I’m tired of other people’s busy….
I have a friend, or rather, I know a person who used to ask me how my day was. It was more a matter of circumstance than fate, similar locations, similar work, lots of jokes. He’s a pretty good guy, it’s just that he never stops talking about all of the things he’s doing. I guess he used to do that when we spent more time together, but I suppose it was preferable to the incessant silence of stupid work references and bitching about the lack of lunch choices. I’m not really sure why we kept in touch other than we both got divorced around the same time, and that I had a phone number that people don’t easily forget. About once every month, he calls me and then goes on for thirty or forty minutes about how busy he is, and how little time there is to enjoy the things he enjoys doing. Invariably, his voice gets tired, and he stops long enough for me to think about what it was that I do, and how I have absolutely no desire to talk about it. The thing I find most aggravating, however, is that I’m actually busier than he is, and it’s for stuff that I hate doing. Part of me wants to stop him cold and tell him he’s full of crap, and not very interesting, but then I remember, at least he calls me back.
The worst type of busy person is the one who uses their busy-ness to pull rank on you and tries to make their stupid existence the reason they haven’t returned your fourth phone call. Usually they’ll leave a message on a platform that they know you don’t use regularly. If you never answer your cell phone, they’ll leave it there. If you have an email that you only use for spam, they’ll send it there. If you’re blind and use braille, they’ll hand write you a note and slip it under your door. All of these messages are the same and can be broken down into three areas.
1. I am very, very sorry that I am busier than you and therefore could not return your call.
2. I am going to be even busier over the next several months, so the chances of me talking to you are absolutely zero, exculpating them from any guilt.
3. Something funny about how you never talk.
I don’t doubt that they actually have something stupid to do every day, but the truth of the matter is that no one is EVER that busy. Unless you are an astronaut doing Apollo 13 recreation marathons, you absolutely have time to communicate with me, no matter how boring or stupid you think I am. The truth is that you and I probably don’t get along anymore, and rather than confront the fact that our lives have grown apart, it’s easier to hide behind some Gannt chart of things a mouse has to do before it dies. The difficult choice is for you to establish a clean break and remove me from whatever friend list you’ve built for yourself on the internet to make yourself feel better about becoming a complete prick.
As an American, it was really hard for me to come to this realization. By nature, Americans always feel as though we need to be doing something, and doing it with other people in mind. We don’t actually want to talk to those people, but it makes us feel better if there’s a consensus regarding our goings on. Do you know who does not want to fill their entire day with meaningless menagerie and tripe… the French. Sure, they love their gutsy spectacles, but they refuse to be defined by it. A Frenchman is happiest when he has nothing to do at all, and can enjoy the quiet that it brings to his life. What little he does do during the day, makes the relaxation afterwards special. More importantly, it gives him time to notice how stupid all of us busy people are.
What is it exactly that we get for all of our activity? Unfortunately it’s the guilt to surmise that we are not active enough. It’s kind of like jumping out of a two story window, and then feeling bad because your next door neighbor feels bad that he only jumped out of a three story window. Then there’s those assholes who only jump out of the first story windows, but keep running up the stairs as fast at they can, so that they can brag about how many stories they jumped out of that day. Can we all just decide that it might be better if we looked out of the window instead, and stopped trying to land on top of each other at the bottom? Who knows, maybe we’ll have time to appreciate the things we see outside of it, rather than bitch about how many times we have to open it to avoid talking to one another.
I used to like winter. I know that as you get older, the cold does different things to your body, but that’s not what happened to me. If I had my way, I’d live in cold temperatures 365 days a week. I hate the heat, I hate the sun, and I hate sweating, so cold cold cold does it for me. The big problem that I have with winter, is snow. I remember one time being enamored with what you could do with snow. My uncle Julius was phenomenal when it came to all things frozen. He could create real people from ice, the way those stupid painters on the boardwalk paint your portrait. The main differentiator was that his work looked real, and seemed to breath, even though you could almost see through it. Uncle Julius told me that once he figured out how to make shadows using snow, the rest was easy. The speed with which he worked was breathtaking and the slack-jaws that came to watch him ice sculpt always went away with something to tell their friends.
