Tag Archives: Astoria

Story of the Day: 3-7-2011

We interrupt this episode of Professor Blowjob to bring you another true-life tale from the life of your host, Jeffrey Dinsmore.

The Potato Bug

I am no stranger to insects. Growing up in Michigan, I encountered my fair share of creepy-crawlers. I can’t say I’ve ever been into insects, but I’ve managed to peacefully coexist with them for much of my life. It helps that Michigan insects are small and unremarkable. The biggest insect I saw growing up was a grasshopper, and who doesn’t love grasshoppers? Earwigs are pretty nasty-looking, but still not enough to make me run screaming.

When I moved to New York, cockroaches became a daily part of my life. We didn’t have cockroaches in Michigan, at least none that I ever saw. The cockroach segment of Creepshow had prepared me to be terrified of cockroaches, but I didn’t have much of a problem with them once they actually became part of my life. They’re disgusting beasts, no question, but at least they’re still relatively small. And they’re polite, too: as soon as you see one, it scurries away and hides.

That’s what I thought, anyway, until the night I first encountered the Palmetto Bug. I remember the night vividly; Don and I were hanging out in the living room of 21-20, watching a movie, when we heard the flap of wings and saw a big, ominous shadow darting across the ceiling. We immediately leapt to our feet in terror. When we finally found the cause of the shadow, we flipped out. A Palmetto Bug, for those of you who have never seen one, is a giant, flying cockroach. They’re about 3 inches long and smarter than kittens and they’re horrible and ugly and pretty much the worst thing God has ever put on the earth. When we first saw it, we assumed it was the result of some kind of industrial accident. Like imagine you’re sitting around watching television and a fish walks through your living room. That’s how strange this thing seemed to us.

Don and I scurried to put our shoes on for fear that the hideous thing graze our bare feet. We each got a weapon – he grabbed a hammer and I grabbed a broomstick – and gathered up our courage to rid our lives of this menace. We knew there was no way we were going to sleep until it was dead. It was us or the bug.

For most of the battle, the bug was firmly in the lead. Palmetto Bugs can fly, but only in short bursts; their preferred method of movement is the speedy run. Seconds after we saw the shadow, the beast dropped behind the television. I stamped my broomstick around behind the TV maniacally while Don waited with his hammer poised. We finally got the creature to abandon its post, but it was too fast for us … it tore ass across the carpet and under the couch.

Neither of us was about to get down on his hands and knees with that thing poised to attack, so we decided to lift the couch and try to flush it out. This was a dangerous business, because the chances of it scurrying out and jumping on one of us were strong. I could only hope it wouldn’t be me, A) because I had no interest in being attacked by a giant cockroach and B) because the beast was so terrifying I have no doubt Don would have smashed my skull in with the hammer and called me collateral damage.

We eventually managed to get the creature out in the open and get a good crack at him. Before we flushed him down the toilet, we took some pictures to send to the cryptozoology magazines. We put him next to a Lando Calrissian figure so you could get the perspective. Like most pictures of mysterious, possibly mythical animals, our picture was quite blurry.

When I learned that Palmetto Bugs were an explained phenomenon and relatively common in New York, I felt no comfort. I still encounter them from time to time in LA, and they continue to be hideous and terrifying. In fact, I would say they were the most hideous and terrifying insects in the world, if I hadn’t encountered something even more hideous and terrifying just two nights ago.

It’s called a Potato Bug, and it looks like this:

The Potato Bug - Actual Size

How horrible is that thing? I stepped out onto my porch to see that awful, murderous beast crawling slowly down the wall, a mere six inches from my head. The only way I can describe the texture of its skin is “gelatinous.” If that information makes you want to vomit, you’re not the only one. I got a pit in my stomach looking at it, as if I was seeing something man was not meant to see. It was like looking into the face of Hell.

I quietly closed the door so as not to alarm it and ran to the Internet. In this case, the Internet did its job, giving me the context I so desperately needed. If I hadn’t been able to track down the Potato Bug, I would have surely gone to bed thinking the Apocalypse was coming. Luckily, a simple search of “hideous giant ant California” led me to pages of information about the Potato Bug. According to potatobugs.com, this is the “most universally feared, hated, and disgusting creatures on the planet.” So at least I’m not alone.

