"You gotta bust the holes. Right, Vin?"
"If you don't do it, some
other guy will. Right, Vin?"
"They want it just like you want
it. Don't let em fool you. Forget that I-love-you-you-love-me
bullshit. Just. Bust. Their. Holes. Right, Vin?"
"Right, Mike. I been busting
holes since I was ten."
"You hear that? Tell him, Vin.
I want him to learn."
"While Mikey was busy playing
baseball, I was busy busting holes."
"Vinny's smart. I was stupid.
What can I say? I liked baseball. I was a schmuck, a real schmuck.
I mean, baseball's good, don't get me wrong, but you gotta
bust the holes. Right, Vin?"
"Yeah, baseball's all right,
but I'd rather bust a hole."
"See? See what I mean? You busting
any holes, boy?"
I don't answer. I can't
answer. I'm an eleven-year-old boy sitting in the front seat
between my father and his best friend, Uncle Vinny. We're speeding
down the Belt Parkway in my father's bright red Thunderbird,
and, not for the first or last time in my life, I feel like a total
loser. I hadn't busted any holes. Sure, I can tell you this
now, about twenty years have passed, and I'll admit that at
the age of eleven, I hadn't busted any holes yet, but, just
so you'll be aware of how demented I am, let me tell you this:
this is the first time I'm confessing this to anybody, and I
don't like it, not one bit.
My father pops a cigarette in his mouth,
whips out his Zippo, and rolls down the window. His jet-black hair
flies wildly in the wind. He's laughing. I'm sweating.
"You got a girlfriend, son?"
"Not right now. I used to."
He turns to Vinny. "You hear
that, Vin? He already had a girlfriend." He turns to me, "Who
do you think you are, Tyrone Power?" Then to Vinny, "My
boy's a good-looking guy. He's gonna be a heartbreaker.
Gonna break a million hearts, bust a million holes." He winks.
"Don't tell your sister I said that." Then he gets
serious, "Here's what you do, boy. Just tell em this.
Say, 'You're with me, you got nothing to worry about.'
Vinny, my son's not gonna be stupid and waste his time playing
baseball and getting married like his father."
She pulled out the ring, and she asked me to marry her. It was a plastic
ring, like a big red mushroom. She held it to her eye like a magnifying
glass. "Everything's pink," she said. The discarded
Cracker Jack box lay on her bed. However, at the age of eight and
one of the few Jewish kids in a Catholic neighborhood, I was a realistic
child. Just last week, in Ms. Israel's second grade class, I
had made a Catholic girl cry with my brilliant thirty-word essay proving,
beyond a reasonable doubt, that there actually is no Santa because
if there were, Daddy would sue him for anti-Semitism because he never
left a present for me. Her faith was already shattered because a week
before, when she opened a bloody tissue and showed me her tooth, I
bet her that there was no Tooth Fairy. "Just pretend you're
asleep," I said. She did. I won. And I ended up with the fifty
cents her father left under her pillow. So I had some credibility
when I awed the Catholic students with my dissertation disproving
the existence of Santa Claus. However, a month after Katie asked me
to marry her, when I attempted to argue that Jesus Christ himself
did not exist, or "if he did, he was just a guy," the
Catholic boys watched me, vestiges of the Crusades appearing in their
eyes. Then I blew it: "A Jewish Guy," I added.
"Turn the other cheek!"
I yelled. "Turn the other cheek!"
And Anthony Gambino said, "We
don't listen to no Jews!"
But now, Katie was asking me to marry
her, watching me pink through the gaudy ring against her eye.
Unfortunately, after disproving the
Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus, I wasn't about to believe in the
institution of marriage, especially between two eight-year olds. "We're
not big enough," I said.
"But Mommy says I'm a big
girl," she said.
"We're in second grade," I said.
"When are you going to marry
me?" she said.
"Not now. Wanna play with my
trucks?" I said.
In second grade Katie was a cute little
girl with blond pigtails and green eyes.
In sixth grade Katie was tall and gawky,
flat-chested with no bottom.
