Friday, February 16, 2007

Conversations with Ghosts of Myself

OXFORD, Ohio (ZP) -- I did something very stupid Tuesday.

I took a prescription medication on an empty stomach, didn't read those pesky do not drink alcoholic beverages instructions, and ended up puking my guts out for seven hours straight.

As punishment for my very, very stupid mistake, I was sentenced to two days sick leave, in order to recover from dehydration, extremely low blood sugar, and overall ickiness. I'd already been recovering from an upper respiratory infection, so the added stress on my system pretty much guaranteed that I'd be forced to take time off for - gasp - health issues.

I don't do sick days very well. I'm a lousy patient. I'd rather just work through it, keep chugging away until something breaks beyond repair. I'll rest when I'm off the clock or when I'm dead.

* * * *

By the time I could finally hold down anything solid, I was too jittery to sit through any DVD, too annoyed to listen to music.

I wrote long-winded emails, responses to comments on the ol' blog, and caught up on just about every open access journal in my research area.

Well, that killed a whopping five hours of my life.

Boredom is my enemy. And nothing screams boredom like five hours' worth of LIS literature.

* * * *

I crawled out of bed Thursday at around 10 (I normally get up between five and six), had one Lean Pocket and a cup of coffee for brunch, took a shower.

I started to get dressed. Couldn't do it. I crawled back into bed, defeated. I felt like the main character in Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun, a helpless cripple damned to an eternity of dreary solitude, waiting - begging - for sweet death.

As I stared at the ceiling, my bedroom too bright to sleep, I decided to do what I used to do as a kid when I'd get sick, those lonely days when I'd be left bedridden back on the family farm, 20 miles from civilization and with only three snowy network television stations to keep me company.

I'll play a game.

Hmmm... what sort of game?

For shit's sake, dude! Got it. Let's play Interview!

Interview was one of my favorite sick day games as a child. Actually, Interview was more of an an exercise in imagination than a game.

I'd pretend to be a reporter, a regular Walter Cronkite, interviewing an older, famous version of myself. The television studio was completely within my mind, laid out like those old network news desks, clocks from a hundred time zones covering the walls. I could see clearly the cameras, the Teleprompter, the shining lights.

When I had chickenpox, I'd interviewed Jason, the famous scientist who'd cured cancer. Once, when I was in middle school, I'd interviewed retired Rear Admiral Jason, the hero of the Cold War who'd single-handedly destroyed the Soviet Empire.

In junior high, I even interviewed Jason, winner of three Academy Awards... and husband of Cindy Crawford (we had 12 children, I believe.)

I laughed out loud with what was left of my stomach-acid stripped vocal chords.
Dude, this is gonna be fun.

But I think we'd better mix this shit up a bit...

* * * *

Instead of interviewing my mythological older self, I decided, for shits and giggles, to interview my younger self.

Honestly, the idea of interviewing the 48, 54, or 68 year-old versions of me didn't seem appealing.

I mean, for chrissakes...

Did I really want to think about the divorce back in 2014, the sex scandals of 2043, or that dead hooker in that Vegas hotel room in 2051?

Or what about the possibility of that love child, the one living down in Mexico in 2032, the one I never knew I had, from that very real one night with that daughter of migrant laborers, back in in a very real 1997?

Dude, you'll have nightmares for a week if you interview Future Jason.

You're too damned pessimistic and paranoid to have an imaginary bright future...
* * * *

So, as I lay in bed, staring at the ceiling, I let my mind wander into that dusty, long-forgotten newsroom one more time. I put on the ol' anchor's blazer, tested the microphone, cleared my mental throat.

I thought I'd share summaries of my first round of Interview in more than 15 years:

* * * *

The Motherfucker was 17, a passionate kid with a huge chip on his shoulder. The Motherfucker liked to fight, smoked way too much weed, played in a punk band, and had a taste for MD 20/20.

"Man, I remember once, at this party, I was so fucked up I couldn't see. We was all outside, all jus' chillin' around this bonfire. Me an' ______ snuck off with this one chick, 'cause she had this dusted bud she'd picked up in Charlottesville. She got so fucked up, she like pissed on herself an' shit. Fucking hippy rich chicks, man. She offered blowjobs if we'd give her a ride home, but I was all, like, shit, white girls from private schools carry all kinds of diseases."

