Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bathroom Monologue: Wealth is Wasted on the Rich, OR, Friends are Wasted on the Happy, OR, Humor is Wasted on the Humorous

Jovie was the Gambino family’s favorite customer. For years Papa Gambino had invited Jovie to the bar for complimentary drinks, and they would stay up laughing and getting plastered long after closing time. Jovie was such a fixture in the restaurant that Papa Gambino’s friends recognized him by the back of his head (in contrast, most of them didn’t even know Gambino’s daughters’ names).

One night when the bar was particularly packed with Papa Gambino’s friends, Jovie told the story of how he first came to the restaurant.

“I’d just moved into town, since all the real estate was so cheap. My wife and I were starving, having driven all day on nothing but gas station candy. We unpacked all her clothes, all her paintings, all her majesty’s bath utilities – the woman has no end of things for which I have no beginning. Our cupboards were bare, and so were our nerves. We drove by this shopping center and saw the grocery store closed. On either side were these two little rinky-dink places: one Italian, one Chinese. I asked the wife what mood she was in, and she said she was in the mood for whatever was closer. Fortunately we entered on the left, so it was Italian. We went in and within minutes I was gabbing with this guy,” Jovie smacked Papa Gambino on the back. “So many years of sitting in this place and chatting. If we’d gone to the other place, everything would have been different!”

Papa Gambino’s friends hooted with laughter until Maria Gambino, Papa’s middle daughter, asked, “How would things have been different?”

For the first time in her life, everyone stared at Maria for something other than her chest. It was a still an uncomfortable moment.

Then Jovie exclaimed, “I would have learned Chinese!”

The bar erupted in laughter. Stoolie almost threw up for laughing so hard. The only time they laughed harder that night was when they taught Jovie how to say, “I would have learned Chinese” in Italian.

Jovie’s wife never came down to the restaurant. Papa Gambino’s daughters understood why.

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