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Peter Banks

 

 

 

Death-ra and the Mustachioed Man

 

One of my friends from college whom I will call Nomad for the purposes of this story, is dating an uptight, snooty lady.  She poops but once in a blue moon and will eat nothing but caviar and surf and turf. Okay, this is not entirely true.  I am merely trying to convey to you the tight lipped-tight-fisted, conservative nature of this woman, whom for purposes here I will call Death-Ra. 

            You see Nomad and I made a bet about two days ago to see which one of us could go the longest without shaving his mustache.  What, you say, are two twenty-eight year old men having such a ridiculous bet for?  Shouldn’t they have grown such facial hair when they were in college?  Won’t their careers be affected by brandishing such follicular audacity?  If you are asking yourself these questions, you are a fascist like Death-Ra. Apparently she expressed some uncertainty to Nomad when he told her about the contest.  I myself was not present for the conversation, but my friend told me later that there was a plate thrown at his head over the bet.

            Fortunately for Nomad, he does not fight. It’s also lucky for him that she is head over heels in love with him.  They’ve been dating for about nine months now, and I get the sneaking suspicion that she wants to marry him.  Well, that’s fine with me, but Jesus Christ, let us go through with the contest. 

I'm on the phone with him, and he told me just now that he really laid into her (bullshit), particularly when she said that she would not be seen in public with him as long as he wore the mustache.  She told him that he looks like Alex Trebek with it.  I’m not sure where she’s getting that name from, since his skin is so thoroughly pasty, that he is almost translucent.  She says that she can’t imagine sharing a bed with a gameshow host.  Gameshow host, I said, she wishes.  Nomad doesn’t have a job at the moment. 

It is evening and Nomad wants to leave the apartment for a little relief from the bitch.  He says that he wants to go to a bar and perhaps further discuss this mustache competition.  Fine, I say, let us go meet at the Glaring Moon. 

“No way, man, because I think she might go there.”

“So what?”

“Man, I’m trying to get away from her for a few hours.”

“Well, we can just go there and sit and have a drink and if she comes in, just ignore her.”

“Jay,” he says to me, “ I practically live with this woman.  I can’t ignore her.”

“Well, if you want to pay her any attention take her into the bathroom and donkey punch her.”

“Donkey what?’

“See it’s when you stick your…”

“I don’t like where this is going.”

“Fine, but my point is, you don’t have to talk to her if you don’t want to.  She can’t control your entire life.”

“Of course she can’t,” he says unconvincingly.

 

We meet at the Glaring Moon, a repulsive dive bar that is simply delightful.  It smells like urine, the drinks are watered down, and the bartenders are all fifty year old floosies.  It’s not the type of place where one goes to see paparazzi or the stars, Senators, Congressmen, etc.  It is more the place one might go if one were just out of prison, or had won $20 in the lottery or were perhaps in the throes of a crack cocaine addiction.  The cracked concrete floor is littered with cigarette butts.  A third world flea market seems the primary supplier of card tables and folding chairs that pass for furniture.  The bar itself appears to be made of cork board that has been haphazardly scotch taped together.  I'm not sure why I love it so much. 

The drunks at the bar are well into their 14th or 15th drink of the evening as Nomad and I walk in.  We take a seat and order up some lavish cocktails.

“Now wait a second,” the bar tender croons at our request, “did you say you wanted two martinis?”

“Of course.”

“I only make drinks with two ingredients, nothing more.  Or we have beer.  That’s nice and cold.”
            “But….oh, just give us two Bud’s,” my companion moans in disapproval. 

The Glaring Moon makes me feel so wonderful.  I look around at the depravity, the poor drunkards who can barely see what they are doing to themselves, their bodies wriggling about in manic disapproval of life.  They are all unshaven in that predictable Hollywood way.  I sigh, thinking that we have ended up in some torrid Bukowski story and will end up murdering and sleeping with the bartender. 

“So, you didn’t tell me how you think my mustache is coming in?”  He makes a face, pushing his upper lip down from his nose so that I can get a better inspection of the bumps above his mouth.

