This entry in the Funco Files was originally published in the first issue of the Hey Teens Podcast Zine which was published in July of 2013. I had always intended to publish it here on my site after a short wait but never got around to it.
When I was 18 years old, I was into my second year of working at Toms River, NJ’s FuncoLand. It was also my senior year of high school and things were going really good for me; I had a car, a job at a video game store, and had a really great group of friends. At FuncoLand we had an interesting crew working for us. My boss, Wooza, was from the Bronx and made the store a fun and crazy environment. We all loved working for him and he always looked out for us. Never was this truer than on one Spring Saturday in the year 2000.
I was sleeping in this particular Saturday when my phone rang, I answered. It was Wooza, and he was telling me that I needed to come into the store early because he needed to talk to me about something important. He told me he did not want to get into it on the phone and that I should get in as soon as I could. I took a shower and got dressed in my FuncoLand green polo shirt and drove to store. Wooza was working behind the counter and the store was empty. He met me at the front door, locked it, and put up a note that said “Be back in an hour.” We went into the back office and sat down. I had no idea what was going on. Did I do something wrong? Was I going to get fired? I was clueless. Wooza then proceeded to say to me, “Bro, Potsie is closing with you tonight and when he gets here, he is probably going to beat your ass. He thinks you’re trying to get with his girl…”
Potsie was our Assistant Manager who joined our crew a few months earlier. He was 21, the oldest member of our team, he was in a fairly well-known local band, and he liked to smoke a lot of weed. His love of marijuana was why we gave him the nickname “Potsie”.
Potsie was a fairly good looking guy and he probably could have had any girl he wanted, instead he had a 17 year old girlfriend. For the sake of this story, we will call her Mary. She was one of those girls that laid on the eye makeup to make herself look older, knew she was pretty, and often took advantage of both of those things. Mary would come to the store a lot to visit Potsie and she would hang out for long periods of time with us. We all got to know her pretty well. We liked her but we knew that she and Potsie were not meant to be together. They were the type of couple that was always having big fights, breaking up, and then getting back together.
Typically when I would close with Potsie, Mary and I would talk a lot during her visits. It turned out she went to intermediate school with a lot of my friends and wanted to get back in touch with some of them. She gave me her AOL screen name and said to give it to specific people I was friends with. She asked for mine also. I did as she asked and let my friends know that she was looking to reconnect with them.
Meanwhile in the back of FuncoLand, Wooza was asking me about my relationship with Mary. I told him we talked online sometimes and also when she came to visit Potsie. Nothing more. Wooza said he believed me and proceeded to tell me that Potsie called him up earlier that day and said that he wanted to fight me because I was trying to move in on his girl. Potsie then told Wooza that Mary told him that I would instant message her all the time, flirt with her, and make sexual comments. I told Wooza that this was not true and that I actually logged all of my IMs and could prove to him that it never happened. Wooza again said he believed me. Finally he told me that Mary also told Potsie that I had e-mailed her a picture of myself in a tuxedo holding flowers with a message written across the photo saying, “Will you go to prom with me?” This could not have been any further from the truth and I was floored by what I was hearing, not to mention, I already had a date to my Senior Prom. Wooza said he knew what was going on now and appreciated me coming in and talking with him. We both went back out front and re-opened the store.
Later on, Potsie came in to start his shift. He gave me a death stare and Wooza told him to come in the back with him. Before they stepped into the back room Wooza announced to Potsie, “Bro, I talked to Sean and I can honestly say that he is not messing with your girl. She’s a trick bro and you need to break up with her.”
Wooza and Potsie then went into the back and talked for a good hour with the door closed while I ran things up front. As they emerged from the back room Potsie said to Wooza, “Well I have no choice but to breakup with her now…” and they then shook hands. Potsie came up to me at the counter and apologized for wanting to fight me and told me that everything was cool between us. He then went out to his car for a bit while Wooza packed up to leave for the night. Potsie came back in with his 1 gallon jug of Poland Spring that he brought with him every shift and Wooza left.
Later on that night, Mary came in like she always did. The store was busy and Potsie asked me if I had things under control. I told him I did. He and Mary went into the back to have a serious discussion. While I helped the 10 or so customers out front I could hear shouting getting louder and louder from the back. The customers were growing uncomfortable and started to leave. Then all of a sudden I heard, “WHY DON’T YOU STOP FUCKING LYING TO ME!!!” in the loudest voice ever followed by a gigantic THUD. It sounded as if Hulk Hogan had gorilla pressed someone into a wall at 50mph. Then there was nothing but silence. I stood there alone in the front of the store thinking the worst, “Did Potsie kill her?” As I started to make my way towards the back room, Mary came running out of the back sobbing uncontrollably and continued to bolt out the front. I went into the back room to see what had happened. Potsie apparently had thrown his sealed 1 gallon jug of water against one of the walls of the back room and it exploded everywhere. The sound I had heard was the jug hitting the wall and not Mary’s head. That was a relief. I helped Potsie clean up in the back and he apologized for how out of control things got. He told me that their relationship was finally over.
As I made my way back to the front of the store, I could see Mary out in the parking lot leaning against her Jeep smoking a cigarette. When she finished she got in her car and started to drive away. As she drove past the front of the store, she stopped her Jeep and hopped out. She came to the front door, opened it and yelled to me in a timid voice, “Sean could you do me a favor and not talk to me anymore?” I looked up at her and with a smile I said, “Gladly.”
That was the last time I saw Mary at FuncoLand. Things between Potsie and I were never the same after that. Shortly after, Potsie was made the Assistant Manager of the Brick, NJ FuncoLand and I never saw him again. He and Mary would later get back together and that was the last I had heard of them.
Sadly in 2004, Potsie died suddenly. It had been 4 years since I last saw him and even though we ended on a not so pleasant note, I wanted to go and pay my respects. He was a part of our Funco family and nothing would change that. As I left the funeral parlor, I saw Mary crying with some of her friends. As I walked away I could see her do a double take as the FuncoLand crew and I walked back to our cars.
All in all, I learned a few lessons from this:
- 21 year olds should not date 17 year olds.
- Don’t give your AOL screen name to your co-worker’s girlfriend.
- Never piss off a guy who brings gallon jugs of water with him to work.