Letter From Milo: Gin Mill

May 19th, 2019

It’s terribly sad when a person loses the place he loves above all others. It’s even worse when a large number of people suffer the same loss.

Right now, there is a group of lost souls on Chicago’s North Side who are walking around with dazed expressions, a little frightened and a bit confused, like homeless people pushing shopping carts in the middle of a cold snap.

The reason these people are in such a sad state is that their favorite tavern, their home away from home, is shutting its doors. Now, this may not seem like much of a loss to most of you, but to people of a certain time, place and mindset the closing of this particular tavern is nothing less than a catastrophe.

This tavern, which I’ll call Swilligan’s, had been around since the early 1970s. It wasn’t much to look at, just a narrow room with a few booths tucked against one wall and perhaps a dozen stools leaning against the bar. To be honest about it, the joint was shabby. The only money the owner ever put into decorating was about 20 bucks a year for new Roach Motels — at least he claimed they were new.

Swilligan’s was located on Lincoln Avenue and it attracted a diverse and eclectic crowd. The regulars included artists, writers, musicans, gamblers, and for a short time, a touring banjo player/clog dancer. Most of the clientele, however, were regular Jills and Joes — carpenters, electricians, factory workers, cab drivers, nurses and teachers, as well as the infrequently employed and the chronically unemployable.

Oddly enough, despite Swilligan’s being a hole-in-the-wall, it attracted the occasional celebrity. Mike Royko would stop in once in a while. Bill Veeck came by to drink beer and talk baseball. The great Hunter Thompson made an appearance whenever he passed though town. The late folksinger, Fred Holstein, tended bar there when money or gigs were scarce.

It must also be admitted that a few drug dealers frequented the place. You could always purchase a little weed or something to fix your nose, if so inclined. The main attraction, however, was alcohol. Most of the regulars were heavy drinkers. In fact, I will go so far as to say that a few of them were world class drinkers. I could put it away pretty well myself in my heyday, until my health began to fail and my knees gave out, but I was always amazed at the amount of booze that some of the boys could handle — on a daily basis.

As I mentioned earlier, most of the customers were regular guys and gals, people who simply enjoyed the tavern life. For some of the regulars it was the only life they knew. For them, Swilligan’s functioned as a living room. It was where they relaxed, met friends, watched TV and entertained. A few even used the place as a mail drop or telephone answering service.

I haven’t spent much time in Swilligan’s in 10 or 15 years. For one thing, my wife never liked the place.

“How come you don’t like Swilligan’s?”

“It’s dirty, it stinks, it filled with low-lifes and losers and every time you go there you get fucked up.”

“So, what’s the problem?”

Whenever I run into an acquaintance from my Swilligan’s days and the subject of the bar’s closing comes up, there is always a palpable sense of sadness in the conversation. It’s as if the loss goes deeper than I could ever imagine. For Swilligan’s regulars, an era has passed, a way of life has gone and won’t be coming back. It’s time to move on. The problem is, where do they move to? How can they recreate what they once had? The short answer is, they can’t.

Dave Van Ronk, the New York City folksinger who passed away a while ago, captured the poignancy of a tavern habitue’s loss perfectly in his wonderful song “Last Call” from his album entitled “Songs for Aging Children.”

And so we’ve had another night
of poetry and poses
and each man knows he’ll be alone
when the sacred gin mill closes.

Sic transit gloria

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Letter From Milo: Bad Judgement

May 12th, 2019

1. I’ve got a friend, let’s call him Joe to spare him any embarrassment, who made it pretty big out in Hollywood. Joe struggled for years before finally finding his niche. He worked as a script reader, tried his hand at acting and failed miserably as a writer before achieving success as a producer.

By way of explanation for you clueless, pathetic losers who aren’t privy to the inside Hollywood shit like I am, the title of “producer” is meaningless. Being a producer is like being a Kentucky Colonel. It’s as much a joke as it is a genuine honorific.

A person doesn’t have to produce anything to be a producer. The only criteria for being a producer is having the audacity to declare yourself one. There must be tens of thousands of people, probably more, calling themselves producers, but only a small fraction of those people have ever actually produced a movie or TV show.

My friend, Joe, is one of the lucky ones. He actually produces films. This is a story about the first film he produced. Against all odds, he ran across a good script, found two bankable actors willing to do it, and rounded up the financing for production.

