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Strove to find a way to punch people in the face by using the Internet.
I've received some criticism over the content of my last entry in the Diary of Indignities. In response, I'd like to offer the following apologies and disclaimers, written in the voice of Patrick Hughes (me), and not in character as my heinously offensive, fictional alter ego "Bad News Hughes."
I'm sorry I made fun of crazy people.
I know the parents of the kids running around the library probably are working hard someware for little pay and don't have any kind of daycare options. I don't really think these parents are at a crack house, and I apologize if anyone misconstrued that as me doing so.
I'm sorry I made fun of or insulted self-righteous lesbian vegans, cripples, senior citizens, hippies, cheese-stuffed housewives, Star Trek nerds, comic-shop employees, 400-pound dungeon masters, white belts, bums (I know, I know - not every single bum is sleepy), lepers, guys with ponytails, spastics, James Taylor fans, midgets, circus contortionists, trolls and people with excessive ear hair. I'm sorry I implied that star-tattooed hipsters all DJ at some "old wave" night. Despite popular stereotype, many tattooed hipsters are working hard to benefit their community on "old wave" night.
I'm sorry I used the word "homos." I'm sorry I used the word "segregation," and implied that enough Southerners might be nostalgic enough for it to warrant the publication of a magazine.
I apologize to Eddie Murphy about the Pluto Nash crack. I'm sure it's a delightful family film.
I'm sorry I implied that Friends of the Library volunteers work the sale because they raped the comatose. That categorization is totally unfair.
I didn't really spend seven hours waiting in line. Also, I didn't wipe any orgy juice on the elderly. And if I did, I promise it wouldn't cause me to become sexually aroused. I apologize for misleading readers to believe otherwise.
I'm sorry for associating Francis Ford Coppola with the asshole at sale. Mr. Coppola has obviously brought happiness to many people with his films.
I don't really shove children at these things. And I don't really think anybody ever whacked off onto a Dr. Ruth biography. I'm sorry.
After reconsidering my earlier posts, I'd like to point out that I don't actually believe that Benito Mussolini reads this blog, that Hitler was a friend to kittens, that the Irish multiply faster than chlamydia germs on the toilet seats at Leonardo's Pizza, that the language of mustachioed Greek women sounds like a cross between a stick getting stuck in the spokes of your bike and angry stupid monkeys, that First Grand Inquisitor Torquemada designed the couch I slept on at my dad's house, that my aunt and mother are "fucking bitches," that lion-tamer Roy should be called a "fuckin' queer," that fish are dumbasses or that my boners are particularly spectacular. I'm very sorry for stating otherwise.
Finally, for now, I didn't ever eat a horseradish omelet and I never told Macgruff the Crime Dog about you showing your weiner to those kids. I apologize.
I hope this clears up any misunderstandings.
Oct. 25, 2003: Now, I’m just a simple old country boy without a lot of your fancy book-learnin’, but I’m pretty sure that I once heard something about that Dante feller planning on making Gainesville’s Friends of the Library Book Sale the eleventh or twelfth circle of Hell in his famous book All Your Dead Friends and Relatives and Pets are Burning Eternally in God’s Lake of Fire.
For those not living in Gainesville, the Friends of the Library Book Sale is held twice a year at special times; when the moon is full, the wolfbane blooms and the spirits of the restless dead return to exact their terrible vengeance on the living. Ostensibly, the event sells books and donates the money to various programs at the local public library, including such favorites as the Vegan Astrology for Self-Righteous Lesbians class, that construction-paper Anne Frank diorama they put up at Christmas, the ongoing Sleepy Bum Round-Up, the Parents: Leave Your Loud, Illiterate, Surly Children Here All Day While You Hit the Crack House initiative and the special weekend appearances by Batshit Crazy Fat Black Guy Who Says Hello to Everyone. Funding from the book sale has also gone towards buying up every available copy of Pluto Nash on betamax for the library’s extensive archives as well as underwriting subscriptions to favorite magazines such as White Belt, Crocheting Without Hands and Southern Nostalgia for Segregation.
