in place of the elder ones stood a new development in modern living from Sinkhole & Sons: Limestone Luxury Condos.

If you’ve ever wanted to live like a blind cave salamander, groping for sightless white grubs in the slimy primordial dark, Limestone Luxury Condos could be for you. Close to Hell yet within praying distance of Heaven, these subterranean cavern units are also convenient to shopping at the ultra-modern Manglers Mall, where you will be treated like an honored prisoner of war by the brightly outfitted security personnel. Whether you eat your heart out at the Self-Serve Organ Surplus Warehouse, or mix metaphors and partners at the First Circle Bar and Grill (“Dante’s Bottomless and Topless Pit Stop”), you’ll appreciate the impersonal air of affluence that washes over you at Manglers Mall.

Get beneath it all. Come to Limestone Luxury Condos and sink out of sight with us into a spectral world where all necessities and toiletries must be lowered by rope. Listen to the mineral-laden water bleeding in from above as it drips endlessly from magnificently contorted ceilings onto pitted prehistoric floors, heedless of human concerns, ignorant of the latest fashions in jogging clothes, seeking only the warmth and quietude at the earth’s core.

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To My Pal On Vacation

By:

To all the gang back at A&T Concrete,

What’s up!!! Panama is amazing!!! Cindy and I went swimming today and I saw this amazing fish. You guys should come here on your next vacation!!! Wish you were here!!!

Frank

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Dear Frank,

It’s Al. Thank you for your postcard. Me and the guys back at the plant read it this morning during our smoke break. Eddie grabbed it from the mail room, and he read it aloud while we all puffed casually on our cigarettes outside in the cold. A few guys made wisecracks about girls in bikinis, and a couple others just coughed and dug holes in the ground with their boot heels. Hal decided right there to get that elective stomach surgery he’d been thinking about. Basically, your message touched us all Frank, if in different ways. Thank you so much for writing.

I wasn’t sure if you were looking for replies from us, Frank, but your message hit hard with me especially and I thought it was only fair to send you a note back. Work has been dragging me down lately, and I’ve been giving more thought to whatever years I may have left in this aging body of mine. Being the oldest guy here isn’t always so easy. In fact, sometimes, I think it’s pretty dang hard. Frank, my friend, I really need to talk. Can you spare a few minutes to listen?

It’s late, but I don’t care if I sleep in tomorrow morning and get to work at lunch time. For me, Frank, business at A&T Concrete has become too rhythmic, too expected, and sometimes, just too much. The band on the 5-DW mixer snapped last week, my friend, and with it snapped the window of complacency through which I’ve been viewing my dull, lifeless existence.

Your note has inspired me, Frank. Your hurried tone means you’re in a rush, a vague sensation I barely remember. Your numerous exclamation marks mean you’re excited, a distant feeling I can barely recall.

As the years inside this concrete plant slowly turn into decades, my soft hands turn into a wrinkled study in debilitating arthritis, my diversified investment portfolio crumbles like an ill-built Jenga tower, and my gentle ease and simple charm with the world around me turns into a furious, clenching desire to live my last few moments on this horrid planet in a climactic combination of excess, luxury, and sin.

I want to be like you, Frank. That’s why I’m coming to Panama.

When I get there I want to have a gorgeous view from a cabana on the white sands of the Pacific Ocean. I want a topless beach attendant, tanned golden brown, to serve me fresh squeezed papaya juice in a coconut half while I playfully tease a family of spider monkeys who have developed an interest in my new lip piercing.

I want the beach attendant’s supple breasts to sensually graze my arm, her sharp dark eyes capturing mine knowingly while she grasps my open hand. And, as the piercing summer sun slowly fades to a dark orange, as another warm day gives way to the beginning of another white hot night, I want to quickly gather my cashmere robe, my platinum earrings, and my new Blackberry and saunter back to the cabana with her in my arm.

I don’t want to be dreaming of U-shaped blocks of concrete like I am now, Frank. I don’t want to wake up sweating every night, and then limp to the kitchen for a glass of warm, salty Metamucil and a worried review of my bank book.

