Chapter 51 – Big Mac Serves Up a Lotta Whoppers
Back when my family had moved to the Edison Park neighborhood of Chicago when I was in second grade, one of the first friends I made was my buddy Mac. Right away, I could tell that Mac had been unlike all the other kids I used to play with at my old school. Even though he’d been one of the smartest kids in the class who knew every answer to every question asked by the teachers and would later go on to dominate at interscholastic “Quiz Bowl” events, his piss-poor behavior and dog-shit grades often overshadowed his undervalued intellectual prowess.
Mac was one of those dudes who, unlike many of his classmates to whom scholastic performance remained something of utmost importance, would put the laughter and entertainment of his contemporaries first and foremost even if it meant getting in trouble with the authorities and/or sacrificing his body. Whereas the time my schoolyard chum stood in front of the Wendy’s drive-thru window blocking fast-food traffic while sticking his finger down his throat and throwing up in front of people awaiting their burgers highlights this behavior quite well, the best example I can think of had been back in high school when Mac would fake a fall and roll down the library stairs almost every day during his and my lunch period.
From the second to the first floor, with each rib, pelvis and shoulder-bruising bump, he’d let out painful moans, groans and shouts that pierced the study hall’s mandatory silence like a fishhook through the cheek of some masochistic weirdo. I’d often be treated to this ludicrous display which served as a nice little study break from one of the tables on the first floor where I liked to get a jumpstart on my homework. Before he’d even rounded the corner and came into sight, I could always tell what was going on by the familiar sounds as the echoes made their way down from the floor above. Inevitably, after she’d grown wise to the act and could see there was nothing accidental about it, the downstairs librarian whose job it was to keep the peace would chase Mac out and refer him over to the dean’s office for reprimanding. But not even that could deter this kid from his self-sacrificing style of scholastic anarchy and the disruptive tumbles continued until he was ultimately asked to leave Loyola Academy.
Although my buddy’s I’ll-do-anything-you-dare-me-to-do demeanor had led him to do some hilarious things over the years, my favorite of his tendencies was not his habitual role as the village prank monkey. To me, nothing was better than sitting back and enjoying the details of a nice juicy whopper of a tale spawned by Mac’s twisted imagination – a few of which over the years led me to believe that he couldn’t have been more full o’ shit if he’d been attached to an IV filled with diarrhea.
Back when we were in Mrs. Carroll’s second grade class, Mac and I hit it off thanks to our shared interest of drawing people in their underwear. At the time, the Chicago Bulls had been in the process of “repeating the 3-peat” and during most of the games which were all but mandatory for us to watch, Genuine Jockey commercials had been quite popular and we thought it was the funniest thing in the world that they’d actually broadcast on television scenes with people wearing nothing but their skivvies. As such, whenever we’d get free time in class, we’d spend it making marker and colored-pencil renderings of Michael Jordan, Phil Jackson and the rest of the Bulls in their tighty-whities and laugh about it for hours on end. Through this borderline homosexual bonding experience, Mac and I became fast friends.
One day I decided to have Mac over after school for a playdate. As kids, one of my and my brother’s favorite activities at my household had been playing baseball on the front lawn. So with Mac over, the three of us did just that. Keep in mind that Mac and I had been about eight-years-old and my brother only six.
When we played front yard baseball, the middle of the three concrete squares leading from the sidewalk to my house had been home plate. When facing my humble abode, the rest of the field had been on the properties of my neighbors to the right. The big tree along the street in front of my next-door neighbor Bernie’s house was first base, a concrete square situated similarly to the one in front of my house between Bernie’s crib and the sidewalk had been second base and since there was nothing else usable there when we moved in, holes that we ripped in Bernie’s lawn served as third base and the pitcher’s mound, respectively.
To the right of Bernie’s property had been the Stefan’s house. The entirety of their front lawn had been surrounded by thigh-high bushes that served as a perfect homerun fence for our field. We really couldn’t have asked for a better setup. The only thing not-so-perfect about it at the time Mac had been over were the political signs that my neighbors had placed on their lawns to show support for their candidates of choice in the upcoming election for what I believe had been state’s attorney. These often got in the way of ground balls and low liners that otherwise might’ve been extra base hits. One popular candidate that year whose sign repeatedly interrupted our game was a guy named Dick Devine.
After about an hour or so of bopping around a tennis ball using one of those fat-barreled orange whiffle bats that were oh-so-popular back in the day, the three of us eventually slowed down and took a break to drink some lemonade and eat some of the Keebler royal stripe cookies that my mom had set out for us on our old-ass wooden porch. Sometime during this otherwise G-rated afternoon of little kid fun, Mac decided to hijack the conversation and subsequently torment my brother.
“Hey Danny,” he said with a mouthful of mashed-up, brown-colored cookie bullshit, “guess what?”
“What?” my brother squeaked back.
