by Dan Leone
I was crossing the street one day and a dollar bill blew up and hit me on the ankle. I thought, Okay, this is going to be my day.
At this point you're thinking, What can Ed do with a dollar, someone who needs so much? And in a lot of ways you're right. For example, I do need a lot of things, I would like to have a lot of things, and what's a dollar? In other words, what can you do with a dollar? What will a dollar buy you these days?
Not much -- it's true -- except that this wasn't an ordinary day. This was no ordinary day, no sir. For example: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday. This was none of those days. It was Thursday.
And if you don't know what day Thursday is, I don't know what to tell you, except that it's ten-cent hot dog day at the bowling alley lounge. Every Thursday from noon to five.
So at this point I'm thinking, Ten hot dogs. At this point I haven't had much of anything to eat since Louie died. Don't get any ideas, though. I've been hungry on more than one occasion in my life, but the way I see it, a friend is a friend. Period. A friend is not, under any circumstances, a meal. Or anything else, for example.
I will say this much, which is that I did sell Louie's pocket knife to a little boy for two dollars. And I'd be the first to admit that I used that money wisely. I could have done a lot of things, like Louie would have done, with that money. But I've seen too many nice people do a lot of things and where does it get them?
No thank you for me, sir. I like to eat. So I took that two dollars right down to the A&P -- it was a Monday, not a Thursday -- and I got me three loaves of bread and a little green super-ball.
I don't want to rub it in, but I ate like a king for two weeks straight. That's more than I can say for a lot of people.
The thing is, and I don't want to rub it in, but the thing is that I'm lucky. I have one thing. That's more than a lot of people can say, I realize it as much as the next guy, but I do have one thing, and that is a place to stay. A place to stay and a super-ball. Two things.
I stay in a building, and I'm not going to tell you about it because it's taking me too long to get to the moral of this thing, which is: IT'S TRUE WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
It's true because I found a dollar bill that day -- Thursday -- and I was on my way with it to the bowling alley thinking, If he was alive, would I have told Louie about this dollar?
I don't know. I'm just glad I didn't have to deal with it, in a way. See, Louie would have wanted to go to the liquor store with it, and that's not my style.
So I'm one-two-ing it to the lanes thinking, Ten-cent hot dogs, ten-cent hot dogs. Except I had to go to the you-know-what, so I thought about the Sunoco station a little bit, too. I'm halfway to the bowling alley.
Let me say one thing about the Sunoco station johnny, before I go on.
Well, it's about the you-know-what machine on the wall. I can't figure it out. For example, do you get one of every color for fifty cents, or just one color a shit. For example: green. Which, don't get me wrong -- I've never got the quarters anyway, or any use for the things, frankly, I'm sorry to say.
Anyway, don't worry about it, because the important thing is this: On my way out I'm going past the pumps, which is my favorite place to walk, after the bakery. When it comes to smells, buns first, gas second. So I'm heading out of Sunoco and there it is on the ground. Forty dollars. Forty dollars in twenties. Two of them on the ground together by the pumps at Sunoco -- and no cars around.
I think you're starting to see what Iím getting at here. The moral is that in this country -- I'm not saying whether it's good or bad, I'm just saying it -- YOU GOT TO HAVE MONEY TO MAKE MONEY in this country, things being how they are. I don't want to insult your intelligence, but if I didn't find that dollar in the street that day, I wouldn't have been on my way to the bowling alley in the first place. No bowling alley, no Sunoco, no forty dollars. You get the picture.
I'm not saying good or bad, I'm just saying that's the way it is.
Okay -- now I'll tell you about the building. This is the place where I stay -- that's what I'm talking about. It's a kitchen that's supposed to be shared by five guys. Five guys have separate one-room apartments in the bottom of this building, see. They share a kitchen and a bathroom, theoretically, but nobody uses the kitchen. Ever. So I get to stay there. The agreement is I live in the kitchen for free if I clean the bathroom for these guys, because they hate to clean the bathroom, I figure.
Sometimes I sleep on the counter between the refrigerator and the sink. Sometimes, for privacy, I sleep underneath the sink, across the bottom of the cupboard, with the pipes. And the sad thing about this place is that the cupboards are empty -- no food. Period. I look every day to see if anyone has bought something -- you know, community things, like oatmeal or pretzels. NO SUCH ANIMAL. Five guys eat out. That's what I call them -- Five Guys. I'm Ed.
But that's besides the point, the point being: Forty-one dollars.
I'm sitting at the counter in the bowling alley lounge. Do I put it all down at once, like the young playboys at Mr. Donut who leave their change on the counter until they leave? Four hundred and ten hot dogs, please. Onions and ketchup. No mustard.
No sir, that's not my style. Ed's not showing, thank you.
At this point, looking back on it, I don't think it had sunk in yet. FORTY-ONE DOLLARS.
