St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

I walked outside the Esplanade mall with my sandwich inside a Styrofoam container.  I took a few paces, stopped, carefully placed the container on the ground and proceeded to stomp the shit out of it.  Jumped up and down with both feet.  Many times.  Making sure to totally destroy my pricey and uneaten pastrami sandwich.

My girlfriend at the time watched this display of childishness by a twenty-year old man.  It didn’t phase her.  After all, she was my girlfriend.  She just smiled.

“Well, that fixed everything, ”

By italicizing the “that”, she was clearly implying that that didn’t.  Inferring that stomping on my sandwich didn’t  fix everything.

She was right of course.  She always was.  But fuck that.   What was right didn’t matter.  What mattered was that I was pissed-off.

And had to show the world.

“It did!” I told her, making sure to italicize my “did.”  Letting her know there were two sides to every story.  That sometimes different things are right.

She just nodded along in that “Okey-dokey, Pokey” way.  With overly-agreeing face.  The one caretakers make to indulge their lunatic charges–while waiting for them to swallow their pill.

“It totally fucking did.”

“Oh-kay!”

We had to leg it back to the movie theater where we worked.  She was the box office cashier and I was an usher.  We were late coming back from our lunch break, which was partially a factor in my decision to curb-crush my Pastrami.  And go hungry instead.

We’d always take our breaks together and go to the Mc Donalds next to the theater.  She’d get a chocolate chip cookie and a milk, and I’d get a Big Mac and a shake, That magic combination would guarantee me a time-released queasiness that quelled hunger.  Like clock work.  Big Mac.  Shake.  Nausea.

While I was by no means a fan of feeling sick to my stomach, the price was right, and it was close by,  Cheapness and convenience trumped well-being.

Anyway, this one Saturday afternoon, I decided I had enough feeling nauseous.  I would walk down the mall a little further to the deli restaurant and treat myself to some heartburn instead.  I would cough up the extra five dollars just to remind myself that I was worth it.  Sometimes you just have to be good to yourself.

Yeah.  That’ll be nice.  Get myself a nice pastrami on rye with wedge cut fries.

Because you never know which day will be your last.

Sue got her usual cookie and milk, then followed me to the deli where I put in my order and waited.

And waited.

I look around.  It’s slow.  Half of a half of a dozen people sitting around.  All of them with their food.  I can’t imagine what’s taking so long to make my sandwich.  I watch the minutes of our lunch break tick off of my wristwatch.  Nothing.  At seven minutes left, one of the cooks puts a Styrofoam container under the heat lamp.  But there’s no waitress to pull it down and give it to me.  It sat there for another agonizing five minutes before one finally appeared and responded to my wild flailing and pointing.

“My sandwich!  My sandwich!”

She lazed her ass over and handed it to me.

There was now two minutes left to eat my five dollars-extra sandwich.  What bullshit.  Instead of the special lunch I had anticipated, I’d now be lucky to cram half of it into my mouth before I had to be back.  Sure, I could have eaten half then put the rest in the employee fridge until later.  I could have stuck the sandwich into the pocket of my polyester suit and gnawed on it in a darkened theater.  There were plenty of alternatives.  But I was pissed.  I wasn’t going to get what I wanted.

So stomping was the only solution.

I would make the sandwich pay.  And subsequently myself.  But I didn’t care.  Somebody was going to suffer because of this.

It was old behavior by then.

When I was seven, I would play my dad in checkers.  If I saw he was playing too well, I’d get angry and slap the board up into the air.  Boof.

Well, my dad didn’t approve of these outbursts.  Poor sportsmanship wasn’t tolerated.  Neither were tantrums.  My folks were from The Old Country and didn’t put up with that kind of shit from their kids.  His belt would be slapping me across my ass before the checkers stopped raining.

“I’ll give you something to cry about!”

Good for him, really.  I had it coming.  Sorry enlightened, modern parents, but for me, only the threat of corporal punishment ever made me think twice about misbehaving.  And a lot of times, not even then.  Crown one of your checkers Daddy-O and it’s on.  “In your face old man!”  Boof.

