My Sister, Part Six
The Bucktoothed Nitwit
In profile he looked like a bottle opener.
He had a big leathery head (acromegaly), and thick maestro hair (stipa tenuissima).
He reminded me of Charlton Heston, another flaming nitwit.
Yeah, the nitwit sailed his smug ass around the world – barking orders, swigging rum – being the adventurer and a model ambassador for the Republican Party of America.
See the nitwit: hobnobbing with the Prince of Japan and slobbering on Australians; see him schmooze the Brits and dally with strange trim in faraway places while his wife, my nervous sister, pined for the man she so thought she should love.
Initially, I thought the nitwit had it made. I was envious of his life.
And more, I respected him: he married my sister.
He must be a real Gandhi, I thought; he’ll be nice to her.
They laughed easily together, the nitwit and my sister. They collected many interesting friends. They shared starlight, candlelight and idyllic situations.
They discussed politics and religion and disagreed with kisses.
Sometimes they traveled together, sailing fearlessly over great distances, whale sharks and forty foot seas, looking like models on the cover of a J.Crew catalog, unless the nitwit was smiling.
I don’t know anything about this fetish my sister has for toothy men; I have no idea where it came from.
Bugs Bunny? Leave It To Beaver?
The men in my family have unremarkable teeth.
Quite the golden couple was my sister and her nitwit, on the fast track and in demand. Always, they boozed it up. That’s why yachts are known as “pleasure craft”. That’s the life of the party. That’s what keeps love alive. And that’s when my sister became an alcoholic.
My sister and the bucktoothed nitwit breezed into Yacht Clubs like young royalty.
After Thanksgiving, things weren’t the same with Minki and my sister.
While my sister was introducing herself to the nitwit, Minki was terrorizing the chickens, working out those different Islamic frustrations – different morals and ethics, different wiring of emotions, different junk food, different God.
“Hens,” growled Minki, nunchucks whizzing, his dark face contorted against chicken wire.
Once, the chickens were symbols of my sister’s love for Minki; she dressed and roasted those birds to please her hairy man. But cultural differences weighed heavily upon the young lovers. Minki sensed the honeymoon was over – even worse, that the union was coming to an end. Suddenly to Minki came the realization that now these chickens were symbols of
Love Lost, symbols of Betrayal…you lying chickens.
“What are you doing down there, Satan?” Leona screeched from the landing on high. And that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Minki grabbed the first chicken by the neck and hauled it flapping from the coop.
He flung the chicken into the night sky and nunchucked its head off in mid-air.
Minki shouted Iranian slogans and reached again into the coop.
Leona ran back into the house and called the police.
“They’re already on the way,” said the dispatcher.
“Killing chickens with nunchucks,” went down on the police report and things went south for Minki and my sister.
My sister and the bucktoothed nitwit ran with the Southern California yachting set.
The nitwit was born irrevocably into the moral compromise that is international yachting.
The nitwit was a sailor for hire of considerable repute: a few America’s Cups, many Transpacs, maybe a Whitbread. He wrote long-winded articles for posh sailing magazines. He called powerboats “stinkpots” as he motored out of the harbor.
He was arrogant; he was deeply tanned – he fit right in.
Him, the yacht clubbers loved.
But as beautiful and elegant as my sister was, her sensitivity, her vulnerability, was plain to see.
Those crackling Yacht Club Ladies ripped her to
(“She can’t control her bladder.”)
(“Her poor husband.”)
(“She slept with an Iranian.”)
“What a lovely outfit! I adore Buster Keaton!”
(tittering in the background).
“What does that mean?” (my sister).
My sister, her nerve endings scrupulously irritated, soon picked up on the Ladies’ snotty vibes.
Two can play this game, she schemed.
“You don’t seem Asian,” she burbled to the wife of a wealthy plastic surgeon.
And to the decrepit wife of an imperious lawyer being honored at a fancy luncheon, my sister piped up: “I don’t think that was just gas. Would you like my napkin?”
At Yacht Club Christmas parties, my sister slipped beautifully wrapped boxes of Japanese pornography – courtesy of the Prince – amongst the gifts on the Secret Santa table.
