diary of a professional antagonist
Tag Archives: Ancestry
I met her on Alcatraz. Her name was Nancy. To date, our marriage remains the most expensive hour of my life.
At the time, I was still what I now consider young and had just experienced the second major loss of my life, my old man, ‘Burt’. He owned a construction company that had seen its fair share of troubles over the decades. Our relationship was testy at times. I was considered soft because as a teenager I took a few acting classes and preferred a pen to a chisel, but in truth, mano y mano, Burt wasn’t up to much, and so I became useful whenever an angry client came by the house to settle up. I’d step in, turn on the water works in frantic despair, and wail pitifully until sympathy trumped vengeance.
In the year leading up to Burt’s death my mother passed away and an apartment complex he erected collapsed, killing one person. He received a suicide note from some poor bastard who lost everything as a result of the same incident. All these things add up, I guess.
Even though I hated construction, Burt left the company to me when he hammered his last nail. He was well known, and his picture was in all the papers when he passed, so, given that I knew nothing about the business – which projects were active, who worked there, how to get an outside line on the office phone – I hopped on the first flight out of town, drank most of the way and arrived in San Francisco out of my mind.
My limited knowledge of San Francisco told me that it was full of hills, hippies and homos. I could have shacked up anywhere given the inheritance, but ended up taking a room in some dive in the Tenderloin area. Even back then it was a shit-hole area. A lobotomized geriatric checked me in to my room and told me that breakfast was a noun before staring at me for a solid minute after I made the mistake of laughing.
A sourdough bowl of chowder later, my stomach begged me for something normal, so I knocked back a fifth of Night Train, grabbed a second bottle, then hopped on the boat to Alcatraz; figuring the water was the best place to be if I was going to hurl. Walking ‘The Rock’ is still a blur. All I really remember is hearing something about Capone getting syphilis before I was shaken back to consciousness on a cot in one of the cells. Nancy was standing over me.
The journey back to the mainland was excruciating. Nancy talked about her folks all the way. How her Mother always joked that she just needed a good man to complete her. How her Father said she was one in a million. How Maw and Paw told her that family occasions were never dull when she showed up. I listened for two reasons. One, I needed something to focus on so I could stay conscious until I reached the hotel. Two, she had a big pair of tits, and an ass as thick and round as a bus wheel that made up for her average at best looks.
Nancy was still there when I woke up. My clothes were clean and pressed, and there was a big, fat, bloody steak and a cold one on the bedside table. This woman had me down. I asked why she did it. She said she saw something in me, something she needed then leaned in and kissed my cheek. My shoulder brushed against her breast and I got a half lob on. Later she told me that she was leaving for Vegas. I’d slammed six beers by then and thought, “fuck it, I’ve got money, time and a semi with ambitions.”
Nancy listened to my sop story on the flight. She managed to bring booze onto the flight in a Coke bottle, so, as I got more and more wasted, I blabbed on and on. When I stopped talking she didn’t offer any advice, didn’t sympathize or ask how I felt, didn’t tell me everything would be okay – I may have been drunk, but the simple fact that she didn’t do any of these things made me think I loved her.
Nancy had to meet a business associate when we arrived, so we arranged to meet later at my hotel. I’d gotten rid of my emotional baggage and was feeling good, so I hit the strip hard. Somewhere in the middle of it all she returned. She laughed at how drunk I was, but not in a “you’re a disgrace” kind of way, more like a woman who liked to see her man enjoy himself, and could get into the spirit of it, and, man but she could put away the booze. I’d hit the jackpot. Four cocktails later, and after she told me she’d done a pole dancing class, I proposed to her.
In the middle of the night we got married in a fun little shit-hole where Elvis now worked. I took Nancy back to my hotel room and got down to business. Basic instincts operate in all men even when hammered drunk, so I figured I’d have emptied my nuts into her in about three minutes before crashing. However, despite my best efforts, something went wrong.
