Monday, October 31, 2011

A Halloween Tale

Go ahead. Eat as much as you want. We'll be there for you.
-The American Dental Association

    The young wife pulled her sweater tight as a sudden gust whipped a handful of dead leaves past her ankles.  Sure was getting cold, she thought.
    Glancing down at the half-full candy jar at her feet, she was thankful she’d bought enough goodies for the hordes of trick-or-treaters that continued to rampage through her neighborhood. 
Oh, your house is getting egged
    With only an hour to go, she breathed a sigh of relief.  At least she wouldn’t have to break into last year’s stash of petrified candy corn.  Or, worse, the spare change lodged in the back of the sofa.
    In a pinch, she wondered whether she’d be able to get away with handing out those ketchup packets stashed in the cupboard over the stove.    
    For some reason, though, she doubted the kids would buy her assurances that ketchup was “nature’s candy.”
    So, mercifully, her house would be spared the ravages wrought by pint-sized wrecking crews denied their sugar fixes.
    With a break in the action, she picked up a Fun-Size Milky Way.  No, check that.  TWO fun-size Milky Ways-more fun that way.  With a weary sigh and mouth full of chocolaty goodness, she plopped into the chair set by her open door.
"Your movies sucked!"
"Oh, yeah? Well at least I didn't have George Clooney play me!"
"True, but Richard Pryor in one of yours? Please!"
"Okay, but I think we can both agree that Robin is a real pussy!"
    No sooner had she sat down then four miniature super heroes-Batman, Superman, and the unfortunately-named Captain Incontinence and his sidekick, Wet Nap Boy, came trooping up her driveway.
    Quickly stashing the empty candy wrappers in the pocket of her sweater, she stood to welcome her visitors.  They looked harmless enough, even the good Captain, who held his trousers up with one hand while dragging a sack full of tooth decay with the other.
    Greeted by a cheery chorus of “Trick or Treats,” she extended the candy jar to the tiny defenders of truth, justice, the American way, and proper hygiene.
    Their needs sated, the junior crime fighters excitedly scampered towards her neighbor’s house.  Relieved her home continued to be spared, she noticed a lone figure standing at the end of her driveway.
    Her visitor was fairly large-probably one of those kids from the middle school.  Usually they just grabbed a pillowcase and headed door-to-door, their menace masked only by a surly, “I’m an egg-thrower” when asked what their costume was.
"Do you have a couple of minutes
 to talk about the Lord?"


    This kid was dressed up, though, but he gave her the willies.  He sported blue jeans and a red flannel shirt, which were innocuous enough.  But, what really creeped her out was that hockey mask he wore and...was that a knife in his right hand?  He looked just like that...Freddy?  Michael?  No, he looked like Jason!  Yeeks!
    With a trembling hand, she presented the jar to the motionless figure.  “Hey, there.  Do you want some candy?” 
    No answer.
    Hmm, she thought, not too crazy about this.  Why doesn’t he just toss a couple rolls of toilet paper in my trees and be done with it?
    She closed her door and frantically tried to figure out what to do.
    At that moment, her husband’s car pulled into the driveway.
    “Oh, look,” he thought as he parked, “one of those Halloween trick-or-treaters.  Kinda big, though.”
    He got out of his car and cheerfully called out to the kid, “Hey, howzit goin’?”
    Nothing.
    “That’s weird,” he thought.
    Quickly turning his back, he entered the side-door and saw his wife, who looked a little freaked-out.  “Hey, you see that nut out there?  What’s going on?”
    Wide-eyed, she shrugged her shoulders and whispered, “You got me.  He’s just been standing there for the past ten minutes.  Uh...you didn’t see if he had a knife or anything, did you?”
    His eyes went wide and he stepped to the closed door.  Glancing through the curtains, he said, “Yeah, sure looks like one.  Man, I don’t like this.  I’m turning off the outside light.”
    Casting the porch into darkness, he motioned for her to join him.  Together, they peered at the motionless form bathed in the yellow light of the streetlamp.
    “Maybe he’ll get the idea we’re done for the night,” she hoped.
    “Yeah, I-hey!  He’s starting to walk this way!”
    His wife shrieked.  Clapping her hands to the side of her head, she dropped to the kitchen floor.  “Oh, my God!  What’re we going to do!?”
    He joined her.  “I don’t know.  I’d better call the cops!”
    They heard shuffling footsteps as their visitor scraped along the loose rocks of their driveway.
    Starting to lose it, she begged, “No, don’t leave me!”
"He doesn't look like a Mormon."
    Her husband scrambled on his knees to the kitchen island.  Maybe he’d find a knife or....ladle!!??  What the-that won’t do!  He kept rifling through the drawer.  Cheese grater...potato peeler...garlic press...ah, here was a knife!
    As he turned toward his almost-catatonic wife, he heard the footsteps suddenly stop.
    And the doorbell ring.
    The two of them inched their way to the window and cautiously peeked through the bottom of the curtain.
    They heard low snickers of laughter behind a hockey mask which bounced up and down.
    Standing bolt upright, the husband flung open the door and shouted, “You idiot!  You gave us both heart attacks!”

