Category Archives: humor

Death, Marsupials, Swords, and Google

Death is something I’m just not good at.  I don’t mean dying.  I might be very good at that, hell I might be the best at it.  We don’t know yet.  Hopefully not for a while.  But death as in dead bodies.  Or even the idea of something ceasing to exist.  It gives me the willys.  Maybe if I’d taken up hunting or worked in a butcher shop I’d get over it, but for now, ugghhhhhhlehhhhhagagagh.  Yuck.  I’ve even considered becoming a vegetarian because sometimes while eating I start thinking about my food as dead animal flesh and  just about puke in my mouth.  It’s an issue. 

Unfortunately I’ve found that sometimes death is inevitable, and chances are your going to see it.  I’ve managed to avoid it as much as possible.  Besides seeing my poor cat Mocha dead I have very little experience with those who have “ceased to be”.  While working as a maintenance man for an apartment community I dreaded entering an apartment to find a dead resident.  That does happen by the way, all the time.  It happened to some of my coworkers at another property in fact.  Not to me.  Thank god. 

I’ve found that my dogs don’t have the same aversion to death.  Making something that is running away into a chew toy is high on their list of priorities.  A successful grab makes them so happy its hard to be mad at them.  I wish we could get a little more Disney around here and maybe sing some songs with the local rodents but alas, they prefer biting and shaking. 

Late one summer night I let the dogs out and instantly there was crashing in the bushes.  The dogs dove right in, snarling and teeth snapping.  Lilly my black lab popped out with her head held high, holding something gray and wriggling.  Before she ran out into the night I saw a long hairless tail whipping about.  My first thought was, “Oh thank god it wasn’t a cat,”  my second was, “Ugh a possum, gross.” 

I managed to get the other dogs in after some shouting and threatening.  Lilly wasn’t having it though.  She was off playing with her new friend.  I find myself once again in a position where I’m going to embarrass myself by admitting my behavior.  Ah well.  I yelled for her to come back for a minute.  Then I went to the back window of my home, and with the use of a flashlight, tried to locate her in the darkness.  I saw her pawing at a limp pile of fur.  She barked at it a couple of times and then decided it had become too boring to bother with.  In a minute she was at the glass slider, mouth full of course gray hair, thrilled with her adventure.  Again gross.  That’s just what I want, filthy possum hair all over the place.  I sent her straight to her cage. 

I went back to the window with my flashlight. I prayed that it was up and wandering off.  Of course not though, it lay where she’d tossed it.  I could just make out the fuzzy curve of its back and it’s rat like tail.  I watched for a while (don’t ask me why), and then spent some time thinking about the situation.  I couldn’t leave it.  I couldn’t have the gf remove it.  I do have some pride (and she may have picked up a rabbit the month before).  I wasn’t going to call animal control either(the pride thing again).  But I really didn’t want to.  I mean really didn’t.  I mean stomp my feet and throw a fit didn’t want to.  After a few minutes I gave in to the inevitable.

I left the house armed with a shovel, rake, bucket, trash bag, flashlight, and thick leather gloves.  I’d put on jeans, long sleeves, and boots.  I might have had to do the unpleasant chore but I was going in prepared.  If I had owned some type of protective mask I would have put that on too. 

The night was cool and breezy with very little moonlight.  The leaves of the giant maple trees in my back yard sounded like distant waves.  The beam of my flashlight whipped back and forth over grass that hadn’t been mowed in too long.  Suddenly there it was, limp and still and very much dead.  The way the light struck the possum was… well it was creepy ok?  Its white face glowed and its eyes were beady, black, empty.  It’s pink lips curled back in a snarl showing white needle teeth.  I turned around and went back on the deck.  I needed some more time to think.

After a few minutes of motivational self talk and deep breathing exercises I headed out for round two.  The possum lay there, looking like some little hell spawned demon sent to test my manhood.  I was determined to remove this carcass from my property.  That’s what I’d taken to calling it in my head.  A carcass.  I crept up on it from the back, so it wasn’t staring at me, and dropped my trash bag.  Taking my shovel I stretched forward and slowly, slowly I touched it.  And its stupid little hairy side moved slightly.  I yelled something that rhymes with, “FUDGE TREE!,” dropped the shovel and swiftly retreated. 

