Monday, September 24, 2012

New comedy bits dump

We've all heard that "Honesty is the bet policy."  Whoever said that is a putz.  How can we say that honesty is the best policy when botox is a multi-million dollar thing?  No one ever got laid from being honest... but for generations women have been buying the whole I'm allergic to latex bullshit.  I think that's why straight men are jealous of gay men.  When they look at your women they can tell them what they ACTUALLY look like in their jeans!  We were meant to lie.  NO ONE IS HONEST AT INTERVIEWS.  Not once have I gone to an interview and when asked where I saw myself in 10 years said, "well if suicide doesn't work and the lotto doesn't happen, firing your ass...."  No one trusts the person that's honest too often.  We've all met that guy.  It's like a black eye, no one believe's it's origin's... basically what I'm saying is next time your bf, gf, wife, partner, whatever ask you the annoying question of "what ya' thinking?"  Lie through your fucking teeth.

I work as a Personal Trainer for a living and often we work with Wholefoods.  At one of their Propaganda meetings there was a slogan said, "whole foods, health within reach."  Who's reach?  Not once have I seen a sign there that says, "we accept EBT".

Ever walk through san francisco with a pregnant woman.  They have they permanently look like they smell farts... still working on this one...

i used to be fat, I have what I call phantom fat, i call him sheman.  I was on every diet, sugar busters, atkins, slim fast, cabbage poop... what do all of these diets have in common? they make you shit... I should have just eaten ex-lax and called it a day...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Chapter 12 My First Gay Pride

Now I’m about 10 pounds lighter than I was when I started at the Labyrinth.  I cut out late-night milkshakes.  On a side-note, true story, for the first 4 month of the job I would get a peanut butter milkshake after every single shift and wondered why my jeans got so tight.  It started to look like my jeans were keeping my body hostage.  Since starting at the bar my jeans have lost 1-inch on the waist.  While most of the boys working here cut their sleeves off to look sexier, I’m not at that point.  My sleeves are like spanks on Star Jones (before the surgery), not coming off without a fight.  Keeping the sleeves on your shirts here is like being the guy who goes swimming with a t-shirt on.  It just looks out of place.  It’s like going swimming in one of those full-body bathing suits from the 1930s while everyone else wears Shorty-shorts for trunks.  I know this from personal experience because I was “that” guy. 

I was the kid that others would stare at, while eating their weight in food at the Sizzler.  The look was like, “Really? All you can eat? Someone should stop this kid and send him to fat camp right away.”  It didn’t help that I would wear this shirt with Bart Simpson on it, which read, “have a Cow man” on it for every Sizzler outing.  I guess there’s something to the power of suggestion.   I wore the shirt with the trunks because I thought that would keep people from focusing on my chub boy-bitch-tits.  It was a distraction from what my cousin Nicole called my “pleasantly plump” exterior. 

Many of my hotter, less inhibited, limber, more-fit coworkers cut off the sleeves of their shirts to make themselves not just look, but to feel sexy.  Who cares if some of their faces look less then satisfactory?  It’s about creating a persona and in the wise words of a Ms. RuPaul, “You betta work!”  Any drag queen will tell you, it’s all about attitude and selling it.  There can be a drag queen who’s adam’s apple the size of your head and a full beard, but give him some heels and a good Liza number-impeccable.  At the bar, when they stick to the appropriate size shirt, the action of cutting the sleeves does actually make them look better, but when they don’t…. It looks like sausages squeezing out of a tiny trash bag, which is how they usually end up looking.  Today I actually go out to get my first pair of Diesel jeans, also known as gay man jeans.  They are from a local thrift shop.  They are a steal at just $10 dollars due to a weird pen-stain on the crotch region.  Frankly, I need to catch up for lost time, so I don’t mind the staring.  It’s a win-win situation.  When it comes to a good bargain, no one has to ask this good Jewish boy twice.  A good find (assuming getting laid is not a possibility) leads that boost of confidence, every young man needs to start their day with.  It’s the same awkward boost one gets when riding the subway, and getting hit on by the nasty man sitting across from you.  As he licks his lips, teeth (or gums because he has no teeth) in your direction, like you’re a file mignon you feel special.  While disgusting, it does make us feel special.  It’s not like you would ever go home with him, but it gives you that boost of self-esteem you need to take on a tough day.