The Motherfucker was known to most adults as a bookish, level-headed kid. He excelled in scholarly activities, as a member of the track team, in academic competitions. But he had a dark side, a lust to be accepted, to be the badass, the instrument of God's Wrath. He hung out with some good kids, but mostly ones destined for lives of trouble.

According to legend, the Motherfucker once broke a guy's knuckles with a ball-peen hammer, gangster-style, because the poor college first-year couldn't pay his illicit pharmaceutical bill. He once took a baseball bat to some poor kid's stomach at a house party, retaliation for the merciless beating a friend of his had received on a school bus.

"That cocksucking redneck had it coming. If we hadn't fucked his shit up, he jus' would've called some brother a coon or somethin' and ended up gettin' capped. I prob'ly saved his sorry ass. Eye for a mothafuckin' eye, homes. You wanna trip some shit, I'll trip shit like a fuckin' electric chair."

The first girl the Motherfucker ever French-kissed ended up killing herself - after doing time in a women's prison for her role in her parents' murder. His childhood best friend was relocated to an undisclosed location as part of a plea agreement, in exchange for testifying against a narcotics kingpin. He knows that several of his friends from those years are now probably dead or in correctional facilities for the rest of their natural lives.

Through some act of God, however, the Motherfucker made it out of his hometown, outgrew his rage, cleaned up his act. He'd been saved only by the unconditional love his family had provided him and by the faith his teachers had in his intellectual gifts.

* * * *

Dog Juan loved playing savior to just about every troubled young woman who showed him even the slightest attention.

In high school, he'd been a late-bloomer, losing his virginity at 17 accidentally to a woman whose exact identity he'd been too drunk to recall. By the time he'd reached 20, he'd overcome enough of his awkwardness around women to be at least somewhat romantically inclined.

Unfortunately for Dog Juan, he learned too late that there were some women he just shouldn't be involved with romantically. As an undergrad, he mastered the art of the one-night stand while simultaneously mastering the art of dating women who were completely nucking futs.

"Once, I was like seeing this girl, T_____. I'd met her through one of my roommates. T____ had her problems, sure...I mean, she'd survived being a prostitute in Colorado Springs, had managed to get into college. So what if she was still stripping to pay the bills? And its not like I'd never done coke before.

"C'mon. The sex was fucking awesome. Wild shit. And she was older than me, old enough to buy beer.

"Fuck, we drank a lot. Actually, she drank a lot. And the fucking suicide threats. Yeah, those sucked.

"But dude! Wait. The fucking sex, dude. One time, I went down on her in an Italian restaurant. We did it at three o'clock in the morning, butt-ass naked on the hood of my truck, smack dab in the middle of an intersection. We're talking three to five times a day, seven days a week. Nothing wrong with that.

"I mean, I've faked it a couple of times, when she gets pushy - the fucking coke messes my shit up sometimes, but she gets it free and won't do it alone, so what am I s'posed to do?

"I mean, yeah, she gets violent an' shit. Lots of women do. And so what if my female friends hate her - they're just fucking jealous because I'm fucking happy.

"C' never had a chick pull a knife on you before, homes?"

By his 21st birthday, Dog Juan had accomplished two things that few men can claim:

He'd won his first award as a sportswriter, and he'd managed to become a certified victim of domestic violence, complete with restraining order against his one-time fiance.

Researchers have long sought interviews with Dog Juan. The mystery of how such an intelligent young man with such charm and passion could be so goddamned dense sometimes has puzzled numerous people for more than a decade.

* * * *

Talk Radio Guy knew he was in trouble the first day he'd gone into work after the Corporate Radio Juggernaut had finally cleared their FCC hurdles and had taken control of day-to-day operations of his station.

He knew he was a fairly popular sports anchor in his market, but he also knew, somewhere deep inside, that the Corporate Radio Juggernaut had no use for silly little things like women's sports coverage, Major League Baseball broadcasting rights, and colorful sports commentary.

The future, he'd been told, was in nationally syndicated talk radio - conservative talk radio. What use did the Juggernaut have, anyway, for unbiased coverage when its advertising gurus had research to show that America had no use for such things.

Talk Radio Guy knew, somewhere deep down, that some idiot would one day get the idea for liberal talk radio, the same nationally syndicated bullshit, only spun a different way, to sell more worthless airtime to gullible sponsors.

He felt sorry for his listeners. He knew they were smarter than the Juggernaut's advertising gurus.