So I was back inside, at the window with the flash light.  It was still laying there.  My nightmare had become… well, a worse nightmare I guess.  It seemed that I was faced with a new and much worse situation.  That of killing this creature myself.  I considered letting the dogs out to finish it off, but realized that was a horrible idea for so many reasons.  Images of me beating this thing to death with a shovel were bringing me damn close to tears.  It seems that my home is short on killing tools.  I don’t have any guns (except for the tons of guns I keep in case someone breaks in, you hear that you robbers?) and there really isn’t any other way to make a good clean kill.  For a moment I considered bloodying my replica sword but the image of skewering a possum on my blade was so ridiculous and weird.  I turned to a much more modern weapon.  Google.

I looked up “my dog got a possum” and was greeted with tons of stories.  Evidently this is part of being a dog owner.  I read all sorts of tales.  In fact I got so caught up in them that I managed to chill out a bit.  And I was learning.  Possums excrete a foul-smelling substance when attacked.  Well that explained why Lilly was licking her chops and looking ill.  I made a mental note to let her out and get her a drink as soon as possible.  Possums have too low a body temperature to harbor rabies.  Also good to know.  Things were looking up.  Then I saw it, a fact most everyone knows but which had slipped my mind in all the excitement.  Possums play dead.  They’re not just good actors either.  They actually go into a little coma.  Their hearts barely beat and they hardly breath.  “Oh please,” I thought, “please make the possum be faking.”

I got up and went to the window.  My flashlight found the trash bag, and unbelievably there was no possum next to it.  I quickly scanned the rest of the yard.  My tools and a couple tufts of hair were the only evidence that anything out of the ordinary had taken place.  I said a quick “thank you” to the man upstairs and went to bed feeling down right cheery.

That possum doesn’t know how close it was to getting beat, crushed, stabbed or impaled by medieval weaponry.  Instead modern technology, in the form of the worlds foremost search engine, saved it’s life.  Not to mention my poor sensitive mind, I don’t know how I would have come back from that.  Thanks google!  It was too close though.  I’m terrified that the time is coming where I might be faced with having to put an animal down myself.  I’ve had nightmares about it.  I read a short story that addressed that topic, I believe by Stephen King, and it was horrible!  I’m getting a gun. (Besides my hundreds of robber shooting guns which are always loaded and close at hand.)

P.S. I know I’m a big baby, I told you I was no good at death.  I keep this blog anonymous for a reason.  It keeps me honest.  If I wanted to make myself look cool and tough I could, but where’s the fun in that?

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I struggle…

I have another pizza delivery story.  Evidently pizza delivery is fertile ground when it comes to memorable moments in my life.  Who would have thought?  I guess when you get a bunch hungover twenty-somethings together and pay them minimum wage to create and deliver food hilarity ensues.  Well it’s funny to me, so whatever.  Prepare for a brief glimpse into the mind of an idiot.

I had to deliver an order to a trailer park.  The same trailer park I had delivered to hundreds of times before.  People in trailer parks really seem to like pizza.  Is it ok to call them trailer parks?  Trailer community maybe?  I pulled into the trailer community and began trying to figure out which lot was which.  If you’ve ever done this, you know.  It sucks.  You pull in and the first trailer you see is 249 and your like, “Ok, so 248, 247, wait… 109.  What the hell? Ok, so here’s 109 and I need 17… so if I go this way its going down.  Wait, the other side of the street is going up.  Um, that’s the 300’s  soooo.  What the hell is going on!?  Are you serious!?  Who organized this place?  How dare you!?”  I apologize.  Evidently I’m still a little angry.  I’ve lost hours of my life in places like that. 

So after passing the trailer three times I finally located it and rather than go around the block again I stopped, and figured I’d walk back to it, maybe four trailers behind me.  Ugh.  This is embarrassing.  I jumped out of my car, grabbed the warmer-bag, and slammed the door behind me.  I started walking but glanced at the ticket and saw that they had ordered a 2-liter.  A quick glance into my window showed no sign of a Coke, so I put the warmer-bag, containing two large pizzas and a cheese bread, onto the top of my car so I could dig around under my seat.  It took a moment of pawing through months worth of trash to come to the conclusion that I had not brought the drink.  Not to worry however, there was a gas station right at the entrance to the trailer park, excuse me, trailer community.  In an effort to salvage my tip I hopped into the car, which was still running, and took off.  At that moment I glanced in my rear view mirror just in time to see the door to the trailer open and a guy step onto the porch, cash in hand.  Evidently he had noticed me as I passed his home repeatedly with my delivery sign shining in the darkness. 

So I’d been spotted.  I bet you think I went back and apologized, explained my error, and returned in a few minutes with his drink.  Nope, I floored it.  I panicked I guess.  It was a gut response.  I don’t know.  But I did, and as I navigated the twists and turns of the neighborhood I tried to think of how I was going to explain my actions to the customer.  If you’ve read previous posts you’ll know that it was time for a conversation with myself, and yes I do say these out loud.  Well I kind of mumble. 

