Crazy (noun) 1 Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results 2 Internet dating

Crazy (noun) 1 Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results 2 Internet dating

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Resignation from a Dating Site

First of all, I’m going to say something to ALL of you okcupid ladies, and it’s not going to be very nice. I apologize in advance, and I ask that when you READ the words that are about to be spewed at you from my profile, know that I’m saying it in the NICEST possible fashion. Imagine me in a tuxedo with a rose on my lapel, my hair’s all combed back and parted as if by a tree saw, I have a big smile on my face and I just said something that made you all feel very beautiful…ok, ready?

WILL YOU PLEASE SHUT THE FUCK UP?!?!? Oh…my…god…You have to be about the most narcissistic, childish, self absorbed, judgmental, aggrandizing, passive aggressive, TALKY bitches I’ve ever seen on a damned dating website. Save some for the conversation will ya?

I mean let me get to KNOW you a little one on one so I can come to the conclusion that you’re IN-FUCKING-SANE after we’ve actually communicated. Most of these profiles read like doctor’s notes from a mental ward. I half expect that all of you fit in the time to WRITE these profiles in between wearing plastic slippers and playing tic-tac-throw before a group therapy session.

If you wear glasses, ride a bike to the vegetable stand, have 17 cats, and ONLY listen to vinyl? Go fuck some guy who wears Birkenstocks and cargo shorts in the trendy vegetarian coffee bar of the upscale neighborhood you live in. Why are you wasting my time HERE? This site is for guys like ME who want to meet women who I ACTUALLY have a shot with. The only way most of you would date me is if I rescued kittens on a unicycle while listening to shitty bands that nobody but YOU has ever heard of on my iPod. I can’t afford an IPod, so go fuck yourself.

I’m sorry, but I DON’T ride a fucking bike…EVER! I’m a grown ass man and drive a car. Cats are disgusting because they poop IN a box IN your home, and vegetables? Vegetables are what my food eats. I just got out of a relationship recently and I gotta tell ya…if THIS is what the dating scene is like now? I’m taking the first bus off this planet. I’ll go fuck a green chick like Kirk.

I think the MOST common ‘trait’ I’ve seen in ALL of your profiles is “I like to be sarcastic so you better be able to handle that” No, you DON’T like to be sarcastic. Here’s a test of your sarcasm: If you are not laughing your ass off RIGHT now while reading this? You don’t have a sarcastic bone in your body. You TOLD me in your profile that I ‘better be able to handle your sarcasm’…THIS is sarcasm and if your face is red from anger right now? You don’t know the definition of sarcasm and should be editing your profile instead of sending ME scathing retorts about what an asshole I am.

Another thing I’ve noticed about the women here is that if I’m not into EVERYTHING you are 100 percent? You want nothing to do with me. I’m sorry, but I’ve never HEARD of ‘Penny Derby Roller Ball Curmdgeoning’ and frankly it sounds silly and ignorant. If you meet a guy in a bar and you OPEN with that? He’ll tell you to go fuck yourself, no matter HOW hot you are.

Dating sites used to be simple; you put a brief blurb about yourself and then TALKED to someone! Now it’s a CIA biographical study complete with DNA sequencing compatibility. I may as well go back to trying my luck at the bar where I would inevitably end up talking to some viper nest haired chick whose only ambition in life is to be the hot girl at the bar that every guy wants to fuck. I’d have to listen to this dingbat stoner drone on and on and on about what Pink Floyd meant on the Dark Side of the Moon album cover, or how she should raise money to buy little coats for Penguins because it must be cold all the way up in the Attic (yes, I talked to a girl in a bar once who thought the Arctic was called the Attic). And she could get away with blathering on like that because she KNEW that whoever she was ear raping with her nonsense wanted to fuck her…YOU DON’T HAVE THAT LUXURY! Because, as a guy on a dating website, I’m not allowed to want to fuck you.

It’s bullshit. I have to be sweeter and kinder and gentler on these sites because without the gift of verbal inflection, YOU take everything I say as ME being an asshole. But on the other side of that I’m supposed to read YOUR shitty profile and be impressed because you have a flat stomach…fuck you, this is radio NOT tv.

Say something interesting about yourself. I’m GLAD that you like your job and you make more money than Jesus headlining on a cruise ship, but don’t get all judgmental and say I can only respond to you if I like my job. I HATE my fucking job. HATE IT! Most people DO hate their jobs. I’m GLAD that you travelled across the globe by the age of 12, but I could give a shit about your stories of sleeping under the stars outside of the Parthenon. Those stories are for people who are ALREADY dating, when you tell me that up front it makes you sound like an asshole. I’m SO excited for you that you have 12 cats, and I’m SURE they’re ALL really cute…but that’s something you should keep to yourself for now. Let me find that out for myself after I’ve put in the necessary care and effort to get invited to your place. When you tell me that NOW? The first thought that comes to MY mind is “great, her pussy probably smells like ammonia”, and I hate to apologize again, but I’m sorry…I like a pussy to NOT smell of ammonia.

Look, I’m sure all of your profiles would be great if you were ALL lesbians. I imagine that kind of insanity and brain farting is what a woman looks for in another woman. But for those of you looking to meet a man? Tell us why your last boyfriend was a dick, give us a REALISTIC view of what you want from a man, and tell us something just awful and shitty about yourself. You DON’T have to make yourself sound like Mother Theresa for Christ’s sake. Have some humility, we’ve ALL done something shitty in life, to ourselves OR to someone else, but I LIKE it when a woman is self aware enough to, not only REALIZE she did something shitty, but be honest enough with herself AND me to admit it. Guys don’t like a woman who’s having a PERFECT life, not because we’re mean, but because we like to feel that we can contribute or affect your life in a positive way. When you say everything is perfect? There’s nothing for us to fix, and we fix things…that’s what we do.

And I know a lot of you are thinking that I’m ‘sexist’ for saying that, and I get it. I heard someone say recently “Women are the new men”, and when I thought about it? That is an absolutely true statement which is WHY I feel like a fucking dinosaour. I LIKE tou

Am I honest enough to point that high powered laser scoped inflection rifle at myself? Sure. My last girlfriend was a dick because she cheated on me twice. It was my fault for dating a 20 year old and expecting her NOT to cheat on me. My REALISTIC view of what I want in a woman? Someone who doesn’t cheat on me. Something shitty I’ve done? After my mother died in 2005 she left me some money which I spent the next two years drinking away at high end clubs downtown. At the end of my 2 year binge I got a dui for going 47 in a 40 which ruined my life for the NEXT 2 years. Out of fear, I won’t even eat a fucking potato before I get behind the wheel now which means I rarely drink anymore.

Another thing? I don’t mind if you have a kid or 2, but I just read a young ladies profile that stated ‘I’m a 22 year old mother of 4, looking for a husband’. WHAT? Are you kidding me? Twenty two? What are the odds that all those kids have the same father? CALM fucking DOWN. What happened to just ‘I’d like to go on a date and see what happens’. When you tell me that you want someone to take care of your caravan of children, what’s my incentive? Basically what you’ve conveyed to me is that some guy got to fuck you FOUR times, that we know of, while you were hot, and now you’re looking for someone to deal with his leavings. Fuck you. You keep spawning like a tribble and you're gonna break your vagina bone.

Just by that profile, I know everything I need to know about her. She doesn’t have enough self confidence to tell someone to put a Jim hat on. She doesn’t think about consequences, and she doesn’t consider solutions. Not to mention the fact that I don’t want to put my dork in a moist hole that 8 tiny eyeballs have passed through like a watermelon in a mudslide. It's a vagina, not a clown car for chrissake.

Even the women who are NOT moms have profiles like ‘looking for someone to spend my life with’. WHAT? I just want to throw a few burgers down your throat, listen to some music, and maybe make out on my couch for an hour hon, how bout we get through that and we’ll see what happens. Don’t put so much expectation on what could be a generally pleasant experience for the both of us. I mean, who goes on a date and sais to themselves ‘I’m going to spend the rest of my life with this guy’. Ridiculous.

I was complaining to my friend Mike the other day about how I can’t catch a break with all the internet dating. Every girl I’ve met in the past six months has been ‘broken’ somehow. They’re all drug/alcohol/Twinkie addicted women who live in apartments so small that if we order a large pizza, we have to eat it outside. Hell, I have a shitty apartment, but it looks like fucking Xanadu compared to some of the places I’ve been recently.

One girl I dated was impossibly beautiful, smart, and well educated. Problem? Narcissistic, corrected my spelling ALL the time, and fucked random married men as a sport. Next was the vegetarian hippie, she had an awesome energy, great in the sack, just fucking fun to be around. Problem? Wanted to stay single, alcoholic, and closed off. The last girl was a beautiful 20 year old CAN, problem? She cheated on me so much that the guys she fucked while we were dating could have formed their own softball league. Then there was the Peruvian voodoo dancer…although in retrospect, that one may have been my fault as curiosity got the best of me. If anyone out there knows a voodoo chant to get rid of a prehensile tail and ass warts, please let me know.

Mike’s response to me was incredulous to say the least: “BUT YOU’RE GETTING LAID! Why the fuck are you so miserable?” Simple, I’m not TRYING to just get laid. Every one of those women, with the exception of the Peruvian Voodoo chick, was of general interest to me at the time. I’m trying to foster a one dick relationship based on mutual trust and common interests. Just fucking someone is easy, spending time with someone is the difficult part, but for me that’s the part that makes the whole thing worthwhile.

The point is that I’m just looking to get to know someone who can laugh, who can joke, and who can enjoy the occasionally ill timed fart. Why must you women tax me so?

To be honest, I don’t think this woman exists. That’s why you’re reading this right now and saying to yourself “How does THIS guy expect to get laid”. I don’t. I give up, consider this profile my letter of resignation from the rollercoaster ride of dating. Off to the convent with me. But if what you’ve read here can help YOU update your profile and not sound like such a pain in the ass? So be it.

