Running to the Gold Standard


When I first arrived in Ye Olde UC Village, my elegant Queen Anne was a hulking shell, and of course I didn't have plumbing or electricity, not to mention wi-fi. I had heard that Rogerio, proprietor of the Gold Standard, was a soft touch, so I frequently dropped in to use the facilities. After a sweaty day's work at my goat farm, it was a luxury to sit in the sauna, then plunge off the balcony into the freezing cold pool.


At the time I was still wearing my tinfoil hat to ward off the messages from the CIA and the KGB, and I found that sitting in Roger's coffee shop I could not only receive but send out clandestine messages. So I would sit there for hours in the airconditioning during Philly's hot and steamy summers.


But there came a limit to even the kind-hearted Rogerio's tolerance for non-paying customers. So I worked out a deal whereby I bartered quantities of goat milk for my use of the facilities and that seemed to satisfy him for a time. I also collected dead pigeons and roadkill from 48th Street and gave it to Chef Joey for use in his vegetarian meatloafs and whatnot.


Then one day Cassidy stopped into the shop. Cassidy was flush, having just received royalties from the German translation of his famous book of photos, "Americans Armed to the Teeth: Bazookas, Light Mortars and Anti-tank Weapons." He was buying rounds for the house, so of course I drank as many of Rogerio's famous "Twisted Iced Teas" as I could.


The drinks made me hungry, so I started ordering everything on the menu -- Le Salade de Pomme Frite a la Mennonite, the Bavarian Goose in Aspic, the Black and Blue Catfish, etc. I was just starting in on the dessert cart -- West Philly Satanic Chocolate Mousse, and a few Liverpool Tarts -- when Rogerio loomed up beside my table. 


"Are we paying cash or credit?" he inquired with a harshness that had been previously quite unlike him. "I only ask because the IRS auditors are in the back room, and I'm going to need all the shemolians I can garnish if I am to satisfy their pecuniary lusts."


"Geeze, Rog," I stammered. "You know I'm good for a pint of University City goat milk come Saturday."


"That's OK, Rosso," he laughed. "Just sign this so I know you're bartering in good faith."


When I sobered up the next morning the collection agency was already at my door. They informed me that I owed the Gold Standard 28 Shetland Horned Dunfaces, 19 Angora goats, and my entire herd of trained Rottweilers


These dudes were heavily armed, so I didn't put up any resistance. Not that I would have anyway, being a good Mennonite.


I tore my clothes and sat in ashes, wailing. The next day I picked myself up and went down to Clark Park in the evening to shoot a few chucabrapas. I managed to sell them to the Green Line to use in their afternoon tea sandwiches.

--Ross Bender