 “Ok man, nice.  You just take off, you’re so stupid.  The guys probably calling the store right now.”

“It’ll be fine.  I’ll just say I didn’t see him.  I’ll have to explain about forgetting his Coke, but he’ll be ok.”

“If he called the guys at the store are going to be giving you shit for weeks.”

“Yep. Oh well.  What am I gonna do about that now?  It’s done.”

“You’re a moron.”

At about this time I was pulling out of the neighborhood and onto the highway.  As I accelerated up to fifty-five I heard a strange noise from my roof.  I glanced in my mirror just in time to see my warmer bag, stuffed with pizza boxes, go flipping down the road.  Cars swerved to avoid being struck. Yep.  That’s right.  I had left the pizza on the roof.

So a rational human would stop and get the bag, go back to the store, explain the series of events that lead to this unfortunate happening and get his night back on track, but I’m just not that guy.  I kept driving.  My mind was racing as I tried to figure out an excuse, or better yet a believable lie, to explain what had happened.  But there was no way to fix this.  The voices in my head went silent.  It was pretty much just white noise.  And I just kept driving. 

Eventually I pulled into the parking lot of my restaurant and parked.  It was time to make a decision.  I was pretty well screwed.  I kept thinking about that guy seeing me drive past his window over and over, and then seeing me get out and put the pizza on the car only to jump in and take off with his dinner still up there.  Finally I narrowed my options down to going back for my pizza-bag, or committing suicide.  It was a toss-up for a minute but I decided to go back. 

A few minutes later I rounded a bend in the road, holding my breath. I expected to see the bag shredded on the shoulder, cheese and sauce smeared obscenely on the concrete like some kind of delicious breed of animal hit by a semi.  But there was nothing.  No sign that anything had happened.  I wondered if I was going crazy.  Had I completely lost it?  I wonder things like this sometimes.  I fully believe that my mind has the potential to completely come unraveled some day.  Hopefully not.  But what had happened to my warmer bag?  There was nothing to do but head back to the store. 

I walked in the back door with no excuses.  I’d decided to just tell the truth and try to laugh about it.  Sometimes that is all you can do.  I figured I’d have to pay for the bag at least, and I might be fired.  I was greeted by my missing bag sitting on a prep table.  It still contained the pizza boxes and had held up pretty well.  Just some scrapes.  Evidently one of the cars behind me had stopped and brought it back to us.  How lucky for me that so many people had been witness to my bumbling that evening.  I had some explaining to do.

I told everyone what had happened.  It wasn’t easy.  “Well I’ve been gone so long because I forgot a drink, ran from a customer, drove around with pizzas on my car before dropping them in the road… and then I kind of just drove around for awhile.”  There was a variety of reactions.  My least favorite of which was a look of disdain.  A look that says, “Is there something wrong with you?” But mostly people laughed.  My only real punishment was having to re-deliver the food.  So the customer that witnessed me embarrassing myself earlier got a chance to meet me in person.  He didn’t ask me any questions.  His friends just gathered around the door to get a look at me.  I stared at my shoes and prayed for our interaction to end.  Believe it or not he gave me a small tip.  I think he pitied me.  I obviously wasn’t a smart man.


Why won’t you believe me!?

I’m willing to admit it.  Some of the reputation I carried as a young man was undeserved, either good or bad.  One learns while traversing the treacherous corridors of public schooling, and if one is wise it will become apparent that a reputation can be used to pave a way for yourself with minimal effort.  Being wise (arguably) I would fan any little flames I came across pertaining to myself.  For instance,  if someone said, “Hey I heard you beat some guy up outside the mall”, I would say “Yes, that was me,”  or even better, a mysterious, “Which time?”.  And so I became a tough guy without the bloodshed.  Unfortunately, like most things this seemed to work both ways, and while I reaped the rewards of lies and exaggerations the universe seemed to find ways to tarnish my character.

My sophomore year a friend of mine moved to my school.  We had met at catechism.  He loved mischief, I was thrilled to have him.  From this point on, for both the sake of awesomeness and anonymity I will refer to him as Snake-Eyes or SE. 

