That One Time I Was From Brooklyn

A long time ago I had a job at a clothing store. It wasn’t the most exciting place. And it’s that feeling of immersing yourself in the mundane – that hollow sinking feeling in your chest you get when you know you’re repeatedly doing something so dull and worthless – that’s the theme I really want to impart on you going forward with this little tale of sex, fake accents, and adapting to boredom.

Before we begin, let me offer a note to the prudent: it is advisable, under all circumstances of heightened anxiety, to find brief moments in which to reflect upon oneself and ones actions with humor. If you’ve read my other adventures you’re well aware that I would quite literally be dead if it were not for that skill with regards to the whims of Lady Fate. I don’t mean that you should insulate yourself with humor. That sort of practiced misapplication is the failing of so many a Pagliacci – ridi del duol, che t’avvelena il cor. Robin Williams strikes me as a decent example. Hiding behind a shroud of humor but never truly laughing at  himself; and upon the murdering of his Nedda, in his unrequited and masked pain, the comedy is finally finished. No, do not follow in the footsteps of those petulant fools – turn upon the self, engage what demons face you, consume them, welcome them, banish them, or allow them to disappear into the darkness like poor Silvio. Yet in each case, reflect upon the self so as to find some joy, some comedy (divine or otherwise), in your action.

Back to the story. I had gotten the job under pressure. I was young, still living with my parents, and was informed by them that I was spending far too time not being productive. I was, in fact, planning on being a drug dealer or finding some way to join a gang of assassins all whilst teaching myself to deal blackjack and learn early-Freudian hypnosis techniques (apparently Freud was an amateur on the subject by the way), but I’m sure guarded behavior and almost fervent secrecy did not appear “productive” to them. So I went to the mall, found a store that had some pretty girls working there, and applied for a job.

When I was called in for my interview the room in which it was being conducted was obnoxiously loud. The music at the store had two volume settings: cacophonous roar and mosquito-buzzing-around-your-ear. Both were irritating. The point was that I didn’t think they could really hear me, I could barely hear me. I made up a bunch of nonsense about my nonexistent qualifications and confirmed my list of mostly fake references. Upon the interview concluding they thanked me for my time (at least I think that’s what they yelled over the noise), told me they’d be in touch soon, and I quickly got out of that godforsaken music box.

Upon arriving home I called a friend of mine. He was sort of jokester himself, and after regaling him with the ears pains I had suffered, the absurdity of the situation, and the boring work I’d be doing; he suggested I just be someone else for fun. I liked the idea. There actually was some rationale behind my friend’s suggestion.

You see I’ve always been extraordinarily good at accents and voices. I participated in a talent show when I was nine because I was so convinced I could emulate Ace Ventura, do the voice of Bart Simpson, Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Tweety Bird, Sylvester the Cat, and Louie Anderson (who had a cartoon in the mid-90’s for some reason). Nowadays my skills are better honed. I once tried to count the number of voices and accents I could do convincingly. If memory serves, I ended up with a total of eighty or so (over one hundred if I count my sub-par ones). The point of all this is I was good enough to pass myself off as someone else, and both my friend and I agreed it would substantially more entertaining than plodding around some clothing store and greeting customers in my normal fashion.

After giving it some thought, I ultimately settled on a token Italian-American Brooklynite. An odd choice I realize, but I can pass for Italian with my looks, I spoke a little Italian, and it was one of my favorite accents (gruff, fast, smooth, and all while still being plausible). In hindsight I should’ve done more research on my chosen identity. I tried this stunt as an Irishman years later; I did substantially more research though and I had much different results. Needless to say, my choice of a Brooklyn façade was born more out of sense of enjoyment for the accent than any concrete research.

Every work day I’d walk to the mall and practice saying two things in my thick Brooklyn accent, “Genoa salami” and “You got a problem with me?”. The former was like oil grease for the tongue, it was my morning coffee relative to that accent. The latter was just tricky to say and my cadence was consistently off; it’d make my tongue and the sides of my mouth sore if I said it quickly enough. I figured building up those muscles was a good way to have the accent feel and sound more natural.

Did people know I was faking an accent? Probably. I mean, for Christ sake, I didn’t have one in my interview. But it was so hard to hear anything, and I took a gamble by assuming no one noticed me early on. Of course one gal seemed to – a feisty and attractive girl named Marya. She accused me of faking my accent twice, which made things quite a bit more entertaining and added a bit of challenge to the whole project. I intentionally tried to make her look like she was insane in front of our fellow co-workers. I’d mock her own accent, pretend to drop my accent for a brief moment, and jokingly accusing her of being attracted to me and not wanting to face her feelings. She looked infuriated most of the time. Poor girl – she was the only sane one in that boring little store. Hopefully I added some spice to her life as well.

For whatever reason women found my belligerent accent, swarthy appearance, and general bravado alluring. I made it game to see how many phone numbers I could get from attractive women coming into the store (Record: twelve over the course of the day). The next game was to see how many of them I could convince to invite me into their dressing room (Record: four over the course of day, but I count one double because two girls were sharing a dressing room – a beautiful French girl named Elan and her bosomy blonde friend). In retrospect I’m sure that would’ve been an HR disaster had anyone found out. Perhaps my actions were just downright illegal. In my defense I present the aphorism: all is fair in love and war.

Perhaps that truism isn’t all that true actually. At some point I met a gorgeous girl named Amber. Taught body, creamy skin, perky breasts – the whole thing. She was twenty-six; older than I was. For whatever reason she fell in love with me. She wanted to have lunch together all the time, go to movies, she’d even buy me little gifts. I soon learned that she was the estranged wife of an NFL Defensive Tackle. A smarter lad would’ve taken that to be a sign of danger or at least have taken pause to assess the relational quandary or their own moral apprehension. Ah, but I was not a smart lad at that time.

She invited me over for a threesome with her and her friend at midnight on a Thursday. She said her friend made the best waffles. Perhaps I took the offer, perhaps I declined. Who’s to say these days? What I will state is that I was genuinely terrified at the prospect of her yet-to-be-divorced husband eating me alive so the relationship never blossomed into anything I would’ve considered meaningful. She was the Nedda to my Silvio. What fun that was in such a boring place.

Sometime later I met a girl in the dressing room named Katie. She was a lovely, physically “gifted”, blonde girl. If you’ll pardon me a crass comment: her oral skills were second-to-none. I still met other girls in front of the dressing rooms of course – remember kids, it’s about keeping you options open at that age. But I liked Katie. We ended up dating, which as you might imagine posed a problem when it came to honesty in our relationship. She was thoroughly convinced I was from Brooklyn, and by this point I had even developed a backstory (my New York address was somewhere between where 12th and Rudgy hit Avenue H, right near Brooklyn College – to date I have no idea if it was a real place).

The guilt wasn’t really overwhelming, so I kept it going for another month or two. When I finally told her the “truth” she took a week and then broke up with me. I was actually pretty upset believe it or not. We, in word only, got back together later – we never really saw each other after that. You can only cheat on Lady Fate for so long, I suppose.

Oh, and I was eventually fired from my job, but just because I went to jail and then a mental institution – not because of all the gross sexual misconduct. Of course given that juxtaposition of locations, maybe the clothing store was an exciting place after all.

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