THE AMAZING ALFREDO
I get drunk and go to this amusement park with a woman I’ve been seeing. We don’t have much in common except drinking so it’s a diversion. I lose her as soon as we get there. She disappears into the families pulling on each other. I buy a beer, one that costs me three times what I can get at the corner bodega, and sit on a green bench, content to get fucked up until she wanders back this way and finds me.
Across the fake street that they’ve made here, a man in a white shirt with green pants and suspenders eyes me. He slowly waves me over. I look away, taking a drink, watching a mother herd her son onto a merry go round. The man is now furiously waving at me, beckoning me.
His placard announces that he is “The Amazing Alfredo.” He kind of looks like a dick to me, hassling families who happen to get too close to him while heading to the Tilt N Whirl.
Leave me the fuck alone, I yell across the street to him but he is undaunted — he is the Amazing Alfredo. He cares not what I want. Also, he has no one else to harass but me because everyone else ignores him as they walk by.
Come over here and let me guess your weight, he yells. I ignore him and watch the kids on the merry-go-round as they hang on tightly to their chipped horses as tinny music plays and the go-round creaks along its journey.
Come on, dude, the Amazing Alfredo yells over. If my boss doesn’t see me getting customers over here, he’s going to dump my ass.
Work harder, I yell back. Alfredo seems to be anxious, walking around back and forth in front of his big scale.
I’ll buy you a beer, he says. I figure what the fuck and cross over to him.
Is this gonna cost me money?
Nah, he replies.
Your sign says two bucks, I reply.
Don’t worry about it, he says. Just stand here until my boss moves on.
And then I’ll get my beer?
Yeah. He’s a tall guy, thin, with a soul patch on his chin. Probably in his late 20s.
Your name really Alfredo?
Nah, he says, it’s John.
How you get a job like this?
Couldn’t find anything else, he says. It sucks but it’s okay for now.
Kinda old for this to be a summer job, I say. He doesn’t reply. He’s watching a middle-aged guy in a blue tie talk to a cute woman at a concession stand. I assume it’s his boss.
We gotta go through the motions, he whispers.
Okay, fine, whatever, I reply, but I’m still gonna get my beer, right?
Yeah, he says, but I can’t get it now. That’s my boss at the concession stand. So then in a louder voice, he says, Only two dollars, only two dollars, I can guess your weight, what about you, sir. His boss now seems to be watching us, the woman no longer holding his attention.
Sure, why the fuck not, I reply.
Awesome, sir, just stand back and let me take a look at you. I take two steps back and he makes a big show of walking around, eyeing me from various angles like I’m some prize dog at one of those kennel club shows.
Hmm, he says, this is tricky! His voice carries across the fake street and a couple, early 20s, with matching bad skin, stop and watch.
So whaddya think?
I’m guessing around 195, he says, finally, after a long dramatic pause.
Yeah, he says, 195.
Already I know that he sucks at doing this.
How much you gotta be within?
Ten pounds, he says.
And I know he’s wrong. I don’t weigh more than 180. Never have. And if I win, I get some cute kewpie doll that I can impress this woman with, maybe get to go home with her after this, but I look at the Amazing Alfredo, who seems young and unemployable and wears a cheap wedding ring and probably has a kid who is always sick, if not two kids, and drives a beat-up piece of shit car and lives in a terrible apartment complex where his neighbors probably beat each other and his wife hates him because this is what he does for a living because he doesn’t have anything else going for him and I lie and say, You got me, dude and his boss smiles and Alfredo smiles and I’m not even going to try to get my beer out of this guy because when I was young I knew what it was to be an Amazing Alfredo.
Ron Burch lives in Los Angeles, where he is the Co-Executive Producer for DINOTRUX, a TV show for DreamWorks Animation.