Foot Meet Mouth #1.
I’ve recounted this story in the past on the message boards, at coffee meetings, and it will most certainly have a place in my autobiography. Actually, while I’m on that subject, which of these titles works best for you:
- Comeshot Made Good: The Life and Untimely Death of Nick Nunziata
- Hellraiser VIII
- The Nick Nunziata Cookbook/Autobiography
- Why I Once Jacked Another Guy Off, By Anon.
- What Hath Kirk Pengilly Wrought?
- I’m Handsome, Yes?
- Why I Cured Cancer and Then Created a Worse Disease
- The Amazing Vagina Nose of Multiple Miggs and Other Stories…
- Life as Mrs. Brian Cox
- Dispatches from the Poopy Place
- This Book is a 9/11 Metaphor
- From the Web to the Screen to a Fag Bath House and Back Again
- Manchild. Boyadult. Cyborgrobot.
Anyhow, there’s a story I’ve told to many of you in person or on the message boards but I think it’s a good idea to use this blog as a place to reach a larger audience [though I have no idea how many of you assholes read the blogs] so I don’t mind the redundancy.
I have this friend. A guy I used to hang with every day. A former roommate and high school pal, someone I still see from time to time when our schedules jive. A great guy with one minor weakness: Foot in Mouth Disease.
When we were in high school in the late 80’s political correctness was prevalent but nowhere near as overblown and costly as it is today [read: Michael Richards/Mel Gibson/Racist O’Hanrahan]. We knew that some words had more weight than others but in an effort to entertain each other no word was verboten. Even that most deadly and twenty-Megaton word Nigger.
Nigger is a fucked up word. It’s used in so many ways by so many different people with so many different intentions and repercussions that it’s almost akin to the way Eskimo’s speak of snow. It is a word that can get you killed, get you noticed, get you laughs, or get you labeled as a notorious character. It’s the most loaded word in a culture filled with ‘em.
Whether I agree with it or not, it’s the worst word in the English language.
When we were teens the word was just one of many in our repertoire, tossed out from time to time without thought or harmful intent. Blame the fact we listened to a lot of rap at the time, that we were ignorant of the cultural climate, or that we were too lazy to be smarter about it.
That said, I have a dubbing of Lethal Weapon that we did that uses the word to the most jaw-dropping and riotously funny effect that were it posted to YouTube it’d change lives. I will never show it again, but it exists and remains one of my most prized closet skeletons.
My friend, let’s call him Robert… has been known to let his tongue fly from time to time.
I remember a time when we were eating at a favorite restaurant of ours [Brookwood Grill, the old Peachtree Corners location that is sadly long closed] and a girl we went to high school with was working. She was a cute girl, a really nice girl, and someone I was friendly with in school on the rare days I attended. She was pretty but she had a little issue with her lip. It wasn’t disfigured but it was noticeably “unique”. Without the lip issue she’d have been a knockout. With the lip issue she was still a darling but with… character. She came to our table, we bullshitted, and she went to get our drinks. My friend… ROBERT… who was in the restroom, saunters up and plops down and after a few moments loudly asks me “WAS THAT THE LIP?“.
Behind him in the booth she was cleaning out of sight, comes the nice young lady’s head, right up behind him. She was right fucking behind him. She froze. I froze. Robert froze. Jared-Syn froze. Jesus froze on his cross. We was a bunch of frozen motherfuckers, the lot of us.
Somehow, she was a better person than the rest of us and managed to serve us without smacking him into a coma. The happy ending to the story is that sometime down the line I saw her at a party and her treatment of me indicated in no small way that she held no grudge.
That was a tamer occurrence. This is the real deal:
The Place: My Parent’s House.
The Year: 1996.
The Scene: The Living Room. NFL Gameday for the PS1 is being played by Robert and our black friend um… Joey. My parents are on the couch chatting and watching the game. I’m waiting for my turn but business calls and I retreat to the bathroom with I’m sure some form of reading material.
How it Went Down: I’m shitting. It’s something I’m good at. Been practicing A LOT. They’re playing the game. My friend… Robert is losing but making progress. I can hear this because the bathroom is close to the living room in that house. I can hear little tidbits of conversation from time to time but I’m torn between listening to them and enjoying my special time in the special room. Robert makes a drive with his team, but is thwarted by a fumble. My ears catch with absolute clarity the next bit of conversation, as it is yelled…
How a Foot in a Mouth Sounds: “Oh you pack of NIGGERS!“
The Fallout: My mouth opened. I listened. SILENCE. I quickly exited my pooping lair and entered the living room. My parents, FROZEN. Joey, FROZEN. Robert, FROZEN AND PALE. The game ended and Joey rather quickly thanked us and excused himself to head home as it was getting late. The door closed. The car left. Silence. I looked at my friend and asked him if I heard what I think I heard. He looked over at me with the most pitiful look a man can have. He was ashen. Crestfallen. Defeated. My parents and I supported him in the only way we were equipped to. We lost our shit. We laughed so fucking hard for so long it was one of those moments my mother and I still talk about. My dad doesn’t because he’s dead. That said, that moment is almost enough to zombie his ass back up at us just to reminisce.
Why It’s Horrible/Funny: It’s not that he used “Nigger” to criticize his players as he played against a black guy. That’s bad. It’s that he alluded that they travel in packs that made it a moment of glorious racist comedy gold. Like animals. If he had left “Pack Of” out of the sentence it would have been uncomfortable but easily repaired. Joey was a pretty easygoing guy. I didn’t think he’d have any long term damage from it. But “Pack Of” pretty much escalated it to the point where two people were horribly emotionally disfigured by it and three people were given a moment they can revisit in the darkest of days and laugh their dicks off.
The Denouement: Robert apologized to Joey the next time they saw each other and pretty much every time after that. But, whenever I mentioned it over the years [because I could], it was obvious that Joey hadn’t fully forgiven Robert. Nor should he have. That was fucked up. But I know Robert better than most anyone and I know he meant no harm. It was just another one of those words we have in the “random” queue that just happened to fly out before the internal filter clicked on.
To this day, all I have to say is “Pack Of” to my mother and we shit ourselves.
- Nick Nunziata usually keeps his foot in his ass and is therefore safe.