Berkeley Fourth: The Knuckleheads’ Turn

I confess: I think whoever it is in the neighborhood who’s still setting off firework as we’re moving toward midnight is (are) knucklehead(s). Never mind that even “safe and sane” fireworks are supposedly banned in Berkeley. From the little I saw strolling up around the corner this a little after 10, there was a bad mix of alcohol and clueless adults trying to please their mostly unsupervised kids. At one point, someone through a smoke bomb (apparently accidentally) in front of a cyclist who was riding down the street. Someone else sent up a couple of low-rise skyrockets without any apparent consideration of where the live cinders might come down (a neighbor’s roof and a redwood tree).

Knuckleheads.

In the distance, lots of ordnance going off. And some of it really is ordnance. Amid the loud pyrotechnics and potentially digit-severing small explosives, one hears occasional series of very regular, rapid reports. One presumes those come from fellow citizens celebrating the Second Amendment by firing off surplus 9-millimeter ammo. Distant sirens sound continuously. If John Adams could only see what his great anniversary festival has turned into.

Anyway. Here on our placid street, long before the concussive terrors that descend with the lowering of night, we had our Fourth of July picnic. A staple of this celebration: a watermelon-seed-spitting contest. Various categories of contestants, from young uns to novices to “pros,” try for distance (our neighborhood record: 43 feet and some inches) and accuracy. We also have what started out as a “trick spit” category and has now turned into a sort of improv theater “spit skit” — often referring to politics or sports or popular movies. In the past, we’ve had take-offs on “Star Wars” (“The Phantom Melon”), “Titanic,” and “The Sopranos” (“The Seed-pranos”).

What’s the flavor of the event? Here’s today’s “trick spit,” “The King’s Spit.” And yes, this actually was performed.

In a nation that long ago shed the chains of monarchy … and that has plenty of problems without having to deal with a bunch of hereditary narcissists … who gives a spit anymore about the royals? We do!

And since that’s the case … we want to bring you a very special moment in the history of the House of Windsor … where Prince Bertie is getting ready for his public debut – his very first solo spit … in front of the whole neighborhood.

Bertie

Hello, everyone. I have … a very special slice … of watermelon … from my dad … the king!

Crowd

Oooooohhhhhhh!!!

Bertie

Here … goes!

(Dribbles a seed onto his shirt).


Here … goes!!

(Dribbles another seed onto his shirt.)

Here … goes!!!

(Dribbles another seed onto his shirt.)

King Dad/Queen Mum

What is wrong with you, son?

I can spit a seed. (Spits).

Your brother can spit a seed.  Show them, Prince Eddie. (Prince Eddie spits a seed.)

You must spit a seed with character and panache … to carry on our line of … very stylish seed spitters!

Prince Eddie

That’s right, Bertie. (Spits again). It’s what a future king must do.

And besides, the girls really like it when I spit seeds at them.

Bertie

(Dribbles a seed onto his shirt.)

King Dad/Queen Mum

That’s OK, son. We’ll get you some help.

(Wave in Seed Coach.)

Seed Coach

Prince – is it OK if I call you Prince?

Bertie

Yeah, OK.

Seed Coach

What seems to be the problem?

Bertie

(Dribbles a seed on his shirt.)

That! That is the problem!

Seed Coach

Do you drool on yourself?

Bertie

Don’t be ridiculous. Only sometimes.

Seed Coach

Well, seed spitting is precisely the same thing.

Bertie

It is?

Seed Coach

Just as you don’t want drool all over the front of your shirt … you don’t want seeds all over your front. Do you see?

Bertie

Yes!

Seed Coach

Watch me. (Spits.)

Now you try it.

Bertie

(Dribbles a seed onto his shirt).

Oh blast!

Seed Coach

I see what the problem is.

Something scared the spit out of you when you were a young, impressionable spitter.

Bertie

Yes. Prince Eddie dropped a watermelon on my head.

Seed Coach

I knew it!

Try this.

(Stands in front of Bertie). Imagine I’m Prince Eddie. Now, spit at me, Bertie.

Bertie

That would be rude!

Seed Coach

You must try!

Bertie

OK – here goes!

(Spits – and gets the seed coach right in the eye.)

It worked!

Seed Coach

That’s right.

Just remember: From now on,  just imagine you’re spitting at Prince Eddie.

(Bertie spits again and hits him in the eye.)

But let me get out of the way first!

Bertie

(Turning to the crowd.)

My loyal subjects – I can spit! (Spits.)

Crowd cheers. The End.

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