Around Christmas of that year I went to his house for our first ever sleep over.  That’s just good innocent fun.  Around 11pm another friend of ours called and asked us to swing by for some ice basketball.  Yep, that’s just basketball on a very icy court.  Its fun as long as you avoid a concussion or a shattered elbow.  Which we usually did.  Due to the fact that we doubted we would get permission to go it was decided not to tell anyone until we got back.  At that point we would fall back on the old, “Oh, we didn’t think you guys would care.” excuse.  Kids are devious.  Never forget that parents. 

We were only gone an hour.  We were walking back to SE’s house, which was only around the corner, when I heard a car coming up behind us.  I glanced back over my shoulder, noting that with the way the headlights were positioned it could be a police car.  I was hoping that we wouldn’t be stopped and questioned, which had happened before.  Evidently after midnight its common practice to stop teenagers who are wandering, even in the country. I heard the car begin to slow.  I figured this was going to happen so I stopped and began to turn.  Suddenly, I was struck by something on the side of my face.  The car sped off, the sounds of laughter trailing behind.  SE spun towards me.

“What the hell was that?” he asked.

“I don’t know. I think it was a water balloon,” I said.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m good. Just wet and freezing.”

“Those guys were dicks.”

“Screw those guys.”

“What’s that smell?” SE asked.

And it hit me.  There was a smell. 

“Did those guys piss in the balloon dude?” SE asked me nervously, brushing at his lightly wetted sleeve.

I sure hoped not. And I didn’t think so.  It seemed familiar.  But that wasn’t quite right.  Not piss…

“That was a beer,” I said.  I scuffed my feet around in a circle and sure enough kicked a dented can we hadn’t been able to see in the dark. “Ugh, I’m covered in beer.”  I took off my hat and shook droplets of beer out of hair.  They’d got me good.  My left side was drenched, my over-stuffed winter jacket quickly soaking up the liquid.  We ran the rest of the way back to his house.

We burst into the living room having completely forgotten we hadn’t been given permission to leave in the first place.  We were greeted by his parents on the couch, looking grim.  We quickly started to explain how we had “just walked around the corner”, and looked to garner some sympathy by describing how I had been assaulted.  If anything this seemed to make them more angry.  We didn’t get it.  It wasn’t that late.  We had only been two-hundred yards away.  Why did they seem so upset? I was kind of expecting to be coddled a bit.  I had been attacked and I’d gotten wet, and it was very cold.  That can’t be good for a kid!  Didn’t they know I could catch my death? Not to mention the fact that  I had taken a blow to the head, and those are pretty dangerous.  They ordered me downstairs to change while they talked to Snake-Eyes.

When I came back upstairs things were getting pretty heated in the living room.  Evidently, in their opinion, teenaged boys sneaking out and coming home soaked in beer does not match up to our version of the nights events. But that’s what happened!  I was there!  I promise you!  Not only did they not want to hear it but the more we defended ourselves the angrier they got.  This was not the impression I wanted to leave on my friends parents.  As I tried to sleep that night I thought about how to redeem myself.

The next morning I was extra friendly.  Smiling till my face hurt, complimenting everything. It didn’t seem to be defrosting the parents whatsoever.  By the time I left I was glad to get out of such an inhospitable place and I was feeling badly for SE who was stuck living with those grumpy people.  Never before had I had any trouble with parents.  I was a favorite guest of several other families.  What could the problem be? Later I found out.

You see, his mother had the exact same first and last name as my mother.  That summer I had made a very stupid decision which had led to me getting busted stealing from the mall.  My court paperwork had arrived at SE’s house, not mine.  His mother opened and read about my court date.  This was after she had agreed to me spending the night, and it took a lot of work on his part to get me into the house.  I guess they decided to give me a second chance.  So, from their perspective, I was a thief who befriended their son and then after being allowed in the house got him to sneak out to some sort of drinking party that was so wild it left us completely covered in alcohol.  Then we burst in with some weak story about a drive by beer dowsing.  I was no longer welcome in their home.

As I’ve grown up I’ve become more than a little embarrassed by the way I conducted myself as a teenager.  I know we all make mistakes and it’s all ancient history but still, it makes me shudder to remember. I think it’s better to look at the humor and disregard the truly dark moments. And for those who thought I was evil, I never was. I understand why you thought so. But sometimes a fifteen year old covered in beer is innocent, and sometimes a bad kid is just a good kid covered in circumstance.

p.s. For those who are wondering.  Of course we asked them to smell our breath!  They weren’t having it.  Their minds were made up.  Not fair you say?  Tell me about it!


Nature Calling

 

Even as I pulled out of the parking lot I knew I was in trouble.  With three deliveries I would be on the road for about a half hour.  I doubted I had that much time.  The cramping in my gut told me I didn’t.  But I had a job to do, and these people needed hot pizza.  The bathroom would just have to wait.