For the past couple of weeks I keep getting scheduled shifts with this guy Jose.  He is becoming a good friend.  He is also my only real ally at work.  This guy is fascinating to say the least.  Jose is about 2 inches taller than me, making him somewhere around 5’10”.  I tell people that I’m 5’8” (even though I’m actually 5’7” &3/4).  He is one of those gay boys with perfectly plucked-eye brows, the kind that simply add to the botox look on his haggard 23-year old face.  His Latina eye-brows have a bit of a drag queen meets cholo/greaser look that create a look of confusion that equals a blank, glazed-over face.  He is perfectly androgynous.  Jose spews overt sexuality, which adds to his mystique since he acts overtly masculine, but wears foundation.  He is one of those guys who at home is probably macho and not out to his family, but outside of that, the queen spreads her wings.  It seems like he never allows his emotions to be seen, on his face.  It’s like he is permanently stoned.  Come to think of it, maybe he is.  This guy is always ready to give anyone a show.  He has a whole bunch of tattoos that tell his story.  His story is tough, shitty upbringing, the type of guy who has nothing good to say or at least the story he wants people to believe.

Jose and I are about a month into being “friends.”  Hanging out with him is like watching that lame Anna Nicole Smith reality show.  You want to not like the show, but after a while, you realize you have been watching for hours and don’t realize how much time you spend together. Like any friendship it’s still new and I am still trying to figure out if it’s just a part of some larger game connected to the bar.  Is he really my friend, an ally or just someone with a good game face?  Ricky, the little Chinese guy pulls me aside yesterday and day to tells me that I should watch out for Jose.  According to Ricky, he feels “that Buddah have evil plans for Jose.”  I write off what he is telling me such utter nonsense, so I ignore this whole concept.  Jose and I get oddly close by the virtue of the fact that we both like similar things.  We both like to go out, have fun and are stuck living on the schedule of the bar.  This job puts us both on the vampire schedule, which is fine because I too ignite in the sun.  When one finishes work at 4am what is there to do? I am in school still.  Any time I am free, not working and probably should be doing homework, everyone else is sleeping or it’s the middle of the day and they are working.  They are on the schedule “of the living” so we call it. 

While I am new to the scene, Jose is one of those people who acts like he knows everyone and everything.  Whether this is true or not, I don’t know.  I’m just along for the ride.  I assume that he has been around the block a few times in his day, (at the ripe-old age of 23) by the way he acts and holds himself.  I assume that he has been around not to be mean but because of all the different types of men who approach him when we are out and about.  He is the type of guy that can go to a club and everyone to fall in love with him.  They are under his spell.  He has already worked at bars for a while.  Maybe this is how they know him?  Not from sleeping around, but more so from working in the neighborhood or most likely a bit of both.  This guy is always ready to be the life of the party, and if that isn’t the case he will bring the party to wherever he is.  He is also one of those guys always ready to fight anyone who gets in the way of his party life.  By ready, I mean he essentially is Marty McFly waiting for someone to call him chicken so he can tear some shit up.  He is a bi-polar mix of a down to earth, relaxed guy and absolute outraged hostility.  It’s okay though.  In my case it seems to work well.  It’s like having a styled, male, Chola, personal bodyguard wherever I go.  Within seconds he can go from chill to breaking bear bottles on any bully’s head.  I love the security I feel in that regard.

Being the responsible guy I have always been, its odd to spend time with someone who doesn’t think about the next step.  Jose lives in the moment, something I know nothing about, everything I do is as planned and thought through as a TV guide.  I admire how he can just let go and have this unexplainable freedom of not thinking about tomorrow.  The truth is that this is because his tomorrow is never certain.  He is on the run from his baggage of problems that will eventually catch up with him.  He is all about now and in the moment.  While I can see the problems associated with this train of thought, I can also feel the refreshing breeze of this concept.  It’s a life of freedom from the stressful world I currently live in.  It’s an escape from our problems and inadequacies.  He seems to live life without responsibilities of any kind.  I can’t understand it.  He seems to have never learned the concept that with every move there is a reaction and vice verse.  With him there are just moves, the reactions are not his problem or at least that is how he carries on.  We are grown men in our early twenties, who are from “broken,” single-parent households.  We are the guys they make specials about on Dateline.  His story will feature one about him in prison for something stupid, like starting a fight at Sephora.  Mine will be for starting from nothing and now having it all.  We both have currently though, take care of ourselves as we have our whole lives.   Maybe that is why we have a soft spot for each other?  We both seem to understand the other’s struggle.  While we are different, we are very much the same.  He will never let anyone know this though.  He is a very thick skinned-poker face type of guy. 

Jose is a guy who always has the money and time to party.  Always ready with a little bit of weed and cash on him.  Always dressed in expensive jeans and designer crap that he buys the same day in cash.  He is always ready to impress.  In retrospect, I don't think he could be a hooker, but wouldn't be surprised.  He never seems to think about tomorrow, just about now.  It’s amazing how he can just shut out the fears of tomorrow’s failures.