It started when her dress fell away from her body. I wasn’t confronted by heaving flesh, instead there was another layer of fabric tightly bound to her. I said, “what’s this?” Nancy said, “my spanks”. “Spanks?” “Yeah.” She turned away from me and started to remove it. The only way I can describe it is that it was a like fat suit, except a thin suit, so when she took it off everything that had been so shapely and tight suddenly sagged and fell loose. “Fuck”, I said.
There was a bra and panties embedded in rolls of fat, held together by skin that was anything but healthy looking. She removed the bra. Two things fell on to the floor from the bra. “What the fuck are they?” “My chicken fillets.” “Chicken fillets? What the fuck?” My dick sagged when she tugged at her hair and removed a whole mess of extensions. Thin, greasy hair that fell just beneath her earlobes remained. When she turned around, I did my best to smile but then I looked down and saw a bulge in her panties.
When she next spoke, she was a he. “You’ve got two options here, Chuck. One, you sign a few papers, we annul this and never see each other or speak about this again. Two, we consummate this relationship, and if you don’t think you can get hard, don’t worry, I can.” I thought about it and took option one. She, he, (s)he,
she… fuck it, Nancy opened the door and in walked an amenable looking solicitor, her business associate, who had a bunch of legal documents ready. As he laid them out on the bed I muttered that I should have known better than to pick up a chick in San Francisco. Nancy uttered a knowing laugh.
We hadn’t met by chance. She tracked me to San Francisco after reading about my father’s death in the paper. This was a revenge mission. Her mother died in the apartment complex my father built that collapsed. Her father later committed suicide, lost without his wife, and too proud to go live with ‘Nancy’, his estranged, cross-dressing son.
I signed the papers without further question, but I’ll admit, even though I never wanted my Dad’s company, it fucking hurt when I put down the pen and realized that I’d given away everything my old man ever worked for, the place where I knew him best, where our relationship was least strained and where I felt close to him.
Nancy didn’t have that with her old man. Chemistry, hormones and whatever else separated them, and I guess in the end if this was the only way she would ever do right by her folks, then this was how it was going to be.
The next morning I woke up single again to the hangover from hell, with no prospects and no money. Nancy left me a one way ticket back home. I was already late for the flight. On the way to the airport my brain started to work again – it had been a while – and as the taxi pulled in at the set-down area I realized that the only reason I signed the papers is because I was afraid people I didn’t give a shit about would find out that I married a dude in Vegas. I hadn’t even stuck my dick in him, and who said he was really going to stick his in me? God damn it, I had no real reason to be ashamed.
In that moment I felt stupid. I took comfort in a cheap bottle. Nothing’s changed since then. The decline continues.
I was once a proud person. My life had more or less been filled with the same experiences the average Joe Boxer-shorts checks off the life list by the time he’s reached the age of twenty three, so I had no reason not to be. Of course things could have gone better at times but you’ve got to take the rough with the tumble and chalk it down to the building of character and the formation of a well-rounded human being. However, at twenty-three I took my first trip abroad, and embarked on a life-changing holiday in Ireland, which gave my pride a solid kick in the sack and finished with me clambering aboard the plane home wishing “beam me up” wasn’t just a phrase from TV but a very real and private mode of transportation which would spare me the shame, and spare my fellow passengers those six hours of smelling the stale piss sloshing about in my loafers and the acidic stench of bile and puke wafting from my mouth and hair.
My Irish roots are supposedly on my mother’s side and I figured I’d spend a week in the old country, live where some of my people had lived, soak up all there was on offer culturally and hope to be charmed by a lady leprechaun before finding a job back home and beginning to build a career. O’Neill was her mother’s surname and they hailed from a place called Ballyjamesduff in County Cavan which I found close to the middle of nowhere, somewhere north of the midlands (the actual middle of nowhere). Having landed in Dublin Airport, with not one building worth calling a skyscraper in sight, I began to wonder that if this was the capital city then where in the Christ was I headed?