He sat in his new Program Director's office and listened to the new management's pitch for his talent, a lecture about the fame that would come with moving to FM, to an afternoon drive slot on an Urban Contemporary station that had been faltering for years in the ratings.

"We all called this pile of goatshit P.D. Mr. Backstreet Boy. Homeboy was pushing 40, single, living off tanning salons and expensive hair gel. He used words like "bro" and "hella" in a vain attempt to stay hip.

"From the first day I met the motherfucker, I knew by all of his flattering comments that, for all of his talk about me being a valuable member of the C________ Family, I was nothing more than a local personality that they were slowly trying to push out of the business. He talked about how valuable I' was, but there was no talk of a pay raise.

"I knew my days were numbered the moment I told Mr. Backstreet Boy that I had no interest in spinning bad hip-hop for imaginary listeners, waiting for Big Fucking Brother to finally install the new receivers for the syndicated shit out of New York."

As Talk Radio Guy sat in Mr. Backstreet Boy's office, he looked over at a picture on the new program director's desk - a beautiful portrait of the P.D. and his girlfriend of two years, a former cheerleader with a certain professional sports team.

He grinned from ear to ear, interrupting the P.D. to ask him a question about the woman in the photograph.

You see, Talk Radio Guy had met the Cheerleader, a sweet woman - not very bright, but sweet - at a dance club three days prior to what was to be his last face-to-face meeting with Mr. Backstreet Boy.

She'd told Talk Radio Guy all about how she loved his funny sportscasts, how he made her laugh while she was in the shower. Talk Radio Guy had pretended to be shocked when the former cheerleader claimed that she was in her late 30s; he'd told her that there was no way in hell such gorgeous woman could be a day older than his 22-year-old self.

The Cheerleader thought Talk Radio Guy was cute in person, that he reminded her of a short, cuddly teddy bear. She kept saying how her boyfriend had never once held a door for her, or bought her a drink, or even asked her what she wanted out of life. She told Talk Radio Guy that she was sure Mr. Backstreet Boy was cheating on her with a younger woman, a college student at Talk Radio Guy's Alma mater.

In fact, she apologized several times over several hours' worth of conversation for telling Talk Radio Guy so much - she claimed that the few Fuzzy Navels had made her tipsy, and that she couldn't believe how connected she felt to Talk Radio Guy, and how she wasn't sure why she felt the way she felt, the attraction...

"I think that's probably the downright meanest thing I've ever done to another man. And I don't regret it one bit.

"Feel bad about using her - I mean, she was cute, but wow, was she dumb. And pro cheerleaders are rarely dumb - I've known several over the years.

Besides, I think she was using me a bit, too - she was a new girl in town with a cheating boyfriend, and I was a voice on the radio, the guy who made her laugh, somebody who listened. Lord, I'm naive but not stupid.

"You know, that's always been the power of local talk radio. It's not about the guy behind the mike, the guy ranting and raving. It's about the listening. That's the seduction, my man.

"You should've seen the look on his face when I asked him about that tattoo on her ass.

He knew, knew instantly. I don't know if it bothered him more that, well, I'd screwed something that meant something to him in retaliation for screwing something I cared about, or that he just never thought a fat guy could ever pull one over on his overgrown Boy Band routine.

"God, California really made me an evil bastard, didn't it?"

Years later, Talk Radio Guy would find irony in the fact that he actually slept around a lot more as a fat guy than he does now, 85 pounds lighter than he was when he was at the end of his broadcasting career.

He also finds it fucking hilarious that people sometimes wonder why he just can't find anything attractive about dumb women. Dumb women are easy to manipulate; they don't make him feel the least bit self-conscious. All he's ever had to do was to just listen - there's no challenge in just listening.

Smart women, on the other hand...

Well, he's still just as dense as a lead brick.

* * * *

For some reason, after finishing my first-ever adult game of Interview, I started to feel better.

I took a rather long nap, downloaded some new MP3s, and even started to clean the wreck I'd left the bathroom.

Hell, maybe taking some time off from work is a good thing, taking time to just let old wounds heal up the way their meant to heal.

After all, time is supposed to heal all wounds, right?

# # #


Cat. said...

First of all, I hope you are getting closer to 100% health. Whatever is making the rounds here seems to stick around forEVER.