“Since I know you guys just moved here and all, I’m gonna tell you a secret about the neighborhood, okay?”
“Did you know that there’s a molester around here named Devine’s Dick?”
“You don’t?” he stuffed another cookie in his face. “Aw, well, there is. Do you know why that molester is called Devine’s Dick?”
“Okay, well, they call him Devine’s Dick because he likes to go around the neighborhood cutting off little kid’s dicks,” Mac said in the spookiest voice he could muster. “You do know what a dick is, don’t you?”
“It’s your wiener. Your pee-pee. The thing right here,” he said while grabbing his own crotch. “And you know what he likes to do after he cuts your dick off?”
“No…” my brother looked like he was about to start crying.
“He likes to put them in jars and hide them under the porches of people’s houses.”
“Yeah, really. Especially porches like the one we’re standing on right now. I bet if you go down and look under there, you’ll find a whole bunch of jars with little kid’s dicks floating around in there that Devine’s Dick has been hiding over the years.”
My brother had nightmares for weeks following the first outrageous tale I’d ever heard Mac tell. Throughout our developmental years, like menstruation, the stories periodically flowed from Mac’s mouth and had the tendency to disgust anyone not used to being exposed to those sorts of secretions had they somehow found their way into your eardrums. In no particular order, those that stand out to me among all the fibs, fables and myths imparted by a younger version of my buddy are as follows.
“Hey Teresa, (to my sister who’s seven years younger than us about the father of one of her kindergarten classmates) did you know that Mr. Burgos likes to kill neighborhood cats and eat them?…Derf (our grade school gym coach with a legendary cleft chin) spreads his chin cheeks for horny men who like to pound his face. He calls it ‘chinal sex’…Bart (our assistant grade school gym coach) drives dead bodies around in his station wagon and then takes ‘em home, puts make-up on ‘em and has sex with ‘em in his garage…Mr. Rapp (our former principal) had to leave the school because he got caught giving a blow job to another man in the forest preserve…Don’t go in that backyard, that’s The Cannibal’s house – he’ll cut off your dick and eat it right in front of you…Do you remember Chris, that kid who left school in third grade? Yeah, I heard he got called to the office that one random day, left school and never returned because his dad got caught standing on a ladder, masturbating to the little fat-ass ten-year-old girl next door while she was in the shower and they all had to skip town before he was thrown in jail…See that one right there? That’s The Goon’s house. She’s a wrinkly old bitch that’s over a hundred-years-old and lives there with her daughter, Goon Joon (junior). One time when I was ding-dong ditching their house, The Goon and Goon Joon kicked open the door and started shooting guns at me as I ran away.”
I remember one time in high school American History class, we’d been given an assignment to make historical newspapers that were to be about three-to-four pages long and were to cover the specific time period as assigned by our teacher. Since we were bros and sat right by each other, Mac and I ended up pairing off and were assigned the 1896 presidential election between William McKinley and William Jennings Bryan which we’d learned about a few weeks beforehand. The lesson had largely been centered around William McKinley’s famous “front porch campaign.” Whereas Jennings Bryan had traveled around the country giving speeches and trying to win the favor of the public, it’s written in history books that McKinley stayed in his hometown talking to visitors that came to see him and making speeches to over 700,000 supporters that’d pilgrimaged to his house in Canton, Ohio. Although unorthodox, this strategy worked for McKinley and he ended up winning the election.
Mac and I figured that our teacher would want our newspaper assignment to revolve around the front porch campaign but other than that, we didn’t know what type of material with which to fill the rest of the pages. Unlike Mac, I was a good student back in the day but I too liked to goof off and was easily swayed by a partner who really couldn’t have given less of a shit about the grade he got on that project. So, after making the front page a serious one about McKinley, we decided to make the rest of the newspaper into a tabloid about cross-dressing politicians, cow-branding competitions and other things of the like. My favorite of these sensationalized articles – and the one that’d probably earned us the horseshit grade we got – had been about how, “While William McKinley had been winning over the public with his inspirational ‘front porch campaign,’ William Jennings Bryan had been caught late last weekend trying to run a top-secret ‘backdoor action campaign’ whereupon he was discovered by his wife having anal sex with three other naked men in the master bedroom of his Nebraska home.”
As I sat there sipping beers, watching the cockfights at Makati Coliseum in Manila, I looked around the arena which had been packed to capacity with Filipinos shouting bets and realized that I’d been the only white guy in the entire place. This feeling of being the extreme minority, of being racially secluded and sticking out so blatantly amongst the crowd had been a feeling that triggered the memory of one of my favorite Mac stories from back in the day.
It was junior year of high school on a Saturday night during one of your typical cold-as-dick Chicago winters. I’d been hanging out in the passenger seat of my buddy Kel’s shitty old tan-colored Ford, cruising around the northwest side when I got a call from Mac.
