The two Snooki-esque combatants must have really went at it because neither my bouncer-like nephew or anyone else could stop them. Through the miracle of cell-phones, the police responded in five minutes. Although there were no arrests, enough blood was shed that first-aid was administered to one of the dainty young ladies.
This North Jersey battle royal reminded me of the two donnybrook-laden seasons, (1976-1977), when I played in the INTERBORO ICELESS HOCKEY ASSOCIATION (IIHA). These street-hockey games were played on Kings Highway in Brooklyn on Saturday and Sunday mornings. At the height of its popularity, the league had eight teams with four of New York City's five boroughs being represented.
To reduce the probability of injuries (player ages ranged from 15-50), great restrictions were placed on physical play. Still each team had chippy instigators and when emotions ran high each team had pugnacious goons.
Our goon was named Stavros. His family owned a bunch of diners so he rarely showed up. When he did play, he was neither athletic or mentally stable. Therefore, he only came to hurt people. He was on our team because Stavros was a close friend of Ambrose, our team captain. Stavros further legitimized himself by treating select teammates to after-game meals.
Stavros used to boast how he dragged drunks out of his restaurant and beat them up. It annoyed him that I wasn't impressed. During a game, he once, "put out a hit," on an opposing player. Even though this jerk deserved a beating only the most ignorant of our lemmings actually elbowed him in the face or body-checked him into the brick wall. Most of the team enthusiastically said yeah, yeah and did nothing. Of course I had to be different, I called Stavros an asshole. I was never included in his free-meal plan before that and I'm certain that I was never even considered afterwards.
At first, I missed-out on another Stavros perk. He had a connection with a caterer in Manhattan Beach. He hooked-up Ambrose with work in valet parking. Soon the captain was bringing his cronies in. Eventually, he was furnishing the whole eight-man crew. About twenty times from 1976-1978, they were so short-staffed that I was included.
The catering hall was on extra wide but not especially busy, West End Avenue. The work was always on Saturday nights so even if I didn't get to bed till 3:00AM, I was ready for IIHA games at ten.
On the Sunday mornings that I wasn't playing hockey, I played basketball in my Junior High's schoolyard with my close friends, (SLW, RCC were regulars and IRAK, DRJ and GRAMPS also participated). This tradition was carried through from when I was fifteen until I left for Las Vegas when I was twenty-three.
JOHN WILSON JUNIOR HIGH, (JHS 211) , CIRCA 1989. IS STILL LOCATED ON CANARSIE'S AVENUE 'J,' AT EAST 100th STREET, (THE BASKETBALL COURTS ARE OUT BACK).In my late teens, these pick-up basketball games were a great forum to brag about who you dated the night before and what you did. These conversations were rather competitive. So during valleys in my love life, when others were saying how they were snuggled on a couch with their girlfriends watching, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, (SNL), " I felt compelled to tap dance around the truth. So rather than admit that I was alone the previous night, I implied that I had something better to do than watch TV and pretended to not know SNL's best lines. In fact, talking about valet parking became a convenient way for me to skirt, the no date issue.
I STILL FEEL THAT THE ORIGINAL, "NOT READY FOR PRIME TIME PLAYERS," LIKE DAN AYKROYD AND JOHN BELUSHI WERE THE BEST SNL CAST...HOWEVER LATER INDIVIDUAL STALWARTS LIKE EDDIE MURPHY WERE JUST AS GOOD.
My first few times that I parked cars, a man named Jack was our supervisor. We handed over all our tips to him and at the end of the night, he divvied up the proceeds. When Jack moved away to attend graduate school, Ambrose took over. Without Jack holding the money, our tip income nearly doubled. More importantly, now everybody in the car-jockey gang was a hockey teammate.
During our "down-time," after all the invitees arrived and before they left, we occupied ourselves by having a hockey shoot-around, in an unused portion of the underground garage. This fun was rarely interrupted except when a guest took an "early-out," or when the caterer brought down a tray of food, (almost always pepper steak) and a soup tureen, (almost always beef barley).
We were able to sacrifice the space in the garage for hockey because around the corner, on the adjacent side street, there was a large, outdoor parking lot. And when it was an extremely big affair, we had the added luxury to park on residential streets.
Cars parked in the garage were easily pulled up in front of the hall's main entrance. However, cars in the lot or on the street, required a left turn before passing the entrance from across the street and then a U-Turn to get back in front. Whenever possible, when retrieving those, it was faster to make a right instead of a left and unlawfully go in reverse a few hundred feet.
All of us, including me, were quite adept at this maneuver. But it was that move that sparked the most remarkable moment of my valet parking career.
On a summer night, the first group of folks were coming out of the wedding. I was bringing back one of the first cars from around the corner. West End Avenue was quiet so rather than going through with the rigmarole of making the left, passing the front entrance and making a U-Turn, I decided to make the right and go in reverse. While backing up, a souped-up Chevy Impala convertible with its top down roared by me. He screeched on the brakes and made an abrupt U-Turn behind me. Suddenly, our equally illegal moves left me blocking his path forward while he blocked my path backwards. For thirty seconds we gave each other the stink-eye before we simultaneously screamed, "Get out of my way!"
Suddenly, a monster who looked like a cross between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant jumped out of his car and growled, "I gonna kick the $!?#$! shit out of this guy." AT THE TIME, 6 FOOT 7, 302-POUND TERRY BOLLEA, a.k.a. HULK HOGAN, WAS THE MOST RECOGNIZABLE NAME IN PRO WRESTLING (WWF). ANDRE "THE GIANT" ROUSSIMOFF, 7 FOOT 4 AND 500+ POUNDS WAS ANOTHER WWF MARQUEE PERFORMER.
The Elton John song, "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting," flashed through my mind. So the prospect of getting annihilated was quite apparent...I knew I had to think fast. At the catering hall's entrance, a hundred feet away, I glanced at five of my hockey buddies watching this incident unfold. In addition to Ambrose, three of them were Stavros' surliest stooges. Inspired by the assumed camaraderie and protective spirit of my teammates, I stupidly burst out the car.
ON JUST ABOUT EVERYONE MY AGE'S LIPS, "SATURDAY NIGHT'S ALRIGHT FOR FIGHTING," WAS ONE OF ELTON JOHN'S ICONIC HIT SINGLES FROM HIS 1973 ALBUM, "GOODBYE YELLOW BRICK ROAD."
Despite having a big belly, my ornery adversary's heavily tattooed arms looked like etched, granite pythons exploding out of his torn, AC/DC tank-top. Without dillydallying, I stared into this bearded low-life's eye-level chest and aggressively advanced towards him. In a style that would have made someone with Turrets Syndrome blush, I looked up and got eye-contact. Then I loudly unloaded, in rapid-fire, every form of the harshest profanity I could think of.I couldn't believe my eyes, this creature's body language changed and he went into retreat mode. My tirade of intense swear words was so intimidating that he didn't even notice that five guys wearing identical white short sleeve dress shirts, black slacks and sneakers were at the curb, ready to back me up. He said, "Hey, I don't want no trouble." He even smiled and gave me a friendly wave as his car coasted around mine before he hit the accelerator and zoomed away.
My valet parking pals sincerely pounded me with congratulatory pats on my back for standing up to that heinous beast. But it wouldn't be until a week later that I privately learned that Stavros' weaselly friends had no intention of helping me.