Saturday, December 2, 2017

Up, Down, and All Over The Map w/ Buttons and Jules (Part 1):





"...his face wasn't weathered so much as marked of character. Something almost cowboy about him."



I thought I’d caught the blog up last week--or at least started the process; but now I see I’m forever behind. A whole ‘nother week of my life’s gone by. Lost and wasted--though certainly not time wasted. Not in New York with Buttons and her boyfriend Jules. They visited for a week and man--they got it, by which I mean New York. Those two know how to have fun.

I’ve known Buttons for years--she’s the sister of an old friend. But I’d never met Jules before this visit.

We all met in midtown on Saturday (December 3rd). Their flight had landed at JFK a few hours earlier, but they had no jetlag. Not Buttons. In fact both seemed fueled with the pent-up mania of sustained cabin pressure and cramped quarters suddenly released on urban NYC.
 

Despite having never met, Jules greeted me with a real smile and a familiar pat on the back as the three of us walked round Herald Square in search of a pub. To get acquainted. At some point--in mid conversation, Jules suddenly stopped where we were on the sidewalk and noted the building.

“Hey Lodo, does this happen to be a post office?”

“Yeah man. Why?--you need something?”

“Actually,” he said as his gloved hands fumbled with the inside pocket of his overcoat, "would you mind going inside and putting this in the box for me? If you’d do that, Buttons and I could run across the street and buy a couple of shooters. What d’ya like--scotch?”

“Yeah, I like Johnnie if you’re offering. Sure.”

So I accepted the document-sized envelope from Jules and ran it inside to a mailbox. Didn’t think anything of it, and when I returned outside, there were Jules and Buttons across the street waving me over. Expectantly. Something in Button’s eager wave that kind of irritated me though I quickly shrugged it off and reminded myself not to get anxious round her charged energy.

“Hey man, did you mail that for me?” Jules asked as he handed me a shooter of Johnny Walker out a paper bag.

“Yeah, man. I dropped it in the box.”

“Oh that’s great Lodo. I like the way you did that.”

“Did what?” I asked as I twisted the cap off my bottle.

“The way you mailed that for me. Thanks. I really didn’t want to deal with all those steps, but you just were able to run up and mail it. And that’s great. So now listen, what do you want to do tonight?”

“Well, I’d kind of...”

“Anything you want to do Lodo. You name it,” Jules insisted as he tilted back a shooter of his own. Buttons hung on his arm with a huge smile on her face like a schoolgirl; and in fact, Jules was a lot older than I’d expected. He had deep wrinkles round his leaden eyes that sat deep in his skull; though his face wasn’t weathered so much as marked of character. Something almost cowboy about him despite his wool overcoat and fedora. The freedom of excess. And excesses taken.

“Well, I’d kind of like to watch the Miguel Cotto/Antonio Margarito fight. You guys probably wouldn’t be into that, but...that’s what I’d do tonight. We can meet after that if you want.”

“And where’s that gonna be?” Jules asked.

“Well the fight’s at The Garden, but I’d just go to a bar and watch it. Otherwise its gonna be a hundred dollars just to get in.”

Jules and Buttons exchanged a glance.

“Well we could afford that,” said Jules as he flippantly tossed his empty shooter into the street.


* NOTE: Due to the length of this post, I'm gonna split it into another part. Part 2 shouldn't take long.

** ADDITIONAL NOTE: All pics stolen off Google Images except for # 1. All rights reserved on my pic.

Up, Down, and All Over The Map with Button and Jules--Part 2:

Miguel Cotto connects on Antonio Margarito (Madison Sq. Garden):

"I just got off the phone with some of my Mexican buddies out in California."

"...like when they had the big match against Muhammad Ali and Smoky Joe."

Antonio Margarito (w/ broken right orbital bone):

"Miguel Cotto’s Puerto Rican, but Madison Square Garden is like his home crowd. All the Puerto Ricans turn out for him. And when they do he sells-out the entire place, not just what they call 'The Theater at Madison Square Garden,' which is a lot smaller. That’s where they usually stage all the fights; but Cotto’s so popular he sells out the whole big Garden."

And that’s who’s fighting tonight?” Buttons asked, wide eyed from her bar stool.

“Yep,” I told her, “he’s fighting a Mexican guy named Antonio Margarito,”

“Oh a Mexican, eh? Wow.”

“Yep, Mexicans and Puerto Ricans have been fighting a long time,” I told her as we clinked glasses filled with fresh drinks, “but the Mexicans usually win.”