“Hey, yo, come pick me up from the gas station at Harlem and Northwest Highway. I’ll explain later – just come get me.”
When Kel pulled into the gas station, Mac had been shivering out in the cold without any pants on. In his plaid boxers, he ran up to the car and jumped in the unoccupied backseat.
“It’s fuckin’ cold out there!” he said, using his hands to rub his thighs as the booze on his breath whacked us in the front seat.
“Yeah, no shit dude. Where are your pants?”
“Oh, you’re not gonna believe this,” he began and I believed that I wasn’t gonna believe whatever it was he was about to tell me. “So like, you know how Loyola had the big hockey game tonight, right?”
“Okay. Well, I got really drunk beforehand and it turns out I was way too fucked up to pay attention to the game. Everyone was really enthusiastic, everyone had their faces painted and everyone was cheering and shit like that but I couldn’t get into it. In fact, I didn’t give a shit about it at all and as I was just sitting there, I began looking around the crowd when I spotted this midget.”
“Hold on, let me impart the tale. You asked where my pants are, I’m trying to tell you.”
“Alright, fine. Go ahead.”
“Okay. So, I see this midget in the crowd and uh, you know, obviously I couldn’t let his presence go unnoticed by everyone, so I started a chant that went like this, ‘Miiiiiiiiiiiiidge-it! Miiiiiiiiiiiiiidge-it! Miiiiiiiiiiiiiidge-it! Miiiiiiiiiiiiiidge-it!’”
“Yeah. And you know, it caught on a little and everyone who I showed up drunk with in our section all started chanting along with me.
“So then after that one died down, I began looking around for other people I could start chants about. A few minutes later I spotted a retard in the crowd and decided to get it going again. The ‘retard’ chant turned out to be more popular than the ‘midget’ chant and this time the whole section joined in. Everybody was going ‘Reeeeeeeeeeeeee-tard! Reeeeeeeeeeeeee-tard! Reeeeeeeeeeeeee-tard! Reeeeeeeeeeeeee-tard!’
“Oh God,” he said. “It was so great.”
“Yeah, it sounds pretty great. I’m interested to see how the missing pants fit into the story.”
“Have some patience. I’m getting to it,” he assured. “So, a little bit after that one went away, I got bored again and started searching the crowd for inspiration. While looking around I spotted a black guy about ten rows in front of me. Since it was a hockey game, it was pretty obvious that he was the only black guy there so I felt a ‘black guy’ chant would be perfect. So I started it up again, ‘Blaaaaaaaaaaaaaack guy! Blaaaaaaaaaaaaaack guy! Blaaaaaaaaaaaaaack guy! Blaaaaaaaaaaaaaack guy!’ I was shouting at the top of my lungs.
“The ‘black guy’ chant was an instant success. First everyone I was with started chanting ‘Blaaaaaaaaaaaaaack guy! Blaaaaaaaaaaaaaack guy!’ Then the whole section started going ‘Blaaaaaaaaaaaaaack guy! Blaaaaaaaaaaaaaack guy!’ And then next thing you know the entire Loyola half of the crowd joined in on the ‘black guy’ chant. But that wasn’t it,” he said with a fiery look in his eyes. “Soon enough, everyone in the entire crowd was all chanting at the black guy.”
“Dude, come on.”
“No, this is how it happened. And then that wasn’t even it. Once the refs and the players heard what we were chanting, they stopped the game and all turned their attention towards the one black guy in the crowd and joined in on the chant. There had to be at least five-thousand people surrounding the one black guy just repeatedly chanting, ‘Blaaaaaaaaaaaaaack guy! Blaaaaaaaaaaaaaack guy! Blaaaaaaaaaaaaaack guy!’ over and over while waving their arms back and forth the way people in the crowd at Atlanta Braves games do the Tomahawk Chop. It was so insane.
“So, as everyone’s busy yelling, ‘Black guy! Black guy!’ I threw in a couple extra lines so it sounded like this. ‘Blaaaaaaaaaaaaaack guy! Blaaaaaaaaaaaaaack guy! How much are his shoes!? Blaaaaaaaaaaaaaack guy! Blaaaaaaaaaaaaaack guy! More than his hou-ouse! Blaaaaaaaaaaaaaack guy! Blaaaaaaaaaaaaaack guy!”
“Shut up,” I interrupted. “You’re a joke dude. Just tell us what happened to your pants.”
“Alright, fine. So once they resumed the game after the ‘black guy’ chant had finally subsided, I couldn’t find anyone else who I wanted to single out and make fun of. It was boring as hell so I decided to take my pants off and throw ‘em on the ice to further interrupt the game. Since I was the only guy without pants on in the crowd, security had no problem figuring out who’d thrown ‘em and I got kicked out. And even though they didn’t give me my pants back, I still feel that it was worth it and stand by my decision to strip down ‘n’ toss ‘em.”