On Sunday, I had a much better lesson with Lester than the last one, even managing to extract some praise from him regarding the smoothness of my parallel parks.
Last night Nina and I had planned to meet up at that place Chickpea at St. Marks Place to go to Continental to see the band of a guy who we'd gone to high school with way back when. I was waiting outside for her when I ran into Perri, a dude I'd gone to Wesleyan with and with whom I'd appeared in a mime show called The Dumb Show (I was the upright bass player in the "mime band"). Embarrassingly, his name escaped me for minutes on end and by the grace of God popped into my head as I was taking down his cell number. He and a few other Wesleyan friends were hanging out in the back room of Chickpea eating falafel, and I sat down at caught up with them for a while. There was this elderly Jewish guy sitting by himself one table over who would occasionally say something out loud in response to something in our conversation, but we ignored him. I kept worrying that Nina wasn't going to be able to find me in the back, so finally I got up to back outside, but the Jewish guy called out to me on my way out and asked me to sit down for a second.
He clearly didn't have any teeth -- he had ordered some kind of pita and egg concoction that he was gumming messily, spraying egg whites at me after separating them from the yolk with a plastic spoon. The first things he told me were that he had learned to chew better without the teeth than with them (but that he had a set of $3000 dentures somewhere that he just didn't like to take out to dinner with him) and that he could do more to a woman with just his tongue than other men could do with their entire bodies. Then he asked if I'd like to hear the rap / reggae song he'd composed -- the words, spoken, were as follows:
Immediately after repeating the last couplet, he addressed the ceiling and said, "I'm sorry; I know I'm supposed to be humble. But sometimes it's hard to be humble." He explained that he'd had five Cokes to drink already that night and that they made him feel crazy. Almost without stopping for breath, he started telling me about growing up in Brooklyn as the son of a guy named Bullet Joe, whom he claimed was a prominent figure in the Jewish mafia in the 40s. "Ask me why they called him Bullet Joe," he said.The truth comes from the Torah
Not Sodom and Gomorrah
I'll make you queen of the 'hood
If you love me good
I'll make you queen of the night
If you fuck and suck me right
"Why did they call him Bullet Joe?"
"Because he only ever needed one bullet. He'd always carry around one bullet. And a lot of ammunition."
"Wait, I thought he only needed one bullet."
"One bullet per guy. There might be more than one guy, though."
Nina showed up soon after -- she'd had train trouble and we were now too late to see the show, so she sat down in time to hear Ellie, which was the guy's name, talk about how he'd been on the run for the past six months from members of his father's old gangs, having to duck in and out of hospitals where'd he'd seek treatment for "physical conditions" only to be confined for psychiatric counseling by doctors he referred to as "Jew Nazis." He'd been followed by mafiosi as he hid out at synagogues and friends' houses, as far as Stamford, CT -- "I look out the window," he said, "and see them circling the block" -- to the extent that he'd decided that day that he could never return to Brooklyn. "It's Manhattan and Israel only, now," he said. I can't remember the order of the points he hit on in the extended lecture he gave us, but the following is, hopefully, a representative survey:
- "There's a war going on in Brooklyn right now between the Jews, the Puerto Ricans, and the niggers. You see the movie Munich? I didn't see it, I bought a bootleg from the Latin guy who sells movies, but there's a line in it: 'The only fucking blood I care about is Jewish blood.' That's how I feel."
- Despite the above, he would like to make pornographic films with Guyanese women. "Nobody gets hurt to make a film."
- He's had six heart attacks since 1990, but is getting his cholesterol and arterial plaque under control. Nemacor and Zocor should be avoided; they are shit.
- As a teenager, he'd dated a hot girl named Barbara Ann Chertman. After a memorable evening on the beach under a blanket, she told him she wanted to see other guys. Months later he got a letter from her saying, "I missed you more than I thought I would." They trysted in a motel room on an uncomfortable bed. Now she's married. She'd said it was a marriage of convenience, and that she'd like to see him again. After several unreturned phone calls and letters, you know what he thinks? "Barbara Ann, you can suck my fucking dick."
- Would I like to see how strong he is, even at 60? He had me shake his hand with my strongest grip. He did have a strong hand for an old guy, but he wasn't killing me or anything. "Had enough?" he asked? "I'm getting there," I said. "No, you've had enough. You should give up now."
- After my friend Perri left the restaurant, Ellie informed me he was a member of the gang that was gunning for him and which was waiting outside Chickpea. "You wanna take me tonight, Perri, you scum? Go right ahead. But I'll be in Heaven. You'll be burning in Hell with my father and his boys. I'll be watching you burn in Hell."
Dearest Ninotchka,It took him fucking forever to do this, because he insisted on holding the pen like a knife and going over each huge letter several times ("I like to go hard and deep"). He wouldn't let Nina read it at all, and he wouldn't let me read the last line, which is why I don't know how it ends -- she got a call from her mother and had to escape Ellie's attempts to physically wrest the phone from her by retreating towards the entrance. After a few minutes alone with him, I realized she'd left and went outside to find her; we decided to ditch the Harper's and just skedaddle.
May you always know and enjoy the happiness and beauty the mirror reflects and...