BART & BETH: A LOVE STORY

INTRO: A BRIEF ENCOUNTER

They met at a bookshop in good old Beantown, Boston MA, their hometown. He had found a bargain, a copy of Billy Budd with a loose binding and a slightly torn bookplate and was next in line behind a beautiful woman buying a somewhat beat-up copy of Bedknobs & Broomsticks. When the bookseller told her she was short a buck, she busily rummaged through her tote bag searching for the balance due. Being a beneficent sort and seeing she was blushing with embarrassment, he quickly offered her one of his own dollar bills. She glanced backward to thank her benefactor for his beau geste and BAM! It was like a bolt of lightning, a bona fide case of love at first sight for the two bookworms, Bart Bradley and Beth Barrett.

ABOUT BETH:

An aspiring ballerina weighing barely 100 lbs., she had a svelte body and petite backside. It was bandied about that perhaps she was bulimic, but basically, not burdened by a big appetite, she just ate like a bird. Somewhat bashful at first, her bubbly personality came bursting through whenever Bart came around. He would declare that her brunette hair, whether worn backswept, in a bob, billowy or pinned back with barrettes and bobby pins, or in braids with ribbon bowknots, with bangs, or heck, even with bedhead, always looked beauteous. He would always boast that whatever type of beachwear she chose, a bikini or some other bathing suit, she always looked breathtaking. Also, whether lounging around in her bedclothes or a bathrobe, wearing her ballet gear, bouncing about town in a simple blouse with maybe a blazer, or dressed like a belle in her favorite ballgown from Bloomingdale's with a bodice of fine beadwork, she was always very becoming. And he always cherished a striking backlit painting of master brushwork he'd commissioned of Beth posing at the banister wearing a pretty brocade and flashing her bright smile yet exuding the regal bearing of a baroness.

As a little girl, her balletomania knew no bounds. It was no doubt nurtured by her babysitter, the kindly Basia Baronov who broke down for her the works of George Balanchine, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and even Busby Berkeley. Often they'd go from Beth's Beacon Hill abode to Basia's garden at her brownstone in nearby Brookline where they'd don babushkas and pull beets for borscht while Basia would recount how she was descended from distinguished boyars and burgomasters and that her bloodline somehow included Gorbachev, the guy with the red birthmark on his bald head.

Anyhow, sometime prior to the Bolshevik revolution, with the breadbox empty and the outlook bleak, Basia's family had emigrated from her birthplace, Belorussia, in search of a better life. Once a balletic young girl herself, Basia had dreamt of being in the Bolshoi, but persistent bursitis, acute bunions, brittle bones, balky knees, and constant backaches proved too burdensome. Unable to go full-bore, she shelved her injury-blighted career and remained bemired in obscurity thereafter. Yet she was never bitter and instead went on to bequeath to Beth her bountiful knowledge while instilling her work ethic of no backpedaling, no backdown, nohow. Practically hell-bent that Beth stay focused and not fall behindhand on the ambitious program she'd designed, Basia eventually had Beth breezing through her practice routines even while blindfolded.

ABOUT BART-EAST MEETS WEST: A BICULTURAL PHENOMENOM

Now Bart's biggest influence growing up was his Grampa Bo (Beauregard) on whose farm in Beaumont, Texas he spent much of his boyhood summers. He enjoyed baling bushels of hay and doing other barnyard chores like tending to the bleating billy goats and sheep and working the barley fields filling the barrow. He loved helping Grampa Bo in the breeding of the bloodstock, thoroughbred horses mighty as Bucephalus for whom they had buyers from as far away as Bombay, Brunei, and Bahrain wishing to win races like the Belmont Stakes e.g. He became quite the broncobusting buckaroo and wowed all the cowboys at the bunkhouse with his knack for riding the bucking broncs. Though city-bred, it seemed he was born to bravely handle the brutal beasties without breaking his neck, merely receiving some bumps and bruises, rarely any boo-boos requiring a bandage.

MORE ABOUT BO

You see the Bradley men were generally great bons vivants, a boisterous and rambunctious lot for sure. The colorful Bo, old as a bristlecone pine and bewhiskered with bushy burnsides, brimming with nostalgia, would hearken back to when as a young buck he made boodles of cash off his brainchild...a makeshift brewery he'd set up in his basement to churn out bootleg booze which he'd cleverly hide under the bedliner of his Buick truck to get from Point A to Point B. Apparently, some birdbrain customer bombed out of his mind started blabbing one day about where he'd overheard that his bottle of bourbon originated from. Sure enough Bo got bagged when the G-men showed up flashing their burnished and buffed badges and just like that, Bo was in a real bind seemingly bound for jail for a long stretch behind bars bunking with common burglars. But because Bo was a good old boy with buoyant bonhomie and buddies in high places, he managed to bend the law his way an avoid high bail and the need for a bondsman or barrister. Utilizing a little bribery and old-fashioned backscratching, he was able to avoid being brought before the judge by a bailiff but agreed to shut down his booming biz.

BOFFO SUCCESS FOR BETH

Now Beth, earning bravos, yea bravissimos, and never any boos or Bronx cheers for her brilliant performances, quickly went from bit parts in barnstorming troupes to top billing in a string of Broadway blockbusters and no ballyhooed bombs. Yet as bedazzling as she was when the curtain was raised and the backcloth lowered, she never became some boastful braggart, remembering always Basia's advice to keep practicing with a boundless determination to attain a still higher benchmark.

BART BRADLEY-BALLPLAYER EXTRAORDINAIRE

From the moment he left his bassinet it seemed young Bart wanted to play baseball. His broad range of skills and bulldog mentality proved beneficial since eventually big league scouts showed up at his Don Bosco H.S. ballgames. He chose the Bluejays over the Braves and Brewers since they offered a bigger boatload of money for a signing bonus and it was off to the bush leagues. In the minors, the long boring bus rides between ballparks, some smaller than bandboxes, many in backwater towns, didn't bother him a bit. Even though he was a brash young rookie who knew he belonged in the majors, he knew it would behoove him to bide his time while perfecting his craft. Instead of bellyaching, he'd remind himself of when a certain bronco he took for granted threw him at a rodeo in Bartlesville earning him the booby prize that day.