I remember Uncle Jules used to have women line up every day, I mean hot women who hadn’t forgotten how to dress. Jules always had this sly look on his face and never seemed to really look his models directly in the eye, except when he got really really close to their face. He always touched the women’s cheek with a piece of ice, which always made them shiver and left a little drop of water running down their face. It got pretty old after awhile, but it seemed to be the only joy he derived in the entire experience, which wasn’t unusual considering how much Uncle Jule hated people, even the hot ones.
Every year, from about November to the middle of January, he would go outside of his welding shop and hold court for three to four hours as people lined up to either watch or buy tickets to be sculpted. For a long time, I was his assistant, and he always got me something really cool for Christmas as my payment, and then something equally great on the last day of the season. He called it Christmas in July, which is why I never understood what that meant until I was much older. With all of this happy good time “storieness” that I’m laying on you, I suppose you’re wondering what went wrong. That’s where my mother comes in, and her season of Snow Prohibition.
As I started getting older and figuring out the bullshit that was being slung towards my general direction, I actually had the nerve to start questioning my parents. At first it was simple little things like, “Egyptian children were only allowed to use military time when addressing their elders”, but eventually I got into complete, personal untruths such as, “the reason girls don’t talk to you is because you hold your mother’s well being in contempt”. It didn’t take long to discover that the reason girls didn’t talk to me was because my mother didn’t let me start wearing deodorant until I was thirteen, approximately a year and a half after I needed it. There’s a whole long explanation for that, but I’ll save it for another post.
The biggest fight I’ve ever had with my mother came at the age of 15, and had nothing to do with frozen water at all. It started off simply enough, during a discussion of a television show that only lasted one season. The argument revolved around whether or not the main character was adopted. My mom had missed three episodes, and didn’t realize that the reason the parents were so awful to “James” was because they weren’t his parents at all, and were only raising him so that they could spend his real parent’s money that he didn’t yet know about. (There’s a reason it only lasted one season). I had made some smart ass comment about being adopted myself, and this led to a very detailed discussion about episodes one through four and how I didn’t know anything about plot lines, adoption, or what it takes to be a parent. It got pretty heated, and finally, much as my father had done in the past, I gave up and entered into the silent treatment mode, which drove my mother absolutely nuts. The only good thing about being fifteen was that my mother didn’t have much on me in the way of punishment. I didn’t have a car, girlfriend, video games or a pet that she could take away. In a moment of desperation, she remembered that I loved hanging out with my Uncle, and this is where she chose to strike.
“Okay smart alec, you think it’s easy being argued with and then ignored…well then you’re not going to see any snow this year, not one goddamned flake. Do you understand? Not only are you not going to help Jule with the sculptures, you’re not even so much as smelling a drop of winter,” and with that she stormed out of the room.
I didn’t really think much of it at the time. It was early October, and I knew she would cool off after a couple of months. I was wrong.
I’ve mentioned in the past that we weren’t completely loaded, but my mom had some happy money that my Dad gave her to leave him alone. I think it was late November when a special two hour viewing of that particular show came on, and very clearly showed that James was adopted, and that his adopted parents were complete crap. Unfortunately for me, this reminded my mom of our argument, and the “de-snowetizing” of my fifteenth winter began.
At first it was easy for her. She was able to ground me for most of the time, the weather was mild, and any accumulation melted off before I was awake. It wasn’t until the second week of December that it started to get a little crazy. Apparently hot air balloon operators are desperate to earn a some dough before Christmas, and were very happy to sit outside my window during a snow storm, blasting away at the poor little flakes with their large propane flame throwers. The plan was flawed, but even when I did see snow, I didn’t dare tell her about it, lest she prolong the torture. The truth of the matter was that I really missed working on the ice sculptures, and it wasn’t until Uncle Jules interceded that my mother finally relented. That, and the fact that the giant outdoor tent she was having assembled over our back yard was starting to get complaints from the neighbors. You may ask yourself where was my father in all of this? I asked myself the same question and was only told much later that she had tried to pull the same stunt during the second year of their marriage, and he was afraid he was in trouble again. I guess I don’t blame him. I never argued with my mother about another television show, and Uncle Jules bought me a TV for Christmas that year, so that my mother and I didn’t have to watch the same shows. Unfortunately, however, it was too late to help Jules with his ice sculpture business, and I’ll never forgive the little flakes that kept me from being happy during an entire winter.