Despite being initially impressed by the scenery, my enthusiasm waned as the bus took roads the width of sidewalks and ventured into towns which wouldn’t pass as villages at home, where we were usually greeted by a man waiting at a red pole signaling desperately to be collected and taken back to civilization. The fact that every fifty yards saw a new curve in the road and our driver insisted on meeting or exceeding the speed limit at all times encouraged my stomach to repeat its efforts in ridding itself of the slops it was thrown on the plane ad nauseam. Then the bus stopped and I was there, but, where the fuck was there? The man who signaled desperately to the bus had remained on board. This clearly was not his stop…
After battling the hotelier’s accent for a solid fifteen minutes I eventually understood that I was the only occupant and that rain had been forecast for the next seven days. I ditched my bags in the room and decided the only way to go forth would be with a sense of adventure, camaraderie for my fellow Irish men and dive right in, so I changed into something more comfortable and made tracks for one of the local pubs. I spied an O’Neill’s and figured that’d be a good start. Order a glass of Guinness, fit in, feel comfortable and then dig for stories of my ancestors.
My first step inside was met with silence, then laughter. I shrugged it off, probably a coincidence and bad timing, so I hit the bar – “a glass of your finest Guinness, please”. More laughter. It was definitely me they were laughing at. Men were repeating what I’d said to the older gentlemen at the bar, the ones with hair growing out of their ears, who in turn also laughed. As I took my first sip I smiled, content that this would ingratiate me, however, as I looked around I soon realized my error. I was holding a glass, thin and slender, while the other men were holding thick, bulky glasses with twice as much Guinness in them. The fact that I blushed at the moment of realization only made me look like more of a woman. Then I noticed their clothes and how their choice of dark threads and fabric served almost as camouflage against the walls of the drinking hole. I looked at myself – brand new white sneakers, khakis, blue sweater and polo-neck – all I was missing was a big fucking pink sign around my neck with ‘on vacation’ printed on it.
I’d lost the respect of the local men and could feel myself slipping deeper into infamy by the second, slowly becoming part of the ‘go to for quick laughs’ section of every local barfly’s tall tales encyclopedia. I tried to shrug it off and asked the barkeep if he knew of any O’Neill’s in the area – more laughter – I think someone said “you’re standing in his fucking pub, y’daft, yank, cunt”, but I can’t be certain. Hearing, or convincing myself that I’d heard that word uttered aloud, and to jovial acceptance and laughter, prompted my balls to seek shelter north of their normal resting spot. Not five minutes into the visit, I was standing on the most hostile ground I’d ever stood and contemplating walking away. Nobody took the next natural step to prompt a fight and so I persisted and asked again, making direct reference to my grandmother’s people. Then they really started laughing.
“God-damn it! What in the heck is so funny?” Silence. I’d said that. Shouted that. Even I couldn’t believe it. Something changed in the air, a few of the men looked to each other, nodded, then one got up and made his way over. I downed what was left in my glass and prepared to die but then this fellow reached out to shake my hand. I accepted. “How’a’ya? Name’s Thomas Comiskey.” I introduced myself, folded my arms and said – “well, care to explain the source of merriment?”. Someone scoffed in the corner. Thomas looked at me earnestly, like one would at a relative when doling out some heartbreaking information. “Sorry to tell ya, lad, but if y’say who y’said is yer granny then I’m sorry t’have ta tell ya that yer granny was a hewer. Didn’t mean t’laugh, just thought y’knew the local legend and was tryin’ to have a laugh with us. No offence meant. Welcome t’Ireland.” He gave me a pat on the back then made for the toilet.
It was the fastest unravelling of a man’s family tree since Cain and Abel hit their teens, looked over at Adam and Eve and said “huh?”. Of course all I had was this man’s word to go by but the fact that most of those present wouldn’t look me in the eye for the next ten minutes spoke volumes. Someone broke the ice and told me that I should have a pint, not a glass. I guess I laughed but honestly can’t remember. I was supposed to be the exotic foreigner, full of mystery, bringing awe and wonder to a small island full of old fashioned brogue and tradition. Instead I’d been transformed into the most common, ignorant, son-of-the-daughter-of-a-whore within an hour of hitting the family turf.
