“Come on, baby. This air’s making me hungry.”
“Mitchell. you’re always hungry! I can’t wait to see what you look like when you’re fifty.”
“Yeah, well,” hand in hand, crossing the street, “we can’t all be skinny wenches like you. But I’ll bet when I’m a fat old guy of fifty, you’ll still be as pretty as you are now.”
“Nah, at the rate of bad stuff you’re teaching me, I’ll probably be a fat old broad and between us we won’t even be able to sit on a sofa together.”
“Or lay in the same bed.”
“Yeah. I can see the two of us trying to make love.”
“Yeah. We won’t be able to get close enough ’cause our tummies’ll be in the way… Always a problem screwing, huh?”
Sheepshead Bay, New York
The Fifth Day of Their Lives
December 22, 1955: 12:40 p.m.
“Ummm, Marcie, this clam chowder’s great!” Taking another spoonful of the thick, chunky, creamy soup, then, dipping the spoon in the bowl, holding it in front of her mouth, “Come on, try some!”
A Lundy Hamburger Special on the table before her, “Clams, yaght!” She pursed her lips.
“What are you so worried about? They’re dead, see? They’re even cut into little pieces.” Moving the spoon to beneath her nose, “Come on, just try a little!”
It did look good, and it did smell good, conceding, “If I don’t like it,” she said, “you’ll stop nudging me? Promise?”
“Hey, baby, this stuff’s too good and too expensive to waste. Yeah! If you don’t like it, I’ll stop nudging you. I promise!”
“Okay, just one spoonful!” Marsha opened her mouth and he carefully tilted the spoon forward.
A thin stream of chowder ran from the corner of her mouth down her chin. Taking a napkin, wiping it away, Mitchell waited for her reaction.
“Waiter,” stopping the young man as he was passing the table, “can I have a bowl of this stuff, please.”
She watched a thick puff of steam rise from the deep bowl as Mitchell lifted the napkin, reached under, picked one out, detached it from its shell and, holding a small, grey object by what appeared to be a tail, swished it through a bowl of clear broth, into another bowl of drawn butter, then, closing his eyes in gastronomical ecstasy, put it in his mouth, bit through the attached end of the tail, chewed, and, “Aw, God!” he said. “I can feel the lead pumping into the old pencil already.” Reaching beneath the napkin, taking another “steamer,” repeating the process: in the broth to remove all trace of sand, then into the drawn butter and, “Here,” holding it by the tail, “try one… Just one!”
“Are you crazy? No!” she said emphatically. “No! No! No!”
“Okay.” Biting through the tail, dropping it into a bowl, “Ummm,” chewing the clam, “Boy, is this ever good!” Lifting the stein, drinking some of the foamy, dark beer, “Marcie, come on! I told you you’d like the chowder, and you did, didn’t you?”
“No, I hated it!”
“Don’t bullshit me. Yes, you did! … Say bullshit.”
“Okay, then, it’s your loss.” But selecting another clam, swishing and dipping, holding it forward, “Go on, take it!”
Shaking her head, “I’ll gag.”
“No you won’t.” Eating it, “See?” As if speaking to a child, “Yum, yum! It’s sooo goood! Just one, Marcie! Try just one.”
“Okay, but if I puke, you’re the one that’ll have to clean it!”
“Yeah, okay, if you puke, I’ll clean it.”
“No!” Crossing his heart, “If you puke, I’ll clean it!”
“Bullshit!” Marsha said. “Crossing hearts don’t work on Jews.”
“Bullshit? He smiled, “You said bullshit … So?”
“You are such a nudnik… Okay.”
“Okay!” Reaching beneath the napkin, selecting a plump clam, swishing very well, dunking it in the melted butter, holding it by the tail…
Looking at it a moment, closing her eyes, opening her mouth, Mitchell laid it upon her tongue.
Biting through the tail, chewing… “Mmmm! Hey, these oysters ain’t too bad! Matter’a’fact,” reaching beneath the napkin, taking another, “they’re pretty good! Guess we’ll both have lead in our pencils, huh? Or does it just work on men?”
“First off, these aren’t oysters,” taking one also, “they’re clams, and they’re called steamers. And secondly, yeah, it works on women, too, but instead of giving them lead in their pencils, ’cause women don’t have pencils, they take away pimples and gives ’em clear complexions.”
“That’s what you said sex was supposed to do.”
“Yeah, that does it, too.” Smiling, “So does eating ‘pissers’.”
“Yeah, these are called that, too.” Holding one up, “See this thing I’m holding?”
“Pissers? Yes,” she said, nodding her head feebly.
“Well, this is its pisser.”
“No! That’s not what it is! … Really?”
“Yeah, really! When one of these things is buried in sand and you step on it, or a bird tries to dig it out, it squirts… pisses water, and that’s why they’re called pissers. Marcie,” speaking as if to a child again, “can you say pisser?”
Laughing, “Come on, little girl. You can say pisser.”
“Nope!” Taking a clam, swishing, dunking and eating, “A bullshit and a fuck are enough for one day.
“Waiter,” Mitchell called, “a dozen blue points, please.”
“Oysters… I’m not sure if clams are supposed to do the same thing as oysters, but to be on the safe side, I think I better have some of them, too. And seeing as you like ’em so much,” sliding the bowl to Marsha, “you can finish these… And don’t worry, I promise, I’m not going to offer you any oysters.”
“Thank you so much!” she said sarcastically.
“Maybe we’ll come back next week and I’ll show you how to eat oysters, too.”
“Nooo, thank you!”