A Pool Hustler's Daughter grows up in subterranean America. She dreams big, hustles daily and loves her Daddy. With empathy, fascination and grace she navigates and inhabits every tier of society; sees beauty and hope and magic in all things; respects and lives by the "mitzvah."
A Pool Hustler's Daughter calculates the trifecta payout at the racetrack, hides money on three parts of her body, has an arsenal of "Uncles," and keeps a baseball bat by the front door. She values friendship, loyalty and experiences over "things." Like her father, she seeks to learn "The secrets of the universe" and believes "Life ain't on the square." She applauds the self-made and those who learn to "overcome" their circumstances. Her door is always open for a sofa to sleep on, a hot meal, or an eager listener for a life story.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day Rant

Always the same (very sane) thoughts on Election Day: 1. Why didn't I early vote? 2. Why aren't there more than two Presidential Candidates? 3. Why aren't either of these Presidential Candidates a woman? 4. Why aren't both Presidential Candidates women? 5. My boyfriend dumped me on election night and he can suck it and I hope he has to wait in line a really long time to vote today and had a sleepless night trying to decide on a candidate that he can speak intellectually enough about at cocktail parties and the "totally unique" reason he chose that candidate (to bedazzle young women and because he is too cool to follow any crowd) and then he misses an important phone call at work because his IPHONE fell in the toilet again while he tried to jerk off in the Waffle House bathroom stall (again)and for having not been in the office to receive this call, so he could vote(the phone call was from Warner Brothers saying they were going to greenlight his Documentary film on clowns that crochet), he actually gets fired for going to vote and then his car breaks down on the side of a country road where he is taken prisoner by a group of right-wing lunatics/Ned Beatty fans who leave him in the front of the polling place "a real man"(Double Entendre intended) with a confederate flag tattooed on his forehead as a super white white boy in "the wrong side of town" and the seventy year old school teacher/Polling Superintendent tells him his Drivers License has expired and he can't vote, and that she is almost certain he lied about how tall he is on it and that she could send him to jail for that, so he takes the bus (because he thinks he should be "green") - at least on election day, even though he has a hundred thousand dollar sports car sitting in his garage at home - to his office to find another form of id, where he just got fired, but there is just a box of his stuff sitting on a stoop, like a picture of him and Charles Barkley, matches from the old Rainbo Room in New York City, a wedding invitation he never RSVPd to and a lottery ticket that he swore to the Lottery Commission was a winner and he had it and lost it, but they didn't like his cocky attitude and gave the money to someone else(a significantly better human being); and last but not least his computer which has a Post-it note on it that says "This computer is FILTHY! You're a dirty little piggy!(FYI u have my #)" Still desperate to vote, a stoned teenager on an electric bike named Dwight tells him he can make him a fake id so he can vote today, but it will cost him a hundred bucks, so he follows this kid by running alongside him while he bikes and starts to feel really good for a guy in his forties and that he is in such good shape that he can keep up with the kid. When he gets to the farmhouse where the kid quickly takes a picture of him with his camera phone but with a bandana around his forehead to hide the confederate flag tattoo, the kid starts to print out the fake id, with his "correct" height, and while it is printing, the printer runs out of colored toner and he starts to smell smoke and the teenager says"Shit, Old Man, there's a meth lab in the back and it's probably going to explode" which it does, and he finds himself back on a country road covered in soot and all of his hair which he once thought was gorgeous all having burned off, and he walks sadly, back to the polling place and shows the Old Lady/Superintendent his fake photo id which is very blurry due to lack of toner, and instead of admitting she has to buy reading glasses, approves his form of id and allows him to vote. He painfully limps to the polling booth, bleeding, third degree burns blistering, an ugly tattoo on his forehead, now unemployed, banned from both playing the lottery and/or entering a Waffle House(Bob Evans would have to do now) and casts his vote. After mulling it over for some time, the clock about to strike seven pm, he finally decides on a write in candidate. That girl he dumped on Election night so very long ago. He smiles remembering her screaming "God will punish you for this one day." That girl made a promise and delivered. Calm and content with his decision, smiling, he kindly asks the Little Old Lady/Voting Superintendent, grinning, chuckling, recalling all of that girl's, ahem, screams, "Miss, mind telling me where the nearest public restroom is?"

