Life is a pretty fucking funny thing. It’s a sad and tragic thing as well. It’s just a giant roller coaster with hills and valleys, laughs and frights. You just have to ride it, you know what I mean? It’s easier for some than others. Be it psychological make-up, internal mechanisms, how much resiliency is in your DNA, or if your balls fit in a Dixie Cup or a thimble. All contributing factors to how you deal with the exhilaration, and fear, of the ride. Like the sign says, sometimes you’re just not the right height to go on the ride yet, you have to grow a little first, and that’s where this story begins.
It’s been a pretty crazy journey, a journey too complex to dream, too lofty to reach for. You bet it’s been that roller coaster, and continues to be. You learn, after some time, that the Ying and Yang of life is vital to make you truly grasp appreciation. Once I was old enough to be granted admission to the ride, I basically did what everyone does, hold the fuck on. Raised my hands with reckless and abandon and glee (that TV show ruined that word for me) during the fun parts, and closed my eyes and hoped I didn’t throw up on some guys head during the scary parts. Oh well if I did, right?
I have a pretty ridiculous memory and it goes way pretty far back. I think my first real memory is about 18 months old, honestly. This shit might be boring, but you need some of the back story to really get the gist of the whole thing. I remember being sick and being in an ambulance. I can remember in detail being in the hospital and my dad buying me a little doctor kit with a stethoscope and candy “medicine” in it. I don’t remember my tonsils bursting, but I was under anesthesia at the time, fortunately. This began my life long fear of doctors and a crazy reaction to the sound of sirens. You don’t need to be a psychologist to figure it the fuck out, huh?
I remember all sorts of things; my first act of defiance, which was pissing on the pediatrician’s table when he made me take off my hat, my birthday gifts at the age of 2, I remember Newark, New Jersey very well. I was born there and lived there until I was about two and a half, returning once to live there in the summer of the age of 12. I began my lifelong love of books there, as I began reading at 2, and I had a strange attachment to churches there, I still haven’t figured that out.
One little happy bastard I was. I even loved moving way down south, well not really, just about an hour and a half away, to the then quant and sleepy little town of Toms River. The town that helped provide my need for revenge, which in turn fueled my wild ambition. Oh yeah, in a little bit, the shit gets real, trust me on that. The move was first to a house made out of converted army barracks that my douche of a grandfather built (more on the family later). It was pretty stark there living by the bay. Cold winters and the neighborhood void of people, as most were only summer residents. It was still fun and pretty cool to be able to feed the ducks and watch the boats. I did, however, fall out of my bassinette on my head (which I also remember in detail) and remember my dad telling my mom: “Don’t turn around”. I wasn’t terribly injured, but you have to wonder if that fall did something to make me, shall we say, different.
Then low and behold the evil grandfather retired and gave each of his children ten grand to start a business and buy a house. Fucking A! We bought a house, and my dad bought a gas station, as did his douche of a brother. See a pattern here? Grandfather a douche, uncle a douche. The family pretty much so all fit into the category of douche, except the scum bags, witches, and assholes. Remember I said the town helped fuel my need for revenge? Well these motherfuckers were the gasoline and ignition.
So life was now super fun, living in a new house, in a brand new neighborhood, playing kick the can, learning how to swim, catching fire flies, and performing the completely insane ritual of running behind the mosquito truck, lost in a fog of fucking DDT. How they Hell we all survived and don’t have brain damage (questionable) is beyond me. I had a dog, she had puppies, we kept one, and it was awesome. We had a laundry chute, now that is bad ass. Shit was rocking. I made some great friends, some of who I am still close with over 50 years later. Imagine that, 50 plus years. Kindergarten started and that was great fun. I do remember this moment, the kindergarten teacher called me and my friend Chucky; “You two little bastards.” Bitch I was 5, really? Hence the beginning of my issue with authority. I mean, yeah OK, me and Chucky used to pretend I hit him and he’d take out his glass eye and the kids would freak, but why you gotta call us bastards?
All was still good until the teacher said the school doctor was coming for a visit. At which point I threw up all over my desk, and that lone incident right there hit me with such deep fear and anxiety that it completely ended my love for school for life. I was petrified, no more fun with Chucky taking out his glass eye, no more watching Judy pee in the bathroom (wondering where her pee pee was), no more putting my teddy bear on the coat rack with a hanky over him, no more cookies and milk, no more nothing. I was done with that shit right there, that day. I refused to go to class and spent the rest of the year sitting in the principal’s office (at 5 years old mind you). On the upside, I learned how to tell time sitting there, so there’s some early Yin and yang for you.