Our first time going out together is also my first Gay Pride.  This was a few weeks into being at the Labyrinth.  That Saturday, also infamously known as “Pink Saturday.” It’s like Marti gras in New Orleans.  Jose somehow has the day off.  Me being new to this game, I don’t really get the big deal of this gay pride crap.  At 9 o’clock, I am off.  As I punch my time card out, all of a sudden Jose is there, out of nowhere.  It is as though he had just materialized from thin air.  He pulls me by the arm and says, “I got a blizie in one pocket and another full of cash, we are gonna have some fun tonight.” 

Within seconds, we are pounding shots like we are making up for lost time, even though it’s super early.  Shot after shot, they all are blurring together.  Before the liquor sets in, Jose pulls me out into the street which now was filled with men, women, glitter, boas, drag queens, trannies.  Clothing is now optional.  At least that is how the crowd looks.  There are DJ-vans set up everywhere and the streets are now blocked off.  As Jose is pulling on my arm with one hand, the other is grabbing every ass of every hot guy he sees.  It is the same way elderly people use the railing to help themselves down stairs.  He uses the asses to lead his way into the crowd.  Out of nowhere he hands me a little blunt.  We are right in the center of it all and smoking pot.  I am amazed at how nonchalant he is.  The carefree spirit is something I don’t really know how to embrace.  I don’t know how to be as free as Jose looks.  I turn to hand Jose back his blunt and he is making out with 3 random dudes at the same time.  They are dressed as angels and covered in glitter.  I turn to my other side and there are naked lesbian on stilts who are tapping heads that they pass by to gain balance.  They are wandering muffs out, tits bouncing.  Now so stoned that I don’t realize I am full on watching the Jose show as though it’s late night HBO and I’m 13 years old.

Eventually Jose and I end up drinking some booze with some shirtless lesbians we have just met minutes prior.  While I am gay, i can't help but stare at a great pair of tits, I mean, they are called fun-bags for a reason.  Luckily, none of these lesbians have nice tits.  Their boobs look more like runny eggs from years of telling the "man" to fuck off and not wearing bras. 

It’s interesting to watch how Jose can work people.  He knows what he is doing most of the time and if he doesn’t, he looks like it.  He appears to be very good at manipulating things to go his way.  Jose plays the whole gay boy card where he starts complimenting one of the girls on her makeup and the other on how perky her tits are.  Such simple, stupid compliments and they work.  These girls eat it up like cheesecake.  He then asks if he could buy a beer from them.  He ends up taking their whole box of MGDs, hands me 2 and then handing them $40. 
We end up with the lesbians at some house party a few blocks from the “Pink Saturday” aftermath.  This party is much like a San Diego State Frat party, but instead of bro-men, it’s full of lesbians of all walks.  Then again I turned around and Jose is making out with some old daddy-man with a big beard who looks like he could crush skinny little Jose.  I then realize that man is an ex-woman, a Female to Male.  I notice this when Jose peels himself of the dude.  Jose then takes out of his magical pocket yet another blunt.  That pocket is like Mary Poppin’s bag, it keeps magically giving us more blunts.  His pocket must be filled with them.  Jose then looks right past the man/woman as though they have never met and takes an un-opened MGD he finds on a near by coffee table.
Jose comes up to find me engaged in a conversation with one of ladies.  She has the most beautiful dreads that I have ever seen.  I am so drunk that I am staring at it like it’s a diamond ring.  Another side note, there are 2 types of gays.  One that likes to stare at shiny things and one who like to wear them.  I am the first one.  Her hair is blonde with natural copper highlights.  We are talking about how we both had realize that we both loved PBR and living in San Francisco.  We both decide that we must become best friends right then and there.  She starts talking about the Middle East, Gaza, politics, and of course peace.  I hate when SF hippies start yapping about politics if they have no idea what the hell they are rambling about. Then Jose jumps into the conversation.  He literally stands right between myself, the lovely girl who, I am now best of friends with for the moment.  He then starts talking about how pretty the girl is.  He tells her that her hair was so pretty, but looks a bit damaged.  I think to myself how odd to say something like that in a backhanded compliment the way he is saying it.  He then says, “this place is tired, I’m out.”  Within seconds he was gone.  Just as he so quickly materialized earlier in the night, he is now out of site all of a sudden.  Before I know it, I wake up safe and sound in my bed some time hours later.  I am still clothed, covered in the smell of smoke, pot and booze all rolled into one.  I am just confused and unsure of the night’s events.  In spite of this, I am sure though that this is a night I will stay with me.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The First Gay Bar On Earth

Chapter 11

            The first gay bar I ever went to was in the Castro.  The circumstances were not the norm.  I was seventeen.  It was the summer before my senior year, or as I like to call it, the last year to freedom.  I lived in San Diego at the time, worked at Starbucks part-time and still thought I was straight.  I had a girlfriend who I loved at the time and still do.   It was summer time.  It was that moment off San Francisco summer before their unusually warm fall and right about the time assholes would start using a certain quote when they heard you were from San Francisco.  “The coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco."