The Potato Bug, I learned, lives in gardens and dark places and does not come out during the day. Which explains why I have not seen one until now; I don’t often garden at midnight. And now that I know this thing exists, I will likely never garden again. To be honest, the chances of me going outside again, period, are about 50/50.


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Story of the Day: 2-19-11

The Beast in the Hall

When Don and I moved into 21-20, we were given explicit orders from our landlady, Mrs. Talgot.

“No guest,” she said. “No party.”

“No guests?” we asked. “We’re from Michigan. Our relatives don’t live around here. We’ll definitely have guests.”

“It’s okay,” she said. “No long stay.”

Okay, we agreed. No parties. No guests for long stays. Should be easy enough.

The week after we moved in, our friend Rion from high school came out to visit. He was planning on moving to New York and he needed a place to crash while he looked for an apartment. We were not real excited to break one of our two rules in our first week living there, but we thought as long as we kept it quiet, no one would ever know. Rion would hang out with us for a few days, find a place, go off on his own, and no one would be the wiser.

We really should have known better. Mrs. Talgot lived in the apartment next door, and no one who lived in our building ever left. With Scary Gary patrolling out in the front and his mom rooting around in the garbage all the time, it was impossible to go in or out of our building without everyone knowing you were there.

The second day Rion was there, Mrs. Talgot knocked on our door.

“I see man. He leaving. Who he?” she asked, suspiciously.

“Oh, that’s our friend Rion,” we said. “He’s just here for a few days.”

“I don’t like. He leave,” she said. God knows what Rion had done to upset her. He did have blue hair, but then, so did she.

“Well, he’s looking for an apartment,” we said. “He’ll be gone in a few days.”

“Okay,” she agreed. “Few days. After that, gone.”

The few days stretched into a week. Rion was having no luck finding an apartment and in our estimation was not trying particularly hard. We told him about our predicament, but he didn’t seem to grasp the difficulty of the situation.

“She’ll be fine,” he said. “Who ever heard of an apartment where you weren’t allowed to have guests?”

Which, in retrospect, is absolutely true. It was our apartment, we were fully grown adults, and if we wanted to let our friend crash on our couch for two years it was nobody’s business but ours. But we were fresh off the boat; we didn’t know how things worked in New York, and we didn’t think it was advisable to piss off our landlady who lived right next door in our first week in the apartment.

Everything came to a head after about ten days. Rion went out for the night and for whatever reason, we neglected to give him our keys. He got home early in the morning, around four o’ clock, when Don and I were both dead asleep. He rang our buzzer repeatedly with no response. Somehow, he managed to get in the building … I’m still not sure how that happened, ’cause that place was locked down tighter than Al Capone’s vault.

We woke up around 7 to find Rion and Mrs. Talgot engaged in a screaming match in the hall outside our door. I went out in the hall to find out what was going on.

“He sleeping!” she screamed. “He sleeping in hall!”

“I had to!” he shouted back. “They wouldn’t let me in!”

“I want him out!” she said to me.

“You get out, you old bitch!” Rion screamed back.

That was the last straw. Rion had no money, so Don and I gave him $100 to find a hotel for the night. He begged us to stay, but we felt like we didn’t have an option. We sent him out into the streets, and I didn’t hear from him again for almost eight years.

It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, and I still regret it. Yes, he probably could have been a more conscientious guest. If I’d been in his position, I would’ve found an all-night diner to go to instead of sleeping in the hall of our building, right outside the door of the woman I knew was gunning for me. But hindsight is 20/20, and as one of his close friends, it was a pretty shitty thing for me to do.

The next time I saw him was at my going-away party, when Sarah and I were leaving New York. He had gained about 30 pounds in muscle mass and he was now a renowned hairdresser who operated under the name Orion. Things had turned out well for him, it seemed, which eased my conscious a bit. I don’t know where he is today. But Rion, if you read this and you ever need a place to crash in LA, please know that you’re welcome to stay as long as you like. Just try not to call my wife an old bitch.

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Story of the Day: 2-18-11

How I Missed the Pixies

If you know anything about me, you know that my favorite band in the entire world is the Pixies. I have loved the Pixies since I was in 8th grade. I was not the first person in the known universe to love the Pixies, but I was definitely the first person at George R. Carter middle school in Clio, Michigan to love the Pixies.