When it came time to discuss his compensation, the money men offered Joe a flat fee or a piece of the action, whichever he preferred. Now, Joe is no country boy. He is a Chicagoan, born and bred. He understands that making movies is a crapshoot. He also understands that Hollywood bookkeeping is an art form, every bit as creative as writing, painting or musical composition.

Joe opted for a flat fee.

As luck would have it, the movie turned out to be a huge hit, making several hundred million dollars. Had Joe taken a piece of the action, his payday would have been 15 times larger.

The movie did so well that the money men decided to make a sequel. They figured it was a can’t-miss proposition. So did Joe. This time he took a piece of the action. Of course, the sequel turned out to be a huge flop, making about 20 bucks worldwide. Joe claims he didn’t even make expenses.

“The only good thing that came out of it,” Joe explained, “is that now I’m able to produce more movies. You see, making two movies and having one of them be a big hit is an astounding track record in the film business. Now all I have to do is figure out how to make some fucking money.”

2. I have a good friend, let’s call him Bruce Diksas to spare him any embarrassment, who was hanging out in the Pacific Northwest around 1980. He had followed a woman to Seattle in the hope of keeping a romance alive. The woman had enrolled in graduate school and spent most of her days in class or studying, so, Bruce found himself with a lot of time on his hands. And, like any ambitious, industrious, hard-working young man, Bruce decided to spend his free time in one of Seattle’s many legal poker rooms.

Now, Bruce is a pretty good poker player, but, like all of us who enjoy the game, he thinks he’s much better than he really is. He usually lost more than he won. Despite his bad luck, Bruce enjoyed his time at the tables, Playing poker all day was a very pleasant way to pass the time.

One of the main topics of conversation at the tables was a small business located in a storefront across the street from the card room. It seemed that the business was a source of local pride. It was growing rapidly and would soon be going public. A few of the players at the tables discussed the pros and cons of investing in the company, buying a few shares to help out the local boys.

Out of curiosity, Bruce stepped outside to check out the storefront. He was thinking about sinking a few hundred dollars into the company, just for the hell of it. As soon as he saw its name on the storefront window, however, Bruce, knew that the company had no chance of success. It was a stupid name. It made no sense. Shouldn’t a company’s name say what it does? Shouldn’t it at least be catchy, something that sticks in the mind? Why even have a company if you can’t give it a decent name? Any company with a name like that was doomed to failure. He’d be better off investing in lottery tickets.

The company’s name was “Microsoft.”

“I still say it’s a stupid name,” Bruce says to me years later.

“A lot of those internet companies have dumb names,” I reply. “Look at Yahoo or Google.”

Pouring himself another drink, Bruce says, “You’ll notice I didn’t buy any shares in those companies, either.”

3. I’ve got another friend, let’s call him Milo to spare him any embarrassment, who, in the mid 1970s, lived in a coach house on Burling Street just south of Armitage. The neighborhood, in those pre-gentrification days, was still very rough, gang-infested, with run-down buildings everywhere. Milo shared the place with his friends Bruce Diksas and Wayne Gray, and they split the 80 dollars a month rent.

Granted, 80 dollars a month was not a lot of money, even in the 1970s. Still, it was not always easy coming up with the 27 dollars apiece every month. None of the boys worked regularly and what money they scraped up was usually earmarked for drugs and alcohol, and occasionally a greasy hot dog at the Doggie Diner on Armitage.

The property was owned by a retired bartender named John, and he didn’t mind if the boys were late with the rent once in a while. Milo, Bruce and Wayne were a scruffy, eccentric and endlessly entertaining trio, more Stooges than Musketeers. The old barkeep enjoyed their company, joining the boys for backyard cookouts and drinkfests. One of the boys even talked John into smoking his first joint, which, to the old man’s surprise, he enjoyed immensely.

Sadly, John’s health began to fail. He couldn’t take care of the property anymore. Just walking up and down the stairs had become a chore. It was time, he decided, to sell the property and move into the Polish Eagle Nursing Home in Marquette Park.

John offered the property to Milo for $32,000. Think about it. A two-flat with a coach house in the DePaul/Lincoln Park neighborhood for a little over $30,000. Even though he had no money, Milo could have easily purchased the place. As a military veteran he could have taken advantage of the G.I. Bill and bought the property with no money down.

After giving it a little thought, Milo decided NOT to buy the place. When someone asked him why he chose not to buy, Milo haughtily replied, “I’m not into property, man.”

Those five words have haunted Milo for years. The property that he refused to buy for roughly 30K, is now worth in excess of one million dollars.

