100 Days of Misery Project : Chunk Nine

#100daysofmisery #day81 : At about 4:00 this morning my dog came to the conclusion that the skin on my lower legs was way too dry and that the ideal moisturizer would be, no hyperbole, seventeen gallons of tongue applied dog spit.

#100daysofmisery #day82 : Several years ago, my Bride and I arrived by train at South Station in Boston. It was the middle of the night, we had luggage and were obliged to take a taxi. The cab driver was very quiet and I could not quite make out everything he was saying, but I thought he kept addressing me as ‘Chief’. ‘Should I put the bags in the trunk, Chief?’ , ‘Think we should take Storrow Drive, Chief?’ After a while I realized I was mishearing him. Not ‘Chief’, ‘Jeff’. Why would he assume my name was Jeff? He did not. He was talking to someone named Jeff who as far as I could tell was not there.

#100daysofmisery #day83 : Like most people my age, I went through a brief childhood obsession with the Apollo program. I wanted to be like the Astronauts, and I was pretty sure the best way to do it was to drink Tang and eat Space Food sticks. A “non-frozen balanced energy snack in rod form containing nutritionally balanced amounts of carbohydrate, fat and protein,” These foil wrapped slim-jim shaped treats came in a variety of flavors including peanut butter, chocolate, malt and mint. I’d tried them at a friend’s house and was desperate to possess them for myself. I went to my father to make my case. As a Doctor and Science Fiction enthusiast, I imagined he’d be sympathetic. I wanted to be like the Astronauts, I told him. I wanted Space Food Sticks. He asked me if I also wanted to defecate in my clothes, because that was something Astronauts did too. No. No, I did not want to do that. I think my mother eventually took pity and bought me some, but by then it was too late. They tasted awful, something I had somehow missed at my friend’s house, and with each bite all I could think of was crapping my pants.

#100daysofmisery #day84 : I was an anxious child. In second grade during recess a pair of girls discovered me near the edge of the playground crying. They asked me what was wrong. I don’t remember, but I suspect nothing specific. I had to tell them something, though, and it had to be good. I thought if I said a pet had died that would be better than saying, ‘oh, just, you know, free floating anxiety’. That felt like the right track, but it didn’t seem quite big enough to justify crying alone on the edge of the playground. So I told them criminals had broken into my house and stabbed my rabbit, Lady Macbeth. And yes, yes, that was her name, I named my rabbit Lad Macbeth. And in suburban Massachusetts in the early Seventies that isn’t cute or quaint or precocious, it’s just weird and off-putting, and my parents should have said no, you can’t name your rabbit Lady Macbeth, you can name it Blacky or Blackberry or any other damn thing based on the fact she has black fur, or Cheryl for Christ’s sake, or if you absolutely can’t stop yourself just never, never tell any other kid you named your rabbit Lady Macbeth, especially in the context of telling them criminals broke into your house and stabbed her.

#100daysofmisery #day85 : What the hell does the Itsy Bitsy spider think is at the top of the water spout? Is there some spider pleasing thing about the top of water spouts that I don’t know about? What the hell even is a water spout? Why would you sing that song to a kid? It’s like, hey, little kid, life is pointless but you’re going to keep doing the same sh*t over and over even though a rat changes it’s behavior when you shock it. Screw that song. I hate spiders. Water Spouts can kiss my damn ass.

#100daysofmisery #day87 : True story. A few years back I’m standing on the deck at Flynnies on Devereaux beach waiting for my food. I was swimming earlier, so my hair is all over the place. I’m wearing a bathing suit, no shirt, and I weighed about twenty pounds more than I do now. My point is, I don’t look great, but not much worse than any other middle aged dad waiting for his food at the beach. Middle of the pack stuff. And this kid, three, maybe four years old, steps back behind his dad’s legs, points right at me and hollers, “Daddy… what… is…THAT?!” Not ‘who’. ‘That’. ‘That’? Seriously? Is the kid seeing something nobody else does when he looks at me? Or am I the one not seeing something everyone else is but are too polite to shriek about?

#100daysofmisery #day88 : Many of you may find this surprising, but I attended a private prep school that was both fancy and schmancy. Many of myy classmates had last names for first names, last names for middle names, hyphenated last names and sometimes a numeral. Students were required to wear a blazer and tie, or turtleneck. I leaned heavily on the turtleneck, because I was very fashionable and had a sensitive, somewhat chubby neck. Also, I thought ties were for swells. The school had been all male, and remained so until my senior year when we went co-ed. I thought this a healthy gesture in the direction of reality, but the point is, at seventeen I had very limited experience with The Ladies. I am not referring to ‘dating’ or even ‘socializing’, I’m more speaking of ‘existing in the presence of’. My response was to grow rather large muttonchops as soon as I was physically able, which should tell you everything you need to know. Selecting my most uncomfortable moment is hard, but here’s one: In one of my very first mixed classes, My AP English teacher (AP, see, I’m bragging now) who seemed to have done everything short of plastic surgery to permanently cosplay Ernest Hemmingway, forced me to read aloud “Whales weep not”, a poem by D.H. Lawrence. Do you know it? It’s about Whales having sex. Not the kind of sex charmingly hidden behind the gossamer veil of metaphor. It’s more like soft core Whale porn. I don’t think I would ever have been a fan of D.H. Lawrence, but without this experience I might have been able to associate his name with something beside the distinct desire to immediately stop existing.

#100daysofmisery #day89 : I have lived much of my life on the periphery of fame. James Spader’s father was my high school history teacher. Sam Waterston’s dad directed me in a Noel Coward play. It’s possible I may have mentioned being Oscar Winner Adrien Brody’s camp counselor, but did you know I also taught Leonard Cohen’s kids theater, not to mention (though I am mentioning) a certain rising holly wood star/Golden globe nominee who shall remain nameless as I do not want to violate his privacy since he is, yes, an ACTUAL FACEBOOK FRIEND OF MINE! I went to school with David Cross and once performed on the same bill as Louis C.K. I did the last minute re-write of the script for a Planetarium show narrated by Anthony Daniels better known as that guy inside C3PO. I’m not sure I should even tell you for fear you will think I am name dropping, but I once worked with the dude who played Mike TV in the 1971 good version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I sh*t you not. Lime Light rubs off, a fact that I think is amply illustrated by my performance at the height of my career as “Janitor”, visible in the background of more than one shot in a mid eighties commercial for the Massachusetts Sate Lottery.

100daysofmisery #day90 : When I was a wee tot, my parents took me to Coney Island. I was particularly excited because I was going to visit a site on the boardwalk from which a regional kiddy program I enjoyed was broadcast. The show prominently featured a Chimpanzee, and when I arrived, there he was, in the flesh, lounging in his cage, a jail cell style iron bar affair. The Chimp gestured to me and I approached the cell. When I was quite close, he reached out with both arms, took me by the ears, slammed my head soundly against the bars and fell back, hooting with delight. Wait, though, there’s more. In preparing to write today’s misery, I did a little research. No matter what parameters I searched, in all the vastness of the Internet, I could find no mention of any children’s television show, regional or otherwise, ever having been broadcast from Coney Island. Which means that in all likelihood, this memory, which is crystal clear in my mind and a story I have told many people over the years, never happened. I ask you, what kind of person creates a false memory in which a Chimpanzee bashes his head against the iron bars of a cage?


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