I was part of a tiny contingent of people in my class who really liked music. I mean, I’m sure there were other people who really liked music. But we were the music snobs. It was hard to be a music snob in Clio in 1989. The only radio stations that played interesting music were in far-off cities like Detroit and Ann Arbor. We didn’t have cable so I couldn’t watch MTV. There was a music video show on the local PBS station that I watched rabidly, but it was only 1/2 an hour a week. My friend Rion, another music snob, would sometimes tape 120 Minutes for me, but he also had a tendency to get mad at me for hard-to-understand reasons and show up at school with bags of candy and give candy to all of the rest of our friends and none to me.

I mainly learned what was new and cool by reading Spin and Rolling Spin. That was where I first heard of the Pixies second album, Doolittle. It initially caught my eye because my 5th & 6th grade band teacher was named Mr. Doolittle, and I thought it would be cool to buy it for him as a gift, even though we weren’t particularly close and I hadn’t been his student for two years. That should give you an indication of what kind of student I was. The kind that fantasized about buying gifts for his old teachers.

But before buying it for Mr. Doolittle, I bought it for myself to give it a test run. So I biked to Manufacturers Market Place outlet mall in Birch Run with Brian Fairweather to buy Doolittle on cassette.

The first time I listened to it, I knew this album was something special. I immediately became obsessed and spent the next 10 years of my life seeking out every piece of music the Pixies had ever recorded. Which wasn’t very much; they only released four albums, an EP, and a handful of B sides. Today you could buy those 10 years of my life for about $40 on iTunes.

I only managed to see the Pixies live once before they broke up, on the Trompe le Monde tour. They hated each other and seemed to just be going through the motions. Plus it was in a seated venue and we were kind of far away. After the show, my friends and I waited behind the venue for an hour in the hopes that they’d notice us as they were walking out to their tour bus and say, “you high school kids look pretty cool. Let’s hang out.” We did see them come out of the venue, but when we tried to say hi to Black Francis, he said, “fuck off, man.” It was still pretty cool that he talked to us.

A few years later, when Don and I lived at 21-20, Rion came to stay with us. That was a total disaster for reasons that will be discussed in tomorrow’s story. While he was crashing on our couch, he let slip that he’d gone to see the Pixies on the Doolittle tour, back in 1989 when they were young and they weren’t just playing the role of greatest band in the universe, they actually were the greatest band in the universe.

“What?” I asked. “I am the biggest Pixies fan in the history of Clio. You and I went to shows together constantly when we were growing up, and if I’d known you were going to see the Pixies, I would have gone to see the Pixies. Why was I not at this show?”

“I was mad at you,” he answered. “The week before I asked you to see Sinead with me and you said no.”

“And so you blocked me out of seeing my favorite band of all time when they were touring behind my favorite album of all time?”

“Yeah,” he said. “It was general admission, too. And they were awesome.”

It’s difficult to fathom how upsetting this was. Imagine your favorite album is Sgt. Pepper, and you had the opportunity to see The Beatles playing that album in a small club, but your friend didn’t tell you about it because you had refused to go see the Electric Prunes with him the week before. That is how Rion’s admission felt to me.

Shortly after that, Rion and I stopped speaking. I didn’t see him again until the week before I moved to Los Angeles. It wasn’t the Pixies incident that severed our relationship; it was the incident that occurred at 21-20. But to this day, it remains one of the biggest missed opportunities of my life. I really, really should have gone to that Sinead O’ Connor show.

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Story of the Day: 2-7-11

The Legend of Scary Gary Part 8

The Day of the Dude

I went through some rough times in that apartment. I lived there a little over three years. During that time, Don’s acting career started taking off. Every few months he’d bag a national tour or a regional production and leave the city. The first time he left he sublet his bedroom to Jill, which worked out way better than I expected. (Sublet is the past tense of sublet, BTW. There is no such word as subletted. English!) I hadn’t developed much of a relationship with Jill before Don left; they had an on-again, off-again sort of relationship and I was sort of on the onskirts of it all. Gary was as confused as I was.

