The Adventures of Italian-American Man
The Adventures of Italian-American Man
In which I get falling down drunk at Bar "A," become a public nuisance, curse God, and have a crisis of faith.
Part 3 of a 3-part adventure. Rated NC-17 for language, sexuality, and adult themes.
At the jumping Belmar, NJ night club, Bar “A,” circa 1999.
David and Griffin have introduced themselves to a pair of sisters at the bar outside. It is easier to hear conversations outside, so they figured their odds were better at getting women in the booze station beside the volleyball net. David’s tactic is to tell the complete truth. Playing something of a game for his own amusement, Griffin decides to tell only lies.
David: Yes, I work in Hollywood, but I’m here on vacation. I’m an executive assistant to the producer of The Sixth Sense.
Greta Richter: Wow! Really? You ever meet any famous actors?
David: My boss introduced me to Bill Murray last week. He said, “Bill, be nice to David. He’s a good guy.” Bill Murray looked confused and said, “What, is he a special needs kid or something?”
David: But Bill was cool. I played poker in his camper on the set. And just last week I bumped into Mark Hamill at the studio. I went up to him and I said, “Hey, Mr. Hamill, I don’t usually go up to movie stars and bug them, but I had to come up to you to tell you that you’re awesome because … hey … you’re the voice of the Joker in Batman: the Animated Series. And you’re perfect. And Mark Hamill smiles and says, “That’s not the one I usually get.”
Dixie Richter: I don’t get it.
Greta Richter: He’s the guy who plays Luke Skywalker in the three Star Wars films. He’s more famous for that.
Dixie Richter: Oh. I get it now. (Turning to Griffin) So what’s your name?
Griffin: Vinnie Mammolito.
Dixie Richter: Hi Vinnie. What do you do?
Griffin: I’m a pilot.
Dixie Richter: What airline?
Griffin: um … Pan Am.
Griffin: (Rubbing his chin with one hand, looking skyward, and trying to appear shocked and outraged) No wonder they haven’t paid me in ages!
Greta Richter: Wait a minute! Wait a minute! You guys are laying a whole load of crap on us just to get into our pants, aren’t you? Pan Am and Hollywood producers and Luke Skywalker and all that crap.
David: (looking at Griffin) Pan Am! Pan Am!
Griffin: Sorry. Shoulda picked a different airline.
Colleen Doyle pays for a fifth shot of Jaegermeister and I down it in one gulp.
Me: It’s so great to be able to talk to someone about literature in a place like this.
Colleen: I couldn’t get into that one. The anti-drinking moral seemed priggish to me.
Me: Heathcliffe is such a bastard I couldn’t stand reading it. Especially in the second half of the book, which everyone forgets about. They all watch the movie and think Heathcliffe’s hot shit and forget all about how he torments the daughter towards the end of the book.
Colleen: What a coincidence! I hate Wuthering Heights, too! For the same reason!
Griffin and Smiley have resumed their political argument from earlier.
Griffin: I just don’t see why all Irish people love John F. Kennedy, just because he was Irish. The Bay of Pigs fiasco. The murder of Marilyn Monroe. The mob ties and his father being a bootlegger. Al Capone’s son didn’t become president, but Joe Kennedy’s did. So the Irish are all hoity-toity about JFK, and think they’re so much better than the Italians, but he was some mob guy’s son. And he was brave when his PT Boat sank in World War II. Big deal.
Smiley: JFK saved the fucking world. If it wasn’t for him, the Cuban Missile Crisis wouldn’t have been a crisis. It would have been the end of the world. Boom!
Griffin: He got us into that mess, so I don’t care that he got us out.
Griffin: It was luck. A million factors contributed to him pulling that off. He had a very small role in averting nuclear war with Russia.
Smiley: You make me sick! The guy’s a hero! You’re pissing all over my hero! The only good president we had since FDR and you’re pissing all over him. He’s a fucking legend!
Griffin: Calm down, Smiley. I’ve never seen you care so much before.
Colleen: Your friend! He slobbered all over me, tried to kiss me, said something about “the beast with two backs,” and grabbed my tits!