    The Moral of the Story:  It’s a good thing my brother has a sense of humor.  Otherwise, I mighta got stabbed that night.
                         Happy Halloween!
Tomorrow is a Holy Day of Obligation.
Thou shalt get your ass to church. Don't make us use these.
       

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Ghosties and Ghoulies Who Extort In the Night

"What do you mean, 'Penwasser Place' hasn't won 'Blog of Note'?
Plus, it's been 45 frikkin' years and I still don't have any hair on my New York congressman!"


NOTE:  The following is a repeat from last year (sorry, Sherilin).  While this may smack of laziness to some (and those people may have a point), it actually is a way to celebrate one of the special days of the year.  And I don’t mean “National Sea Monkey Day” (May 16.  Seriously.  No kidding.  Look it up.).
The way I figure it, the networks have been broadcasting “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” every October (because April would be silly) since the Vietnam War.  So, why can’t I do the same?  Especially since I won’t last 45 years like Linus in the pumpkin patch.
Besides, if you haven’t read it, it’s new to you.  Right, Yeamie Waffles?

    Halloween.  What a hoot.
Seriously.
Would you rather have a picture of Rosie in a thong?
    Yes, I know, I know...it’s a day allegedly drenched in satanic roots and all manner of horrifying images meant to instill terror in mortals:  ghosts, goblins, witches, Anthony Weiner, Rosie O’Donnell in a thong, blah, blah, blah.
Ooooooh, very spooky.
Plus, he could shoot you.
    Rather than surrender to the Dark Lord (who could be Dick Cheney, for all I know), the politically correct observe the holiday via nonsensical “Fall Parades”, “Harvest Festivals”, or “Insert-Festive-Name-Here” celebrations.
    Hand-wringing ninnies also prefer that children not dress up as traditionally spooky characters.  Instead, they dress their tykes as non-threatening characters such as “Insurance Salesman”, “Foot Doctor”, or “Blue Man Group.”
    Oh, c’mon!  I took my kids to a Halloween celebration a few years ago and not once did I perceive the icy grip of Lucifer on pillowcases chock full of Snickers and Jolly Ranchers.  After all, I find it very hard to believe that the Devil resides in clowns, ballerinas, or SpongeBob Squarepants.
    The extortion element of Trick-Or-Treating aside, it’s just a fun day for kids to dress up and happily pander from door to door.  I’m not going to begrudge them a chance to have fun just because some simpering idiots think the day glorifies evil.
Yeah, these sucked.
A lot like the movie.
    Halloween was a big deal when we were kids.  I remember planning what we were going to wear soon after school started in the Fall.  I even remember the costumes I wore:  Superman, Green Hornet, Spiderman (yes, even then), Hulk, Frankenstein, Mummy, “Glow-In-The-Dark Skeleton”, Underdog, “Criminally Insane Druggist,” and (the one that really never caught on) “Dr. Scholl’s Foot Pad Monster.”
    Unlike nowadays, we were never bird-dogged by our parents as we ran like scatterbrains through our neighborhoods, feasting on insane amounts of chocolate.
    We knew the unwritten Halloween code: only go to houses with their lights on, be on the lookout for razor blades in the Milky Ways, don’t bother going to the convent (they only passed out mothball-flavored Butter Rum LifeSavers), and take only one piece of candy from the bowl of those too lazy to hand them out themselves (yeah, RIGHT, always followed THAT rule!). 
Give us these
    Oh, and fling eggs at the houses of those who dared hand out:  apples, popcorn balls, pennies, toothbrushes, ketchup packets, and packets of Equal.
Or these
    My friends and I couldn’t get enough of what we saw as a great deal.  So, from six o’clock (or dark-it HAD to be dark) until nine, we knocked on doors in the hope we’d score so much sugar that our arms would go numb from lugging around our sacks (Of CANDY!  Keep it clean, people!).
Or these
    A bonus was that, since we went to Catholic School, we could sleep in the next day, All Saints Day.  To those “in the club” (so to speak), November 1st was a “Holy Day of Obligation” and so, was a day off from school (a point rendered moot if it fell on the weekend.  In that case, we groused that we were ripped off by Jesus).
    This meant we could shove candy down our throats when we got home until we passed out, woke up, ate some Sugar Smacks, inhaled more Three Musketeers, watched cartoons, and made fun of the public school kids as they trudged off to class.
    NOTE:  This was the best part of having the day off because the public school kids were beating us up the rest of the year.   Even the girls.
    My point is, what’s so wrong with a holiday that gives children a chance to play dress up, carve pumpkins, and gorge themselves on goodies doomed to eventually become petrified lumps of sugar on top of the refrigerator?
    Nothing.
    You know why?
    Because, Satan doesn’t like Peanut M&Ms.
You get this

