You, Sir, are the B Word


I was part of a large group of people who had purchased tickets for a Harry Connick Jr. concert at the Hollywood Bowl. (Harrcy Connick Jr.!?! Yeah, that’s me: Mr. Excitement.) We got to our seats just as the show was starting, and some of us couldn’t sit in our row with the rest of our group because a few people were sitting in the wrong seats.

This happens all the time at shows. No big deal. You say to someone, “I think these are our seats,” as if you’re maybe not sure, but you’re actually quite certain that whomever is sitting in those seats is literally robbing you of your money through their sloth or thoughtlessness. They either trudge off mumbling something about you being worse than Hitler, or they’re genuinely embarrassed because they sat in the wrong seat or thought you weren’t using them. Either way, they move, and you never think about it again.

Well, not this time. This older gent and his friend weren’t budging. So my friend, whom we’ll call Natalie, explained, for a second time, that they were in the wrong seats. Dude was not having it. He told Natalie that she’d have to call security because they weren’t moving. So she left to go get security because that’s the kind of no-nonsense woman Natalie is.

When another member of this guy’s group asked him what was happening. He said, loud enough for everyone around him to hear, “That BITCH wants us to move.”

Oh, no.

Not in my house.

Not in Harry Connick Jr.’s house.

“Hey!” I yelled. “We do not use that kind of language.”

I have no idea why I chose those exact words. Specifically, the word we. As if we were all calling Natalie a bitch but now it was time to stop.

I was in fight-or-flight mode, my adrenaline racing. I guess I maybe had the presence of mind to edit myself. “We don’t use that kind of language” was my way of saying, in a way that would let him save some face, “Shut. The Fuck. Up.” “Shut the fuck up” is Defcon-5 Defcon 1. “We don’t use that kind of language” is Defcon-3. This was me being nice while also being mean, which all makes sense when you know I’m a Libra.

Naturally, all eyes were on us. A man had just called a woman a bitch. I had called him out. He was about 10 feet away, one row down. He couldn’t hit me from there, and I could have sung half of “It Had to be You” by the time he ran over to me. No one was in threat of physical danger. Ours would be a verbal dual.

After I declared, “We do not use that kind of language,” he came back with the classic retort, “You listen here, SONNY.” My hand to god, he called me, “sonny.” Afraid that in my adrenalized state I might have misheard him, the woman sitting in front of me later confirmed, “Yes, he called you sonny,” at which point she burst out laughing.

Funny thing about that. He called Natalie a “bitch” behind her back and called me “sonny” to my face. Clearly he was not, as they say in the NFL Draft, a high-character guy.

Without even thinking about what he just said, I responded, “No!”

It was the same “No!” I use when my dog looks at me when he’s about to do something bad, and I give him a chance to make the right choice, and even though he knows I’m watching he slowly starts to chew on one of my hats.

Looking back, I’m not exactly sure what I was saying no to – perhaps the implication that I was his son? Mainly, I think, I just didn’t want to hear him talk anymore, and the “No!” was what I thought about him making any more sounds.

Before I could give him a chance to say anything else – before he could yell, “Aw! Horsefeathers!” at me – I pointed at Harry Connick Jr., who, God bless him, was playing his heart out on the piano 1,000 feet away, oblivious to our tête-à-tête.

“Now,” I said, “we enjoy the show!”

He tried to say something again, and I pointed at the stage again, reminding him with my stern countenance that Harry Connick Jr. had traveled all the way to Los Angeles for our amusement. Damn it, I pointed so hard, you guys.

Finally, Old Grandpa Mumblepumpkins got up and moved to his correct seat, all of three rows back. Me being me, I felt bad about our exchange during the rest of the show and thought about buying the guy a beer as another face-saving measure but decided against it when I saw the line was longer than three people and I might miss Harry, whom, I should mention, is a delight.

Twitter: @joedonatelli

The Best Comments from my ‘Porn in the Woods’ Article


Some of the comments from my “Porn in the Woods” piece for Playboy were amusing/funny/weird. Here are the best ones.

First few I ever found were in the woods across the street from my house. I wrapped them carefully in an old garbage bag, his them under a piece of wood and carefully covered it with leaves. I must have been 11 and went out to look at them do often I swear my mother thought I was Daniel Boone.

It’s an American tradition, and a right of passage to find your first Playboy in the woods, or field.



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