In execution, though, the book sale doesn’t really resemble a book sale as much as it does a steel-cage, no-disqualification wrasslin’ battle royal held at the Senior Citizen Special Olympics. “Man,” you’re thinking, “Sign me up! I’d sure like me a piece of those goddamned senior citizens!” No, no, no. Simmer down, there, Remo Williams. While not necessarily physically tough, the book-sale patrons can overwhelm anyone with sheer numbers. People come from miles and miles around to mob this thing, and they’re especially determined, often showing up several hours before the 4 a.m. opening time to mutter obscenities at imaginary antagonists and vibrate in anticipation.
Okay, to be fair, the sale patrons aren’t all old. Plenty of miserable hippies attend to buy books on organic Volkswagen repair and ensure the place reeks of patchouli and armpits, and the record bins always have a nice glut of star-tattooed hipsters clotted around ‘em searching for ironic two-dollar Dexy’s Midnight Runners albums they can play at their “old wave” DJ gig, something everyone with a star tattoo and messy black hair apparently has.
I’d say a full 10 or 15 percent of the crowd actually consists of children. They’re my favorite, both because it’s heartening to see such young folks aglow with a sincere love of reading and also because they’re a lot easier to shove out of the way when you need to dive in and grab some good shit before some other motherfucker gets it.
Ah yes, the shoving. Plenty of shoving at the book sale. In fact, pretty much any pretense towards being a polite, contributing member of society is dropped upon entry. The heritage of hundreds - if not thousands - of years of civilized development just sloughs off like so many flakes of dandruff the instant people walk in the door. And begin stabbing each other in the genitals with rusty hypodermic needles while desperately trying to snatch that last copy of The Bible Code’s Chicken Soup for Oprah or Cornholing for Dummies.
One year - and I’m even not making this part up - I was standing in the middle of the rabid throng and trying to decide which section to peruse next, guns or porn, and how best to navigate through all the mess when one little wretched gnome put his gnarled hand on my chest and, head down, tried to shove me out of his way. I stared down at the top of his mottled, crusty head in disbelief as he applied all the pressure he could muster, breaking out in an oily sweat from the effort and grunting, “Nnnnnng! Nnnnnnng!”
Now, I’m admittedly a lot more goofy than fearsome, but I’m motherfucking 6’ 2”, 230 pounds and covered in prison-quality tattoos of shit like pirate flags and Misfits record covers. And I couldn’t believe this little troll thought he could just shove me aside, like normal people do to cripples. Actually, I don’t think the frenzied little monster even knew what he was doing. After a minute or two of pushing, he looked up, saw me glaring at him, gasped and scuttled off into the crowd while I pondered what book could possibly be worth entering into this kind of madhouse. (Turns out that year it was a pristine, first-edition copy of Spalding’s Field Guide to North American Homos.)
Mentioning porn reminds me of something that happened at the sale a few years ago: they really do have a porn section, kind of… Off in one discrete, roped-off corner they always have a few tables stacked with shit like collections of bawdy limericks and copies of that infamously randy men’s magazine, Esquire. Mostly I ignore this section, because frankly there just ain’t anything in there that can out-dirty the dirty stuff in my head or on the Internet, but this particular year I had spent about two minutes casually sorting through its piles of Sports Illustrated 1986 Swimsuit Special and tattered, jism-stained biographies of Dr. Ruth while looking for cool old Playboys or whatever when I heard someone call out my name.
I look up, and standing there is, of all people, my insane mother. I’m holding the section’s one legitimately dirty item, a copy of Penthouse Forum from 1978 with the pages open to a story about giving a dog a blowjob or something, and she proceeds to introduce me to her six or seven elderly female friends. I put down the magazine and actually have to reach across the rope separating the dangerous, disgusting perverts like myself from the nice, well adjusted patrons with the ability to form normal relationships to shake each of their hands, tainting each of them with my filth while they fix rigid, insincere smiles, pretend not to notice that I’m Caligula and make mental plans to go wash off the dried orgy juice as soon as humanly possible
To tell the truth, it kind of turned me on.