As a batsman he could not only blast a homer like Babe Ruth or Barry Bonds but lay down a bunt like Brett Butler and get a bloop hit like Wade Boggs. He worked tirelessly to cut down on his backswing and maintain his balance and be a more sound batter and would even tip the batboy a few bucks and treat him to a burger later for staying behind with him. Fans would even crowd around the backstop with bated breath just to watch him hit batting practice. A great defender as a third baseman, he was compared to Baltimore Orioles great Brooks Robinson since he always threw to the right base and didn't bobble even when executing a barehanded play.

But one fateful day a wild pitcher tried to bust him inside with a blazing fastball, no mere breaking ball for sure, and beaned him so badly, practically beheading him, that it could be heard going Boing! off his helmet way out in the bleachers beyond the bullpen. Bart's head was all blown up like a balloon, but once the swelling subsided, luckily he had no bone breakage or brain damage. Beset now however with the bogey of sometimes blurry vision, he nevertheless with consummate bravery battled back with a comeback bid. The top brass decided to bring him along slowly as a benchwarmer as he continued to build his strength and recharge his batteries but alas, ultimately bearish on whether Bart could survive another bonk on the head, they abruptly bumped him off the roster.

BART & BETH TIE THE KNOT

Now well before this incident Bart, tired of the eligible bachelor label, and Beth, tired of being the bachelorette bridesmaid catching the bouquet, were betrothed and then bound by vows as bride and bridegroom. At the basilica the bishop, wearing his fine biretta, bestowed his blessing, a heartfelt benediction and not just banal bromides, and besprinkled holy water upon them and married them. With bells bonging away they walked down the bridal path bestrewn with rice and off to a life of wedded bliss.

They embraced life in the bucolic burbs out in Bedford over the blistering pace of life in the beltway. Savvy borrowers, they did a buydown mortgage with the bank for a baronial home of fine brickwork off a byroad in the quiet borough complete with breezeway, a bathhouse by a pool, and wall-to-wall broadloom carpeting.

But after his release from the ball club, Bart soon got bored as he bode his time at the house brooding over the fate that had befallen him. With Beth often on the West Coast in Burbank, Bakersfield, and even Baja California, it was like a bicoastal marriage. Not only that, with biennial tours of Europe--Belfast, Berlin, and Bern this year...Belgrade, Bucharest, and Budapest two years before - he might as well have been married to Nellie Bly. Though she was busy with bookings there and everywhere, between times she might stop by the house to buoy his spirits and share a bite too eat, but since she always had to boogie on out of there in a hurry to get backstage for makeup, he would quickly develop the blahs again.

BART RELIEVES HIS BOREDOM

Feeling blasé and bemoaning his lack of companionship, Bart was easily beguiled by the bevy of beauties down at Betty's Bordello. Once there, not being gay or bi(sexual), he'd head straight for the bodacious buxom barelegged babes with boobies protruding from their brassieres like playboy bunnies. Sensing he needed balm for his wounded ego, they'd shake their booties, do belly dances, and perform burlesque routines to butter him up and bewitch him. Unable to bridle his libido and blinded by lust, Bart would blithely pull out his billfold and deliver cash on the barrelhead to rush to the bedchambers with a girl with a gorgeous bod and boobs popping out of her bra in this sordid Babylon.

It was amazing how the bedhopping jezebels of this brothel went from boudoir to bidet then quickly back to boudoir to make beaucoup dollars from each beau. Bart's favorite was a full-breasted bleached blonde Brigitte Bardot look-alike in a fancy bobbin lace bustier who proudly backstitched her name Bibi on her batik bedspread. A smitten Bart went to a fancy boutique not so that he could bedizen her with mere baubles or bric-a-brac or baroque bling but to bejewel her with expensive bangles, bracelets, and brooches, even a Bulova watch with diamond bezel.

Then one day when his Benz was in the shop for a brake job and his Cadillac Brougham in for some bodywork as well, he made the baneful decision to beckon the busty Bibi to the house while Beth was away. Of course didn't Miss Babcock, the backbiting bigmouth buttinsky next door neighbor, notice the backstairs intrigue and suspecting Bart was carrying on a backdoor affair, call Beth's Blackberry.

BRADLEY VS. BABCOCK

Now there was bad blood between the two as they had butted heads and bickered bitterly for years. When he once showed her that her blueberry bushes extended over their property boundary she said it was pure bunk even when he pulled out the blueprints. When he threw a backyard barbecue another time didn't the old battleax come barging over berserk like a wild boar accusing him of stealing a bag of charcoal briquettes from her bulkhead. Screaming like a banshee with a screechiness to drive you batty like when fingernails scrape across a blackboard, her voice blaring out like a bullhorn so even bystanders a block away could hear it, the badgering busybody berated him spewing her bile while labeling him a bleeping thief.

Bart, tired of being badmouthed and belittled by this moody broodmare, could brook no more and bellowed, “Balderdash! Quit your braying you bullyragging biddy. You besmirch me with baseless accusations which are phony baloney. You bowlegged bucktoothed bovine bullnosed old bag, bewigged with that silly beehive bouffant, with blackheads no benzoyl peroxide can cure and a baggy face no Botox or beautician can save, get on your besom broom and fly away like Broomhilda and mind you own beeswax.”

The bestial Babcock, not used to such a brickbat, gave him a most baleful stare and then, like some angry boa constrictor, started strangling him. Luckily, Bart was somewhat bullnecked and found a way to breathe until the bluecoats arrived who bopped her with their billy clubs and hauled her off to the barracks ending the brouhaha. Later, believing she was prone to more violent blowups and was more bonkers than Lizzie Borden, they sent her to the loony bin. Though she was indeed a basket case with bats in her belfry and not simply borderline, somehow she bamboozled the doctors to release her from the booby hatch.