Whatever it is about returning to the places your roots sprouted, I noticed a change in myself that evening which evolved into a compulsion which then spawned a hunger. I started to drink pretty darn hard. After three days I had frequented every bar in the town at least twice and had been thrown out of half at least once. Turns out I had a “real taste for a drop” as the locals put it. I didn’t eat much, the Guinness usually lined the stomach well but the consequence of this inaction was a lack of very many memories. I get the occasional flashback – urinating into the gas tank of a tractor, chasing sheep, running downhill blind and getting tangled up in barbed wire, having my face punched in by some farmer and being berated by the local law, a stocky, short cop with a penchant for twisting my balls while making idle threats – he didn’t have a gun so his countless warning fell on deaf ears. By the fifth day I was unrecognizable, a black and blue, wild, roving mess, stinking of body odor and alcohol. Logic and reason were gone but I somehow ended up back at my hotel, starving.
I’d paid up-front for the week which included bed and breakfast. A moment of clarity reminded me that the hotel hadn’t fed me once to date and so I protested and demanded all of the breakfasts I’d missed in the last five days immediately. The owner’s wife brought me a monstrous plate heaped with what I estimate at ten sausages, five chunky bacon strips, five eggs, five fried tomatoes, ten pieces of pudding – five white, five black (good shit) – a can of beans, maybe fifteen chopped mushrooms, a toasted loaf of bread and two pots of tea. I dug in. Not only was it the tastiest meal I ever ate, but about an hour after finishing I dropped the greatest shit of my life and returned to the bar a new man, with a new hunger – the hunger for some Irish lovin’.
Somewhere in the region of my ninth pint of the night I struck up conversation with a young filly and after another three pints, and having lost the sense of sight, instinct suddenly kicked in and I came to with her pinned up against the wall of the bar and my tongue dripping translucent saliva from the corner of my mouth. She was embarrassed but led me out by the hand. My face made the acquaintances of the coat rack, the door jamb and then the outer wall of the pub as I tried to figure out how these rubber legs I’d inherited worked. As it turned out I’d chosen the easiest mark in town, probably a relative knowing my luck, and was soon lying next to her in a stack of hay. I couldn’t understand a word she said with that thick fuckin’ accent but started into the motions hoping that’d shut her up.
I imagined that at some point my own relatives had probably been laid in this very same barn. It was a suicidal thought which led to my mother’s face, then my grandmother’s face in the throes of pleasure. Blood rushed from my nether regions, up into my suddenly disturbed stomach then hit full speed and raced for my head and sent me into a dizzy spin. My filly playfully punched me in the gut to get my attention. Bad move. The vault was unlocked and I spewed left, right and center. I covered my date and myself in equal measure with the undigested remnants of that epic breakfast marinated in Guinness and whisky. Her screaming alerted what turned out to be her parents, both adept at inflicting pain with shovels and spades. As it turned out, Daddy was the local cop who I’d managed to incense countless times over the past few days.
Balls in a twist I was dragged and thrown into the back of his cop car, taken to the airport, handed my passport, my plane ticket and a bottle of holy water, which I was told was the only thing that’d prevent the plane I was on being struck from the sky by a bolt of lightning. I was covered in vomit and, trying to remember my name as I approached the check-in desk, soiled my slacks – it was only when they asked for my passport that it clicked that my effort had been a costly and unfortunate waste of brain function.
Six hours later, back on home soil, I was placed in a decontamination chamber as part of US quarantine protocol and berated by a guy I went to high school with who was now working with homeland security and had received notification of US deportation from Ireland. When he finally stopped reminding me how disgraceful my representation of citizens of the US of A had been he asked what had happened to me over there. All I had was, “Leprechauns. Fuckin’ leprechauns.” In the sorriest state of my life I failed to hail a cab and began the long, sobering walk home, revisiting the few memory entries that had returned of my week of debauchery and carefree insanity. By the time I reached home a smile had found it’s way back onto my face and I could think only one thing – Ireland fucking rules, man.