“Wow, I didn’t know that.”

“Its true, but I think this is gonna be Cotto’s night.”

Jules suddenly ambled back thru the door. He’d been outside on a call--one of several he had to take despite it being Saturday, but now returned with a determined look to drink his pint of Stella.

“Hey there Lodo,” he said as he smacked my back and grabbed his pint off the bar, “I just got off the phone with a couple of my Mexican buddies out in California and they say that guy Margarito’s one tough mother-fucker and that he’s gonna whip your guy Cotto’s butt!”

“What?!”

“They said (here Jules took another dramatic swig of his beer for Button’s amusement and thrust his finger into my chest) “that Margarito’s one tough fucking Mexican and that you have to kill that guy if you’re gonna beat ‘em and that your man Cotto ain’t the guy to do it!”

“You’ve gotta b...”

“Oh no way!” Buttons suddenly interjected in my defense as she slammed what must have been her third Cosmopolitan down on the bar. “Your guy cheated last time and this is Cotta’s hometown--right Lodo? All the Puerto Ricans are gonna turn out and they’re gonna fill the whole Madison Square Garden like when they had the big match between Muhammad Ali and Smoky Joe. Lodo told me everything, the whole story. "Bout those things inside his gloves; that--plaster. Cotta’s fans are pissed off! You betcha they are. That’s why Lodo couldn’t get tickets.”

Wow reader, I’d really sold Buttons on this fight. That eagerness of her’s. Her sister Rules could never have been convinced to go to a boxing match. Soon as it was mentioned her ears would have turned off. But Buttons gets it. Her and Jules both. A championship fight? HBO? The Garden sold-out to the roof with vengeful Puerto Ricans? Oh yeah, we get that. Made me alittle upset that I’d grown irritated with her earlier.

And even Jules--who’s finger-jab I didn’t like, turned out to be a surprise.

“So listen Lodo,” he said to me a short time later, “ Buttons and I definitely want to go this fight. And we want to take you with us.”

“Really Jules?”

“Yeah, really brother. Why don’t you find us three tickets and we’ve got yours covered.” 

"Margarito's one tough fucking Mexican and you have to kill that guy if you're gonna beat em..."

* NOTE: Thanks to anyone who's stuck w/ me so far on this one. I got side-tracked for several days; and also wanted to get some permissions in regards to picture usage (permissions I never could get). I apologize if this installment doesn't really push the narrative along; but I had to get back in the groove/feel of this post. Part 3 should be here a lot faster. All pics included herein were stolen off Google Images. See you in a few days--and thanks again!!

Up, Down, and all Over The Map w/ Buttons and Jules--Part 3:


"...as I sat there on the B train the excitement of Cotto's revenge and my free night at The Garden turned into the realization that I'd been left to buy three tickets..."


Cotto (Left)/Margarito (right):

From Cotto/Margarito I:


Sweet drunk talk. Is there any better kind of talk? Especially amongst new friends. And Jules called me brother. I liked that.

It was only on the subway back to Brooklyn that I began to clear my head and mentally review my arrangement with Jules. We didn’t need to be at The Garden ‘til 9:00, so he and Buttons went back to their hotel for a nap. Being the New York investigator, it was left for me to find us three tickets on-line.

Cool.

But in my drunken excitement I overlooked a fundamental defect with our plan. Mainly, that I was left to buy the tickets. At least initially. How I was to be reimbursed was never really locked-in as one drink led to another. Course anything could happen in the five hours before the fight; so as I sat there on the B train the excitement of Cotto’s revenge and my free night at The Garden turned into the realization that I’d been left to buy three tickets based on the promise of a stranger.

Still, I went on-line to find three tickets. And it wasn’t easy. I mean, sure there were tickets: $300.00 apiece; $500.00 apiece; $2500.00 apiece. The fight had been sold-out for a month. The cheapest three I could find together were $150.00 each, which still meant almost $500.00 on my card after taxes and fees and whatnot. I picked up the phone.

“Hey sweetie.”

“Hey Buttons," I said, "did I wake you?”

“Naw we were just fooling around.”

“Oh, okay. Great,..so listen--you really want to go to this fight tonight, right?”

“What?!--Yeah, of course we do. Why?--what’s the matter?”

“Welll, its just that,...you know. Like I was saying at the bar, tickets are really expensive so I just want to make sure you want to do this and weren’t just...I don’t know, caught-up in the moment.”

