The phone was jangling insistently about 3 o’clock a few mornings ago and, like the carefree fool I am, I answered it.
Whenever the phone rings any time between midnight and 3 a.m., I already know who’s on the other end of the line. It’s invariably my old ’60s sidekick, Sapper.
Forever lost in the Age of Aquarius after ingesting some unidentified herbs near Bolinas in 1968, Sapper has sure-fire solutions to virtually any problem you might have (and for several that you probably don’t have and never will have…).
Unfortunately, Sapper never communicates his brainstorms during daylight hours. Or even twilight hours. Until midnight, Sapper’s quieter than bleached bones in the Arizona desert.
Sapper’s most recent pre-dawn call concerned international crime … and koalas.
“Wake up, bro. America’s security has a huge gap in it and nobody’s doin’ nothing about it,” he intoned ominously.
Through exhaustive research – apparently involving information printed inside Snapple bottle caps – Sapper had determined that only two mammals have uniquely identifiable fingerprints. One of them is, of course, man. The other is the cute, cuddly little koala.
“Every time you turn around these days, somebody’s sneakin’ up on you with a fingerprint card – FBI, CIA, CHP, AFL-CIO, B.P.O.E., VSOP – just spit out some letters and you can bet they’ll want to have your prints filed away somewhere,” Sapper continued, picking up speed. “You can’t even get drunk in public anymore with gettin’ fingerprinted – an’ you know how hard it is to find all your fingers after a three-day drunk.
But nobody’s fingerprintin’ koalas. They’re all cute and fuzzy and sleepy-eyed, but they’ve got fingerprints an’ we aren’t even tryin’ to get ’em,” Sapper complained. “Who knows how many koalas are skulkin’ around our borders right now, thinkin’ their dark, chaotic koala thoughts? There could be a dozen of ’em stockpiling weapons of mass destruction in someplace like Gridley right now and we’d never know. They could leave their greasy little fingerprints all over a big stack o’ dynamite and we wouldn’t have an ice cube’s chance in hell of trackin’ ’em down because we never fingerprint koalas!”
So profound were Sapper’s revelations that I was struck momentarily speechless. Sapper, on the other hand, is never speechless, momentarily or otherwise.
“Everybody thinks they’re so adorable and they call ’em koala bears. Balderdash! They’re not bears, they’re sneaky little marsupials,” Sapper pointed out. “You ever meet a marsupial you could trust? I think not, bro. And now they’re overrunning the free world and they don’t even have to get driver licenses. We’ve got a big, black security hole starin’ us right in the face!”
Unfingerprinted marsupials without driver licenses? I had to admit that was a problem I’d never considered before.”I’m on it, amigo,” I replied in my best can-do voice, milliseconds before lobbing the telephone receiver into the bedroom hallway…
Originally published December 14, 2003