Johnny America


My Sis­ter, Part Six


The Buck­toothed Nitwit

In pro­file he looked like a bot­tle opener.

He had a big leath­ery head (acromegaly), and thick mae­stro hair (sti­pa tenuissima).

Tar­pon lips.

He re­mind­ed me of Charl­ton He­s­ton, an­oth­er flam­ing nitwit.

Yeah, the nitwit sailed his smug ass around the world — bark­ing or­ders, swig­ging rum — be­ing the ad­ven­tur­er and a mod­el am­bas­sador for the Re­pub­li­can Par­ty of America.

See the nitwit: hob­nob­bing with the Prince of Japan and slob­ber­ing on Aus­tralians; see him schmooze the Brits and dal­ly with strange trim in far­away places while his wife, my ner­vous sis­ter, pined for the man she so thought she should love.

Ini­tial­ly, I thought the nitwit had it made. I was en­vi­ous of his life.

And more, I re­spect­ed him: he mar­ried my sister.

He must be a re­al Gand­hi, I thought; he’ll be nice to her.

They laughed eas­i­ly to­geth­er, the nitwit and my sis­ter. They col­lect­ed many in­ter­est­ing friends. They shared starlight, can­dle­light and idyl­lic situations.

They dis­cussed pol­i­tics and re­li­gion and dis­agreed with kisses.

Some­times they trav­eled to­geth­er, sail­ing fear­less­ly over great dis­tances, whale sharks and forty foot seas, look­ing like mod­els on the cov­er of a J.Crew cat­a­log, un­less the nitwit was smiling.


I don’t know any­thing about this fetish my sis­ter has for toothy men; I have no idea where it came from.

Bugs Bun­ny? Leave It To Beaver?

The men in my fam­i­ly have un­re­mark­able teeth.

Quite the gold­en cou­ple was my sis­ter and her nitwit, on the fast track and in de­mand. Al­ways, they boozed it up. That’s why yachts are known as “plea­sure craft”. That’s the life of the par­ty. That’s what keeps love alive. And that’s when my sis­ter be­came an alcoholic.

My sis­ter and the buck­toothed nitwit breezed in­to Yacht Clubs like young royalty.


Af­ter Thanks­giv­ing, things weren’t the same with Min­ki and my sister.

While my sis­ter was in­tro­duc­ing her­self to the nitwit, Min­ki was ter­ror­iz­ing the chick­ens, work­ing out those dif­fer­ent Is­lam­ic frus­tra­tions — dif­fer­ent morals and ethics, dif­fer­ent wiring of emo­tions, dif­fer­ent junk food, dif­fer­ent God.

“Hens,” growled Min­ki, nunchucks whizzing, his dark face con­tort­ed against chick­en wire.

Once, the chick­ens were sym­bols of my sis­ter’s love for Min­ki; she dressed and roast­ed those birds to please her hairy man. But cul­tur­al dif­fer­ences weighed heav­i­ly up­on the young lovers. Min­ki sensed the hon­ey­moon was over — even worse, that the union was com­ing to an end. Sud­den­ly to Min­ki came the re­al­iza­tion that now these chick­ens were sym­bols of

Love Lost, sym­bols of Betrayal…you ly­ing chickens.

“What are you do­ing down there, Sa­tan?” Leona screeched from the land­ing on high. And that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Min­ki grabbed the first chick­en by the neck and hauled it flap­ping from the coop.

He flung the chick­en in­to the night sky and nunchucked its head off in mid-air.

Min­ki shout­ed Iran­ian slo­gans and reached again in­to the coop.

Leona ran back in­to the house and called the police.

“They’re al­ready on the way,” said the dispatcher.

“Killing chick­ens with nunchucks,” went down on the po­lice re­port and things went south for Min­ki and my sister.

Poop Deck

My sis­ter and the buck­toothed nitwit ran with the South­ern Cal­i­for­nia yacht­ing set.

The nitwit was born ir­rev­o­ca­bly in­to the moral com­pro­mise that is in­ter­na­tion­al yachting.

The nitwit was a sailor for hire of con­sid­er­able re­pute: a few Amer­i­ca’s Cups, many Transpacs, maybe a Whit­bread. He wrote long-wind­ed ar­ti­cles for posh sail­ing mag­a­zines. He called power­boats “stinkpots” as he mo­tored out of the harbor.