So, bottom line? Don’t be 22 and tell us that Goddard is your favorite director; you’re too young to be that pretentious. Don’t tell us not to respond if we’re looking for sex…we’re ALL looking for sex. Even you. It’s not something I expect on the first or even the second date, but it IS something that I’d like to have on a continuous basis with the same woman…but that end must justify the means. And most importantly? Don’t tell us you want us to be funny and then get all offended when you read this. Laugh a little, at others AND yourself. Life’s a joke…sometimes it’s not so bad to be the punch line.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

‘Suck it Retail’ or ‘I’m not Racist, I Hate Everyone Equally’

Let’s face it; Work sucks. We all have ignorant bosses whose jobs we KNOW we could do better, we all have to occasionally eat shit from whiney customers, and from time to time we feel that the blatant repetition of our jobs is slowly sucking the life from our souls.

I’ve found that in the course of trying to find that special someone online, my job has played a hand in hamstringing my efforts. It’s easy to be a happy go lucky moron who women find charming and charismatic when you already have money, or even when you don’t have a lot of money, but love what you do. However, when you have a shit job and your station in life makes you want to suck on the end of a shotgun, that cynicism tends to leak out in conversations with potential bed mates. The worst part is knowing that there is nobody to blame other than myself for working in the field I currently do.

The truth is that I hate my fucking job, but to be honest with you in this economy I’m actually grateful to HAVE a job. I do however find it hard to explain my vocation to prospective dates. I try not to bring up where I work in conversations with women, and invariably if I HAVE to? I lie about it. Not because I’m trying to impress anybody, but because I’m embarrassed that I’m about to turn ‘Face book’ thirty and I still wear a fucking name tag. Maybe it’s the atmosphere of fear that my bosses invoke, the shit hours for shit pay, or the lack of any viable women for me to bang in the work place, but the fact is that there are so many reasons for me to be unhappy at work, there just isn’t any ONE I can put my finger on. The one thing I DO know? Most of my misery comes from the endless barrage of idiots, thieves, and just plain douche bags that frequent my place of business daily. Yeah…I’m talkin’ about you.

As I write this, I’m currently working at a corporate electronics store which shall remain nameless. I’ve been in retail, in some form or another for almost 16 years now and I’ve learned that when you work with the public, you gain a little insight into how certain types of people act. I wouldn’t call it ‘stereotyping’ or ‘profiling’, but I’ve become something of a retail psychic. This is a super hero type ability which holds no discernable use in the super human community, like Cypher from the ‘New Mutants’ or Aqua man from ‘The Justice League’. I carry the albatross around my neck of, not ONLY having this ineffective super power…but also in knowing that its origin lies in the fact that I’ve been sucking on the corporate teet for far too fucking long. And when you’ve been doing this shit for TOO long, one of two things happens…you die alone and downtrodden at an early age from the stress brought on by the corporate whip, or you snap and start building a hut in a forest preserve out of Oberweiss milk jugs filled with urine.

So in an effort to try to avoid either of those eventualities, and to try to calm my nerves when talking to women, I’ve decided to vent. Since it would be inappropriate and unprofitable for me to unload a barrage of fuck you's at the random assholes that frequent my place of business, I’ll do HERE, what millions of people across the country would LIKE to do…and bitch about customers, bosses, and fellow employees.

One of my rules in life is to NOT think about my job outside of work. I learned a long time ago that this will drive you crazy. When I’m at work, I concentrate on work, when I‘m not at work? I concentrate on everything else. In this chapter however, I’ll forgo my usual trepidations of mixing work and pleasure in an effort to entertain you, and to let off some fucking steam. As usual, you may relate to some of the things I’m about to say, and you may disagree with some of the things I say, but either way? Feel free to shoot me an email if YOU’D like to vent. I don’t mind hearing about your job, I just don’t like talking about mine. And if you DO disagree with some of the shit I say? As always, I would like to cordially invite you to PLEASE…go fuck yourself.

I’ve had a lot of jobs over the years and even though my current one will most certainly not be my last, because I’ll put a fucking bullet in my heart if I feel that it’s coming to that, it may be the worst. I’ll be honest with you here; in my teens I was fired from a few jobs for lying, stealing, or cursing out my boss in a store full of customers. But when I was 22, I got my first REAL job, the one that started me down the retail path that I have travelled but a short distance on. Not in a timeline kind of way, I’ve been doing this shit for a LONG time, but in a promotional way. I’ve only moved up ONE fucking job code in all that time.

My first real girlfriend Jackie, made a big impact on me by clearing out the cobwebs from the corners of my life. She made me get my GED, she made me get new clothes, and she made me get a ‘real’ job. That job was at Waldenbooks. I was hired as the assistant manager, and between my original store in the Chicago Ridge Mall, my promotion without raise to the Ford City location, and my eventual lateral movement to a better environment at Borders Books and Music in Orland Park, I worked for the company for 11 years total. Waldenbooks was always there and deep pivotal moments in my life took place within the confines of my responsibilities to it.

While I was in her employ, I suffered the heartbreaking end of my relationship with Jackie, I met people who I still consider to be some of my best friends to this day, I went to college around my work duties, my appreciation for Howard Stern was developed, and I fucked a lot…and I mean a LOT of co-workers. However, my downfall came through the death of my mother. As she became increasingly ill before the end, I started drinking more and more. When I eventually told my bosses that I needed a day off for her funeral, they reluctantly gave it to me. To my surprise, my boss ACTUALLY showed up to the funeral under the auspice of delivering his condolence, but I had a feeling that he was only there to see if I was lying about the event. That feeling festered in me like a bulging neck boil. When I came back to work after a week or so, I began showing up late or If I wasn’t late, I would be in the extreme throws of a hangover. When my boss took me to the side one day to talk about my ‘lack of enthusiasm’ in the work place…I called him a crop eared midget fuck and told him that I’d taken shits bigger than him. Then I walked out and never looked back.

I took a few years away from working at all in order to spend every dime that my mother left me on booze and cheap floozies. When the dough ran out, I applied for a job with my current employer. I was hired there in 2004 as an assistant manager and was promoted to manager 2 months later. I’ve busted my ass for this company over the past 5 years, and it’s coming to a point where I feel a change is needed. Not that I feel the need to work at another retail joint, but that I need to get the fuck out all together. These days I can barely plaster on a fake smile and make my customers feel welcome. However, I’ve noticed that it’s not only my customer service that’s changed…but the customers themselves. People have become increasingly stupid over the years and even though my opinion is that current pop culture is the lead suspect in the murder of intelligence, I can’t help but think that maybe retail’s code of ‘The Customer is Always Right’ is part of the problem as well.

Corporations have given every whiney person on the planet a way out of taking responsibility for their own inept choices and their general desire to NOT fucking read. People bitch at me daily because they can’t complete simple tasks on their own and they don’t want to learn how to help themselves.

There are the crotchety old people who curse like sailors because I can’t program their new television remote control for them. It doesn’t seem to matter HOW politely you try to explain to them that they have to be IN FRONT of their television set to do it. Even when I highlight the 8 word passage in the instruction manual that shows them how to EASILY do it themselves, they STILL come back complaining that it’s too hard. These people all but say “I’m too dumb to figure this out”

There are the twit nipples that get an attitude with ME because the electronic signature capture devices elude their fucking faculties when they pay with a credit card. ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS SIGN THE FUCKING THING! IT’S THE SAME AS SIGNING ON A PIECE OF FUCKING PAPER! Jesus.

And don’t get me started with the minutes for pre-paid phones. I get customers who ACTUALLY get pissy with me because THEY don’t know what their own phone number is. How the FUCK do you expect ME to put minutes into a phone without the fucking phone number? When I put minutes on a phone, I do it as a fucking courtesy by going to the SAME god damned website that they could go to themselves, putting the phone number into the ‘top up’ box, and the code that prints on their receipt into the ‘pin number’ box. Go to 7-11 or Wal-Mart and see if they’ll put your fucking minutes on the phone for you. They’ll tell you to go fuck yourself. I tried to be nice for a long time, and do for them what they so moronically couldn’t do for themselves, but after a year of putting up with their blathering, self entitled, bitchiness, I tell every fucking one of them now that the stores internet connection is down so they’ll have to put the minutes on themselves. When they walk out cursing and flipping me the bird behind their backs saying “I’ll never shop HERE again”…GOOD FUCKING RIDDANCE! And don’t slip in the parking lot and get your head run over by a pickup truck. My store, my staff, AND my company make absolutely NO profit from pre paid minutes. Fuck ‘em.

And then there’s the rest. The deluge of moronic imbeciles I deal with daily would make a mental hospital look like a fucking Mensa hospital. Over the years I’ve learned to deal with the pressure of a corporate boot on my neck, but the thing that I’ve found increasingly difficult to bear is my customers. Maybe it’s the neighborhood that my store is in or maybe I’m just getting old and can’t deal with nonsense like I could when I was young, but I think that I now know WHY retail pays so poorly; it’s so we can’t afford guns.

There are times when I’ll fantasize about what it would be like to just have a gun at work. Take today for example. A customer came in and asked if we carried digital voice recorders. I gladly showed him to the section that they were in, and asked him what he would be using it for. He looked me in the eye, put his pointer finger to his lips and went “Cht-cht-cht-cht”, and then he inspected the packages. My heart began to race “did this mother fucker just ‘shush’ me?” I thought to myself. After about five minutes of LOOKING at the pictures on the package, and not READING the words…he looked up at me and said “where do the tapes go in these?” A DIGITAL voice recorder is about the size of a pack of gum. They don’t TAKE fucking tapes because they record digitally. I politely told the guy this and he asked me “Do you have any digital voice recorders that take tapes?” I told him that we have TAPE recorders that take tapes, but DIGITAL means that it does NOT take tapes. He looked at the TAPE recorder, which is about the size of a cassette tape and said “That’s too big”

BOOM! It’s at this point when I would simply take out my gun and calmly shoot him in the temple. Let’s see him “cht-cht-cht-cht” me with his fucking brains all over the ‘home/office’ section of my store.

