The other day my wife was on her way out to do some errands, and when I asked how long she’d be, she answered, “A good hour.”
As I was wondering how long that would take it struck me that a good hour could change into a bad hour with one simple deviation from the plan. For example, snuggling with someone you love on a thick, soft blanket in front of a glowing fireplace would certainly be considered a good hour; however, a sudden spark that ignited the blanket, forcing you to scramble around frantically trying to contain the fire would change it into a bad hour in an instant.
Or, if you’re dining at your favorite restaurant and you dip your fork into your entree while engaging in pleasant chatter with good friends, it would be a way to spend a good hour; but dipping your fork into the dish and finding something alive wiggling on the other end would quickly change that from a good to a really bad hour.
The more I considered this the more I began to think of past good and bad hours I’ve had. Considering all my friends and family, the one person who I’ve shared the most good and bad hours with was, without question, my cousin Frankie. Those of you who have read my past blogs know that when he and I were together I never knew how a given hour would end up. The one thing I did know was that good or bad, it would be, far and above, one of the most unpredictable and entertaining hours I’d spend with anyone. What better way to begin the story of how the most fun hour I ever anticipated turned so dramatically into one of those times in my life that continues to haunt me to this day.
Both of us being twenty at the time, Frankie and I decided to go to a summer resort called Klub Kablooey for a weekend. It was one of those places in the mountains that catered to young single guys and gals looking for a brief escape from the daily grind and a no-commitment weekend of fun and sex. On the first night they had a costume party as a way for everyone to loosen up, meet each other, and have a good time. To entice everyone to dress up they gave a prize to the person with the most imaginative costume. I had no idea what or who to become until Frankie came up with an idea that both excited and frightened me at the same time.
“Joe, I discovered a room below the auditorium filled with amazing props and found an old wooden coffin. You know, the kind you see in all those old 1940’s monster movies. If you dress up as Count Dracula and we carry you in like pall bearers you’ll blow the other contestants away. Think about it: first prize could be a lot of money.”
“Uh, sounds okay, Frank, but why don’t you dress up as Count Dracula?”
“Duh, because I’m a blond, and your hair is black. Has anyone ever seen a blondCount Dracula? I don’t think so.”
And that was enough to convince me to become Count Dracula for a night. While others were dressing up as superheroes, cowboys, and numerous other interesting characters, I was slicking my hair back, donning a tuxedo, and getting ready for what I anticipated to be a really good hour. Then Frankie came into the dressing room excited as hell with four other guys trailing behind.
“I have it all set up, Joe; you’re gonna love it. Meet Barry, Gary, Harry, and Larry. They’re your pall bearers. They’re brothers, they own a funeral home, and best of all, they’re whizzes at making dead people look alive again… except in your case they’re gonna make YOU LOOK DEAD!”
I have to admit, that was my first moment of trepidation. Had I known then how the evening was going to end up I would have run like hell, right then and there. Frankie continued:
“Now they’re going to carry you into the auditorium inside this coffin. I have a gal waiting for you in the audience. She’s dressed as Snow White so you’ll know who she is. When they set the coffin down you raise the lid slowly, and the lights will go off except for a spotlight that will be trained on you. Stand up, point to her, and she’ll walk to you slowly as if she’s mesmerized. When she reaches you, you hold her in your arms, bite her neck, and when the blood spurts you pick her up and carry her out of the room while the band plays ‘Highway to Hell’ by AC/DC.”
At that point my trepidation turned to fear. “Wait a minute; what the hell do you mean, `WHEN THE BLOOD SPURTS?’”
“Not to worry; you’ll have a balloon filled with ketchup in your mouth, and when you bite down it will cause the ketchup to spurt, looking like blood.”
That sounded reasonable enough except that no one thought to bring balloons to a weekend of drinking and sex.After ten minutes of deep thought, Frankie as always came up with an idea that was not ideal but nevertheless a solution.
“Okay, I didn’t want to waste any of them, but we can use one of my condoms. We’ll fill it with ketchup, blow it up slightly, and put it in your mouth just before you get in the coffin.”
Now the thought of putting an inflated condom in my mouth was not something I particularly looked forward to, but after Frankie convinced me that if we followed the plan to a T we’d have a good chance to win first prize I agreed to go ahead. A half hour later I was lying in the coffin with a condom in my mouth, experiencing a weird sense of exhilaration and apprehension, and waiting for Barry, Gary, Harry, and Larry to lift the coffin.
Then the band started playing “Hotter than Hell”by Kiss, and as they carried me on stage the bottom of the coffin fell through and dumped me unceremoniously on the ground, looking back up through the inside of the coffin at the four brothers, who were looking down at me trying hard not to laugh. That was the moment that my anticipated “good hour” turned very, very bad.
It took all my self-control not to jump up and beat the crap out of them, but I quickly gained my composure and stood up, holding my cape in front of my face, trying to be as creepy as possible. When I looked for Snow White the situation became even worse when I saw a number of Snow Whites in the crowd. I took a deep breath, pointed to the one closest to me, and she looked back and forth as if to say, “Why the hell are you pointing at me?”I got the same reaction from the next one and the next until I heard a voice from behind me yell:
“HEY ,COUNT KNUCKLEHEAD, I THINK YOU’RE LOOKING FOR ME!”
Smiling as if it were part of the act, I pointed to her, and she proceeded to walk slowly towards me as if in a hypnotic state and slumped into my arms. Thinking things can’t possibly get any worse, I put my lips to her neck, bit down on the condom and things did get worse… it didn’t break. With the crowd looking on in anticipation I chomped harder still, again and again. Each time I bit down half the condom shot out of my mouth like a strange red banana trying to escape and snapped back in when I inhaled. Then I heard someone in the crowd yell:
“HEY, ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO BE COUNT DRACULA OR JOEY CHESTNUT, COMPETING IN A HOT DOG EATING CONTEST?”
That’s when I lost it.I put my head back and bit down so hard that one end of the condom flew into her mouth while the other remained in mine, causing us to stand there nose to nose with each end of the condom extended like a bridge between her mouth and mine. Her startled reaction was to bite back even harder, and we spent the next couple of minutes propelling the condom back and forth between her mouth and mine. I don’t know how long we would have kept that back and forth battle going on had the band not started playing “Share It”by Smokey Robinson. At that point she pulled the condom from our lips and smashed it across the top of my head, causing the ketchup to splatter and run down my face like a spewing volcano. When the crowd started laughing hilariously I was so humiliated I picked her up, threw her over my shoulders, and ran out of the room with her pounding me on the back screaming:
“HEY, DRACULA, YOU KNOW WHY YOU’RE NEVER INVITED TO PARTIES? BECAUSE YOU’RE A PAIN IN THE NECK!”
When I got out of the room and put her down Frankie was waiting with a big smile on his face. He wrapped his arms around both of us and said jubilantly, “You did it, guys… you were great.”Then I heard the MC calling for us to come out and take a bow. I had no desire to go back out there again, but Frankie took us by the hand and led us out to a standing ovation – and as I stood there red in the face from ketchup and embarrassment I heard the MC’s voice booming through the loud speakers:
“I don’t think we need to debate the winner of this competition, do we folks? It’s Count Dracula and Snow White – and it’s my distinct pleasure to present to you the first place prize in this year’s costume contest – A YEAR’S SUPPLY OF OUR VERY POPULARKLUB KABLOOEY’S COLOR-COORDINATED CLASSIC CONDOMS!”