Three brands of latex condoms.
Not being able to cheat on my ex-wife during a dream, even though I’m not married to her, and the fact that she cheated on me with numerous people.
No left turns in New Jersey.
Not being able to watch Ballet or Musical Theater without crossing my eyes.
Michael Douglas’s last line in any of his films.
Everything Plumbing related, including but not limited to drains.
The time I took my car in to be worked on, and the guy told me to get the hell out of there because the new sticker on the back of my car said, “bunnies, not buddies”
March 1998- September 2000
The words for “Help me Rhonda” by the Beach Boys permanently altered to “Help me Obama”, even though she didn’t vote, nor allowed me to watch MSNBC during the entire 2008 election.
My fear of flying on any airline other than Jet Blue, which severely limits where I can travel to in the world.
Not owning any white gym socks
Not being able to trust fast food drive thrus, meaning that I have to always go into a fast food restaurant lobby, which immediately defeats the purpose.
Stupid coconut tree suntan lotion.
Growing up, we didn’t have “buy your own Zoo” money, but we were pretty well off. I guess you could say we had “private housekeeper and nanny” money. My dad’s two books did really well in Germany, and I don’t know if it was the exchange rate, or Germany’s obsession with hitting itself in the head with psychology books, but for whatever reason, my dad cleaned up. This was probably the best thing for all of us, because my mother grew up with money and had absolutely no idea how to relate to the rest of the world. In her mind, going from a housekeeper to a nanny was a major promotion, not realizing that both jobs were pretty crappy, especially when you had to deal with my mom. She hired and fired more people than General Motors in the early 80’s and to make matters worse, all of the women that she hired had to look a certain way. That certain way was an uglier version of my mom, or at least an unattractive version of her. She was really hung up on my father cheating, because my second grandpa on my mother’s side cheated on my grandma, or at least that’s how my mother remembers it. Turns out that my second grandfather just hated playing doubles tennis with my grandmother and chose other partners to play with, at least that’s how my father remembers it. Because of this, most of my childhood was filled with creepy xeroxed one-offs of my mother, usually muttering to themselves that they weren’t going to take this crap for much longer and purchasing large amounts of lottery tickets.
To say that working for my mother was awful would not be an exaggeration. I know because being her son was a lot like working for her, and I was constantly looking for other families to hire me away. I remember one woman in particular who started off enthusiastically, only to be crushed by my mother three months later for wearing uncharacteristically dark shoes. This poor woman tried her best to work through her first three months, but in the end started hitting on my dad in order to get fired. It was a hypothesis that all of the nannies and housekeepers shared, and was passed along from generation to generation, much the same way grasshoppers tell each other that the ants may have food, “but have you ever tried talking to one?” I would like to say that some of these women went on to do bigger and better things with there lives, but my mother aggressively kept all knowledge of their whereabouts and existence out of our consciousness.
One of the side benefits of my mother’s choice in help was that she could pass them off as “herself”, or at worst, as one of her sisters. I can’t tell you how many PTA and teacher conferences were attended by an undervalued doppelgänger with my Mom’s first name. The thing about my mom is that she hated people, all of them. She could no more stand being around commoners than she could her family, which made for very awkward play dates and birthday parties. I lost several friends every year, once their mother found out that they had never seen the actual Mrs. Vacourslon, much less spoken to her. I think if my mom had sucked it up and kept at least one employee “stand in” for longer than six weeks at a time, I could have had a somewhat normal childhood. After several years of therapy, I have concluded that segmented forty two days of stability does not a well rounded person make. The only justification she gave us was this one time when she made us watch Mary Poppins, pointing out that a good nanny should be able to completely change a household in the course of ninety minutes, with or without an awkward cockney chimney sweep. Ironically, she kept the same chimney guy for my entire childhood, perhaps a feinted threat towards my father in case he ever got the wandering eye. Looking back, I wonder if things would have been easier if my mother had hired actresses to fill the role of “Mrs. Vcourslon”, rather than unsuspecting day labor who only wanted to do a good job and be paid accordingly. I’m not sure that one actress would be able to capture the many facets of my mother’s neurosis, but at least my kindergarten graduation would have gone better.