Sometimes, when Milo tells the story of his lost real estate opportunity, someone will ask, “If you weren’t into property, what exactly were you into?”

Milo always ruefully replies, “At the time, I was into stupidity.”

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Letter From Milo: TV Daze

April 30th, 2019

I’ve been watching a lot of TV during my recovery from surgery. Normally, I would spend more time reading than watching the tube, but my favorite reading position, sitting up with my feet on the coffee table and a glass of wine in my hand, is a bit uncomfortable right now. So, I’m spending a lot of time stretched out on the couch with the remote control in easy reach.

I don’t care for regular television programming — the sitcoms or all the dramas with initials for titles, like CSI, NCIS, SVU, etc. I find them manipulative, formulaic and boring. I don’t even watch the network news anymore. Like many people these days, I get the news from the internet, although I still enjoy reading newspapers on a regular basis.

I also refuse to watch reality programs, MTV, screeching political talking heads, talent shows like American Idol, or anything else that instantly lowers my IQ. Years of self-abuse have left me dangerously low on gray matter. I need to preserve what little sense I’ve got left.

The only television programs I watch anymore are cooking shows, the Discovery, History, Travel and Animal Planet channels, and sports, especially my beloved Bulls. I’ll admit a sneaking fondness for David Letterman, but I suspect it’s probably a matter of one curmudgeon admiring another.

Staring at a TV for days at a time while whacked out on industrial strength pain killers is an experience everyone should have. Watching hyenas pull down a zebra on the Animal Planet, enjoying Nostradamus predict the end of the world on the History Channel, or relishing a heavy-set woman prepare Southern-style pot roast on the Food Network, all while stoned on the finest meds that medical science can offer, is a wonderful way to pass the time. I highly recommend it.

The only problem with being extremely wasted while watching a stew of history, cooking, science, animal documentaries and sports, is that the mind can’t properly process all of that information. It often becomes a confusing jumble of images and sound that sometimes makes no sense.

For example, I have a distinct memory of watching an Italian cooking show hosted by Benito Mussolini. I recall an ancient sage, either Archimedes or Plato, predicting that the Bulls would win the NBA Championship in 2012, unless, of course, the Mayans are correct and the world ends in that fateful year. I also seem to remember watching Leonard Nemoy solemnly explaining that the pyramids were actually transmitting towers built by aliens so that ancient Egyptians could tune in to both AM and FM radio.

Unfortunately, not everyone in my household has the same taste in television programming as I do. For example, one of my daughters has the habit of walking into the TV room, grabbing the remote. plopping down on the couch next to me and abruptly switching the channel.

“Hey, what are you doing?”

“I wanna see what’s on MTV.”

“But I was watching Hitler getting ready to invade Poland.”

“Dad, that’s like beyond boring.”

Or, my wife will walk into the room, wrench the remote from my clammy grip and change the channel.

“Hey, what are you doing?”

“I wanna see who got voted off of Dancing with the Stars.”

“Damn it, Sharon, the fat lady was just about to deglaze the pan and add the root vegetables.”

Or, my other daughter will come in and, without asking permission, switch channels on me.

“Hey, what are you doing?”

“I wanna see the Gossip Girls.”

“Sweetie, the Bulls are in the middle of a huge comeback.”

“Dad, they’re losing by 26 points.”

“Yeah, but there’s almost a minute left in the game.”

“Dad, you’re a pathetic loser.”

Oh, well, I guess it’s time for another pain pill.

Note:

My good friend, the artist Michael Realmuto, finally has some of his watercolors up on the Third City Site. His paintings of iconic Chicago landmarks are not to be missed. Best of all, prints of his work are available for purchase, in many different formats. I highly recommend his holiday greeting cards.

Just click on the Sights & Sounds button on the menu bar and you’ll find the link to his website.

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Letter From Milo: Rabbinical Vision

April 23rd, 2019

The morning of my heart surgery I was pacing around my room at the Hines V.A. Hospital, waiting for the action to get started.

In a little more than an hour a crack team of surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, carpenters, pipefitters, sleight-of-hand experts and candy stripers were going to crack me open like a lobster. They were going to take out my heart, replace a valve and fix an aneurism, all the while keeping me alive by means of a mechanical heart rented that morning from the local Ace Hardware.

Well, I’d have to see it to believe it.

I wasn’t nervous, you understand. Shit like this happens to me all the time. One minute I’m walking down the street, minding my own business, and BAM!, the next minute I’m knee-deep in a situation that Rod Sterling would find hard to believe.