Smack smack.

Couldn’t help myself.  Tantrum trumped everything.

When I was in Kindergarten I used to attend a Saturday school for Lithuanian-American kids.  For Valentine’s Day we had to cut out hearts from red construction paper that we had folded in half.  All we had to do was cut out one curve, then open up the paper to reveal a symmetrical heart shape.  We would paste that on a thing of paper doilies the teacher taped together for us.  In just a few easy steps everyone would have a nice Valentine to buy their mother’s love with.

Everyone, except the spaz who couldn’t cut right.  Couldn’t cut the curve.  I looked around.  Everyone was already pasting their hearts onto the doilies, and I kept opening my paper to find a butterfly or a bow-tie.  But never a heart.

Fucking horse-shit Valentine’s Day.  I hate you.

I decided if I couldn’t have a heart, nobody would.  Swear to God, I remember getting up and going from desk to desk tearing up the other kid’s hearts.  I distinctly made a conscious effort to be as calm about it as possible.  To maximize damage.  Before all their crying set off the alarm.

I’m sure that in itself would’ve set-off a child psychologist’s alarm.   But the way I conned the teacher, when she finally grabbed a hold of me, revealed the criminal prodigy I was.

Right away I turned on the water works.  Nevermind the shit-fit I just threw.   It’s time to feel sorry for me.

“I’m only a wittle kid (blubber blubber) and cutting hearts is too hard for me!”

Worked like a charm.  She melted.  The teacher cut out a heart for me while the other kids remade theirs.  In the meantime, a photographer from the local Lithuanian newspaper had come by and had us all display our work in a group shot.  This picture right here.  No down here.  I’m the demon seed in the front row.  Tantruminus Rex.

St. Valentine's Day Massacre, Lithuanian Saturday School NYC

You can see how pleased I am with myself.  Why shouldn’t I be?  I got what I wanted.  You never worry about how you’re coming off while in a pants-pissing rage.  All you want is someone to give into it.

God forbid they should, because then you really feel like an ass-hole.  Afterwards.  If you’re lucky.  If you don’t, you’re more apt to up your game.  Really start carpet-biting your way through life.  It can be an effective way to climb the rungs.  You may even get everything you want.  Except the one thing you really want.  The respect of your fellow humans.

Oh well.  Whatever.  Right?  I’ll sign up.  Respect is over-rated.  Besides, I’ll have the respect of other tantrum babies.  That right there explains Hitler.  The pissed-off baby man leading a nation of spoilsports and blamers.  Ready to punish the world (but mostly themselves) for losing the first war, by losing another one in an ultimate checkerboard toss.

If you get a powerful enough microscope, you might find the germ of this behavior in our current political situation.  We’ve got some Valentines tearers running amok in our classroom.  And I so get it.

Unfortunately.

I’ve been the underdog.  At my worst, I let my fear and frustration seize me.  Wound up fighting dirty just to win.  At my best, I realized I’d been  out-gunned and stood there quietly while the ref raised the other guy’s arm.  Went back to the gym and trained a little harder.

Instead of bringing my sandwich into the ring.  And stomping on it.

Then crying because I don’t have any Valentines.

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16 responses to “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

  1. My son has been doing this a lot lately – smashing up his entire room, computer against the wall, destroying anything he can get his hands on… including his own fists agains the wall. But he’s autistic.
    Hey, dude, leaves me wondering… you got a little Asper streak there? Ah, nah. You’re just a bit Hitler. Aren’t we all?