I shot out onto the main street through town, weaving through the slower traffic.  Winter had long ago settled in and remnants of a recent snow still littered the streets.  My heater was cranked to full blast, my radio was pumping sports talk.  I passed my house and briefly considered running in, but with three deliveries in the car there was no way. I tightened my grip on the wheel, grit my teeth and tried to focus on the radio.

The first delivery took less than five minutes.  I pulled into the driveway under a steel grey sky and handed a nice looking family their dinner.  I was glad for a decent tip, but more glad to be standing upright.  My stomach was really hurting now and being bent in half with a seat-belt digging into my gut was not suiting me. 

As I headed out to my second house things were looking bad.  I started thinking about my options in an emergency type situation.  What businesses could I stop in?  Nothing was on the way.  I didn’t see asking a customer if I could use their bathroom as a possibility.  I couldn’t even imagine.  But when your faced with the alternative… I started considering the remote areas nearby.  Perhaps I could find a nice patch of woods?  It’s good enough for bears. 

The second delivery made it on time.  In my mind the people who received it said to each other, “Did that guy seem sick to you? Or was he just a jerk?”, “No there was something wrong with him, and he walked like he had a stick up his ass.”

I started towards the third stop.  I was almost done and had decided to tough it out.  I shot down country roads at over sixty miles per hour.  My body had progressed past the stage of discomfort and I had started to sweat and get emotional.  Every second seemed like an hour.  I started a conversation with myself which is a habit I have when things are getting bad.

“Oooh I’m not gonna make it.”

“Yes you will, you can do it, stop thinking about it!”

I tried all the tricks, bouncing, deep breathing, strategic flexing, and of course begging my body like it was some sort of third-party who was cruelly torturing me. “Why are you doing this! Please stop! If you just wait ten minutes I’ll give you anything you want!”  But my guts kept twisting, and the pressure in my abdomen was getting unbearable. 

I entered the upscale neighborhood like the cops were after me.  I kept one eye on the addresses and one eye on the road.  The last thing I needed was an accident.  “Yes officer, I saw everything, he was bouncing up and down and panting like a dog.  He was sweating horribly and having a conversation with himself.  I don’t know what he was on but something was wrong, that’s for sure.”

Finally I saw it.  A large beautiful home up on a hill.  I whipped into the driveway, slammed on the breaks and threw it in park.  In one motion I opened the door and leapt out, pizza bag in hand.  Believe it or not things took a turn for the worse.  I had parked on a steep incline which also happened to be covered in ice.  My feet shot backwards and I had to grab onto my driver’s side door to keep from falling and sliding all the way to the bottom of the driveway.  Now I found myself hanging from my door, feet scrambling ineffectively on the ice.  My efforts didn’t help me get myself upright but instead served to dislodge my car from its precarious position and start it sliding backwards and turning sideways.  Now I was actually in danger of my car sliding over top of me if I fell.  Lucky my buttocks were squeezed so tight. I think it gave me the power I needed to launch myself back into the car, where it only took a minute to get my myself upright and into the seat.  Somehow I had managed to hold onto my keys. 

I pulled out of the driveway, and then back in.  This time I made sure to pull all the way up to where the driveway became horizontal.  I approached the front door trembling with embarrassment and pain.  My face was shiny with sweat.  I prayed that they hadn’t seen my little show out front.  I got lucky.  I had to ring the bell to get someone.  At least something went right, but I don’t want to think about the state of that pizza by the time they got the box open.

My little adventure on the ice is actually what saved me.  For a brief second I gave my body a flash of danger and it’s adrenaline fueled response seemed to shut down my less important waste disposal system.  At least I made it back to the store.  Plus it really seemed to make my coworkers day when I blew through the back door and sprinted to the bathroom.  Their laughing was only further fueled by my impromptu biological symphony.  Luckily we were all close friends.  But let’s be honest, I could have done without it.


man smote during playoff/carwash mishap

In 1990 the Pistons played the Bulls in my driveway most days of the week.  Weather permitting of course.  Countless battles were waged between those titans.  Every game was close.  Every game was decided by a last second shot.  Every position was played by a small, red-headed white boy.

These games might seem silly to an adult reading this today but to me they were pretty serious.  Putting on the perfect game day after day was no easy task.  Each was carefully constructed, with thought put into highlighting my favorite players.  Heroics had to be displayed by each, while players who had recently displeased me had horrible nights and were jeered by the fans.  I also did the announcing and filled the ears of millions of imaginary listeners with such memorable phrases as, “This might be… the most bravest performance… by any team… ever.”  I was a dramatic kid.

