We’re NOT going to Disney World……..
Prince Frankie you see, was a baseball star from the age of 7 until the age of 22.
Spring and summers were spent following Frankie around from baseball field to baseball field. We attended every single painful game. Night and day. Big Frank, my stepfather, seemed to be able to “be at work” for most of those games. I guess parking cars was a 24 hour deal. Lucky bastard.
My mother never missed a game. Work came second to paying homage to my brother and his baseball career. Funny, work was ALWAYS a priority when I graduated from 8th grade, or high school, or even for parent teacher meetings. Just as well.
My mother would sit in the stands, cigarette hanging from her mouth, her hair set in bobby pins (that was attractive) barking like a dog at the umpire, coaches or anyone else who deemed to give Frankie an unfair call when he pitched or when he was called out sliding into someone’s leg with his cleats. Yeh, fair play. I wonder who he learned that from. Sitting underneath the bleachers was my only retreat and safety net from her wrath, although she hardly knew I existed, let alone I was there.
Her orders were loud and clear to me -“Don’t get TOO lost, I don’t want to have to look for you when the game is over.” I bet she didn’t. And what is TOO lost? Should I have just gotten lost or a little lost?
“Be back at the car before we leave or else”, she would scream. Or else what? She would leave without me? She would give me one of those famous backhanders?
However she did decide to break tradition and take us on a one day vacation-
to New York. It was the first and last time. I was 7 and Frankie was 13.
Riding in the back seat of the car with Frankie was like being in prison with a cellmate who tormented you non stop. In the car you couldn’t escape from the poking, the punching, and the name calling. He had a new name for me this day- my baptized and legal name is Maria Meda Pafka. He changed it to Maria MEATA Ball. Nice.
My mother growled from the front seat of her 1954 Chevy Impala, and it still rings in my ears. “Don’t make me stop this car”! “You don’t know how lucky you kids are, I sacrifice everything for this family (I think not!) and all I ask is that you behave”. On and on and on. She was delusional.
We started walking along the streets of Manhattan, taking in all the vendors and sights. It was almost ok.
Until the monkey.
There was an organ grinder on a corner with a monkey sitting on his shoulder.
Cute monkey. The organ grinder was pumping out some little ditty of a song,
while the leashed monkey held out a tin cup for passers by to deposit money into.
Frankie began by taunting the monkey. He would tweak his fur and pinch him.
Frankie then grabbed the monkey’s tail and waved it in front of him. The monkey’s eyes bulged and opened wide. Frankie went on with his torture.
As Frankie turned around in my direction, the monkey jumped on Frankie’s head, and for a moment, Frankie just stood there, mistaking this for a sign of affection.
Not so. In an instant the monkey leaned over and bit my brother on the nose and then jumped back to his perch on the organ grinder’s shoulder.
Ahh, divine justice. That monkey was my hero. At that point my mother started screaming at the Organ grinder, “you’d better make that monkey behave or else.” Her threats were now interstate.
Frankie only had a little skin broken. I was hoping the monkey would bite off more than his nose.
After calming my brother down my mother decided we should go for lunch.
We went to a restaurant that was called “The Brass Rail.” It was supposed to be a big deal. Big time family restaurant in New York with revolving doors and of course, brass rails dividing the restaurant. Big whoop.
Except we never got in
As we were standing waiting to enter, one by one, for the revolving door,
I saw the huge V shaped revolving door coming towards me. For some reason I entered head first. Yeh. Head first. I got my head caught in the revolving door, with my rear sticking out, my brother kicking me and calling me stupid and my mother screaming at the top of her lungs, “we are NEVER going anywhere again”.
The manager came out with a crew of workmen, removed the steel partition that separated my head from the glass and we went home to New Haven in silence.
I didn’t get the sympathy Frankie got.
I guess the monkey wins.