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Once Upon a Time in the Bronx-The Conclusion (Thank God)


"You suck!"
"No, you suck!"
"Well, you're dead!"
"Oh, yeah? Well, you're fat.  And dead.  But, lemme ask ya."
"What?"
"Who's that guy behind us?"
"I don't know.  But, he's dead, too."



     It wasn’t surprising that the Yankees went one-two-three in their end of the ninth, losing a game which seemed a lock.
    As we trudged towards the exit, we were surrounded by fans who swore they’d love to get their hands on the crazy kid with the Red Sox cap.  After seeing their eyes, I was glad Donny wasn’t with us.
"Wait! Wait! I lost a contact!"
    “Look!  There he is!”
    The crowd froze.  Dozens of people turned around to catch a glimpse of the Yankee Killer.  I jumped up and down, hoping to spot Donny.
    Just then, he burst through the crowd.  Several hands reached out to grab him, but they couldn’t latch onto his sweat-soaked arms.
    Without breaking stride, he bolted past us through the exit.  Followed by a chorus of jeers, he disappeared into the humid Bronx night.    
    “Guess he’ll meet us at the car,” Mr. Spagnoula commented. 

Dude?  Who knows?
Weirder than batshit? Definitely.
    As we shuffled onto the street where we had parked, I began to feel a little better.  After all, it wasn’t as if the Yankees were going to the World Series that year, anyway (SPORTING AL’S NOTE:  They didn’t.  You’re welcome.  You can save those Google searches for something important.  Like whether Lady Gaga is a dude).  Plus, it gave me a chance to tell how my idiot friend managed to run around Yankee Stadium with a batting practice ball in his jeans.
    “I thought I parked here.”
    Mr. Spagnoula stood, puzzled, in the middle of the street. 
    Hoping he was just a little confused by too many hot dogs, I searched for the little red beetle.
    But, while the panel truck was gone, the van with the plywood windows was still there.  Mr. Spagnoula’s car should have been right behind it.
   “I know this is where I left it.”
    Spags scuffed the street with his dried ketchup toe, “You think it was towed?”
    Mr. Spagnoula ran his hand over his sunburned head.  “I think so, but-”
    “Mighta been stolen,” came a voice from behind us.
    Donny slowly crossed the street.  For the first time that day, he actually looked tired.
    “Jeez, Donny,” I said, “I’d ask where you’ve been, but I already know.”
    “Yeah,” he grinned, “that was wild, huh?”
    “You made them lose the game, moron!”  Spags jumped in.
    “No way!”  he protested.  “The Stankees just gave up a gopher ball.  Not like my ball.  It’s safe and-hey!”
    Donny frantically checked his pockets.  “Oh, man!
    “What?” I asked.
    “I lost the ball.”
    “You what?”
    “Last time I remember having it was when I got that pretzel.  I reached into my pocket to get money and-aw, crap!”
    Spags began laughing.
    Donny spun on his heel.  “I’m going back.”
    I quickly grabbed hold of his tee shirt.  “Oh, no you don’t.  You’ve had enough for one day.”
    Defeated, he stopped.  His shoulders slumped and his head dropped toward the ground.  “Hey, what’s that?”
    “What?” 
    “That.”  He pointed at a slightly glowing piece of something lying in the gutter.
No kidding.  Hitler loved these cars.
And pie.