“Is that his girlfriend, meh?” he’d ask me when Don wasn’t around.

“Not really,” I’d say.

“Phhh,” he’d say. “Not really. I know, meh. I know.” And he’d give me a look that told me he knew.

“Really, I think they’re just friends.”

“Friends!” he’d roar, shaking his head in wonder at my naivete. “Just friends! Come on, meh. Just friends.” I was a little hurt that he didn’t ever ask if Jill was my girlfriend. He seemed to have no problem believing I would just be friends with a girl. But with Don, he was suspicious.

Once Don was gone, Jill and I got along famously. Most nights we’d get stoned and make craft projects. We turned a bunch of boxes into Robot Don and set him in the chair next to the window in tribute to our absent friend. We drew pictures and wrote songs and listened to music and watched movies and had a hell of a time. She took me to her office Christmas party, a black tie affair. We got super drunk on free alcohol and had a purposely awful picture taken that was printed out and inserted into a souvenir snow globe.

Don soon returned and Jill went off to live with her future husband and everything was status quo for another year or so. I got a great job working at a company that made and sold awful syndicated TV shows. Truly abysmal shows like The Highlander and Special Ops Force starring Dennis Rodman. Special Ops Force was funny because it aired for an entire season under the name Soldier of Fortune. It got dismal ratings even though it was Jerry Bruckheimer’s first foray into television, and he is now the most successful human in the television universe. He could pee into a box and some network would put it on as a mid-season replacement. The soldiers of fortune did not quite smile on him on the first go round, though, so the producers stuck Dennis Rodman in it and renamed it Special Ops Force for the second season. And the funny thing about this is that the creators were convinced the SOF was working; they just needed to change what the letters stood for.

Also during this time, I started dating the girl that I’d secretly been pining for since she was in high school and I was in college and I knew it was not kosher for me to like her as much as I did. She was in school at Michigan State at the time. I was making good money at work, so I’d fly back to Michigan or fly her out to New York at least once a month. It was the kind of ridiculous relationship one gets embroiled in when one is young and making more money than a young person should and thinking that’s just how the world works, that it is just that easy to make money.

Things were going great for awhile, but I soon learned a valuable lesson about life: it sucks and if you have any faith that things are going to work out, you’re a dick. In quick succession, my girlfriend dumped me, my company folded, and Don went away on another tour. He couldn’t find anyone to sublet the apartment this time around, so I spent the next three months unemployed and hanging out by myself in a lonely apartment above a man who beat his dog and (allegedly) his mother and had regularly threatened to shoot a machine gun into the ceiling, just for kicks. I had two friends in the world and I almost never saw them, because I was too busy slinking around in my apartment by myself, feeling depressed.

The most Dude-like moment of my life occurred during these months, when I got into an argument on the telephone with an unhelpful employee at the unemployment office who made me so angry I hung up and threw the telephone through a glass table. I watched the table shatter all over the living room and gingerly stepped over the glass and loaded up a bong and sat on the couch in my bathrobe and unshaven face and watched Leave It to Beaver for 6 hours straight before looking for a dustpan.

When I finally cleaned the glass up and took it down to the garbage can, Gary was standing on the stoop waiting for me like a fat snake coiled to flop.

“Hey meh,” he said, “what was that noise I heard?”

“What noise?” I asked, impatiently.

“That noise! In your apartment!”

“I don’t know,” I said, “I broke a glass table.”

“You put it in there?” he asked, pointing to the garbage bag.


“Phhh,” he said, “you don’t put it in the garbage, meh! That goes in recycling!” Gary sometimes took over recycling watch when his mom wasn’t around. I don’t think he gave a shit about saving the planet; he just loved finding new ways to be an asshole.

“I don’t care,” I said, defiantly. “I’m throwing it away.”

“No!” he bellowed. “We’re gonna get a ticket, meh! Take it out and put it in the recycling!”

I was a man on the edge. For a brief, shining moment, I didn’t give a shit if he shot me with his machine guns or sicced his snakes on me or ordered his dog to snack on my neck. I just couldn’t fucking take it anymore. “Goddammit, Gary!” I shouted. “I don’t give a shit about the recycling right now, okay? If you want to pick the shards of glass out of my garbage and move it to the right can, you can do it. If not, then shut the fuck up and leave me alone.” I slammed the lid down on the garbage can defiantly.