“Naw Lodo, we wanna go--you betcha! Cotta! Cotta! And we’re buying your ticket so get us some good seats.”

“Well, yeah, okay. But good seats are gonna be very...do me a favor, put Jules on the phone.”

So Jules got on the phone and I brought-up my concerns: the limits of my credit card and how even the cheapest, most nose-bleed seats were gonna cost $150.00 each. I told him I didn’t care one way or another if I watched the fight on TV or at The Garden and suggested that he take Buttons on his own or that we all go to a bar or...

Yet no sooner had I made this last point when Jules interrupted me saying,

“Now Lodo, you know that’s not what we talked about. I told all my Mexican buddies I’m going to Madison Square Garden to see this guy Margarito and from what you’re saying it sounds like you’ve found us some real nice tickets. So here’s what you need to do. You got a pen? Okay good, now here, write this number down...”

Jules proceeded to give me a credit card number. Expiration date. Provided an address and gave me the name the way it was written on the credit card. Cool, right?

Only the name on the card wasn’t Jules. Not that I knew him for any period of time; nor did I assume Jules was or had to be his real name. Still, the name he provided for the card didn’t even approximate Jules; and the city address and zip code didn’t match the area code of his cellphone number.

But whatever--right? So long as the card worked. Plenty of possible explanations; and besides, Jules is a grown man. He’ll do as he sees fit. He didn’t just offer to take me to The Garden--he said he wanted to take me. Him and Buttons both. So I didn’t want to look a gift-horse in the mouth.

I was more than ready to use that card, and for a few moments I was even tempted to buy those $500.00 seats. After all, hadn’t Buttons instructed me to “get good seats?” But in the end my better judgment caught up with me and I bought us the $150.00 tickets.

Only that wasn’t the end of it. ‘Cause shortly thereafter the ticket broker emailed me a form, requesting that I sign it and return it. What? I’ve never had to do that before. Usually you give them a number and they process the card. But the broker insisted that I sign a form. Or Jules sign it--or whoever’s name was on that card!--and then email it back to them.

So I felt bad having to get back on the horn with Jules, but seeing as how the broker wanted a signature it just seemed like Jules should...I don’t know, just take things over and buy the tickets himself.

But no, Jules said he “didn’t like to send emails” and besides, he was “more than fine” with my signing his name on that form.

“Yeah Jules, but it doesn't even seem like your name I’d be signing.”

“Oh sure it is Lodo--you know me as Jules but I’m really ____ ________. Just make the ‘H’ very pronounced and then the rest of the name is just a squiggle.”

Umm hmm. So I’d sign and email the form to the broker using my email address for over $500.00 worth of tickets. The
investigator in me wasn’t crazy 'bout that arrangement, though I quickly chastised myself for thinking the worst of Jules.

But later, when Jules insisted I go to the ticket window to pick-up the tickets, I got the feeling he had concerns about showing his face.

Or what might be waiting there.


* NOTE: Due to the length of this post, I'm going to split this into another part. Part 4 should be done in a few days.


* ADDITIONAL NOTE: All pics of Cotto and Margarito stolen off Google Images.

Up, Down, and All Over The Map w/ Buttons and Jules--Part 4:


Margarito (left)/Cotto (right):

Our seats at the Cotto-Margarito fight. "We must have got the last three seats in the Garden."


"He might be hurt a little."

"...when we encountered two of the cutest little girls I've ever seen."

"Margarito!"* (*Note the odd looking right eye behind the glasses).

So now with all the build-up I’ve given to the Cotto-Margarito fight, you might assume that’s what this post is about; but I don’t have much to say in terms of the fight itself. We must have got the last (3) seats in The Garden; and of the 21,000 + in the crowd I’d say Jules was one of maybe two-dozen Margarito fans.

But our tickets were waiting so that credit-card proved good. At least, good enough to get us in; and as of this writing’s no one’s tried to contact me. Course Buttons loved all the macho nationalism and testosterone-induced stares just as sure as Jules loved the Puerto Rican gals and the street-cred of The Garden. He knew I rooted for Cotto, but every half hour or so one of his California friends would call and hype him up on Margarito. Before the fight started, Jules flipped his cellphone closed and turned to me: 


“My boy says Margarito walked Cotto down last fight and then busted him up. He’s got too much come on. I’d see guys like that in the joint. Can’t hurt ‘em. Determined, you know. Not determined...obstinate. You know?,” (here Jules passed me a shooter from an inside pocket of his jacket), “Like a mule or something. My boy says Cotto danced around last fight but Margarito gave him a beatdown. That was him just now (Jules gestured toward his cellphone) “telling me Margarito’s gonna do it all over again. In Cotto’s own town!”