            It was a cousin’s birthday in SF.  I went with a few of my cousins to San Francisco for the weekend to visit our extended family there.  This was when I still thought Rice-A-Roni was the San Francisco treat.  It was years before I would learn the actual San Francisco treat was homeless people pooping on stoops and passive-aggressive arguments completely consisting of eye-rolls.

            After a lovely Friday evening of stuffing our fat Russian faces with as much Russian food as possible, we got to my cousin’s house in San Francisco.  We continued to snack on leftovers and regret.  This would lead to a Saturday waking up late, hung over and not feeling like doing jack shit.  I sat for hours chatting, eating and drinking coffee with three of my cousins and one of their husband’s.  At the time, this was my favorite part of a family event, eating, coffee and gossip.  My aunts would often talk right in front of me about the most recent gossip like I wasn’t there.  They must have assumed that my Russian was far worse than it was cause I got to know everyone’s dirt. 

After the fourth course and second pot of coffee my aunt, who’s house we were in, came in to her kitchen, which was now covered in food wrappers, poppy seed cake, kugel, empty doughnut boxes, myself and my cousins with crumbs ear to ear.  Her mother, my aunt calmly told us that her kitchen looked awful.  She of course yelled at us about the mess and then told us to go out and stop wasting the day away.  This was after she yelled at the two girl cousins for eating too much and then offered me, along with the only other male in the room all of the food that was left on the table.  That was of course the Russian way-make the women feel horrible about themselves while the men get fatter by the second. 

After yet another hour of stuffing my face with caviar, bread and guilt (Russian/Jew food staples), while the girls at the table were working on their eating disorders, we decided it was time to do something.  We didn’t have a plan, but all decided to get dressed.  This meant that two of my cousins would run upstairs, sneak ½ a pack of cigarettes while the other took a 2-hour shower.

It was dark out, around 8 or 9 in the evening and we just drove around the city.  We went to Twin Peaks, Lombard (the curvy street) and Golden Gate Park, all without getting out of the car because it was food coma time.  Eventually the older cousins decided they wanted to get drinks but couldn’t because some of us were under age.  This didn’t stop us though.  The conversation about drinking came, as we happened to be driving near the Castro District.  We parked there and decided to look around.  We had heard that this was where the cheapest bars in the city were and being the Jewish family we were raised as, we couldn’t help but check out the bargain. 

While walking around we chatted, joked around and my cousin’s husband (who was with us) brought up an intriguing idea.  He proposed a bet that we all pick a gay bar, all try to go in and then see if we could get someone of the same sex to buy us a drink.  The first person to do this would get a $20 from everyone on this outting.  There were five of us.

I was so excited about the getting to go to bars part that I didn’t care about anything else.  The first bar we approached smelled like rotten beer.  As we walked in, no one carded me and I was ecstatic.  After 30-seconds of rejoicing about that in my head, I looked around the bar.  It was all fat, older, hairy men watching the original Ellen Show.  It was such a stereotype it was ridiculous.  It was of course the episode where Ellen came out.  After 40-seconds of being in the bar Ellen had announced that she was gay on all five of the television screens in the bar.  Maybe this hit too close for home, not sure.  First thought was this is sick.  Second thought was, what am I doing here.  Third, can I get a cosmo?  We left quickly soon after. 

We walked a few minutes and found another nearly empty gay bar.  The entrance to the place just had these stairs that took you to the top of the building where the bar was.  Another place where I didn’t get carded, I was near shitting myself as a result at this point.  Out the windows of the bar we were looking over Castro Street, the HUGE rainbow flag and the years of bad decisions to follow like making out with a cop only to find he’s married to your current college professor.

We all split up.  One of my lady cousins hung out near the pool table of the place.  It was a few minutes earlier we realized that the pool table was lesbian territory.  After two seconds of being there, a big, fat man-woman person, dressed like Bruce Springsteen approached her and chatted her up.  I assume the conversation did no cover makeup or orthodontic work.

Next, that cousin’s husband went to another room and started chatting with some random college dude who in retrospect looked like an older version of the kid from the Terminator movies.

