Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"The Associated Year": A Memoir. Episode 13: "The Contest"

The Contest

Relax--not that contest...that's an entirely different story that I will refrain from going into.

No, THIS contest took place towards the end of my time at the store.  Lumiere had told me that we were participating in a ticket giveaway for the Yankees.  We had a small box set up near the store's entrance with little tear-off sheets of paper.  Customers could come, fill out the paper, and place it into the box as an entry for the contest.

Fortunately, Lumiere was paying attention.  He noticed that very few people were filling out the slips of paper and, those that were chose to fill out only one.  Though we, as store employees, were precluding from filling our own slips, nothing could prevent us from having a friend or two come in to do just that.

And so we waited.

And waited.

Finally, the last day of the contest arrived.  We asked Vinny Vodka Tonic to come and help us out, offering him two of the four tickets in exchange for his deft penmanship and strong, supple wrists.  Since a customer could fill out an unlimited number of entries, we had Vinny fill out every single remaining slip on the box until there were none left.  To our credit, we waited until the end of the work day leaving every opportunity for customers to come in and take advantage of the free ticket giveaway. 

All said, I think Vin filled out something like thirty or forty entries.  Lumiere felt like it was a sure thing but I knew my luck with such endeavors and kept my fingers crossed...

The next day, I came into work and found Lumiere grinning ear-to-ear with the three tickets splayed out in his hand.  We high-fived and I finally allowed the excitement to take over.  I noticed pretty much everyone else laughing, shaking their heads.

"What?" I asked, worried that I had somehow missed a joke being played on me.

"You seemed surprised that you guys won the tickets."

"Well, yeah?  Why wouldn't I be?"

The boss shook his head and pointed to a pile of papers on one of the register conveyor belts.  In total, there were roughly forty entries: two or three from customers and the rest from Vinny.

We stacked the odds and came out on top!  It was a glorious moment.

We reveled in our teenage brilliance and looked forward to the game.  When the big day came, Vinny's father drove us to the Bronx after accepting the fourth ticket.

Apparently, I had never gone the way he took us before...because I had never seen the giant, woman's correctional facility near Yankee Stadium (Note: the building was giant...not the women...that would just be freaky...and probably unconstitutional...maybe heightism or something).

We get to the game and work our way up to our seats...

and up...

and up...

and up.

I felt like Sir Edmund Hilary.  Seriously--I was higher than Charlie Sheen by the time we got to our seats roughly three hundred rows above and behind home plate.  I felt like I could see Iowa from where we were...

...but still, the seats were free!

I don't recall much from the game other than the fact that there was some wacky squirrel who had climbed to the top of the foul pole but was too afraid to come back down.  I remember the pole getting hit by a ball and shaking and the poor rodent hanging on for dear life...but the rest of it is a bit hazy.  I know the people in our section cheered when he finally made his way down to the bottom, but the rest of the recollection has been lost to the stains of time and copious amounts of Jack Daniel's.

After conferring with VVT about the whole episode, I was reminded that we technically saw our first nipple in public during the game.  There was a white trash woman three or four rows behind us who was absolutely SHITHOUSE--I mean she was hammered like Danny DeVito after a night out on the town with George Clooney.

Anyway, so all of a sudden we hear a commotion behind us.  VVT, Lumiere, and I all turn around simultaneously and see this absolute trainwreck of a woman wobble and fall.  I shit you not--she skidded down three rows of seats before landing RIGHT BEHIND US (and spilling probably her twentieth beer all around us).  Worse, she was wearing some chintzy cheap ass tank top that couldn't possibly prevented what happened next.  As she got up, her gigantic, pale, pasty slab of mammary meat flopped out, revealing a very dark areola...and deep blue veins.  Think blue cheese...but worse.

Blue cheese boobies.

You can't make this shit up.

VVT was stoked because he caught a nipple flash but it pretty much scarred me for life.  It's probably the real reason why I couldn't remember much of this story.

Just kidding--it's the Jack Daniel's!
Finally, it was time to head back home.  Vinny's Dad offered to come and pick us up, which was great because it was INSANELY late and I was exhausted (I think Lumiere and I had worked earlier in the day).  We get into the car with Vinny riding shotgun and me and Lumiere in the back.  The four of us banter a bit but the rhythmic lull of the jostling car ride mingling with the steady pattern of street lamps and shadows was too much and the three of us started dozing off (thankfully Vinny's Dad did not opt to do the same).

Then...all of a sudden, I open my eyes.  At first, I don't know why; one moment I was fast asleep, the next I was awake.  I look around and see Lumiere passed out in the back and Vinny drooling with mouth agape up front.  The latter's father had his eyes on the road and all seemed fine.

Then...as I just started dozing off again...


A shrieking cry pierces the darkness of the night and the silence in the car.  No joke--I'm pretty sure a brief squirt of urine escape me.  My heart was POUNDING!  It was as if some banshee bomb-blast exploded in the car.  My pulse was doing a scat-man dance and I looked frantically around...

...only to see Lumiere and Vinny fast asleep, and the latter's father with his eyes on the road.

Seriously--it was as if nothing had happened.

I thought I was going crazy.  I KNEW I had heard something and surmised that the same sound was what had awoken me initially.  Now unable to fall asleep I sat up ramrod straight in my seat, staring around wide-eyed, determined to uncover the phantom source of the distressing sound.

I think it took a half an hour (and probably me dozing off at least another two times) before it happened again...and THIS time I managed to catch it: it was Vinny's father's sneeze.

You know how everyone has their own unique laugh?  Well, most people also have a unique sneeze, and this man's almost made me shit my pants.  It was like a full bodied Zulu war cry but with flat affect!  He never reacted to it!  Never even flinched!  The last time it happened, though, it woke up Lumiere, which was comical for me.  He did one of those sharp intakes of breath and he scrambled up and back in his seat as if he was just about to fall off a cliff in his dream.  It was great.

"What was that?" he whispered frantically in the darkness of the car.

I'd like to tell you that I was a good friend and passed on the results of my observation...and I wasn't and I didn't.

"What are you talking about?" I asked.


Did it happen again?

You bet.

Did Lumiere jump like someone riding the lightning?

Uh huh.

And did I keep my poker face?

You bet your ass I did.

I think it was well after the fact that Lumiere finally found out from Vinny what the source of the sound was...but even knowing what it is cannot prepare you for it.

The Boogeyman takes many faces and shapes...and on that night?  It was a kind, generous, sneezing older man who terrified me out of my wits.

Or maybe it was the giant Amazon inmates.