Assume Makes an Ass of You and Me
“The dumbest people I know are those who
know it all.” ~Malcolm Forbes
Hutch had always taken certain
things about Starsky for granted. Until that dark and stormy night when Starsky
revealed that he was not, in fact, Jewish.
“But you own a menorah,”
said Hutch, unable to believe his ears.
“Hey, I just figured that
if one candle was sexy, eight would make me a certifiable lady-killer.” Starsky
hooked his elbows over the back of the couch and preened.
“And the Stars of David
in your car at Christmas?” Hutch wasn’t used to being wrong, despite
having been woefully mistaken about a great many things in his life. He’d
gone to college on an athletic scholarship, and his grades were a secret he’d vowed never to share with anyone.
“I bought the ‘Holiday
Decoration Kit’ from K-mart,” explained Starsky. “It had all
sorts of stuff. That’s also where I got that fat guy statue that I keep under my bed.”
“You mean the Buddha.” On the other hand, Hutch very much enjoyed correcting Starsky. It made him feel smart.
“Yeah, and you never assumed
I was a Buddhalogist, now did ya?”
Hutch, confidently. Ah, this was the life.
“Tell me what else you
know about me,” said Starsky, looking interested.
Hutch’s internal alarms
immediately went off. This was dangerous.
If he didn’t tread carefully he might end up wrong again. He decided
to go with the obvious, something that absolutely had to be true about Starsky. “You
were in the army,” he said.
“Look, I know lots of people
are insensitive to Vietnam vets, but you don’t have to hide it from me.” Hutch was proud
of his sensitivity. His Mormon ex-wives Nancy, Vanessa, and Cinnamon had often
praised him as the most sensitive man in the world, and he was fairly sure only Nancy was being sarcastic when she said it.
“Got drafted, but my flat
feet disqualified me.” Starsky frowned at his toes.
“You do not have flat feet!”
“Why do you think I wear
sneakers all the time?” Starsky waggled his feet at Hutch.
“Because you’re a
slob?” Then again, Hutch thought, if Vanessa had really meant what she’d said about his sensitivity, why had she
brained him with a cast-iron frying pan immediately after the declaration?
“Nothing can beat blue
Adidas for their superior arch support and comfort.” Starsky admired his
feet for a moment longer, before adding, “Having flat feet ain’t so bad. It gives me a real sexy sashay when I
strut my stuff.”
“But you couldn’t
have got into the police academy with flat feet.” Hutch argued. After all, they’d barely let him in with his type
two diabetes, a legacy of his years as a three-hundred pound Mormon polygamist. And
now that he thought about it, Cinnamon might not have meant the nice things she’d said either, considering that she’d
helped Van and Nancy heave his unconscious body out into the
rain after they’d all three decided to end their marriage to him.
“Uh uh.” Starsky shook his head. “Bay City’s municipal counselors forced the Police Chief to change the rules after 1967.
Said that judging people on things they couldn’t change wasn’t part of the Age of Aquarius and was seriously harshing
Hutch frowned. That would explain
how he’d got through the Police Academy
despite his occasional uncontrollable rages and hallucinations about being a Sea Scout in Duluth.
However, Hutch was confident that his fasting regimes would get his blood sugar under control any day now.
Still, he wasn’t convinced
Starsky was telling the truth about not being in the army. “But if you weren’t in the army, how’d you learn
to handle grenades and automatic rifles?”
Starsky suddenly looked embarrassed.
“My dad,” he admitted, quietly.
“Of course,” said
Hutch. “Because your dad was a cop.”
Starsky didn’t answer. The expression on his face was reminiscent of someone suffering severe indigestion,
but Hutch attributed it to grief. “His name was Michael Starsky and he
was shot dead, right? I know all about your dad.”
Hutch had always regretted never
knowing his own dad. “Hutchinson”
had been his mom’s best guess, but she’d never been certain about his paternity.
“You got the dead part
right,” said Starsky, sounding strangled.
Finally Hutch had been right
about something! That should have made him feel better, except... “Only the dead part?” he asked warily.
“My dad, Bill Starsky,
was a button man, working for Joe Durniak.”
Starsky. “Leg breaker. Toughest
joe you ever met.”
“But he was shot, right?” Hutch was having trouble imagining Starsky’s dad as thug.
Starsky was staring reminiscently
up at the ceiling. “Nope. He
tried a change of career, instead.”
Hutch’s world settled into
something a little more recognizable. “He tried to go straight!”
Starsky frowned at him. “Whatever gave you that idea? No,
he decided to become a drug mule. Tried to stuff sixteen condoms full of cocaine
up his rear.”
Hutch was speechless.
“Sure wasn’t pretty
when they broke all over our kitchen floor.” Starsky shook his head. “His last words to me before he died were, ‘Robot! Blue!’”
“I never would have figured
it out,” said Starsky. “Luckily my mom’s a psychic. Real famous, too. Every hear of the Amazing Natasha? She was part of Barnum and Bailey’s circus for awhile.”
Hutch shook his head.
“Well,” said Starsky. “She said robots were, uh... symbolic of the system, right? The Man.
And blue is the color of a police uniform. So, she said I had better become
a cop or he’d haunt my ass.”
“Your mom sounds like a
terrific lady,” said Hutch, trying for something safe.
Starsky looked shocked. “If she was a terrific lady, do you think I’d be living on the other side
of the continent?”
“But you call her every
“That’s just so she
doesn’t get it into her head to come down for a visit.” Starsky shuddered. “Trust me, we don’t want that!”
It was too much. Hutch couldn’t cope with being wrong about anything else. One
more word out of his mouth, and Starsky would be telling him his fro was actually a perm.
“Okay,” he said. “It’s your turn.”
“Tell me everything you
know about me,” said Hutch.
For the first time that evening,
Starsky looked worried. “Um. You’ve
got a bad back?”
“Bad back?” Hutch was surprised. Despite all his
many medical woes since his college wrestling days, his back had never given him trouble.
Sure landing ass-first on car roofs every week occasionally left him a bit sore, but that was perfectly understandable. “Why would I have a bad back?”
“I just thought you did,”
said Starsky. “The same way I’ve always assumed you’re a WASP,
White Anglo-Saxon Protestant.”
Leaning back on the couch, Hutch
grinned. This was going to be fun.
“My mom,” said Hutch. “Is Jewish.”