In ninth grade Katie was a knockout,
and every time I looked at her, it was as if I were sitting between
my father and Uncle Vinny, and I'd hear my father say, "Bust
"When your mother left me," my father said, "I didn't
know what the hell to do. I didn't want to do anything. Just
wanted to close down the factory. Then Uncle Vinny took me under his
wing. He taught me how to bust the holes, and one day, when you're
old enough, I'll teach you."
I was driving my father in crazy directions,
trying to make Dad's Sunday visitation last longer before he
took me back to Mom's house. We drove around my neighborhood.
"Go left," I'd say. "Go right," I'd
say, but I could never get him lost.
"Here's what you gotta
do, Son. Say, 'You're with me, you got nothing to worry
Even at the age of eleven I knew that
this was an absolutely ridiculous line. And I'm not saying I'm
good at spotting bad lines. "I just tell em, 'You remind
me of my ex-girlfriend.' Works every time," said Ken Pearlstein.
I tried it on the edge of the dance floor, and the girl laughed in
my face. "I always tell them, 'Your eyes remind me of
my grandma's eyes.' They like that sweet maternal shit,"
said Alan Bernstein. "Lets em know you're not just interested
in sex." He frowned. "Cause who in his right mind would
want to have sex with his grandma? It's disgusting!" I
tried it, not realizing under the dim lights of the bar that the girl
was in her thirties. She slapped me hard in the face. "Forget
the lines," said Zach Ziegler. "Be honest with her. I
tell her when I meet her that I want her. But only when I'm
getting the vibes. They want it like you want it." I thought
I was getting the vibes and ended up with cold alcohol and juice dripping
down my face. Apparently, she didn't want it. So, believe me
when I tell you I'm not very good at spotting bad lines.
However, even the first time I heard
my father's line, I knew there was something wrong. I knew that
it couldn't be the secret he was always promising to teach me
one day when I got older. I couldn't imagine using it. Not at
eleven. Not at fourteen. Not at twenty. Not at thirty. I would have
felt much more comfortable saying, "You're with me, what
are you thinking?"
"Tell her your father owns a
clothing factory," Dad would say.
"Go right," I'd say.
"Tell her you'll give her
a couple a dresses," Dad would say.
"Go left," I'd say.
"One day I'm gonna teach
you," Dad would say.
Second grade. Ms. Israel's class. Show and Tell. I was telling
the story my father told me last Sunday. Years ago, back in the sixties,
Big Daddy's daughter loved my father. Big Daddy owned a hamburger
franchise called Big Daddy's, which appeared all over the East
Coast. "Big Daddy was a millionaire, a multimillionaire,"
my father said, "and he loved me, and wanted me to marry his
daughter. But, what am I, nuts? I'm gonna get married again?
What am I, a punk kid? What am I, a schmuck?"
Ms. Israel, who wore a black beret
over her spiked bleached-blond hair, who wore an old army jacket and
black potato-sack dresses, who never shaved her pits or legs, and
who once told the class of eight-year olds that it would be more fair
if they changed the name "Manhattan" to "Peoplehattan,"
was not amused. She shook her head. "Your father fools around
a lot?" she asked.
"No. He told her he didn't
want to marry her."
"I mean he fools around with
you. He tells a lot of stories, right?"
"He gets a lot of girls," I said.
Ms. Israel cringed at the word "girls."
"Women, say women."
"He gets a lot of women."
Zach Ziegler and I were watching the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders dance
for us on TV. Zach was sitting in front of the TV, and I was lying
on my stomach keeping vigilant watch over my pelvis, making sure it
didn't just start humping the mattress like it wanted. The girls
wore their skimpy bright blue tops and were wiggling their tight white
short-short-clad bottoms, which shone nicely in the Texas sun. So,
at the age of fourteen, as I watched cowgirls whipping their tight
butts up and down, back and forth, and all the way around in wild
little circles, as I watched the back of Zach's head every time
I snuck a hump, I came to a profound realization.
"Hey, Zach," I said.
"Tits are nice. But asses are
The gluteus maximus is the most powerful muscle in the human body.
And when two are attached to a woman, in proper proportions, they
are far more powerful than that: the gluteus maximi form the most
beautiful shape in the world. The ass. Orrhos. Puga pyga. Ærs.