As dumb as that imbecile was however, he is NOT the biggest piece of shit I have to deal with on a daily basis. I have a cast of moronic characters that frequents the stage of my retail theatre. In no particular order, they are as follows:

First up is The fucking Pollack’s: These people come into my store with an attitude of smugness plastered on their all too big heads and REEK of some knock off cologne called ‘Repel’ that they bought from a kiosk in the mall. They smell like a man eating gorgonzola cheese, while getting a perm in the septic tank of a slaughter house. Now, I’m not talking about every Pollack out there, just the ones with accents. Not only are they cheaper than George Costanza at a charity auction, but they return EVERY fucking thing they buy. I don’t even know why they shop, it’s like retail masturbation. Even when you TELL them “look, sir…you cannot plug a candy bar into ANY thing”, they get mad at YOU for telling them it won’t work and then buy it anyway. An hour later, I hear the door open and turn to see fucking Sven, all attitude, wearing camouflage cargo shorts who gives me the hairy eyeball and says: “Why you no tell me this not work?”, while holding a melted ass cigarette lighter with fucking chocolate all over it. And every god damned one of them thinks that if they buy a remote control, a pie tin, and some fucking paprika…they’ll get every cable station on the planet. But try to suggest an antenna? And explain to them the interference caused by the airport they live underneath? You may as well be explaining nuclear physics to a fucking chiwawa with one kidney that has to take a leak really bad. LOOK, Stash…it’s not my fault that your country got annexed OK? Now put the fucking J. Crew catalogue down and go read an instruction manual.

Old ass ladies: these dingbats are fucking time vampires who cannot figure out how to press a button on their phone. You have to spend 3 hours with them because they don’t know what a number 2 looks like on the 10 dollar pre paid phone that their grandson bought them 8 fucking years ago. While you’re helping this extra from the thriller video, 10 people who want ACTUAL cell phones, that I can make money on, are walking out the door pissed. LOOK Aunt Bee…it’s the SAME fucking configuration as on the HOUSE phone you have. You know the one that Alexander Graham Bell autographed for you back when you were only 147 years old? I should invent a fucking rotary cell phone.

Fat white women: These bitches are the WORST. They think that just because NOBODY wants to deal with them on a personal level that gives them the right to come and fuck with someone on a professional level. Every time I see one of these big bitches with their ‘chick mullet’ and their purple Grimace sweatshirt trying to take the 3 inch step up on the side walk in front of my store with the same expression on their face as an Olympic runner taking a hurdle, I want to dive into my back room and hide Anne Frank style. Just their greeting is full of hatred and bile and special sauce. They HAVE to know when they come in that we don’t carry what they’re looking for, so it’s OBVIOUSLY a front perpetrated JUST so they have an excuse to be vicious. ‘What do you mean you don’t carry a front bumper for an 87 Cadillac?’ Ma’am, this is an electronics store. ‘Don’t call me ‘ma’am’, you don’t KNOW me’. AHHHH! LOOK, NOBODY wants to know you, you waste of fucking oxygen! Why don’t you put a piece of coal on your fat person scooter seat so you can make yourself a diamond when you sit down on it? That way you can afford to shoot yourself into outer space where you’ll have a better chance of running into SOME kind of mid level intelligent life form that has the probing technology to find your twat in that double gunt you carry around in front of you that looks like a fucking tent filled with chewed bubblegum! FUCK YOU!

Old white men: these guys are the most common of the lot. They either want batteries for something so old that Moses borrowed it once, or they want a police scanner. First of all Colonel Hogan, what kind of creep sits around eating porridge and listening to the awful shit going down in their hood all night? No wonder you people look so fucking scared all the time. This is the old man equivalent of a 35 year old going to fucking star trek conventions. Secondly, I do everything in my power to convince these crypt keepers NOT to buy the fucking thing because, much like the Pollack’s, they return it every time. Why? Because this thing comes with an instruction book that's thicker than a stack of James Michener novels, and these coffin stuffers think that: A.) if they just press a button the fucking thing will magically read there feeble minds, or B.) I have 6 years to read the manual TO them. LOOK Ed Asner, you've been alive long enough to have carved your initials into the pyramids as you were building them, SURELY you know how to fucking read, so quit sitting around with the other mummies reminiscing about the fucking civil war and learn to rely on yourself to complete a simple task.

Homeless people: God fucking forbid it rains because every house less fuck with a shopping cart piles into my store like a college fraternity trying to win the world record for how many dickheads you can squeeze into a phone booth. “did you need any help today sir?’ is invariably answered with “gobba duke dish monger” or some other garbled nonsense followed by a wet spot appearing and spreading on the front of their tattered bugle boy jeans. Even on a sunny day, I don’t want to step outside of my fucking store for a cigarette break because the minute I light up, I get soapaphobics repelling off the roof like a dirty, mop headed, swat team and asking if they can ‘borrow a cigarette’. Yeah, you can ‘borrow’ a cigarette at 18.5% compounded interest per annum over the next 3 years. FUCK YOU, Look, if you have an addiction? Get a fucking job to support that habit! I may not work hard, but at least I had the good sense to put some deodorant on, bring my sorry ass to work, and earn enough money to pay for cigarettes which now cost more than most monthly mortgages. You may as well ask if you could ‘borrow’ my house.

I know it seems stingy, but I won’t give ANYone a fucking cigarette. I’ve had everyone from cops to super hot women ask if they could ‘borrow a smoke’ and my answer is always the same; ‘No’. Then they always want to know ‘why’. Where most of you would lie and say “I’m out” or “I left them inside the office”, I don’t even bother with that any fucking more. I simply say “because I don’t care about you or your addiction.” I’ve been homeless twice in my life, and I would have rather stuck a fork in my fucking eye than ask someone for a cigarette. I busted my ass and worked hard to support that habit and build my lower middle class empire up from the ground with little to no help from others. Although some people’s tales of woe are truly heartbreaking, most ‘homeless’ people got that way from their own addictions, failures, and general stupidity. I know that because that’s how I got homeless. Now, go down to the ‘Y’, take a shower, and fill out some fucking job applications. Even if you have to work at ‘7-11’, that’s better than pandering outside of one.

Hispanic people (English speaking): Minutes for the boost phone.

Hispanic people (Non English Speaking): I have no fucking clue, but I get to listen to them yell at me from ‘lack of communication’ frustration like Ricky cursing out Lucy, but mustachioed. Most times if I just casually utter the letters I.N.S., they’ll at least head for the door as they yell gibberish at me.

African American Postal Employee: Bluetooth. Everytime.

Black guys: I am not trying to be racist here, but I DO have a simple line that I like to use at work; ‘Not ALL black people steal…but ONLY black people steal. I truly mean no offence by this, but if a black guy comes into my store? I know there’s credit card fraud or some kind of theft afoot. I’ve had to call the cops for SOME kind of shoplifting incident at least twice a month for 3 years and EVERY fucking time? It’s an ‘African American gentleman’. Every shoplifter warning sent out in our company emails? ‘African American gentleman’. Every call I get warning me about cell phone fraud to look out for? ‘African America gentleman’. Just ONCE I’d love to see someone be HONEST when they send out these ‘warning’ emails to the stores: “A customer came in, immediately went to the back of the store, shoved a bunch of items into his ‘Shaft’ fro, and when I approached him he ran out of the front door. Description: Big nigger with an afro”. Look, I tend to see the racial divide much like Chris Rock: “There are niggers, and there are black people”. In my store? The black people are the postal employees who buy blue tooth, the niggers are the thieves.

I also love the fact that they just assume they're criminal masterminds and I’m a bumbling moron. Like I’m the ‘token’ idiotic white guy in a ‘blaxploitation’ flick. They’ll come in, walk RIGHT up to the counter looking like an extra from ‘Breakin 2: Electric Boogaloo’, with shitty clothes, nappy ass hair all backed up like rush hour traffic, and say in a comedic 'black accent' circa 1983, that I'D be called racist for mimicking: ‘hmmmm...I sure am would like 6 TV’th and foe laptop computerth…and why don’t you throw in a few iPodth with that?’. THEN, one of two things happens. You go in the back to get that shit and they steal everything they can fit in their fucking I.O.U. jacket OR you ring them up and they hand you a credit card with the name ‘Howard Whiteman Finnius Thronbrecker III esquire’ on it. When it doesn’t go through? They TELL you ‘oh, I am got the approval code for that right here’. Am I wearing an 'I'm an asshole' t-shirt? FUCK YOU! IT DOESN’T WORK ON ME!!! As sad as it sounds? I’ve been doing this for over 20 fucking years now! Go try that shit at the barbershop you fucking ‘Sugar Hill Gang’ reject.

Oh, sweet zombie Jesus, I almost forgot...the phone. I don't know why the fuck it is that I.Q.'s drop from 20 to negative fucking 20 whenever people put the receiver to their ear, but I won’t even answer the fucking thing anymore for fear I’ll go bat shit crazy. Some of these people want to stay on the phone longer than the drum solo in ‘In-A-Godda-Da-Vida’. I don’t stay on the phone that long with friends who are contemplating suicide for fucks sake. A typical retail phone conversation usually goes like this: Me: “Thank you for calling Patio Tack, how can I help you?” customer “do u have any iphone 4s?” Me: “no, I’m sorry we don't” Customer: “is this Patio Tack?” Me: “yes” Customer “so you don’t have any iphone 4s?”

AHHHHHH! What the FUCK did I just SAY? How do u not know who you just called?!? Especially when I just TOLD you who you called? Do you think that you accidentally called your molester uncle Ronbo and he just HAPPENED to say 'thank you for calling Patio Tack? And NOBODY HAS THE FUCKING IPHONE 4!!! Put the fucking phone down and pick up a newspaper, over a hundred thousand people around the world waited in line when they came out this week, sometimes for 48 hours before the launch, who the fuck do you think you are that YOU'LL be the one to get a good night sleep and lazily saunter into a random store like I've been holding one for a 'special' customer, and YOU happen to be him?

Then there are the ones who call up and give me a list longer than a donkey’s cock of shit to find. When I finally get back to the phone after tracking down their items like Richard Kimble trying to find the one armed man, and tell them what we have...they say 'how much are all those?' now I got to go back and find the prices. FUCK YOU! You wanna shop? Wade through your swarm of fucking cats and piles of old Sally Jesse Raphael show transcripts, leave your hovel, and fucking SHOP! I don’t get paid enough to be YOUR personal shopper just because you only leave the house when fucking McDonalds is having the 2 for 3 Big Mac sale. THAT’S why your ass gets put on what I call ‘forever hold’. I put you on hold, and NEVER pick up again.

