“Sanctimonious siphons, it’s hot!” said Dud, sitting at the philosophy counter and turning over his coffee cup for action with a single smooth move. Dud is a regular at the Mule Barn truck stop’s legendary world dilemma think tank.
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“Epithet time again, Dudley?” said Doc.
“Epithets and heat time, Doc. When that heat comes along, the only thing that can really change an attitude is a properly tuned epithet. It’s man’s emotional release valve, but of course you know that, being a doctor and all.”
Dud doctored his coffee and took a sip.
“Oh …” said Doc, “right … of course. We took Epithets 1A and 1B in medical school, naturally. ‘Emotional release valves and their perfection’ they were called. I got an A in Epithetology for the Masses in my third year, too.”
“You’re just putting me on.”
“Let’s look for a moment,” chimed in Bert, “at why epithets are so good for the soul.”
“He’s going to wave his arms again,” whispered Doc to Dud.
“I’m afraid so…”
“Yes,” said Bert, “epithets, particularly those where no swearing is involved, are like a frustrated man’s crossword puzzle. They bring out enough cleverness and creativity in a man to pour salve on whatever it is that’s bugging the bejeesus out of him.”
“I know I feel better with salve poured on my bejeesus,” said Doc, nodding.
“First thing I do in the morning, after coffee,” said Dud.
“Well, here comes Steve,” Doc said, as all eyes turned to the cowboy who looked wise, in the way a caffeine-starved owl looks wise. “He’ll pour some salve and sense on this entire situation.
“Mornin’ Steve,” said Dud. “What’s going on?”
“Bilious blasphemers, it’s hot today!” said Steve.
The groaning continued, off and on, through the toast course.
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Slim Randles, based in Albuquerque, N.M., was sports editor of the Mountain Democrat in 1964.