Arse. Ass. Far more beautiful than a Rembrandt, Monet, van Gogh, or
any great work of literature.
I think that I shall never pass
A shape as lovely as an ass.
Just two muscles, two bumps, an upside-down
valentine. Yes, God was kind when he created the woman's ass
and hot-wired man's brains to covet it. Adam must have been
staring at Eve's butt as he guiltily bit into the forbidden
fruit and waited for God's angry lightening.
Perhaps it's sexist to leave
out the fact that women like a nice ass too, but what the hell do
I know? I'm not Tiresias, and, besides, I think that Theban
libertine was a liar and deserved his punishment when he told Hera,
whose husband couldn't stop busting holes, that women like it
more than men. Yeah, right!
About this time, I noticed Katie Rabinowitz's
butt had filled out. Okay, it wasn't perfect, a bit bigger than
perfection, but everything else about her was perfect: her smooth
face, her green cat eyes, her long blond hair, and besides, she was
Jewish. In addition, she asked me to marry her only six years ago.
The only problem was, I couldn't even speak to her. Sure, I
could sweat. Sweating was easy. Whenever she was near, my mouth would
close, and my sweat glands would open.
"Hey, what's the matter?"
Zach would say. "You're sweating. Are you all right? Talk
to me. Can you hear me? Huh? How many fingers am I holding up? Say
something. Anything. What's your name? Will someone please call
As we chased after girls, as I secreted
snail-trails of perspiration in my wake, we all watched with jealous
awe when Zach Ziegler, whom we had known since kindergarten, suddenly
sprinted out way ahead of us like the Road Runner and just as annoying.
Zach dashed through the girls in our grade, then zoomed through the
older girls, that's right, the tenth and eleventh graders!
and didn't stop there, no way! suddenly he was with
seniors, yes, seniors! and then it was the surrounding schools
and neighborhoods. Zach had long blond hair and displayed his stubble
when most of us couldn't. We'd come back from parties
chickless and feeling profoundly empty holes boring through our stomachs,
arms, and groins. Inevitably, we'd talk about Zach:
"That's fucked up."
Then we'd agree: "I wanna
be like Zach."
I wanted to grab Zach, hold him still
for a moment, and say, "Stop. It was supposed to be me, not
you. My father promised me!"
"You gotta bust the holes," my father would say, and then
he'd wink. "Don't tell your sister I said that."
And when my older sister was with us,
his rhetoric would change, and he'd say, "You gotta get
As soon as my sister hit puberty, she
began rolling her eyes and correcting our father.
"Women. He gotta get the women."
"But he's only ten years
"Listen to me, sweetheart. You
can be a-hundred-and-sixty-two-years old, and you're still my
It was the seventies, and true to the
reigning feminist theories of the times, my mother, my sister, and
Ms. Israel had me convinced that, except for their vaginas, dormant
breasts, and the fact that they were always right and I was always
wrong, there was absolutely no difference between girls and boys.
And what the hell, I liked playing with my sister's dolls.
I taped a tiny plastic knife to GI
Joe's mouth, pretending he was holding the cold metal between
his lips and tasting the salty bloodied steel with his tongue.
EXT. THE JUNGLE - NIGHT
GI JOE is parachuting into the jungle. He's holding his knife in his
mouth. When he passes the trees, his parachute gets snared by the
branches. He grabs his knife and cuts the strings connecting him to
the parachute. He falls to the ground and is knocked unconscious for
a moment. Then he springs to his feet.
We HEAR the SOUNDS OF FIERCE JUNGLE ANIMALS. GI Joe freezes. He listens.
The cow says;
We HEAR a cow MOO.
Listen to the cat.
We HEAR a cat MEOW.
This is a dog.
We HEAR a dog BARK.
GI Joe collects himself and starts to run through the jungle.
Monstrous babies fly at him as if a giant, off screen, were throwing
them. One baby's arm breaks off, another's head cracks, but still
they keep coming. Finally, GI Joe stands in front of KEN. Ken's wearing
sideburns, a beard, long hair, bell-bottom jeans, and a groovy shirt.
BARBIE, blond, tanned, and beautiful, is tied to a tree which resembles
a giant chair leg.
