Mean Streets

I hate to brag---you know I do. You know bragging is the last thing I want to do. I cry myself to sleep at night and go days without eating every time I have to do it. But there are just certain things I’m good at, and one of those things is getting along down on the street. I just have this certain sense for how to get by when I’m right there in the middle of it, surviving on my wits. Last weekend I was up in New York, just making it all happen, you know, in my town, like I usually do, and I came across two guys on a sidewalk running one of those games where they try to fool you about which card is going to come up. Three bean monty, I think it’s called. So I wasn’t born yesterday; I knew better than to get involved. I watched a couple of people get fleeced and I just stood there laughing and accepting the occasional compliment on the new T-shirt I’d just bought from the I Love New York shop, a bright blue cotton deal that has a huge colorful picture of the Statue of Liberty on it with glittery gold highlights---yes, thank you, it’s completely awesome. So at some point I was alone with these two guys who were running the scam, and they said, “Oh, we don’t want any part of you, you probably got us all figured out,” to which I could only nod sagely, of course. They pleaded with me to try the game but I played it cool. Finally one dude said he would bet me ten bucks that I couldn’t say a certain tongue twister three times fast. Now if you know me, you know for a FACT that I am the WORLD CHAMPION tongue twister sayer, so at first I pretended like I didn’t even know what a tongue twister was, to kind of hustle the guy, and then I finally said, real nervous-like, “Um, ten bucks….gee, maybe….well, what is the tongue twister?”, smiling all the time inside. (Wait till you hear how this turns out, it is so great.) So the guy says, “Well, it’s really tough---you have to say your checking account number forwards and backwards three times fast and not leave out a single digit. Nobody can do it!” And of course, I totally ACED it. The look on the guy’s face was priceless, poor bastard. Deer caught in the headlights. He was so floored that he begged me to go double or nothing with another tongue twister, and he took a moment to think of the toughest one he could, and he even conferred a couple of times with his buddy, who was looking me over and PLEADING with him not to go on (at least one of them had the brains to realize I was no rube), and finally he served up a real melon to me---all I had to say was my home address and date of birth backwards in fifteen seconds without screwing up, which I did to perfection in HALF the allotted time, walking away from the corner of A Street and 17th with a crisp TWENTY DOLLAR BILL, which I decided to blow in one of the Big Apple’s classic eating establishments, Johnny Rockets (the ORIGINAL one, not one of the lame spinoffs we have around here). So yeah, it was good times once again in old NY. The only thing that made the trip less than perfect was that there was some problem with my ATM card when I tried to buy my bus ticket home so I had to sneak onto one and it smelled like radishes and the banana I had got smooshed. But like I say, my belly was full of milkshake and fries, so who’s complaining?