    • Sorry to hear about your son’s troubles. Poor kid. That’s got to be rough on you, Johnny. Knowing what a good Valentine beats under your greasy overcoat. Lori’s gotten clobbered pretty good by some of the bigger kids she’s worked with. Never once did she blink-from wanting to keep working with them, or loving them with all her heart. I always thought that was badass of her. Anyway, glad he has you for a da. Pulled a good lot with you. An ax wielding Viking with a heart of gold. Somebody tough enough to take it, and keep giving back love. A weaker man would wilt from the chaos.
      By the wayo, I was heartened to hear your owl was seen. I’m just going to go out on a ledge here, Carn, and say I got a good feeling about all this. That she’s coming back. Maybe it’s wishful thinking disguising itself as a gut-feeling. Hard to discern. But I will continue to plea with the gods on your behalf. On all counts. If ya diggy, what I’m insinnying.
      As for the Hitler virus, I’m sure I’ve been exposed. Hopefully enough to build up some antibodies.
      And when was the last time you actually wore a German uniform?
      In loving brotherhoodship,
      Marius

  2. No shit. You’re right, Marius. That may piss off the complicated political historians and current politicians but the behavior is relative and just as ridiculous. Oh, but WHAT FUN ! Good story and nice to read in at 6:30 am
    before carrying my 52 year old ass into the ice company.

    • Well eye-color, I had no idea you were back to slinging cubed water. I have to hear about how you’re holding up. Making Hank proud, I’m sure. For those of you who don’t know, my pally here is quite the creature. Proletarian beast. Artist. Connoisseur of all things weird. Strong back. Warped mind. I’ve seen him eat more brutal for breakfast then most Presbyterians see in a lifetime. You can read about him here http://mariusgustaitis.com/2012/09/07/mad-dog/
      Glad to make the morning a little better for you,
      yer pal
      Marius

    • Thanks, J. Always happy to hear I’ve made someone laugh, but think? I don’t know. Maybe we already do too much of it. You know, what I mean. But I also know what you meant, so thank you for that. I find it deeply satisfying when my past folly serves as fodder for laughs or reflection. Otherwise, it’s just a bunch of stupid stuff I went through. There’s nothing to redeem it all. As I’m sure you know, our past has a way of serving us, when employed towards illustrating certain lessons. Other than that, it all make me cringe a little. So what? Nobody ever died from cringing.
      Hey. I like that. Doubt it’ll catch on though.
      None of my sayings do. Oh well.
      I’ll try not to drink over it.
      And you neither. Hahahahaha!
      That was rich.
      Love,
      Marius

  3. Good boy, wittle Mar!!! You’ve seen the light, and learned that punishing pastrami only punishes yourself in the end….and for you,my wittle Washington politicians, put your scissors away and foot stomping away….and leave that kind of spasmodic behavior for your families private viewing. WE’VE seen enough already.

    • I tell you what, Missy, you haven’t seen enough in you’re own private viewing. At least while living with me. Oh sure, every time I burn the bacon I go fucking bat-shit ballistic. I admit that. And yes, I still do it every time. Totally lose it. But I have managed to reel in some of the theatrics. I limit myself to one pan-slam and seven to nine “Motherfuckers!”
      That’s growth.
      I wonder if you appreciate it sometimes.
      All the hard things I have to do to be good.
      And earn your unconditional love.
      Your life partner,
      Marius

  4. They were right when they pulled you out of the birth canal and announced you’d be a heart breaker. You were the prodigal son there, Senor Gustaitis. A true Lithuanian Lethario. But of the destructive kind. Gripping. Visceral. True to form. This ain’t your mamma’s doily.

    Loved the story, Mr. G. As usual. Your chops never dull. Sharp wit, incisive insight, dagger-like reach into the ‘ol ticker. The correlation between your actions and thoughts then as a child and later as a teen no doubt cast a light into how things were in your adult days. I can relate. My whole 25 years drinking was just a long, slow temper tantrum. Just manifested differently. Angry at the world for not conforming to my ways. Everyone around me was a pastrami sandwich, just waiting for my size 10 1/2’s to splat dough and Dijon everywhere. And splat I did. Very well, and very poorly. Heart breaking indeed.

    Justified anger, resentments, wailing at the tea party…these are things I identify with too. If I couldn’t do it, well baby, you ain’t doing it either. I’d get all passive-aggressive on your ass. (I didn’t have the Commando Force wrecking ball program, so I was on the subterfuge scholarship). Or straight out ignore you until you internally bled. Or made you feel almost as insignificant as I felt myself. Pull ’em down to my level, why not? Misery loves company. Or so I am told.

