I’m a Hun

Conversation room.

 I have no idea how much time has passed.  I open my eyes.

Back to being played by Geller, but I still look as though I’m dressed as a homeless person for Halloween.  To my right is the shopping cart, but something new protrudes.  I reach over and carefully lift it out.  It’s a record—an old, vinyl, 33 RPM LP in its cardboard sleeve.  Jacket.  We used to call them jackets.  And albums.  Jackets contain albums.

The jacket of the album I am holding looks well-aged.  It’s rather faded, and I can see the outline of the vinyl disc in the wear on the jacket.  It’s an album that I haven’t seen in a long time, yet I recognized it right away.  It’s an album that I purchased not long after it was released in late 1970: Naturally, by Three Dog Night.

I know what I’m supposed to do with this.  I look to my left, and see the old “hi-fi” in the corner.  I go over to it and lift the lid.  There are the knobs and the turntable, and the tall spindle and forked arm that we called a “changer.”  I carefully remove the album from the jacket.  I observe with no surprise at all that the album itself is in mint condition; it looks brand new.

I flip the album so that side two is facing up, and put it on the turntable.  I switch on the player.  It’s set on 78 RPM, and spins comically fast, so I move the speed lever to 33.  I carefully lift the tone arm.   (There is no “lifter;” I have to do it gently by hand).  I move the needle over to the last track on side two and gently let it down onto the spinning vinyl.  The old familiar crackle erupts, but my aim is good and I’ve set it down in the gap between the tracks.  The distorted electric piano opening begins at exactly the pitch that I am anticipating in my head.

The singer introduces his friend and drinking buddy, Jeremiah the bullfrog.  Chorus (I hum along softly), then second verse, imagining himself as “king of the world.”  I wait patiently for the third verse.

“You know I love the ladies
Love to have my fun
I’m a h/un
I’m a h/un
I’m a h/un
I’m a h/un
I’m a h/un
I’m a h/un…”

I let the record skip two or three more times, then reach out and gently place my finger on the cartridge above the needle, and bear down slightly.

“I’m a h/un
I’m a high life flier and a rainbow rider…”

I join in.  “A straight-shootin’ son of a gun.”

“You still can’t listen to that song without hearing that skip, can you?”

I am not really startled by the voice, even though I wasn’t exactly expecting it.  I casually turn around to see whose voice it is.

The thing standing near the center of the room—that’s my first impression; thing rather than person—is about five feet tall.  It only takes me another second to recognize it.  Uh, him.  King Guz from the old Ally Oop comic strip.  Three dimensional, but black and newsprint white.  “How many times did you go back to the store and exchange it?”

That voice.

“I went back twice.  After the third copy that I got still skipped in exactly the same place, I gave up.”

He places his large cartoon hands on his hips and narrows his eyes at me.  “And you still expect it.”

When I finally place the voice, I feel so stupid that I literally smack the palm of my hand on my forehead.  “James Earl Jones!”

“Huh?”

“Nothing.  Never mind.”  I turn, gently move the tonearm back to its resting place, and shut off the hi-fi.  “Yes, I still expect it anytime I hear the song.  ‘I’m a Hun,’ it sounds like.  It always makes me think of Attila.”  I turn back toward King Guz and put my hands in my pockets. “And now I think of ‘Attila at The Gates of The Telephone Company,’ the poem by Richard Brautigan.”

He does not respond.

“Am I actually to be told something today?”

He smiles broadly.  “I guess we’ll see about that, won’t we?”  Darth Vader without the electronic effects.  He gestures at the chair where I had been sitting a few minutes before.  “Wanna have a seat?”

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