 
    Mr. Spagnoula stepped up.  He knelt down and scooped up his little plastic Jesus.  Taped to its outstretched arms was a white card which said:  “Empire City 24 Hour Towing.”
    “Well,” he laughed, “how ‘bout this for a miracle?  Guess it was towed, after all.”
    Sacrilegiously stuffing Jesus into his pocket, he said, “Let’s go get the car back, boys.”
    As he watched his father head back to the stadium, Spags asked, “But, why’d they leave just the statue behind, Dad?”
    Without turning, Mr. Spagnoula said, “Must be Jewish.”  
    Then he started singing,
   
“I don’t care if it rains and freezes
long as I got my plastic Jesus
riding on the dashboard of my car.
I can go a hundred miles an hour
long as I got the almighty power
glued up there by my pair of fuzzy dice.”

NOTE:  You wouldn't believe how many different verses there are for this goofy-ass song.  I Googled it.  Along with pictures of Lady Gaga.

    “I love baseball.  Don’t you, fellas?”
    As I watched the eternal optimist step over a lump of...something...I had to admit this about Mr. Spagnoula:
    He was the cat’s ass.
Yes, but in a good way

THE END

Next:  Halloween posts.  Maybe tomorrow.  Maybe not.  But, definitely not on November 1st.  Because that would be silly. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Once Upon a Time in the Bronx Part III

NOTE:  The below action didn’t happen exactly as I describe.  Donny did drop to the field to grab a batting practice ball.  He was chased by stadium security and disappeared.  But, once he did, we didn’t see him again until after the game.  This was a real game between the Yankees and the Red Sox in the summer of ’72.  The final result is the same-I just “tweaked” some of the specific details for the sake of drama.  And to not make us look like boring losers. 

