Character Study

Is there anything funnier than an old person letting slip a surprisingly raunchy utterance? No. Life cannot improve on such an occurrence. “Oooh, I’d tap that,” a wrinkly old goat might announce upon glimpsing the enlarged pectorals gracing one of her niece’s suitors as the young man emerges from a swimming pool. “What you kids need is some old-fashioned banging,” a smelly-looking fogey will inform his grandson’s unusually tight circle of friends as they fret over the grandson’s romantic foibles. “Let’s go to the club!”

And the next thing you know, as the grandson and his pals exchange looks like what?! and can you believe it?, the old fart has ushered them inside the hottest spot in town, exchanging some kind of hip-hop handshake with the bouncer and, as if that wasn’t enough, being pointed at in an approving manner by the DJ as the DJ uses his other hand to hold his headphones to his ear, since he takes his job so seriously. It all just goes to show, You never know.

At the nightclub, the grandson spots the girl who he has been making love to, but in one of those “eff buddy” arrangements that everybody maintains nowadays, and goes off to convince her that he is no mere sex toy. This, despite the fact that his eff buddy has repeatedly insisted that she is an emotionally distant individual and, after all, they agreed to that set of rules! “I can’t believe he’s stroking that ’gina and wants a frigging relationship,” the oldster remarks to his grandson’s black friend. “Damn, rubby rubby!” the black friend exclaims, scrunching up his face in that funny way that black people do. “The dude already got the pie and now he wants the salad?”

But wait! As this old-timer and the black friend speak of the grandson’s carnal adventures, they are approached by the aforementioned randy old goat and her niece’s gay friend. “I haven’t been filled up in years,” the elderly woman tells the grandfather by way of introduction. “And by that I mean that my mouth hasn’t been filled by a man’s heaving genitals. What brings your grizzled ass to the club?”

“My shit-for-brains grandson is trying to romance his fuck buddy,” the grandfather replies, as the black friend makes a face like, no dawg! and the gay friend, covetously eyeing the black friend, remarks, “I am definitely gay!”

“Well, my niece is about to marry a bona fide douche bag,” the old woman says. “And the hunk of meat who she secretly wants to ride like he were a sweltering, pure-bred stallion just walked into the club.”

“Ohmigod, ohmigod, ohmigod,” the gay friend says, flamboyantly waving his hands as if rapidly drying a manicure.

In time, the four new friends, realizing that their charges have exited the nightclub with their respective romantic interests, agree to depart en masse to a nearby restaurant. As they walk to the diner, the octogenarians’ cussing dissipates. The black friend and the gay friend begin speaking in complete sentences, the former refraining from non sequiturs about his penchant for copious female backsides and the latter ceasing his constant references to his supposed menstrual cycle.

At the restaurant, the unlikely quartet’s conversation veers, for what seems like the first time in eternity, toward the subject of themselves. “I can’t explain why I use such guttural slang,” the grandfather remarks. “It’s almost as if, were I not to resort to profanity, I would—”

“—Cease to exist altogether,” the elderly woman says, demurely giggling as she completes his thought.

“Exactly!” the grandfather replies. “I can’t help wondering if these scatological comments represent some desire to ward off death itself.”

By force of habit, the black friend begins to shake his head in that exaggerated you people crazy manner of his. Catching himself, he nods in accord, instead. “I don’t even understand why your grandson and I hang out,” he confesses. “He’s really tight with that bland guy who has been his best friend since third grade—which, by the way, is just plain weird. Sometimes, I get the feeling he wants me around to signal to strangers that he is an interesting person, simply because he maintains a slightly diverse pool of acquaintances.”

“Look at me,” the gay friend sighs. “All I ever seem to talk about is this ditzy woman’s wedding plans. No offense to your niece, but can I not betray the slightest hint of egotism?”

As the four commiserate, David Hasselhoff, the washed-up actor, bashfully approaches the table. “Sorry to interrupt,” he says, “but I couldn’t help overhearing your laments. They resonate with me. Lately, I have taken to appearing at odd intervals in the lives of near strangers. Although ostensibly myself in name and function, I’m behaving in an over-the-top, vaguely psychopathic fashion. I cannot refrain from this constant self-mockery—my psychiatrist claims that it stems from some kind of repressed self-loathing.”

The group spends a few minutes speaking with the actor before he excuses himself. As he walks off, Hasselhoff adjusts his blue jeans; the denim momentarily clings to his body. “Now that,” the old woman announces, “is one Knight Rider I could—” But the woman, sensing the disapproving eyes of her new companions, stops herself midsentence. “What has become of us?” she softly mutters, as a lone tear slowly winds its path down a wrinkle of her cheek.