He was ar­ro­gant; he was deeply tanned — he fit right in.

Him, the yacht club­bers loved.

But as beau­ti­ful and el­e­gant as my sis­ter was, her sen­si­tiv­i­ty, her vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty, was plain to see.

Those crack­ling Yacht Club Ladies ripped her to


(“She can’t con­trol her bladder.”)

“Hel­lo darling!”

(“Her poor husband.”)

“Cham­pagne again?”

(“She slept with an Iranian.”)

“What a love­ly out­fit! I adore Buster Keaton!”

(tit­ter­ing in the background).

“What does that mean?” (my sister).

My sis­ter, her nerve end­ings scrupu­lous­ly ir­ri­tat­ed, soon picked up on the Ladies’ snot­ty vibes.

Two can play this game, she schemed.

Tokyo Rose

“You don’t seem Asian,” she bur­bled to the wife of a wealthy plas­tic surgeon.

And to the de­crepit wife of an im­pe­ri­ous lawyer be­ing hon­ored at a fan­cy lun­cheon, my sis­ter piped up: “I don’t think that was just gas. Would you like my napkin?”

At Yacht Club Christ­mas par­ties, my sis­ter slipped beau­ti­ful­ly wrapped box­es of Japan­ese pornog­ra­phy — cour­tesy of the Prince — amongst the gifts on the Se­cret San­ta table.

At a Spring Cotil­lion, the salt-whipped wid­ow of a pre­vi­ous Club Pres­i­dent was flab­ber­gast­ed to find a hefty black dil­do — a then-in­fa­mous icon known as “The Stilt” — tucked in­to the pock­et of her sable.

There were late-night hang-up calls (pre-Caller ID), un­wel­come sub­scrip­tions (Jet, High Times,The Na­tion), pa­pered man­sions, keyed Beam­ers and dozens and dozens of prank piz­za deliveries.

(In high school, my sis­ter and a col­lab­o­ra­tor were thrown out of the Pan-Amer­i­can club for bak­ing a “Puer­to Ri­can” pie — of cough med­i­cine and Bar­bie doll parts — for the an­nu­al fundraiser.)

Of course, my sis­ter’s an­tics did­n’t go over with those var­nished Yacht Club dames.

The Ladies had no proof my sis­ter was be­hind the mys­te­ri­ous rash of psy­chic van­dalisms, but they sensed she was dan­ger­ous; a bo­hemi­an; a rogue breeze that might crack the mast.

In­stinc­tive­ly, The Ladies of the Yacht Club ganged up on my sister.


The Events Com­mit­tee vot­ed to bar my sis­ter from the Gala and they were a pow­er­ful bunch.

But the nitwit, though far off­shore, still held rank.

The in­vi­ta­tion was made.

“Fuck these old bitch­es,” my sis­ter barked as we crossed the ban­quet room to the bar. Now and then, when the nitwit was at sea, she’d ask me along to YC func­tions. A few of the old bitch­es heard my sis­ter’s out­bursts (my sis­ter made sure), and gave us the hairy eyeball.

I was, once again, guilty by association.

It was the 50th An­niver­sary of the Yacht Club, a big day.

Every­thing was gold. The help was dressed in glit­ter­ing gold suits and top hats. Women wore gold lip­stick. The plates were gold and there were hun­dreds of flick­er­ing gold­en can­dles. The place was packed, most of the crowd over sev­en­ty. You could hear bones creak­ing over the band.

The theme for the Gala was “Gold­en Years”

I had on a tux and was feel­ing fine. A daz­zling bus­girl told me she thought for a minute I was Bruce Willis.

I got an­oth­er drink.

One of The Ladies si­dled up and asked me whose guest I was.

“I’m Bruce Willis,” I an­swered and I ex­tend­ed my hand.

The La­dy was ex­cit­ed: “So NICE to meet you,” she gushed.

“A lit­tle joke,” I smiled. “I’m with her.”

I point­ed to my sis­ter, who was lean­ing against the bar trad­ing sto­ries with the bar­tender. My sis­ter was laugh­ing so hard she gripped her crotch like a rapper.