Griffin: Who? David?
Colleen: Yes, Marc! I kneed him in the balls and he hobbled away. But that was a terrible experience. And I wanted you to know that!
Griffin: What’s going on?
Smiley: I paid her to get Marc drunk and he copped an unwanted feel.
Griffin: Jesus Christ.
Smiley: David, you’re out of your element. You’ve wandered in on the middle of a conversation, like a little lost child, and you don’t know what’s really happening. It’s too complicated to explain, so there’s no time to catch you up now.
Griffin: Smiley paid a girl who looks like Scully to get Marc drunk.
David: Well, Marc’s drunk all right. He’s running around the dance floor randomly groping women.
David: We better get him out of here before someone beats the crap out of him.
Griffin: Stop being a neurotic Jew. He’ll be alright.
Griffin: Okay, let’s get him out of here.
Me: GUYS!!! WASSUP!!! WHA’S HAPPENIN’ GUYS???? WHA’S HAPPENIN???
I put my hands on Griffin’s shoulder and Smiley’s shoulder and drool on myself as I look from one guy to the other.
Griffin: Hey, man. You okay, there? You look like shit.
Griffin: You’ve looked better. You didn’t used to look like this.
Me: Why are you guys talking to each other, when there are some serious babes out there to chase?
Griffin: We have a very important political question to resolve.
Me: Fuck politics. Who cares who the president is? Nothing changes or gets better whoever is in office. Life still stinks. Has stunk. Stinks now. Will always stink. I didn’t get laid under Bush, I’m not getting laid under Clinton. I won’t get laid under Bush’s son, if he winds up being president.
Smiley: You’ll probably agree with Griffin, but I want to run this past you. Griffin’s favorite president said, “Mr. Gorbechev, tear down this wall.” My favorite president said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” What president sounds more presidential, I ask you?
Me: My favorite president-shull quote comes from … BJ … from LJ … from Johnson. He said, "Ford's economics are the worst thing to happen to this country since pantyhose ruined finger fucking.” Now that’s a cool presidential quote.
At this point, I drop to the floor, laughing, and almost knock over four dancers as I fall.
A large bouncer pushed his way through the crowd and faced my friends.
Bouncer: You better get this guy out of here. He’s molesting customers and causing a disturbance.
David: (to Griffin and Smiley) Told you. Neurotic Jew indeed!
Griffin: We’re on it.
Griffin, Smiley, and David work together to gather me off the floor and raise me to my feet.
Griffin: You try finding them in this huge place.
Me: But I’m not done talking about President Johnson. There’s a guy who knows the ins and outs of finger-fucking, let me tell you.
Griffin is leading me down the street, holding my hand so I don’t walk into any suburban driveways, or into bushes on front lawns. David and Smiley walk behind, ready to catch me if I fall.
Across the street, several laughing guys hoot and point fingers at us.
Griffin: He’s dead drunk! We’re getting him home!
Griffin: Marc, this really sucks. Can’t you walk straight, so I don’t have to hold your hand?
Griffin lets go of my hand and I walk straight into a lamppost, bang my head, and fall to the ground. Griffin, David, and Smiley all work to pick me up.
Griffin: Any of you guys willing to hold his hand?
Smiley: He likes you the best of the three of us, and makes no bones about it, so you can hold his hand.
Griffin: So you hold his hand.
Griffin grumbles, grabs me by the hand, and leads me back towards the shore house.
We turn a corner and see seven tough looking gentlemen walking the other way, towards Bar “A.”
Shouting Ruffians: You gay bastards! Stop holding hands! Stop promoting gayness publicly. Keep that shit indoors. Better yet, fucking kill yourselves and spare the rest of us!
Griffin: HE’S FALLING DOWN DRUNK! I’M GETTING HIM HOME!
Shouting Ruffians: Leave him in the street if he’s drunk. It’s not worth holding hands. People will think you’re gay and kill you!
Griffin: FUCK YOU!
The guys ignore him, thankfully eager to cruise chicks at Bar “A.”
Griffin: I bet real money those guys were Sicilian.
