The Big Nasty, 2242 N. Lincoln: We had just sat down and ordered a shot of Jell-O and grain alcohol when a blop of silly string landed on our shoulder and whispered in our ear, baring its fluorescent pink soul.

“Just because I sound like Donald Duck sneezing when I come out of the can does not mean I’m the cheerful, uncomplicated little squirt everyone thinks I am. Frankly I’m depressed–beleaguered with doubt and full of shame.

“You know, people get bored with me after the first few squirts. And when I land–sometimes in really inappropriate and embarrassing places–I just lie there inert, tumbled in on myself, until eventually I roll off and fall on the floor and all these running shoes step on me and I become a small pile of flaky dust. It’s like I never happened. I spend most of my life in kindergartens and this nightclub. One ski jacket after another. No one has ever told me I’m romantic. I do nothing of importance. I’m just a little something for people to amuse themselves with, just spit on the griddle. Of course that Jell-O pumped up with alcohol wiggling in that shot glass on the bar is no great shakes; at least I don’t toy with people’s nervous systems. Nor do I make ozone holes, as I have no fluorocarbons.”

The blop of silly string sighed and was quiet for a moment.

“Well, maybe I think too much about good and evil, predestination, hermeneutics, where we’re going, where we come from. Listen, if you’re going to quote me, tell everybody my favorite cartoon character is Chilly Willy and my favorite song is ‘Love Comes in Spurts’ by Richard Hell. I wish they’d play it here. They like stuff by Aerosmith and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

“OK, I gotta reconstitute myself now and get back in the can because here come Billy, Willy, Milly, and Lilly and it looks like they’ve had a few at Gamekeepers. As I recall, Milly and Lilly live in Glen Ellyn. They’ve had a hard day at the State Farm office and if my boss sees me acting moony, I’ll get fired. Of course I don’t know what he’d do without me. He orders at least 60,000 cans a year. What’s he going to do, replace me with Silly Putty? It’s so old hat. All right, I’m going to stop feeling so down-in-the mouth. Maybe life is just a lot of parties and a bad cold now and then. Here come the gang and I’m going to give them that duck sneeze with everything I’ve got. I’m going to do it pinker and longer and louder than ever before–da da da da–da da da da–here I gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Tom Bachtell.