Now hear the ballad of Bad Breath Frankie 'Frankfarter'

Amanda Mahmoudi

I hate going shopping, especially at my neighborhood mall. I always end up seeing people I have no desire to see and consequently forcing myself to talk to them.

Does this happen to you, too?

Because of my prior experiences, I should have paid my pathetic friend absolutely no attention when she begged me to accompany her to the mall the other day. I should have been strong. I should have held my ground.

"But, Manda! I really need new shoes!" she begged.

How could I have possibly declined such an invitation?

After about an hour of preparation (even though you don't care whom you may see, you still want them to think you look good) and a hellish drive, we were finally there. It was my intention to simply go through each store at warp speed, but my friend had something else in mind.

"Manda, let's go to Coney Island! Remember how we would come here and get chili cheese dogs all the time?" she reminisced.

The girl didn't need new shoes. She wanted a walk down memory lane.

There was no turning back. We were already there. Plus, she had confiscated my keys and wallet upon entering the vicinity.

For those of you old enough to be familiar with the expression, I was stuck like chuck.

But Coney Island? Did we really have to go there? Could she already have forgotten who might still work there?

"Hey," she said, dragging me by the arm, "I wonder if Bad Breath Frankie still works there."

As if on cue, he stood before us.

"Hello, ladies," he greeted us with a smarmy grin.

That was all it took. I felt faint and my palms began to sweat. Panic. A very common emotion around Bad Breath Frankie.

Here's a little inside information: Frankie was always a nice boy, a really good kid. He made decent grades and played sports.

Sounds like your average guy, right?

Wrong! You see, Frankie had this problem, as you may have noticed from his nickname, "Bad Breath Frankie." Of course, the boys also maintained their distance and called him "Frankfarter," respectively.

During high school, he could never hold down a job because his boss would always complain about the stench. Just when he thought he was never going to get a job, this opportunity at James Coney Island turned up. The boss was never there, so Frankie ran the shop alone. No one could complain. He was ecstatic.

Frankly, I was ecstatic too. In those days, I would always get so involved in other people's problems. You know how it is. I was so relieved when Frankie got the job because I wouldn't have to support him myself after his parents died.

That was always as far as I thought he'd go, for he never really had the ambition to "make it" like everyone else. That's what was so refreshing about Frankie's personality.

I was stuck in my own stroll down memory lane when my friend nudged me. "Did you hear that? Frankie owns two franchises now!"

"That's not all, ladies." He took out his wallet and showed us a picture of himself, a nice-looking girl, and an adorable baby boy.

That was when the whole thing started to get too much for me. All the time I had made myself so miserable because I thought Frankie would end up alone and penniless - it was all such a waste. I felt embarrassed and angry at myself for not having more faith in him.

The chatting soon ended and with it the stroll down memory lane.

After that I made my friend promise me that we would never go to the mall again.

It is really difficult to convey what I feel. Of course, there was melancholy, but there was something lighter there as well. Maybe there was a little bit of hope mixed in, too.

After all, if Frankie can find his piece of happiness, maybe I can.

Mahmoudi, a sophomore French and German major, recommends Breath Assure instead of hardship. Direct responses via e-mail to amahmoud@bayou.uh.edu.

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