I reached back with my right hand and tapped the right back pocket of my jeans. Wayne, who I’d never met before that afternoon, said to Phil, who’s one of my best friends, “Have you noticed that Mr. Pibb over there keeps touching his butt? I’ve seen him do it at least twice.” I was drinking a can of Mr. Pibb at the time.

Phil said, “Yeah, he does a lot of loopy things.”

Wayne said, “Why does he keep touching his butt?”

Phil said, “’Cause he’s a butt-toucher.”

I said, “I can hear you. And you probably shouldn’t talk about me like that when you’re right behind me. I’m your ride home, remember.”

We were at the flea market, way on the outskirts of town. Phil and I were there because we wanted to find some cheap furniture items. We’d just moved into an apartment together. Wayne was Phil’s friend, visiting from Cleveland for the weekend.

Phil said, “What are you gonna do, butt-toucher? Leave us out here? I don’t think so. I’d kick your ass from here to next year if you did that.”

I stopped walking and turned around. I said, “Okay, cockhole, since your friend here brought it up, the reason I touch my pocket, not my butt, is that I got my wallet stolen once, so I like to check every once in a while to make sure it’s in there. Got it? Now how about shutting up.”

Wayne said, “Butt-toucher.” Phil yelled it: “Butt-toucher! Butt-toucher!”

I said, “You guys are just jealous. You wish you could touch my butt.”

Phil said, “No, I wish I could touch your pocket.” Then he stuck a couple of his fingers in my pocket and tried to take my wallet. I grabbed his bony wrist and twisted the hell out of it.

“Ow,” he said. That taught him.