“That’s horseshit,” says Terry. “Geese don’t fuckin’ have noses.”
“It’s for kids,” Johnny says. ‘Kids don’t care whether geese have noses or not.”
“But how does he honk then, if he’s got a fuckin’ nose? Geese honk with their beaks. I seen ’em.”
“And reindeer don’t have red noses, Terry. No one cares about this stuff at Christmas.”
“It’s not so much the nose thing that concerns me so much as the general narrative structure.” Frank slicks a wad of Brylcreem through his black hair. “The chorus implies that Honky’s central conflict will be his struggles with his weight but the verses deal primarily with the problems caused by his honking.”
“Mahovlich,” says Terry. “You’re the biggest fucking fruitcake I ever met in my life.”
The man from the CBC seems friendly enough. The whole thing’s for a kid’s charity and Johnny’s great with kids and you know, he would never say this out loud but maybe the Leafs could stand to improve their public image a little.
Also, no one else wants do it. That’s definitely a factor.
Johnny tries. Armie says no and Tim says no and Keon looks at the floor and mumbles something about having to wash his cat that day before fleeing to the shower. Johnny can’t sing, but he figured he and the guys would all be awful together. Now he’s got to be awful alone.
“Poor kids,” says Terry. “They’re already starving and now on top of that they gotta listen to you.”
Johnny considers telling Terry to eat shit but he lets it go. It’s Christmas.
“Dad, I can’t sing.” Junior is mortified in that way only eleven year olds can be. “And you can’t either.”
“The man says we don’t have to be able to sing so long as we got charisma,” Johnny says because he does not have time for this shit.
Junior cocks his head to one side. “What’s charisma?”
Christ on a cracker, where’s Mahovlich when you need him? “Look it up in the dictionary.”
Johnny piles Junior and a gaggle of Junior’s friends into the station wagon and drives out to the recording studio. It’s kinda neat, actually. He’s honestly feeling pretty good by the time the guy counts him in. “Honky, Honky the Christmas Goo-”
The lights go out.
“It’s a blackout” someone shouts. “Radio says it’s the whole eastern seaboard.”
“Wow, Dad,” says Junior. “You really do stink.”
Johnny makes a silent vow that this will be the last time he ever records a charity single.
They sell forty thousand copies of the damn thing and knock The Beatles off the CHUM Chart.
“That don’t mean shit,” says Terry. “Kids are stupid. They don’t know what’s good.”
Johnny could say that Terry’s jealous. Johnny could say that Terry’s an asshole. Johnny could say that Terry’s a nasty drunk who nobody likes. Johnny could say a lot of things. But it’s Christmas so instead he says “You know that day I was signing copies up at College Park? They were selling Beatles records on the next table over and I didn’t want the competition so I hid ’em. Created a Honky monopoly. We sold out in an afternoon.”
For the first time in the months he’s been here, Terry actually smiles at him. “Bower, you’re alright.”