Just starting my day off with the drive to work is an exercise in patience. I spend so much time driving to and from work that I make Jack Kerouac look like a fucking agoraphobic. It seems that the EARLIER I leave every morning, the MORE construction they start on my route. Just yesterday I left my house at 10 P.M. and STILL showed up 15 minutes late at 9:15 A.M. And it’s ALWAYS ridiculous shit too, they’ll have the LEFT lane closed off for the Sheriff’s Work Alternative Program so they can plant daisies on the fucking median because the jails are overcrowded, then the RIGHT lane is closed because the city is building a side walk outside of a trailer park in the hopes that the multi colored Mountain Dew bottle covered fence line surrounding it will be less noticeable, then BOTH lanes are closed with an arrow pointing ‘up’ like I’m supposed to ‘ Duke’s of Hazard’ the big concrete barriers blocking the fucking street.

Then when I finally DO manage to get through this psychotic level of ‘paperboy’, I end up at train tracks with a train so long that it must stretch from New York to San Francisco like a big smiley face across America dropping off cars, one at a time, on either end. It stops, you wait 10 minutes and it moves FORWARD one train car length, then it stops for another 10 minutes, and moves BACK one train car length, and repeats the process until I’m ready to speed down to the engine and drive my fucking car up the conductors ass. FUCK YOU TRAINS!

And if ONE drop of rain falls from the sky? Forget it, I may as well just keep a tent in my car and sleep on the side of the road because every moron behind the wheel suddenly forgets where their fucking accelerator pedal is. Usually Sunday is the only day when I have NO obstructions blocking my path to work, it takes me 21 minutes. Every other day? An Hour to get to work, almost 2 hours to get home. And do we get paid for that shit? No, I find it laughable that the taxes we pay, and that get taken from our checks, pays for the shit that makes us sit in traffic for hours on end with NO pay.

Even considering my vast list of endless hatred…I have to give a shout out to a job that I thankfully have never had. The service job that has to have the most miserable, tedious, hateful, sophomoric, idiotic, winey bitch ass customers of the lot…I’m talking, of course, about waitressing. I’ve dated a lot of waitresses in my time and the ONE common thread they all have? Nice on the outside with a steaming ball of hatred toward their fellow man, the size of Venus, inside of them. It’s like a dog shit cake. It LOOKS really good because there’s this nice white vanilla frosting all around it, but then when you take a bite? Your face contorts to the point that it almost turns inside out, and you have dog shit stains on your teeth.

And really? It’s not their fault. They have to deal with assholes on a daily basis that if MOST of us had to put up with? We’d end up in jail for stabbing them in the eye with a fork. But they HAVE to deal with it. Why? Because they live off the tips, and even when Gus, the used car sales man says that his steak is over cooked and lobs it at the waitress like he’s pitching in a softball game, SHE has to plaster a smile on her face and suppress her rage to the point that I end up in the ‘friction burn groin’ ward at Christ hospital because her vagina is dryer than a used dust store in the Mohave desert, JUST on the off chance that this cheap prick who bought a 4 dollar steak at a ‘Red Bull and Steak’ shit truck stop will tip her enough to buy a 99 cent bag of Doritos for her and her hamster to eat that night. FUCK YOU GUS! Be patient, DON’T yell at your waitress, all she’s doing is BRINGING you the fucking food; she’s not COOKING the fucking food. And don’t take out your job related angst on some poor girl JUST because you don’t have the balls to tell your boss, Todd Dickstripe, down at the dealership to go fuck himself after he asked you to grease the axels on his Mercedes when YOU still take the bus to work.

Then, on the OTHER side of the customer service door? Dealing with management. Do you know why the British lost the war against us? It was because they had TOO many fucking people in charge. They had generals, and sub generals, and fucking admirals and panda captains, and infantry superior generals, and pasta sauce supervisors, and it got to the point that there were SO many people in charge, nobody knew who the fuck to listen to. The corporate retail world is much the same way. I have to deal with MY boss, district managers, regional managers, continental managers, global managers, solar system managers, universal managers, and all the way up the suck ass corporate food chain until you get to whom? Our British CEO.

That’s right, they may have lost to us back then, but the Brits are taking it all back folks, watch out because if you truly want to kiss ass in this job market? You better learn to NOT stare at those fucked up teefus, learn to measure your heroin in kilo’s, and learn to NOT laugh at that jag off tie. This guy came into my store once and he was either SO drunk on power that he couldn’t think clearly, or he just smoked a joint and had a pint of lager. He told us in a cartoony British butler accent to ‘turn the windows around so that the INSIDE window is facing the outside, hang up posters of Peirce Brosnan everywhere, and ONLY flush the toilets on Tuesdays’. Then he called my retarded employee a ‘cheeky monkey’, threw his bowler hat at an old lady like Odd Job from 'Goldfinger', and skipped out the front door singing Sgt. Pepper.

Then we have the Regional boss. The last guy who had this job was about as pleasant as a gorilla after you smash his big toe with a hammer. I’ve HEARD the expression ‘puss on your face’ before, but this guy ACTUALLY had a cat stuck to his face, claws all dug in to his cheeks and forehead. Outside of my ex girlfriend Jackie, I’ve never met anyone with NO sense of humor. This is the kind of guy whom I imagine only snickers at the occasional Gallagher bit. HE got transferred for fucking a DISTRICT manager. I love the irony behind that. This guy nearly fired me for having a fucking balloon up in my store because he said that it ‘presents familiarity to the employees’, but he can drop fuck his ass kiss underling behind his wife’s back. Fuck him.

So NOW I’m stuck with the new guy. We can’t figure out yet if the new guy is Mexican or Asian. So we’ve dubbed him a Masian. All I know about him is that he’s JUST as mean as the last guy, but with the bonus of being passive aggressive on top of it. Every email he sends out is just dripping with intent to fire everyone. Multiple exclamation points and fear propaganda are the norm for his regime. He came into my store last week with my District manager, and walked around my sales floor with his arms behind his back like Hitler inspecting the troops. He’d occasionally say something to me in a low monotone voice similar to a serial killer talking to himself just before he starts fucking his victims belly button, but mostly would only talk to MY boss who was writing every word down like a frightened lackey. You could see the sweat dripping from my bosses brow, and his hands shaking as he furiously wrote everything out into an epic tome that he eventually sent in an email titled ‘why my boss thinks you are all assholes’.

My boss is actually kind of O.K. I’m sure that he buffers a lot of the shit from us that he gets, and if I’d met him outside of the job? I wouldn’t mind having a beer with him occasionally.

Which brings me to my employees. I heard a long time ago that managers hire themselves. Based on that saying? I have the best employee’s ever. They may not be the most handsome, but I constantly get compliments on them. Occasionally they’ll work at other stores, and I have to deal with THOSE managers trying to lure them away from me with promises of candy and rub downs…but they always come back. Why? Well, despite what you’ve read here? I think I’m a pretty decent boss. I have the distinction of having the only store, probably in my region that has had the SAME employees for almost 3 years. No ‘retail’ turnaround. Three of them are consistently on the companies list of top five employees for sales. They work hard and I try to foster an atmosphere of fun in the workplace. Hell retail is a shitty enough job without having a douche bag boss to put up with. The ONLY problem I have is that I’ve never hired anyone at my current job that I’d like to sleep with, just big women and Nigerian guys (I’m also the ONLY store that has had THREE Nigerians promoted from within, I fucking LOVE those dudes). My tip to those of you out there that DO have to hire people? Just know that when you hire big women? They shit more than guys. From my experience with the girlfriends I’ve had, I didn’t even know that women DID shit. Hell, I LIVED with a girl for 7 years and ‘shitting’ never came up once. These employees of mine though ‘tag team’ shit throughout the fucking day. I have to have TWO of them work at a time so there’s at least ONE person on my sales floor while the other one is dropping a deuce.

The main thing I hate about retail though is the fucking roboticness of it. I have a mind to foster relationships with my customers, but I have to spew out this corporate bullshit from the beginning to the end of EVERY interaction with EVERY fucking customer. ‘Welcome to my store, did you know that we have the iphone now? (We HAVE to say that EVEN though we DON’T have the fucking iPhone!) What can I help you find, did you need any batteries for around the house? Can I have your email so we can send you coupons? Who is your cell phone provider? Would you like to upgrade or get a new line of service? These are the items you’ll need to buy with that. We have a service plan that can protect your item. Just so you know you can fill out a survey online. Would you like a magazine subscription? Do you want fries with that? Can I suck your cock for you?’ WHERE DOES IT FUCKING END! What happened to just ‘How can I help you today?’ and ‘thanks for shopping with us’. THAT’S IT! Dude came in to get a fucking battery for his camera so he could take pictures of the most important day of his life, and I just made him miss his daughter’s birth with my Billy Mays sales pitch for a fucking hour because I can get fired for NOT going through that rhetoric in EVERY customer situation. Maybe the reason the economy is falling apart is because there’s nothing personal in these interactions any more. It all sounds corporate from the top to the bottom.

Another frustrating thing about my job is the lack of ass. Either customer wise or employee wise. In my youth, I had a vast unlimited resource for meeting women; Work.

The first time I got laid? 38 year old waitress at Red Lobster when I was working there as a bus boy at 17. Later, when I worked for Walden books in the mall, there were more loose women passing through it than a Metallica concert at the end of a pub crawl. The little ‘let me tell ya somethin’s would roam through that place all day, and if you could do a mall cop lean on a kiosk counter? You were going to be taking a trip to an abortion clinic in about 3 weeks (fist bump). Sometimes I’d even find myself hiring these same girls and banging them on the bargain book table in the back of the store after it closed. I LOVED that job. If you've never had 'work sex'? I highly recommend it. Nothing sends a silent 'fuck you' to the higher ups quite like my big white elephant ass pumping up and down on some 22 year old, over the same counter I sold 'Weekends With Morrie' to their gramma on.

Then I moved on to Borders. Let me tell you, that place was like catnip for pussy. Hot, spectacled, intellectual broads looking for YOUR opinion on Kurt Vonnegut or Niche over a cup a Joe with a dick twist. Hell, I dated my first girl with fake boobies while I was there.

