June 1997
s m u g
bumping uglies
by Todd Levin


Favorite Son

I hate going home for the holidays. Not just because it means having to share a bed with Olfa, the Swedish boarder to whom my parents rented my old bedroom who smells of medicated arch supports. And not just because of the clause in Olfa's lease which provides that, upon visiting home, I would be forced to share a bed with him. That I can get used to. What I hate about going home is walking through the saloon-style doors of my parents' home, sitting down on a saloon-style stool at the saloon-style bar, ordering a bottle of whiskey from the saloon-style bartender named Sam, and then seeing my dad or mom or one of the dancin' girls get up from the saloon-style blackjack table, put their arms around my shoulders and give me that all-too familiar look that says, "Get the hell out of my saloon. Your real family lives next door, in that split-level ranch home with the two-car garage. I ain't gonna tell you this again, sonny. The next time I reckon I'm jest gonna have to shoot you."

This past Passover when I went home - my first trip home to see my family in quite a while - no sooner did we sit down to dinner (baked, skinless chicken dipped in Kraft's French Dressing - a dish my dad, ironically, likes to call "Skinless Chicken a la Kraft's French Dressing") than my parents started with the questions. "What are you doing?" "Are you happy with your new job?" "Do you really think the world needs another Jew writer?" "Do you have any empirical evidence which can prove definitively that you're not gay?" blah blah blah...

It is no secret in my family that my folks are still disappointed that I haven't really come through as a big heavy success in their minds. And nothing hammers this point home more than the enormous shadow cast by my incredibly successful younger brother, Sweet Dan, the Tri-county Street Pimp.

© 1997 Mark Zingarelli

Sweet Dan turned around a particularly unpromising childhood -- never attending school, sniffing airplane glue, playing pitcher in a tee-ball league until he was 14 -- and became the successful kind of bitch-slapping, fuzz-evading, world-class street hustler my parents had always hoped I would become. Sure, I got pretty decent grades in school, but I was never really great with numbers. And I was always a pretty lousy dresser. Sadly, I just didn't have pimping in me.

Well, Sweet Dan sure did. He managed to save all of the money he had earned shoveling sidewalks, extorting neighbors and selling Grit magazine, and rolled it into a brand new Muscatel Lincoln and a fur-trimmed pantsuit and matching cape. Now I think it goes without saying that there's no place for a 15 year old with a sweet new process in his hair and a shiny Lincoln to be studying Non-Western Social Studies in high school, so Sweet Dan did what any normal 15 year-old would do: he dropped out of high school, doped up half the cheerleading squad and the entire female membership of B.A.C.C.H.U.S., and started building an enviable stable of drugged-out nymphomaniac teenage super-hoze.


I have spent my entire life being compared to Sweet Dan. And every single time I go home, I am put back in this incredibly awkward position, trying to live in Sweet Dan's fly double-knit shadow. When I'm over for the big "family dinner," Sweet Dan always makes sure that he shows up for dinner a little bit late, always one to make a big entrance, and he never arrives without at least two karate-trained, drop-dead gorgeous hoze on either arm. Of course, my parents always make room at the table for his entire entourage, something they never did for any of my more bohemian college friends. Then Sweet Dan will start handing out crisp fifties, a reflex reaction, and then catch himself as he is stuffing one into my mom's garter and flash that famous little sly little (the same smile which earned him the nickname in the pimping community, "Sweet Dan With That Famous Little Sly Smile"), and say, "my bad," making sure to show off his pure gold-plated smile.

The conversation is always the same. I'll ask Sweet Dan, through gritted teeth, what he's been up to lately, and I will invariably get the exact same answer: "You know me, romeo. Sameo sameo. Mackin. Packin. Pullin' switches and turning out crazy bitches. Just livin' the American dream with my gold rope chain and a limousine." God, I can practically recite the whole thing back to him. And I have. For church groups sometimes. He will politely ask me what I've been up to and then cut me off in mid-sentence to do another line of coke from between the breasts of one of his tricked-out hoze.


But Passover at home was the worst. My brother had just been named Player of the Year, and everyone was gushing over that one. Plus, the inevitable conversation, the one that I always dreaded would happen, happened:

My mother asks, "Todd, do you remember Debbie Margoulis?"

(My brain went flippy-floppy as it stretched back to remember this name. Now Debbie was a girl I knew from my synagogue's youth group, and we dated for a little while. Truthfully, I barely remembered her. I think we went out a few times and she would only let me kiss her if I promised to keep my mouth closed. That's all I remembered, but this was typical. My mom will bring up some near-stranger who she generally remembers better than I do, and relate at great lengths some incredibly boring tale about this person's life and how the quality of it somehow exceeds my own. So, I decide, I'm game.)

"Yeah, I guess so."

"Well, last week, Sweet Dan brought over this young lady he had recently broken in and turned out for his Troy-Schenectady stable. We started talking and she immediately recognized your high school picture on the wall, the one hanging right next to Sweet Dan's first arrest warrant. Anyway, it turns out that Sweet Dan's newest ho is that very same Debbie Margoulis. Only now she calls herself Peaches, or SweetPea or something. Isn't it a small world?"


It's more than I can stand sometimes and I know I'll never be like him. I mean, I wish I could solve all of my problems the way Sweet Dan does, by dropping a couple of grand here and there to cover my tracks, or kicking the occasional mudhole in someone's ass. But the truth is, it's just not in my nature. My one attempt at pimping failed miserably as I found myself practically pleading with a woman from my Critical Studies in Contemporary Semiotics class to give another classmate of ours a handjob for the balance of his meal card. It was completely embarrassing.


A few months ago when Sweet Dan was at the annual Player's Ball, he brought me back this gift. Well, since the 70s pimping has come a long way. Unions have been formed. All of the long-term hoze have benefits packages and there has been regional price fixing and a sort of modern-day guild structure established amongst the pimps to keep things relatively fair. It's really turned into just another Disneyland, in my opinion, except there are more crack whores. Well, at the convention for New York and New England Players, held at the Algonquin Hotel in February, they were giving away these souvenir billfolds to all of the players and their families. They're really cute, actually. On one side, they have leather-stitched letters reading, "Bitch, Where's My Money At?" and on the other side it just has the name of the event, "Pimpcon '97." And my brother, who always insists on carrying an oversized zebra-skin purse, decided he had no use for another wallet and gave me his. I'm still a bit uncomfortable carrying it but the truth is, I really do love my brother. Despite the natural swaggering and self-absorption that just kind of goes with being a serious pimp, he has always been there for me, has always bailed me out of any little scrapes I have found myself in, has always gotten me the best dope, and I don't blame him for any of this competition, really. In truth, he's really good at what he does. And I, well I'm sure I'll be pretty good at what I do. Providing I can find more Swedes like Olfa who will pay the big bucks for a long, languorous tongue-bath.




back to the junk drawer

and such
and such

The Chankstore

·feature· ·net worth· ·bumping uglies· ·smoking jacket· ·ear candy· ·feed hollywood· ·target audience· ·three dollar bill· ·compulsion· ·posedown· ·the biswick files· ·mystery date· ·and such and such· ·blab· ·kissing booth·

·contents· ·freakshow· ·fan club· ·junk drawer·

copyright © 1996, 1997 fearless media