Anyway, this particular go-around was pretty much more of the same. I always tell myself I’m not going to go, and I always do. I get punched by 112-year-old lepers, poked in the eyes and gonads with the huge cardboard boxes everybody totes around and head-butted by hysterical, book-mad Star Trek fans who have the all grooming skills of comic shop employees. Or is that the other way around?
Regardless, at the sale I know I can count on flinching when some cheese-stuffed housewife next to me suddenly squeals with delight at scoring a copy of Flowers in the Attic for a buck. I know at some point I’ll mistakenly make eye contact with one of the drooling spastics left to fidget in the corner or wander through the crowd unattended and feel my IQ drop 15 points. I’ll rub shoulders with 400-pound D&D players and other men with ponytails. I’ll wince as various rocket scientists loudly recommend Angela’s Ashes or drone on about John Grisham and Mary Higgins Clark. If, while browsing, I leave two inches between me and a shelf or table, some circus contortionist will slip into the space and grab all the books I want while I’m left staring at the back of his head.
Inevitably, I’ll get rammed with a wheelchair or something, stumble and accidentally knock over a stack of books being sorted in the middle of a busy thoroughfare by some bespectacled, hostile, beige, 45-year-old James Taylor fan of indeterminate sexuality. I’ll eventually grab eight or 10 books and wait in line an hour to pay for ‘em. And I’ll get home and at least one of ‘em will be something I already have.
This year they had initiated a challenging little puzzle for everyone and asked people queuing up to pay to separate into two lines, one for people with checks and one for people with cash. It gets a little confusing, seeing as the lines snake around the huge warehouse for at least six miles, crossing each other and looping back on themselves multiple times. Occasionally one of the volunteers, friendly folks who happily devote their time in return for the judge not sending them to prison for raping the comatose (or whatever), would walk up and down the lines, making sure people were being herded into the proper group.
One guy, a squat little runt in a loud Hawaiian shirt who kind of looked like if Francis Ford Coppola had a sort of midget-y thing going on, had apparently missed the constant, megaphone-delivered announcements about the necessity of getting in the right line. Not long after I began the internal debate over whether the handful of books I had were worth another 30 minutes or so of waiting in this stuffy, loud hellhole (a debate I engage in halfway through the line every single time I go), Coppola is informed that he’s in the wrong group.
It’s actually kind of understandable how this idiot managed to not hear the line announcements, despite the fact they’re being regularly delivered at brain-splitting volume. See, Coppola has the most remarkably thick patch of coarse, black hair covering his entire ear. The fucking thing looks like a piece of bread with mold growing all over it. You could probably put Motorhead in his fucking ear and he wouldn’t hear it.
So anyway, instead off getting in the correct line, or just trying to work something out, Coppola starts loudly berating the volunteer: “What?! What are you gonna do?! What goddamn difference does it make what line I’m in?!” The volunteer keeps his cool, but this human wart keeps it up. People are trying to ignore him, but he keeps getting louder and more insulting. He’s at least nine or 10 people away from me, so I can’t actually reach out and grab him, but I start glaring at him with all of my might and trying to will him to shut up with the power of my mind.
Meanwhile, he’s ignoring me and continuing: “What?! What?! Are you gonna not take my goddamned money?! My money’s no good?! What?!” The volunteer throws his hands up and starts walking away. I’m fantasizing about what I’d tell him if he was in line next to me: “Look here, pubic ear, if you want to keep all of your blood inside of your body you’re going to shut your loud fucking Francis Ford Coppola-ass mouth and wait in line without complaint like a proper sheep, just like everyone else is doing. Because, so help me God, if I have to listen to one more stupid, diseased word out of you, I’m going smash your balls between two volumes of that there Encyclopedia Britannica so hard that your grandchildren will turn blue and die.”
