November 28, 2012 § 4 Comments

Chicago is a city of many Big Shoulders, and my neighbor, Al Matanky, is a Big Guy. He wrecked the 100-year-old two-flat next door and built his dream house Big.

Al’s is the only house on this block with its very own driveway. Everyone else with a car and a parking space steers warily into the alley, watching out for vehicles, dogs, or hard-up people digging through trash. But, most of us either park on the street or don’t own a car.

Aside from a car, a garage, and a giant home, Al has two other things I don’t have: lots of moolah (he calls it “moo”) and a full head of hair.

Al spends his time in hospitals counting money, a great gig, he says, for an accountant like him.

“Not-for-profit hospitals?” he asks, raising his bushy eyebrows towards the sky, “Yeah right. You should see the piles of moo they bank in those foundations! I’ve never seen numbers with so many zeros.”

Al thinks the entire hospital biz is a scam. He spent ten years as a Chicago cop before he changed careers. You can see it in the way he stands, resting a hand on his belt as if it held a gun, in the way he stares you down when he talks, and in his powder blue shirts.

I’m 5’ 8”, bald, and live in the basement level of a three-flat. My wife sells second-hand books online and I write for a chain of neighborhood newspapers. We can see out our front window, but we can’t see too much: dogs moving past, delivery trucks, the blackness of Al’s Mercedes turning into his drive.

Al voted for Romney, but he knows that we voted for the O-man. Al might be right about hospitals, but when he says Obama won because bald guys like me put him over the top he’s dead wrong.

“Every guy I know who voted for Obama is bald, I can name names,” he says, running his hands through his ample, graying locks. “If I could get complete demographics of the bald population along with post-election voting data, I could prove it. Data plus the right software package, that’s all I need.”

Matanky claims men without hair are more sensitive to climate change, because they are vulnerable to extremes of temperature. Therefore, despite the fact that global warming is a hoax, bald folk were more apt to vote for Barack.

“Firing up your shiny-headed comrades was a brilliant strategy. You know the Romney team was no match for that kind of move!”

Matanky talked like that during the entire election season, as if I were David Axelrod without hair or mustache, running the Obama campaign out of my “garden apartment.” So that was bad enough, but the President’s win pushed him over the edge.

Yesterday, I was just out the door on my way to interview my alderman about animal control, when he spotted me and grabbed my arm so hard it hurt:

“Global warming, right? The hot sun on your hairless dome fueling your brain! Remember that scam with Solyndra? They got the government moo, went broke?  Guess what, we found out what was really going on. There’s a guy in Arizona on internet radio, he’s got the smoking gun. A large chunk of Solyndra cash went to a top secret baldness research program right there in Fremont! Even the military got involved. You’ll be hearing about that soon, believe me.

“Fremont’s got lots of Asians, and Asians don’t go bald, so they were paying them, testing them and doing research, hoping to please the baldness lobby right before voting time. Just like Romney said, everyone got their gifts, and they planned an early Christmas for the chrome-domed. Only problem was, they didn’t find the cure.”

His face was red and his eyes were on fire. He let go of my arm like he was throwing it away and started wagging his finger in my face:

“But you had to know all that. Why don’t you come clean and tell us exactly how it worked? Come on!”

I thanked Al for the information and told him I’d look into it, but that I didn’t mind being bald and would never let that influence my vote in any way. He took a deep breath and became a little calmer.

“It’s about time someone blew the whistle on these guys.” He backed away from me as he spoke. “And now, it’s all coming out. The bald, the lame, the gay, Hispanics, Blacks and radical feminists, they’re keeping that guy in office for another term when he should have lost and spent the next four years in the slammer! That secret research better find the baldness cure way before 2016 rolls around so there won’t be any bald folks left to vote bribe.”

He ran up the stairs to his multistory house, went inside and slammed the door behind him.



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