Those jobs even brought some great names into my life who I STILL consider to be some of my best friends. Ian, Smart Jim, even Action Jim who I met at my comic book store job over 20 years ago. I feel the same bond with the job I have now, even though there’s only ONE good looking girl in my whole district (and she’s not interested in me), I’ve still fostered many friendships and people look forward to coming to my parties. In many ways I’m a middle child because I was in ONE district for a few years and now I’m in another. Occasionally I bring the districts together at my place along with my old friends and meld all the worlds together.

Look, I get it, the old days were the old days, but sometimes I feel like the product of a bygone age. A dinosaur looking for, I don’t know…whatever kind of food dinosaurs eat. Some kind of big leaves I guess…or other dinosaurs. The point being that all my food is extinct, and without it…or a really smart scientist with unlimited resources and funds, I’m not going to make it. I know that bitching about work isn’t going to help anything, but to be honest, I feel SO much better doing it that I’ll probably be a better salesman when I’m done writing this. To me this is therapy without the expense. I know what you’re saying: “if you’re that miserable, do something else.” Well, I’m trying and you’re fucking reading it.

There are things at all of our jobs that we don’t like, but the truth is that JUST getting through life is a hard job. Keeping a marriage together, raising children, maintaining friendships…it’s ALL work. But it’s something that we HAVE to do in order to feel like we’re making a difference, even in our own sphere of existence.

Some people tend to take work WAY to seriously, work is life and vice versa, you have to enjoy what you do people. If your job sucks? Find a way to make it more interesting. Otherwise you’ll end up single and miserable…like me! Life is a random series of events that culminated in YOU being the chick that manually masturbates chimps for artificial insemination…if you can’t laugh at THAT? Well I hear my company is looking for a new Regional Manager.

Just do all of us who work in the service industry a favor and be a better customer. KNOW what the fuck you need before you shop someplace. Don’t come in and say I need that thingy with a hook on it. Do some fucking research for chrissake. I’ve been shopping for YEARS, and I NEVER talk to anybody but the checkout clerk when I ‘m telling her that I don’t want to give her my fucking DNA sequence so I can get a free Best Buy soap dispenser. And DON’T shop on holidays. Do you know why people have to work ‘til 7PM on the fucking Fourth of July? Because some jag off is going to be sitting drunk in his lawn chair with bruised knuckles from hitting his wife because he thought it would be a great fireworks joke to make her see stars after she didn’t bring him his beer fast enough, and remember at 6:45 that he needs a fuse for the floor mat light in his 92 Buick Popeye. Then next year my company is going to say “well, we’d let you leave at 5…but last year you had a sale at 6:59.” Fuck you.

Look, I come into my jag off existence at work every day and I do the dance because I don’t own the company, I probably don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about, but mostly because they pay me to do their bidding. But I’ll tell you this much…thank god for freedom of speech because I will defend YOUR right to talk shit about your job to my death.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Life and Times of a Jaded Loser Part the 3rd: Life After Glenwood

16: “Ooooh, You Make Me Live”

Making friends was never an easy thing for me. In fact, I’m just as picky about the friends I make as I am about the women I date. Most people get on my nerves, but sometimes I’ll meet someone who doesn’t bore me. I had a few friends in military school, and sure that group grew over the years that I was there, but growing up in a world without cell phones or the internet, made staying in touch with them impossibility after my expulsion.

I still had Aaron and his brothers, but throughout my teens I would meet 4 friends whose influence would change me a profound way. The times we spent together made me feel like a part of a family that I never had. I don’t know what impact if any, I made on their lives but it was their humor, their realism, and their families that kept me grounded and sane in world of an unavailable single mother. I may talk some shit about them from time to time, and I may even talk some shit about them here. But I think that they all know me well enough to see that it’s with the respect of a brother that I do it.

These four friends made up the core of a larger group that I would come to know, an extended family if you will. I only wanted to know people who could mesh with my existing friends. And when I would meet someone new, I always felt like I accomplished something when they would become fast friends with the original four, and I felt a sense of pride when they would hang out with them individually without me around. I had, not only made a friend, but I had MADE friends. I put people in the path of one another who might not have met otherwise.

Even though we’re all older now, and have gone our separate ways, the fact that I know these people makes each day a gift. If I had never known Steve, Grey Jim, Pete, and Brian this book would have been a whole different story. They make me remember a past that could have been filled with heartbreak and turmoil, with reverence and humility. They are the pillars upon which this life was built and I love them all deeply.

Now, let’s get on with the funny.

17: Looking Back

As I started writing ‘The Life and Times of a Jaded Loser: Part the 3rd’, I quickly realized just how old I am. While I was writing the outline for this third part of my life story, I could remember all of the events from my past, however, I couldn’t quite remember the order they happened in.

As I said in The Life and Times Part the 2nd, I used to be pretty good at drawing. All of those drawings are in a worn down briefcase with broken latches on my closet shelf right now. My regret is that I didn’t keep the memories of youth in a similar time capsule. I suggest to the younger generation out there reading this to write shit down. Keep a Hello Kitty diary, leather bound journal, or a fucking captain’s log…SOMETHING to help you remember your youth when the fulcrum of life starts to teeter in the opposite direction. You never know how things that have happened to you will translate into the written word, and relying on other people to help you remember later in life…can be a fucking chore.

I knew that before I started writing all this shit down that I’d have to contact the friends that were there with me as these events unfolded. I tried to reach my best friend Steve to ask him if I could come by his place and interview him for about a half hour, but he was busy with his kids. I tried to get in touch with my old crony Grey Jim to ask him some questions about our youth, but he was sleeping because he works nights. I was GOING to try Scott…but then I remembered that Scott has neither a phone, NOR a car. In today’s world that makes it seem as though Scott is still trying to figure out the fucking wheel. My last hope? Pete.

Pete is one of my oldest friends and I had lost touch with him about 15 years ago. What I’ve heard from him recently is that he’s bounced back and forth from Florida for the past year due to difficulties with his wife. His phone is shut off due to non pay more than it’s on so when I dialed his number I wasn’t really expecting much, however…and I LOVE when life does this…I got more than I expected.

Pete answered and to my surprise, he was living back home with his mother a few miles away from my apartment. I asked him if I could come by and chat with him a bit about our youth and he said that it would be great to see me.

I pulled up to Pete’s house and rang the door bell. A young man of 14 answered the door and begrudgingly let me in. I didn’t know who this kid was, but it seems that I interrupted his Wii game. He told me, without looking up from the TV, that Pete was in the kitchen.

I walked to the back of the house and Pete came out of the Laundry room. Other than a bit of a pot belly, he looked almost exactly the same as he did some fifteen years before. Same Harley Davidson bandana, same fucking go-tee, and that same handsome Italian face that women always fell for. I shook his hand and asked him if he’d like to come over to my apartment. I told him that I’d cook us some breakfast and then I’d interview him about some things I wanted to use in the book.

As we left his mother’s house, Pete introduced me to the boy playing video games in the living room. He was Pete’s fourteen year old son Tyler. FUCK, did that blow me away. Pete, the kid that I spent some of the best and worst times of my life with, had a FOURTEEN year old son. THAT made me feel old as hell.

For the next several hours Pete told me about his marriage, his kids, and all of the problems he was having. I made us biscuits and gravy with sausage and bacon for breakfast and then I tried to interview him. Pete’s memory was not only wholly inaccurate, but much of it was just made up. When we were teenagers, we always had to take whatever Pete told us with a grain of salt. But after the tale of bullshit and woe he had just unfolded about how fucked up his life was and that NONE of it was HIS fault…I realized that I had maybe asked the wrong person for answers to the past. It was like Bill Curtis trying to interview Paris Hilton about the middle ages.

After a few hours of shooting the shit, I drove Pete home. I was glad to see that his mother was there, because she played an intricate role in my early years and I had some questions for her as well. Much like she was in my youth however…Nancy was less than forthcoming and only wanted money from me when I told her I was writing a book. Then Pete’s brother Danny came out of his bedroom with the SAME fucking girlfriend he had when I had last seen him 15 years ago. Apparently they had broken up about 14 years before my visit, and had just rekindled their relationship recently. Oofa. The circle was complete. It seemed that NOTHING in Pete’s life had changed from when we were teenagers.

He and his brother, BOTH nearly forty now, were living with his mother. Pete’s mother was like the queen bee of their clan. There was nothing that Pete or Danny could do that their mother couldn’t forgive, or ignore, so they always came crawling back to her. Danny not only made me glad that I’m single for the simple reason that I never settled, but he also made me IMMEDIATELY call my dentists office after I left to schedule an appointment.

His girlfriend has scoliosis so she’s all twisted up like a tree in a J.R. Tolkien novel. She walks with a disgusting limp and her face looks like a retarded person carved it on a pumpkin head with a sharpened rock. As she came stumbling out of Danny’s bedroom behind him, I almost thought that she was a monster about to attack us all. Then Danny came over to give me a hug and when he smiled, the top row of his teeth was missing. It gave him that look on his face where his upper lip just kind of hangs there and dangles, and his lower lip is puffed out making it seem as though he’s constantly pouting. He had the sunken face of a toothless old man.

The thing that amazed me the MOST was that all of these people had fucking children. Pete had 3, the oldest of which was 14. Danny, who himself is a slow adult has one that’s now 17 and living in a ‘special needs’ home because he stabbed Nancy with a knife. Misty, the monster with scoliosis has a 17 year old as well who lives in Georgia. Do the math; that means that not ONLY did Danny settle for this thing 17 years ago, but it cheated on him as well.

What the FUCK? This band of CARNIES has children spread out all over the god damned country, and I can’t even find a woman to go on a SECOND date with me! Bullshit! I call ‘shenanigans’ on life. I haven’t felt this ripped off since the series finale of The Sopranos.

The point is that although Nancy, Pete and Danny are still great people whom I love (you’ll find out in the following chapters that Nancy is ACTUALLY my LEGAL mother), no matter how bad life may have treated THEM, in comparison it’s STILL treated me worse. Why? Simple, because THEY get to find a semblance of happiness in the shit pile, and I still just get shit. They have each other and all I have is my fucking dog.

