Long time readers of this column will remember Ribby Von Simeon. More recent readers probably won’t be acquainted with Ribby, so here’s a brief introduction.
Ribby Von Simeon is the son of internationally renowned movie star Sippa Margarita and Balderdash Von Simeon, the news and entertainment magnate.
Ruthless Von Simeon, Ribby’s grandfather, was a Western mining tycoon. Between them they acquired a heap of money.
Miss Margarita’s media profile says she was born in Valencia. Her public relations packets contain photos of her in and around Valencia, Spain. Reality insists that Josipa Margarita Ruiz was born and raised in Valencia, Kansas. The couple had one son, Ruthless Ignacio Balderdash San Bernardino Cortez Ruiz Von Simeon, known all his life as Ribby.
Ribby Von Simeon was raised by his Latino grandparents in Kansas. It was all his mother could do to handle her fast-paced movie career. Ribby’s one enduring childhood memory of his mother was of a voyage they took. He flew to Europe and together he and Sippa sailed back on an ocean liner.
The voyage was bittersweet for Ribby. He had his mother all to himself. But he was seasick from the moment he stepped on board until the ship docked. He spent the whole voyage in bed being tenderly cared for—this to her credit—by his mother. She brought him broth and hard rolls and read to him.
Ribby didin’t come into his inheritance until he was in his thirties. By that time he was living simply but comfortably as an adjunct professor at Letongaloosa Community Junior College. The news that he had inherited a pile of money came at the same time news reports said that the luxury liner Santa Maria de la Valencia on which he and his mother had sailed the Atlantic had been decommissioned and would be sold for scrap.
The thought of that dearly remembered vessel ending up as scrap iron infuriated Ribby. That fury transformed him from a diffident and taciturn academic into a man as rapacious as his grandpa Ruthless Von Simeon and as vociferous and belligerent as his father Balderdash Von Simeon.
Ribby used his resources to attack the astonished lawyers, financial conservators, bureaucrats, politicians and shipping company executives. When it was over, Ribby owned the ship and had permission to do anything he wanted with it. He had the ship carefully dismantled and transported piece by piece to Kansas. Then Ribby had the ship reconstituted, refurbished and moored at the top of a hill on a large tract of land he owned a few miles outside Letongaloosa.
After the re-commissioning of the Santa Maria, Ribby dropped back into academic anonymity until 10 years later when another crisis arose.
Newly elected county officials were young and eager to raise tax revenue. They changed zoning regulations. Ribby’s property became part of an urban renewal project. The officials knew little about Ribby except that despite being a lowly professor at LCJC, he owned the land and the ship. They ordered him to dismantle and remove the vessel at his own expense.
That order transformed mild-mannered Sippy Von Simeon into an amalgam of his forebears Ruthles and Balderdash. Within hours highly placed officials were threatening to strip the county of federal funding, bankers had cancelled favorable interest rates. Bureaucrats, politicians and diplomats denounced the county officials and demanded that they cancel the project or leave Ribby’s land out of it. The county capitulated.
About that time Angie Appleton, a pert thirty-year-old who had focused her life and energy on her academic career, joined the LJCC faculty. Ribby fell for her the moment he saw her across the room at the first faculty meeting of the semester.
A first Angie ignored him. Then she was curious. Then intrigued.
For his part, Ribby was, at first his shy, taciturn self. But love is powerful. After an agonizing few days of despair, Love awakened Ribby’s Balderdash qualities—appropriately softened for the occasion—and LOVE won out.
Angie and Ribby snuck away and got married, went on a honeymoon, came back to Letongaloosa and settled down—more or less.
Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co