I hate stories about growing up. Childhood is stupid and the people who make money off of it annoy me to no end. I remember my Grandmother flying into our living room when I was a kid, screaming for me to stop watching a Shirley Temple movie. She literally pulled the power cord so hard that my dad had to have the TV repaired. My grandmother was always breaking my Dad’s televisions. They pretty much hated each other anyway, so the fact that the TV was going to be out of commission for two weeks caused another huge fight. My dad was German, and didn’t really appreciate being a called a Nazi sympathizer, nor having her explain to him that it was the Nazi’s who first put children on television for propaganda, and it was their model that the moguls in Hollywood were using to put children on TV today. Furthermore, if my grandfather (who was also German) had not died in WWII, they would have certainly had a son, who would have kicked my father’s ass up and down, long before he even thought of dating my mother. I don’t remember much more of the fight, but it ended with my father storming out of the house, swearing up and down that he was going to find a nursing home.
After my father left, my grandmother gave me the entire breakdown of evil child stars from the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s. Apparently, when she was seven, one of her aunts has taken her to a studio in New York to audition for some type of television variety hour. She was up against this family of black kids who had made a name for themselves in Tennessee playing the spoons and tap dancing with only one leg. Needless to say neither she, nor the black kids got picked, and instead this little girl from Brooklyn ended up going on that week, eventually winning third runner up behind a singing dog act and someone related to the future Frank Sinatra.
Because of this, my grandmother hated all kid actors, and forbid all of us from watching, listening, or talking about anyone younger than 16 who appeared on television or the movies. It took my mother three hours to prove to grandma that Judy Garland was 16 when she made “Wizard of Oz” and that it was okay for me to watch it on Thanksgiving, namely because that was the only thing our TV would pickup because she had broken the antenna again. Because of the poor reception, Dorothy arrived to an all black and white Oz, causing my grandmother and father to have yet another screaming match. I’m not going to get into the whole “munchkin” argument, let’s just say that my grandma died thinking that they were part of a government experiment for submarines.
It was probably my grandmother’s hatred of child actors that gave me my first shot of being on television. When I was five and a half, my father drove me into Queens to go visit the set of Sesame Street. A buddy of his worked on the lighting crew there, and every once in awhile they were allowed to bring their kids onset to watch. Since this buddy didn’t have any kids, he told my dad to bring me. Apparently there had been a rash of Latinos recently, and there weren’t enough non-bilingual kids for Maria to teach Spanish to. The only trick was getting there by 5:30 am, which was convenient for me, because grandma wasn’t awake yet and couldn’t ask me where I was going.
I didn’t get to spend much time with my Dad, and it was pretty great, except for the fact that he kept telling me, “now don’t act stupid”, which basically meant that I had to remember the alphabet and not tell any of my grandmother’s jokes. His big fear for me was that “S” would be the letter of the day, and because I was missing my two front teach, I’d get bumped from the show. It didn’t matter anyway because my dad’s friend apparently didn’t have the “pull” that he had bragged to my father about, and only had tickets for us to watch the show, not be in it.
“So I dragged my ass all of the way down here for nothing?” my father bellowed in an alleyway outside of the studio.
“I thought your son would like watching the show.” His buddy looked nervously from the stage door to the group of union guys sipping coffee before their shift started.
“He can watch the freakin’ show at home. What the hell were you thinking? I told my wife that my son was going to be on Sesame Street. Do you know how much crap I’m going to get if that doesn’t happen?”
“Okay, Jesus, calm down, let me see what I can do. Maybe he can stand in the background or something.” Fifteen minutes later, a wardrobe guy came out, put a green shirt on me and I was taken backstage and told to be quiet while they gathered the cast and puppeteers. It wasn’t long before I saw Kermit, Grover, and the Restaurant Guy, all being brought in by the scraggliest group of people I had ever seen. They lined up behind the set, which was above their heads and proceeded to put the puppets in place for the camera test. It was at that moment that I realized that puppets didn’t wear anything below their shirts. I always figured that they would at least try to cover them up below the belly button. My mother insisted that I do so with my sister’s dolls and even my Mr. Potato Head. As I sat there, I remembered all of the jokes my grandmother told me not to tell my mom, trying not to laugh to myself, wondering if I looked cute enough for them to pick me to do a segment and get on TV the way my father wanted.
