I had my falling down water (a 12-year old, peat-tasting islay malt), my bagpipe mp3 collection, my tartan, one week until Burns night, and no haggis. Ordering from Scotland or even Toronto would take too long, and I quickly realised if I didn't find some underground haggis connection soon, i'd have 20-some irate, drunken Scots on my hands, quite willing to substitute me for a caber.

My lead came from a bookstore clerk around campus, while buying a Burns concordance, who tells me there's an English professor who regularly shows up with some quality stuff, and nobody knows from where. I track him down in his office; he's nervous, but after I part with a bottle, he loosens his lips, and slides me a sheet of paper with a number and a scribbled address.

So that Friday, there I am, on the far West Side, with a trenchcoat and pork-pie hat pulled over my face, waiting for my man in a dark back alley underneath the flickering neon lights of a Schlitz ad. I'm sweating buckets, stepping back with the sound of every passing car, hoping I don't get caught by the fuzz with $150 cash in my pocket loitering near this shit-hole. But, waiting, I can almost taste the stuff, and my heart is pumping. 10, 15, 25, 45 minutes I'm waiting, when I see this super-fly hoopty cruise by and stop, Fuzzy dice still swinging. My hand trembles as I reach for the extended paper bag, and I slice it open for a quick taste to make sure it's real. I hand the guy the money, and the last thing I see is the flash of his gold teeth as his car jets off, his hat feather flapping in the breeze.

Yeah, I was in the middle of the ghetto, $150 bucks short, and I still had a long way to go before I got home; but I had my haggis, and I made it; now, several years later, the guy's my regular, and even does drop-offs. I know what it's like being new to a city without connections, so if y'all are around Chicago and need it, I'll hook you up.

So there I was, driving around West Chicago in my beat-up El Camino. I had just stopped by the local everything-you-will-ever-need store and fancied it up with some fuzzy dice and 8 cans of pink spray paint. As I drive along, I notice an odd-looking fellow nervously glancing back and forth from his alley.

I think, white-boy like that in some whack pork-pie hat and trenchcoat at this time of night in West Chicago, he's in some serious trouble. So, being the nice person that I am, I stop at the alley and roll down my window, blinking back the glare from the Schlitz sign overhead.

The fellow staggers up to my door. As he exhales, I recoil from the overpowering odor of cheap imitation dirt whisky. Looking at his disfocused eyes, I can't tell if he wants to rob me or needs a ride. He keeps mumbling incoherently about 'aggis this or that. I am about to roll up my window and get away from this looney when he pushes a wad of twenties in my window.

Now I understand. He wants drugs. I try to explain that I don't have any but he gestures to the paper bag on my passenger seat. As I had just taken Brutus, my Saint Bernard for a walk in the park, the paper bag was filled with nothing more than a plastic-wrapped canine excrement of conspicuous size. The looney is gesturing and babbling madly now so I hand him the bag of dog sh*t.

What does he do with this? The wacko starts eating it! Whoever he is, he must be hopped up on some mad dope shizzit. I can't help but laugh, showing off my new orthodontia which incidentally was still hurting. As the looney lets go my door, I gun the Camino and hurl off into the night, $150 richer and no having to dispose of my "doggy bag".

As luck would have it, the looney must have written down my license plate number because he contacts me the next week with another order! Hell, I think, why not? Maybe there are more people out there who would pay $150 for some plastic-wrapped dog sh*t. Any takers?

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