I says to the guy: In my hometown there’s an alley. In the alley there’s a hot dog stand. Gourmet, they call it. Real fuck-me-up menu. Peanut butter and pickles and chocolate and bananas and bacon and cheezies and blueberries and ceviche. Every unholy thing.
You want it bald?
Order a Paul Shaffer.
That’s the ticket, I says. Hometown hot dog famous.
Sure, you could be Letterman. All booze and blackmail. Sex scandals. Al-Qaeda death threats. Park that existential crisis of a beard on Netflix and call it a comeback. Textbook celebrity shit.
Takes a real man to be King of New York. You wanna flex? Tell ‘em you run The World’s Most Dangerous Band—and mean it.
Try being that hard, I says. Just try.
See, Shaffer stays in his lane. Same wife. Two kids. Twenty pairs of sunglasses. You and me hit the Whole Foods in Matsudas? Amateur hour. Couple’a halfbaked Horatio Caines choking one-liners in the checkout like some WHO-screaming CSI cold open. Fuck outta here.
Shaffer, though. Earned that sunglasses shit. Go write “It’s Raining Men” and get back to me.
Hometown hot dog famous: All the perks of fame. None of the hassle. No paps stalking Paul while he takes a shit at Starbucks. Tabloids don’t fuck with Shaffer, but everyone else does. You think you got influence? Twenty-four point two thousand followers on the ‘gram? Let’s see you get Bill Murray to feed Jenny Lewis tequila and duet “Fairytale in New York.” Let’s see you shade Questlove’s tweets.
Sit down, I says.
You can’t step to the guy. He’ll go Artie Fufkin. Spinal Tap? Polymer Records? Corner Shaffer in Hell’s Kitchen and he’ll gut you one-two like Do me a favor. Just kick my ass, okay? Kick this ass for a man, that's all. Kick my ass. Enjoy. Come on. I'm not asking! I'm telling with this! Kick my ass.
What now, asshole?
This is what I’m saying. Shaffer could fuckin’ bury you.
Could, I says. But won’t. Too busy cutting contest ribbons at Nathan’s Famous on the 4th of July, probably. Franchising stands all over the five boroughs, if he’s smart. Lotta money in hot dogs.
But I don’t need to tell you.
I just figure it should be, you know. Synonymous.
Like if I go to see the Yankees and order a Paul Shaffer. Bald dog for the ball game. But maybe one day he’s there, right? VIP box and the concessions guy goes up and says excuse me Mr. Shaffer? There’s someone asking for you? From your hometown? And Shaffer goes with the bit. Because he’s a legend. Because he’s hard as fuck. Shaffer shuffles down among the mortals and taps my shoulder and we’re on the Jumbotron, laughing, smiling, slapping backs and the concessions guy’s got this tray of stinking condiments. Shaffer tilts his sunnies and says anything but the sauerkraut, kid so I grab the mustard and wreathe his head in Heinz.
Because that’s what you do, I says. For the King of New York.
Look, lady, says the guy.
You crown him.
There’s a lineup.
Just thought you’d know what a Paul Shaffer is, is all.
One bald dog. Coming right up.
Oh, no, I says. Gimme every unholy thing you got.