I want to trudge off with the attendant to my cabana, Frank, my bony arm around her taut, sandy waist, with all the unmentionables about to be mentioned, with all the deeds of sin coming to heed on top of my crumpled rented sheets. As our lips meet for a wet kiss of unbridled passion, as I tug playfully on her braided hair, and as she slides her silky hand through my new designer toupee, I want shivers of agony and ecstasy to shoot like bolts through my body. In view then out again, on top then underneath again, I need to feel those bolts of agony and ecstasy, Frank. I want those bolts of agony and ecstasy, Frank.

I don’t want to put in Sunday overtime for the three weeks in a row anymore. I don’t want to worry about Marty’s back going out again and then trying to figure out who will take his place. Frank, I’m sick of hearing Dan’s stories about the new tailpipe on his Civic. I’m tired of watching Rich’s attempts to get the lunch truck cashier to notice him. And if I have to do one more safety drill, I think I’m going to put the foreman in the HT-44 press and drop-kick the big, green button.

Book me a cabana next to yours, Frank.

Old Al is coming down for the ride.

Al Shrampton

A&T Concrete

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I, Darius, Dropped A Nut Here

By:
ernstluchs@gmail.com

Much has been made of Columbus’ first voyage across the Atlantic. Yet Christopher Columbus was not the first greaseball from the Old World to drop socks in the New. Also, there’s the little known matter of cannibalism aboard his ships, which has never been adequately addressed. The code of silence was breached only once by Vasco de Sectomy, ship’s cook, nicknamed the Crisco Kid, who wrote that the several crewmen he prepared were beyond help and tasted like old laying hens. His request for a junior officer was rebuked. However, his recipe for “long pig” remains closely guarded under lock and key in the Library of Seville. No one except Pope Kasmir the Omnivorous has seen it, though a very determined Betty Crocker was turned away in tears several years ago.

But truly, at this point I’d rather cut my own heart out with a broken bottle than breathe one more word about Columbus.

Long before the so-called Age of Discovery, before the Inquisitors racked up their first heretic, before that German cockroach Gutenberg cradled his first umlaut, before Joan of Arc’s heavenly body went up in a blaze of glory, before Henry VIII beheaded his way into our hearts, all manner of pimple-faced poets and star-crossed golliwogs were prancing in the foam on our shores, naked and alone, glistening in the moonlight like great silver carp. Some came in peace. Others came in pieces. Many came to either eat or be eaten. They all had one thing in common. They died. Who were these people? What did they smell like? Was flatulence a problem for them? Did they drink beer?

Going back at least as far as 800 or 1,000 B.C., men with swords of bronze and balls of iron have been drawn inexplicably, oft times inexcusably, to drop their shorts here.

Along the Northeast coast can be found a number of huge magnificent and beguiling stone phalluses (called phalli) left behind by a sexy breed of swingers who flowered but for a season in this rugged land: The Jasonites. To know them is to love them is to know them. Surely the long ocean voyage at close quarters was the inspiration for their refreshingly frank sculptural monuments. Ancient mariners often manned their vessels in the nude for practical as well as aesthetic reasons. As such, strict discipline aboard ship was of paramount importance. Every man from First Mate down to the Fudge Packer’s Apprentice knew the sting of the Captain’s paddle.

No sooner had the Jasonites invented chaps than they discarded them as a landlubber’s luxury. Filled with resolve and assorted nutmeats they sailed their delicate boats of balsa wood in search of the Golden Fleece. Abalone inlay graced the handrails. Erotic subjects done in filigree played tag around the ship’s compass. Sails of crushed velvet whispered aloft, secured with silken cords. The Jasonites thrived on a diet of Rocky Mountain oysters and honey until, at last, naked and alone, they took their first feeble steps in the New World. Shyly they shivered in the frosty silence of the dawn, like fawns awakened in the Garden of Eden. Then, with growing eagerness, they reached out to gather the flowers of Spring.

But, alas, naked and alone, they perished in a senseless bloodbath as hordes of brutish savages slaughtered them and ate their livers (which tasted like the finest venison).

Certain sites in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, after years of strenuous excavation, have grudgingly yielded several ancient samples of caramelized stool, carbon dated to 90 B.C. (plus or minus 2,000 years). These curious remains are the last will and testament of the Yodelians, a large, asymmetrical Aryan race who fled hygienic persecution in their native Switzerland. Distantly related to Sasquatch, they were also ancient cousins of the Samuelites, forefathers of our very own Uncle Sam. All relations aside, they were otherwise notable for the pleated bony plates, fringed with undulating frills of cartilage, that bisected their brain cavities. It was not uncommon for the backs of their abbreviated skulls to contain a handy storage compartment where a fragrant sachet or amber trinket could be kept and treasured in privacy.

