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Earnest Pettie, Online

Editor of Pophangover.com, Damn You, Autocorrect!, and the whole Pophangover Network

The Drink or the Dollar?

Frank Lumley, perched at near the end of an almost empty bar, dressed in his finest Boss Hoggery, held a hundred dollar bill in the air, snapped it, and rolled it into a small tube. Next, he took that makeshift straw and stuck it into the foamy top of a milkshake, slurping. "Delicious," he said grinning. "The drink or the dollar?" Lumley looked down the bar and saw that he was less alone than he'd thought. A man a couple years younger, a couple styles trendier, and a little stubble manlier was looking at Lumley. "Both, son, both. This milkshake is made with the finest vanilla ice cream because it's delicious and the rarest camel sperm because I can. The bar doesn't stock it-- I bring my own." The air between the two men had grown as thick as Lumley's milkshake. "Don't look at me like that, son. I worked too hard to get here!" "Do you mind if I ask how you got here? How'd you make your money, or it that too rude?" "Nah, son, it's fine. Remember when oil hit 134 dollars a barrel? Well, I was in the barrel biz. 100 bucks a barrel." "You charged a 100 bucks a barrel? But wouldn't that make oil just 34 dollars a barrel?" Lumley nodded. "May I?" the man asked, indicating Lumley's shake. Lumley slid his drink down the bar, saloon-style. The man caught it and spat in it. "Hey, son! Don't do that! I deserve every dollar I earned! Do you know how I got in the barrel biz? Do you?" Lumley arrested the man with the gaze of a principal lecturing a student. "Ten years ago, I was broke, and all I had was a barrel, which I wore strapped to my body with suspenders. Then you know what I did? I chopped that barrel down and made two smaller barrels. I wore one, which was considerably less modest than I was accustomed to. I sold the other and bought party cups. That was my introduction to the biz. I sold those cups to a nearby lemonade stand, and reinvested those profits in ice, which I sold to the lemonade stand at a considerable markup. When that little girl had to raise her prices to cover costs and lost customers, I swooped in and bought the stand from her. I operated that stand for a nine months before I realized I was sitting in a gold mine. That little girl's dad had built that lemonade stand out of love and wood. The love I had no use for, but the wood.... I chopped that lemonade stand down and made three barrels with it. You know what I did with the money I made from that first sale? I bought a pair of pants. I was in the barrel biz, and, as a business man, I knew I'd need a pair of pants. I sold my first barrels to elephant and seal acts. Demeaning but profitable. Slowly, I moved up to rodeo clowns, acquiring more and more of the barrel market. Soon, I had nowhere left to go but oil. That was where I made my first stumble. I didn't realize they'd need lids! Otherwise, all the oil just sloshes around, son! It took me forever to live down that ignomy, but I did, son! And for every oilman who called me "Valdeez" because of my spilled oil, I tacked a dollar onto my prices. So that's where we are, today, son. I'm raking in record profits." The other man just stared at Lumley. After a moment, he bagan, "I don't know if any of what you just told me is true--" "It's all true." Lumley nodded and sipped his milkshake. "--You should be ashamed of yourself." "Shame, son, is wearing a barrel to the local swimming pool." The other man sighed and went out to his car. He got in, drove to the nearest gas station, where he paid four dollars a gallon for his gasoline, and cursed Lumley while wishing he'd tried a sip of that milkshake.

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