Secondly, you make me laugh. Life doesn't end at 30. That's when the REALLY good stories start, the stuff you can look back on and LAUGH your ass off over. Because they're over. If things continue on the trajectory they have so far with you, you'll be simply awesome when you're 40. And 50. And 70. Which is not to say you aren't pretty awesome now.

Unless some wigged out "feminist" kills you first. ;-) Fwiw, I don't think you're anti-women, just anti-stupid. You're equally tough on guys, specifically stupid ones. Maybe you just hate people in general?

Take care of yourself. Working through illness is no joke. I'm glad you're body made that perfectly clear to you this week.

Nick said...

Okay, I'll go on the record here and say that I found this website one day when my girlfriend and I were trying to find out what happened to that 'sports guy' we used to listen to when we were at Poly.

You really were funny shit, dude. I was really shocked when I found out you were a librarian. I just can't see you pushing books around in some library.

Just so you know, my girlfriend and I both read this at work. Its actually funnier than you were on the radio. Hope that's not offensive, but you write like you talk. That's awesome.

Don't sweat the past dude. We all have them. Hope you're feeling better.

KFigment said...

The boy I knew in the man before me...Have I told you how much I miss you? I will always be able to say I knew him when. I will always be able to keep him from being president. I will always be there to laugh and point at his dumb ass for mixing beer bratwurst and tequila.

What we were and what we have been through makes us who we are. There will never be a dead hooker in 2051 in Vegas. Maybe a crappy hotel in LA but you hate Vegas!!! Seriously the only reason I know I don't have any illegitimate kids is cause I have the vagina We all live and learn and bottom line, not to be condescending or anything, but I am so very proud of the man that you have become and I remember that pissed off, coke using, scared little boy I was right there with you.

Hugs and much love from me.

Jessica said...

LMAO! too funny. you're just as neurotic as ever i see.

heard the cheerleader story and the stripper one before [what have i told you young man? date FEATURE DANCERS not house girls] but the whole motherfucker tale explains a lot.

you really do talk like you write.

and do you ever answer your phone? called three times this weekend. have a question

hehe word verification says "cock"

The ZenFo Pro said...

Lol, thanks. I'm getting there, though slower than I'd like.

And let me tell ya, there's nothing like ODing on a prescription anti-inflammatory for friggin' arthritis and joint pain to make ya feel like a senior citizen.

Lmao, yeah, I think I make myself laugh sometimes. I guess I really did sound a bit fogeyish there...I'll probably be a rather crotchety old bastard one day...

Lol, hey thanks, dude. Nice to know somebody remembers my 15 minutes there on the Central Coast.

You and your girlfriend? Wow.

Actually, I make way better money as a librarian than I ever did in radio. I do, however, miss the free shwag from sponsors (a.k.a. I was really sad the first time I had to buy my own lunch at a certain legendary pie-company/restaurant.)

Not offensive at all. Thanks! Lol, I guess I'm a bit embarrassed, because, well, radio listeners never heard me swear like a fucking sailor (that went on off-air.)

Ahh, the beer brats and tequila. It's a wonder that I now drink Cuervo exclusively.

For the record, I was puking about a 1000 times worse than that Wednesday. Fortunately, I nobody saw my balls hanging out that morning while I was wspread eagle on a couch ;P

Lol, no migrant laborer's daughter crack? I'm almost disappointed...

"Either you throw the bitch out or I'm gonna drag her skanky ass out by her weave" is still one of the monumental quotes from the Greeley Fucking Colorado Book of Quotations, huh?

Chica, you're a true original. Don't change, yourself, for anybody :)

Yup. Still neurotic, I guess. Blame it on the illness :D

Lol, I'll remember that... but, well, ya know... ya kinda have to be the kinda guy who goes to strip clubs voluntarily to date feature dancers. And what the hell would a feature dancer want with a librarian, anyway?

Err...don't answer that.

Lol, yep. Got the voicemails. And the texts. Still waiting for the friggin' carrier pigeons before responding ;)

Jessica said...

*BLUSH** Me? Make a comment about featuring? ;-P

I can think of at least a dozen reasons why a feature perdformer or other women would want a certain ohio librarian, honey.
um...that liz phair remix of the remix you sent me is one. BEST V-DAY GIFT EVER!!! and your eyes probably another. you really do have that innocent nerdboy thing working the whole nothing shocks you thing too.

remember discussing anal sex and mormons. brick street. you really should've hit on that chick tina. any bartender who could keep a straight face during that conversation is somebody work hooking up with dude.

lol. and thanks for FUCKING FINALLY RETURNING MY CALL. Bitch

The ZenFo Pro said...

