Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Twisted Tale from the Piano Bar

In case you ever wondered about the risks run to one’s mental state of spending virtually every waking hour during a six-month frenzied tourist season chatting up customers from behind the bar of a La Cage aux Folles-style cabaret, this story is for you.  It comes straight from Jody Duncan who, together with Nikos Hristodulakis, owns Montparnasse Piano Bar on the Aegean Greek island of Mykonos.  Jody’s tale is not for the politically correct.  In fact, to call it “warped” or “nuts” would be far too kind.  You are hereby warned to put aside any notions of common human decency for the maestro of the sicko genre has a story to tell.  Take it away, my friend…and while you’re at it do so as far away from me as possible, s’il vous plait.

A Twisted Tale:

Thank you for that thoughtful introduction.  Okay, I admit that this story involves my devilish mind at work but one of our waiters from back around the turn of the century put me up to it.  The Piano Bar and Malcolm were a match made in show tune heaven.  We featured Broadway and West End tunes and Malcolm loved the shows.

One night during a lull in the action Malcolm was standing by the bar lamenting on the state of Broadway musical theater.  “Stop with the complaining already,” I said.  “Let’s put our heads together and come up with a better idea.”   And sure enough, in a matter of minutes we hit upon an extravaganza that could change Broadway forever: a musical based on the life of the Schappell twins, born Lori and Dori.

For those of you who do not know, they are sisters conjoined at the head and facing in different directions.  Before you pickup those pitchforks and start coming after me at the bar let me give you a bit of background on the twins.  They were born in 1961 in Reading, Pennsylvania.  When a court determined that their parents were unable to care for them they were placed in a home for the severely mentally disabled, though neither had that disability, and remained there until twenty-four when freed through the efforts of the wife of the then governor of Pennsylvania.

The sisters went on to college and Dori, who always wanted to be a country western singer, legally changed her name to Reba to honor her idol, Reba McIntyre.  In 1997 the new Reba won the L.A. music award for best new country artist.  Reba also designed specialized equipment for persons with disabilities, including her own wheelchair, and was a trophy-winning bowler.  She now prefers to be called George and was introduced as such in 2007 when the sisters participated in the grand opening of  “Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium” in New York City’s Times Square.

Lori, the more outspoken of the sisters, works part time in a hospital laundry…but takes time off to attend her sister’s concerts.  They are advocates for what the handicapped can achieve and are widely interviewed.

Yes, the Schappell sisters are extraordinary people, persons to genuinely admire, but I promise you neither Malcolm nor I had any of that in mind while we flirted with songs for our musical masterpiece—and eternal damnation for the effort.

Here’s just a sampling of our proposed repertoire: 

You Go to My Head (“And you linger like a haunting refrain, and I find you spinning round in my brain.”). 

Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You (“You’re just too good to be true…You’d be like Heaven to touch.”). 

Miss Celie’s Blues (Sister), from the film The Color Purple (“Sister, you've been on my mind, sister, we're two of a kind, so, sister, I'm keepin' my eye on you.”). 

Together (“Wherever we go, whatever we do, we're gonna go through it together.”). 

I’m sure you get the idea, and by now are eying those pitchforks.  But don’t you agree that sometimes the devil just won’t let you let go of whatever crazy idea’s got a hold of you?  And the devil had me this time.  Again.

The more Malcolm and I bantered back and forth the more we cried out in wicked, perverted joy over this evil, musical stroke of genius.   Then I came up with the number for the finale destined to win us a Tony: You'll Never Walk Alone!

Or perhaps the show should close with George’s performance (as Reba) singing Fear of Being Alone over the credits of the comedy Stuck on You starring Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear as conjoined twins?

Why do I sense I should just stop right here and get on to this month’s recipe for one of our world famous cocktails?  I guess because you deserve a bit of good taste after enduring such a large dose of the other.

Here’s our Double Espresso Martini, guaranteed to both slap you in the face and make you turn the other cheek.  In a cocktail shaker half filled with ice, add 1 ½ ounces vodka, ½ ounce espresso coffee liqueur, ¼ ounce creme de cocoa, ½ ounce Kahlua coffee liqueur, one shot espresso, one splash of simple syrup, and shake very well.  Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a cinnamon stick.


Thank you, Jody.  I think.

P.S.  Dan asked me to apologize on his behalf for not posting yesterday but due to a worldwide problem with "Blogger" he could not sign in to upload his piece.  As a reward for his effort he has the joy of seeing his name associated with this tale.



  1. Hi All

    Blogger deleted my Thursday post completely after it had only been up for a short time when they started their "maintenance" on Wednesday night. Perhaps it was in retaliation for the failure of any West Coast city making the Tripadvisor cut. They did manage to restore an early draft. Sigh!

    I'll get it back up to scratch and post it again next Thursday.

    The moral of the story is to keep your own backup of these posts for a while...


  2. I guess I join the official list of those with a really warped sense of humor.

    There is nothing like a laugh-out-loud post to start a spring day in the land that the sun forgot, aka the northeast coast of New England where we are setting a spring record for rain and the attendant lack of sun.

    Given the way they are joined, "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You" has to be the winner.

    The Irish are known for their dark sense of humor. There are few statements more devoid of reality than the oft heard comment that when someone is dead they look like they are sleeping. Although it isn't a song, it is hard to beat the Irish man who went to a wake and said of the man in the casket, "Doesn't he look grand. He'll be up dancing in no time."

    Jody, the post is brilliant.

    Michael, I wondered what happened. I read Thursday's post quickly; when I went back to read it again, it was gone. I look forward to Thursday.


  3. Lawdy, lawdy, that was good. Being a coffee lover, I love the idea of your martini. I will have to use my imagination since I am no longer allowed anything so wickedly delicious. I can dream though.

  4. It's now two in the morning, Sunday, on Mykonos. I've been up since six in the morning, Friday, New York time, for a total of thirty-seven hours.

    Now don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining for in the six hours since I landed on the island I've made the customary first night "drinks for free" rounds of the island's hotspots--after escaping from a baptism party for twins of a dear friend that I'm sure will last until they're bar mitzvah age, and been offered a role narrating a documentary on Mykonos! Oh, those late night bar scenes and tendered promises:).

    But most of all I'm thankful that "A Twisted Tale" passed the Bethalyzer Test. I was a bit curious as to how this one would be received--even wondered if Michael's misfortune canceling his post was somehow intended for mine by the ethernet gods.

    And Lil, in your honor I'll test the cocktail. Tomorrow.


  5. Glad you got a good laugh from this tale, Beth. It was meant in a humorous vein, and hope all will take it as just that, a little chuckle in our day.
    To lil Gluckstern: You can use a teaspoon of decaf espresso powder instead of the shot of espresso, and still get the same flavor. Check with a good coffee purveyor in your area. If not, surely decaf espresso is available. You make it ahead so it is cool before you add to the shaker. I will be making one for Jeff tonight, though why he'd need an additional energy boost is beyond me!