Monday, February 11, 2008

Part I of Mr. Ferri’s report on unorthodox button men can be read here.

Benny Basic Cable

Remember what mama used to say about TV making your brain mush? Well, Benny believed his mama—in fact, that old adage got him where he is today. Some rope, an uncomfortable chair and a 63-inch wall-mounted plasma television are all Benny needs to break your will. In particularly cruel fits he loops a montage of Kelly Ripa footage for days on end. Benny briefly left the underworld for a control room job at MSNBC, but he’s back doing what he loves, five nights a week.

Airbags Malloy

Being of solid Irish stock, Airbags Malloy will never be a “made” man. But the Family would never trade him for anything. His ability to make problems go away while pocketing thousands from insurance companies and from lawsuits against car manufacturers is uncanny. He cuts out the passenger side seatbelt of his car. When you mess up and Malloy gets the call from the Bosses that you “need to go for a ride,” he picks you up and tells you to sit in the front passenger seat. But it’s not so someone can whack you from behind using piano wire. To him that’s cliché. No, Airbags Malloy will head straight for the B.Q.E., hitting ridiculously high speeds in the middle of rush hour. Crashes are inevitable. And so are the results. The passenger side airbag will deploy with 1200 pounds of force and you’re a goner.

Barry A’Tricks

Chances are you need to lose weight, or at least have a body image problem and think you need to lose weight. Well, Barry knows a guy who can perform the latest Bariatric surgeries, from the Lap Band to Gastric Bypass. “But I don’t qualify for those surgeries,” you’ll tell him. Not to worry. With Barry’s guy, there’s no approval process and certainly no psychological screening. You just hop right onto the operating table, a plastic-covered couch in a semi-finished basement in Bensonhurst. Barry’s guy will skip the anesthesia and go straight to opening you up. You’re about to lose more than just weight.

Angelo The Milkman

If you fail to pay the street tax on whatever it is you’re illegally trafficking, and you also happen to be lactose intolerant, then you can count on Angelo to ruthlessly exploit your weakness. And he’ll smile the whole time. Angelo’s M.O. is to invite you to the diner on the corner of 6th (under the guise of talking business). He’ll praise the place’s milkshakes and innocently encourage you to order one—extra thick. You’ll concede, and he’ll smile and say “smart choice.” When the huge glass and accompanying steel cup reach your table, you’ll reach for your Lactaid. But it won’t be there—Angelo’s guys already got to it. You don’t want to let on about your embarrassing stomach problems, so you take a sip anyway. Angelo will smile again, but this time you’ll notice a tinge of cruelty in that grin—a cruelty you kick yourself for not picking up on earlier. You can’t run now. And that makes the next part of Angelo’s job a whole lot easier.

Serotonin-Sucking Sal

Some go for the jugular, Sal goes for the neurotransmitters. Like a lot of mafia hit men, Sal had a hard childhood; it’s why hit men end up doing what they do. But it’s precisely this sad upbringing that also makes Sal so good at what he does. He’ll show up unannounced, usually in the middle of the night, and claim he can’t sleep. You’ll invite him in—after all it’s good ol’ Sal—and he’ll proceed to tell you his many problems, starting from when he was just old enough to form memories. He’ll weigh you down with tales of growing up in a loveless house with parents who barely noticed he was alive. He’ll tell you how his parents would drag him to the Atlantic City casinos and leave him on a bench—or a dirty floor—while they went and shot craps or pulled the levers on the progressives. He’ll tell you how his mom would come out and say, “Daddy’s making a comeback. Sit tight, we’ll be done soon.” And he’ll tell you how he knew daddy would never make a comeback and that his parents would never be done before 4 a.m. He’ll tell you how the rickshaw guys on the boardwalk essentially raised him, and how more than once he heard his parents wish he was never born. Your serotonin levels will deplete at a rapid pace. Sal’s work is done. He’ll leave and you will kill yourself before he reaches his car.

Frank Ferri is a copywriter who thinks he’s funny. Visit him at

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