You came for me, Joe. You really came.
GI Joe moves toward Barbie. Ken picks up his rifle.
Not so fast, pig.
Let her go, Ken.
Love to, baby. But I don't take no
orders from the man. Dig it?
I'll dig you a grave.
Be cool, fuzz. You're bringing me down,
Ken pulls the trigger, but as soon as he does, GI Joe dives to the
ground, throwing his knife at Ken's chest, slicing through his evil
Ken looks at the knife embedded in his chest and falls to his knees.
Wow, dude. Heavy. What a trip.
He looks up at GI Joe.
He falls on his face dead.
GI Joe begins to untie Barbie.
I love you, GI Joe.
GI Joe gently holds her hair in his Kung Fu Grip™.
(looking in her eyes)
You're with me, you got nothing to
Whenever Katie Rabinowitz passed me in the halls of our high school,
I'd fade away--I'd melt into pool of sweat. I faded slowly
from her life. When I first noticed her butt, she turned around, catching
me. She smiled. "Hello," was all I could say. All I could
think about was that she caught me staring at her butt, and, somehow,
I had to bust her hole. The next time I saw her, I quickly turned
away, afraid she'd think I was staring at her. After that we
said "hello" when we passed. Then she simply smiled at
me. And then I disappeared.
Okay, big deal, a high-school crush.
But some things stick, and Katie Rabinowitz is a fantasy and a template
in my mind. Every woman I ever take out, I measure against Katie Rabinowitz:
the girl I should have had. In high school it was poor Mary Wonder.
She was a nervous, chubby bulimic. I used to joke with Zach. "If
I have to look at bags of green puke, why can't she be thin?
If she'd only throw up a little more," I'd say.
In college I dated a cheerleader for
about a month. That's right, a cheerleader! She was
slightly less beautiful than Katie; however, unlike Katie, she wore
the school colors on her short-short cheerleader skirt and her tight-tight
cheerleader top. One night, I lay on the bed, and she stood in front
of me naked in cowboy boots. In cowboy boots! So, of course,
I asked her to give me a little cheer, "and, uh, do you think
you can substitute my name for the football team's name?" She dressed quickly and left my room, tears pouring from her eyes,
curses pouring from her lips.
In graduate school there were others,
like Nilda Gonzales who was tiny, tight, and one of the few who were
even more beautiful than Katie. Her jet-black curls literally rolled
past her golden brown shoulders all the way down, yes, all the
way down to the top of her perfect bottom. It took me four years
to get her into bed. Four years! However, it was a big school, and
I'd only run into this gorgeous undergraduate once a year. The
fourth time I saw her, I asked her if she wanted to go for a drink.
Unfortunately, Jimmy Morgan was behind the bar. Jimmy poured us round
after round of free beers. Next, Nilda ordered a shot of Jagermeister,
and Jimmy gave us each a full glass. When Nilda began sipping her
drink, she told me how lonely she was feeling. Midway through her
drink, she told me she hadn't done it for a long time. Nearing
the bottom of the glass, she told me she was feeling horny. As she
slurped the last drop through the stirrer, she watched me with her
deep brown eyes. Then she said, "I wanna fuck you."
"Taxi!" I yelled in front
of the pub. One pulled up, and we jumped in, kissing furiously.
I got her home and in bed, and although
my pelvis was pounding, nothing was happening. My penis lay there
like a deflated inner tube. It seemed like all the blood had dried
up within my body. Humping seemed silly. I was kissing her as sensuously
as I could, and still nothing. I closed my eyes, and in mind, I begged
my penis, "Just bust that hole." But still it remained
flaccid. Then, while still kissing Nilda, I began thinking about Katie
Rabinowitz, her hair, her eyes; I even imagined her cheering for me
in nothing but cowboy boots. I think my penis was beginning to awaken
from its alcohol-induced stupor. I was finally kissing Katie. However,
it was Nilda who puked in my mouth.
Now I'm teaching at a local community
college. I prefer community colleges because the girls seem prettier
and less studious. Though I've never dated any of my students
(and even if I did, I wouldn't admit that here since the school
has a policy against such behavior), I often fantasize about getting
rid of the books, hiring a wet bar and a DJ, and hanging a disco ball
in the middle of my classroom.