Me: (through slurred speech) Heeeyyyyy … my aunt … s … s … Sicilian.
Griffin: It’s not her fault, is it?
Two blocks later, we are within five blocks of the shore house. A group of three twenty-somethings on the other side of the street passes by us. They catch sight of Griffin holding my hand.
Griffin: He’s dead drunk! We’re getting him home!
Griffin: Me, too, and I’ve never been there. Belmar sucks.
Griffin: Shut up, Smiley.
I am standing in the backyard of the shore house, shaking my fist at the black sky, shouting at the top of my voice. David, Griffin, and Smiley are watching me from the back yard porch and Holly and her parents are watching me from the rear window of their home next door as they contemplate calling the police.
Me: Fuck you, God! I’ve been defending you and your damned Church for years. From atheists, from Protestants, from bitter lapsed Catholics, from hippies, and philosophy professors. I’ve gone to church! I’ve gone to confession! I’ve kept the commandments as best I could! I avoided excess partying in college! I don’t use and discard women like tissues! I’m good to animals, like St. Francis! What do you want from me, God? Haven’t I done all you asked of me? What more do I have to do?
David: Do any of you guys have any idea what he’s talking about?
Griffin: I do.
Me: My idea of Catholicism is love! Love your neighbor! Be like Jesus! Be nice to people from other religions, like Semitics, and pagans, and … Sumerians! Be nice to tax collectors and whores and criminals who are crucified next to you! Don’t put too much weight on the letter of the law! Follow the spirit of the law! The law is there to show us how imperfect we all are! An ideal that can never be met! But it is designed to make us sympathetic to one another! We forgive ourselves our trespasses and our imperfections as we forgive others who are imperfect, and who trespass against us! We make room at the table for enemies, for non-Catholics, for guests! We treat them all as children of God! But this is not how most conservative Catholics act. They like to judge! And point fingers! And be holier-than-thou! And their stupid behavior backs up on me! I’m lumped in with them because we wear the same badge and march to the same drum music! But I try to be nice, unlike them. I try to be a real Catholic. But this is not how others expect me to act when I say to them, proudly, “I am Catholic.” They see instead, in me, one who hates science! Who hates women! Who hates gays and Jews! Who is part of the religion that perpetrated the Inquisition and the Crusades, and a follower of an evil pope who did nothing to dissuade Hitler from the Holocaust. I say “I am Catholic” and people do not hear, “I am of the religion of Mother Theresa, of Joan of Arc, of Fulton Sheen, of St. Francis, of Thomas Merton!” They hear, “I am a Nazi! Spit upon me! Shun my company! Shit on my self-esteem and refuse to speak with me, befriend me, hug me, dine with me, kiss me, or fuck me! They want nothing to do with me! And it is all your fucking fault, God! I’d be a lot better off without you and your fucking religion, which has been like a millstone around my neck since high school! I hate you, God! I HATE YOU!!!
Me: Then you’ve never read the Psalms carefully. Now, I’ve got to stop talking to you now. I need to finish talking to God.
Me: God, you made me, then you abandoned me. I am alone and mistreated. Every woman I want to be with thinks I’m ugly. They either see an inner ugliness – like I’m too Catholic or too Republican or too big a nerd – or they see an outer ugliness and hate the way I look or dress or move or talk. I’m alone! All alone! I’ve been alone for years! All I ask of you is that you take pity on your ugly creation and make me a mate! Give me a woman of my own! Make me a mate! Make me a mate, or you and I are enemies from this day forth, even if you are my father!
Smiley: (turning to Griffin) Does he realize he’s quoting Frankenstein? Is he doing that on purpose? Is it a joke?
David: He may or may not be doing it on purpose, but it is appropriate, if you think about it. Its how he feels.
Me: And if you won’t just give me a mate, if you want me to find one on my own, then fix me! Fix me in the head! Make me more appealing! Zap me and make me an atheist and a Democrat! Make me like Friends! Make me like The Real World! Make me like the Beastie Boys! Make me like Guinness! Make me not like comic books or science fiction! Make me like skateboarding and football! Make me a drunk and a womanizer! Make me hate marriage, America, and my own family! Make me hate reading! Make me hate Doctor Who! Make me less smart! Fix me! Make me an atheist! Make me a carbon copy of everyone else in Generation X!