Every cousin had picked a person to talk to.  I just sat alone sipping some neon blue drink that had way too many garnishes.  After about a half-hour of sitting there I started to daydream about my next meal, hoping we would go to a late night diner and be able to get milkshakes.  It was then, this little Dominican fellow walked up to me.  He asked me if I was okay. 
Unfortunately it came out as “JEEEEW KAY?”

I misunderstood, gave him an “I’m insulted” face and looked away while I finished half of my drink in one gulp. 

The guy walked away and within one minute came back with a drink he handed me with his number on a napkin.  He was so gross that I think my penis shrank up into itself or at least that’s what it felt like…  I smiled, guzzled the drink down and told him I had to go.  I was headed to the exit.  All the cousins saw my accomplishment and one by one came up to me and gave me $20.  I glanced back at the guy in the distance who bought me a drink.  He looked appalled. Maybe it was cause all these people were handing me money and it looked like I was a prostitute.

Ironically it would be three year before I realized that I was in fact a gay and five years before I would be good at it.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Learning to Fight

Learning to fight
One aspect of working at the bar that scares me shitless is the need to be on-guard and confrontational at all times.  At specific times it’s the key to survival here. I guess that sentence is wrong, I mean, I have a distinct fear.  Not that it has happened.  I fear that I will shit myself at various times of the day.  More specifically, I fear shitting myself in a work situation that may possibly arise working at a bar.  I don't like the idea of having to be confrontational in general.  As a kid, when I was getting picked on by bullies I would get really nervous and in turn a nasty case of nervous-farts.  It was super embarrassing and one of the very reasons I feared getting into confrontations with people.  It took me at least 10 years to learn how to laugh at that situation and another 5 before I learned to control the nervous farts.  Back to the topic, confrontation, while I was raised by a Jewish mother who’s logic was “there isn’t and argument you can’t have” and a father who thought he was in the mafia the idea of getting in a serious fight scared me even though confrontation should have been my middle name. 

Currently. I will wear headphones without any music playing at the gym just so people don’t talk to me.  Men have a tendency at the gym to walk up to each other, men they may not even know and instead of saying “hi” they have to tell each other about their workout regiment.  No one asked.  It’s strange how men are such Neanderthals.  We can’t just say hi to each other without pretences?  It always sounds like, “Hey man. What you doing here?  Working out the Pecs today, was out of the gym for a while… the flu, injured my back pretending to be a much younger man, lifting way too heavy of weight, but now I’m back.”

Me,  “I’m working on solving global peace, that do you think I’m doing?  It’s a gym, I’m working off my daddy issues like everyone else!” 

Sorry for that long tangent.  Back to what scares me shitless, well at least one of the scenarios.  Like I was saying I don’t like to be confrontational when I don’t have to.  I was bullied a lot as a child and don’t feel like I need to play the battle of who has the bigger balls with other guys.  When entering a bar, specifically one that you work at, one needs to be ready to defend him or herself.  You never know when a drag queen will get pissed after too many Long Islands and make a nuisance or random idiots will feel the need to fight for honor.  Alcohol is the perfect lubricant for these situations.  Before I get caught up worried about the possible situations I may or may not get into while working at the bar, I remember that I’m in San Francisco.  Known as land of the soft, passive-aggressive and incredibly-high.  There is nothing more interesting than watching two stoners fight, it’s like watching slow motion television live.  Here 90 percent of the time, here, and fights tend to be non-physical and consist off passive-aggressive eye rolling with attitude. The last thing one thinks they will have to do here is speak up for themselves, the way the rest of the world does.  Unfortunately, in a bar situation you can’t always talk people down with a nice condescending political debate or joint induced conversation about who killed Kurt Cobain (even though we all know the answer).  Ideally, in the unlikely situation that I will have to kick someone out of the Labyrinth, I hope that I will be surrounded by hot muscular men, who are ready to jump in and fight for me.   They will want to do the dirty work for me cause that’s what the hot muscled men in fantasies do, along with sweating and heavy lifting around the house.  The truth is those guys only hang out with me in my dreams and even though it looks like we are fighting in these dreams I must admit that it’s all consensual, but I digress. 

