Thursday, November 18, 2004

From the Brain of the Giant Head

Talking ‘Bout His Girl

Many people love trying death defying stunts. Some jump out of planes from thousands of feet in the air with nothing but a flimsy umbrella-like parachute to break their fall to the ground. Others swim deep in the water, tempting sharks to chew through a swimsuit about as thick as a post-it note. I, on the other hand, did something more dangerous and more life-threatening than both of those combined--I asked the LGB’s Papa for his marriage blessing.

It was a Friday just like every other Friday of my life, except that I couldn’t stop urinating myself due to stress and fear. I had spent 6 hours that day composing an e-mail that was about to change my entire life.

I wrote: “Mr. Tracy…How is your day going? Mine is pleasant. Can you meet me after work?” (Meaning: I hope you don’t want to kill me.)

He e-mailed back: “Sure, how about 5:30 at Skyline in Clifton?” (Meaning: I want to kill you and eat some chili.)

I wrote: “Sounds good. See you at 5:30.” (Meaning: I’m currently preparing a will.)

His response: “Good. We can talk over some cheese coneys.” (Meaning: Killing makes me hungry for cheese coneys.)

So I left work promptly at 5 o’clock so I wouldn’t be late. During the 30-minute drive to Skyline I contemplated what I would say, how I would ask. Should I express my love for his daughter? Should I show him my clean medical history? Should I slip him a $50 and a lot of booze to lower his reaction time? I contemplated till my contemplator was sore. Then I finally came to a decision--I wasn’t in the mood for cheese coneys, so I’d get a three-way.

I arrived at the famous Cincinnati eatery at precisely 5:27, three minutes earlier than expected. I sat at a table in-between two couples, figuring he couldn’t harm me if others were around. By 5:32, both couples paid their checks and left.

One hour passes. It was 6:32 and no sign of Papa Tracy. My pores were leaking so much sweat that the Skyline manager ordered his crew to place a “Caution: Wet Floor” sign next to my table. Apparently I was becoming a safety hazard.

Then, 6:57 struck the clock. And it happened.

It’s amazing what one simple question can do to a person. Papa Tracy has always been a fairly tall man, having average build to go along with his nicely-shaped mustache. But somehow (and I’m not quite sure how this is possible) from the time that I e-mailed him until the minute he walked through the Skyline entrance, he added what appeared to be 250 lbs. of rippling muscle. It was as if Papa Tracy was eaten by a beast known as “Super Papa Tracy,” whose superpowers included eating 45 cheese coneys in a single sitting, picking up his car and carrying it over traffic from his Kentucky office, and pounding potential suitors for his daughters.

Unfortunately, suitor number one (me) can only eat 2 cheese coneys and has trouble lifting a glass of water. Panic sets in.

He sat down at my table and glared. Trying to stand my ground and look tough, I sat up straight, pulled my shoulders back and looked him right in the eyes. We were battling it out, mono-a-mono. Seeing who would flinch first. Finally, he cracked and opened his mouth.

“You have some cheese on your face.”

DAMN! I wiped a napkin across my lip and it came away covered in yellow stains. I was beat. I couldn’t win this battle. It was time for me to pack it on up and call it a night. The LGB deserved a prince in shining armor, not a cheese-faced sweat-a-holic.

But just as I was about to go, Papa Tracy flexed his muscles and spoke again:

“My boy, you have a good job, a decent sense of humor and my daughter has taken a liking to you. I’m willing to accept you as long as you abide by my three rules: 1) Take good care of her; 2) Don’t ever wear a fedora; 3) Make my daughter happy. If you don’t follow these, I will have to kill you.”

I was so overjoyed. He hadn’t killed me after all and he actually agreed to let me marry his daughter. For all the stress and build-up, our encounter was friendly. He wasn’t some crazy madman--he was just a man that cares for his daughter as much as I do, and I respected that. I think he respected that too. It is the one thing we will both always have in common.

Suddenly the fountain of sweat ran dry.

I shook his hand and left that Skyline with almost the same feeling I had the day I met the LGB. It was an excitement that I couldn’t fully explain, but felt under every inch of my skin. I was no longer confused by life--I had a set future. I was no longer a boy--I was a man.

And as soon as I got home I threw out my fedora.

“My advice to you is get married: if you find a good wife you'll be happy; if not, you'll become a philosopher.” –Socrates