One spring day I went out to the driveway with my basketball and found my dad washing and waxing his truck.  This left me maybe six feet to work with between the hoop and the truck. The show must go on.  Unfortunately there was going to be a lot less three-pointers.

Things started steadily.  Both teams were going inside more than usual leading to Laimbeer and Cartwright having better games than normal.  Because dunking was out of the question things were kind of boring, and it wasn’t long before I started mixing in some jumpers to spice things up.  I had to get Jordan and Isiah involved somehow, they were my favorites after all.  It didn’t take long before a poor bounce sent the ball off the door of the truck.  I snatched it up as fast as I could and tried to ignore the murderous glare tossed my way by my dad.  Maybe he should have kept his truck off the Palace’s free-throw line.  The game continued, once again compromised of lay ups and hook shots.

It wasn’t long before the day cooled and I tired of this confined version of my usual game.  I was going to have to tie my storyline up.  The way things had come together I needed Dumars to hit a three while getting fouled and then make the free-throw.  A four point play for the win.  Suitably dramatic I think.  I ran to the far edge of the driveway, jumped into the air, and chucked up my desperation three.  The ball bricked badly off the back of the rim and pounded into the side of the truck, disturbingly close to where my dad was waxing.  I’d gone too far.

He grabbed the ball. I froze guiltily.  I tried to say something about being sorry and it being an accident.  The words came out in a whispered jumble… meaningless. He lifted the ball in one hand and then pounded it off the pavement as hard as he could. The ball shot into the air as if from a cannon. He turned towards me, preparing to unleash his fury.  Fate intervened.  Whether it was chance, a stray gust of wind, or the hand of our lord we’ll never know.  The ball came to a halt for a split second before gravity took over and dropped it onto the slant of the garage roof.  The garage roof bounced it up and out, back towards the driveway.  I saw it all in slow motion.  My eyes locked on the ball.  My fathers eyes locked on me, an arm extended, pointing.  His mouth was opening in preparation to chew my ass.  The ball dropped towards the truck.  My hands rose to my face as if to cover my eyes or mouth.  I cringed like a beaten dog.  The ball struck the windshield of the truck and then shot like a bullet straight at my fathers face.  The sound of rubber striking flesh filled the air.

I saw confusion on his face.  I saw rage.  I saw embarrassment.  And that’s all I saw because I ran for it.  I’d decided I wanted to be in the barn on the other side of the property.  He didn’t stop me.  We didn’t speak of it later.  No one on the planet witnessed it but him and I.  But I know it was a miracle.  And I like to think, that this one time, God reached out and said, “It was an accident.  Leave the boy alone.”  Sorry dad.


Chivalrousish

I’m well aware that when people read my posts they think, “Now here’s an upwardly mobile alpha male who’s got it all figured out.”  And your absolutely right.  But alas it wasn’t always so.   There was a time when I was small and awkward.  Sometimes I even ran afoul of bullies.  Usually I would courageously avoid the bully, or, when confronted, manfully mutter something under my breath.  When they would ask me what I’d said I’d casually respond, “nothing”.  But I had!  Oh I had.  And it was nasty.  Just trust me on this.  I couldn’t even bring myself to repeat it here.

One bully I ran into was especially terrifying.  First of all he was five and a half feet tall in the fifth grade.  Secondly, he swore.  And not just like, “crap” or “damn”, he used real swears.  Like, the bad ones.  Finally, he was mean.  Like any predator he would pick out the weak and sickly from the herd.  Then he would eat them.  Metaphorically.  I mean if calling someone queer and punching them in the stomach was substituted for chewing and swallowing then in that sense he ate us all the time.  Sometimes twice a day.

He didn’t particularly like me either.  I could tell because he didn’t smile when he abused me.  For instance, he might grin and chuckle a little while he held some other kid in a chokehold but when he looked at me it was all dead eyes and heavy breathing.  I like to think he was jealous of me.  It’s possible that he wanted to be a tiny,  goofy kid who read fantasy novels and drew pictures of the weasels from “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”  during class.  It is!

Things came to a head one day when he was bouncing me off a chain link fence while explaining to me that if I ever mouthed off to him again he would kill me.  So pretty much business as usual on the playground. The conflict came when a girl stepped in to defend my honor.  I’ll take a lot of punishment but when a little girl comes to your rescue its time to draw the line. 

She came storming across the parking lot and grabbed my tormentor by the shoulder.

