Frankie Never Went to Hollywood
How I had an unlikely body guard in high school, and what he means to me now
Frankie was a late 70s high school anomaly, idolizing Lou “The Hulk” Ferrigno and looking just like him, a ripped body builder by age 15.
For some reason Frankie liked me, so he became my bodyguard of sorts, menacing anyone who tried to bully skinny dorky Spitz.
Whenever he sensed I was under threat, he’d charge over, point at my assailants, and ask: “Hey! Are these assholes fucking with you?”
Usually that’s all it took to make people retreat, pronto. His threats were effective, his reputation fierce and well deserved:
Frankie’s signature fighting style was to punch people in the face, then convulse his six pack abdominal muscles and puke into their gaping wounds.
Survivors said the horrific stinging and public shaming were far worse than the initial bloody blows. Everyone believed them.
I have no idea what happened to Frankie, but he’s certainly been missed. Life is challenging, and I’ve often wished he were around.
Not that I’d sic him on anyone now, mind you — but knowing he were lurking somewhere nearby would give me added zip and confidence.
Many times as an adult I could have used some Frankie. He obviously couldn’t kick the Rona’s ass, for example, his unique fighting technique transmissible.
He couldn’t reverse the clock, either, protect me from my own mistakes. Instead, I hear him scolding me in his Italian accent: “Are you stoopid, or what?”
In lieu of Frankie backing me up and protecting me all these years, I guess I’ve done all right. Maybe I’ve internalized him, a superego mini-Frankie as secret super power.
With age, experience, and wisdom, I also hope I’ve outgrown him. Puking into the bloody wounds of our enemies sounds like an easy way out, but the real threats are internal.
Maybe Frankie has since learned a few life lessons, too. High school heroes often peak early, yesterday’s dateless geeks today’s Lamborghini riding playboys.
If I’ve discovered anything since then, it’s the strength found not in physical or even mental power, but shared vulnerability. Everyone is afraid; opening up opens people up.
Being honest and transparent with one’s self is real power, fueled by a need not to dominate, but communicate. The messages we share are good, bad, and ugly, just like everybody.
So here’s to Frankie, his screaming victims, skinny dorky Spitz, and the rest of us, grown up and making many of the same mistakes, while maybe still learning a thing or two they never taught us in high school.