Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Made in the Shade

"Yo, what up, dog?"

"How ya doin..."

"Yo, where you been, man? I thought'chu quit or sump'in!"

"Ummm...no," I reply. "I took last Saturday off."

"Word? Well, we missed you, dog..."

"How sweet."

You missed me did you, Guido? On the real, yo? I doubt it. Let's put an end to this little charade of ours, shall we? I make you as nauseous as you make me, which is quite some hell of a lot. And I know I make you sick, because every time I toss one of you little cock-bags out, you'll make certain to tell me, and all of my coworkers, how little we're worth in your grand Guido perception of the universe.

"Yo, look at'cho shoes, n---a! My shoes cost mo than yo car! Yo, I gots a G, yo! I'll buy you, muthafucka!"

But, every week, twice, sometimes thrice per week, we'll play this game. This social, social game. The handshake, the half-hug-to-a-forearm shiver, the pointless banter about the weather, and the bitches, and the "vibe in the room." And when I miss a night, all hell breaks loose, because our relationship, tenuous as it is, frays at its poorly defined edges. The routine, broken, needs to be set back on its rails. Your serve, fraught with topspin, begs return. You're a creature of habit, Big Shot, and when the record skips, it's all I can do to straighten out the needle for us both.

"Yo, we was worried, yo!"

"About what?" I ask.

"Yo, I tol' you. I din't see you las' week, dog!"

Worried about what? What happened, you didn't get comped? Word, dog, I let you step right on in for a reason, and it's not a good one, but you've mistaken it for friendship. Which it just may be, but when you consider that I let you in free because you have rotten fucking Guido breath, and I don't want you standing out front jabbering my ear off, you might want to rethink the situation.

Best to stay on my good side, though. Wise business decision on your part. You know, it takes a while to figure things out in nightclubs, but once you do, it's not at all hard to understand why you see the same faces night after night. And why they're so friendly to the bouncers. Me, especially, because I very rarely ask for a cut. I'm outside, see, and that shit's not going on in front of me. But don't think I don't know. And don't think I haven't turned around on your type, because I have, and I don't worry about it, because it's a small price for you to pay, no?

What are you gonna do, shoot me? Sure, you could, but you won't. There's guys working the back that've shaken your ass down for months, and they're still breathing, so sure, when I turn on you like a nineteen-year-old blonde who's sick of Irish cock, I'll get away with it. And you'll still greet me at the door with a hug and a handshake, because it's all a sham, just like the rest of this business.

"Well," says Johnny. "What were you doin' back there?"

"Takin' a leak, asshole," I say.

"In a stall? In an empty bathroom?"

"I always use the stall. Stage fright."

"And now you're blowin' your nose?" he asks.

"I been standin' outside all night! Go fuck yourself, y'old fuckin' crow!"


"You really wanna know," I say, "I been standin' outside in twenny degree cold all night, an' the fuckin' thing shrinks an' it takes me a coupla minutes to get things movin', so I use the stall so as not to get distracted by old fuckin' homos like you. Happy now?"

And how'd you make out tonight, you old fuck? How many payrolls are you on back there?

Here a side deal, there a side deal, everywhere a shady bouncer winking at a shady Guido selling to a twitchy Guido huffing powders off a toi-let seat.

See, what you realize, is that everyone's shady. Sketchy motherfuckers all over the map around here, because it's the only way anyone gets by in New York. Every regular with a smile and a caring word has "the agenda." Gladhanding you, so you don't backhand him. And when you're naive, as not many here are, you don't know. But if you listen, you find out real quick, and then it's time to get on the bus with all the other guys wearing the suits.

Go out with your friends? Have some drinks? Break your shit out on the dance floor? Think it. Keep thinking it. But it ain't like that here in Guidoville. Not by a longshot.

And don't forget to bring cash.