What a fucking month? Hey, it’s okay. I’m sure everyone goes through alcohol poisoning, bronchitis, deaths of friends, working crazy bar shifts, reading about bombings in my old city, birthdays, break ups, drunken hazes, and jury duty all in three weeks. Just as Winter feels like a 5 inch splinter slowly pulled out from between our fingers to extricate its grey and dull ass from our Spring existence, I find myself thinking of fictions to take my mind off the onslaught of depressing, horrific, and just plain unfair conditions 2013 has beset upon existence.
Fictions help us; fictions, make us laugh, fictions remind that yes, just when everything is slipping into total anarchy, it’s still possible to smile as you breathe in the ashes.
Even if you’re the one who has to play the fool.
Everybody shows their ass in life—that is assurance. I suppose its time to show mine (I do it all the time—I’m used to it by now. I’ve got one calloused ass).
Ladies and Gentleman, allow me to introduce you to a middle age man named Frank Harris. He’s a no nonsense type of guy. He drinks 31 Budweisers to go to sleep at night. He works in the construction milieu, though his specific duties are not discussed. He sips his beer at the bar with bad posture, and when he speaks to you he doesn’t really meet your eyes. He looks through you when he speaks. Not in any cruel or machismo way, but in the way someone who just worked 56 hours in 2 days would look. He is from a non-descript town in New England. There’s usually dried white paint specks on his rough hands. He’s probably really good to drink with (it is an art). He has never lied (except to idiots).
I like this guy. I like guys like this. But, sadly, Frank Harris is a fiction. A character I’ve created. A fiction to amuse me. But I use Frank Harris sometimes.
Anyone who knows me well knows that if I ever introduce myself as Frank, I have absolutely no respect for the person I’m talking to at that moment. Sort of a failsafe for assholes.
But one fateful night at The Subway Bar (God rest it’s haunted ass), I had to bring Frank Harris out, and not only just to give out a fake name, but I became Frank Harris.
Story time kids.
Love sucks. Everybody remember love? I know sometimes it’s hard to remember exactly that feeling, but squint your eyes with me. Yes, like that roller coaster feeling. Someone simply rocks your fucking world, for whatever reason. Well, that's what happened to me. Just when I thought I could feel no more, along came The Raven-Haired Beauty (any tried and true Bartender Knows fans will remember her from earlier blogs). I met the Raven-Haired Beauty at The Subway Bar no less and was thoroughly infatuated not only by her ravenous consumption of books, remarkable sarcasm, and MENSA brilliance, but she had this jet-black hair that, when released from a pony tail to spill down her shoulders, sent shivers of eroticism coursing through my skin.
So either way, long story short, The Raven-Haired Beauty had a lot of class, and when we started hooking up, she told me:
“Listen. I am with C (we’ll just call this dude “C”). I will continue to sleep with C. This is the way it is. I like you, Matthew, but he was here first. Now kiss me,” she said.
As a man who hates boundaries for myself and others, I agreed to the terms of our engagement. I applauded her honesty (a rare commodity in the dating world round these parts). But of course, the inevitable occurred. I fell in love with her. And, at each and every turn, there was C. I knew a thing or two about C. He was an actor. He cheated on The Raven-Haired Beauty all the time. He was one of those cocky types who, when he smiled, seemed to relish in the smell of his own shit. That kind of face. And plus I cyber-stalked the fuck out of him on Facebook.
I created all manner of jealousies in my mind about C. How he was. He must be better than me somehow. I don’t know, I was retarded, just like anyone who still has a beating heart gets. How often does one want things they can’t possess? Answer?
ALL THE TIME.
So one fateful night, there I was with two friends drinking in the dark and shadowed recesses of The Subway Bar, and by blind and terrible luck, who was the man I found, making out with another girl not The Raven-Haired Beauty…none other that C. himself. Wow. I stared down the dark bar. It couldn’t be. But it was.
My mind raced. The sad thing is that I’m a masochist. I like to torture myself. I had just recently saw a Facebook post that C. and The Raven-Haired Beauty had gone to Hawaii together. I looked over at my friend, M. Blain. I told him: “That’s C.”
He looked down and his eyes widened. “Oh no.”
“Don’t dude. Don’t. Whatever you’re about to do, don’t do it,” M. Blain said, with only my best interest in mind. But I was a lost cause. I went over to C.
The chick went to the bathroom and he was alone looking at his phone. I nonchalantly sat on the stool beside him and began rubbing my forehead. “Oh man,” I muttered.
He looked over. “Tired?" He asked.
"Man, I need a vacation,” I say in a vague New England accent. Total bait. Yep.
C. laughs. “Shit man, I just got back from Hawaii. It was great.” (“Duh”, I say in my mind).
“Yeah. Boy oh boy, I sure wish I could go on vacation. With a young lady, none the less.” (Again, bait…this is water-boarding myself).
His eyes brightened up. “Oh, I went with my girl. She’s rad. We had a blast.”
Now I’ve got a boat anchor lodged on my shoulders. I feel everything positive in my life slipping out through my fingertips, spilling across the beer-soaked bar.
But I drive the knife in further. “Oh, you got a lady? That’s good, man, that’s good. Sure wish I had a good one. But in New York man they are hard to find.”
“Well, I got lucky,” he says, and the other girl comes out. He plants one on her. He sees me look confused. He just winks at me with that ‘happy to smell his own shit’ look over the chick’s shoulder. I look back at my friends who sorrowfully shake their heads at me. They know what I’m doing. I’m setting up a Crucifixion.
I reach out my hand: “Frank. Frank Harris.”
He shakes my hand: “Oh, hey, I’m C,” (“Of course you are, asshole,” I say in my head).
I continue. “So, what do you do?”
“I’m an actor.”
“Oh you should meet a friend of mine. He makes really strange films.” And right then comes out my own card. The one that says Matthew D’Abate on it. I hand it over to him. He studies it.
“This guy is cool?” C. asks.
I grin. “Eh, he’s kind of an asshole. But he’s cool. Don’t lose the card. You should reach out to him. You guys should work together.”
I’ve now lost all logic. I’m torturing myself about The Raven-Haired Beauty. I’m listening to C. rave on about her, making out with someone else. I’m pretending to be Frank Harris just long enough to hand C. the card that has my name on it. I secretly wanted the card to travel back to his room and be placed on his desk. I wanted the next time The Raven-Haired Beauty was in his bedroom to somehow come across it, like some kind of artifact of ME. Just so she’d know that no matter what, I could still make my presence known even when I wasn’t around.
Ain’t love grand? Ugh. So embarrassing.
Now all this was some time ago, but the Frank Harris story remains one my friends bring up from time to time when they want to make fun of how crazy I am. And that’s why I’m sharing this little story with y’all. To try and lighten the mood. Last week was pretty tough, for the country, for all of us. But Frank Harris is out there, sipping on his 29th Bud, just finishing work with paint speckled hands. Drinking for us all.
Funny enough, I chatted with The Raven-Haired Beauty recently and told her the story. Her eyes widened.
“Oh my God, Matthew. I DID find your card. I just thought I smoked way too much weed and left it over his place. I don’t know whether to be flattered or be scared of you. Frank Harris. I love you, Matthew, you crazy son of a bitch.”
I love you too, Raven-Haired Beauty. And so does Frank Harris.
Keep your heads up, dear readers. Till next week.
OH, THE SUBWAY BAR. I MISS YOU.
FRANK HARRIS. HARDEST WORKING MAN IN SHOW BUSINESS.
31 BUDWEISER'S KID. THE RHODE ISLAND WAY.