    And like you said, respect was over-rated. Who needed it when I had Jack’s approval? Or Johnny’s? Or any other nameless liquid would have done. Put the money on the counter and walk away when I was done. Bring on the next victim / hostage. But guess what? Things change. We can not only accept that the other hand is getting raised, but we can get in there and give that lug a big hug too. Or a manly shake. Or a high five. Or at least some of that respect that seems to be big amongst those who seek a better, healthier life. Respect for self. Self-respect. What a frickin’ consolation prize. Nay, THE prize. Something I always sought but never found. The Big Ref helped me find my way there. Some other old timers who had their time in the ring also showed me the way.

    You cut a beautiful tale here. And I have to disagree about one thing – you DO cut a classy curve. At least you do for me.

    Big hearted hug

    Paul

    • “Everyone around me was a pastrami sandwich…” Oh man. I laughed through the rest of the comment. Had to read it through juicy eyes. I could see your therapist leaning in, “Tell me again about people being pastrami sandwiches. I don’t see how that relates to your anger.” “Long story, Doc. Look, I just need my script renewed.”
      You know me enough, Pauly, to know I didn’t come to recovery thirsty to drink from the Fountain of Goody-two-shoes. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I scraped my boots as I stumbled toward a different ethos. And the big draw. The only one. Was self-respect. I wanted to be a solid honest citizen so that maybe I wouldn’t hate myself so much.
      Turns out it worked. Not a bad consolation prize, for living life as a dull, quiet square. And yeah, it turned out to be THE prize. Turns out I didn’t have to turn too square either. I mean in public I act like anyone else. But the world I spin between my ears is all mine. And I keep that as freaky and delightful as possible. And still be able to sustain life. And when I’m really lucky, have some supernatural force sweep over me that spurns me to ADD to life. So I can see how that feels like. And maybe I’d like to feel more. Feel more of what giving feels like. It’s a little weird, but in a really nice way.
      Well, thank you again, dear friend, for the luxuriously plush praise. I gnawed on every bit of it like a rat on a chunk of mold.
      By the. Make sure you add balance exercises to your new physical regime. Seriously. Look that shit up. I think trying to balance is a good physical ritual. Take advantage of the Hermetic axiom “As Above, so Below.”
      Just an idea. I got a lot of ’em.
      Here’s another–I shut up and get to bed.
      Hope you’re feeling peaceful,
      Marius

  5. Thank you Marius, as always your stories make me laugh and ponder. I’m a long time pastrami stomper who lets things build up and up and then totally looses it in the privacy of my own home, which is just as well as I destroy inanimate objects while bellowing like a bull. Take that you fucking cutlery drawer!! A few months back menopause hit me like the proverbial mack truck. I’d be at the supermarket where, for some absurd reason, certain items like pens and combs require their own receipt. No matter how many times I’d say “mau bayar sekarang” (I want to pay now) I’d find myself at the check out with a handful of useless bits of paper which means I’d then have to run around trying find the person who wrote the damn thing while trying not to turn into Basil Fawlty. This is tricky in Bali where everyone ‘saves face’ and you never see people argue let alone have a slap- down-drag-out screaming fit. After a fully fledged, valentine shredding incident at a Diplo gig in Seminyak when I actually BIT a girls shoulder for elbowing me out the way, I realized I needed help. I started shoveling B Complex, Magnesium and Ashwaganda down my throat and hey presto, I was instantly better, no more snarling or shoulder biting, I was even able to feel happy for people again! Which is weird because all these complexes are cumulative and I felt like a poster child for the placebo effect, so I stopped and managed to get a grip without mood altering medication, albeit natural.
    I’ve been quietly reading and enjoying your stories and I wanted to re enter the fold as twere, so I just wrote you a letter and unbelievably it fucking disappeared when I pressed send. I’m mentally patting my own back for not throwing the computer across the room, I must be getting better. I’d tried to include a link, something to tickle the old funny bone, a hysterical rant by one of the authors I fell in love with at the recent Ubud Writers and Readers Festival. ‘A strong and stiffly worded letter should do the trick’ by Salena Godden but I’ve learned my lesson so I’ll send it to you personally. Keep up the good work Marius xx