Anyway, as I’m pacing around my room trying to figure out a way to sneak out for a smoke, I happen to glance out of the window and see my doctor pull into the parking lot. As I watch him get out of his car, a late model Trans Am, I see him toss away a beer can, then stop to smoke a joint with the parking lot guys.

A few minutes later he’s in my room. “How’s it going, dude?” he asks.

“Pretty good. How about you?”

“Me? I feel fine. Matter of fact, I feel extra fine. Let’s get this thing started. I’m kind of in a hurry. I’ve got a horse running in the 8th race at Arlington and don’t want to miss it.”

“Sure, no problem.”

The next 20 minutes pass in a flurry of activity. They give me drugs to relax me. They stick catheters and IVs in every available vein and artery. A sweet young thing shaves my chest. The last thing I remember before fading into unconsciousness is the good doctor gleefully clapping his hands and saying, “It’s showtime!”

I wake up about eight hours later, surrounded by family and loved ones — at least that’s what they tell me. I could have been surrounded by zombies, man-eating snakes and the spawn of Satan and wouldn’t have known the difference.

I was too far gone, way deep into the mystic, hiding in the place where the badly wounded go to either recover or not recover, whatever the case may be.

It was another 24 hours before I came to realize where I was — the Intensive Care Unit — and what had happened to me. Once I came to my senses, I knew I was in for a waiting game. Yes, it would be an ordeal. There would be pain and discomfort. Then would be small steps forward and small steps back. But, unless something went terribly wrong, I would improve every day. And in six or seven days, if my doctors weren’t bullshitting me, I would go home, hopefully well on the way to recovery.

I figured I could stand anything for six or seven days. I was tough. I could handle the Spanish Inquisition for six or seven days. Besides, the V.A. hospital system was very generous with drugs, especially morphine and Vicodon. Not only would I be pretty much free of pain, I would also be pretty much free of my wits, good sense and sobriety, which suited me just fine.

In the meantime, I had plenty of visitors. The lovely Mrs. Milo came by every day, spending hours at my bedside. My children visited regularly. My mother and sister stopped by every other day. Even my good friend, Bruce Diksas, dropped in to check on me. I suspect he was worried about the five dollars I owed him and wanted to make sure I didn’t try something underhanded, like die, to avoid paying him back.

The doctors were right on the money. On the seventh day (hmmm, catchy phrase) I went home. And although I was gone (from the hospital) I was not forgotten. They sent me home with enough drugs to sedate the Grateful Dead. Plus, a nurse would stop by every other day for a couple of weeks, to check on my vital signs.

And that, in essence, is what happened. I’m sure I’m leaving a few things out. The doctors told me it might be a few months until my mind regained its usual keen edge. Apparently, heavy doses of anesthetics tend to scramble the circuits.

Besides, I had to get back in the saddle pretty quickly. Big Mike, the Barn Boss of this low-life, scabby crew, has been interviewing other bloggers to take my spot. Rumor has it that he’s just about ready to hire his brother-in-law, who’s in a work release program and needs a job.

It’s good to be back.

NOTE:

One of my favorite visitors at the hospital was Rabbi Norm Lewison, a chaplain at the Hines V.A. Hospital. He stopped by every other day and spent a few minutes chatting with me. The normal practice for someone with a Serbian background would have been to have a Eastern Orthodox priest, in this case a Greek Orthodox cleric, come to visit. But the Greek chaplain retired and opened a drive-thru gyros stand and confessional booth on the West Side, so, for some reason, they decided to send a rabbi.

Rabbi Lewison was a sweet man, friendly, open and full of good cheer. I looked forward to his visits. We had some nice conversations and every time he left he said he would pray for my full recovery. Let’s face it, if you’re in a tough spot it doesn’t hurt to have the God of Abraham, Moses, Solomon, Bob Dylan and Sammy Davis, Junior on your side. Thank you, Rabbi Lewison. May you live 100 years.

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Letter From Milo: Fake!

April 16th, 2019

Every once in a while my brother-in-law sends me porn in an email. It’s usually a bit of fluff that someone sends him and he forwards it to me. Now, I’m not saying my brother-in-law is a pervert – you’d have to ask my sister about that – but he does enjoy a bit of porn on occasion.

