One of the joys your friendly bartender relishes while working behind the stick, is sharing his shift each night with a guy named Tony. The man’s priceless. Tony had served as a waiter in our place for well over forty years, and he’s now the official greeter, seater and storyteller. He’s eighty four years old, a lifelong bachelor, speaks with an Italian accent, goes to the track every day (loses at the track every day), and is a character right out of the pages of Damon Runyon. But what makes our Tony truly unique, as if that weren’t enough, is the convoluted language he freely dispenses. He’s a walking malaprop.
For on any given moment Tony is Leo Gorcey from The Bowery Boys … that same Leo Gorcey who said (as he and the boys were planning their next caper), “Now we gotta get there at the exact same time so let’s sympathize our watches.” Or maybe it’s Archie Bunker I hear when Tony is making a point… that same Archie Bunker who said, “Aw Geez, they not only put Gloria in the hospital, they got her in the expensive care unit!” Yes, Tony is cut from that very same same cloth and what a colorful swatch of life it is.
That said, I give you some of Tony’s greatest hits…
(1) In describing why business was so horrible one night Tony said, “You’re not gonna make any money tonight, it’s a Jewish holiday.” “What holiday is it?” I asked, to which he promptly replied, “I don’t know the name of the holiday but I know it’s something big because all day long they’re wearin’ those Yokohama’s!”
(2) When I commented one day on him walking with a limp he said, “I think it’s a pinched nerve… but thank God it doesn’t affect my reflection.”
(3) When Charlie Ward, the football Heisman Trophy winner, was drafted by the New York Knicks to play basketball, I asked Tony if he thought Ward could make it in that sport. Without missing a beat he said, “Are you kidding? He’ll make a hell of a pro… he has what they call tremendous perennial vision.
(4) When I asked him way back when if he thought Tonya Harding was involved in that Nancy Kerrigan knee clubbing incident he said, “Involved? Involved? Absolutely. That whole fucking thing was completely pre-medicated!”
(5) Even though Tony’s father was a hotel pastry chef he never made sweets at home because, “He didn’t have all the accoutrements at his disposition.”
(6) When I asked if he thought they’d convict William Kennedy Smith on those rape charges back in the early 90’s he responded, “No way they’ll ever convict a Kennedy… Christ, they couldn’t get his Uncle Teddy on that Chippa-Wocky thing!”
(7) Being knowledgeable on all things gambling he pronounced the other day, “Forget about Las Vegas, forget about Atlantic City… all the gambling now is going to those Indian reservoirs.”
(8) When the Mets once lost five games in a row he said sympathetically, “Jeez, their morality has to be so low right now.”
(9) The single malt scotch, Knockando, he of course calls “Cock-a-doodle-do”.
(10) Of a friend recently hospitalized he said, “His heart trouble must be serious… they gave him a triple overpass.”
(11) After his eighty six year-old sister gave him some sisterly shit the other day he said, “When my sister yells at me now I don’t even care… I just let it go in one ear and through the other.”
(12) And finally, my favorite, “The way the world is now, I’m glad my nieces and nephews are already grown… except for the younger ones.”
That’s our Tony!!!
Over and out from Bar-land… see ya’ next week-end!
PS: I have no idea how that smiling face appeared in front of quote number eight, and worse… I have no idea how the hell to get rid of it.