Eventually the skidmark, sensing the murderous mood of the crowd, settles down and goes back to grooming his homemade earmuffs. I return to my patient wait, struggling to tamp down a barrage of panic attacks and trying not to stare at the awesome boobies of the 16-year-old emo girls standing in front of me. Or at least to trying to not look too obvious while I’m doing it. Hmm, I wonder if those little darlings would like an escort to the “adult” section… Ahem. Well.
Anyway, after another seven hours of pain, humiliation and oxygen deprivation I pay for my books. Emerging into the sunlight, I gasp at the beauty of the sky and the trees and burst into tears. My clothes have turned to rags and my hair is gray. (Well, that happened before I went, but still.) I kneel and kiss the ground, sobbing. I can’t remember my name, but I know that I’ll regain that, and the ability to feed myself, as the horror eventually recedes.
After I get home, I notice one of the books I bought, Redbirds by the talented, disgraced journalist and author Rick Bragg, is a retitled British edition of something I already have. Fuck.
Labels: Diary of Indignities
More guest indignities! Hot damn!
This first indignity is from Cardin:
When I first moved to Florida in 87 or something (this would be 5th grade), I was going to school in sweatervests because it looked good on Mac from Night Court). I attempted to fit in by buying surfing and skating clothes.. went to "Penny's" and talked my dad into buying a "B.C. Surf" shirt with a surfing caveman on it, and a "B.C. Skate" shirt with a skateboarding
dinosaur on it.
I soon learned what "Bobo" meant.. I would have been better off wearing a sandwich board with "Retard" written on it.
Cardin, I too have rocked the bobos. In conjunction with the hotbottoms. I feel your pain. But speaking of retards, our next guest indignity is the result of martial-arts enthusiast and well known sociopath Yankee Scum Craig having a run-in with someone even more "challenged" than the people he usually has to deal with:
There's this local 'tard who is notorious for disrupting things everywhere. You'll see him in a McDonald's cutting to the head of the line, jostling and pushing people, then slamming his palm on the counter and doing this weird noise (he's also mute) while pointing to the menu board, until he either gets served or ejected. Somehow, no one has killed this guy yet.
I've seen him in stores and restaurants for years, demanding service in that voiceless "mmm-mm-mmm" sound he makes, frequently grabbing or shoving an employee in his frustration, knocking shit over, etc. I work days in a stock room in a large bookstore, so I have (thankfully) little public contact, but I was helping a woman stock out magazines yesterday when in walks the tongueless wonder. He has a reputation for fucking with new employees in this place.
He strides up to me, WHACKS me across the shoulder with a magazine, and points to the magazine ("do you have the newest issue of this" in mute tardspeak). I say "Don't hit me that" while shaking my head to make him understand, he strikes a standoffish pose and WHACKS me in the face with it.
I guess I'm getting old. For about one second, I was looking at a dead retard, then the higher mind kicked in. First thought was I need to keep this job, second was my sifu's reaction if he found out. THEN I realized just how.....low it would be to respond. I mean, when a little kid kicks you in the balls, you don't kick him back, you know?
Anyway, they banned his ass from the store, so all's well that ends well.
I'm told the manager's reaction upon hearing was closed eyes and a resigned "He didn't hit him BACK, did he?" Nice to think people think I'm not above punching mute retarded people.
I'm calling my eventual memoirs "Bitch-Slapped By A 'Tard".
I'm pretty sure Yankee Scum Craig's latest antagonist wasn't Chupacabra Craig, but perhaps we should review this tale just to be sure:
Drove a girlfriend at the time to her life guarding job at a public pool. In town that week was the Special Olympics (My Moms always asks, "What's so special about being retarded?"....anyway). We walked in and there was an "olympian" sitting outside the Men's locker room. I started a conversation with him and he said that he was told it was OK to come down and use the locker room before he went to practice his softball throw/frisbee toss/scribble contest warm-ups. He told me his name was Craig....same as mine (yup. I go there...wait for it). I ended it there 'cause the conversation was getting boring.
