Running a Little Gauntlet

| 16 Feb 2015 | 04:40

    "Eggaskooz me, younk man...?" she persisted as we drew closer.

    We slowed to a stop in front of her. For some reason, we discovered later, both Morgan and I were under the impression that she was about to ask us for bus directions. It just seemed like something she would ask for. We looked at her expectantly.

    "Eggaskooz me," she repeated, now almost whispering, "but I magla wanta heegly oonta tow bonkyta."

    "Huh?" we both blurted out, reflexively and simultaneously, leaning in closer.

    "Aikly manna dow keep mangly panta."

    It was as if, in a matter of seconds, Morgan pointed out, she had been transformed from an old woman looking for bus directions into the grandmother of an Andy Kaufman character.

    "Huh?" I repeated, leaning in closer still. I thought I was catching a few words along the way, but none of them seemed to make any sense when put together in a sentence. Words like "dollhouse" and "elephant."

    "Mon-ey mon-ey-mon-ey!" she finally enunciated, loud and clear, holding out her hand and flexing her dry fingers.

    "Oh," I said. Then I looked at Morgan, shrugged, and started reaching, if a little hesitantly, for my wallet. Morgan beat me to it, though, and whipped out a handful of change, which she put into the woman's outstretched palm. The woman nodded, closed her fist around the change and slipped it into her coat pocket. She stood there, still squinting as us, as if she expected more.

    Before she could ask, however, we moved on.

    "You know that was just a scam. That's just her shtick. Draw you in closer and closer, then hit you up for money," Morgan said.

    "We should've just given her bus directions and left it at that."

    Two blocks later, waiting to cross 10th St., still laughing about that wily old crone and her homemade Caspiarese constructions, we saw that the trip wasn't over yet.

    Across the street, standing there on the corner, a young man?maybe about 30 or so (funny how the definition of "young" changes with time) in jeans and a t-shirt was waving a half-empty 40 above his head, screaming obscenities.

    It took us a second to realize that he wasn't screaming obscenities at all, so much as he was...singing them.

    Suck my cock!

    Ohhh, suck my cooooock!

    Suck my cooock!

    Ohhh, suck my cooooock!

    It was obviously being sung to the tune of something else?some old show tune, like in those old MAD magazines?but neither of us could place it. He seemed to be having fun, though.

    And as we crossed the street toward him, keeping a wary eye out to make sure he didn't let that bottle fly in our direction, he segued smoothly into his next number.




    It was almost like listening to a Mentors album, except without the clever rhymes or any of that fancy guitar work. This time, it sounded like he was doing a version of "Alouette," but not quite making it there. But that didn't matter, we figured, so long as he was having a good time. And he sure as hell seemed to be. We passed him, waiting for the next number in his medley to kick in, but he seemed happy, there, with the masturbation song.

    A block later, sidestepping the vomit puddles, we turned onto 11th. Not long afterward, we turned into the dim and nearly empty bar, grabbed a table, ordered our first round and braced ourselves for the Friday night onslaught.

    But it never came. The bar stayed pretty quiet. We sat and drank.

    Two hours later, a enormous bald man filled the doorway and asked for everyone's attention.

    "Does anybody have a vehicle parked on this side of the street?" he asked the few of us as a group.

    "What side of the street is that?" the bartender asked him in return.

    "This one," he said, gesturing broadly.

    There was silence from the bar. The man left. And when he did, we all broke out into great gales of hooting laughter. Everyone drained their glasses and decided to get an extra round.