[Lol, before somebody at OSU gets pissed, I'll call you L.A. Jessica:]

LMAO, so glad you chose to not answer that. Glad you liked the remix of Sol's Remix of Fuck and Run. I finally put together a solid Mp3 export that was server-ready.

Anal sex, mormons, and Brick Street comment :)

The ZenFo Pro said...

By the way...

I ran into the bartender in question last week, before I got sick. Thank God she didn't remember that conversation last year. I reintroduced myself and she only remembered me from seeing me in the library all the time.

alice said...

That was quite interesting zenpro.

I think I've found a new game and sometimes I think you think too much, way too much.

I hope the sicks have disappeared.

You too had better start a book.

EsotericWombat said...

Cool game

What was that saying... an asshole and his hot girlfriend are soon parted?

The ZenFo Pro said...

LMAO! Yeah, I do think way too damned much for mine own good. Gets me in trouble more oft than not.

The sicks, lol, left me slowly. But lord, there is nothing like prescriptions to fuck with one's system.

LLol, thanks. Yeah, us former Virginia farmboys have plenty of childhood games like this. This is probably the only town-acceptable one that doesn't require firearms, a fishing pole, or bottle rockets ;)

Smurf said...

Heal all wounds? I think that is a myth, but heal most or separate yourself from your emotions, yea...

Jason Wayne, you are lucky you didn't kill yourself. Alcohol and prescriptions... not a good idea beyond the throwing up you did. I have heard some horror stories.

I have a question. You mentioned Coke... I was told some people do Coke to heighten their sexual experiences... do you think it does that? (lol, not that I am going to try it, but was curious)

The ZenFo Pro said...

Well, it heals all wounds that one wants to let heal. Sometimes, we end up punishing ourselves for things a lot harsher than we should for the past - and I'm just as guilty of that as anybody.

Lol, yeah, actually, I was thinking about how ironic it would've been if I'd died from an anti-inflammatory meds overdose. It would've made for one hell of an obit "Single Non-Cat Owning Librarian Found Dead in Apartment, Apparent Arthritis Med Overdose."


Actually, coke just makes people think they're enjoying themselves more than they are, in all things. It's an escape thing - allows people to chemically lose inhibitions, which, combined with the toxicity of the dosage, creates the illusion of pleasure.

Real sexual satisfaction comes with accepting that sex is a thousand times better when both parties are coherant (hence...why I don't like "hook ups" - it's just erection mechanics for me, and I'd much prefer the architectual aesthetics, to take time and enjoy the scenery ;) and can communicate wishes, intent, and, well, even consent.

D said...

Hey bro! Great talking to you today. We both - obviously - have way too much in common, particularly when it comes to former cheerleaders.

Remember that chick from the Sac. St. game? Whoa. Now she was fun.

Dear God. Did I just write that? This *is* addicting. My wife would kill me if I wrote about those days. How do you still have a job?

Liquid steaks and Guiness at three in the afternoon. Miss those. Quitting those probably peeled the weight off, my man. I STILL can't believe that's you in the pics - and with hair!!!

The ZenFo Pro said...

Oh for fuck's sake, this is starting to turn into a goddamned "This is Your Life" post...

Former roomates, friends of exes, and former colleagues.


Dude, great hearing from you as well. Now that's what I call being on the jazz...if you could track down my fucking number, lord...where's your Peabody?

Oh wait. I'll ask your wife...when she stops by tonight. Must be so hard, faking all those orgasms... ;)

[Yeah, I may be in a better-paying, more scholarly profession, but, lol, well, I can't let you think tht I'e somehow become frail and timid in my old age, Grandpa.]

Bloody Marys. Holy shit, I'm scared to death of anything involving ANY combination of vodka, tomato juice, or Tabasco these days...because of that poor woman from Sacramento.

But c'mon...nothing happened. I'd never stoop so low as to go home with a woman who claimed Boggs was a better defensive third baseman than Brooks Robinson. In my book, that qualifies as a sign of serious mental illness.

Would've been fun, though. If we'd been reasonably sober.

Nice hearing from ya. You've got my number.


Steph said...

A great read as always. You crack me up. :)

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