Back to the bar.  Gina is doing what she does best, yapping and making a round of drinks.  Right as she pours the drinks, this drunk guy walks by and knocks over all the drinks she is making so that they spill all over her.  At this second her face changes from its usual shade of perfectly-baked tan to a red that can only described as maxi-pad red-tan.  As a gay man, I am saying this by assumption and what I have pieced together from a life of sharing bathrooms with women, but it’s still gross.  Word to the wise, do not under any circumstances piss off a lesbian.  It never ends well.  The guy has a body shape similar to that of a Mr.Chaz Bono (ex-Chastity Bono).  His belly looks like what I assume an industrial-sized jello bowl looks like.  I guess he is more of a summo-wrestler type.  You can see the cheese beneath his boulder thighs.  He is wearing a dog chain around his neck and has a striking resemblance to an aging Mr. T.  Little does he know, that one should never piss off a lesbian, especially Gina.  They will make sure you pay and get what’s coming to you.  She is so angered she snaps for me, the way they do in movies when they need backup.  I am not quick to figure out what she means by this snap, so I just stand there baffled.  She then nudges me, points in the direction of the drunk dude, and tells me to kick the drunken mess out.  Being her servant/barback for the evening, I stop and think of how I will get this guy out of the bar.  I imagine something similar to that scene in “Willy Wonka” where they roll the large round girl out of the room but with yelling and me being thrown across the bar.  I also start to wonder how such a large person could fit through the doors of the bar.  I also wonder if when he goes on airplanes, does he need to purchase 2-3 seats?  This guy is like three-of the mom from “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” in one.

Gina’s selective butchness kicks into high-gear once a shift, where she usually ends up kicking drunken messes out when we need her to.  This time, she tells me that it’s my turn to be the man of the group.  Why should I have to be the man of the group if I have a butch lesbian?  We all know about their elusive super powers that the lesbian as a species poses.  Gina, for example has tits that could distract any warm-blooded gay man, let alone a straight dude.  At one glance of her tits, even a may all of a sudden break into emotion.  Besides the tits, butch lesbians have this intense strength that I don't understand or question.  I know better.  They know to balance this strength much better than men too.  Maybe it’s the estrogen?  I assume it's because they never get penetrated by men, they have a heightened sense of adrenaline that pumps through their bodies at all times.  I assume that this is why straight men are so threatened by the true lesbian.  They can make any grown man look like a little pussy or I guess a better word choice may be, a little schmuck.  They can fight you, take your woman, and get her to always have a real orgasm (I don't think that women should have any reason to lie about that stuff with each other).  This is all my assumption though, lesbianism is as confusing and foreign to me as the straight fist-bump, which I assume is what lesbian sex is like.

While Gina’s logic is true, I have never really had to confront another man and tell them to leave an establishment.  I have until now exclusively been in little quarrels and “you mamma” contents, but nothing like this.

While as a child I was picked on A LOT, I always dodged the fight.  I have never really been hit or injured from a fight.  I had an unusual obsession with the show “Full House,” and an over-sized head, much like Charlie Brown’s.  This was reason enough for bullies to be assholes to me.  As a result, I have been threatened to get beaten up many a time in my young life.  I have never really been in any major physical confrontations though.  In my dreams, I have imagined that in the right situation I will reach into what I learned from years of playing "Mortal Combat."  The truth is that in reality, I would need a controller to do the things I could do in that game.

Often the “lets fight,” Neanderthal-ish threats turned out to be harmless.  Once some kid threw their yogurt at me while I was leaving school.  This, to me was fight enough.  After being mortified, when I got home, I washed the strawberry yogurt out of my hair and then ate a gallon of strawberry ice cream to heal the pain and called it a day.

Once, at camp, a counselor sent me to tell this kid, Wes, that it was time to get his Ritalin.  His response was to stab me in the leg with a pencil and then try to battle me to the death.  I was so shocked by his response I didn’t know what to do.  I immediately followed what I had seen on Ricky Lake and pulled his hair until he screamed for mercy, but that was barely a fight.

I ask the fat fuck, I mean large fellow, nicely if he will walk out with me to the exit since he has had too much to drink and maybe needs some “fresh air.”  His response is of course less nice.  Then my slutty co-worker who will remain nameless has to kick people out he will whisper into their ears, “Come outside, I'll show you my dick." And that usually works.  I am more timid and shy though.  I’m more timid and shy.  I couldn’t degrade myself in that way talking dicks.  Now hairlines, I can chat about.  Nothing entices a balding man like asking him to come outside so you can admire his prominent hairline when it’s nighttime.  All this just to kick him to the curb and once outside the drunks are left high and dry.  If only I was that smart.

Doushy Mc Doushy informs me on how I am “a little faggot mouse” who has now right to tell him what to do.  Who calls someone else a fag in a gay bar? That’s like calling someone fat at a Weight Watcher’s meeting, and just asking for a riot.  WHAT?! I am infuriated.  I am so angry that I'm steaming inside, but outside I can't talk.  Not knowing what to do, I just freeze not sure of what my next move should be or what to say.  Then Gina comes right up from behind the guy, puts her arms around him in what looked like an old fashioned bear-hug, while restraining his arms down.  She then walks in a waddling fashion, similar to the way one walks when concealing a fart.  She waddles with him to the door while keeping his arms tight to him.  She leaves him outside of the door with the doorman and then tells me that next time she won’t be there to help. 

