Each weekend I leave behind the everyday problems of Bloomfield and go on a walkabout. Like Caine in Kung Fu I journey and meet people from other towns. Last Saturday my walkabout led me to the Somewhere Inn Lawrenceville where I met a man I would proceed to call Asian Bon Jovi and escorted him to Millvale where he spends his Saturday afternoons selling bootlegged anime DVD’s to teenagers from the North Hills.
Asian Bon Jovi speaks little english and I believe he may not have the proper papers to work in America, but I trust him and I would likely die for him. His 5 foot 7 frame evenly distributes his 126 pounds and his Metallica Speed of Sound Tour T-shirt waves like a flag of impending doom and rebellion in the cool Lawrenceville breeze.
We walked to my storage unit under the R.D. Flemming bridge where I brought my unopened crate of bootlegged “Avoid Lloyd” T shirts from the 1994 Steelers season into the light, hoping this might finally be the day I see a return on this investment. Asian Bon Jovi knew a guy in Sharpsburg who could pick us up at the Circle K and drive us to Millvale if we gave him 5 anime DVD’s.
He introduced himself as Gizzler and was 45 minutes late. He took 8 whipits during the 10 minute drive to Millvale. At one point he pulled over to make sure he did not “mess his pants” and then got back in the car and sharted, clicking on the child safety locks so that no one could put their window down.
I did not like his taste in music either as he was emphatic in his distaste for New Jack Swing, a genre I have grown quite fond of now since I purchased my first CD player in january. It was a genre that never really made it to the used cassette of Record Exchange. So I never really heard of it.
Gizzler disappeared into the hills of Reserve Township and did not return to pick us up at 4 as he promised. He was a real renob.
We arrived in Millvale and said nothing. We set up shop at the weird intersection of Grant and North next to the schoolyard at Holy Spirit Parish and did our best to blend in with the locals.
Asian Bon Jovi had a line of pale lanky teenagers waiting for him. I did my best to not pick on the little goony weirdos as to not hurt my new friends reputation in the bootleg community as a professional.
While Asian Bon Jovi was selling his DVD’s for $5 a pop and making a killing no one was even sniffing at my unopened box of bootleg T-shirts, all though the sign I made clearly stated that my desired price of $250 was slightly negotiable. I thought I had a buyer when an older gentleman named Stan Deshev stopped to make some small talk. He informed me that when he was a kid in the 50’s they used to have boxing matches by the Little Brown Jug and on Millvale Days they would back up the dam at Girdy’s Run and let a medium-sized whale loose in the creek. The boro charged a nickel to see the whale and everyone would go and yell anti-communist remarks at it. That tradition ended in 1957 when the whale died trying to blow water onto a flaming effigy of a soviet soldier. Deshev declared the event as “the beginning of the end” claiming it would spiral out of control into a local feud that would derail the American steel industry and cause his Uncle JimJam to sell his estate.
I sat enchanted taking in the aging man’s oral history of the region when he pulled a 16 ounce bottle of Robotussin DM out of his pocket and slurped it down with one solid guzzle. He than filmmed and flammed with his arms and legs making the sounds “flim” and “flam” respectively.
I had been duped by the ramblings of an old townie with a history of over the counter medicine abuse. I threatened his life and made my hand into a cup which I then farted into. I asked the aging Mr. Deshev if he wanted a cup. With confusion in his face he pleaded, “A cup of what?”
I looked him straight in the god damn eye and said with the determination of 1,000 Merril Hoge’s “a cup of this fart, you no good bastard.” I forced the fart towards him missing him narrowly. He ran off into the french bakery where he purchased a croissant.
Nearly out of Anime DVD’s Asian Bon Jovi called in for reinforcements and soon his cousin Eugene appeared in a suped out 2003 Saturn whose trunk was filled with multiple crates of the lame ass cartoon videos. I admire the work ethic of Asian Bon Jovi. In his eyes I see the future of the American Dream. He sells products that have a demand. These goofy suburban kids in their fancy pants like to watch Asian cartoons where kitty cats fart rainbows onto machines that come together to form a super warrior who fights crime at night disguised as a half panda half whale and Asian Bon Jovi provides them with what they want.
I on the other hand sit here with a perfectly good box of Avoid Lloyd t-shirts and no buyers. Sure as always plenty of people want to purchase a single shirt, often for up to $30. However they don’t have the time invested into making sure this case remains unopened that I do. Once the seal is cracked the bootlegged shirts lose half of their value, everybody knows that. I want to find the man who needs 144 Avoid Lloyd shirts and needs them now.
