"Mayor Cook? Is that you?"
It was none other than John Cook, the mayor of El Paso. He seemed genuinely happy to see me.
"What are you doing begging on a street corner?"
"I'm not begging. I'm collecting donations for my legal defense fund. This Pastor Brown recall brou-ha-ha has really put me in the hole."
The stoplight turned green, but there was no one behind me, so I put on my four-way flashers and continued to talk with the mayor.
"I've even got my wife collecting for me," he told me. "Why, the other morning she came home after a hard night of fund-raising and I asked her: 'How much did you collect?' And she said: 'Twenty dollars and ten cents.' And I said: 'Ten cents? Who gave you the ten cents?' And she said: 'All of them.'"
With that he laughed a good old laugh.
"So, how much are you in the hole for?" I asked him. The mayor was looking up and down the street, craning his neck, but there was nary a car to be seen. Only an idiot would have chosen this corner to beg for money on. The people in charge of promoting El Paso to tourists and businesses must have chosen it for him.
"One hundred thousand dollars!"
"One hundred thousand dollars?"
"Well, sixteen thousand two hundred twelve dollars and ten cents to be exact, but that's no matter, because I've got a plan. Do you want to know what my plan is, Joe?"
"What's your plan, Mr. Mayor?"
"Parking meters. I'm going to put parking meters all up and down Cincinnati Street. The money they raise will go toward my legal defense fees. Who knows, I might even have enough left over to go out of town during our next city emergency."
"Is that a fact?" I said.
"That's a fact," he said. "Another idea I have is replacing all the parking meters Downtown with electronic ones that expire as soon as you walk away from your car. And, finally, I'm hoping voters will approve City Manager Joyce Wilson's $500 million Quality of Life Bond in the next election. $500 million will go a long way toward improving the quality of my life."
"Well, Mr. Mayor, I don't think the citizens of El Paso should have to foot your legals bills."
"If not them, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where? If not what, then why?"
"How about the gay city employees you tried to give marriage benefits to? In fact, the whole gay comunity should be supporting you, financially and otherwise, but I haven't heard a peep out of them, and I'm sure you haven't either. Realistically, you could lose your job because you went against the voters to support a group of people who aren't supporting you."
"They can't do it. They're busy."
"Avoiding my phone calls. But it's just as well. I don't like to impose."
I could see a car behind me in the distance. The light had just turned yellow. I turned off my four-way flashers. I was going to have leave at the next green light.
My attention came back to the mayor. He was nonchalantly whistling and shaking his tin cup in front of me. The few coins inside rattled around noisily. I reached into my wallet.
"Do you have change for a twenty?" I asked him, as I held out the bill.
"Of course," he answered, and snatched the bill out of my hand. He stuffed it into his front pocket faster than Michelle Obama working on a plate of ribs.
"Uh..." I said, when no change was forthcoming.
"Don't worry. It's tax deductable."
The car that pulled up behind me was a police car. The officer turned on his emergency lights and got out. The mayor looked pleased.
"Ah, I see my ride's here." To the officer he said: "You're right on time, officer. I have an appointment Downtown."
"You sure do," the officer said, as he hand-cuffed the mayor's hands behind his back, and made sure the mayor didn't bump his head as he helped him into the back seat of the police cruiser.
"Seeya, Joe," Mayor Cook called out to me as he was driven away.
Fifty Shades of Funny