The concept of even possibly getting into a fight makes me think about how my father always makes me spar with him even as an adult.  It’s been this way ever since I was a small child.  Sparring is another term for practicing boxing, punching a given hand, item or punching bag.  This is a great self-esteem strengthening exercise for an awkward kid like me.  Little do I realize how this practice will come in handy when I will be dealing with drunken assholes for a living.  This will lay the bricks for many things later on in my life.  It is like an informal training on how to “handle it” as my good friend Tracy would say.  My dad always explains it like this, “one day you’ll be walking down the street with a hot girl and some guy picks a fight with you.  What will you do?  Chat it out?  Compromise? No, you’ll hit him harder than he can hit you and look good in front of your girl.”  Such simple cut-and-dry logic.

My dad always fancies himself to be this amazing boxer much in the way that others dream of being a rockstar.  He has an unusual obsession with boxers, their world and life they live.  He idolizes boxing legends like Mike Tyson (before the ear bite), Lennox Lewis, Muhammad Ali.  According to him, some of these guys are on par or equivalent to modern day gods.  He replays Tyson’s fights any time he needs inspiration or something to do.  I have consequently seen every Mike Tyson fight at least 3 bazillion times.  Where I fall asleep to “Golden Girls” and “Roseanne,” he falls asleep to the fights.

Living in the city of Angels, my muscular father is like most Southern California men.  He is obsessed with going to the gym and making sure that people know he does such.  He references the gym at least one time per conversation when he is feeling right, usually while lighting a cigarette.  The difference is his preference of gym.  My 5’7, fair-skinned, four-eyed, bald-headed father travels to Compton to workout at this place called the Broadway Gym.  Dad says that he can’t go to another gym because real men don’t workout there.  Apparently he needs a Rocky Balboa type to workout there or a man with tears tattoo on his face to feel like he fits in.

The Broadway Gym is the one and only place were my father seems to feel at ease, something that will take me years to understand. He is always worried about life’s daily struggles, money, his relationships, possible mistakes of the present and past, the list goes on. This is the only place where he has real control of his life. As an adult I can still clearly remember him making me go with him so that I could “watch him workout”. This is similar to the episode of the “Simpsons” where Homer makes Bart look at the Virginia Slims ad for hours to make him feel more macheesmo-ish. The gym is his way of showing me how men are supposed to be. Even though my dad always tries to be close to me, we never really connect in the way he hopes. The gym though is his time to show me his concept of masculinity and tries to extend it as a role model. While I couldn’t grasp this concept as a child, now I understand the point of watching him box with other beefy men, beating each other’s brains out. Mostly, it just made me want a beefy, sweaty man of my own to play with, but that is not really the point. Boxing proved to be just another one of life’s million games where men work on proving who has the bigger balls. Boxing though, seems more interesting and more skillful than other games of this nature. It’s definitely more interesting than watching a guy show off his ridiculous sports car. At least with boxing, it comes more from the gut, sometimes literally.

I will always remember my father in this specific way. Him rolling up to the Broadway gym while blaring his hip-hop or hard gangsta’ rap, loud enough for people to hear he was coming. As he would get out of the car, he of course then takes out a Benson Ultra-Light, his cigarette of choice. Maybe swig a sip of water, which in his case was always a coke or seven-up and then ask me to grab. I am always about 2 feet behind him like a golf-caddie carrying his bag. An ironic side-note about Russian immigrants, in case one has never had the delight of being raised by them the way I have, is that there are several kinds of water.  All the families like us that I know, they always refer to sodas of any kind as water. Generally, drinking pure, crystal-clear water is considered unusual. Even plain water would have alka-seltzerish bubbles simply because that’s what they are us to from the motherland that treat them like prisoners, but I digress.

As a child, I have no clue that the Broadway Gym is in the city of Compton and known for being a bad area. This is my dad’s version of a country club, so I never really think about it. While he looks like the odd man out there to most onlookers, it is here that he feels he belongs. As he puts out his cigarette on the bottom of his shoe, my dad’s voice drops 3 octaves lower and he then begins to swagger, much like JJ on “Good Times” or LLCool J. He then grabs my hand and is greeted by this big, bald black man who goes by the name B-bell. He is about 35 years older than, and balding like my young father. The few hairs on his head, are grey and slicked down so much that the wind can’t make a dent. This man always treats me like I was his own grandchild. As a child he always has handed me a jump rope and treated me like I was training for the Olympics or a big Vegas fight. B, an ex-famous boxer, friends with the greats during the time of Ali and the “rumble in the jungle.” His place here is to be the mentor for up and coming boxers and those who need fatherly guidance. He is like the trainer from “Rocky.” He even has a slightly East Coast way of talking. One of those Boston meets NYC drawls.  He is a father to the fatherless of Compton’s Broadway gym.