     The Yankees scored first, putting a run across in the first inning.  But, then the Red Sox went ahead in the fourth inning, 2-1.  Looked like it was going to be a good game, even though the Yankees were now losing.
    Thankfully, we didn’t have to listen to Donny boast about the Beantowners.  As the game dragged on, we caught glimpses of the Amazing Spastic Flash as he continued to elude security.
    Mr. Spagnoula only asked where Donny was once.
    “Wow, that kid sure takes a long time in the john.”
    “Uh, now he’s probably waiting in line for something to eat, Mr. Spagnoula,” I suggested.
    “Well, he’s missing a good game,” he muttered.
    I felt a rustling next to me and looked at Spags.
    “What are you doing?”
    “Eating a hot dog.”
    “I know that.  What are you doing to the hot dog?”
    “Putting ketchup on it.”
    “Nobody does that.”
    “What do you mean?”
See? Some people put ketchup on hot dogs.
Like this guy.  Who may not even be American.
    “I mean, nobody puts ketchup on a hot dog.”
    “A lot of people put ketchup on a hot dog.”
    “Who?”
    “I don’t know.  People.”
    "What people?"
    "People who put ketchup on hot dogs."
    “Everybody knows you’re supposed to put mustard on hot dogs.”
    “Well, I put ketchup on them.”
    “Well, you’re an idiot.”
    Offended, Spags jabbed his hot dog at me.  But the hot dog, juiced up from three packets of ketchup, squirted easily from the bun.  Spags watched helplessly as it flipped on its side and rolled sloppily off his knee before coming to a rest on his sneaker.
    I sneered at the red glop, “See?  Idiot.”   
    The middle of the seventh found us ahead again, 3-2.  It was looking good for the home team as we rose to stretch.
    Mr. Spagnoula, a deluge of spent peanut shells falling from his lap like rain, stretched noisily.  “Looks like Mel’s got it under control.”
Legend has it that the 7th inning stretch started when President William Howard Taft stood up during the seventh inning of a Washington Senators game.  The crowd, in classic "Monkey See-Monkey Do" fashion, followed his actions.  Chaos ensued when the portly Taft then whipped out his little Chief Executive and proceeded to horrify nearby peanut vendors.
    As the organist swung into Take Me Out to the Ballgame, the crowd roared.  At once, hundreds of arms pointed at the Yankees dugout.  I leaned to see if I could catch a glimpse of what was going on.
    Horrified, I saw Donny racing across the Yankee bench.  Amazingly, he held a huge pretzel in his hand which he shoved down his throat before swinging back into the crowd.
    “What’s going on?” Mr. Spagnoula wondered.
    There was no way he needed to see what was going on, I thought.  Reaching for the mustard packets that Spags didn’t use, I positioning them over my half-eaten hot dog and gave them a sharp squeeze.
    Thick yellow ribbons spewed from the packets and landed with a splat on the front of Mr. Spagnoula’s shirt. 
    “Oh, Mr. Spagnoula, I’m so sorry!”
    Distracted from the field, Spags’ father looked at the goo and just laughed.  “No problem, Al.  This is my Sunday-Go-To-Meeting shirt.  Guess I don’t have to go to church now, hee, hee, hee!”   
    Sheesh, the guy put a positive spin on anything.
Mel Stottlemyre-Yankees pitching great.
Who did not put ketchup on his hot dogs.
    “Wonder what happened, though,” he said as the Yankees came to the plate. “Probably some drunk.”
    The seventh inning ended with the Yankees leading by three runs.  We were feeling pretty good.  Even when the starting pitcher gave up another run in the ninth and had to be pulled, we weren’t worried.  The game was pretty much in the bag.
    But, after two men got on base, bringing the go-ahead runner to bat, we started to get nervous.
    “Don’t worry, a double play and we win,” Mr. Spagnoula reassured us.
    I realized he was right.  With one out already, a ground ball to one of the infielders would end the game.  Even so, I anxiously watched the reliever accept a signal from the catcher.
    Knowing the game was on the line, the crowd hushed.  All eyes were riveted on the closer.  Not a muscle in his face moved as his knee drifted up and his arm began its arc over his shoulder.
    Just then, we heard a cry from the visiting team’s side of the field.  A flash of red vaulted from the top of the dugout and bolted past the third base coach, three panting security guards in close pursuit.
Okay, so he's not a Yankees pitcher. He's a Cub.
But, he is falling down.
Hey, I don't have much time. 'Two and a Half Men' is coming on.
You try to do better.
    Startled, the pitcher gave a slight hitch in his motion.  Rather than finishing strong on the downside of the mound, he stumbled to the side, almost dropping to one knee.
    Before launching a grapefruit toward the plate.
    The batter, however, wasn’t startled.  Watching the beach ball now coming his way, he set his feet and cocked his arms.
    As the ball drifted across the plate, he swung with a huge blast.  Hit squarely, the ball rocketed over the outfield wall.
    The grinning batter flipped his bat to the ground and trotted towards first base.  By the time he crossed home plate, the preceding runners had scored and the Red Sox now led the Yankees, 6-5.
    Stunned, Mr. Spagnoula asked, “Hey, wasn’t that-?”
    The both of us sighed, “Donny.”
    “I thought he was in the can.”

 To be concluded......

  Next:  Do the Yankees lose?  Do the Red Sox win?  Hey, wait a minute.  Doesn't that mean the same thing?  Well, you know what I mean.  Like I said, 'Two and a Half Men' is coming on.  I mean, it's a repeat, sure, but those were the best.  Before Jake's voice changed and all.  And Charlie Sheen got all uppity.  And mental.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Once Upon a Time in the Bronx Part II