Oh man I couldn’t wait for Cotto to shut Jules the fuck up. Never did he mention the plaster eventually found in Margarito’s gloves or the damage done to Cotto’s face. And Jules was talking so loud amidst the pro-Cotto crowd! With complete disregard for who heard him. The whole fight, even as Cotto whooped Maragarito round after round, Jules just rode Cotto.

“Oh man, my guy’s not hurt. He’s just too slow! But Cotto can’t hurt ‘em. He’s a powder-puncher. My guy never stops coming. Oh no ref--don’t stop the fight! No--NO! Look--my guy’s not even hurt! He wants to keep going. Let the Mexican keep going!--right?! (pointing at the lone Mexican flag amidst the Puerto Rican crowd several rows down and over). We want a knockout! He’s not even hurt--right Lodo?...Right?”

“He might be hurt a little.”

But Jules wasn’t hearing it and in fairness he was probably right that Cotto couldn’t hurt Margarito. He injured Margarito; but never really backed him down.

"That is one tough fucking Mexican," Jules repeated over and over as we filed out. He kept stressing the word Mexican to the point where it was hard to tell if he was deriding Mexicans or had genuine admiration for Margarito’s toughness. Like it meant something to him, though I wasn’t sure what. Maybe he didn’t know either, but my niece Jaybird is Mexican; so I was sensitive to the subject.

But with Jules it was always up, down, and all over the place. No sooner did I feel one way about him than he spun me ‘round 180 degrees. We filed our way toward the main Garden exit; Jules at full voice and volume about the toughness of Mexicans, when we encountered two of the cutest little girls I’ve ever seen. Mexican girls with long braided hair, in what appeared to be their best, white Sunday dresses. Neither could have been more than 10 years old and they were probably younger. Both had tears in their dark eyes as they clung to their dad’s tight Wrangler jeans and watched in shocked confusion as the crowd filed past, somehow able to go on with their lives despite the loss of their great Mexican champion, Margarito.

Cute.

As we walked past, Jules gave the older of the girls a pat on the head much like I’d give to my dog Spiffy.

“Margarito!” he said to her with intense, avuncular eyes and a playful shake of his raised fist. The girls stared at the strange man and retreated further between their father’s legs.

“He never quit, right?” Jules said simultaneously to the girls, then to the father. “He never backed down!”

The girls looked to their father for a translation, which he proceeded to provide in soft Spanish. The girls wiped their eyes as they listened, nodding their heads in affirmation towards Jules.

“Margarito!” he said again with a big loud grin so that the whole crowd could hear. Some jeered him, but Jules just waved them off--performing for the girls. They smiled at his antics and glowed as though something had been restored.

“Margarito!” they chimed back with hesitant giggles as they looked up toward their dad for reinforcement. Then to my amazement, the dad yelled, “Margarito!” proving the eternal moronity of the human race.

But I liked that little exchange. Took notice of it as we walked outside.

“Cute girls, eh? I said.

“Yeah, I liked ‘em,” Jules responded. “I’ve liked the whole night Lodo. That pub we went to seemed like a real place and even those seats were good considering how late we got in.”

“I’m glad,” I said as Buttons snuck me a hug that sent a flood of warmth through my bones.

“...The only thing I’d have changed, “Jules said, “was how that fight ended. I’d have liked to have seen if that Mexican could get knocked out.”


* NOTE: For me to complete this post as originally conceived, its probably going to take another 2-3 parts. Problem is I'm going out of town until after New Years so...not sure what to do. I've had this happen before with other posts and I've just bailed on 'em, but I kind of want to start finishing these multi-part posts. Come back in a few days and I promise to have something posted--even if its just an intermission to tide things over. Thanks for reading and Happy Holidays!!!

**ADDITIONAL NOTE: All pics stolen off Google Images with the exception of 2nd from the top, which was taken by me on the night of the fight. All rights reserved on my pic.

Up, Down, and All Over The Map w/ Buttons and Jules--Part 5:


"He wasn't even hurt!"


"My God I'm so wet!"