The porn he sends me is actually pretty tame stuff. It usually has a humorous bent to it. For example, this past holiday season he forwarded me an attachment that had a Christmas card from the then-President. The subject line of the email read, “Greetings from George and Laura’s Bush.” The picture was of President and Mrs. Bush, full frontal naked, smiling and waving from one of the doorways of the White House.

It was obviously a Photoshop job and not very well done. I looked at it for a few moments before deleting it. The computer I use is accessible to my wife and children and I don’t like leaving anything on it that would offend their tender sensibilities. They have a low enough opinion of me anyway without adding porn freak to their list of grievances.

In my youth I was as intrigued by the nude female form as any sex-deprived young hetero male. In those days opportunities for seeing naked women were rare. Along with my equally horny young friends, we made every effort to satisfy our sexual curiousity. As teenagers, we snuck into burlesque houses in the dying days of the art form (see my earlier post about the Follies Theater on State Street.) We hoarded magazines like Playboy, according them the same respect and awe that a baseball nerd reserves for a Honus Wagner collector card.

A few years later, when social mores loosened, I saw “Deep Throat” starring Linda Lovelace at the Tivoli Theater in Gary, Indiana. A couple of years later I saw “The Devil in Miss Jones,” starring the great Georgina Spelvin at a theater in San Francisco.

When home theater technology became available I rented a couple of VHS tapes at the local video store (pre-Blockbuster days) but found them, on the whole, pretty boring. By that time I had experienced a bit of the real thing and, like most sportsman, I preferred to participate rather than watch from the sidelines.

Years later, when the great Internet explosion occurred, I was pretty much bored with the whole concept of watching other people copulate. I generally paid no mind to the filmed shenanigans of bored housewives, mustachioed UPS drivers, horny cheerleaders, naughty nurses, pizza delivery boys, errant nuns, French maids and doctors with unorthodox bedside manners.

One thing I did notice, however, was the proliferation of fake tits. It seemed that all the ladies in these films were as inflated as Michelin tires, their breasts grotesquely large and sometimes misshapen. They seemed to defy all known laws of physics and gravity.

Fake tits weren’t restricted to porn stars. The popped up everywhere. From Hollywood and Vine to Main Street USA, fake tits became as common as coffee shops. I read an article in a legitimate newspaper that trumpeted the fact that some parents were buying breast implants for their daughters as high school graduation presents. Every once in awhile my dear wife, who works in an industry with a preponderence of women, will tell me that so-and-so just got a boob job. She will say this as casually as if mentioning what were were having for dinner that evening.

“Why would she do that?’ I asked. “I thought she looked pretty good.”

“Well, she’s had three kids.”

“So?”

“Maybe she wants to look better. Improve her self-esteem.”

“How old is she?”

“I don’t know, 50 maybe.”

“Jesus, who’s she trying to fool.”

“I guess she just wants to feel better about herself.”

“If she want to feel better she should get a dog. Dogs always make you feel good.”

“I swear, sometimes you sound like a complete idiot.”

“I love you too, babe.”

Maybe I’m being a boob about this, but I hate fake tits. I hate the mindset behind them, the pathetic attempts by some women to re-engineer their bodies in the hopes that their lives will magically change for the better. That’s a lot to expect from bags of saline solution or petroleum byproducts.

Maybe I’m a dumbass, but why are fake tits considered sexy and false teeth are not? Why are fake tits deemed an asset while a prosthetic leg is considered unfortunate? Why are fake tits considered good for self-esteem while a glass eye is basically good for nothing.

I guess I’ll never figure it out. Ah, well, whoever said, Vanity, thy name is woman, might have been on to something. Wait a minute, the doorbell just rang. I hope it’s FedEx. I recently ordered a Swedish Dick Extender on the Internet and it due to arrive at any time. Gotta run.

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Letter From Milo: Sweet Stuff

April 7th, 2019

This will be my last posting for a while. As I mentioned in earlier pieces, I’m taking a couple of weeks off for surgery. When I told Big Mike, the Barn Boss of this scabby, inept and flatulent outfit, that I needed some time off, he got mean and ugly.

“What kind of surgery did you say it was?”

“Heart surgery.”

“And you want two weeks off for something like that?”

“Maybe a little more. Depends on how recovery goes.”

“You’re being kind of selfish. Two weeks seems excessive.”

“Just following doctor’s orders.”

“Quit being a pussy. Benny Jay had brain surgery and a penile implant and he did it on his lunch hour.”

“Yeah, well, Benny’s tough.”

“Jon Randolph had every single one of his internal organs replaced with Teflon and styrofoam and he was back at his desk the next day.”

