Ralphie's ClubM.A.G. 2002
At a family gathering my cousin Ralphie couldn’t eat his birthday cake his mother had made for his fortieth birthday. It was because of a killer toothache. He said the tooth had been hurting him for about a month but he was afraid to go to the dentist.
“That first dentist I had as a kid ruined me for life. He was the meanest bastard in the world and loved to scare kids with threats of pain and giant needles. I wish Berkowitz were alive now,” Ralphie said, “I’d go kick his ass.”
“Berkowitz?” I asked.
I told Ralphie that after forty years I was petrified of dentists too, and it was all because of Berkowitz. “When did the old bastard die?” I asked.
“Forty years too late,” he said.
“He died about ten years ago,” Aunt Betty said. She was Ralphie’s mother and she had used Berkowitz and liked him.
“Since you can’t kick his ass,” I said. “Why don’t we do something else?”
“Like what? Like pee on his grave?” Ralphie asked.
“That would make me feel better,” I said.
“Me too.” Said Ralphie who turned and asked his mother where Berkowitz was buried. She angered and refused to tell us because we were speaking ill of the dead and left the room.
The following month I was telling this story to mu poker group while I was dealing five-card stud and it got a big chuckle all around. Two hands later, Victor was shuffling the cards and said, “You know, there’s one grave out there that I wouldn’t mind pissing on myself. I had this fourth grade teacher who used to paddle me in front of the other kids almost every week. I’ve never gotten over the embarrassment and I’ve often wished that I could get even. If you and your cousin Ralphie come with me to pee on Mr. Jackman’s grave, I’ll go with you to pee on the dentist.”
Alvey Meyer popped his unlit cigar into the corner of his mouth and said, “I want a piece of this action, guys. I’ve got a mother-in-law just waiting for the golden shower,”
“Didn’t she die just last month?” I asked.
‘Yeah,” Alvey said. He smiled and his eyes gleamed. “Let’s form a club. We’ll call it Ralphie’s Piss on Your Grave Club since he thought it up. We’ll go out every two or three months and wreak vengeance . . .”
“Don’t you mean leak vengeance?” I asked.
“Yeah. We’ll leak vengeance on those that did us lifelong harm. The club members will have to vote on whether it was a pee-able offense or not.”
“I’m in,” said Albert. “There’s a mean cheek-pinching aunt in New York that deserves a visit.”
“Deal me in too, fellas. I know a ratty white French Poodle in the pet cemetery that belonged to my ex, Charles said. “I should really go pay my dis-respects.”
The next day I call Ralphie and told him. “Mirsky, you’re a genius.” He said. He was so excited that he told the guys at the car dealership where he worked and we picked up four more members.
Memories of a mean older cousin, a nasty neighbor, another dentist and a perverted Rabbi brought them into the fold. We set the first meeting for my house and laid out the ground rules, and an agenda. There were nine of us altogether.
The ground rules, or underground rules, as Alvey called them were:
- The aggrieved party gets to stand in the position of his choice—most probably near the head of the grave site.
- It always had to be during daylight hours on a Sunday.
- Miss two peeings for any reason and you’re out of the club.
- The aggrieved party gets to make a statement no longer than three minutes.
- We toast before we pee and the aggrieved party brings the champagne.
- No bashful kidneys allowed.
- You must shake, but no more than twice.
- No family or friends allowed to watch.
- No telling the names of the other club members.
Since it was our idea Ralphie and I were elected to go first. Buster had a cousin who worked for a newspaper and dug up (so to speak), the info on Berkowitz’ death.
“We need a clubhouse,” said Alvey, “for our brief pre-pee meetings. How about the turnpike restaurant nearest to the target area?”
We all agreed to that and then decided to kick in two bucks apiece for a kitty that went to the longest leak, (duration not distance).
Ralphie’s Pee on Your Grave Club has been going strong for almost four years now. We’ve lost a couple of the original guys due to moves and picked up replacements along thee way, but basically the core group has stuck together.
Last month Ralphie died. He’d been sick for a while and it came as no surprise. After the service, his wife gave me an envelope. There was a hundred dollar bill and a note:
Buy a good bottle of bubbly for once, and say goodbye.
I love you guys.
The following Sunday grief-stricken as we were, we meet at the McDonalds Club House on I-95 and held our meeting.
Then we drove to the cemetery, where we stood around the grave swapping Ralphie stories, mixing laughter and tears, and passing around the bottle of Dom. The privileged headstone space was vacant. We took small sips but finally the bottle was empty and I placed it on Ralphie’s stone. Then, together as a drill unit honor guard we turned a one eighty from Ralphie’s grave. No one made a speech. Instead, there was a minute of silence followed by the familiar sound of zippers opening.