In this gym they have these rows of seats, much like the benches one may see in church, which was perfect since this was my dad’s church. Come to think of it, they may have been actual church benches.  How did they get here?  Did saint we-don’t-pay-taxes-and-hate-gays-but-love-their-choirboys have an estate sale?  I will always remember sitting there, watching my dad going back and forth, between punching 2 different bags, one the size of a human, and the other, a little one above his head, he seems happier than I have ever seen him. This is his time to show off and be proud. He always waits for me to look over and applaud. Every now and again he will stop and chat with someone about old fighting-scars from knife fights and so-on, but that again is his way of showing me what he thinks men do. Fights, exaggerated talk about sex and making fun of those who can’t get it. In between these conversations, he then looks up to see that I am still happily watching him. He then tells whoever he was talking to, that I am there to watch and soon will start to spar myself. At which point, I am half-asleep, dreaming about things that most boys seem not to, with a ribbon of drool soaking my shirt, then I would wake up, wave and go back to it.

My dad, generally is not a very outgoing person as the way most people know him. The ring is the only time he will step up and let his hair down, so-to-speak since he lost most of it at 26 when his father died. In the ring is when I learn the most valuable lesson he has ever taught me, how to strive and defend myself. This is the only time that I don’t fall asleep is when he is in the ring ready to fight another human being and does just that. Watching, I don’t realize how much of this brutal, savage and somewhat complex sport I am absorbing. My dad is very observant, always practicing his opponent’s next move before they made it and then combating by doing the opposite or hitting them first. Maybe this is what has and always will get me out of major fights?

I use my intuitive senses to use conversations as a means of badgering bullies instead of actually hitting them, this in turn to make a bully tired. That way they don’t have the energy to fight like my father does with his fists. He plays the game as he talks the other person down, like any good fighter does.

Once I start at the Labyrinth, I don’t realize that I will have to at times be the security of the bar. I would have to play the battle of the bigger balls via my speech and way of holding myself. Me, at a statuesque 5’8 (5’7 and ¾ in actuality) responsible for kicking out guys the size of houses and drunks ready to beat up anyone within a square foot of them. The second time I have to ask a guy to leave the bar, he tells little old me that I am a kid and he knows when he’s had enough to drink. Then I inform him that I am sorry, but he is done drinking for the night and should leave. He then tries to swing a punch at me, I duck as my father does in these situations in the ring and the guy hits the brick-wall behind me. His fist is now scraped and bloodied. I then tell him that we can take it outside but now that he had tried to hit me, I have every right to defend myself, not only physically, but also make sure that he is taken to a drunk tank. The mix of poor reflexes and lack of words make him slowly walk out. This was just one of over 2,000 similar stories. Every time I have to kick someone out, my voice for some reason travels down around 3 octaves and the adrenaline takes over. It’s as though I channel my father every time someone picks a fight with me.  Even though I spent years at the gym watching my father spar, I never once did it myself.  I never had the desire to.  The whole time I was praying that I was adopted instead of focusing on what he was doing.  Now it’s like I actually picked up how to fight from the old man.

On and off for about three years, every time I need an extra shift, I end up being the bar’s door man. The ironic thing is that I am one of the few to make it without a single scratch. I use the tools and ghetto know-how that my father has provided me with.  If not for my father, I couldn’t defend myself the way I do. I make it through these times without fear because of him. My father is the only light-complexioned man I know who during the famous LA riots is stuck buying a pack of cigarettes right in the middle of it all.  He gets to a gas station in the middle of the rioting and asks for his favorite brand, Benson Ultra-Lights and the black gentleman in front of him wearing a bandanna turns around.  The guy tells him “honkey, you’re gonna wanna get out of this mothafucka.”  My father of course takes his time, lights his smoke and slowly walks away from the scene, like a pro.

My father is the same man who since grade school tells me that, “If anyone fucks with you, hit them back 2 times harder.” Even though he is absent from many of my childhood memories, his tools for defense are ones that will always help me become a stronger man in the long-run and in turn even stronger, knowing I won’t need to use these skills. I can keep them safely stowed in my back pocket for emergencies. It is like that condom in the wallet that many guys keep there just incase but never use because they aren’t sure how long it’s been there, but feel empowered knowing they have it just in case.  I never realized the lesson learned from my father’s Benson Ultra-Light haze of wisdom..

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