    • Alexa! So great to hear from you. I thought you had joined that ever-growing nation of women that are currently pissed-off at me. I’m also glad the magnesium worked. I’m into magnesium. Found it to be a very helpful supplement. I like to soak in it via Epsom Salts (magnesium sulfate) and it not only relieves sore muscles but neutralizes any bad vibes I’ve absorbed throughout the day. Which depending on who I wind up dealing with, could be a Fuckishima dosage. Complexes are cumulative, and so is the effect of various irritants. Some are not just cumulative, but downright synergistic. So a soak in salt sure helps.
      Anyway, I’m delighted to hear you’re going through menopause. I can’t wait to hear all the fun ways it’s making you crazy (crazier) if only for the sheer entertainment value. Of course, I would rather your life be non-stop bliss, but there’s nothing like hearing your version when it isn’t.
      By the way, I had you pegged as a shoulder-biter. But that always went in the plus column. So don’t you go a changin’. At least not that Hannibal Lector predication.
      Well, my dear friend, it looks like there’s a pretty good chance I’ll be going back to Bali, going back to Bali. Around X-mas ’14. I hope to get to see you then.
      If they let me back into the country, that is.
      Loved the video. Hilarious.
      Marius “Bomby bomb-bomb” Gustaitis

  6. My experience over the years is to witness some folks as “sand castle kickers”. Certain people just have to level the playing field to the way they think God would want it. Progress takes time but disaster and destruction are instantaneous. Nothing like the immediate gratification of violently reducing and reshaping the world through letting out your own, personal Shiva.

    It’s sad to watch those people on the beach, watching an expression of their own personal philosophy in action. Then they get in their cars and go back into the world and do it again, to someone or something, somewhere else.

    It took hours in the sun to build those defiant walls and doomed spires as it brought the joy of creation to the hearts of the diggers and shapers. Hours later, the vandals had their hot way with it in seconds, bringing a sick joy in their dark hearts.

    Sadly, it’s the way of the world. You just end up on one side or the other.

    Well, it was your sandwich after all. It’s fate was to be destroyed by you. You were just acting “out-of-the-box”.

    Man, there’s something about your eyes in that picture.

    • You captured it, perfectly, Pawn pally. Instant gratification. I have so little patience building something. So tedious and time-consuming. But destroying something is a snap!
      But there’s another impulse there. I’ll try to explain. Knowing you, Squeak, I think you’ll get it. It explains the Mr. Rogers thing a little better. It’s like when you see something really neat, like a perfectly scale model of something, i.e. toy village with a train track running through it. It looks so amazing. Almost exasperatingly so. And there’s nothing you can do except hop around and flap your arms. Maybe point to it. But there’s no way to consummate the appreciation. Other than stomping it all flat.
      It’s like when I look at one of my cats being particularly cute, and I get “cuted out.” I just want to grab his little head and squish it. I mean no violence to my little kitty. I just want to bring all this cuteness to some kind of satisfying crescendo. Putting that furry orb of adorableness in between my hands and pressing gently but firmly is my only viable option. Usually while biting my lower lip in half and making a psycho face.
      I imagine it could be traumatic for some cats. Mine just go limp and patiently wait out the seizure. “Just indulge him. He’s an idiot.”
      So I guess that’s part of it. Besides the darker, more revolutionary impulses behind my destructiveness.
      If something looks tasty you can eat it. If it appears sexy you can fuck it. (or try) But what do you do with cute? Or so cool you can’t stand it?
      I’m open to suggestions.
      Anyway, thanks for your comments. Keep ’em coming. You are a venerable and honored guest here, my old friend. And clearly, pretty handy with the quill there, too.
      Love you like a brother, you mother,
      Mojo

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