New York City!
Come for a ballgame, stay for a show, meet the hookers, run away from the rats!
    As we slowly inched through traffic south of the George Washington Bridge, I grew more excited.  Even though dilapidated apartment buildings and ruined factories hung over the highway like buzzards, I knew Yankee Stadium would soon come into view like Emerald City.
    As we descended the exit ramp, legions of homeless men armed with plastic bottles, flimsy squeegees, and wadded-up newspapers pounced on the cars ahead of us.  Hoping to get a couple of dollars for smearing yellow-colored liquid across windshields, they worked the line like an Indy pit crew with shopping carts of empty cans.
    “Wash yer windshield, mister?”
Urine comes extra
    Mr. Spagnoula dug into his front pocket.
    “Dad!” Spags protested.
    Handing over a dollar to one of the “Squeegee Boys,” he admitted, “Better than getting spit on.  Or worse.”
    After reducing our visibility to near zero, the aromatic civic servant gave us a toothless grin and dirty thumbs up.  He then shuffled off to his next “customer.”
    “There now, that wasn’t so bad,” Mr. Spagnoula cheerily said.  “Nobody got killed or peed on.”
Fans 14 and Older Get Bludgeoned and Robbed...
oops, sorry, that's Yankee Stadium 2011
    As he said this, my attention was drawn to the imposing structure which suddenly emerged from squalor.  The House That Ruth Built was surrounded by dozens of souvenir vendors who hawked pretzels, wooden bats, giant foam fingers, and those obnoxious plastic air trumpets to hordes of baseball fan lemmings.
    Mr. Spagnoula looked askance at the various unshaven men trying to entice us to park in their lots-for a hefty price, of course.
    “Jesus H. Christmas,” he said.  Quickly looking at the dashboard, he apologetically patted the little statue.  “No offense.”
    Giggling to himself, he turned down a side street.
    “I’m not paying some guy a fortune when we could park out here.”
    “You sure about this, Dad?”  Spags asked as we crept down a gloomy street.
    “Sure, there’s no way-aha!” he happily said as he wedged the beetle between a panel truck and a spray-painted van with plywood for windows.
    As we piled out of the car onto the garbage strewn street, I wasn’t really worried.  A parking space was a parking space, after all.  Still, the quiet of the street and absence of any people was a little creepy.
    Oh, well, we had a ball game to see!

    Even though our seats were way out in right field, they really weren’t bad.  Despite the fact we needed binoculars to see anyone at the plate, at least we were at field level.  Plus, we stood a good chance of snagging any foul balls which came our way.
    No sooner had we settled in than Mr. Spagnoula leapt up, clapped his hands, and announced, “Well, now that I know where I’m sitting, I gotta go buy me some peanuts and crackers, Jack!”
    We heard him cackling as he disappeared down the tunnel.
    “He sure likes to make jokes, huh?”
    Spags laughed, “Yeah, he cracks himself up.  Hey, where’s Donny?”
    I saw the brain-damaged Red Sox fan hanging over the outfield wall, taunting outfielders shagging batting practice flies.
Because I'd get sued if I used
a picture of a good ballplaye
r
    “Swoboda!  You couldn’t catch a cold in a freezer!” 
    Concerned for his safety, we joined him at the wall.
    “Murcer!  You couldn’t hit your IQ!”
    When a high fly dropped behind one of the ballplayers, Donny was merciless.  “Heyyyy, Ron, I seen better hands on a pool cue!”
    The crowd gasped as a huge fly rocketed into the corner.  Just as it was going to sail into the stands, a sudden gust of wind swirled in and pushed it down.  After rattling in the shadows, it ricocheted back onto the grass.
    One of the players squared off to scoop it up.
    With a sudden “Oh, no you don’t!” Donny boosted himself over the wall and dropped to the field.
    We looked, aghast, as he quickly snapped up the baseball.  Ignoring the flabbergasted ballplayers around him, he proudly held it up.
    “Look what I got!”
    “Hey, kid!  Stay right there!”
    Donny looked to his right.  Three stadium cops were charging down the foul line.  His mouth formed a silent ‘O’ and he jammed the ball into his front pocket.
    Before darting across center field.
    Amazed, I said, “Not really the direction I would have chosen.”
    “Yeah, but look on the bright side,” Spags said, “now we don’t have to listen to him run his mouth.”   
What they wanted to do,
but couldn't...
...because they looked like this.
    “Stop, kid, stop!” the cops shouted.  But, the closer he got to the left field wall, the farther they fell behind.  Their dash reduced to a jog, they watched helplessly as Donny nimbly jumped on top of the outfield wall and disappeared into the crowd.
    “Hey, guys, catch any foul balls?”
    Mr. Spagnoula trudged down the aisle, laden with six hot dogs, a huge bag of peanuts, and carrying case of sodas.       
    “Where’s your friend?”
    “Oh, he, uh, had to go to the bathroom.” Spags answered.  “Said he was holding it in the whole trip.”
    “Shoulda said something,” Mr. Spagnoula said as he shoved a hot dog in his mouth, “Coulda taken a whiz on the turnpike.”
    As he said this, I watched Donny emerge from a tunnel on the other side of the park.  Taking take two steps at a time, he lunged toward the upper left field deck, six more cops in pursuit.
    It was going to be a long game.