As I drove home, riddled with jealousy over the Wilson clan’s togetherness like a trailer park version of Family Ties, it dawned on me that maybe fate had put Pete in my path once again. Although they couldn’t help me with my timeline concerns, just seeing them brought back so many old memories that I DO have a better grasp of the past now. Although this third part of my life’s story turned out to be a bit longer than I anticipated, at least I can go to bed at night knowing that I didn’t leave anything out. So thank you Pete, thank you Nancy, and thank you Danny (even if you ARE going to come after me now for talking shit about your girlfriend.)

18: The Glenwood Aftermath

After my mother informed me, rather obtrusively, that I was kicked out of military school, she told me that she had to go back to the campus to collect my effects. I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to say my farewells to the only people that I knew for so many years. However, this was not meant to be. My mother told me that even though the school year was only half over, because of my high grades, they decided to let me pass eighth grade…but I wasn’t allowed to come back on campus, even for the graduation ceremony.

This was a huge regret in my life because I never got to give a tearful goodbye to the few Glenwood souls that I DID consider my very close friends. It was the first in a long line of disappointments and under dramatic ‘endings’ which led me to be the thoughtless ape that I am now. I can walk away from any situation with neither regret nor nostalgia. I’m sure this isn’t healthy at all, but I’ve just lost so much in my life that I know dwelling on it, won’t bring it back. When you let yourself get attached to anything or anyone it can only lead to disappointment. I’ve become the very opposite of a stalker.

One of my true strengths, AND my greatest weakness is my ability to adapt to any situation. Nothing surprises me anymore. In my hubris, I’ve often thought that if the end of the world were to come, and I was somehow able to survive it, I would become one of the people that band others together through an inherent ability to simply not look back. It’s a skill I’ve acquired through years of practice. I’ve learned that one simply does not have a choice but to trudge on in this cruel world and take things as they come. Sure, you can listen to Anthony Robbins, and preachers, and poets, and romantics, and they’ll tell you that everything is going to be alright. Every time life throws shit at you, it’s just an opportunity. It’s all a big ‘Hang in there Kitty’ poster to them. Well fuck them.

Sometimes shit is just shit, YOUR part in it is simply trying to keep your head above the shit so that when the next shit wave crests and drags you down, you don’t come up sucking shit. Blows, don’t it? Damn right it blows, but there’s still happiness to be found out there. Just don’t drown in the shit. How do you do that? Ignore it. Don’t look back. Move on. Get a ‘Dave Matthews’ surf board and hang 10 on that shit.

The time I spent at home and abroad, so to speak, after military school was a mixed blessing. I met new friends, had new adventures, slept in new cars and got the occasional handy. The funny thing is that it all seems like it took place over such a long time period of time…but it didn’t. So much happened to me between the ages of 14 and 20 that I find it hard to believe that it was only 6 years. Maybe that’s youth though? You spend your early years wasting time and your older years hoarding what you can of it.

As I continue my tale of losery here, I’m going to introduce you to heroes, to villains, and tales that are sure to astonish. Some of this you’ll be able to relate to, some of it you won’t, but I think we can all agree on one thing and it’s a lesson I learned in my teens…nothing lasts forever…hell, most things don’t last more than a few years.

19: Steve

Except Steve. Aaron introduced Steve and I on Halloween of ’86 and several weeks later I was kicked out of Glenwood. Because I had 8 months until I was to start High School, I had plenty of time to get to know Steve. Steve introduced me to a ton of things that I didn’t have access to in Military School. He introduced me to music like The Police and Billy Joel, and showed me how to get to Pharmore, where we could buy music cheap. He showed me where we could rent video games, and even got me a membership card at the mom and pop video store by his house. As my budding interest in Television sprouted, Steve was there with me for some landmark TV events. I can remember us both laughing our asses off together on the Sunday night that The Simpsons and Married with Children premiered.

Steve was a tall awkward looking boy, and even in our youth, he was the hairiest fucker I’d ever seen. Whenever we played baseball with his friends, he would take his shirt off to the astonishment of the crowd. Later in life, Cous’n Hemp’n gave him the nickname: ‘The Steve Pelt Rug’ because you just wanted to lay him down in front of a fireplace. His attention to detail and adherence to schedules always bordered on O.C.D. He was and still is the most responsible man I’ve ever known. Even as children I would have to give Steve a 2 day notice before I came to his house because he was always working on something: A bird house, a picnic bench, or a haunted house for his garage.

Steve had the most impeccable hand writing I’d ever seen and I would often ask him to make me mix tapes JUST for the hand written play list that would accompany them. His speech pattern was slow and deep, as if he were always thinking about what he was going to say before he said it. Another nickname we were fond of calling Steve was ‘Snuffalufagus’ because he sounded like that character from Sesame Street. Don’t get me wrong here, although this description might be one given of a ‘slow adult’, Steve was most certainly not that.

He was very smart, and very witty. He would grow out of his awkward look soon after I met him and as I became enamored of photography later in life it became apparent that Steve was one handsome mother fucker on film.

Unfortunately for Steve, he was never a ladies’ man. In my opinion, women missed out on one of the best bachelors ever available. As is often the case though, because Steve was smart and responsible, instead of dumb and tough…women would often over look him. In our twenties I always hoped that Steve would ‘hook up’ with some girl at one of the bars we frequented, and although it never happened quite the way I expected, he DID eventually meet his wife at a bar because she was with a girl that I wanted to bang. Lucky woman, her.

I spent a lot of my youth staying over at my friend’s places and Steve was no exception. And when he, Aaron, and I would sleep over together there was pizza and video games galore.

One of the earliest things I learned about Steve was his family dynamic. As I became a member of the Lipkie clan, I was fascinated by their interactions. I had never had a proper family, so it was all new to me.

Steve’s family was very Irish catholic, and I as I was a practicing catholic at the time, I used to go to church with them on Sundays. Steve went to Grammar School at the local Church ‘Our Lady of the Ridge’, so most of the friends that he introduced me to were Irish Catholic as well. Although the beliefs of their youth stuck with many of them, you find yourself growing more and more distant from the church as you get older, because you realize that faith has hardly anything to do with the normal concerns of life.

Steve had 2 sisters. Trish, the oldest was a fiery redhead who listened to classic rock and was out all the time partying with her friends. Sue was the youngest, and had posters of ‘The New Kids’, and other cute young boys she’d cut out of ‘Teen Beat’ magazine or some such all over her wall. As I grew up, I learned that this was a VERY typical family dynamic…except for one thing.

Steve and his sister’s didn’t refer to their parents as ‘mom’ or ‘dad’. They were called ‘THE mother’ and ‘THE father’. Steve referred to his sisters as ‘The Sister’, and they referred to Steve as ‘The Brother’. Every family member from ‘The Grandmother’ to ‘The dog’ was tagged with the definite article ‘The’. I fuckin’ liked it, and STILL do to this day. I refer to Steve’s daughter as ‘The kid’, and his wife as ‘The Bitch’. (Kidding Laura, take a joke)

Steve’s father, Fred was and IS a very nice, quiet, and hard working man. An American everyman and a perfect role model for a young boy. I see a lot of Fred in Steve, and I don’t think that any man could be more proud of his son.

Steve’s mother? Well…that’s another story. Steve’s mother, or ‘The mother’, when I first met her was a typical doting Irish mom. She liked me because I went to church with them, and she was always very pleasant to me. She even gave me my own Lipkie family title: ‘The boy who smiles a lot’

However, as I started to hang out with ‘The Family’ more and more, I became privy to the Lipkie family secret. It seemed that the mother had a chemical imbalance, not unlike Jeffery Dahmer, and she would have ‘good weeks’, and ‘bad weeks’. The first time I came across one of her ‘bad weeks’ freaked me the fuck out.

One weekend, while I was spending the night at Steve’s, we were up all night playing Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom on the Nintendo. Steve would make ‘mix tapes’ to blast on his boom box as we played through each level of a Nintendo game . We had realized that the accompanying score of any given video game sucked, so whenever we got a new one, we’d play if for a little bit to get the feel for what kind of music SHOULD go with it. For Indy? It was Running down a Dream by Tom Petty. We eventually learned that song could go with ANY video game: Mega Man, Punch Out, Contra, and Castlevania to name a few.

On this particular night, at around 9PM, I had to use the bathroom. I asked Steve if it was OK, and he said that I didn’t need to ask. The bathroom was right across the hall from Steve’s room and as I walked into the hallway, I could see that the door was slightly ajar and the light was off, so I knew that it wasn’t occupied by one of Steve’s sisters as it often was. The toilet in the bathroom was right next to the door, and as I pushed the door open to go in, someone shrieked a defiant ‘WAAAAAAAA!” and slammed the door shut. Scared the shit out of me.

I went back into Steve’s room and said “what the fuck was that?” in a frightened tone. Steve told me without looking up from his game in that Snufulufugus voice “Well, y’knooooow, that’s just the mother…she get’s like that sometimes, just ignore her and you’ll be fine” I didn’t know what to think, and Steve offered no other explanation, so I went out and used the bathroom by the kitchen.

A few hours passed and I asked Steve if he could get me a glass of ice water. Steve told me to go ahead and get it myself. I told him that I wasn’t comfortable going into his freezer to get ice, and he assured me that I shouldn’t worry about it. I went out into the kitchen and passed by the mother watching TV in the living room. I said ‘hi’ to her, and she grumbled something under her breath. I thought nothing of it.

I went into the kitchen, grabbed a glass from the counter top, and opened the freezer to get ice. When I closed the freezer door, the mother’s face loomed out of the dark from where the freezer door had been. Her look of stark hatred filled my vision and she snatched the glass from my hand. She began yelling at me “WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE MISTER? GOING INTO OTHER PEOPLE’S FREEZERS? WAHHHHHHH!”

I cautiously stepped back and started to call out for Steve, I tried to explain to her that Steve had TOLD me to get the ice, but she wouldn’t listen. I was frightened out of my mind as she inched closer to me in the dark kitchen; I kept calling out for Steve, without YELLING for him as I didn’t want to invoke MORE hatred from her.