The La­dy arched her eye­brows and re­gard­ed me with disgust.

“Oh, I’m al­right,” I told her. “I’m the on­ly mem­ber of the fam­i­ly who does­n’t have to take pills”.

The Name Game

The Name Game was a cher­ished tra­di­tion of the annual

Gala. Es­sen­tial­ly, the game wasCha­rades, but mem­bers act­ed out the names of their yachts rather than the names of books and movies.

It was a jol­ly game, and joints snapped like mouse­traps as gus­set­ed coots sur­ren­dered to the fun. A sen­a­tor did the hu­la and brought down the house.

There were hu­mor­ous boat names (“Con­stant Drain” and “My Fol­ly”), and sen­ti­men­tal names (“Dar­ling Al­ice” and “Love Song”). There was “Dream of Capri” and “Hap­py Wan­der­er”. My sis­ter’s boat, a sleek Er­ic­s­son 27, was named “Gin­ger Lynn”.

The mem­bers were di­vid­ed in­to teams. They wrote the names of their boats on one side of a slip of pa­per and their own names on the oth­er side, should there be a ques­tion. Then a se­nile host­ess in a huge gold dress put the pa­pers in a big gold bowl.

My sis­ter or­dered an­oth­er cock­tail: “Tell that bar­tender to put some fuck­ing vod­ka in it this time,” she slurred, and slapped the young wait­er on the butt.

The wait­er fell in­stant­ly in love with my sis­ter. She still has that power.

“How many have you had?” I asked her.

“So what?” my sis­ter snapped.

(By my reck­on­ing, twelve doubles.)

“Watch your­self,” I told her.

“Fuck these old bitch­es!” she scoffed.

Mrs. Fuse­lage

Mrs. In­ger Fuse­lage was the Chair of the Events Com­mit­tee. Her com­plex­ion was the in­te­ri­or of a conch shell; one more face-lift and she’d have a goatee.

She was an en­vi­ous ex­ec­u­tive as­sis­tant who’d snared a wealthy man.

It was Fuse­lage who moved to bar my sis­ter from the Gala. My sis­ter picked the wrong La­dy to nee­dle (the Asian ref­er­ence) — Mrs. Fuse­lage was one mean Norwegian.

As luck would have it, my sis­ter and Mrs. Fuse­lage were team-mates. Luck­i­er still, Mrs. Fuse­lage drew the name of my sis­ter’s boat, the ath­let­ic “Gin­ger Lynn”.

(The se­nile host­ess drooled “Gin­ger Lynn” in­to Mrs. Fuse­lage’s new ear.)

“I don’t know that one,” Mrs. Fuse­lage mused. She looked ques­tion­ing­ly at the twitch­ing hostess.

A wait­er was sent to our table.

“Gin­ger Lynn is a porn star,” my sis­ter explained

sot­to voce to the de­light­ed wait­er. “In one movie, she fucked twen­ty sev­en guys in a row. And I’ll have an­oth­er drink. With some vod­ka in it.”

The wait­er trot­ted back to Mrs. Fuse­lage. The ex­pres­sion on Mrs. Fuse­lage’s face — a look of be­mused in­dul­gence — changed to dis­be­lief, and to re­vul­sion, as the wait­er ex­plained Gin­ger Lynn. Mrs. Fuse­lage stared hard at my sis­ter. Dumb­found­ed, she stood un­mov­ing in the spotlight.

A minute passed, then another.

It looked like Mrs. Fuse­lage was hav­ing trou­ble get­ting air.

“Play with your tits!” my sis­ter shout­ed encouragingly.

Every­one turned to look at us.

“Tourettes,” I told the mum­mi­fied so­cialite seat­ed next to me. “Our moth­er could­n’t leave the house”.

Alas, my ex­pla­na­tion tem­pered not the so­cialite’s distaste:

“Your sis­ter is trash,” the old la­dy croaked back. Her hus­band was the CEO of our coun­try’s largest bank.

For me, a dilem­na: de­fense of my sis­ter, or net­work­ing with the rich­est folk in America.

I re­al­ly need­ed the money.

I leaned in close on the so­cialite: “Your pussy’s on fire,” I whis­pered, and I poured four ounces of 30-year Laphroig in her lap.