“Well, let me put it this way, I can see more nose hair than I can hair on your upper lip.”

“Death-Ra (obviously this is not what he calls her, I am just trying to protect her identity) told me that I look like Alex Trebeck.”

“I know, you told me, and you made it seem like she thought it was something derogatory.”

“Yeah, but Alex Trebeck is better than…”  He pauses dramatically

“What?”

“Yosemite Sam.” 

“What?”  Was she just throwing out names of random people, both real and fictional who have mustaches?

“Yeah, I didn’t tell you that part.”

 “Shit,” I decry, “this is a far more serious situation than I previously thought.  Perhaps you should take evasive action.  You could start by having intercourse with one of these lovely young trollops.”  I give him a Groucho Marx with the eyebrows.

“Will you lower your voice?”

I take a swill from my beer and order a low shelf bourbon on the rocks.

“Certainly,” I say even louder.  No one is paying attention anyway.  They’re all plastered, sitting there with these pathetic looks on their faces, as though they’re just contemplating the piss poor hand that life had dealt them. 

“So, how long do you think you can go?”

“With what?”

“With the goddamned mustache.  What the fuck have we been talking about?”

“I don’t know, I was just thinking that maybe I should go home and see Death-ra.”

“Man, you don’t want to go home and see your girlfriend.”

The absolutely worst part about Death-ra, beyond her natural, effervescent bitchiness is the fact that she is a Republican.  She has no shame in admitting that there is not an ounce of compassion in her entire body.  From the first day I had been introduced to her I had been aware of her sheer love for money.  I think that she often fingers herself with a twenty dollar bill wrapped around her digit.  All she wants to do is consume, consume, consume.  A well bred capitalist she is.  Whenever she sees homeless people on the street, she instinctively spits on them.  She is even known to send death-threats to charities, particularly those that tried to help impoverished people of color.  But my mind is wandering as Nomad is trying to tell me something about Death-ra being the love of his life.

“Yeah, that’s terrible.”

“What that I love her?”

“My mistake,” I say, “I thought you said that you had to fry toe fur.”

“What?”

“Forget it.” 

The bartender approaches us with her big bouffant, trailer of a hair do, and roller applied make-up to tell us that we must move because there is a meeting taking place imminently.

“And what pray tell type of group would choose to meet in an establishment of this caliber?”  I inquire.

“Donkey puncher’s anonymous,” says the aged whore.

“Are you kidding?”

“No, you’d be surprised at the number of people who love to be donkey punched.  I used to be a member myself until I was introduced to the Hot Karl.”

“What in the hell are you people talking about?  Jay, you never told me what a donkey punch is.  And Hot Karl?”

“I’m kidding hon, we’re not having any sort of self-help group.  We’re just expecting a big party coming in.” 

“And someone actually called ahead to make sure that there is space?”

“No, I’m just kidding.  I just wanted you guys to move because you’re blocking the television over there.”  She is pointing a bony, misshapen finger past us and towards an old black and white television sitting in the corner that looks like it might have been a prototype in the field.  The picture is speckled with gray fuzz and a pair of bent rabbit ears are donning its top. 

“Have you heard of the 21st century?  Satellite tv?  Cable television even?  It appears that you have been left in the post-modern era.”

“Don’t get smart with me.  I don’t have to serve you any drinks.  I’m just trying to watch a re run of Cops.  My younger brother is supposed to be on this week.”

“No doubt one of the criminals.”

“Listen, I don’t need any shit from a couple of queers with matching mustaches.”

There is no comeback.  I order another drink and look away from Nomad for a moment into the sea of alcoholism.  I do not turn when I hear the door open, but I can tell by the sickly sweet smell of a fragrance created by some clothes manufacturer, that Death-ra is in our presence.  Her heels click the cement floor in an annoying rhythmic cha-cha-cha, and I hear her exclaim surprise at our presence.  As though she is stupid enough to think that we were going somewhere else.

