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Doc hadn't even finished loading his coffee with fake sugar before Steve piped up. "I think it's disgusting and weird and unnatural and it should be outlawed!" the tall cowboy said, coming to rest at the philosophy counter of the Mule Barn truck stop.

"Aw Steve," said Doc, "the coffee isn't that bad."

"Coffee? Nay, I say unto you, Doc. It ain't the coffee ... it's them Academy Awards on the television. You see them? All them good-looking women Scotch-taping themselves into those dresses so they almost stay on? Those weird guys they're with who only shave on Tuesdays?"

"And this makes you angry?"

"Sure does, Doc. Those folks make a lot more money than I do and all they have to do is dress up and talk to those red carpet cameras."

"Well, Steve," said Dud, "we can do just as good as they can. Stand up."

Steve looked around and then stood slowly. Dud picked up a bottle of Tabasco sauce and, using it as a microphone, turned to the breakfast crowd in the Mule Barn.

"Good morning, folks, and we're so happy you could join us here on KRUD this morning to welcome our list of celebrities. Oh, look, it's Steve, the pride of farrier life and heavy anvils. Steve, wherever did you get that outfit?"

"Well," said Steve, grinning, "it's a creation of Levi Strauss, and please note the genuine brass rivets."

"Give us a twirl there, cowboy."

And he did, to great applause.

"And your headwear today, Steve, that would be what ... Stetson?"

"Yessir. A genuine John B. Stetson original. Five ex beaver fur felt."

"The sweat stains?"

"Those were added later, actually, Dudley. A genuine cow pen fillip to offset the otherwise stunning look of my entire ensemble."

"So as not to overwhelm the onlookers, I suppose?"

"Precisely. We don't want ordinary people to think they'll never achieve this look, you see."

"An admirable pursuit," Dud said.

"Noblesse oblige, I believe," said Steve.

"Not until lunch," said Loretta, topping off the coffee mugs. "Breakfast special is bacon and a short stack."

Brought to you by "Ol' Slim's Views From The Porch," available at www.unmpress.com.

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