Thursday, November 1, 2012

One Good Beating December 2010

One Good Beating Cat Bentivegna Adami

"Beatings are essential to growing up.” Pops began, “Be grateful for those beatings.

Afterward, the world will soon open up, acknowledge you. Every one's gotta pay some

dues. There is no other way around it. Don't avoid it. Just embrace it."

Week one of my father’s basic training at Ft. Meade, Maryland, he took a grueling

fourteen hour hike and then slept in the forest. A comic book loving city boy, petrified of

the arachnids, insects, and tiny evil woodland creatures, he covered himself under his

sleeping bag and barely slept a wink, hearing every hoot, hiss, howl and rustle in the

wind, scratching himself incessantly as if covered in ants, all night long. The next day,

another fourteen hour hike, yet this second evening, my father could barely

remember zipping the sleeping bag shut, as he just passed out cold with painful

exhaustion, grateful for the rest, regardless of the potentially poisonous predators

surrounding him.

Even with a few million Reds aiming for them over the border, the Western

Germany my Pops was shipped to was a playground for U.S. servicemen in 1958.

Popular amusements included: drag racing through the Black Forest, drinking beer with

high alcohol levels and romancing buxom beauties. U.S. kids were so scrawny back then,

that only a few steins of beer put these GIs over the edge. Each inebriated night, Pops

would witness a fight; over a girl, over a bar tab, or just because he looked at you funny.

No real reason was needed, the fighting was just to ease the tension.

Life in the service is a "kill or be killed" mentality. So, as the story goes, my Dad

randomly picks one of the bigger beefcakes at the bar and just rams his head into the

guy's guts. His first fight, he was scared as can be but warm from all the beer, and the

fresh strewn blood running down his face. When he awoke the next day, swollen head,

double vision, limping to the mess hall for breakfast, the worst was over. Pops was no

longer an "outsider" and the table he sat down to eat at was filled with new friends.

The first few years out of college really sucked for me. First of all I was broke. I had so

much credit card and college debt, that I could barely afford clothes or to go out and grab

a beer. All I wanted to do was to be in grad school but I could not retrieve

my transcripts from Tulane without paying them ten grand. Various pie charts based on

my income were calculated and taped to my apartment wall. I figured I would be debt

free in around thirty three and a half years. My fake blond hair constantly had black roots

as seventy dollar dye jobs were few and far between. My dreams of living in the French

Quarter in New Orleans and writing would have to be put off for a few years, although I

could never have imagined so many.

Work was a mindless punishment surrounded by "Philistines." Being an "intellectual"

like myself was fantastic as there were no income requirements. T.S. Eliot was a banker

and a poet which comforted me in dark times. But he wrote the "Wasteland" and all I

was good for was some Henry Miller inspired soft porn. I was mostly performing data

entry and on the receiving end of a mercurial, elitist boss's tirades. It could

not have been farther from the life I envisioned as a "free" artist.

To get through this time I would go out drinking - a lot. Usually pounding pints of

Double Bourbon and Cokes on Monday or Tuesday nights spending all the following day

at work, unshowered, reeking of cigarette smoke, dry heaving in the bathroom and

giggling at my desk. I would play the local NPR station on low, as I had practically been

fired for attempting a New York Times crossword puzzle during my daily desk side meal.

I would lock the front door of the office so whoever needed to come in – a

Canabis reeking, pierced bike messenger, or my boss, would have to knock first and

wake me out of my slumber and allow me time to wipe the drool off of my chin.

I was not offered health insurance, so when I started having massive panic attacks, I

began seeing the head of Psychotherapy at Catholic Charities, for a sliding scale

ten dollars a session. Dr. I was an older grey haired woman in her early sixties, an ex-

nun, who began her career counseling prostitutes. I know she must have thought of me as

a seriously self-indulged, waste of her time. See, I had to take a short "mental health"

leave of absence from said desk job into my first year out of school. Like my pal Holden

Caulfield, I needed a break. My panic attacks were so bad, that I could not leave the

apartment I shared with two room mates. My heart would pound so hard in my chest with

anxiety, that I would beg for an ambulance, I thought I would pass out at any minute. I

had terrible aches and pains and could not stop a most horrific recurring record playing

over and over again in my head.

