The Benny Poda Years
7 - Back in Minneapolis
The sleet was raining down so hard you'd have thought Frosty the Snowman'd just gotten sucked off by Ava Gardner, and I was on Washington Street in Minneapolis just after getting bum-rushed from a Fruit bar where I was drinking Scope in the bathroom and trying to pick up the pieces. I was hating myself, not for letting HER get away—she was a stupid bitch, if you want to know the truth—but from letting her PUSSY get away. I've always wondered about this—why men talk about women as sentient creatures when what they're really after is a Highcastle Latex Pocket-Pussy, and I wasn't in town to make the same mistake.
But maybe that's what this is all about—the Fates were shoving a Gaboon Viper up my ass, and it was like being in hell with Albert Camus, always pushing that same goddamn rock.
Didn't know I knew about that did ya? Well, neither did Gary Player. But he knew I knew after I told him, and don't make me say it again.
I guess he was out to hustle some chicken, and from where he was sittin' it sure looked like I was hustling, out there in the rain and shit. But when he offered me a ride in his Volvo, I wasn't gonna turn it down. Let me tell you something, son: when a man misses his pussy, well, that there's a DESPERATE man, son. A man who is apt to do anything.
Gary Player was still winning major golf tournaments in those years, and he drove down Washington in the direction of Hennepin, reeking of Listerine. He was sitting there asking me if I'd up and lost my pussy in a voice that sounded like a redneck trying to imitate Sean Connery, and I admitted it was so and he told me there was some mouthwash in the glove box.
Sweet Jesus. I sure needed a swill or two of Wash right then. Clean and fresh. Feel the tingle. I told Gary I'd been just about to call him.
See, this is what gets me—the lie everybody leads, the lie the entire WORLD was in those years. Because unless you're a goddamn faggot, when a man loses his pussy, well, sooner or later that man's gonna put his ego to the side and call up Gary Player and tell him all about it. Hell, I'll bet even Lemieux does it. Calls up Gary Player, every time he loses his pussy. And why the fuck not? Player was driving down the sleet-filled road, in a beige Volvo, GUZZLING from the bottle and singing along with this song on the radio that went, WE ALL NEED—SOMEONE—WE CAN LEAN ON—AND BABY—YOU CAN LEAN ON ME! and by the way, the way the dude who sings that song says "ME" sounds just like Robert DeNiro in Cape Fear and I shit you not. I shit you not, son! Player had this suit hung up in the back seat, and it was smelling like mothballs.
There's some mothballs in that can under the seat, he told me. He wasn't looking at me. He was looking at the road. He was passing me the plastic wrap.
I huffed that shit for like, sixty seconds, man. I don't think my dick has EVER been harder. Gary asked me to hold the wheel. He started huffing like a man suffocating on his own vomit. GOD did I need some pussy.
I hope you don't think I'm taking you out to get any pussy, Player was saying. 'Cause I'm a fag, he said. "Like Nassir. Don't tell me that deep down, watching me on TV in all those golf tournaments, deep down, that's not what the fuck you think." He was looking at me and he was smiling. He was handing me his Pocket-Pussy. No, he said, no—I just happen to like watching people get off in my pussy.
I did what I had to do. I did what I ALWAYS do: conjure up an image of Steve McQueen, dead, and fuck that pussy, son.
Years later I was talking to a man who told me the night Steve died Highcastle sold over 600,000 Pocket-Pussies east of Chicago, alone. Sweet Jesus. OH Christ.
You would have had to have lived in those years to believe it all, boy—the sex. The alcohol. The way the loneliness made you feel. The way the sleet came down.
Essay Questions for Chapter 7
1. Scholars have long noted the "surrealist, dream-like quality" of Chapter 7. What does this tell us about the place of the author in an age of technology? Are they saying the author was asleep when he wrote it? Purchase the Books-On-Tape version of TBPY. Listen to Chapter 7 while watching Fantasia 2000 with the sound turned down. Detail your experience.
2. The episode in Chapter 7 seems to take place exactly 17 years after the events of Chapter 6. Agree or disagree.
3. Chapter 7 has been compared by critics to the 14th chapter of Matthew. Do you see similarities? Differences? What number is half of 14?
4. Discuss the similarities between hockey and golf.
5. Chapter 7 has been observed to be "Quite different in tone from Chapter 5." Is this because Chapter 7 is NOT Chapter 5? Explain.
Due Feb. 13. Remember, support that thesis statement!