Loonie Louie was in Chicago and somehow got first row tickets to a Bulls game against the Knicks. Now I wasn't crazy about basketball – I mean: they throw a ball in a basket with a hole, so the ball's always falling out. No granny worth her babushka would take a basket like that to market. Like – what's the point? Besides – they get all worked up to get all those points, but in the end one team wins by a couple points, so all that work on all those baskets before was just a waste, no? So I wasn't crazy about basketball and I was pretty sure Louie was more crazy than not – but I couldn't pass up the bragging-point opportunity of casually telling my besotted basketball-fan friends from school that I'll be sitting first row at the Bulls game tonight.

I admit that despite not liking the game I loved the experience of sitting court-side, watching those mobile towers moving the ball gracefully up and down court. The only problem was Loonie Louie sitting next to me. He had a fog-horn voice, and being a Knicks fan and against the Bulls, not only was he emotionally involved – he screamed out his opinions.

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"Hey y'giant lump o'clay! Get off the court!"

"Knobby knees get the Geez!"

"Hey knuckle head: who let you play?"

"Hey y'overgrown oaf! Yo' momma teachya how t'play?"

"Block head – block him!"

He had such endearments and nicknames for every player on both teams. It seemed as if he had something to say to everyone about everything, with a screaming voice that anyone in the stadium heard! I could almost swear that at least once a player glanced over in our direction, causing me to shrink in my first row chair.

When the half-time buzzer went off and play stopped, most players went to the locker rooms… except two guys that came straight over to Loonie Louie. They loomed over us like two skyscrapers, two overgrown over tall guys in over-large gotkas. Smiling pleasantly they took turns asking after Loonie's health and such.

"Sir, are you from here?" the Hancock building asked. Louie just nodded no, too scared to say a word.

"Sir – do you or did you ever play professional basketball?" inquired the Sears Tower. Again Louie slowly nodded a negative answer.

"Excuse me sir, I didn't hear the answer" smiled Hancock. Louie cleared his throat but all that came out was a high pitched squeaky no.

"And have you played college basketball?" Sears asked, looking earnest. Again Louie whispered a high no.

Hancock: "Well then sir – have you coached basketball?"

Sears: "Pro?"

Hancock: "College?"

Sears: "High school?" I was getting dizzy by looking from one to the other as they politely made their quiet inquiries.

Hancock: "Perhaps, sir, you couched bidi-ball in the community center?"

Louie piped out a quiet no.

The smiles suddenly vanished, as downtown Chicago screamed in unison: "So if you don't know anything about it, you knobby-kneed, knuckleheaded, overgrown oaf, then keep your mouth shut!!"

Sears, his grin returning, holding out a giant hand: "It's been a pleasure clarifying this matter with you, sir". Louie put his relatively tiny hand in the giant maw of the Sears Tower and had it shook vigorously. Sears turned to wink at his colleague before trotting off to the locker room.

Hancock looked down at Louie, also extending his hand, and said as a couch would say to a wayward player: "If you don't walk the walk – don't trash your talk… sir". He turned and left. Louie was looking as white as of shock as the old Chicago water tower, but he finally was able to take a breath. Needless to say that in the second half Louie let the players and the coaches do their jobs without the benefit of his gentle, guiding voice.

So if you want to tell Israel to take chances for peace – but you don't live here, you and your kids didn't serve in the IDF, you and they aren't in the reserves, you don't need to build a bomb-proof room in your house – then maybe you should watch your talk, since you're not walking the walk?

To be continued…



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