Sunday, January 3, 2016

Talking Scales

"Please! Step on the scale!" said a firm voice.

I waited a second; listening closely, making sure my grandmother sounded busy three rooms away. When I heard the sink running, I stepped onto the scale.

"Your weight is 178 pounds. Have a nice day. Goodbye!"

I'm a fat bastard.

Laughing started in the kitchen at the other end of the railroad apartment on York Avenue. My grandmother with the hearing ability of a nocturnal animal was clearing her lungs and stomach, big ol' belly laughs starting way down. I wanted to kill her, and kick my cousin, Kathy, in the ass for buying her the talking scale with Don Pardo's voice. I loved Nanny Cuckoo dearly but she wanted me fat. She wanted everyone fat. She loved food and loved eating with people, so she filled her fridge to the point it was dark in there because the low watt light bulb was shaded by a colossal head of iceberg lettuce sitting on two large tubs of Cool Whip. The Cool Whip to go on top of the Turf Cheese Cake that she bought in the bakery right next to our house. Italian Village pizza place on First Avenue considered her family and the Parkers’ bought their first car on the profits they made off Nan's cold cut orders at their grocery store.

She never bought a quarter pound of nothing. Half pound was a snack. Three quarters of a pound was getting into sandwich country. I was a cold cut junkie.

The bond with my friends was strengthened by the load of cold cuts, Jewish rye and condiments in my Nan's fridge. Artie Peters met me on Saturday afternoons on lunch break from my delivery job at Corner Pharmacy on 79th & York. We'd go straight to Parkers, buy a pound of Swiss cheese and a loaf of rye on Nan's credit in the marble book, go up the apartment and make six grilled cheeses, two each ~ Nan included. We made dark chiaroscuro swirls on Nan's white tin ceiling with the plume of smoke coming from the butter soaked black frying pan with the foot high flame under it.

Buddy McMahon and I, had a kind of exchange student relationship with his mom and my grandmother. I'd sometimes hang out with his Mom and shoot the shit while she loaded me up with 4 C Ice Tea. Buddy would drop by my grandmother's when I wasn't there for a quick sandwich and glass of milk and catch up on the local gossip and politics.

About a month after Nan got the scale, Buddy dropped up the apartment - for a change - while I was there. "Hey, Buddy, try out the new scale," Nan said.

Obediently, Buddy stepped on the scale clueless, and Nan looked like she just ate a canary.

"Your weight is 180 pounds. Have a nice day! Goodbye!"

Buddy startled, frowned and rubbed his belly. I was pleased, and Nan grinned.

Tommy Buddy 1985

Artie Tommy on #6 @ 1969

Mark your calendar. Valentine's Day, February 14th, a special Stoops to Nuts show at Ryan's Daughter, 350 E. 85th Street @ 4pm. I''ll perform sections from my upcoming full length play, "City Boy."

"My Aim Is True"
Thomas Pryor presents:  Stoops to Nuts Valentine Day Show
Ryan's Daughter, 350 E. 85th Street
February 14th @ 4pm

Check out my 1960s memoir, "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys - tales of a scrappy New York boyhood." at Logos Book Store, or purchase the book online at Amazon (113 five-star reviews out of 113 posted) or Barnes & Noble ~ and buy "River to River ~ New York Scenes From a Bicycle" my photography portfolio online.

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