Olympic Silver Medalist and Light-Welterweight Champion of the World--Amir Khan:


Whether it was thwarted blood lust or just unresolved curiosity that so disappointed Jules was hard to say, but it was obvious what excited and motivated Buttons. She’d clutched at her herself on every Cotto connect and bounced in her seat as Margarito shrugged off each punch and advanced. And when the fight was stopped, it was Buttons who seemed the most disappointed at being denied the opportunity to watch a man get beat unconscious.

“Oh my God I’m so wet!” she said to no one in particular as Jules felt up her dress in the cab to Chinatown.

“Jesus, she is Lodo--feel this!”

“Maybe later Jules.”

“Well what about you?” Jules asked the cabbie, “You wanna feel how wet my girlfriend is?”

The cabbie stole a glance at Button’s open legs in his rearview mirror.

“...I have to drive sir.”

“Course you do!” Jules exclaimed, “Just testing you Mohammed, you’re a good man!”

“Thank you sir,..but my name’s Habib.”

“You don’t have to thank m..”

Jules phone suddenly rang. One of his buddies from California. One of his Mexican buddies.

“What? No, man--no! He wasn’t even hurt. His eye was a little swollen--that’s it. He could’ve easily fought two, three more rounds. Christ, Buttons was just getting good and worked up too, you oughta feel her over here, right Mohammed? I mean...What?--no, I was talking to the cabbie. I told him he should feel Buttons’ box cause she’s hot as a hellcat, but I guess he’s gay or something...”

Jules. Freaking guy. What a pleasure it’ll be to take a cab to Chinatown, I’d thought when he first brought it up. Usually its the subway or bus for me; but a paid cab ride from midtown? That’s good living.

That is ‘til Jules insults the cabbie.

“Hey Moha--I mean, Habib, how come there aren’t any great Muslim boxers? There’s like a billion of you guys isn’t there? And you’re always fighting somebody. Seems like there should be some good fighters.”

“But there is sir. Amir Khan is world champion. From Pakistan--or actually, London; but he is Muslim sir. And world champion too.”

Ahmeer Conn?” Jules asked his Mexican buddy over the phone. “You know who that is? ...Um hmmm. Hey Habib--my buddy here on the phone says that Amir Khan’s a faggot and that he punches like a girl. I hope that’s not true ‘cause I really like you brother.”

Yep, fun ride. But Jules paid for it. Plus he bought my food, three beers; and even gave me cash-money for the tickets--including mine. So no way around it, he and Buttons showed me a special night.

Next day we met at our usual pub to watch the Packers/Giants game. Buttons is originally from Wisconsin (you betcha!) and big into football, so her and Jules were already at the bar with drinks when I arrived.

Actually they’d had quite a few, which shouldn’t surprise you if you know anything about Wisconsin. Biggest lushes on the planet with the exception of the native Irish themselves. In fact, booze is serious business for Buttons. She doesn’t just pound the cocktails, she holds court at the bar. Chats everybody up and monitors their alcohol choices as they stare down her dress and consider their chances.

“You know what?” she asked a young couple seated next to me at the bar, “I like the way you guys drink. What are those?--Greyhounds?”

They both nodded in agreement.

“These two,” Buttons said to me as she gestured toward the couple,” have been here since we got here. And we haven’t slowed down yet!” she said as she reached across me to give them each a high-five. “Let me guess, you came here from church, right?”

Indeed they had. Course at this time Jules was outside on another of his super-numerous phone calls despite it being Sunday. We rarely talked more than 15 minutes at a time before he’d have to step outside to respond or make another call.

“What’s he do again?” I asked Buttons after Jules stepped-out for the the 3rd or 4th time.

“Who Jules?” she asked with a dismissive wave of her hand, "he’s always wheeling and dealing.”

“Wheeling and dealing what?”

Buttons just shrugged her shoulders as she watched the Packers drive downfield.

“I don’t know Lodo, you’re the investigator. Ask him.”

Um hmm. No offense reader, but I don’t think you need to be an investigator to find out what the guy you’re sleeping with does for a living. But God forbid Buttons should ask a follow-up question to someone paying her way!

Only later, when we were all outside smoking a joint did I get the chance to ask Jules.

A little like Jules (above):


* NOTE
: Due to the length of this post, I'm going to split it into at least one or two more parts--sorry!! Hope everyone had a great holiday and that 2012 proves to be your best year yet. Next part in a few days ya'll. And thanks again for reading!!

** ADD'L NOTE: All pics stolen off Google Images. Copyrights may exist. All pics are used simply to enhance the narrative. I've never met anyone depicted; nor do I know their real identity.