Smoking With Matthew Fogarty

by Michael Czyzniejewski Read the Story June 23, 2014

When you’re on in years, what celebrity/religious figure/reality TV star will you lie and tell people you’re related to, or maybe knew growing up? Why? Please indicate whether or not you think this makes you a big man.

Andre the Giant because he’s awesome and legendary and he was such a sweet, conflicted guy with his accidental rhyming (“Does anybody want a peanut?”) and his ability to lift cars and slam two or three bottles of Crown Royal in a sitting. There’s the story about Samuel Beckett driving Andre to school when he was a teenager, except when I tell it, it’ll be me driving Andre to school. I’ll call it my “Driving Andre the Giant to School” story and hope that nobody checks facts because I wasn’t born yet and certainly couldn’t drive.

And no, I think this makes me a very small man.

Is Fogarty Polish? Are you, Matt Fogarty, Polish? It’s cool if you’re not. I don’t personally mind when other ethnicities appropriate my culture, but for my father’s sake, and his father’s sake, and so on, I’m wondering what gives you the right. Tara (SmokeLong Editor Tara Laskowski) was wondering the same thing. Eh?

Oh boy, this is awkward. Yeah. Fogarty. Not Polish. Irish, actually. Irish and Native American. I don’t suppose there’s anything that gives me the right. Some of my best friends are Polish? But really, I don’t know—I think there’s something ethnically universal about the plaid armchair, about the one mustachioed relative—father-in-law, uncle, grandsomething—who, after a few drinks of whatever, won’t shut up about the Homeland, all the famous people he knows and who he respects and doesn’t, how far he’s come, how little he was given and how much he’s made and how much he loves others who’ve similarly struggled. I think, as children of immigrants, as immigrants ourselves, we all have stories like that. My grandmother was famous for, after a few vodka tonics, folding a cloth napkin into either bunny ears or a bra (depending on the age of those in the room and the size of the pour).

Let’s get this one out of the way. Rank the sausages … go.

I’m a fan of all tubed meats. But if I had to put them in order: The Coney Dog. The Kielbasa. The Chicago Dog. The Braunschweiger. The Bratwurst. The Jimmy Dean. The Knockwurst. The Maple Link. The Bologna. The Chorizo. The Italian. The Ballpark Frank. The Andouille. The Oscar Meyer Weiner.

So you’re at your Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and your dick uncle, John Fogarty, has hired a touring musician to play bass instead of letting bygones be bygones and having CCR take the stage one more time as a family band. What do you say in the interview with Kurt Loder after the show?

“Kurt Loder?! I thought you were dead!”

Last but not least, where were you when they named this last pope, Pope Francis? It was March 13, 2013, 7:06 p.m. Rome time, by the way. Make it good.

I was in a bar and Pope Benedict walked in and the bartender said, “Hey Pope Benedict, why the long face?” And Pope Benedict said, “I miss my tall hat.”

About the Author:

Matthew Fogarty is the author of Maybe Mermaids and Robots Are Lonely, a collection of stories and a novella published by George Mason University’s Stillhouse Press. He is originally from the suburbs of Detroit.

About the Interviewer:

Michael Czyzniejewski is the author of three books of short fiction, most recently I Will Love You for the Rest of My Life: Breakup Stories (Curbside  Splendor, 2012) and he serves as the interviews co-editor of SLQ.