BACK TO THE ACTION

When blabbermouth Babcock laid this bombshell on Beth about the betrayal, Beth was blindsided. With eyes bedewed with tears, nerves taut like bowstrings, she booked on home at breakneck speed to see for herself if these allegations were bogus or not. Alas, she went to the bedroom and caught Bart with his breeches down (and boxer shorts too) with Bibi...a blatant breach of trust. They were in the buff in the bed “knocking boots” (to borrow a B-boy byword). A chagrined Bibi quickly wrapped herself in the bedcover and bolted without even grabbing her belongings, going bye-bye in the blink of an eye.

Beth, ever so benign never bilious or prone to going ballistic, nonetheless lowered the boom and booted Bart from the house for his inexcusable behavior while blasting him saying, “Look Buster, I must have had blinders on. Here I am dancing my butt off to be the main breadwinner bringing home the bacon for a while as you continue to rehabilitate after the beaning you backstabber. This bespeaks a basic flaw in your character. You're morally bankrupt, base, bereft of scruples...Begone!”

BART TAKES A STEP BACKWARDS

Realizing he'd been a blithering boneheaded bozo and been blameworthy for the tragic breakup from his blessed angel, Bart felt it only befitting that he be banished in backlash like some bete noire. He soon wound up at a Mrs. Brubaker's boarding house nearby. His room was so bedeviled with bedbugs that he threw out the box spring mattress and bedding (and the infested beanbag chair and bathmat to boot) and slept on the bedstead instead. The bathtub was so gross and full of bacteria it took a whole box of borax and wearing out the bristles of the scrub brush before he could take a bubble bath. Since Mrs. Brubaker, God bless her, tried to cook but served beefburgers burnt to a crisp, biscuits hard as a brick, brisket that tasted like tree bark, and burritos that had a boomerang effect on the bowels, he opted for the bland fare at the local beanery Bernie's.

Bart swore off other women but so brokenhearted was he over losing Beth, his ballast yea his bedrock, it felt as if someone was using a large drill bit to bore a hole through his heart while trying to bisect it with a backsaw as well as he quickly hit bottom as a besotted boozehound. A bibulous barfly who'd go on benders and binge on boilermakers, Beefeater gin, and beechwood aged Budweiser, he'd get blotto and bawl away blathering nonstop to the bartender bewailing how he'd bungled things. Inebriated, he would later stumble and bumble about like a blunderbuss, his eyes bedimmed and his mind befogged by drink, benumbed to reality.

Whereas when drinking alone, a bleary-eyed Bart would simply cry in his beer boohooing and blubbering away like a broken record to the barkeeper (or any poor bloke who sat beside him), when he was out barhopping with his bosom buds from Mrs. Brubaker's place he was not simply bitchy but belligerent. So he was emboldened when engaging in bacchanalian revelry with this motley group of boxcar hobos and Bowery bums. They burned their bridges getting banned from several barrooms after having beefs with the bouncers over their brawling, boorish burping and belching for laughs, noisy babel, and belting out bawdy ballads, and from one brewpub for throwing barware thus smashing a fancy beveled glass Beck's Ale overhead mirror.

Yes Bart was a slave to the baal of alcohol, perpetually buzzed with bloodshot eyes and appearing bedraggled. He had bothersome hangovers where every bitty peep sounded like John Bonham or Ginger Baker banging on their bongo drums. Sporadic brownouts (daydreams) turned into prolonged blackouts as the backwash of his indiscretion pushed him to the breakpoint. It seemed nothing could becalm him as he straddled the borderland of sanity and madness. Would he have a nervous breakdown or pull himself up by the bootstraps and achieve a breakthrough?

BART COMES AROUND

Well Bart's pals turned out to be a backslapping bootlicking brownnosing breed who continually buttonholed him into giving them serious bread with their bombastic blarney. Bloodsucking barracudas who piled on the blandishments speaking with bifurcated (forked) tongues, they bilked poor Bart until one day he looked at his bankbook and saw he was going broke! Not having Beth anymore as his vigilant bursar of funds and falling for these barefaced liars' bull had betokened his doom. Belatedly realizing they were not benevolent but had begotten him nothing but trouble playing him for a buffoon bleeding him dry with their bunkum, Bart swore off boozing once the light bulb came on in his head and his judgment was no longer beclouded then told these bungholes to buzz off and stop bollixing up his life.

Anyhow, a quick look at his bookkeeping proved he hadn't budgeted properly and the bottom line showed he could go bust if he wasn't more businesslike. Yet...he bullheadedly decided to do some betting to hopefully reap a bonanza and quickly win back a bundle. Eschewing simple local beano and bingo nights, he went out to Bally's where they had endless banks of slot machines (one-armed bandits). He couldn't hit three bars on any of them so he tried vainly to win at the blackjack and baccarat tables. He next tried his luck at balkline billiards down at the bowling alley but his bank shots and backspin were too rusty and he didn't win a blasted thing.

A bewildered Bart, seeing he was beating his head against the wall like a blooming idiot, was pensively walking down the boulevard all bummed out when he noticed behind a glass window of a Saint Boniface church one of those old Bibles with elaborate bookbinding laying upon a bookrest. In a miraculous case of bibliomancy, it was opened to a page beseeching the brethren to avoid befoulment with wastefulness lest they wind up in the bottommost level of Beezlebub's domain of Hell, swimming in fire and brimstone while uttering bloodcurdling screams.

BACK TO BASICS

Bart then said, “I feel the bugbear of blurred vision has completely passed so I'll dig out my bat and glove and get back into baseball!” He started practicing bodybuilding at the gym using the bench press, the barbells, and even doing backbends until he got all buff and butch. Yet his plan backfired when all the GMs, buttoned-down businesspeople with blank faces, balked at signing him. Bristling at their reluctance, feeling blackballed as damaged goods, Bart was ambling about town brainstorming to come up with a backup plan. Now he had been besieged with brochures from a Buffalo Bill's Rodeo Show and briefly considered going back to braving the wild broncos like a badass cowboy but then thought, “Bah! Why risk squishing my balls Bleech! into mush again. Beth will budge someday from this boycott and when love blooms again maybe want to make a baby.”