To my shock, the look in Gary’s eyes was not one of anger, but one of hurt. I realized then that I’m a terrible bully. For years, Gary had screamed at us, mocked us, cajoled us into doing his bidding, and gotten under our skin in myriad unique and indescribable ways. Yet the minute he displayed the faintest sign of anguish, I felt nothing but guilt, like I’d just punched a baby in the face.

“Hey, Gary, man …” I began.

“Don’t worry about it, meh,” he said.

“No, you know, I just …”

“Don’t worry about it!” he shouted.

I nodded.

“All right, well, I’m just gonna go …”

“Go, meh,” he said quietly. “Go.”

By the next day, he was back to his old tricks. I will say this: after I exploded on him, he never disrespected me again. If it were anyone else, I might have felt like we had finally come to some kind of understanding. But this was Gary, and Gary understood nothing. Just because he displayed an emotion other than anger doesn’t mean I’d suddenly gotten a glimpse of the complex humanity beneath his gruff exterior. Fuck that guy. He might have been a softer piece of shit than I’d always thought, but he was still a piece of shit.

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Story of the Day: 2-6-11

The Legend of Scary Gary Part 7

Getting High with Gary

At some point, Gary started turning to Don and me to fulfill all of his life’s needs. He couldn’t really do anything on his own. I have no idea how he accomplished anything before we came along. He had no car, I’m not sure if he could read, and he refused to take the subway. He claimed to own a bunch of Cadillacs that he had hidden around the neighborhood, but we could never really figure out why he would hide them and not drive them.

One night when Don was gone I heard a knock on the door. Any time I got a knock on the door I knew it was bad news. Because no one knocked on our door except for Gary, and Gary was always bad news. I opened the door to find him clutching a zip-up lady’s wallet.

“Hey meh,” he said. “I need you to fill something out for me.”

“Um, okay,” I said. I was kind of looking forward to smoking a joint and playing Playstation, but what Gary wanted, Gary got.

We sat down at the kitchen table. He reached into his pocket, pulled out a crumpled up piece of paper, and handed it to me. I unfolded it; it was an application for public assistance.

“Gary, man,” I said, “I can’t fill this out for you. There’s a lot of personal information on this form.”

“Yeah, yeah, meh,” he said, “it’s all here.”

He handed me the wallet. I unzipped it. Inside was Gary’s life. Every official document, every picture, everything. Everything was not much. His entire life fit inside a women’s zip wallet.

He rifled through the wallet, found a tax form, and handed it to me. I filled out as much information as I could, but the form was still about 3/4 blank.

“Okay, Gary,” I said. “I need to ask you some questions.”

“Phhh,” he said. “You don’t need no questions, meh. Forget about it. You’re smart, meh. Just fill it out.”

“Okay, but like, how much did you make last year?” I asked.

“Phhh,” he said. “Don’t worry about it, meh! Just fill it out!”

“Um, okay,” I said. I filled the form out to the best of my abilities and handed it back to him. “Here you go, man,” I said. “I don’t know if this is right.”

“Phhh, right. Of course it’s right! You filled it out, meh!” To Gary, there was no difference between a form filled out and a form filled out correctly. As long as there were letters and numbers in the blanks, I had done a good job.

“All right, man,” I said. Hoping he’d take the hint and leave.

Gary never took a hint. “Hey, meh,” he said, his face widening into a crocodile grin, “I’m gonna get you high.”

I weighed my options. I could A) tell him I was tired and send him on his way, or B) smoke a joint with the craziest motherfucker I’d ever encountered. I know choice A seems like the most logical option. But somewhere in the back of my head a voice was telling me, “if you do not take this opportunity, you will regret it for the rest of your life.”

We moved into the living room. Gary pulled a dirty-looking sack of weed out of his pocket. I handed him a pipe.

“Phhh!” he said. “Pipe! Who needs a pipe? I don’t need no pipe, meh! Gimme some papers!”

Luckily, Don and I were prepared to handle a wide variety of weed-smoking emergencies. If the weed apocalypse were to visit Astoria, we were ready. I opened a drawer on the side table and pulled out a pack of rolling papers. Gary threw the sack in my lap.