“Hello Jay,” the conservative vixen hisses.  My eyes, before wandering towards hers stop for a moment on her curves, hips, then pointy breasts.  She knows what I am doing and she enjoys every single minute of it.

“Evening Death-ra, I’m glad to see that you’re just as evil as ever.” 

“Jesus, you’re an ass,” Nomad says in an astonishing defense of his ice queen.

I finish my second drink with utter disregard for my job the next day and order another.  As long as I am drinking, I will be able to handle Death-ra’s worldly misconceptions.  The bartender is giving me a look somewhere between utter contempt and seduction.  I cannot really tell the difference between the two.  Perhaps an amorous adventure with an older woman will do me some good.

“You look very handsome with that mustache, Jay,” Death-ra is mocking me with her DKNY sensibilities.

“I’m really just trying to emulate your mother.  She’s got that handle bar thing going on and I think it’s kind of styling.” 

She is looking at me now with great hatred.  Nomad I am seeing is rubbing his hand on her leg trying to soothe her, prevent her from engaging in a drag-down all out brawl.  Bring it on I say. 

“Why are you such a dick?” 

“Why are you such a bitch?”

Our eyes lock.  I see the devilish soul.

 “You know, your evilness, this whole thing was his idea,” I am pointing right in Nomad’s face now.

“I just don’t understand why you boys, a, have to do everything together, and b are growing mustaches, they’re disgusting.”

“Your sense of humor is simply divine.  I can assume that you think that we are taking this little competition seriously.  Nothing could be further from the truth.”

“Then why are you doing it?”

“For style.  For kicks.”  I pause to sip my drink.  “Because we fucking want to.  Jesus Nomad, are you going to say anything or are you going to sit there with that look of excruciating pain?  Help me out man.  What have we been talking about?”

Nomad is looking like he wants to get up and run away and not have to deal with any of this.  He cannot handle conflict, and particularly between me and the woman that he loves.  His face looks like a giant sore rubbed repeatedly with salt, flushed with the blood of his embarrassment and uncertainty. Repeated thoughts run through my head of not talking to this person anymore if he should continue to appease her.

“Why,” I begin, “must every action taken be considered with regard to style?  Why should I worry about growing a mustache?  Is it solely that it is unattractive, which I must admit, it is.  I would be a neurotic mess if I sat around worrying about wardrobe and hair issues.  If you are worried about it, fine, that’s your prerogative.  But please, don’t saturate my young friend’s brain with this shallow rhetoric.” 

Death-ra is revving for a fight.

“People must have control of their personal effects, from shoes to jobs to hair color.  That is why I am trying to train young Nomad here to be a young urban professional.  Not in the negative sense of the word.  He can be a hipster dufus if he wants to be, that’s fine.  I just want him to have a direction, and this mustache simply doesn’t send the right message.”

The waitress brings the bitch over a beer, which she takes a sip from and swirls around in her mouth.  I believe that she could spit it out, much as a boxer does, preparing for round two.  But there is no round two of verbal jousting for a moment, merely cold stares across our mutual friend.  Why I hate conservatives so much is no mystery.  It’s blatantly obvious to anyone with half a brain.

 “Don’t you want to progress anywhere in life?  Or do you want to continue to have stupid little contests with your friends? I don’t understand. You guys aren’t dumb, but you act like complete idiots.”

I can only think of baseball bats and broken skulls at the moment.  She is really getting under my skin with her self-improvement blah, blah, blah. I don’t know why I’m not verbalizing any of this.

“Nomad, take her in the bathroom and donkey punch her.  I have no use for fashion conscious social climbers.  I’ll tell you what, if you release my friend from your soul shackles, I will promise to no longer consider stapling your lips together or pulling your pubic hair out one strand at a time.”

I look at my man Nomad.  There is confusion on his face as his eyes move back and forth between me and Death-ra.

“Of all the…”

“Yes?”
            “Hon,” Nomad says, “let’s go in the bathroom so I can hee haw in your
corn hole.”

 

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