He happened to glance at a billposting for boxing matches down at Burke's Gym and thought, “I used to box there as a bantamweight when I was a mere beanpole of a lad and was never beaten but stopped at the behest of the Bluejays who barred signees from dangerous hobbies.” Indeed even in their boilerplate contracts their legal beagles also forbade:

  • Bodysurfing, boardsailing, bungee jumping, and backcountry snowboarding
  • Biathlon even though he was an expert bowman who shot many a bull's-eye
  • Pickup basketball games even though he was known not only for his backcourt play but for his buzzer beaters, usually baseline jumpers or breakaway layups off the backboard
  • Playing hockey though he could absorb a bodycheck and punish backcheckers in their ribs thereby rattling their breastbones
  • Playing football where he was so adept in the backfield the Bengals scouted him.

A BLAST FROM THE PAST

So Bart went bounding along to see his old instructor Baba O'Reilly whose bailiwick was training Burke's fighters. He beheld his old pupil and stomping his authentic Irish blackthorn walking stick, exclaimed in his thick brogue, “Faith and Begorra! Well boyo! I betcha with that beady-eyed look and furled brow from bygone days ya wantin' to be a ballsy boxer again!”

Baba worked Bart to the max with backbreaking routines that left him bushed and put him on a diet of beefy foods and high butterfat milk until he was even more brawny and barrel-chested than before with bulging Bunyanesque biceps. Baba then staged a bareknuckle backroom tournament where Bart bested one brawler after another even earning byes along the way when opponents bowed out beforehand dreading the potential beating leaving only a Brobdingnagian behemoth named Bobo the Blob.

Bart biffed and boffed him with such a barrage of blows that Bobo's knees buckled and he finally landed flat on his buttocks. This breakout fight astonished the bookmakers and bettors and created a serious buzz in boxing circles. Soon big time promoter Bad Bad Leroy Brown drove up in his Stutz Bearcat wearing his bowler derby hat and puffing his cigar of the finest broadleaf tobacco offering to bankroll the next bout. Bestirred by the news of this bold upstart Bart, Bruno the Barbarian, the burly reigning champ, was full of bravado and chomping at the bit to defend his belt. This bode well for Brown who against this favorable backdrop was able to stage a battle royale and blazon it far and wide...Bruno vs. Bart at the legendary Blue Horizon in Philly, the City of Brotherly Love and home of the Liberty Bell.

Bart weaved and bobbed then belted the bejesus out of Bruno with such bombardment that battered and bespattered with blood...Blam! He hit the canvas. It was reported that Bruno later had to have some bridgework done and a few bicuspids replaced then went back to being a bricklayer and when not at the brickyard then working for baddies as a bagman lugging banknotes and cash or as a sometimes bodyguard.

IS BETH SERIOUS?

Meanwhile Beth appeared pretty brassbound about the breakoff having besought the advice of divorce attorney bigwigs Birnbaum, Bamberger, and Blomberg to establish a legal battlefront. With considerable brainwork they burrowed through bookcases full of law books to gather whatever background material they needed to buttress their case against Bart. At one briefing they said, “We don't like to brag but after combing through all our bookshelves and covering every law and bylaw to create a bulletproof case, we predict a blowout victory in court.

Bart however was bullishly optimistic banking on his feeling that this was a mere brushfire with Beth, a berg that needed to thaw, and her brushoff would be temporary, allowing love to blossom again. Once Bart fixed the backslash and backspace on his keyboard and subscribed to broadband and booted up his computer which he'd expanded to 512 megabytes of RAM (that's over 84 billion bits!), he created a popular blog adding blurbs each day detailing his exploits. Beth, who had no new boyfriends, bookmarked it and kept abreast of his whereabouts out in the blogosphere. According to his barometer reading then, deep down this bespoke that she cared and bore him no ill will. It sounds bizarre but she was hooked on his brinkmanship (i.e. the boxing episode and his next foray into...bullfighting!) and when she begged him to stop it belied a burgeoning desire to reconcile.

Bart boyishly sought to keep topping himself and broaden his horizons and win back his bonny lass too. He explained, “Sorry I blew it. I was a blundering boob to have hurt you. It may seem baffling but I haven't gone barmy playing a game of blindman's bluff with these adventures. Each brush with danger is part of my byzantine path to redemption. Don't begrudge me this attempt to work out my emotional baggage since I'll return a bazillion times the man I was in the end my little buttercup.”

BART HEADS ABROAD

Next it was off to Barcelona where he donned a bolero, a big sombrero, and a stylish bolo tie inlaid with his lucky birthstone, a bloodstone, and adopted the byname Bartolome El Bueno, champion bullfighter. Never blanching or blenching, he would brilliantly evade the bull like some human elastic band and mesmerize it with his bottomless magic bag of tricks. He and his banderilleros would always leave the bullring victorious without being gored, yea sans bloodshed, with nary a blemish.

As his legend grew by leaps and bounds, fans poured in by the busloads or rode in on their burros from every barrio eagerly bracing themselves for his next bravura performance. As news bulletins of his upcoming matches blazed in the press, a huge buildup of excitement was created. People babbled about the events in every barbershop, bodega, botanica, and beauty salon etc. Billstickers posted boldface ads everywhere while biplanes and blimps flew banners overhead. The stadium would be laced with bunting and bows in anticipation while the balladeers and bards waxed poetically unabashedly beatifying the intrepid matador Bartolome El Bueno.