“You roll it, meh,” he instructed.

I didn’t want to argue; after all, it was his weed. I sprinkled some of the weed in a sheet of rolling paper and started rolling it up.

“No, meh!” he said. “That’s too skinny! Roll a fatty!”

I took some more weed and sprinkled it on the paper. Gary nodded his head in affirmation.

“That’s a good joint, meh,” he said, approvingly. “You can hit it first.”

I took a hit off the joint and handed it over to him.

“I got hit on the head with a baseball bat ten years ago,” he said, “and now I got the seizure disorder.” He took a toke.

“Does weed help with the seizures?” I asked.

“Phhh, does it help. No!” he yelled, startling me. “I got hit on the head and I got seizures, meh! What do you know about it?” He gave me a cold stare. I was starting to feel like this was maybe not such a good idea.

“Nothing, man,” I said. “I don’t know anything about it.”

He broke into laughter. “Oh meh,” he said. “You don’t know nothing about it.” I became terrified that he was playing with me like Joe Pesci in Goodfellas, that any second he was going to pull out one of his machine guns and make me dance.

He took a few more hits of the joint and handed it to me. In for a penny, in for a pound. I took a massive toke and leaned back on the couch. It was really, really good weed. I handed the joint to Gary. He looked at the joint, and then at me. Suddenly, his eyes rolled back in his head. “Gah!” he shouted, and started twitching.

“Jesus!” I screamed. “Gary!”

He opened his eyes and laughed.

“That’s what it looks like when I get the seizure disorders, meh!” he chortled.

I don’t remember how I got him out of the apartment, but he eventually left, taking his forms and his weed and his life wallet with him. Before he left, he showed me a picture from the wallet. In it, a young Gary with long, flowing hair sat on a beautiful beach next to a blond woman. “That’s me, in Armenia, meh,” he said. “I was a hairdresser. That was my girlfriend.”

“Wow,” I said. For a brief moment, I realized that Gary wasn’t always the fat, obnoxious, dog- and mother-beating piece of shit he was today. Before he’d landed in his depressing, snake-filled Astoria apartment he’d been a regular person, with hopes and dreams and a beautiful young girlfriend who he thought he’d be with forever. “Thanks for showing that to me, Gary,” I said, sincerely. “She’s really pretty.”

“Yeah, meh,” he said sadly. “I used to fuck her all the time. All the time, meh.”

“I’m sure you did, Gary,” I said, patting him on the shoulder sympathetically. “I’m sure you did.”

— To be continued —

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Story of the Day: 2-5-11

The Legend of Scary Gary Part 6

The Snakes

Gary loved to make up stories about what he did with his time. What he actually did with his time was hang out on the stoop with his mangy dog and bother us. But in his fantasies, he was the next Scarface.

Of the professions he invented for himself, his favorite was gun-runner. Or gun-sitter, rather. He didn’t run anywhere. People came to him. His stock in trade was machine guns. We first learned about Gary’s side business the way we learned about everything in Gary World: he cornered us as we came home from work and bragged about it to us against our will as we tried in vain to end the conversation.

“Hey meh, you wanna buy a gun?” he asked us.

“We’re good,” we said.

“‘Cause I got guns, meh. I got lots of guns.”

“That’s okay,” we said. “We don’t need a gun.”

We put our key in the lock to the front door, hoping that would give him a sign that the conversation was over.

“I got machine guns, meh. I sell ’em. Don’t try to steal ’em, meh. If you try to steal my guns, I’ll shoot up through the ceiling,” he said.

We removed our key from the lock. This was in the early stage of our relationship with Gary, and we didn’t yet know how seriously we should take his threats.

“We won’t steal your guns,” we said. “We don’t even want a gun. We don’t want anything to do with it.”

“Don’t try to get in my apartment, meh,” he continued. “‘Cause I got snakes.”

“Snakes?” we asked. This was starting to sound a little suspect. “What kind of snakes?”

“Big snakes, meh!” he shouted. One of Gary’s many irritating conversational tics was that he greeted almost everything we said as if we were totally naive, no matter how uncontroversial the topic. Like he could say, “Hey meh, you got your keys?” and we’d say, “yes,” and he’d say, “Phhhh, what do you mean you got your keys, meh? You don’t got no keys!”

