December 2012 Irish American News Column

Mike Houlihan

Sol Hepatica opened the bottom drawer of his desk, pulled out a bottle of Bushmills and poured himself four fingers of fortitude.

He was about to lay off fifteen hundred employees at his magazine, “Ingrown Toenail Monthly”.

He knew the business was tanking back in August, but kept it alive in hopes that Romney would be elected. Now with Obamacare breathing down his neck he had to pull the plug.

The magazine had been a huge success for most of the last decade. Dreamed up one night at the bar in Ken’s on Western Avenue when Sol and some pals had joked about starting a satirical skin mag that featured only ugly women. They printed up one issue as a gag and it exploded in popularity beyond their wildest dreams.

Within six months Sol had become a celebrity as the publisher and editor of “Ingrown Toenail Monthly”, appearing on talk shows like “The View” where Whoopi Goldberg praised him for his contribution to women’s equality and alleged comedian Joy Behar told Sol, “You’ve opened up a whole new world for overweight, big mouth bitches like me.” The audience roared with laughter, and Barbara Walters said, “Sol, you’ve given all of us another option, and for that we sarute you.”

What Sol had done with his publication was at first shocking to America, but then just as quickly embraced as a true measure of an original look at beauty. The Prince Charles/Camilla spread where they were photographed together in the barn had broken every publication record in the industry. The royal couple donated their fee for posing to Planned Parenthood.

Without even being aware of it, Sol Hepatica had turned the world on its’ ear. He would never use the word, but it was all over the gossip columns, “Ugly was now cool. Ugly was beautiful. Ugly has become hip.”

Sol Hepatica had made beauty irrelevant. The ladies who posed in “Ingrown Toenail Monthly” were a cross section of race, social stature, and international origins. But they were all frightening to behold. Sol would demur, “We feature the girl next door, if you lived in a trailer camp in Hegewisch.”

Sol pored over the books as he poured himself another. His wife Hazel marched in and grabbed the bottle, taking a big swig and plopping herself down on the couch. “Sol, dummkopf, it’s over baby. You gotta lay off everybody tonight, bubala. Or we are broke.”

Sol removed his glasses and ran his old hand over his eyes, “Hazel, do you have any idea what today is?”

Hazel took another long pull on the whiskey and smacked her lips. “It’s Monday!”

Sol stood up in rage behind the desk, “It’s Christmas Eve!”

Hazel laughed in his face, “Sol, you’re Jewish!”

Sol sneered as he looked at Hazel, lying on his couch like a Hippo in heat. He’d met some hideous creatures in this biz, but Hazel was ugly on the inside as well. Sol had long since discovered that she was the devil incarnate but he had made his bargain.

“I’m not laying anybody off on Christmas, we’ll pink slip ‘em all on New Years Eve.”

Hazel protested, “You putz! It’s over. The Twinkie is dead Sol, and so are we!”

Suddenly there was a knock at the door

Sol opened the door and standing there was the most beautiful young woman he’d ever seen. An older biker type guy with a beard stood behind her. They were both covered in snow and looked like they were cold. Hazel got off the couch and joined Sol at the door and stared at the couple in awe. The girl was pregnant and her smile was ebullient in spite of the situation.

“Hi, I’m Mary, this is my old man Joe.”

Joe said, “Hey.”

Mary’s mere presence was ethereal in its loveliness and Sol and Hazel were dumbstruck. Mary said, “Our Harley wiped out in the snow and we’re gonna need to file an accident report, mind if we use your phone?”

Mary had somehow captivated Sol’s soul. He smiled, “Sure, help yourself. I’m Sol and this is my wife Hazel.”

Mary smiled. “What a night, huh? Merry Christmas, you guys.”

Hazel blurted out, “We’re Jewish.”

Mary laughed, “For real? So are we!”

Well of course you know the rest of the story. Hazel and Sol drove Mary and Joe over to McNeal Hospital where she gave birth to a baby boy just after midnight. Hope had come knocking on Sol Hepatica’s door and he answered it on Christmas Eve.

“Ingrown Toenail Monthly” soon changed its format and it’s name to “Beautiful Babies”, featuring adorable infants. Sol and Hazel made a fortune.

Here’s hoping the spirit of the infant Jesus enlightens us all as well.

Merry Christmas!

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