Bart didn't choose to bask in the glow but rather was all business prizing brevity over badinage and silly banter. He nevertheless studied his Berlitz for Spanish and once bilingual, was able to handle the media blitz more proficiently. He would graciously bow to the crowds and was never brusque, but patiently signed every autograph booklet with his signature brushstroke. It was his firm belief that it would betide him to stay grounded and beware of getting biggity with hubris and braggadocio lest such a bugaboo beget carelessness i.e. being a butterfingers botching a move and getting pummeled by a savage beast.

BON VOYAGE!

Bart next hopped on board a fishing boat named the Brisbane to sail the briny sea in search of bonito, bluefin and bigeye tuna, baleen whale (the one with the two blowholes), and other biggies as well as blackfish, bonefish, and a wide variety of billfish.

Now in summers past Bart's folks, avid beachcombers, had rented a cottage at Buzzard's Bay near the Bourne Bridge on Cape Cod for a few weeks before Bart would head off to Grampa Bo's in Beaumont. While he loved to do stunts on his BMX off the bikeways and bomb around the beach in his dad's dune buggy, Bart most preferred to hang around the boatyard doing odd jobs like selling bloodworms to the boatmen for bait or tidying up the boathouse. Tired of catching mere porgies and bass (there's a bon mot for you opera buffs!) off the jetty at the beachside or off the banks of the canal, he bartered with the bargeman, “Lemme catch some bluefish further out. I'll scrape off barnacles, clean the bilge... You Name It!”

The old salt replied, “Blimey, your bats but OK bub, see the boatswain.” Afterwards, beaming broadly said he, “Odds Bodkins laddy. Now don't get bigheaded but on behalf of me and the whole bloody crew we say, ‘Bully For You!’ You're a tough bucko blest with serious backbone.”

BACK TO THE BRISBANE

Now when this journey took them to the brackish Baltic Sea, they were approached while browsing at a bazaar by a Turkish bey who entrusted them to transport some dark green beryl (emeralds) to Bangladesh and Burma (Myanmar) by way of the Bay of Bengal in a burglarproof safe marked simply ‘burqas’. Then the notorious buccaneer Barbarossa and the rest of his bearded bandana-clad bloodthirsty brigands from the Barbary Coast got wind of the booty from some blabbering fool, probably the bosun while blitzed out of his mind. Even though there was a bounty on their heads, they would cleverly evade barricades even blockades while flying their stark bicolor (black and white) Jolly Roger banner from their strange vessel- part battleship, part bireme, part...battering ram!

Fresh from overrunning the battlements of a blockhouse and grabbing much bullion, they staged a brazen attack where they broadsided the Brisbane and quickly bullied their way aboard. Bedlam ensued form bow to stern with the combatants brandishing cutlasses (no mere broadswords) as well as bolo knives and broadaxes. Bart relied on his trusty bowie knife with the buckhorn handle until someone knocked it overboard with a bullwhip whereupon he reached the bazooka (no mere BB gun or blowgun). A bloodbath ensued and before long all the pirates had bailed, been blown away or butchered, or landed in the brig.

The Brisbane sailed onward but soon it was necessary to batten down the hatches when a storm arose sending huge breakers which so buffeted the ship that Bart was tossed overboard. Luckily, not only was he a boss swimmer adept at the backstroke and breaststroke but was like a human bathysphere beneath the surface so never suffered the bends and avoided burial at sea.

BART'S MUSICAL INTERLUDE

Once the Brisbane completed its mission, Bart pursued his next ambition to pound the beat as the drummer a la Buddy Rich and Louis Bellson for Buster Brown's Bopping Big Band. Now as wee bairns, Bart and Buster were boon companions and established a tight brotherhood as they toiled together as bootblacks roaming the blacktop on the streets of Boston buffing and shining folks shoes, be they the businessmen's wingtips or the workingmen's brogans, even replacing bootlaces and buckles if need be. Later on they backdated their birth certificates to work as bellboys lugging baggage at the old Hotel Bradford

Buster was now a bandmaster nonpareil, revered by all the bandsmen as a sort of buddah-like figure, his pronouncements carrying the weight of papal bulls. Indeed while fellow non-gigging musicians were as bad off as beggars standing in the breadlines, they were traveling the breadth of the globe working steadily reaping the benefits of working with a visionary blazing a new path, composing betwixt and between musical genres.

Though Buster usually just preferred to wave the baton and maybe add a baritone sax solo here and there, he sometimes would play banjo, bass guitar, bassoon, even the exotic balalaika or noisy bagpipes if need be. As a vocalist he could belt out a tune basso profundo bel canto when inspired! He often cited other bandleaders, luminaries such as Count Basie, Eubie Blake, Bix Beiderbecke, and the bespectacled Benny Goodman as influences. Not only did he incorporate the backbeat of James Brown and Chuck Berry but composed breezy bagatelles reminiscent of Brahms, Bach, Beethoven, Bizet, and Bela Bartok.

Boppers from all walks of life- bohemians, bobbysoxers, country bumpkins, even those in higher tax brackets like the burghers in the bourgeoisie and the brahmin bluebloods- were all doing backflips and making a beeline to the concerts. The group didn't just play ballrooms but mixed in dates at bars and bar mitzvahs since there was such a backlog of demand for their exciting brassy sound, an amazing blend which also borrowed from blues (most notably from bluesmen Big Bill Broonzy and Bobby Blue Bland), bebop, barrelhouse jazz, and boogie-woogie and had elements of beguine, bossa nova, and bluegrass as well. Heck, even their road breaks were busman's holidays as they wound up in the studio where they'd bang out records which sounded majestic in all their binaural splendor on Bose speakers.

The blowback of all this relentless hustle bustle was that Bart was experiencing even more burnout than from when he and Buster were bellhopping. Not only was his biorhythm all out of sync but he felt not robust but at a low ebb, like he'd been bludgeoned with a blunt instrument. He needed beta blockers for high blood pressure and an inhaler to relieve blockage in the lungs due to some bronchitis...