Somehow these yodeling yahoos found their way to the New World, where they eventually yodeled their way right into the stew pot, summarily butchered and simmered by a band of Algonquins after a bitterly contested Ping-Pong match during which numerous spouses and children had been wagered. The Yodelian chowder went over very well after the game. Weep not for them. Before the invention of toilet paper any colonization attempt was doomed to failure anyway. Truly sore and sorry was any bottom that learned this lesson the hard way.

The Celts were a swarthy, hotheaded, hopped-up rabble of midgets with such prominent brow ridges that their eyes could not be seen without a flashlight. Many appeared quite effeminate and were only two or three feet high in their spikes. But they were utterly fearless mariners who could travel 3,000 miles in an open boat with nothing more to sustain them than a barrel full of sweet baby gherkins. They steered by the stars. They were fond of saying that Ursula Major will get you 10 and Ursula Minor will get you 20 (a fact which, ironically, modern astronomers corroborate).

Staggering heaps of pottery shards at Celtic settlement sites attest to the sorry state of marital affairs in everyday life. Obviously Mr. and Mrs. Celt spent all their spare time throwing things at each other.

If we were to judge solely by the portraits of their women found on pottery fragments we might incorrectly deduce that the modern horse had already been introduced to the Americas by this time.

Skeptics maintain that the Celts lacked the means to construct the massive stone temples found scattered along the last remaining segments of Route 66. How could such ugly, tiny people move rocks that weighed countless tons? The fact is that once the honeymoon was over the Celts settled down to a lifetime consumed by endless drudgery, every waking moment (aside from spousal target practice) totally devoted to the moving of huge stones to sacred sites. What determined the sacredness of a particular site was the number of Celts killed in the process of moving the stones there.

If we eavesdrop with our imaginations we can hear the beating of pagan drums, the creaking of rotten vines and crude hemp ropes stretched beyond all reasonable safety parameters, and lo! the sudden snap of breaking bones, punctuated by screams and heartfelt bickering.

There was no such thing as old age in this culture. By the age of 20 a man was so bent out of shape that he looked like a human swastika. When he fell downhill he’d cartwheel all the way. By the end of his truncated life the average Celt was a toothless patchwork of multiple ruptures and festering fractures swathed in bloody homespun bandages, his brave frame marginally supported by a tattered tangle of leather harness straps and trusses cinched so tight that body parts withered and fell off in coarse blackened chunks. Often these piecemeal wayward body parts were all that nourished them as they crawled their way the last few miles to their own graves. This practice of self-consumption is a unique anomaly in the wide world of cannibalism. Why they left is certainly no mystery. That they held out so long is what astounds us. Theirs is a lasting legacy of unspeakable pain and suffering.

The Peckerwood Filter Kings were an irascible, irreverent, irritable, totally irrelevant, slightly iridescent race of aristocrats descended from glowworms. It is believed they were first disseminated here in migratory bird droppings. Mercifully they all died. That they were inedible should come as no surprise.

Lastly we highlight a culture known only as the Bong People. The words despicable and malodorous come to mind, but they really weren’t people so much as zombie-like drones, clad only in chain mail loincloths, who had a talent for showing up unannounced and uninvited. They subsisted on a diet of leprechauns and peyote buttons. Their ocean-going rafts were made of old rolled up Persian rugs stuffed with dried camel dung and deviled eggs. Nevertheless they managed to reach these shores with an immense cargo of a highly concentrated form of Turkish taffy known as Snag, which was distributed freely to all native peoples. By this insidious means, in just a few years entire tribes had perished, decimated by the ravages of rampant tooth decay. A few tribal remnants rallied their forces and in an epic battle on what is present-day Coney Island the Bong People were slowly gummed to death and sent to hookah heaven.

Everyone was delighted to find that when properly dressed and seasoned, the Bong People had the appearance of richly marbled beef. But the smoke produced by the fires that cooked them was very black and greasy, and their roasted flesh was a gamy disappointment reminiscent of rancid salt pork (scholars believe it could possibly have been improved slightly by marinade). The Native Americans who ate them had dysentery for weeks afterward.

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