Mickey Z. -- World News Trust
May 27, 2017
Yes, I’m someone who eschewed a college education, but I earned a PhD in human nature working at the Vertical Club (my first ever gym gig). During those six years, I regularly rubbed elbows with some of the wealthiest and most famous/notorious humans on the planet but my most unforgettable professor just may have been an overnight security guard named Frank.
Frank was an ex-cop. He looked, talked, and moved like an ex-cop. Apropos to being two blue collar guys from the outer boroughs, Frank and I frequently and futilely pondered the comportment of Manhattan’s social and financial elite.
For my first three Vertical Club (VC) years, I manned the late shift. Part of my duties was clearing out and closing the gargantuan gym floor. My sonorous, sing-song “Five minutes” and “Gym’s closed” calls became nightly VC features. Frank would punch in about 30 minutes before I’d let loose with the announcements. It was not uncommon for him to discover me in the first floor business office after the bosses had made their exit. This was back in the pre-Internet days of yore. So, let’s just say a burgeoning writer like me made the most of having access to a high-end copy machine.
“I know what you’re doing back here,” Frank once whispered. “Just remember me when you get famous.”
Fame was not in the cards for me but I’d remember him, either way.
Ankle-deep water with cat droppings floating by
A friend and VC co-worker named Eddie sometimes worked the closing shift with me. He was yet another non-Manhattan guy who bonded with Frank. Ironically, Eddie would go on to join the NYPD (until he quit before being fired for posing in Playgirl). Around this time, “Fast Eddie” (as he called himself) and I went through a short-lived phase acting (sic) in low budget movies. Please allow me to introduce a germane story.
It was an oppressively warm New York City summer day in the late 20th century. The temperature was well over 90° and the humidity made even breathing a chore. I got the call to “act” in yet another super-low-budget flick, Robot Holocaust.
I’d worked with the producers before: squished by a monster in Breeders and buried under two hours of special effects make-up as a zombie in Necropolis: City of the Dead. This time, me and Fast Eddie both landed dual roles. We played “air slaves” and robots.
Indeed, our dramatic versatility was clearly on display…
As air slaves, he and I fought to the death. We were cast because we could convincingly engage in celluloid combat and we looked damn good in loin cloths. As robots, we were so thoroughly ensconced in rubber costumes, there was zero likelihood that any of the five people who actually ended up seeing Robot Holocaust would out the two of us as the scantily-clad gladiators who had just gotten zapped by a ray gun earlier in the flick.
The air slave fight scene was filmed inside the squalid Brooklyn Navy Yard with minimal crash padding. By the time we completed the hand-to-hand warfare (garnering a sustained round of clamorous applause, thank you), we were covered in dirt and bruises. After considerable complaining, we gained access to the Navy Yard showers, unaware that the drains were clogged. On its own, that would rate as a minor issue but… the myriad felines kept in the building to manage rodent populations had appropriated those same showers as their kitty pan. Within minutes, Eddie and I were standing naked in ankle-deep water with cat droppings floating by.
Oh, how we artists suffer for our craft…
Back at the Navy Yard the next day, it was even more mercilessly sweltering. The slightest motion initiated a gradual process of sweat drenching our sinewy frames. Eddie and I complained mightily as we dutifully donned the aforementioned rubber ensemble. Alas, there were complications:
Re-read that last line again. An untrained man-child was slashing about with a lethal weapon -- unable to see anything or anyone in his path. Rest assured I positioned myself behind the most proximate pillar.
The director, who I’m confident found a new vocation, bellowed at us to proceed faster and look “more imposing” as we negotiated the steps, a pool of perspiration trailing behind us. This provoked more robot grumbling and, when our scenes were wrapped, a very odd thing transpired. Both Fast Eddie and I had experienced the obligatory hassles getting paid for the prior work we had done for this company (and just about every production company, for that matter). For Robot Holocaust, the producers cut us a check right there, on the friggin’ set.
At that juncture, we correctly ascertained we were no longer part of their cinematic repertory company.
Meanwhile, back at the Vertical Club…
Speaking of payday, I’d given the “gym’s closed” cry and was commiserating with Eddie about our unacceptably meager wages. “What are you guys whining about? You’re each worth 20 million bucks!”
Like some kind of old Italian ninja, Frank had appeared behind us.
We countered with retorts like “Yeah, don’t we wish!” and “Maybe one day!”
Frank’s facial expression did not change.
“How old are you?” he asked, pointing to me.
“Twenty-five,” I replied.
Eddie answered, “I’m 20.”
“I’m 64,” Frank calmly responded. “I’ll give either one of you 20 million bucks to trade places with me right now. You get all the money but you have to be my age.”
Absolute. Dead. Silence.
Frank smiled and nodded.
“Now get outta here and go have some fun! I’ll finish closing up.”
This episode feels like it took place 20 million years ago but even today, I still wouldn’t make that trade.
Mickey Z. is the founder of Helping Homeless Women - NYC, offering direct relief to women on the streets of New York City. To help him grow this project, CLICK HERE and make a donation right now. And please spread the word!
What I learned from Frank, the health club security guard by Mickey Z. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://worldnewstrust.com/what-i-learned-from-frank-the-health-club-security-guard-mickey-z.