To be continued (but, I think you knew that already)....

Next:  Some people do like ketchup on their hot dogs.  Plus: some creative reworking of history!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Once Upon a Time in the Bronx

Al's Trivia: 'Kafer', in German, means 'Beetle.'
Plus, Hitler liked them.


    Vince Spagnoula reverently tapped the glow-in-the-dark figurine mounted just above the dashboard of his red Volkswagen beetle.
    “Ain’t this the cat’s ass?” he cackled.
Peace be with you.  And also with you.
Now, keep your eyes on the damn road.
    Even though Spags, Donny, and I thought Mr. Spagnoula’s little plastic Jesus was a nice touch, I doubted the Son of God would appreciate being referred to as a “cat’s ass.”
    Chuckling to himself, Mr. Spagnoula jammed the car’s transmission into reverse and zipped down his driveway.  Abruptly cutting off an old lady in a Rambler, he then continued down the street.
    He snapped on the AM radio.  “Little shit kickin’?”
    Not waiting for an answer, he began crooning along to a Hank Williams ballad about trains, trucks, or somebody’s dog.  Or all three, for all I knew.
    It didn’t matter to me what music he played, though, because he was taking us to a ballgame that afternoon.  He could sing Christmas carols in a dress for all I cared.
    When I got the call from Spags about going to see the Yankees and the Red Sox along with him, Donny, and his dad, I jumped at the chance.  It wasn’t often I had an opportunity to go to the stadium.

"I love you."
"Well, I don't love you!"
"Why?"
"Well, for starters, you're going to
have me stuffed, you A-Hole!"
    After an hour, Mr. Spagnoula turned the volume down on a  song about a cowboy’s love for his horse and announced, “Toll coming up, fellas.”
    Spags dug into an ash tray filled with coins.  “Let me do it, Dad.  Pull into the exact change lane.”
    “You got it, Tommy,” he said as he whipped the tiny beetle in front of a puke green station wagon the size of a cruise ship.      
    As the Volkswagen glided to a stop, Spags rolled down the passenger window with his left hand, a quarter gripped in his right.
    “This is good right here.”
    “Let ‘er fly, son.”
    Spags flipped his hand up and shot the quarter across the car’s roof.  We could hear it bounce across the metal as it danced toward the plastic basket.
    And missed.
    Mr. Spagnoula sighed.
    Spags held his hand up, “Don’t say it.  Give me another shot.”
    A buck and a half later, Mr. Spagnoula decided that was enough Toll Booth Basketball.  “Just dig up twenty five pennies.”
    Spags looked at him like he was crazy.  “What?  You can’t use pennies at the toll booth.  It says so on the sign.”
"I said NO PENNIES!!"
    Mr. Spagnoula pooh-poohed his protests.  “Money’s money, isn’t it?  Besides, the sign says ‘No pennies, please.’  It doesn’t say ‘No pennies or else’.”
    Sure enough, the toll basket did accept twenty-five pennies, even though it slowly cha-chunked its way through each one of them.  Too bad the line of aggravated motorists fuming behind us failed to see the wisdom of using small change to pay a toll, though.  As each little coin slowly registered with a click, the symphony of irritated car horns behind us built to a deafening roar.
    Unfazed, Mr. Spagnoula waved an unconcerned hand and repeated, “Money’s money.”
    “Hey, Mr. Spagnoula,” I asked.  “You want me get all those quarters?”
    “Naw,” he said, as we passed under the upraised booth arm.  “Consider it a donation to the New York Department of Potholes.”

To be continued......

Next:  Squeegee Boys, Off-Street Parking, and Yankee Stadium