Inside the pool area, the girlfriends boss walked over to me and introduced himself. I said, "Hey there. My name's Craig." His eyes widened and he started talking to me ve-e-e-e-ery slowly.
"Oh. We talked earlier. Listen, it's OK for you or anyone else from the home to use the facilities if you want. Just let us know ahead of time or have your caretaker call us,"
"Uh, no guy," I tried to explain. "I'm not..."
"It's OK. I run the place," he interupted. "Any time you want. OK? Any time. Just have someone call ahead."
Then the girlfriend showed up and introduced me as her boyfriend. The boss looked at me...then her... then me and started stuttering about the "Olympics" and "visiting athletes."
"Wait a sec," she said. "Does he LOOK retarded?"
"Well, uh," he stammered. "He looks like an athlete."
I got that going for me.
FANTASTIC! Suddenly I feel much better about myself. Readers are encouraged to contact me with their own indignities for future special guest editions.
Labels: Diary of Indignities
This is weird:
What the hell is that all about?
Age 2: Learning to pee like a big boy takes a nasty turn as the toilet seat slams down on my pecker like a giant clam snapping shut on a helpless diver’s leg. I am trapped, screaming, for hours.
Age 7: Swallowed a nickel.
Age 8: I spent many years obsessed with catching crayfish. After a birthday party that featured a daunting blue cake made strangely lumpy by small marshmallows in the frosting (which nobody would eat, and which I had designed and specifically asked for) as well as a dozen or so kids somewhat aghast at encountering my shoddy house and annoying family, I single-mindedly drag the bored and reluctant revelers to a local creek to engage in my favorite pastime. I splash around with a determination and focus I’ve not since been able to recapture while the other kids stand on the bank and stare at me. I don’t catch any crayfish, and as a result of everything I am relegated to the bottom of the social stratus for the remainder of my school years.
Age 9: I lose my only friend, a kid named Bay, because I beat him up during a dispute over who will get to go out with actress Kristy MacNichol.
Age 10: I do catch a crayfish; a big one which promptly clamps down on my thumb. I ride my bike home several blocks, crying and with one hand outstretched. From it dangles the crayfish.
Age 11: After I wear a cape and a helmet to school, some kids begin calling me “Captain Weirdo.” I embrace the nickname, and for a short period become known as “C.W. Hughes.” It all comes to a stop when I move up a grade and this name appears on my report card, and my mom calls the school to make sure they don’t have me mixed up with another kid. My teachers don’t really seem too surprised to find out what those initials actually stand for.
Age 12: The day after I convince my mom to let me get this swell new haircut, I am confronted by older thugs while playing air hockey after school at the local rec center. They call me “Devo” and prepare to beat me, as to them my haircut implies I am a “new wave faggot.” Though proud of my haircut and a big fan of Devo, I lie my way out of the beating by telling them that the haircut is because I’m planning to be a punk rocker for Halloween. Oh, and the avant-garde hairdo in question? Today it’s known as the “mullet.” This was also the year I went to school dressed up as Dr. Who.
Age 13: After losing my virginity on a beach, I wander around in a daze for an hour or two. Sand in my swim trunks rubs the skin off of my crotch and inner-thighs, and I become convinced that I am now the carrier of some sort of heinous strain of fast-acting super herpes. I do not have sex again for many, many years, starting an unfortunate trend that continues to this day.
Age 14: Trying to fit in with the current fashion, I convince my mom to buy me an Ocean Pacific-brand shirt from a thrift store. The first day I wear it to school I am confronted by its previous owner, who had written his initials on the tag.
Age 15-34: Nothing! Two decades of bliss! I am cool and well liked!
