Fitz column mug

David Fitzsimmons, Tucson’s most beloved ink-stained wretch.

Steven Meckler/

Every Saturday, throughout the entire warm winter, Bob and Mona Lutefisk stopped in at the Arroyo Cafe. Rosa was always delighted to see the beloved regulars at her counter. “Hey, look who’s here! It’s our snowbirds. From up north!” This morning Rosa poured the happy pair two steaming cups, listened to the latest Sven and Ollie joke, and took their order. After wolfing down his vittles, Mr. Lutefisk spun on his counter stool to face all of us. “I got some news to share with all of you fine folks. Yah. I’m sorry to say this will be our last trip here to Tucson, by golly.”

You could hear a pin drop, by golly. Lurlene knew why they weren’t going to be coming back. “It’s because the Furr’s closed.”

Mrs. Lutefisk said, “Oh, no. It’s because your winters here are getting to be too gosh darned warm. Hot, even.”

Mr. Lutefisk nodded. “Yah. Climate change dontcha know. Your October was so hot we roasted pumpkin seeds just by leaving them in the jack-o’-lantern on the porch of our casita. Frost evaporates off our margaritas before we can drink ’em. Eight degrees above normal!”

I nodded. “Climate change is real. There’s more CO2 in the atmosphere now than there was in the past 800,000 years.”

Sour Frank barked, “Fake news!”

Mr. Lutefisk just shook his head, jangling the fishing lures stuck in his “Fish fear me” cap. “It’s true, Frankie boy. Thanks to that there global warming, our winters up north are pretty gosh darned nice now. Isn’t that right, Momma?”

“Yah. We got saguaros growing in St. Paul. Fargo is lousy with javelinas. The buzzards aren’t returning to Hinckley anymore because they aren’t leaving Hinckley. Yah. It looks to us like you only got two seasons here in Arizona these days.”

Rosa was perplexed. “And what would those two seasons be?”

Mr. Lutefisk answered, “A week in January and summer.”

Mrs. Lutefisk snorted at her husband’s joke. “Anyhoo, Bob, here got this great idea. Yah. Now that it’s getting hotter and hotter here in Tucson we thought we ought to convince you folks to come up north to see us, so you can escape your winter heat.”

Mr. Lutefisk looked at me. “Yah. We’ve already had winter visitors from Arizona. Yah. Do you know what we call you?” I shrugged my shoulders. Mr. and Mrs. Lutefisk answered together. “Sunbirds!”

Sour Frank grew more sour. “Sunbirds?” Mrs. Lutefisk patted him on the shoulder. “Yah. We’re going to open up an RV park in Bunyan Creek. Just for sunbirds. Here’s the best part: We got a Taco Bell right next door. Oh, yah!”

Rosa audibly gagged. Mrs. Lutefisk asked her, “Are you alright, dear?” Rosa said, “I’m just sorry to see you go.” Mr. Lutefisk smiled as she paid the tab. “Yah, well, if you want to get away from your hot as heck winters just hop in your RVs and head north and come see us!”

I asked Mr. Lutefisk, “Will you be selling your RV?”

He nodded. “The Prairie Wind Schooner Lutheran Road Warrior Land Yacht Deluxe? Oh, yah. We already got a buyer. Some nice fella in Albuquerque wants it. A high school chemistry teacher named Mr. White. Poor fella’s got cancer. Yah. Says he wants to travel while he can. With a kid named Jesse. Nice family. Yah.”

Rosa spoke for all of us. “We’re going to miss you guys. Mrs. Lutefisk? Can I have a lock of your blue hair to remember you by?” We all hugged and then they left.

From the kitchen Carlos said, “I’m really going to miss them.” Closing her cash register drawer Rosa added, “— and their money.” Carlos said, “Yah. They were generous, by golly.” He then asked Rosa if he could get some help getting out the cafe’s Christmas decorations. “Halloween’s done. Time to put ’em up.”

We groaned and bombarded Carlos with a hail of wadded-up paper napkins. Rosa led the protest. “Thanksgiving is weeks away!”

Carlos ignored the mob. “Who’s going to help me unload our tree and set it up? It’s in the back of my truck.”

Sour Frank spat out his coffee. “In this heat? A Christmas Tree? It won’t make it to Thanksgiving.”

Carlos told us he wasn’t going to kill any more trees. “It’s a giant agave stalk! Cool, right? I’ll get the lights. Rosa, get the tin ornaments. Vamos, Rosita!“

Rosa said, “Do it yourself. I’m busy shopping!” She had the classifieds in front of her on the countertop.

Carlos fumed. “What for?”

“I’m checking the want ads for used RVs. Better yet, a food truck! I’m thinking Bunyan Creek could use some good Mexican food and I could use a break from the heat. Yah, by golly. Yah.”

Contact editorial cartoonist and columnist David Fitzsimmons at tooner@tucson.com