At a Spring Cotillion, the salt-whipped widow of a previous Club President was flabbergasted to find a hefty black dildo – a then-infamous icon known as “The Stilt” – tucked into the pocket of her sable.
There were late-night hang-up calls (pre-Caller ID), unwelcome subscriptions (Jet, High Times,The Nation), papered mansions, keyed Beamers and dozens and dozens of prank pizza deliveries.
(In high school, my sister and a collaborator were thrown out of the Pan-American club for baking a “Puerto Rican” pie – of cough medicine and Barbie doll parts – for the annual fundraiser.)
Of course, my sister’s antics didn’t go over with those varnished Yacht Club dames.
The Ladies had no proof my sister was behind the mysterious rash of psychic vandalisms, but they sensed she was dangerous; a bohemian; a rogue breeze that might crack the mast.
Instinctively, The Ladies of the Yacht Club ganged up on my sister.
The Events Committee voted to bar my sister from the Gala and they were a powerful bunch.
But the nitwit, though far offshore, still held rank.
The invitation was made.
“Fuck these old bitches,” my sister barked as we crossed the banquet room to the bar. Now and then, when the nitwit was at sea, she’d ask me along to YC functions. A few of the old bitches heard my sister’s outbursts (my sister made sure), and gave us the hairy eyeball.
I was, once again, guilty by association.
It was the 50th Anniversary of the Yacht Club, a big day.
Everything was gold. The help was dressed in glittering gold suits and top hats. Women wore gold lipstick. The plates were gold and there were hundreds of flickering golden candles. The place was packed, most of the crowd over seventy. You could hear bones creaking over the band.
The theme for the Gala was “Golden Years”
I had on a tux and was feeling fine. A dazzling busgirl told me she thought for a minute I was Bruce Willis.
I got another drink.
One of The Ladies sidled up and asked me whose guest I was.
“I’m Bruce Willis,” I answered and I extended my hand.
The Lady was excited: “So NICE to meet you,” she gushed.
“A little joke,” I smiled. “I’m with her.”
I pointed to my sister, who was leaning against the bar trading stories with the bartender. My sister was laughing so hard she gripped her crotch like a rapper.
The Lady arched her eyebrows and regarded me with disgust.
“Oh, I’m alright,” I told her. “I’m the only member of the family who doesn’t have to take pills”.
The Name Game
The Name Game was a cherished tradition of the annual
Gala. Essentially, the game wasCharades, but members acted out the names of their yachts rather than the names of books and movies.
It was a jolly game, and joints snapped like mousetraps as gusseted coots surrendered to the fun. A senator did the hula and brought down the house.
There were humorous boat names (“Constant Drain” and “My Folly”), and sentimental names (“Darling Alice” and “Love Song”). There was “Dream of Capri” and “Happy Wanderer”. My sister’s boat, a sleek Ericsson 27, was named “Ginger Lynn”.
The members were divided into teams. They wrote the names of their boats on one side of a slip of paper and their own names on the other side, should there be a question. Then a senile hostess in a huge gold dress put the papers in a big gold bowl.
My sister ordered another cocktail: “Tell that bartender to put some fucking vodka in it this time,” she slurred, and slapped the young waiter on the butt.
The waiter fell instantly in love with my sister. She still has that power.
“How many have you had?” I asked her.
“So what?” my sister snapped.
(By my reckoning, twelve doubles.)
“Watch yourself,” I told her.
“Fuck these old bitches!” she scoffed.
Mrs. Inger Fuselage was the Chair of the Events Committee. Her complexion was the interior of a conch shell; one more face-lift and she’d have a goatee.
She was an envious executive assistant who’d snared a wealthy man.
It was Fuselage who moved to bar my sister from the Gala. My sister picked the wrong Lady to needle (the Asian reference) – Mrs. Fuselage was one mean Norwegian.
As luck would have it, my sister and Mrs. Fuselage were team-mates. Luckier still, Mrs. Fuselage drew the name of my sister’s boat, the athletic “Ginger Lynn”.
(The senile hostess drooled “Ginger Lynn” into Mrs. Fuselage’s new ear.)
“I don’t know that one,” Mrs. Fuselage mused. She looked questioningly at the twitching hostess.
A waiter was sent to our table.