Labels: Diary of Indignities
Okay, here's what you do. Copy this entirely, and paste it into a new bulletin. Change all of the answers so that they apply to you. The theory is that you will learn a lot of little facts about your friends. It is fun and easy.
1. WHAT IS YOUR Middle name?
Fuckin', as in Patrick Fuckin' Hughes
2. WHAT kind of PANTS ARE YOU WEARING and what color?
Pants? Pants are for squares, man.
3. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW?
The whine of the death ray, the pleas for mercy.
4. WHAT ARE THE LAST 4 DIGITS OF YOUR PHONE NUMBER?
I'm sorry, you're very attractive, but I'm seeing someone.
5. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE:
Sea urchins with ketchup, frozen mint jelly pancakes and a horseradish omelet.
6. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE?
7. HOW IS THE WEATHER RIGHT NOW?
Look, I told you I'm seeing someone. Back off.
8. LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE?
MacGruff the crime dog. I totally told him about you showing your weiner to those kids, too.
9. THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT THE OPPOSITE SEX?
Hmm, usually the monthly fee for total access to the Web site.
10. DO YOU LIKE THE PERSON WHO SENT YOU THIS?
Who, the Friendster Bulletin Board? Yeah, me and him go holding hands and skipping through the valley every goddamn afternoon.
11. HOW ARE YOU TODAY?
Resplendent in my finery. Festooned with jewels and precious metals.
12. FAVORITE DRINK?
13. FAVORITE ALCOHOLIC DRINK?
Sex on the beach with your mom who's a nun on the moon.
14. FAVORITE SPORTS?
15. HAIR COLOR?
Chestnut, with henna highlights and just a hint of burgundy.
16. EYE COLOR?
Hard to tell, what with all the swirling patterns... Look at how they move and swirl... Ahhh...
17. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS?
If you don't go away I'm calling the police.
18. SIBLINGS AND THEIR AGES?
Marvin, 26 - we had to put him in a home after that thing with the diesel air compressor and, um, his ass. And then there's Shirlene, 19, who just got herself voted Best Mustache over there at Cell Block 6B. We're all very proud.
19. FAVORITE MONTH?
Gaytober, Funtember or maybe Painuary.
20. FAVORITE FOOD?
...What? Uh, no. I meant the diaper.
21. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED?
Double feature: Ernest Totally Gets Whacked in The Nuts and The Neverending Boring.
22. FAVORITE DAY OF THE YEAR?
23. ARE YOU TOO SHY TO ASK SOMEONE OUT?
I'm kind of old-fashioned, so I prefer to take it slow, talk to a girl's parents, send roses or chocolates and write a letter or two before asking her out, a romantic dinner and cramming it up the ol' pooper.
24. DO YOU LIKE SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDING.
Please phrase your question in the form of a question. Dumbass.
25. SUMMER OR WINTER?
Hrrmmm... Lemme see... I'll take summer that tater salad, and summer that nanner puddin'.
26. HUGS OR KISSES?
If you take one more step toward me I'm gonna brain you with this here tire iron.
28. CHOCOLATE OR VANILLA?
I ain't prejudiced.
29. DO YOU WANT YOUR FRIENDS TO WRITE BACK?
30. WHO IS MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND?
Benito Mussolini, that card.
31. WHO IS LEAST LIKELY TO RESPOND?
32. WHAT BOOKS ARE YOU READING?
Getting the Most Out of Your Parole Experience, How to Beat Up Children, Hitler: Misunderstood Friend of All Kittens and Harry Potter Can Suck My Dick.
33. WHAT'S ON YOUR SCREEN SAVER?
Melancholy tribute to Roy, brave departed lion tamer that he was. What? He's not dead yet? That fuckin' queer.
34. FAVORITE BOARD GAME?
Hungry, Hungy Homeless.
35. WHAT DID YOU DO LAST NIGHT?
Nothing. I told the police that I went straight home after work and was asleep by 8:30 and i'm sticking by my story.
