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Sunday Read: 'It's Who We Are' by Cat Agonis

 

Illustration for Bushwick Daily by Shanon Weltman

 

It’s Who We Are

by Dallas Athent

Some things yous can’t escape. That’s what I’ve learned about it all. I can’t escape bein a man. I get jealous and tight sometimes. Specially at work in front of the boys, if someone challenges me... And yous know how it is wit a dame. Some things yous can’t escape and that’s what I know.

I grew up in College Point. My family clan is from there. We’re Irish-Italian. I got pushed out to Maspeth to oversee a branch of pop’s plumbin business cause the Dooleys expand like that. Been in Maspeth since I was 19. Been in Maspeth for 15 years. It’s Queens--it’s where I’m from it’s who I am. New York baby.

Maspeth is a nice little place. It’s like yous in a village even though yous in Queens. For those of yous who don’t know Queens, alotta Queens is like that. In Maspeth they string the Christmas lights in December and have funeral homes for the departed. In Maspeth yous meet a cat young and he’ll be ya boy for life. Yous meet a girl young and she’ll be ya girl foreva.

My girl wasn’t my girl foreva though. Maybe that’s cause I actually met her in Forest Hills. Sometimes I take it there, to other parts of Queens. I took it too far in Forest Hills a coupla times and that’s how I ended up both wit my girl and then without her. She’s in Staten Island now wit my daughter and I’m sure to see my daughter every Sunday.

But otherwise I work and hang wit the guys. We talk about the girls we done, the ones we haven’t, the famous ones we never will - ya know, like Angelina Jolies. Just last Saturday I was at my boy Reggie’s. We was all playin beer pong and I can’t explain it. I got this feelin like I knew my life was gonna end...I heard things about the world endin in 2012 and the rapture from movies, like the action ones. I decided to make the most of it and smoke a blunt. Ya know. YOLO.

Now I don’t smoke that much. I’m really just a drinker, so this did my head in a little. I got the cabin fevers people sometimes get when they’re young and they can’t wait to get older, can’t wait to do things. Well I felt I wasn’t doin nuttin.

I thought I’d roll out to this bar we call the biggest little party place in Maspeth. Sometimes there’s hot young dames wearin tube tops, drinkin hard lemonades and whatnot, but this was a bad night. I hopped in my ride all drunk and high, lookin to get outta this town for once. I was too twisted to drive to Manhattan though. That was for sure. Instead I went down Flushing where I sometimes work. They got alotta buildins that need plumbin over there. Buildins for factories and stuffs. I never seen em at night and I doubted much happened ova there but for some reason I drove that way anyways. Outta habit I guess.

On the ride I thought about my life; maybe I could do more, maybe I could do less but ya know what - at least I was workin. All this thinkin made me paranoid and I seen some things that wasn’t there. Ya know, maybe I thought I saw the boys in blue or somethins.

I pulled over and wouldn’t ya know it - in the wall of some buildin was a door to a bar. Holy shit, I says to myself - I didn’t know they had bars round here.

I went inside to take a look, cause ya know - YOLO. There were all sortsa freaks. Guys in girls jeans, girls in boys shirts wit the checkers on em. One girl had her head shaved and then one dame had hair so long she was sittin on it. I took my place and ordered a Bud but they told me they didn’t have Bud so I says, “Give me the next best thing,” and they gave me some PBR. I was like, Ya know what? That’s good enough for me. Pops drank PBR back before the cancer. Back before the nursin home in Rego Park.

So then this dame comes up to me. She wasn’t sloppy like the girls in Maspeth with their stuffs hangin out, but somehow sloppy like she didn’t brush her hair or somethin. She was wearin these huge glasses like she had serious eye problems so I kinda felt bad for her at first. But then she had on some tight shiny shift wit some dude’s shirt all unbuttoned ova it. I was thinkin - Whose shirt is that? Well, she just rolled right up to me like it was nuttin and she goes, "Um, you're not from around here, are you?"

Who was she talkin to? Me?! I’m a member of the Dooley clan!

"Not from around here?” I says. “What are ya talkin bout I live right up the road. Are yous from round here?"

"Yeah, I live around the corner."

"But yous grew up here?"

"No. I grew up in Connecticut."

"But ya from here?"

"Yeah. I just said I live right around the corner."

Oh man. I was missin somethin.

Next thing I know she’s talkin to me like, What are you doing over here? And What do you do for a living? I get to tellin her bout the plumbin. How I grew up in Queens. How I was high and checkin out this hood...I was lookin for somethin new since I was stoned wit the cabin fevers and boy did I find it: a bar where people take a shot of whiskey and then follow it wit a shot of juice from a freakin picklejar! People got some strange customs in other hoods, let me tell ya.

She starts talkin to me wit some dreamy voice like she high too, sayin things like, "Queens, I never go to Queens," and "You know I've never hooked up with a guy like you before." She starts tellin me bout this pizza joint round the corner where they put a farm-on-the-table, whateva that means. She says the brick oven is legit. She says it’s the best freakin pizza in New York City. Then she all flirty and surprised like, "You haven't been there? Everyone knows it though...it’s the best. SO many writeups." So I says, "You eva go to Rosas in Maspeth? It don’t need no writeups."

She shot me a snotty look and says, "Um, no." And I say, "But it’s right there. In Maspeth. It’s like, a mile away. C’mon! Everybody know Rosas!!"

We go back and forth talkin like we know our pizza better than the other, even though we never tried the other or even hearda it - but it don’t matter cause I know I’m right anyways. Then she just starts makin out wit me outta nowheres! She goes, "You wanna go for a walk?" I told her not really. She tells me how there’s another great bar in the area and how there’s a sushi joint open late or somethins and I’m like, “Nah, I don’t need to see any a that uncooked fish stuffs.” Then she says to me, she goes, "I gotta run. You should come pick me up later. But my ex-boyfriend is crashing at mine so you have to wait until he falls asleep to get me. I'll call you. Take me back to yours and show me Maspeth."

I was like, WOAH. Okay. That sounds like a plan even though she’s kinda snobby and maybe hasn’t washed her hair in the past coupla days. Maybe I could talk her into startin out in the showa first, rub in some Head n Shoulders and then we take it to the bedroom. I give her my number and didn’t have no other place to go. I figured I’d chill at mine for a hot second while I waited for her to call. It was only a five minute drive anyways.

Needless to say when I got home I was freakin tired. I fell asleep on my couch after smokin a cigarette, drinkin a Coors Light and watchin recaps from the game. I woke up the next day and checked my phone, worried maybe I missed out on showin this dame a good time. Showin her Maspeth, real New York and Rosas. But as it turned out she neva called me anyway. I guess it’s just who we are, ya know?

---

Sunday Read is a weekly literary feature curated and edited by Wesley Salazar. On a rolling basis we are accepting submissions of short stories, poetry, essays, script excerpts, comics, etc. (max: 1000 words). Please submit to wesleyATbushwickdaily.com.

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