“I’m Danny Brassnooche and I sell bootlegged merchandise by the Gross!” is what I screamed as my sugarbeaties started acting up.
Asian Bon Jovi suggested that we go to the P and G Diner where they sat us immediately due to my diabetic medical tag that I wear on my wrist to help cut in line at Kennywood. I ordered scrambled eggs with ketchup and 71 pieces of bacon in honor of my favorite hockey player of all time Jiri Slegr. He never got the credit he deserved when he played for the Pens. Slegr became the czech scapegoat in the locker room after the firing of head coach Ivan Hlinka. He was a victim of the league’s financial structure who never got the support a team would need to win a championship with Jiri Slegr as one of your better players. It was a monumental task and Craig Patrick totally pooed in the punch sending Slegr to the Thrashers for a Third Round pick.
Asian Bon Jovi ate two raw eggs and 5 packets of sugar before jumping out his chair and selling the waitress a copy of the anime classic “Screaming Dolphin Adventure Forced Super Team.” He was back on the corner pushing his goods to the local weird kids and I was left with a belly full of low quality pork and thoughts about Jiri Slegr and what could have been that would likely haunt my dreams for the upcoming weeks.
Outside of the diner I met Hellen Wojecyz who worked at the church by the schoolyard we had turned into a public market as a receptionist. She told me she worked 3 days a week for 9 months a year and spent her summers in Monroeville where she had a lake house. She worked the job to stay legit with the IRS. She made all her money during Millvale Days selling coonskin hats for $10 a piece. She confided in me that the secret to her success was spending the off days from work checking the various traps she had placed along Girdy’s Run. Each week she caught an average of ten raccoons, of which 8 would become hats. Every Millvale Days she made a little over $4,000 which she would spend the next day on a pack of Kool 100’s and $3,995 in dollar scratch off lotto tickets.
She said looking forward to Lotto Monday every year was the only thing that kept her from getting her ears pierced. She said she had a nephew who was in the bootleg merchandise business who enjoyed buying product in gross and that she would call him. She pulled out the phone and dialed the number, soon my phone began to ring. I answered and realized that the women had called me, Hellen Wojecyz was my Aunt Dingy who wasn’t allowed over the house because she sat in the wrong chair during the Super Bowl and caused the Steelers lose to the Packers.
Using my Aunt as an intermediary between me and myself I sold the box of shirts to myself for 260 dollars. I borrowed the $10 difference from my Aunt Dingy who I told in exchange I would take out to dinner at Del’s next weekend, which I will not because I ain’t allowed there no more and if my Aunt Dingy really cared about me she would all ready know that and she wouldn’t go there no more because they are jagoffs and their soup is too salty.
The day was a success, I looked to the raven and he showed me my mission was not complete. I had not learned a life lesson from Asian Bon Jovi.
I walked up to Asian Bon Jovi and asked “what is the asian secret that will make you live forever?” He looked at me and smiled, “You. Danny Brassnooche. You no see the forest. You stare at one tree and say “where forrest?” You miss the places you have never been and therefore you will never find what you are looking for.”
It made no sense at all to me. Sometimes when asian Bon Jovi talks I just think about how sad it is that Fox never found the proper vehicle for Bobby Lee. Michael McDonald also. They also blew it on Nicole Sullivan. The whole MadTV franchise was handled poorly. Maybe that is what I was supposed to learn today. If you don’t properly plan the departure of your assets you will find yourself on the outside looking in at what could have been in a better time.
Two girls named Brandi and Missy walked over to Asian Bon Jovi and I and began to flirt with us. They grew up in town and liked to get drunk in the apartment they kept above the closed down furniture store across the street. They are looking for a good time and I have made a $10 profit that I am looking to spend on anything that makes me feel funny.
Asian Bon Jovi sells his last DVD’s to same late coming customers as they begin to ask me about my plans for the evening. I mention the killing I made in the bootleg merchandise industry that day and asked the uglier one if she knew any places in town that sold dollar drafts until 8. She said her cousin Raymond was a bartender at the Barking Shark and that we should grab some beers and go back to their place. The three of us turned to see Asian Bon Jovi exposing himself to us. He wiggled it around a little bit and then he ran back to Lawrenceville. I never saw him again.
Brandi, Missy and I all walked in separate directions and never spoke another word to each other.
Often I think back to the day that Asian Bon Jovi and I spent together selling bootlegged goods at the schoolyard with deep nostalgia. My time in Millvale brought happiness to its citizens and entertained its weird children with their cartoon movies.
Most of all it taught me that despite our similarities I could never be friends with Asian Bon Jovi, because he was a possible sex pervert.