Dr. I straight up told me a friend of hers had been struck by a bus and killed on a

vacation in Ireland. I was only twenty-three and I needed to "lighten up" as I would never

be able to control everything that happened in life. And even though I was feeling very

out of control - like Jimmy Stewart clutching the walls up the stairs on his way up the

tower in Hitchock's "Vertigo", coming to terms that I could not control everything, as I

had tried so hard to do my whole unconventional life, saved me.

Two years or so out of college, I was twenty-four and stuck in what I foolishly thought

was a dead end job. I was so angry my roommates would at times come home to see my

bedroom trashed as I had turned into the Incredible Hulk.

Worst of all, or most definitely adding to my "frustration," was the fact that three years

had passed since I last got laid, which oh, yeah, happened to be when I lost my virginity

senior year in college. My father even took me out to dinner just to console me, "I know

you might think so, but I can assure you, you are NOT gay." I missed the freak out and

breakdown most kids go through while in high school or college and was paying the price

for that now. I would have to pay my dues. You can't be "born thirty." You need time to

just be a kid.

So, one Friday night I am out at a bar with my best friends from high school, all of us

dressed in our yuppie work outfits. It is packed inside and we are all sitting around in

a circle, laughing. Out of nowhere, some college guy, takes a seat between two of my

girlfriends. I had noticed that this guy, another guy and a tall blond girl had just been

staring at our group for around twenty minutes.

So my friends continue telling their stories with this dude just sitting there, as we

exchange these looks on our faces like "What is going on?"

All of a sudden, this guy puts his arms around two of my girlfriends, uncomfortably

squeezing them together toward his face and shouts "Which one of you bitches wants to

get fucked tonight?" I was livid. We all yelled at the jerk and watched him scamper

away back to his friends. Worst pickup line of all time. In my man hating rage, this guy

had gotten off easy. The girls began laughing again, although I was still steaming on the

inside. A few moments later, the blond girl who had been standing with our intruder,

approaches our table, standing above us. Instead of offering an apology for her over-

served boy friend, she hovers over our table and whines "Who the hell do you think you

are being mean to my friend?"

I don't know what happened next but the dam burst. I gave this girl a look from across the

table and she knew she was in trouble. "I'm gonna kill that bitch!" I screamed and jumped

over the table and chased this girl out the door of the bar and onto Webster street, in

my high heels and work suit. I ran so fast to catch her not knowing what I would actually

do once I caught her. I mean, I had never been in a fight before in my life - I was an

altar server in Catholic school, received "safety" citations from the Illinois Secretary of

State, never did drugs, stole, or said more than two or three bad words about someone,

tried to be honest, and paid my bills on time. And here I was, powered by adrenaline and

years of pent-up anger. And then I remembered, my Dad, the Germany story, and that no

matter what, I had to make the first punch or whatever and I had to make it count. At that

moment I caught right up to this girl, this very stupid and now scapegoated college girl,

who had defended this awful young man and for me, Gloria Steinem, and all the broken

hearted women just like me, pushed this girl so hard into airborne flight over Seminary

street that she landed right on her face.

Soon my arms were being pulled back by the tall bouncer who tried to hold back his

laughter. He quickly let go of me and I stood on the sidewalk in the front of the bar.

Awed looks from five friendly faces froze on the other side of a giant window. Catching

my reflection, I could see my white Ann Taylor dress shirt was ripped and the pearl

necklace was caught in a knot of hair on the top of my head. My face, beet red; heart

beating faster than a panic attack but invigorated beyond my wildest dreams.

My trajectory soon changed. I lightened up. Work got better, bills got paid off faster

and I even started talking to men again. Pops was right, the heavens did start to open up

to me. And all it took was one good beating.

Goosebump Goddess

"Tell me, the dream , again..." "Well, it's night, and New York is particularly quiet. It's not necessarily late at...