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‘Any Other Time’
Being the Better Man’s Best Man: 7/29/2022
© 2022 James LaFond
MAR/17/23
Ocean City, Maryland, 57th Street
My brother Tony married a beautiful girl, 20 years his junior on the beach, with this old cuss standing as best man, but in fact second. I helped him edit his vows and admired Amber as she strode lithely out on the beach like she belonged on a pulp fiction cover in her white slit shift. Our nephew Joey married them.
After he kissed the bride I said, “Bro, the only way this could be improved upon would be if some Comanche’s attacked and we killed them and you kissed her over their dead bodies.”
She actually seemed flattered.
The next, day as we wrapped up the week, Tony and I played game after game of corn hole, sack-like horseshoes with as much in common with shuffle board as horse shoes. It has ever been the same. We start out even, I plateau, and he gets better.
This was the third night in a row, me drinking 75 pints of beer and a half bottle of whiskey with hardly any food over the week, and him smoking cigars. Thanks to eating on Rick’s list, despite the liver abuse, I did not gain weight.
I have never beat Tony at anything: he’s smarter, taller, quicker, stronger, longer, faster, more coordinated and has a bio mechanical recall level that is 10 times my own. I struggle in the 40% of men. He basks in the 95%. It took me ten hours to learn the speed bag, Tony 20 minutes.
The last time we had a brawl, it was a drawl despite him scaling 85 pounds to my 145.
The last time we boxed, with him a middle weight and me a welterweight, I never hit him and the fellow at ringside counted 398 punches served into my ribs and mitt. Thank fully, Tony had taken up smoking and only had 400 punches in him, and after spraining his wrist on me with 3 ounce gloves, he was coughing up goo on my shoes, declaring me an unsafe punching bag.
As boys we committed petty crimes together and at age 18, I butchered a friend with a home made sword who I caught beating up Tony. Tony knows me and respects my strangeness and I like having him take the lead and always play second man around him. He has an engaging personality and is good with strangers.
The first game of corn hole, he took me 21 to 20.
The second game of corn hole, he shut me out, 21 to 0.
The third game of corn hole, he crushed me 21 to 7.
During this game, he looked at the 8 large, college age men next door, who had just showed up, and declared, “Glad we’re headed out—the constant F-bombs with the kids and old people right here. These guys have no discipline.”
I looked over and said, “They have two nice girls. If there were no police, no laws, the swearing would end and I’d have a squaw for me and Mister Grey.”
He grinned, looked at my waist at the war club and the scalping knife and grinned, “Jesus—you’re regressing, losing weight is sending you back to the stone age.”
I threw and sank a clean three pointer and he said, "Good shot, Jim,” then sank two…
The men were of three races, including deracinated Latinos speaking standard English with a video gamer lisp. They were heavily tattooed. The height was 5’ 10” to 6’ 3” the weight 200 to 400.
A Big Un, a boxy, Hispanic, at about 350, with tattooed fists, expensive clothes and a close cut beard, approached us very politely and asked us if he could play.
I grinned.
My brother, my leader read the situation.
Another would come over, then the spectators. The cussing would continue and Tony would be forced to tell them to tone down the language.
Chances are, that the black one or one of the spics, would take offense and we’d be in a brawl, me packing 4 knives and a war club and looking for an excuse to travel off planet.
He looked at me and grinned as he saw me measuring the giant for a felling and gregariously said, “That would be great. But my brother and I only see each other once a year and its our last night. Any other time and we’d be glad to pitch a game or two with you.”
I stood silently pumping my low lead hand ready to hit the chin. Tony grinned at my hand and the guy said, “No problem man. Just thought I would ask. You all have a nice night.”
He then bumped with his tattooed knuckles Tony’s and with mine, and I felt his soft tattooed fist squish in and him wince. As the polite land whale shambled away, I said, “Bro, did you feel that fist, how soft it was? That thing would splatter on contact with my face.”
He grinned, “Bro, it wouldn’t come to that. He couldn’t crack an egg.”
He then saw me eyeing the pretty Latina and body typing the land whale faux males and grinned, “It would be fun, I grant you that.”
I scored 4 points, four bags on the board, to his two. He said, “What my score?”
“Nineteen, you need two.”
He sank a 3-pointer, then threw the other bag away and declared, “That’s a wrap. Good game.”
Second, or even last, is my lot. But at least its a place.
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