“Jon’s tough, too.

“Don’t expect me to hold your job for you. Writers are a dime a dozen. I’ve got a blog to run.”

“I figured.”

“And don’t expect any sick pay, either.”

“I wasn’t counting on it.”

“Other than that, good luck.”

“Thanks.”

“Bastard.”

“Prick.”

Now that I’ve told the Barn Boss that I’ll be absent for a couple of weeks, I’ll have to notify all of my favorite bartenders, drug dealers, bookies, waitresses, and pool room proprietors that I won’t be patronizing their establishments for a while. I’m sure they’ll understand.

That’s it for now. If there are any old hippies, freaks or New Agers out there, remember to send some good vibes in my direction on October 6th. Be talking to you soon.

Note:

In my absence the Editors are going to rerun a couple of my past blog postings. I hope they amuse, inform and offend you as much as they did the first time around.

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Letter From Milo: Dental Blues

April 1st, 2019

Oh, the bastards, the rotten sons of bitches. They tracked me down.

If you recall from my last posting, a dentist advised me that I had to have several teeth pulled before my heart surgery. I got a second opinion, of course, but the second dentist agreed with the first. Well, they have their opinions and I have mine. I refused to give up any teeth, no matter the reason. What are dentists anyway? What do they know? Dentists are just a bunch of second rate hacks who don’t have the skills or ambition to become real doctors.

Still, there was a lot of pressure on me to get the teeth pulled. Wife, family, friends, all urged me to get them yanked. “It’s for your own good,” they told me. “You don’t want any complications from the heart surgery. Listen to the doctors. They know what’s best.” Plus, no doctor would perform the surgery unless the teeth were extracted. There was too great of a chance of an infection in the new valve they were going to give me.

Well, fuck ’em all. I don’t like people telling me what to do. I decided to make a run for it, get out of Dodge while the getting was good. I chose Canada as my destination because, as I understand it, the Canadian government won’t extradite anyone who is wanted by the dental authorities.

As I was driving out of town, I began feeling a bit thirsty, so I stopped in the lounge of the Diplomat Motel on Lincoln Avenue. I was just going to have a couple for the road, and maybe pick up a half pint for later on. As luck would have it, I ran into a group of my favorite kinds of people; bikers, whores, out-of-work carnies, a three-card monty dealer and a man who claimed to be a rabbi but seemed to be too good of a pool player for someone devoted to the spiritual life.

One thing led to another and by closing time I was roaring drunk. Deciding I was in no shape to drive I checked into a room at the Diplomat, figuring I’d sleep it off and get an early start in the morning. Just to be on the safe side, I checked in under an assumed name, Milton Samardzija.

About five in the morning, as I was having a sweet dream about Montreal, a group of jack-booted thugs kicked in my door and pounced on me. They were the dreaded Gold Tooth Gang, which is the militant wing of the American Dental Association. They dragged me, kicking and screaming, out of my room, the same way the cops dragged William H. Macy out of his motel room in the movie Fargo, by the great Coen brothers.

The next thing I knew, I was strapped into a chair in the dentist’s office. Just before the sadistic bastard started yanking my teeth, he asked, “Do you want something to relax you, some novocaine perhaps?”

“Yes, please.”

“Well, too fucking bad. You’re not getting anything. That’s what you get for trying to run out on the ADA.”

Half an hour later, all four of my wisdom teeth were extracted, plus two others, just for spite in my opinion.

I felt terrible when I got home. I was afraid to look in the mirror. So, I gobbled a handful of industrial-grade pain pills and lay down on the couch to rest for a few minutes. I woke up 12 hours later, still in pain, groggy, unsteady on my feet.

Gathering up my courage, I staggered to the bathroom to get a look at myself in the mirror. I expected the worst and was not disappointed. My face was lumpy and swollen. My eyes were slitted and bloodshot. There was a lump on each side of my jaw the size of an avocado. The greenish-blue signs of bruising were spreading along my jawline. My face and goatee were caked with dried and flaking blood. And when I opened my mouth I could see a noticeable gap in my smile.

Despite my deplorable condition, I knew I was still better looking than Tony Patellis or, for that matter, Doug Hoffman. But that was cold comfort.

At that moment, my daughter, Nadia, walked by. “I must look pretty bad,” I said to her.

She replied, “To be honest, Dad, you looked a lot worse when you came home from partying with Bruce Diksas last Saturday night.”

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