“Leave him alone!”, she shouted.

I saw uncertainty cross his face for a moment, which was quickly replaced by anger.

“Don’t touch me bitch.”, he growled, releasing one hand from my collar long enough to brush her away.

It was like a nightmare.  The blood surged to my face so quickly I thought I would pass out.  Now, I had always considered myself one of the good guys and this got under my skin way more than him picking on me. The mixture of her compassion and his subsequent disrespect was too much to abide.  I reacted before I knew it.

He had continued to bounce me off the fence as all this was going on. This last time as I rebounded off the fence I smashed a closed fist into his face.  Ok, that’s giving myself too much credit. As I rebounded off the fence I balled up a tiny fist and managed to thump him on the side of the head with it.  It was about then that I realized I was going to die.  I did the only thing I could do. I grabbed on to him, tucked my head into his chest and held on for dear life. I could feel him pounding at my back as he tried to get me into a position where he could beat the life out of me. Meanwhile I flailed about with my one free arm, trying to make some type of contact with his head or face.  I was saved just in time. The lady watching over recess that day finally reached us and pulled us apart, all the while blowing her whistle like a maniac. With a death grip on our upper-arms she marched us toward the office.

That march was almost as scary as the fight itself. I didn’t often get in trouble. I wasn’t that guy. I was hurt and embarrassed.  A rowdy group of my classmates followed closely, shouting and laughing.  To make matters worse the big jerk broke free at one point and  managed to get in his only good punch of the fight. I was too dazed to care.  I could feel tears coming and that was the one thing I really didn’t want to happen.  Before I knew it we were seated in front of the principal.

Then something happened that changed everything for me.  Here I was, coming off this adrenaline rush, terrified of the consequences of my actions as well as the pay back that was surely coming, when I looked over and saw the other kid.  I mean really saw him.  Tears streamed down his face, his chest heaved as he sobbed.  Blood ran from one nostril and his face was covered in red marks.  It occurred to me that I hadn’t cried.  My whole world shifted a little.  Had I beaten him up?  Was that possible?  Suddenly things didn’t seem nearly so bad.  My paradigm continued to shift when the principal started shaking him by the front of his shirt, shouting at him, “how does it feel to get picked on by someone bigger than you?!”  I actually felt really bad.  He was just a kid. Part of me wanted to stand up for him.

In the end my parents were called and he was given a three-day suspension.  I guess it payed off being the smaller, more innocent looking of the two.  My only battle scar was a swollen eye.  In the eyes of my classmates I was kind of a hero.  At least for a couple of days.  That was a lot of fun except for one incident where a couple of guys wanted to lift me onto their shoulders and trot me around the playground.  That was kind of embarrassing. 

I saw myself differently after that.  I had fought the toughest kid in school.  The kid everyone was scared of.  And I had won.  Maybe.  Kind of.  I didn’t cry at least.  Either way I wasn’t scared any more.  For the first time I felt pretty tough.  I felt good.  I never forgot that.  And I never backed down from anyone again.  Just as importantly I saw my bully differently.  I noticed how he stuttered a little. How he blinked his eyes rapidly when he talked.  How his clothes were a little shabbier than most of ours.  I saw his weaknesses and suddenly I could forgive him.  I realized that he was just a scared kid too.


An onion.

It occurs to me it might put my little stories in perspective if I were to tell a bit more about who I am, and what makes me tick. This task is easier said than done. I’m a complicated guy believe it or not. I’ve been many things to many people. It all depends on the timing and circumstance. Even as I write this a handful of personas argue about what to write, what to leave out, and even whether or not to write anything at all. In this post I’ll try to bring these little fellas out into the public a bit. I hope that in doing so future posts come to life more vividly for whomever should stumble across them.

My first self, which perhaps makes it the most honest self, I’ll call Child. Child is my sweet, silly, innocent self. He loves food, pets, games, hugs, etc. Child loves having fun. When I say Child is my innocent self I mean it quite literally. He is in fact my innocence. And he’s still firmly a part of me. I still love to roll around on the floor with my dogs. I love Christmas and a beautifully sang carol will bring me to tears. The idea of a pizza party will always get me excited. Child allows me to see the beauty in the world. Child could see through the illusions but chooses not to.

