Errata Literary Magazine

Boys Will Be Boys
by Al Honig

he three of us are sitting at Chickie and Pete's having a second round of Yuenglings on tap and she's laughing her head off.

What's so funny? I ask.

Look at your head, she answers. First of all, your left eye is black and blue and who ever put on that bandage? You look like one of those moslem mullahs.

The kid guzzles down a mouthful and says, It isn't funny Mom. Maybe you should have come with us instead of going to the ballet. Pop, why don't you tell her what happened?

I say to the waitress, could you bring us an order of your famous chicken wings? Then I ask the wife, Do you really want to hear about it and how I got this bandage?

She says, Why don't you use a napkin? You're getting the chicken grease all over your lips. She picks up her napkin and wipes my face. Go ahead, tell me, she says.

I say, The day started off bad when the train stopped for track work. I thought I'd never make it.

They should save those track repairs until after midnight when everybody's asleep, she says.

It's a good thing I had my cell phone, I say. It's really a good thing. I was able to call the kid here and tell him I was running late. When I surfaced at Eleventh Street, there was the kid's Hummer parked at the corner where he said it would be. He had a red Moses Malone jersey over his suit.

Those big trucks are hard for me to get into, she says. I'd never be able to drive one. Anyway, Kid, thanks for dropping me off before you met your father. The ballet was wonderful.

We're sitting at Chickie and Pete's drinking Yuenglings, remember? It's after the game. The kid says, Let's have a couple orders of hamburgers and french fries. It'll be our supper.

Both of them are waiting for me to finish the story so I go ahead with it. Let me tell you, it was one big experience. Your kid here, I say to her, really knows his way around. I was staring at everything. The statue of Rocky bigger than life. And those massive stadiums. Citizens Bank Park with its baseball player in stone. Lincoln Financial has a football player just like it. The kid said to me, Pop, we can walk from here to the Wachovia for the game. It's about half a mile. We'll pass the Spectrum. Bruce Springsteen's concert is there tonight. Sure, I told him. But I found myself walking alone because your son stopped for a foot-long hot dog.

Pop ate half of it, he says to his mom, although I know I only took a small bite. But I keep quiet on that one.

I say, The crowd was so thick at the Wachovia, it was hard to tell one smelly breath from another. We went through gates where they scanned people with metal detectors, but I could have had a submachine gun under my coat for all they noticed or cared. A long escalator landed us up on the top tier. The kid here said to me, I thought you said you had good seats for the playoffs -- season tickets. I said, look at them, they say sixty-eight a piece. Section 1413. He shrugged his shoulders. We went down two rows. A flimsy railing was between me and a long fall to the court. From where we were everybody on the court looked like ants.

So how was the game? the wife asks.

I say, After the Star Spangled Banner, the two teams lined up facing each other and shook hands. Like they do every night. It was all a mechanical ritual. Then came the flashing lights, the fire crackers, the smoke choking everybody. With the song from the Gladiator, I just knew we were in for something bad. You have to put yourself right there to understand it all. Ready?

She answers affirmatively.

The stands were full of red jerseys. Naturally, because the Sixers were home. Down the row were three hecklers with black jerseys. Detroit fans tanked up with beer. "Fuck you, Iverson" carried from our row throughout the arena. The acoustics are very good at the Wachovia. Four burly beered guys with Iverson printed on the back of their shirts got up, and before you know it, the kid and I were in the midst of a brawl. Arms flailing, heads butting. Really, we were trying to mind our own business. Just trying to stay in our seats.

Yeah, it wasn't our fight, says the kid.

Suddenly, I was going over the balcony. Oh shit, I hollered. I gottcha, Pop, the kid said. He grabbed my legs as a beer bottle opened up a six inch gash in my right temple. The medics came and sewed me up. They thought I was out, so they gave me mouth to mouth.

But he wasn't out, Mom. I swear it.

And that's why I'm wearing this bandage, I say.

She sits there quietly, maybe too quietly.

The ballet was wonderful, she says. Did I tell you? They got a new lady dancer from Cuba. She thinks a minute, then she says, No wonder you boys are hungry.