Eating Pancakes With Lewis Black


Tonight was interesting, to say the least.
“The very least,” as Rizzo once deadpanned. I’m

sure you already know, but that is from Grease.
Not the shitty sequel with Michelle Pfeiffer

and Shooter McGavin … the original.
John Travolta as Danny. Olivia

Newton John as Sandra Dee. “Look at me, I’m…”
What? What am I? You tell me. You’re so smart, right?

You’re a genius, so tell me what I am based
on five minutes of interaction and hear-

say. Here’s a novel idea. Shut the fuck up.
In fact, pour yourself a cup of it and drink

up, asshole. Back to tonight. Tonight was nuts.
I had to listen to a woman tell her

daughter it was her fault she gave up on her
dreams to do something in life. That’s shitty, right?

It went like this, see: I was in an I-hop…
“The International House of Pancakes?” Yes.

I was sitting there with my pal Lewis Black…
“Do you mean the comedian?” Yes. “Love him!”

Great. So, uh … he and I met at a party…
“Bobby’s party?” No, actually… “Doug’s?” Who?

“D-Dog’s?” sigh No. “Maxwell’s?” It was Brett
and Germaine’s fucking party! God almighty!

Stop interrupting and listen! Look, I do
this too, ok? I’m not blameless here, but wow.

To sit there in that booth, listening to this
so-called-woman lecture her adult daughter

as if she’s ever accomplished anything
other than raising an amazing lady

alongside a pit bull and marrying up.
Oh, that one’s like a stab in the heart, eh? The

pen … my pen? It’s mightier than your verbal
swords … your wars within words. In the subtext of

every conversation is a battle
of wits. A verbal jousting match that smug folks

love to crow about in private. “Look at me.
I’m special. I can fuck with you passively.”

So can I, assholes. I choose not to because
most of the things I say and do are the real deal.

Holyfield ain’t got shit on me … not in this
ring of fire. Cue the Spanish trumpet sound

as June and Johnny dance up from Jackson, down
in Mississippi. I lie too. Little white

ones, though. “Does this dress make me look fat?” and so
on. We all do that. I do not, however,

weave webs or spin traps. If you read this for you
that is on you. All I’m doing is clearing my

head so I don’t flip the fuck out on you. I
care enough about you to be nice, like Pat-

rick Swayze in Roadhouse. “Be nice,” that was his
motto, remember? I’m going to let Dalton

take over for a minute. Aaand here … we … go:
“People who want to have a good time won’t come

to a slaughterhouse. We’ve got entirely
too many troublemakers here. Too many

40-year-old adolescents, felons, pow-
-er drinkers. Trustees of modern chemistry.”

Later on in that scene, Dalton says to Steve:
“If somebody gets in your face and calls you

a cocksucker, I want you to be nice. Ask
him to walk. Be nice. If he won’t walk, walk him,

but be nice. If you can’t walk him, one of the
others will help you and you’ll both be nice. I

want you to remember that it’s a job. It’s
nothing personal.” Then Steve says, “Being called

a cocksucker’s not personal?” Dalton laughs.
“No. It’s two nouns combined to elicit a

prescribed response.” “What if somebody calls my
mama a whore?” Steve shouts back. “Is she?” Dalton

replies, with a shit-eating grin on his face.
All Steve can do is get angry and bang a

chick in the liquor closet, but Dalton sees
him and tells him to stay on his break for good,

then he goes off and explains Oedipus to
the moderately attractive woman who

plays the doctor.  Anyway, this woman at
The I-Hop … whom I later saw at The Wal-

Mart over in Fort Walton, but that’s neither
here nor there. The point is, she was berating

her daughter emotionally by stopping
the flow of words and projecting her faults in

life onto her child. This chick must have been
26 or so … the daughter, not the Mom.

Who knows how old she was. A hundred, maybe?
Judging by the way she talked, she was born on

a cross, and by God, she’s going to stay on it.
For how long? Forever. FOR-EV-ER. Or…

she could wake up and smell the thirty dollar
bag of coffee in her freezer and treat her

daughter like a fellow human being. I
didn’t know the hen pecking the abuse, but

for a minute I entertained the notion
of turning around and calmly putting her

in her place the way an adult might to a
bratty child. “Hey … you. Knock it off. This world

is not about you and your failed dreams. Guess what.
It’s not about mine, either. I don’t burden

you with any of my load. I carry my weight
the way I tote refrigerators up three

flights of steps in 90 degree weather. With
out complaint. Ever. Can’t complain. No one wants

to hear it. No one would listen. They all have
their own problems they’re dealing with. So to hear

you … woman in the I-hop, groaning ‘I could
have been a contender. I could have been a

star … infamous, like Della or Mavis.’ Pffft.
Who do you think you are, Marlon Brando? No.

It’s your fault you spread your legs for some dude on
the waterfront. It’s his fault too, wherever

he is. You know whose fault it’s not? Your daughter’s.
I should pour this entire carafe of hot

coffee on you, you sniveling wretch of a
woman. Woman? You’re more like a teenage girl

trying to act like an adult, playing mind
games on your broke, defenseless daughter. I mean,

damn!” … but I just sat there with my pie. Then that
bird picked up the check and cluck-clucked her tongue and

she did it while lamenting her daughter’s use
of “strong, forceful words.” I wanted to shout out,

“Lady, who the hell do you think you are? What
gives you the right to treat anyone this way?

Clearly your daughter is a saint, because if
my mom treated me that way, she would be ex-

communicated from my life poste haste.” I
wanted to tell her all of that, but I said

nothing. As I sat there stewing, Lewis snapped
his head towards a table to our left. “What the

fuckity-fucking shit did that fucking mean?”
Right then his face turned blue and he yelled something

I can’t repeat here, because I can’t spell it.
As I drove him to the hospital he

kept muttering this: “If it wasn’t for my
horse, I wouldn’t have had that year in college.”

“What does that even mean, man?” I asked behind
the wheel of the old Buick six cylinder,

as I chain-smoked Camel cigarettes and kept
my eyes on the long and winding road ahead.


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