All through the 1960's and 1970's The Hoag (My pal Hoagy's nickname) wanted a real switchblade knife. A big one. He could never get one as they weren't allowed in the state we grew up in. He wanted one bad.
He had every other stupid weapon a kid could want except the damn Switchblade.
Slingshots, wristrockets,brass knuckles,knives,those ninja star things,blackjacks, etc....but no Switchblade.
The 1980's begin and we decide to take a bus to New York City. Me for fun. The Hoag for The Switchblade. We get a hotel in Times Square somewhere around maybe 57th street (The Sheraton City Squire),dump our 'luggage' and head on down to 42nd street.
Now in the early 80's 42nd St. was still one wicked bad place...the second you turn the corner the dealers and whores and every other lowlife would approach you trying to get your money. The first guy just says "mescaline". The second guy says "Whatcha looking for?"
And this is where the story really begins:
So Hoag says (in his cool street voice) "A blade....a big one" And the guy (from now on called the Dude) says "I'll get you one for $100.00...in advance". The Hoag doesn't hesitate for a second and whips out $100 and hands it to the Dude. The Dude tells us to follow him and starts taking us into every sleazy place on 42nd street...peep shows, porn stores, whore houses, dope houses, Popeye's Fried Chicken,...in through the front door, out through the back or side doors, up and down the street when finally the Dude says "wait here"...so we do.
About 5 minutes later the Dude comes out with a package and is kinda panting and says 'Quick...jam this down your pants..the cops!" The Hoag follows instructions and then out of the blue says to the Dude..."here's a little something more for going the extra mile" and slips the guy another $20. The Dude says "Thanks...now cheese it..the cops!"
Let me tell you something, me and The Hoag took off so goddamn fast...we just started running down 42nd street and then took a left and headed to our hotel...15 blocks non stop as fast as we could with cops chasing us...panting, laughing, shoving people out of the way,back and forth across the streets dodging traffic and finally into the revolving door of the City Squire...up the elevator...and finally to our room.
Hoag slams the door. Puts the chain on the door. Bolts the door. Grabs a chair and puts it in front of the door. Draws the curtains. I've never seen him so happy...so excited, so nervous. He pulls the wrapped switchblade out of the front of his pants and sits on the bed. I sit on the other. He's giddy. He starts unwrapping his holy grail...it's beautiful. It's black like he wanted. He holds it. Turns it over in his hand. Smiles. He pushes the button on the handle and the blade swings into action.
The blade is a comb. A $1.49 switchblade comb you can buy in any joke shop in America.
It just might have been the greatest moment of my life.