"Who do you think you are, Tyrone Power?" my father would
say. "One day I'm gonna teach you, boy. You gotta talk
to them. Don't be intimidated. Remember this, no matter how
good looking she is, the most beautiful models in the world, supermodels,
when they take a shit, the water splashes their ass just like yours
and mine. That's right. Vinny taught me that. What are you,
so good looking you don't have to talk to them? What are you,
Finally, after years, I asked him:
"What is a Tyrone Power?"
Tyrone Power was a star when my father
was a boy. "Better looking than Robert Redford and Paul Newman,"
he'd say in the seventies. Tyrone Power swashbuckled his way
through silver goddesses like Ava Gardner, Nancy Kelly, Ann Blyth,
Alice Faye, and Linda Darnel. "He had perfect features, as if
his face was chiseled in stone," my father would say, "and
he had jet-black hair."
"What does jet-black mean?" I asked.
"As dark as dark could be," he said.
But my hair was dirty-blond. On the
other hand, my father's hair was jet-black. However, this was
his only resemblance to Tyrone Power. My father had been overweight
ever since he threw his last pitch in high school. In addition, he
had a big Jewish nose, and his facial features seemed hardened by
years of harsh work at his clothing factory. Yet he busted so many
holes with his magic jet-black hair.
I'm writing this for two reasons. Two weeks ago, I was sitting
in a crowded subway car when straight across from me, I noticed Katie
Rabinowitz. She was all grown up and pregnant: once again,
a missed opportunity. Suddenly, I was back in high school, jealous
and angry that Zach took her to the prom. It should have been me,
I thought as I looked at her inflated stomach. Then I noticed her
face. Her face was obese. I realized that she wasn't pregnant,
she was simply fat. With horror, I understood that for the first time
since puberty, I didn't want Katie Rabinowitz. I felt shallow,
hollow; I walked over to her.
She looked at me curiously. Then recognition.
She smiled, and her green cat eyes lit up, and for an instant I saw
the old Katie, and I thought, once again, that she might be pregnant.
Either way, I'm a loser, but I had to know what kind of loser.
"Are you pregnant? Cause you
look pretty fat?" No, I couldn't ask that. I stood there
trying to think of what to say.
"What happened to you?" No good.
"Feeding or fucking?" Yeah,
"Expecting?" What if she's
The train stopped.
"My stop," she said. "Nice
seeing you again."
As she was getting off the train, I
looked for the ass that haunted me since puberty, but could only see
a slight outline beneath her baggy dress. She caught me, smiled. "Goodbye," was all I could say. She left the train.
Here's the other reason why I'm writing this. Last night,
I was visiting my father, his jet-black hair now iron-gray.
He laughed. "You busting any
"Some," I said.
"My boy. You should have seen
the girls I had when I was your age. Dancers and models. I'd
throw them a twenty and that was that. You gotta bust the holes, right?"
"What did you say?"
"You gotta bust the holes, right,
"I mean before that?"
"What? I'd throw them a
twenty? What am I, Tyrone Power? What am I, so good looking that the
girls are gonna drop to their knees in front of me? I'd throw
them a twenty--that's it. I'm going to bed, boy."
I made myself a cup of coffee. I thought
about my father and his twenty-dollar bills as I drank the bitter
"Surely," I thought, "surely
he didn't throw Big Daddy's daughter a twenty."
However, I saw a dainty hand wearing a white satin glove, gold bracelets,
and diamond rings quickly shoving a crumpled twenty into a diamond
studded purse. "Surely not Big Daddy's daughter!" I thought.
Then I saw my father, dressed as Elvis
Presley, jet-black hair, big belly, wearing the rhinestone studded
white jumpsuit that the king wore to his last performance. My father's
upper lip twitches as he sings "Love Me Tender" to a panting
audience of models and dancers and heiresses.
me you are mine.
As he's singing, he whips out
a twenty-dollar bill and mops it across his sweaty face. Then he flings
it into the audience, and the woman it hits swoons. Then another twenty,
and another woman breathlessly faints. Then another. And another.
And another . . .
be yours through all the years,
the end of time.