36. FAVORITE SMELLS?
Ice cubes, bathtub caulk, fingernails.
37. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU THINK OF WHEN YOU WAKE UP IN THE MORNING?
Now THAT is one spectacular boner!
Whenever someone asks me what kind of fish I caught on a particular day and I grumble, "Just a bunch of catfish," the response is inevitably positive: "Oh, great! I love catfish! Gonna fry 'em up? Mmmm-mmm!" Etc.
NO. NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!
Saltwater catfish (or "Osama fish") are different from their freshwater cousins, and I want to set the record straight: there's nothing positive about the existence of these animals. At all. Many strange and terrible creatures, no matter how superfically despicable, play important roles in the vast, delicate balance of the natural world: experts tell us that mosquitos, rattlesnakes, mean wasps, poodles, stupid people, chihuahuas, ghosts and pterodactyls all have their place in the grand scheme of things, like nasty pieces of some huge, scary puzzle.
But the saltwater catfish is less a fish or other necessary food-chain element than a plague... Some sort of cosmic retribution dreamt up by God to punish humanity for its worst sins. Every time scientists mock natural order by grafting an afro onto to a chicken or inventing a remote-control banana, or a some idiot South American peasant cuts down a tree in a rain forest somewhere to pay for those acid-washed jeans, that terrycloth shirt and that carton of Dorals, Mother Nature's fetid womb opens up and spews forth onto my fishhooks a thousand or two of these hateful, finned child molesters of the sea.
Yeah, that's right - they molest children. They also:
I'd rather catch the dread stingray than a saltwater catfish (and believe me, I catch plenty of those fuckers too), even though stingrays have a brittle, poisonous barb on their whiplike tails, not to mention a really, really gross mouth that looks like that movie of a pulsating ventricle or aorta or whatever it was that I had to watch in 6th grade health class. As bothersome and potentially crippling as a stingray encounter may be, these weird alien fish do have a few positive qualities. They're occasionally eaten by the very bored or hungry, and they're usually pretty docile (I even had one bond with me after I unhooked it - damn thing followed me around for half an hour, gazing up at me like a lonely puppy and freaking me out until I dropped a brick on it).
Saltwater catfish, on the other hand, go into some kind of supersonic death twist when they get hooked, rolling like Don Zimmer after a run-in with Pedro Martinez and twisting up your leader while barking, trying to stab you with their deadly fins and getting as much fish poop and slime everywhere as they can muster.
A few years ago I got some crazy idea into my head (fancy that) where I was convinced the sharp spines of the saltwater catfish weren't truly venomous. I figured it was just a misconception based on infections resulting from the occasional puncture, or some old hillbilly canard drummed up to frighten yankees. Then I got stuck. Right in the meaty part of my hand. I didn't die or anything, but it hurt like nothing else I've experienced in an action-packed lifetime filled with injuries, indignities and a significant lack of self-regard. I seem to have recovered pretty nicely, thankfully - some people have experienced permanent paralysis in a finger or hand after a good catfish jab. Though I must admit that since it happened I have had Musical Youth's "Pass the Dutchie" going through my head on a loop, and sometimes get distracted trying to figure out what the hell is a "dutchie" and wondering if maybe those kids weren't a little young to be messing around with dutchies in the first place, if a dutchie is what I suspect it is. And I'm pretty sure that it is.
Anyway, I'm starting to get a little worked up here just thinking about this shit, so to summarize: saltwater catfish are real bad. Don't act all excited at the thought of getting ahold of a mess of 'em for a fish-fry or people in the know will deride you as a hopeless landlubber. And for the good of America, heckle and demean them every chance you get. Thank you.
March 17, 2003: Some people stop shitting their pants as a child. Me, I've always been a rebel.