“Suck! Suck!” my sis­ter shout­ed to Mrs. Fuse­lage, still dither­ing in the spotlight.

A ri­ot broke out at our table.

Mon­te­cristos hit the deck and were stomped on in the bustle.

The so­cialite gagged in her nap­kin and the pil­lars of so­ci­ety turned fight­ing mad.

I caught one guy — a cheese­burg­er-eat­ing cam­paign di­rec­tor — with a good right. An ex­pen­sive tooth went flying.

An­oth­er guy, the so­cialite’s hus­band, re­ceived some

Flor­sheim in the nuts.

Two geezers grabbed my arms — I shook them off ef­fort­less­ly. One of them fell and could­n’t get up.

Lat­er we learned he had bro­ken his hip.

Die hard, baby.

My sis­ter stood on her chair and threw a bowl of cashews at Mrs. Fuselage.

“Hooray!” she cried.

Then she wet herself.

The se­quined wait­ers cheered wild­ly. They were on our side, and it looked like we were go­ing to need them.

Like zom­bies, the mem­bers were mov­ing in on us.

The Night Chica­go Died

“At­ten­tion, please. At­ten­tion.” the se­nile host­ess rat­tled on the microphone:

“Ladies and Gen­tle­men: Due to…difficulties…we re­gret that tonight we must can­cel the rest of the Name Game.” The host­ess paused and scrab­bled piti­ful­ly at her heart. Sad­ly, she shook her head.

“A tra­di­tion we dear­ly love.”

She was look­ing right at us.

“But the night is young.” she con­tin­ued, bravely.

“Please, Mae­stro, play”

A wait­er had to help her from the podium.

The band swung in­to “The Night Chica­go Died,” and the room be­came as cold as ice.


Re­al­ly, the brawl bare­ly hap­pened. As mad as I am, I’d re­frain from kick­ing a grand­fa­ther in the balls. It was a Bruce Willis fan­ta­sy, writ­ten down.

Ex­cus­ing the rum­ble, how­ev­er, oth­er events are as they were.

But I would­n’t refuse ten min­utes and wood­en clogs in a closed room with Charl­ton Heston.

Fuck you too, rednecks.

My sis­ter threw a bowl of nuts at Mrs. Fuse­lage and in Amer­i­ca that’s As­sault. So is scotch in the crotch, by the way.

Lewd and las­civ­i­ous be­hav­ior, pub­lic in­tox­i­ca­tion, pub­lic uri­na­tion… Was there a lawyer in the house?

I hus­tled my sis­ter out of there. The help ap­plaud­ed as we passed.

Mrs. Fuse­lage head­ed to­wards the of­fice, to call the cops.

The Ladies were clus­tered to­geth­er, squawk­ing and flapping.

Save my Sister!

News of the débâ­cle spread quick­ly, to the Bub­ble Bar and the Crab Pot, reach­ing even to the buck­toothed nitwit in heavy seas north of the Solomon Is­lands. He was, at that mo­ment, ex­haust­ed from a feat of hero­ism in which he gnawed through an an­chor chain to save his ves­sel from de­struc­tion by six­ty-foot seas. He was dis­pleased to learn that he was or­dered to ap­pear be­fore the Yacht Club Pres­i­dent im­me­di­ate­ly up­on re­turn. A re­strain­ing or­der had been filed against my sis­ter. There were dam­ages, and talk of law­suits, and shame, plen­ty of shame.

Of course, the nitwit blamed it all on me.


My sis­ter is made of Brigitte Bar­dot, Eliz­a­beth Mont­gomery, He­len Keller, Court­ney Love and Marie An­toinette. Now and then, I see a glim­mer of Eu­do­ra Wel­ty, or a hint of Geor­gia O’ Keefe — and Madon­na, when my sis­ter is menstruating.

(Once, I looked at my sis­ter and saw Joni Mitchell, but I was liv­ing in San­ta Cruz then.)

There’s no deny­ing that dur­ing her time with the nitwit, my sis­ter’s char­ac­ter took on a raunchy tone.

Every­thing was fuck this and fuck that.

Filed under Writer X's Sister on June 28th, 2004

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