|Two Joes and a Little Lady
(originally posted November 14, 2003/Fred Sez)
|Recently, Lynn, Julie, and I attended a party
at our friend Cindy Dill's house. Happily,
we encountered many old friends, and even
managed to make a few new ones before the
night was over. The festive fun-time event
brought forth several intriguing ideas for
entries right here at the site's so-called
blog, hopefully all of which we'll get to
in the very near future, but first and foremost,
it occurs to me that there hasn't been nearly
enough talk hereabouts concerning my long-time
pal--and celebrated cartoonist--Joe Staton!|
You comics fans know all about Joe, don't you? Co-creator of the fondly recalled E-Man, penciller on a long and significant run of DC's GREEN LANTERN title, Art Director for the ground-breaking Chicago based First Comics, embellisher of many 1970's Marvel titles--why, I'm sure if you tied Joe to a chair and threatened him with the ol' Chinese water torture, he'd even own up to scribbling out a run chronicling the exciting exploits of those wacky teens-of-times-yet-to-come, the Legion Of Super-Heroes!! The guy has done it ALL, friends--and, currently, next to Shaggy himself, he might very well be the most important man in Scooby Doo's life!! (Yup, he pencils that book for DC--check it out, fan-folks!) But there IS one thing you probably DON'T know about the ever versatile Joe--if there's ever any question as to whether or not your tiny toddler fully comprehends the very words being spoken to the wee lad or lassie, well, Mr. Staton here is just the fellow to help clear up THAT minor mystery! (Cue the flashback...)
Before we moved to our current location, Lynn and I lived in the same town as Joe and Hilarie for over a decade. Naturally, the Statons were around when Julie was born in 1990, and watched with great interest her growth and development back in those, her earliest years. Of course, they had plenty occasion to, as I was a frequent visitor, usually with my infant daughter in tow. Joe, you see, was the proud owner of a state of the art copy machine, and I was forever stopping by to mooch off it's space-age capabilities! Oh sure, I tossed a ream of paper or two at him often enough to somewhat salve my guilty conscience, but he generously put up with my continuous intrusions despite seemingly never-ending requests for access to his copier! Simply put, the man was a prince!!
(And just WHAT was I so hot to have copied, you wonder? Why, my unfinished--yes, even to this very day!!--epic, "KIDZ"!! As you can no doubt tell, Joe, THAT was time well spent!...)
But of course, it wasn't ALL business. We'd always spend a good while jabbering away, usually about--surprise!--comics. But we'd also discuss events outside that rarefied realm, events that mayhaps occurred in our very own lives. Like the time Julie had gotten a particularly nasty splinter stuck in one of her fingers...
She was just a toddler, please understand. She barely spoke--at least coherently--and, pretty much up to that point, understood very little of what was being said to her. Shortly after yanking what amounted to merely a small but nonetheless irritating sliver of wood from her fingertip, we stopped by the Statons. Making small talk, Joe inquired as to what was new, and I quickly informed him of Julie's most recent trial and tribulation. When I breathlessly finished recounting all the gory details for him, Joe, smiling broadly, turned to Julie, and said in his ever-best soothingly sing-song like voice--the likes of which you can usually utilize to say ANY old thing to a small, small child, and it'll sound just peachy to them--he said...
"Well, Julie, that's too bad about your finger. If your mommy hadn't gotten that mean old splinter out, I may've had to get my big, sharp saw from the garage and cut that troublesome little finger of yours right off, you know?..."
Julie immediately froze, her eyes suddenly locked with his, both pupils now opened wide to their utmost diameter. There was a short but significant pause as all was momentarily silent there in the Staton dining room--and THEN Julie let out a loud and sustained wail, the type children of her vintage are well renowned for! Tears were flying from ducts aplenty, and the same thought occurred simultaneously to both Joe and I: Hey, fancy that--she UNDERSTANDS what we're saying! She really does! And I had none other than the co-creator of The New Guardians to thank for that note-worthy discovery!!
Okay, okay, maybe I wasn't TOTALLY surprised--I did live with the kid, after all. But take my word for it, Joe got more of a reaction than he'd bargained for!! He swiftly joined in with me on an ultimately successful attempt to calm the poor little child down: "It was only a joke, sweetie--just a big ha ha!! (...heh, heh.)" Eventually, Julie realized this, and she bore no further ill will toward the Kingston Saw Menacer. And if any of you are sitting out there on your high horses "tsk tsk-ing", well, DON'T. That was just Jolly Joe's slightly demented sense of humor at work, is all. Clearly, he meant no harm. And besides, he was fully aware that his gag wasn't all that far removed from some of the ditzy things her dear ol' dad had come up with--and would continue to foist upon her in the years ahead! Like, for instance...
Think back about a decade, folks. Remember Amy Fisher? The teen-age sensation dubbed "The Long Island Lolita" by the tabloids because the (barely) underage gal had shot, wounded, but luckily, neglected to kill, her much older married boyfriend's wife? Remember her? Kinda hard to forget if you were at all conscious at the time. There were, in point of fact, not one, not two, but an amazing THREE TV schlocku-dramas made about the torrid but tawdry affair, and the whole ugly incident was on everyone's lips. Even, as it turned out, on the lips of a sweet tiny toddler known as Julie Hembeck...
Her first words were barely out of her cute little mouth when I came up with a rather silly notion. You're all most likely familiar with that Fabio-endorsed food product, I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, right? Well, I thought it would be funny as all get-out to teach my blithely impressionable little child a twist on that by-now well known phrase. When Daddy would say to her, "I can't believe it's not...", she'd finish my sentence NOT by saying "butter", but instead filling in the blank with (...wait for it...) "Buttafuoco"!!
"I can't believe it's not...?"
Oh, the laughs--and the LOOKS--we'd get!! Y'know, I figured, as long as we shied away from any Child Services venues, we could've cleaned up by taking our act out on the road! My friends--being, as they were, after all, MY friends--found the last name of Amy Fisher's paramour, Joey, pouring out of such a pint-sized package on command to be, well, downright hilarious! OTHER people, however...
Well, there was that time when I had Julie do her Stupid Baby Trick for the instructors at her pre-pre-pre K group, and the reaction was one more of horror than hilarity!! Live and learn, I guess--not everybody hears the inherent humor in the very lilt of the name "Buttafuoco", apparently. (Thinking back, there were several other parents present as well, including a fellow who purported to be a carpenter. I couldn't say if he was a very good one or not, but obviously, he mustn't have been a very cautious one, because, as I clearly recall, he had not one, but TWO fingers missing!! Say, you don't suppose Joe...?) (Nah...) (I...gulp...HOPE!...)
Well, yours truly milked that "I can't believe it's not Buttafuoco" gag for years and years, playing it for all it was worth, and then some. Nowadays, however, on the rare occasion when I attempt to feed her that long-cherished straight line, she just shoots me a look. And oh, WHAT a look! Which, I suppose, is far better than I deserve. After all, there's always that FINGER Joe Staton was once so eager to relieve her of! There are times when my darlin' dear one seems more than willing to give it to ME, dig?!?...
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