Smiley: (calling out) You can’t pray to God to make you an atheist! That doesn’t make sense.
Me: If I’m right, and you are my enemy, God, but you want to make friends, then give me a sign. If you want me to be an atheist, then show me some thunder and lightning. If you want me to be an atheist, show me a miracle.
Me: Come on, God! You gave Doubting Thomas proof! Where’s my proof! I bet he was a big jerk anyway! I’m cooler than Thomas! Show me something! Show me anything!
I turn away from the sky, and start walking towards the house.
The beach at Belmar. The entire gang is assembled, including Hank and his girlfriend, and Kyle and his girlfriend, just down from Staten Island. We are all laying on our own towels, sunbathing in our bathing suits.
Hank: So Marc, was that actually you screaming in the back yard last night?
Griffin: It was him.
Me: I was saying nothing of consequence to someone who doesn’t exist. So I was screaming to nothing about nothing for no reason.
Smiley: It was my fault. I had this crazy idea that if I got Marc drunk and laid I’d get him to loosen up. Make him less uptight. Less religious. More liberal in his worldview. All I did was get him roaring drunk.
David: And caused him to spend three hours before dawn throwing up.
Me: Fun? Did I have fun?
Griffin: Then you’re lucky. I’ve been by your side all weekend, and you didn’t have that bad a time of it. If this is the worst weekend of your life, you’ve lived a charmed life. I mean, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I had a much worse weekend than you did. You did notice that, right?
Me: I still feel like shit. I’m still ashamed of myself. How I behaved in that bar. Grabbing women. Screaming at God in the back yard. I made a real ass of myself.
Smiley: You showed your true colors. You’re not a gentleman at all! For all your bowing and scraping before women. Your fancy talk and your opening doors for them, and defending their honor when I talk normal locker-room talk around the guys that everyone does. You are just as big a woman-hating, sex-obsessed, molesting asshole as I am. And I’ve always hoped to prove you a hypocrite. And this weekend, I have. All morality is a joke. People deep down are no damn good. Now that you know this, you can stop pretending to be better than the rest of us and enjoy life. And you’ll be more fun around the bars from now on.
Me: You know, Smiley, Satan doesn’t write your dialogue. I’ve figured it out. You talk just like the Joker in the Batman comics.
Me: You sure do. Especially the way Alan Moore writes him in The Killing Joke. I’ve gotta say, I like the Joker better in the comics than I do being friends with him in real life. I’ve gotta say.
Smiley: Once again, I have no idea what you’re talking about.
I’m silent. Everyone else, save Griffin, yells “Me!” climbs to their feet, and trots after Smiley towards the boardwalk.
Me: And I’m sorry about you getting yelled at for holding my hand.
Griffin: Don’t mention it. Ever.
Griffin: You remember what happened last night? All of it?
Me: All of it. I’ll never forget it.
Griffin: So you remember everything, and got an enormous hangover and spent the morning throwing up?
Me: Yep. And people wonder why I don’t drink more.
Griffin: You should do what I do. Forget everything that happens after the sixth drink and wake up without a hangover. That’s better.
Griffin: Sometimes. Although I did bump into a woman who kept giving me the finger last night. She knew me and I didn’t know her. So I don’t know what I did to earn that kind of treatment, but she saw me twelve times throughout the evening, and gave me the finger twelve times. So I musta done something. But I don’t remember what I did.
Griffin: You know, I don’t agree with Smiley. We aren’t who we really are when we’re at our worst.
Griffin: We define ourselves when we are at our best.
Me: That’s what Batman says to the Joker in The Killing Joke. Only you said it better.
Griffin: Well, Batman’s pretty smart. Maybe he’s onto something.
Griffin: So, you want to swim? It will make you feel better
Griffin: Race you.
The two of us run down the beach together and dive into the surprisingly freezing surf.
Smiley returned not long after, catching sight of Griffin and I swimming a bit too far away from shore for the lifeguards to be happy with us.