It had been a rough year for me. I had been out of work for six months, scrounging what few freelance gigs thriving metropolis Gainesville, Fla. offers while watching my skimpy savings dwindle down to about nothing. I had thrown an enormous amount of unappreciated energy into helping a bunch of spoiled scenesters try and start a half-baked alternative monthly paper, only to have the editor and publisher piss all over my face in a way just slightly preferable to having someone actually physically piss all over my face. My grandfather, a smart, decent and urbane guy who liked playing the piano at cocktail parties, had become ill, disconcertingly up and croaking on just a few weeks' notice.
Right around all this, at the point when I befouled myself, I had been working for a month or two at a cool job that didn't pay much, didn't offer insurance and didn't give any sick or vacation time. I had my own office and the gig was generally fine, but I was looking for employment that offered minimal benefits, at least. Not too much was presenting itself, but I mailed off a few resumes here and there and kept my eyes open.
One of those mailings finally paid off (I think it was the delicious pork chop I had stuffed in the envelope - you job seekers out there give it a try) and I got called in for an interview. It was scheduled for a Monday morning at the offices of a water management district (apparently the most respected and prestigious of all the water management districts, and you know what that means) (no, I don't know what it means either), about an hour's drive from my place.
Monday morning came, a sparkling dawn full of fresh promise and new experiences. Yes, the fresh promise of a fresh doody in my trousers and the new experience of smelling my own waste as it seeped through my drawers.
I awoke that morning feeling a bit off, but chalked it up to pre-interview jitters. I performed my ritual morning preparations, which as usual included showering, brushing my teeth, a bikini wax and two porterhouse steaks. My stomach rumbled once or twice, but again this was easily dismissed as nervousness and not the foreshadowing growl of an incipient volcano of poopy. I put on my best and only suit, woven from hair donated by orphan Afghani cancer victims, gave my thinning hair one last fashionable tousle and shined up my robotic foot. I was ready to meet my new employers and convince them I was in fact a productive member of society, perfectly hireable, sane and inclined to spend my days slaving happily away over a hot keyboard and never, ever e-mailing amusing pictures of cripples or retards to Todd Campisi.
About halfway into my journey - remember, a journey out of the bleak hellhole that was my life and into the kind of bright, shiny future depicted by Disneyworld's World of Tomorrow and the movie Blade Runner - I stopped to get some gas. How confidently did i emerge from my truck, resplendent in my fine suit! How authoritatively did I unscrew the gas cap! How assuredly did I thrust the gas nozzle into the hole! How firm my grip on the handle thingy! How bold the fart I let squeak out! Ah yes, the fart.
Unexpectedly, the fart turned out to have physical substance. I stood there, stunned and unbelieving, aghast that after three decades of proper bowel etiquette my nether regions would turn rebellious, choosing this most promising of days to dump their stinky cargo.
Not only that, but I still had to pay for the gas. I squinched my butt cheeks together as best I could, waddled inside the gas station smiled at the nice black ladies working there and held them in very firm eye contact as the transaction was completed. I then shuffled out like Charlie Chaplin with an ass full of pudding and made for home.
The trip home was quick. I sat in my squishy filth, unsure of whether to laugh or cry. Other drivers seemed to be staring, accusing me of being the Poo Poo Boy. "You're the Poo Poo Boy," their eyes said. "The stinky rotten Poo Poo Boy! You made a stinky in your pants and God hates you!"
Once home I surveyed the damage. There was suprisingly little mass, and what had escaped the confines of my underwear was mostly liquid, so it wasn't too bad. Still a little more shit in the pants than you'd want to have at a job interview, but not too bad.
I sat on the toilet for the next three hours while a geyser of runny shit blasted out of my rear end with the kind of force and velocity usually reserved for fighting forest fires and contemplated my life. "Perhaps I shouldn't have stolen the golden pentagram ring from that old Gypsy woman after all," I thought.
Labels: Diary of Indignities
Oct. 1, 2003: Hey! Look! An embarassing letter I wrote to the newspaper back in 1996 is online:
Glad to see such an important part of my life legacy is being preserved for the public.
Labels: Diary of Indignities