BEAUMONT REVISITED

Therefore, having bidden goodbye to Buster since he'd recruited none other than famed Brit Bill Bruford to replace him on the bandstand, Bart knew he must go back to a special place near Grampa Bo's deep in the badlands where he always found peace when he felt beleaguered and befuddled. He took a very barebones approach to these sojourns, heading out purposefully barefoot and bareheaded under the burning sun into the barren landscape dotted with imposing buttes (rather than say...Texas bluebonnets) and few brooks and streams.

In his burlap bag were only the bare necessities -- like some beef jerky from which he bit off a chunk only when needed, some Band-Aids and some bacitracin, binoculars and a compass to get his bearings, some beechnut chewing gum, Belmont Springs bottled water, a butane lighter, a flashlight with a wide beam, his bedroll, and his bifocals if things were a blur again. Finally he reached his familiar basaltic canyons and climbed the highest bluff. There he sat upon a boulder and after meditating, blocking out everything and utilizing some bioenergetics i.e. biofeedback and effectively controlling his breathing, finally solved the brainteaser that had been bugging him.

He ascertained, “I've been so selfishly boosting my own ego while building my own wealth that I've brutishly bypassed the opportunity to aim for the betterment of my country the USA, the bastion of liberty. Why, here at the bequest of our founding fathers we have freedom of speech as a birthright and our treasured Bill of Rights along with a bicameral legislature with bipartisan representation and a government of checks and balances so no one bets too big for his britches.”

He continued, “I've been bogarting (Hey! A buzzword for you movie buffs!) all these years and not giving back to my country. I've been guilty of borrowing books from the local branch of the library, even the bookmobile, and not returning them. I'd let myself get bogged down on voting day and often not make it to the ballot box. I wasn't even a loyal bondholder and cashed in my U.S. savings bonds prior to maturity along with my bicentennial quarters just to buy a stupid bicycle.”

Later, Bart stopped in on Grampa Bo who was in the barn doing some blacksmithing. He looked up and cried, “Boo-Ya! It's Bart! Don't you look like some beatnik all begrimed and with bloodstained feet too. You been bushwhacked? What in blazes happened?” Bart burbled excitedly about his sublime experience in the badlands, whereupon Bo said, “You go bathe while I fire up the barbie. Then we'll bat this around over Texas angus beefsteak with butternut squash on the side along with Barrelhead brand root beer and a batch of brownies (homemade and not from the bakery) for dessert.”

During the feast Bo suddenly blurted out, “I Got It! See your Uncle Ben!...not the guy who makes basmati rice but your kin! That Barak fellow, focusing on biosecurity, just named him to lead a special anti-bioterrorist unit to be a bulwark against the biothreat.” Indeed they hoped to eventually weed out Bin-Laden who'd been blacklisted as worse then Boris Badenov and Simon Bar Sinister, while searching for and destroying his supposedly bombproof belowground hiding places, some doubling as biotech labs.

BART MEETS UP WITH THE MIGHTY BEN

Uncle Ben had on his bookshelf commendations not just from Obama (who in his biography detailed how he rose above bigotry and bias to become the first biracial president), but also from the two Bushes, Bubba Bill Clinton, and even B-movie great Ronald Reagen of Bedtime for Bonzo fame. He'd been a bellwether who always inspired beginners receiving their baptism of fire not by brainwashing but by example, as they saw he was willing to bear the brunt of an attack barreling headlong into danger without batting an eyelash.

As a brigadier general he'd bled for his country as he led battalions which withstood violent blitzkriegs from bonzai forces often to create a beachhead or bridgehead for other troops. It was no easy billet as a Green Beret either as he once stepped inside a booby-trapped bamboo bungalow and was ripped apart only to be put back together like some bionic man by our top biomedical researchers to answer Uncle Sam's bugle call another day. A bioengineering marvel, he cracked, “Well I was on the brink of death but I found limbs with biocompatibility and didn't have to resort to bodysnatching which wouldn't have been very bioethical.”

When Ben studied Bart's biodata he stated, “You can fight like a bear, possess superior brainpower, are well-behaved and kept yourself off the police blotter, and are tough enough to handle the constant bivouacking with little in your backpack. So we can overlook the minor health blips and start hunting down those pesky boll weevils if you just sign your name in blood right here...just busting your chops, here's a ballpoint pen.” Now Bart had often dreamt of donning full body armor including breastplate and backplate and heading out to the battlefield like a brave knight so he eagerly signed up and put on his green and beige fatigues and bedaubed himself with camouflage paint and strapped on his bandolier.

Ben stressed that the bioterrorists were a bellicose lot -- an angry swarm of bees no beekeeper could love -- who used the whole world as a battleground for their bloodletting and biowarfare. Whereas before he had to contend with bayonets, bullets, bombs, or familiar binary explosives, nowadays, especially since the bimillenary, he had to thwart bioweaponry. Said Ben, “They're developing deadly bacilli which pollute the bloodstream and cause blotches and boils then kill you.”

Bart surely proved he was no bumbling Beetle Bailey as a soldier and when his tour of duty ended he was bedecked with bronze stars not just for his service in countries with which we had bilateral military ties but in those outside those borders. He had directed bombardiers to drop bunker busters to blow up enemy shelters where they were diabolically concocting biohazardous materials (purportedly beakers full of botulism, bubonic plague, and the like) with which they intended to wreck the biosphere and harm innocent billions.

OFF TO THE BOONIES

For Bart's final big caper he betook himself to near Boise, Idaho where there had been a boomlet of Bigfoot sightings to search for the elusive bogeyman. He didn't hop on the bandwagon and dismiss the claims of some log birling lumberjacks that they'd seen him by a river basin as pure bosh from some blustering blowhards. Donning his buckskin gear like Daniel Boone, he headed to the brush where the bullfrogs were croaking, the coyotes baying, and the wild bighorn sheep baaing away...far from the briskly paced city where everyone beeps the horn and blasphemes at each other whenever there's a backflow of traffic all the while neglecting to use their blinkers.