Then it sunk in.
I set the single on the counter and said real calm to Tommy, Ten hot dogs. One at a time.
Tommy looked at the dollar, the he looked up at me and smiled. Ed, he said. Ed, baby. He was so happy for me he gave me a free Coke.
Did I tell him about the two more greens at the bottom of my pocket? No thank you, sir. I know when to keep my mouth shut.
Then, okay, I told him.
Sure, he said. Sure sure sure.
After Number Three I asked him for a pencil.
Sure, he said. Which he did -- he gave me a pencil.
I got a piece of scrap paper out of my pocket and smoothed it out on the counter in front of me. I was going to make a shopping list. I'd swing past the A&P on my way home. And won't Five Guys be surprised, coming home from work to the smell of pork chops and corn and tossed salad. Would I offer him any?
At this point I don't know. After all, when did Five Guys ever ask me out to dinner with him? Then again, maybe he's shy. Sure, I'll share.
Okay, but I couldn't think of anything to write down on my shopping list. Let me put it this way: I couldn't stop thinking of things to write down on my shopping list long enough to actually write any of them down.
Pork chops. Corn. Tossed salad. Fritos. Tomatoes. Canned Tomatoes. Fresh buns. Ham. Cheese. Fritos. Ketchup. Beans. Steak. Curry powder. Potatoes. Butter. Coffee. Collard greens. Graham crackers. Jelly. Tuna fish. Celery. Black olives. Green ones. Apples. French bread. Pretzels. Chicken.
What're you doing? (This is Tommy talking.)
I'm making a shopping list.
He looks at the paper, which there's nothing on it still, at this point.
Sure, he says, plopping down Number Six.
After Number Seven I picked up the pencil and wrote on the paper: Everything. Then I folded it up and put it in my pocket.
I'm not going to say too much about what exactly went on in my head between Hot Dog Number Seven and Hot Dog number Ten. Onions and ketchup. No mustard.
Let me just make it clear that normally I am a real-life person. That means I take things for what they are. For example, a hot dog is a hot dog. Period, depending what it's got on it. But I don't take it any further than that, thanks. A hot dog doesnít mean anything beyond what it tastes like, you see what I'm, saying?
Normally, I'm saying, I understand all this and life flows.
But something about having food in my stomach and green in my pocket -- it set me thinking. I'll be the first to admit it. And I started to think about my shopping list as something more important that it actually was. Saying something more.
All it said was: Everything. But that was the point. Everything. It got me thinking: What if I die, like Louie, and they find me and go through my pockets for identification and find my shopping list that says, Everything. What would they think? Here is a man -- Ed, if you want to get technical -- who has nothing. What does he need? Everything. What can we give him? Nothing. Well, maybe a decent burial.
Now I know what you're thinking. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I know what you're thinking. Well, you're wrong -- whatever you're thinking, which is probably that I spent the money on booze. And all I have to say to that is this, Hey, who am I? Am I Ed? Would Ed do a thing like that? No thank you, kindly.
I went bowling.
I swallowed the end of Number Ten at two o'clock, and I bowled from then until eleven that night, when they closed.
What was going on in my head? Absolutely nothing.
Was it like me (Ed) to do a thing like that (what I did)? No.
Am I sorry? No.
Did I still have some money left? Yes.
It's a dollar a game. I played fifteen plus Tommy bowled one, on me, when he got off work at five. By then I was good enough to beat him, which I did.
Ed, he said. Ed Ed Ed.
Tommy, I said.
So forty-one minus sixteen is twenty four. Twenty-four dollars.
You see what I mean? I ate ten hot dogs and went bowling and afterwards I was still richer than I've ever been that I can remember. ONLY IN AMERICA.
Only in America can you find forty-one dollars on the ground, spend seventeen, and still have twenty-four.
I got home at midnight. All I can say is my fingers were sore. And my feet. But it was a good feeling. I like to bowl. I got home with my hands in my pockets and who's in my room? Who do you think? Five Guys. One of them, anyway, and he's got water boiling on the stove. First time.
I walked up to him and looked at him, but he wouldn't look at me. My name, I said, is Ed. Then I said, Go have some lunch with me tomorrow?
Hi, he said. I'm Dave.
He was so nervous, this Dave Five Guys, he forgot to answer my question. He poured the water into a cup and left, which I watched him do it.
Frankly, I wasn't going to say it again. If he wants to have lunch, I'm asking him. If not, I'm still asking him but at least he could say it, one way or -- for example -- the other.
Dave, I thought. I'm thinking: Dave Dave Dave.
And then I crawled into my cupboards, thinking Dave, and went to sleep.
Basically that was my day. I still remember it.
Back to Ed's Day
Back to the ERQ Discography
Get YOUR free personal webpage at GeoCities.