But back to the snakes. “Yeah, meh,” he said, “I got big snakes. And if you try to get in my apartment, they’ll bite you.”

“Aren’t they in a cage?” we asked.

“No, meh!” he shouted. “Phhhh, a cage!” as if keeping your snakes in a cage was the dumbest idea he’d ever heard. “They just slither around, meh! And if you try to take my guns, they’ll bite you!”

“All right, Gary,” we said, “we won’t steal your guns.”

“You better not, meh,” he said.

“We won’t,” we insisted.

“You better not.”

“We gotta go now, Gary,” we said.

“Go, meh,” he said. “Stay out of my apartment.”

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Story of the Day: 2-4-11

The Legend of Scary Gary Part 5

Garo Zamrutian is the only person I’ve ever met who had absolutely no redeeming qualities. He was the person for whom the word “odious” was invented. He was odiousness and odiosity made flesh. He looked like a pile of shit, he had nothing but evil thoughts, and he hated everyone who wasn’t white, straight, and/or Armenian.

He wasn’t always that way, or so we heard. Primarily from Gary himself. He loved to tell the story about how he got hit on the head with a baseball bat years ago and now he has the seizure disorder. Those were exactly the words he used when he told us the story. “Hey man,” he’d say. He sounded kind of like Cheech from Cheech & Chong, like he said “meh” instead of “man.” “Hey meh,” he’d say, “I got hit on the head with a baseball bat and now I’ve got the seizure disorder.” He told us this story every other time we ran into him, always unprompted. It was his catchphrase.

Son of Talgot confirmed Gary’s story. He wasn’t sure whether it was a random beating or if Gary was involved in something illegal. Gary was pretty cagey about what happened, so I would assume he was partly at fault. But according to Son of Talgot, Gary was a relatively normal guy before the accident. The beaters must have knocked his frontal lobe out of whack or something. We felt a little bad for Gary the first time we heard that he told us the story. After the tenth time, we wished he would shut up. After the fiftieth time, we wanted him dead.

It would have been a lot easier to have sympathy for Gary if he wasn’t such an unconscionable bastard. On top of being a dog-beater, which we observed with our own eyes often, we had suspicions he beat his mother. Twice in the time we lived above her she had black eyes. When we asked her about them, she’d say things like, “Fall … chair … waters … no trash.” To be fair, she was nearly blind, so if she ever actually had cause to stand on a chair, chances are she would fall off. But what kind of 80 year-old woman gets black eyes? Twice? Ones who are being beaten, that’s … what kind.

The bruises weren’t our only tip-off; about once a month, we’d hear Gary fly into a rage-filled tantrum through our floorboards. His Hitleresque screams, pulsing with fury and hatred, still haunt my nightmares. We never knew what he was angry about because his tantrums were in Armenian. But we knew he was yelling at his mother – throughout the tantrum her mousine squeaks would interrupt his screams, ramping his rage up to ever-greater heights. We never heard anything that sounded like physical violence, but I’m not sure what we would have done even if we had. We were prisoners in our own apartment … if the police showed up, they would not have done anything, and there would have been no question which tenants in the building made the call. He wouldn’t blame the Talgots, I’m sure of that, and the Egyptians flew so far under the radar we all pretty much forgot they were there. And after the police left, we would still be in our apartment, right above a lunatic who was prone to fits of fury and who now hated our guts. We weighed our options and decided if Blueberry Ankles had managed to live this long with that nutcase in the next room, she must know how to handle him.

All that having been said … and that’s a lot for me to admit, that I sat by like a scared rabbit as a man beat his dog and possibly his own mother … Gary was not all terror. He was all terrible. But after awhile, we began to see him as all talk, no action. He had no trouble kicking a defenseless dog and slapping an old woman (again: unconfirmed), but he had a strange respect for Don and me. I feel horrible even thinking this, but we were probably his best friends. At no time did we ever like or respect Gary, but as a source of ridicule, he was unparalleled. The comedy begins … tomorrow.

And by tomorrow, I mean later today. I’m really behind on the story of the day.

— To be continued —

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