Suddenly Bart's buckhounds started barking and bow-wowing yet giving a wide berth to a strange biped near a briar patch. Lo and behold there was a hairy brute (who looked like the beloved Chewbacca from Star Wars) but was so big Bart was about level with his bellybutton. He quipped, “Yeah it's me Bigfoot. Now buddy, don't go bugging out and pelt me with buckshot or birdshot. I'm already having a bad day...I ate some berries for breakfast that have me practically barfing then suffered numerous beestings from an angry bumblebee. Besides that, while walking along a narrow berm I tripped over some junk (you blockheaded humans love dumping non-biodegradable garbage over every highway and byway) and bashed my head on the ground.”

Bigfoot breathed a sigh of relief when Bart brightened his day by explaining that the basis for his visit to the boondocks was not to cause him bodily harm, bearbait him, or drag him off to Barnum and Bailey's Circus like some biological freak, or be any kind of ballbuster, but merely to befriend him. When the air turned from balmy to chilly they made a small fire, not a big bonfire lest it spread quickly like a bushfire. Then Bart lit up his briarwood pipe and they bonded as they shared puffs while shooting the breeze...

Bigfoot confided...“My birthmother died after having borne me so my birthfather Bigfoot Sr. raised me until he got lost in a blizzard soon after. I had no time for bereavement now suddenly fending for myself here in the backwoods without either birthparent. Since our birthrate is so low it's important a certain female bigfoot I like gets bitten by the love bug as well or with no biogenesis happening we'll not just be endangered like the bison but extinct like the brontosaurus and brachiosaurus despite our strong biochemistry.”

He continued bemusedly, “Though many bioscientists put us in the same biotype, you make us the butt of jokes besmearing us in the press no matter whose byline as overgrown baboons in need of a good barber. However it is you folks who seem to have a bent for silly mind-boggling boners so I have some biting barbs of my own a la social critics Saul Bellow and Bertrand Russell...

  • For instance, why eat a fibery bran muffin before boarding a bus just so when there's a bottleneck with bumper to bumper traffic and you can't get to a bathroom you wind up with brown underwear?
  • On the boob tube your youth have role models like Bobby and his brothers on the Brady Bunch, Bud from Father Knows Best, and of course the lovable Beaver Cleaver, yet all I see are booger-picking brats more like Beavis and Butthead who'll probably grow up to emulate Bluebeard or Baudelaire.
  • You have this bipolar situation on the Billboard charts, AM and FM bandwidths, and jukeboxes where I might enjoy Michael Buble, Tony Bennett, the Beatles, even Hootie and the Blowfish, but then I run into the bathetic bubblegum pop of the Backstreet Boys , Britney Spears, and Bobby Goldsboro of A Butterfly For Bucky fame...all more unbearable then a barium enema.
  • You vote in politicians who are not merely bureaucrats but such bondservants beholden to strange bedfellows - like pushy voting blocs and lobbyists - that they just bobtail bills with boondoggle projects for their own burgs and dole out mere busywork hack jobs and rubberstamp costly bailouts.
  • Then there's the troubling byproduct of a society gone bananas, people in bondage to chemical buffers to get by...bennies to speed up and barbiturates to slow down. They might grab a bong or roll a doobie for another blastoff with cannabis or even deadly belladonna all the while killing brain cells in their search for beatitude.
  • Your selfish land barons don't give a whit about biodiversity and simply invade my habitat with their bulldozers and backhoes and Bobcats to erect buildings and even barbwire fences to box me in. Then they carelessly fail to fill the many gaping boreholes they leave behind which blot the landscape.”

Bart agreed that man deserved blame for projecting his own beastliness on poor Bigfoot and giving him a bum rap. Then with a fist bump and warm embrace bid him adieu. Bart now felt, “They can carry me from the bier to the boneyard to bury me anytime once I complete the last item on my bucket list after meeting Bigfoot...getting back with Beth!

BLOGGING AWAY

Bart updated for his Bigfoot encounter then posted bluntly to Beth, “Let's get down to brass tacks and not belabor he point. Do you still really want those ballbreaker lawyers to put me through the blender?” Beth assured him however, “I know you'll never backslide again my beefcakes. I paid my legal bill then did a little backtracking and bade them good riddance saying, ‘You browbeating bullyboys. Pack up your briefcases and betake yourselves back to your fancy boardroom!’ ”

Then it was like a breakwater barrier was breached and with a flood of emotion they shared bittersweet memories typing back and forth, the whole exchange like one long billet-doux...