The next character I’ll mention I’ll call Sport. My father was a boxer, a football player, and a state police officer. He is an intense man who seemingly subscribed to the Vince Lombardi school of parenting. He tried to breed excellence in me through a strong dose of discipline and old-school values. The results were mixed. It was a little like putting a bullet-proof vest on a bunny rabbit. But it did affect me. And it did stick a little. One lesson particularly sank in. Basically it was “if someone is picking on you, you should protect yourself.” My young brain translated it to, “if you don’t like what someone is doing attack them.” This lead to lot’s of wrestling around with other boys, as well as the occasional fist fight. I remember shouting as I was pulled off another kid, “it’s ok! It’s ok! My dad said I should protect myself!” Sport is a serious-minded individual who has no time for nonsense. He judges everyone he meets and finds them lacking, especially himself. In fact, Sport is pretty much disgusted with every other voice in my head. Sport is a lot like my dad.

Because I’m so creative I’ll call my next self Trouble. As in, “you looking for trouble?” And Trouble’s answer is always yes. I’d realized early on that some level of popularity was necessary to have any sort of peace at school. Unfortunately popularity is usually gained when other people admire something about you. Whether it’s your looks, or your athleticism, or your sense of humor doesn’t matter. As long as you have something that others don’t and wish they did. I was pretty normal. So I developed a system. I would get attention by doing things others just didn’t do, but secretly wanted to. I picked up many ideas from teenage movies of the eightys. Others I just made up on the spot. Things like climbing out the window of the classroom when the teacher was writing on the board, putting a toy laser gun with the trigger rubber banded down in the ceiling (it lasted all day, beeeeooooo…beeeeoooo…beeeeoooo), and chugging hot beers out of a friends trunk at lunch time were all Trouble’s invention. Trouble doesn’t mean any harm really (though he did get me expelled at one point). He wants to be liked. He wants a laugh. He hates authority and formality. And he’s up there running his mouth to this day.

My last character I’ll call Thinky. It could just as easily be The Thinker but that’s already a famous statue. Plus Child likes the name Thinky. This is my scholar, my philosopher, my inner professor I guess. He gathers information. Then he uses that information to make informed decisions about life. Unfortunately he gets so buried in the application of facts, common sense and logic that he renders himself useless in most situations. But he stays busy. Everyday he ponders and ponders. His only goal is finding out the answers to every question in the universe, so no big deal. Thinky doesn’t just learn math. Thinky says, “why am I learning this?”, upon receiving an answer he doesn’t accept it as fact but wonders about the validity of that answer. Then he wonders what prompted the answerer to respond in such a way. Then we thinks about why that person would know the things he or she knows. He asks, “What is their background that they’re such an expert?” Thinky’s basically useless. But he’s very busy. And he’s running in the background constantly.

Now it’s important to realize that all these voices are up there getting involved in every single thing I do. No one is driving this thing that is me. And none of them are very competent. It goes a long way in describing why I’m not a successful human being. I’ll give an example. Let’s apply these slices of myself to a simple task, like waking up in the morning.

8am: alarm goes off…

Child: That noise is sooo mean!

Trouble: AAaargh. Leave me alone! What the hell is going on? That noise sucks.

Sport: Get up pussy! You’ve already wasted half the day! How are you supposed to be competitive if you lay there like a pile of crap. If you do nothing, you are nothing. Make it happen!

Thinky: Why is it so hard to get up? I wonder if there’s a web-site or study that details methods for getting out of bed. I’m sure there is… let me see I slept a solid 6 hours. Technically I should be fine. I have read that some people require as little as four hours while others as much as ten. Suppose I was in the latter group and required a full ten hours to feel rested? That would greatly affect my life in the long run. Imagine all the hours wasted. It would certainly explain my troubles in school as a child. Imagine if all those problems could have been avoided by a few more hours of sleep…I wonder if there is a correlation between quality of life and sleep necessity?(on and on into infinity)

Meanwhile time is passing. Chances are I’ll fall back to sleep before I manage to get up. It’s exhausting. I do wish there was just one voice that was all, “Morning sunshine! What’s on the plate for today? Your great champ! Get out there and make things happen!” That’s just not me. I have a head full of idiots fighting with each other most of the time. Its true. They don’t get along. How the hell is that possible. They’re all up there, all me, and yet they are absolutely at odds with one another. I’m a conservative liberal traditional hippy who reads fantasy novels and follows football. I hate laziness as I sit around watching movies and eating pizza. I love myself and completely hate myself. I don’t know who I am. Sometimes people ask me a question and I think my head will explode from the eruption of personalities.

So that’s me basically. Or at least how I think. It’s all founded on a middle-class, midwestern, suburban base. Flavored with an irish heritage and a touch of Catholicism. Hopefully you’ll see these little guys pop up in my writing and understand more about where I’m coming from. If not then I just wasted your time. You’re welcome!