TRAPPED!! For as long as I can remember - I’ve always had this feeling!! Suffocated. Smothered. And this condition seems to be particularly exacerbated when I work a catering event. There are several people, however, who by the sheer nature of their own manic energy, trigger the madness inside me! Chris Hiljak was one of those people.

Horrifyingly enough, we are bartending together - on the same bar - paired together! A GRAVE mistake by the captain that night….extremely grave! In any case, we are doing this event at The Museum Of Moving Images, in Astoria, for the coolest company I had worked for up to this point - Jaded Waiters. We’re working the bar - and we are getting HAMMERED, man. On the specialty cocktail of the night. Vodka infused with peach herbal tea, or something of that nature. Not long after - we are out of control! Insane. Cracking up at EVERYTHING. In the zone.

“Man - I just wanna go fuckin’ wild, man!! Like, go down to the fuckin’ Amazon jungle with a freakin’ bone in my nose, or something, and just, like, shoot poison darts at white people from a tree!”


Suddenly, Hiljak grabs a straw from the bar, peels off the paper on it, rolls it in to a spitball - and shoots it into the crowd!! The PRESTIGIOUS crowd. Big museum donors!

'“UUUUUMMMMBBBBAAAAAGGGGAA! UUUUMMMMBBBBAAAAGGGGAAAA!!” He cries out in wild abandon. I quickly follow his lead, shouting the UUUMMMBBBAAAGGGAAA! mantra. Each hit is met with gales of laughter. I mean, this must go on for like five minutes. Seriously. Finally, Hiljak sets his sights on the HEAD client…

Gets ready…aims…FIRES!

At that very instant, the captain, Mark Goetz, strides into the room just in time to witness the ensuing horror. Poof! Now, everything seems to morph into this kind of bizarre slow motion…he sprints towards us …in his eyes a mixture of disbelief and desperation - the trajectory of the spitball heading directly towards the head client’s neck!


It’s like that scene in the movie, The Bodyguard, when Kevin Costner dives to block the bullet headed towards Whitney Houston, while she’s onstage accepting the Oscar! The spitball finds the client’s neck, who, incredibly, doesn’t even suspect us! Everything returns to the real life pace.

Mark Goetz turns to us - all color drained from his face - incredulous that this could even have happened.

“WHAT in God’s name were you two even thinking?!!”

“They shot at us first!” Retorts Hiljak.

Joe Montaperto

Writer, murderer, bon vivant par excellance - I pay the rent as a catering bartender, and sometimes shoot poison darts at white people from trees in Hoboken, while shouting UUUMMMBBAAAAGGGGAAAA!!