As I backed up against the sink, the mother SLAMMED the glass she took from me down on the counter and Steve appeared behind her. Steve, even then, has NEVER been ‘over emotional’. He calmly said “Well, y’knoooooow, just ignore her and come on”. I slinked around the mother and went back to the room with Steve.

“What the hell is going on?” I asked him. He told me “Y’knooooow , The mother gets like that sometimes, we’re all used to it, just ignore her until she goes back to normal”. OK, what the fuck did I know? Even when she was in a GOOD mood after that night, the mother never liked me again. Instead of ‘The boy who smiles a lot”, I was called ‘The bold one’.

Whenever I slept over at Steve’s, I would sleep on the floor next to his bed. I would bring a pillow from home, and Steve would give me a blanket. In youth, we have no sense of embarrassment about our bodies, so I would sleep in my underwear. One night I was awoken to the sound of Steve’s bedroom door being kicked open and the lights suddenly coming on. As my vision cleared, I could see Steve’s mother standing in the doorway staring at me with cold dead eyes like a shark. I furiously whispered for Steve, but as I looked over at his bed he was lying on his side facing the wall. No movement.

The mother stalked into the room, never taking her eyes off of me, and ripped the blanket I was under off of me. “STEVE, STEVE”, I yelled in a frightened whisper. The mother just stood over me staring at my underwear clad body. I felt trapped and exposed. “STEEEEVE”.

Finally without moving or turning over, I heard Steve’s voice. “Well, y’knooooow, she does this sometimes, just ignore her and she’ll go away”. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? This was the line. I could handle the ‘sitting in the dark in the bathroom’, I could handle her ‘flying off the cuff’ because I got ice, but now she was looming over my exposed body and just staring at me. I didn’t know what frightened me more, the mother, or Steve’s indifference towards this situation. After 10 minutes had passed, the mother gave a defiant ‘WAAAAAA!’ and slunk out of Steve’s room. It was three o’clock in the morning and I just lied there staring at the ceiling in fright until the sun came up.

Over the next several years I would have creepier and creepier run ins with the mother, but it always turned out that Steve was right. If you just ignored her, you were fine. She was never violent, so even though you’d get a scare from time to time, you’d be ok. My fear, however grew as we got older. What if it DID turn violent one day? But the family always tried to get the mother psychiatric help over the years and when she refused time after time; Steve even took psychology classes at the local community college. That’s one of the things I’ve always respected and loved about Steve; his commitment to his family.

As time passed, I grew to love the mother more and more. I watched as her children grew into fine, responsible, decent adults and leave her house one by one. It always made me feel bad for her because she and the father had done such a good job raising them. The children have always taken care of the parents and often return home for dinners and birthday parties. The family is truly the best family I know of, and although I get a tad jealous from time to time, it warms my heart that they STILL include me in their events and I love them all from the core of the family, to the extended family of in-laws and cousins.

20: Brian Marinko

Steve and I grew closer in the months I had to wait between eighth grade and high school, but when I was thrust into the public school system as a freshman, we found out to our dismay that we would not be attending the same school.

All I’d known for 5 fucking years was boys and although I masturbated furiously at the thought of girls in military school, I had no experience with them. Going from a situation with NO girls and being placed into a world full of women, strangers, and high school clicks that I didn’t belong to was something of a culture shock to me.

Since Steve was going to a different school, I literally knew NO body in my neighborhood other than Aaron and his brothers who ALSO went to a different high school. There was a dividing line which separated school districts, and apparently I lived JUST on the other side of the street from that line.

I don’t quite know when it happened, but as I became more comfortable outside of the world of Glenwood, I started to come out of my shell. Maybe it was because I no longer felt oppressed, or maybe it was because I lived with the same people for so long. I now had an opportunity to give people I met an impression of me. I was a kid they never heard of. I wasn’t ‘that fat kid that blew the male nurse at camp Glenwood’, I wasn’t that troublemaker who was on restriction all time, and I was no longer The Shit Master General who drowned a cottage in poop. I was just Mike.

The first friend I made in high school was Brian Marinko. Brian was that good looking kid with long hair who played lead guitar in a band. He looked like Bon Jovi and the high school chicks fucking loved him. In an era of glam rock and guitar solos, he was on the top of the Billboard most popular kid’s chart. This was way before homos like Justin Beiber and Robert Pattison, Brian was a true man in a young man’s body. It took actual talent and charisma back then to be popular, actual good looks and a natural way with women…not one created by a P.R. firm.

I first met Brian in the cafeteria at H.L. Richards Community High School. It was my first or second day and I had just been wondering from class to class in a daze of confusion and fear. I watched all of my fellow students laughing about inside jokes and discussing plans with each other for the weekend because they had all gone to junior high together. I was a complete outsider and it showed. That Doors song People are Strange kept playing over in my head, which I tried to keep facing the ground for fear of making eye contact.

I had been given so many beatings in military school that my natural assumption was to think THESE new kids would just beat the shit out of me if I made any waves, so my intention was to get through 4 years of high school with my head down. Even now my intention is always to stay off the radar. At my current job I try to never be the best OR the worst…if you stay right in the middle, nobody fucks with you.

Brian was sitting by himself at a table waiting for his friends to arrive, when I asked him if I could sit with him because all the other tables in the cafeteria were full. Classic story, right? All he had to do was say ‘fuck off’ and my high school days may have gone much differently. But Brian was one of those rare good looking guys who doesn’t ACT like he’s a good looking guy, and he invited me to join him. We struck up a conversation and became fast friends. It turned out that Brian only lived 2 buildings away from my mother’s condo with his mom, her husband, and his brother Scott. I’ll get into Scott in a bit.

I think that Brian and I got along so well at first simply because I didn’t treat him like he was hot shit. I don’t know when I got that conversational gift, but even now I have an ability to make people feel instantly comfortable with me. I try to treat everyone the same because hell, unless you’re immortal we all have the same fucking weakness…we’re gonna die eventually. I don’t care how powerful you are, how much money you have, or how popular you are…death is the great equalizer, so unless you’re 500 years old, there’s not much you can say to impress or surprise me.

After school I would often go to Brian’s place to watch him practice guitar, play video games, and sometimes he’d even try to hook my awkward ass up with chicks. The problem was that although his heart was in the right place…the chicks dug HIM, not me. But it was always nice of him to try and it felt good to have a popular kid have my back in a way that nobody ever got my back in military school.

Many would say that Brian was a bad influence on me, and I’m sure that when I’m dying of lung cancer finally…I’ll say the same thing. But Brian introduced me to my first alcoholic beverage, cigarettes, and my first earring…given to me by a girl in Brian’s bedroom. She put a potato behind my ear and shoved a needle through my lobe. Ouch.

We lived near railroad tracks which were the gateway to pretty much everything in our town. We’d often hop on a stopped train, wait for it to start, and then jump off in designated huge piles of hay that we had set up on the side of the tracks for our various destinations. Sometimes it was the mall, sometimes it was by our high school, and sometimes it was by the park. But our favorite place along the tracks? We called it ‘The Green Grasshopper’.

To this day I’m still not sure of the purpose of the Green Grasshopper, but it was some type of big green thing with a conveyer belt on it that led up about 3 stories. We’d hop a fence to gain access to the property it sat on, and then we’d climb to the top on either the conveyer belt if we were feeling froggy, or the staircase which surrounded it. Once at the peak, we would proceed to drink copious amounts of Southern Comfort, which Brian had his brother Scott get for us, smoke cigarettes, and talk of our dreams for the future.

Brian worked at a banquet hall as a bus boy on the weekends and he eventually got me a job there as well. He told me to meet him there at 7AM on Saturday morning and as the owner walked up to the door to let the staff in to set up, Brian just said ‘This is Mike, he needs a job’ and I was hired on the spot. I loved working at that place and I would eventually get my new friends jobs there as well, much the same way that Brian did for me.

21: James DeStafano Jr.

A few months after I met Brian, I was walking through a hallway at Richards to my locker. At the row of lockers across the hall from mine, I noticed a couple of the thick necked football dicks giving someone shit. The kid that was getting the business end of a bullying was a bit of an oddball. Hell, in the grand scheme of high school douchebaggery, he probably deserved it for being different. But being picked on myself for many years, I felt obligated to step in.

As I approached the situation, I noticed that the boy they were picking on had grey hair. He wore an army coat and was kind of built, he looked like he could take care of himself, but as they kept calling him ‘old man’, and ‘grampa’, he shied away and just went about his business in his locker. Just as I was about to say something, the football kids walked away. NOT because they were afraid of me, hell, they probably didn’t even notice me, but because they were done and moving on, probably to bolster their egos by making someone else feel less than.

I asked the grey haired kid if he was O.K., to which he replied ‘I don’t let that shit get to me, I’m used to it by now.’ I introduced myself to the kid that would become one of my closest and most adored friends: Grey Jim. We didn’t call him that then, back then he was just Jim. He eventually earned that title in my circle of friends, when it became clear that there were TOO many Jim’s in it.

Jim lived with his mother, her husband (not his father), and his 2 half brothers. He lived right across the street from H.L. Richard High school. I learned that his grey hair was a genetic trait that he earned from his father who also had grey hair as a kid. One time, in an effort to fit in more, Jim dyed his hair brown…it looked ridiculous and we all learned that Jim just looked better with grey hair. It was uniquely him.

I also came to find out that Jim was a workout nut. He’d spend hours a day pumping iron in an effort to look like the guys on the cover of muscle magazines. Over the years Jim would try to turn me over to the dark side of health, but I always managed to avoid its grasp and just have a fucking Twinkie.

One year when we were in our twenties, for my birthday, Jim bought me a membership to his gym, which has since been turned into our neighborhood titty bar called Polkatz. I would meet Jim there at 4 A.M. every morning for months, and I actually liked it. This wasn’t one of those ‘Bally’s’ where people go to get ‘toned’, this was a place filled with huge muscle bound Schwarzenegger types and I was completely intimidated that first week. However, as Jim introduced me around, I found that all of these huge guys were very nice and helpful. They took me in like a mascot and helped me form a workout routine that I could endure. I would listen to Howard Stern on my walkman as I used the treadmill, and I would bask in the steam room with Jim for an hour before we showered and left for our jobs. I think I enjoyed the routine more than the actual working out, but eventually Jim moved away and I stopped going. It just wasn’t the same without him.

