A friend I once knew had this peculiar habit. He’d walk in on a group of friends, and ask the same question, and give more or less the same answer. “So,” he said looking around, “what’s new?” After a brief pause, he’d say, “New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey (pronounced joy-see), New Amsterdam and New . . .” Then he’d break off but as his friends had soon gotten wise, they’d chip in with their own answers: “New Delhi, New Orleans, New Mexico . . .”
He was a real character. His first name was Nelson, and he could tell yarns like no one I ever knew. He’d walk into a bar or nightclub in England or Sweden, a stranger to everyone there, and begin to tell those stories. I’ve known management to pay for all his drinks, and for friends who joined him later, all night, free, all on the house. They just loved the stories, mixed in with his jokes, including some memorable one-liners. He had a dozen and more accents he’d use but his favorite had to be that of a semi-urbane Brooklyn gangster. In fact, in some clubs they let him in free anyway, fearing he might be an “advance guard” of the Mafia, sent to check out the joint.
No one really knew what he did for a living. He had CD plates on his car, but he wasn’t a diplomat. He probably ended up a confidence trickster, which was a real shame if true as he had talent in abundance.
He wasn’t that tall, his father was a Burmese colonel and his mother a Swedish beauty; he had a neat but forceful, handsome face with good strong features, and he always looked ultra smart, ultra suave, at ease in any company, his darker than usual skin adding more intrigue to an already powerful charisma. His voice, when he wanted to impress, became a deeply polished growl, with distinct Long Island undertones.
The reason? If he were around today, I could ask him a different question: “So, Nelson, what’s grand?” And he might have replied, “Grand Bahama, Grand Canary, Grand Canyon, Grand . . .” And I’d have answered, “Nope, but try this one: Grand Casino.”
You might win a ton of cash a grand will do just fine!
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