I guess I did okay, because I was assigned to sit in the background of Big Bird’s nest as he sang a song about different colored feathers. When you watch the episode, I’m on the far left, the side of the TV my grandmother hated the most. I even got paid a little, which made my father’s victory that much sweeter.
“Now I can get the TV fixed properly and shove it so far up your grandmother’s ass that she’ll have an antenna sticking out of her nose.” Grandma hated antennas, especially car antennas, which is why we couldn’t listen to the radio on the way home.
My Father is STILL a crap Father
I just want to start off by saying that I love my sister, my mother, and even my father. I’m not pissed off that my sister told my father about my blog, I’m just pissed off that she taught him how to use the computer. Actually, she didn’t teach him, she bought him one of those lame iPad pieces of crap, and bookmarked my blog for him. She, of course, did all of this without telling me, so needless to say, when he read about himself being a crap dad, he got a little upset.
Now the thing about my dad, is that getting upset for him means that he doesn’t take it out on you, he takes it out on your sense of worth. Instead of yelling or throwing things, the way a normal person would do, he calmly wrote me a four page, single-spaced letter, (written in cursive, I guess my sister was too cheap to buy him a printer) about his overall disappointment with me.. I’ll save you the multiple inferences, but basically the letter was about how my anger towards him does not come from anything that he’s done. Apparently my frustration stems from my own inability to accept unhappiness as a part of life, rather than turn it into “a predicated force of nature that eliminates the simple will to turn your life around”. In other words, he thinks I’m spoiled and that I blame everything on him rather than take the time to find out why. He also said that if I had continued the sessions with Uncle Stu, (there are three other psychologists on my father’s side of the family, figure that one out DAD) that I might have found a more constructive outlet for my frustration than to “create a public forum whereby to humiliate certain parties in order to justify your socialization defects”. Thanks dad. Thanks a lot.
First of all, I created this blog because I love Dr. Pepper, NOT because I don’t love you. In short, I finally found something that I want to do, and the only input you have is to tell me that I suck. Well I don’t suck, you suck, and if you want me to buy a thesaurus and hand write a bunch of stupid words describing how much you suck, forget it. We both know that your critique of my writing comes from all of your library of medical books that you never let me look at because you said they would just confuse me. We both know the real reason that you never let me touch them is that you are CONSTANTLY lifting lines and quoting them, and you wanted me to think that you were this brilliant father who didn’t need Thorndike to complete a sentence.
I know the real reason you’re upset with the blog is that you’re afraid that someone is going to see the last name and think that it’s you. Don’t worry Dad, none of your stupid psychiatrist friends have EVER had any time to read anything I’ve written before, and the only way that they’ll find out about it is if you try to apologize for me before they see it, or try to send them a link, which is NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE, because you don’t know what a link is.
But we both know that you’ll never say another word about my writing to me, or to anyone you know. Vacourslon edict REWARDS good behavior by paying attention to it, and PUNISHES bad behavior by ignoring it. So to all of my loyal readers (AND DAD I HAVE 2567 UNIQUE VISITORS THIS WEEK ALONE, NOT THAT YOU WOULD EVER KNOW WHAT THAT IS OR WHAT IT MEANS) this blog is bad behavior and will be ignored by the BIGGEST IDIOT that has ever fathered a son. And yes, I still love my father, and even though he refuses to participate in my life, I will not ignore him when he’s old and sick and needs someone to give a crap about him (and don’t think that Zo is going to take care of you dad, because she’s already told me that she’s not). If there’s one thing that I’ve learned (that you never had time to teach me), it’s that “it doesn’t matter who loves you, as long as you love someone”.
And yes Dad, I lifted that from LUCY AND CHARLIE BROWN, something else that you never let me read.