  • Bart: “Remember out on the lawn we'd play bocce and boules or badminton batting the birdie for hours. Then how we tried bobsledding, me as the brakeman you as the pilot, but decided to stick to bareback riding, blading, and biking. And how we'd spend rainy days having a ball playing bridge or our favorite board games, backgammon and monopoly, where you'd always land on my Baltic Ave., B&O Railroad, and Boardwalk.”
  • Beth: “Remember when we'd go to the retro bijou to catch a Bruce Lee or Burt Reynolds flick or maybe a blaxploitation film with Blowfly or Jim Brown and sometimes even a movie by Ingmar Bergman or Bernardo Bertolucci. Though we'd downed a few huge buckets of buttered popcorn and a box of bonbons, we'd still get butterscotch ribbon ice cream later at Baskin-Robbins.”
  • Bart chirped in: “Remember how instead of us merely birdwatching at the birdhouse at the zoo all the time I made like Gutzon Borglum and Bartholdi and finally sculpted that wonderful birdbath for you in bas-relief no less. That way we could leave birdseed and breadcrumbs nearby and attract all kinds of birdlife...bluebirds, blackbirds, bobolinks, even bobwhites. Some rested on the boughs of the beech and birch trees or maybe the Ohio buckeye or balsam fir I planted. We'd lean over the balustrade up in the balcony, our own private belvedere, to watch. It got so we could identify them by their birdcalls and birdsongs. In December I'd clear the brushwood from the trees with my billhook and bucksaw and bespangle them with shiny beads of lights. How 'bout when we explored the bogs near the bottomland and saw a large-beaked bittern in the bulrush. And who can forget the bullfinch and budgie I got for you on your birthday, each in its own birdcage.”
  • Beth: “Remember when I was bedridden how you stayed at my bedside at my beck and call like a faithful butler and how once when my bladder was full you found my bedpan in the nick of time behind the backrest pillow which you had kindly propped up so I could read books or my favorite comic strips Fred Bassett and B.C. to bolster my spirits. You filled my basin with bathwater and gently bathed me and moved me often so I wouldn't develop bedsores and would open the bay windows so it wouldn't feel like the Bastille. Then you got that Broksonic TV to work so I could watch the Beverly Hillbillies and Barnaby Jones, both with the great Buddy Ebsen, and Bullwinkle, Batman, and the Big Valley with Barbara Stanwyck. And I remember how relieved you were after the biopsy showed I didn't have beriberi or bird flu or blackwater fever but just a bad virus, then kindly installed that bedrail to help me back on my feet.”
  • Bart: “Remember the cute bluebell boutonniere I presented to you when with your botanical know-how you got the bonsais and the begonias to bud not to mention the boysenberry bramble and the bayberry bush.”
  • Beth: “Remember our romantic bistro where we'd bill and coo for hours at our favorite booth like two lovebirds. We'd get Brazilian coffee for me and Earl Grey double bergamot tea for you and order up those Louisiana style beignets “as good as any bakeshop's in the Bayou state” according to the barista who would so expertly brew my beans through his burr grinder.”
  • Bart: “Remember when you were breakdancing and doing the boogaloo to your beatbox then slipped on the bearskin rug and banged into the bedpost then fell flat on your bum. Hah! I could've blackmailed you the famous dancer and tried to submit that film to a blooper show to be broadcast far and wide but like a true blue friend I just taped over it.”
  • Beth: “Remember when the boiler kicked out during a below zero winter day and Brrrrr!... I was so cold you insisted on getting the fireplace going with bituminous coal and lovingly covering me with extra blankets before going downstairs to begin the repairs. Then you replaced a bushing and fired up the blowtorch to braze that pipe and got the machine back to purring instead of burring. And how you bandsawed away and were so handy with the brad nailer and built for me that boxwood bowfront bureau to replace my cheap balsa one. I admired how like a bloodhound you tracked down at a Benjamin Moore store my special bisque shade of paint for the baseboard and applied it like you were Hieronymus Bosch with nary a stray brushmark. And you were so skilled with the hand brake machine and bar fold and anything to do with brassware or metal and handcrafted our exquisite tall bollard lights out back. Then behind our Bertazzoni 5-burner range you hung that stainless steel backsplash complete with spice rack for my little tins of basil, bay leaves, and black pepper.”
  • Bart: “Remember when you thought you were pregnant so we bought all kinds of babyware, especially babywear (bonnets, bibs, beanies, bootees etc.) with Barbie on them if it was a girl and a Boston Bruins logo if it was a boy, then books like Jack In The Beanstalk and the Berenstain Bears. We even signed up for a birthing class so it was a bummer when it was a false alarm, but don't you still want little bambinos?”

Beth said yes and so they buried the hatchet for good agreeing not to broach the topic of the split and thus began anew! They decided to celebrate and rented a banquet hall at a beachfront resort out in Brewster, MA on the Cape and hosted a huge buffet brunch.

QUITE THE BASH!

From the finest batter they whipped up buttermilk and buckwheat pancakes as well as cheese blintzes and Belgian waffles with grilled bologna to go with them. The breadbaskets were filled with bagels, buns, bulky rolls, baguettes, even bialys, brioche, and bruschetta, and they had breadsticks with Brie cheese dip as well. For soups you could enjoy a bowl of delicious lobster bisque or bouillabaisse. One taste of either told you that they didn't simply boil any old broth and just throw in a bouillon cube. For veggies and sides you had a choice of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bean sprouts, and bok choy, not to mention bulgur pilav, baked potatoes, and braised onions along with many sauces including bearnaise and bechamel. For those with meatier tastes they offered beef tips bourguignonne or on a brochette, London broil, special bratwurst imported from Bremen, and slowly basted Butterball brand turkey. (By the way, did you know Benjamin Franklin advocated bestowing the title of national bird to the turkey over the bald eagle?)

Beth was touched when she received a box from Bulgaria out in the Balkans courtesy of her old mentor Basia who had since moved back to Europe. Carefully bubblewrapped inside was beluga caviar! For beverages you could fill your tumbler to the brim with bock beer, burgundy, brandy, or brut Bordeaux and to top it all off they provided for dessert ice cream (bombe), pastry (baklava and créme brulee), or cookies (biscotto)! Bart and Beth thoughtfully supplied their bloated departing guests with complimentary Bromo-Seltzer and bicarbonate of soda so they wouldn't burst on the way home and tipped the busboys generously.

BART PENS HIS BIO

Bart then submitted his amazing story, a surefire bestseller, to a publisher with an extensive bibliography featuring a respectable backlist of titles. Now though the tale did remain bookended with a happy beginning and end, the editor so heavily blue-penciled and abridged the rest of it that Bart basted him for his backhanded treatment accusing him of butchering, bowdlerizing, yea bastardizing his work...

Bart as a bigamist and also one who threw matches for bookies? Beth as a brainless bimbo who couldn't keep her bloomers on? Bigfoot as a bicephalous (two-headed) baddy? Bo as a sophisticated baccalaureate and big wheel Texan brokering leveraged buyouts? Basia as a cold war double agent reporting to Brezhnev?

Bart quashed the project before they'd begun shipping to bookstores and instead entrusted it and the biopic to follow to celebrated brainiac, yours truly Misakman, who with unparalleled brilliance served as his Boswell and penned this “Bart and Beth: A Love Story” hailed by bibliophiles as the greatest epic since Beowulf.

The End

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