“Ginger Lynn is a porn star,” my sister explained
sotto voce to the delighted waiter. “In one movie, she fucked twenty seven guys in a row. And I’ll have another drink. With some vodka in it.”
The waiter trotted back to Mrs. Fuselage. The expression on Mrs. Fuselage’s face – a look of bemused indulgence – changed to disbelief, and to revulsion, as the waiter explained Ginger Lynn. Mrs. Fuselage stared hard at my sister. Dumbfounded, she stood unmoving in the spotlight.
A minute passed, then another.
It looked like Mrs. Fuselage was having trouble getting air.
“Play with your tits!” my sister shouted encouragingly.
Everyone turned to look at us.
“Tourettes,” I told the mummified socialite seated next to me. “Our mother couldn’t leave the house”.
Alas, my explanation tempered not the socialite’s distaste:
“Your sister is trash,” the old lady croaked back. Her husband was the CEO of our country’s largest bank.
For me, a dilemna: defense of my sister, or networking with the richest folk in America.
I really needed the money.
I leaned in close on the socialite: “Your pussy’s on fire,” I whispered, and I poured four ounces of 30-year Laphroig in her lap.
“Suck! Suck!” my sister shouted to Mrs. Fuselage, still dithering in the spotlight.
A riot broke out at our table.
Montecristos hit the deck and were stomped on in the bustle.
The socialite gagged in her napkin and the pillars of society turned fighting mad.
I caught one guy – a cheeseburger-eating campaign director – with a good right. An expensive tooth went flying.
Another guy, the socialite’s husband, received some
Florsheim in the nuts.
Two geezers grabbed my arms – I shook them off effortlessly. One of them fell and couldn’t get up.
Later we learned he had broken his hip.
Die hard, baby.
My sister stood on her chair and threw a bowl of cashews at Mrs. Fuselage.
“Hooray!” she cried.
Then she wet herself.
The sequined waiters cheered wildly. They were on our side, and it looked like we were going to need them.
Like zombies, the members were moving in on us.
The Night Chicago Died
“Attention, please. Attention.” the senile hostess rattled on the microphone:
“Ladies and Gentlemen: Due to…difficulties…we regret that tonight we must cancel the rest of the Name Game.” The hostess paused and scrabbled pitifully at her heart. Sadly, she shook her head.
“A tradition we dearly love.”
She was looking right at us.
“But the night is young.” she continued, bravely.
“Please, Maestro, play”
A waiter had to help her from the podium.
The band swung into “The Night Chicago Died,” and the room became as cold as ice.
Really, the brawl barely happened. As mad as I am, I’d refrain from kicking a grandfather in the balls. It was a Bruce Willis fantasy, written down.
Excusing the rumble, however, other events are as they were.
But I wouldn’t refuse ten minutes and wooden clogs in a closed room with Charlton Heston.
Fuck you too, rednecks.
My sister threw a bowl of nuts at Mrs. Fuselage and in America that’s Assault. So is scotch in the crotch, by the way.
Lewd and lascivious behavior, public intoxication, public urination… Was there a lawyer in the house?
I hustled my sister out of there. The help applauded as we passed.
Mrs. Fuselage headed towards the office, to call the cops.
The Ladies were clustered together, squawking and flapping.
Save my Sister!
News of the debacle spread quickly, to the Bubble Bar and the Crab Pot, reaching even to the bucktoothed nitwit in heavy seas north of the Solomon Islands. He was, at that moment, exhausted from a feat of heroism in which he gnawed through an anchor chain to save his vessel from destruction by sixty-foot seas. He was displeased to learn that he was ordered to appear before the Yacht Club President immediately upon return. A restraining order had been filed against my sister. There were damages, and talk of lawsuits, and shame, plenty of shame.
Of course, the nitwit blamed it all on me.
My sister is made of Brigitte Bardot, Elizabeth Montgomery, Helen Keller, Courtney Love and MarieAntoinette. Now and then, I see a glimmer of Eudora Welty, or a hint of Georgia O’ Keefe – and Madonna, when my sister is menstruating.
(Once, I looked at my sister and saw Joni Mitchell, but I was living in Santa Cruz then.)
There’s no denying that during her time with the nitwit, my sister’s character took on a raunchy tone.
Everything was fuck this and fuck that.
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