Unlike Steve’s mother, Jim’s mom was as sane and down to earth a lady as you could find. Sweet, polite, caring, and you could just tell that she was good at raising kids. Two years later in ‘89, Jim’s mom convinced MY mother to let me go to Florida with him and stay at his father’s place for the summer. I’d never been out of Illinois, much less on a plane, so I was stoked. I don’t know what she SAID to my mother to get her to agree to this, but later I learned that it didn’t take much to convince ma Hempen to get me to go away.

I felt a bond between Jim and I that I didn’t share with Steve or Brian. Sure those two were like brothers to me, but Jim was more of a ‘doer’, and I fucking liked doing things. Steve had to be given a three week written request in triplicate before he would agree to go to a fucking movie, and Brian liked to sit around his bedroom, play guitar and smoke weed. So having a friend to just go outdoors with was nice.

Jim was Italian, and his father was a chef. His father was also a body builder with grey hair named Jim. Looking at Jim’s dad was like looking into the future…or the past depending on which way you looked at it. This man was Jim in 30 years. The two of them were very much into the whole ‘Italian honor’ thing, and if the Jim’s weren’t the most honest men I knew…they would have made great mobsters.

It was from them that I gained my love of fine dining over the years. Jim and his dad taught me the various nuances to eating at nice places, and I love having that knowledge. In that episode of ‘The Sopranos’, when Tony goes up to the kid in the restaurant and tells him to ‘take his fucking hat off’, all I could think was that was TOTALLY something Jim’s dad would do.

Most people know the basic rule of ‘tipping’ when going out to eat. 15% of the bill or you double the tax. I learned from the Jims that there are a LOT of variations on that rule. One time, Jim and I went to ‘Pizzeria Uno’ in downtown Chicago. It’s a small place, but it’s the BEST pizza in Illinois. Now, Jim and I were young, so it wasn’t like we were wearing fancy suits or anything, I can imagine how a waitress must feel when two guys like us walk in.

However, we had every intention of leaving a decent tip after we ate, never judge a book and all that. This waitress just completely ignored us for about 40 minutes. We kept going to the bar to get our drinks, and eventually she took our order. After that, we STILL had to go to the bar for drinks and when she haphazardly dropped off our pizza, she didn’t stick around long enough for us to ask for tobasco or anything else.

After we were done eating, the waitress came by and threw our bill on the table without even looking at us. Jim and I put money down for the bill, and then Jim did something odd. He threw about 37 cents of change on the table. We had talked earlier about the service and decided to NOT leave a tip of any kind. Jim explained to me that if the service is THAT shitty, you always leave some change on the table, because if you leave NOTHING, the waitress can think that you just forgot. If you leave change, she KNOWS you just fucked her. Then, as we left, Jim went to the bar and leaned over to have a private conversation with the bar tender. As we walked out, I asked him what he had said. He told me that when you have bad service, you ALWAYS tell the bartender, NOT the manager because the waitress just might be having a bad night. That is some AWSOME shit to know.

Over the years I would come to know Jim’s half brothers very well. Jim’s step dad wasn’t the greatest role model for those kids, so even after Jim moved out on his own, he would take his brothers, Danny and Jeff in on the weekends and try his best to instill that sense of honor in them that he grew up with. Even to this day, I still maintain that those kids were the BEST behaved children I’ve ever met. It wasn’t through fear and intimidation either, it was because Jim’s mother was a kind and caring woman, and because Jim WAS a perfect role model for any kid. When I see his own children now, it brings a tear to my eye knowing that I’ll never have that sense of pride that Jim must feel, because even if I DID have kids, I could never be half the father that he is.

22: Pete Wilson

And then there was Pete. A few weeks after I started hanging out with Grey Jim, he introduced me to another Italian kid, but one with a very different set of moral values than himself…Pete. Pete was a very handsome kid with full, black hair and an average build. Whenever Pete smiled, the ladies swooned.

The problem with Pete was that as beautiful as he was on the outside, he was the reverse of that on the inside. Don’t get me wrong, I love Pete, and I’m not saying that Pete was a bad guy…It’s just that Pete? He wasn’t the brightest crayon in the box.

Everyone I’ve ever met is motivated by something. There is something that they are all about. When I first met Steve? His motivations were family, and the outdoors. Brian? Pot and guitar. Grey Jim? Working out. Pete’s motivations were cigarettes, lying, and pussy. There is NO lie that Pete wouldn’t tell in furtherance of the other two. DUMB lies too. I mean this kid would just say anything, and because he was cute? Chicks would more often than not believe that shit. And because the women would buy it? He’d try it on us. The effect was a little different.

Over the next several years Pete would spin yarns as fantastical as they were stupid. He told us that he went to grammar school in Egypt where he found a mummies treasure, he told us that his mother had put 5 million dollars into a trust fund that he couldn’t touch until he was 21, and he told us that he was the prince of a country in Europe. First of all, as rich as Pete always claimed to be…our first salvo against this lie was “Then why don’t you have money to buy your own fucking cigarettes?”

Even though WE knew Pete was full of shit, we still kept him around because he wasn’t an inherently bad guy, just dumb as a box of rocks. He made us laugh and he was a great guy to have around. Pete may have been a liar, but I’ll give him this…he was a consistent fucking liar. This kid NEVER backed down from a story, no matter HOW full of shit we told him he was. When Pete turned 21, we asked him about his 5 million dollar trust fund. His reply? Its 10 million now, but I have to wait until I’m 22 to claim it. The next year? We’d ask him again, and he’d say there was a stipulation in a clause that sais he has to wait until his 23rd b-day. I think that Pete hoped we would just forget that one, but EVERY year we asked him and EVERY year he’d say ‘Oh, no…I’ll get it next year now’.

In those first 4 years that I knew Pete, I don’t think I ever saw him pay for a single pack of cigarettes. And because Steve, and Grey Jim didn’t smoke? Guess who supported his habit? It got to the point where I would actually be able to spontaneously quit smoking whenever I knew I would be around Pete. I would leave my smoke’s at home, and go out Jonesing. Then when he’d come up to me and say ‘can I bum a smoke?’ I’d just lie and tell him that I’d quit.

Another thing I tried in order to get him to stop asking that insufferable question was ‘Cigarette Loads’. I used to go to a place called ‘Riley’s Trick Shop’, which was the local Halloween costume and magic store, and I’d buy these things that looked like little match tips. You put one in the tip of a cigarette, and when the other person would go to light it, it would explode. Funny shit, but as always, to prove my point I took it to the extreme.

I would hollow out a cigarette completely, and put a load at the bottom, I’d put some tobacco back in, and drop in another load, more tobacco, another load, I’d repeat this until the cigarette had six loads in it at various points. I would do this to about 6 cigarettes’ and then place them back in the pack. Pete would ask for a smoke, and it would explode upon his lighting it. THEN, he’d light it again, and again, and again. This is how dumb Pete could be. He would just keep taking a few drags, the cigarette would explode, and then he’d relight it, after ‘borrowing’ a lighter of course.

Pete’s family was on the ‘motorcycle’ gang side of the Italian thing. They represented the exact OPPOSITE of Grey Jim and his brood in my eyes, but to a young man like myself, I always admired the way they stuck together. I found less admiration for them as I grew older, but when I first met them, I found them more exciting than sad and ignorant.

Pete’s mother was a short fat woman who was caustic and reflexive to say the fucking least. She looked like a female Danny Devito with the personality of Carla from Cheers…only not funny. Even though she was at least 2 feet shorter than Pete, she would constantly berate him and hit him in front of anybody who was around. I think she had a female Napoleonic Complex.

Nancy was the kind of woman who adorned the walls of her apartment with Wolf blankets, Harley Davidson bandanas, and eagles and American flags everywhere else. She drove a van, and always wore black spandex while shopping at the local flea market every weekend. Pete and his brother never really stood a chance in life with this monstrously over nurturing whack job of a mother.

Pete’s mom was so money hungry that she would let strange truck drivers sleep on the floor in her living room for cash. Like a low-rent leather vest bed and breakfast. She used Pete and Danny’s social security numbers on her bills until things were going to be shut off and then put them in someone else’s name.

Although Nancy was meaner than a rattlesnake and yelled at her boys constantly, it seemed that there was nothing they could do wrong in her eyes. Every time Pete or his brother Danny got in any kind of trouble, Nancy would spit and kick dirt at the person blaming them until the problem went away, and then she’d beat the shit out of Pete and Danny afterwards. This dynamic made Pete and Danny the biggest mama’s boys since Elvis and I doubt they could ever survive in a universe without Nancy, as you read in part 16 of The Life and Times.

Pete’s brother Danny was also a good looking kid, but Danny had a whole other problem…Danny was a slow adult. Pete tried explaining to me once when I asked him why Danny was the way that he is, that Danny suffers from seizures. It’s hard for me to buy that.

Where Pete is just plain stupid, Danny is just slow and violent. After the film came out, Danny reminded me of Sloth from ‘The Goonies’ only handsome. A big dim witted oaf who did his mother’s bidding, but turned out to be a sweet gentle person in the end. MY interactions with Danny were always brief, as he wasn’t in my circle of friends, but every time Pete brought him up it was to tell us how Danny had just stabbed someone in a fit of rage, or punched a hole in a wall of their apartment, or tipped over a car while saying ‘HULK MAD!’. Frankly, when you MEET Danny, you don’t get that vibe from him. Talking to him, you KNOW you’re talking to a slow adult, but he was always very child like.

Even so, I was afraid to have Danny around in case he hulked out on us. From what we’d heard, Danny had that retard strength and an inability to know when enough was enough. A bad combination in any human being. Luckily for us, Danny had his own unique band of whack packers that he hung around with, so we were never guilted into making him one of our own.

When I first brought Pete and Grey Jim around Steve and Brian, they instantly bonded. We all got along perfectly, and even though over the years we’ve all gone our separate ways, or even had tiffs…we still get together every once in a while to talk about old times. The past might not have been dull, but it was never as bright as our future’s would become.

To Be Continued…