I know, I know. It's been a while. A few stories about my butt cheeks and the women who love them have apparently sapped my creativity. Fear not, my progeni have volunteered to entertain where their dear, proud dad has fallen off. The back story: We took advantage of some down time this past Sunday to go for a lovely train ride in Strasburg, PA. Along the way, the boys broke out into this holiday classic and wowed the entire crowd. Not a dry eye on the train, I tell ya. All six of them. And so, recreated here for your viewing enjoyment and without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, I present ... this ... thing.
"You, you got what I need. And you say he's just a friend. And you say he's just a friend, oh baby you." -- Biz Markie
So, have you ever been to Cancun? I was there once. A lifetime ago. But that's not to say that I don't still have very vivid memories of the trip. For instance, I remember being extremely hungover and taking a 3-hour bus ride to the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza. When we finally got there, the first thing I saw was this. So I did what any able bodied American male would do: I climbed it. I climbed for what felt like an hour before I looked down and realized that I was only 3/4 of the way up. Then I climbed some more until I got to the top. Then I remembered that I'm really, intensely afraid of heights. And did I mention that I was hungover? OK, just wanted to be sure I was using all the colors when painting the picture. Needless to say it was a long, emotionally painful descent. When I got to the bottom I found myself on the opposite side of the pyramid from where I'd started. And on THIS side, the Chichen Itza Parks and Recreation Department had put up a lovely little sign informing park patrons of the number of falling-off-the-pyramid deaths that had occurred to date in that particular calendar year. Seriously. And it had flip numbers like an old-time deli. "Now serving number thirty thr...(AAAHHHHHHH!!!!!! FOOMP!) uh, four." My trip was in early December and the number on the sign was 37. That's fucked up, yo. Can you imagine if 37 people a year were crushed to death by the Liberty Bell? Like, NOBODY would come to Philadelphia. Anyhoo, the night before is the real reason that the death-avoiding portion of my brain had failed me that day. What happened that night? 2 words: Booze. Cruise. Color me naive, but before that night I had assumed that alcohol would be optional and consumed at one's own pace on a booze cruise. I mean, the word "cruise" implies leisure and a certain amount of autonomy, right? Cha, this was more like the tequilalympics. As soon as I set foot on the boat, BAM, some tiny Mexican guy is literally standing on a chair, pouring alcohol down my throat and spinning me around. And he's obviously a shitty judge of volumes and capacities as tequila punch is now pouring down my face and staining my $5 souvenir t-shirt. Little man and his shipmates lead us gringos into communal conga line formation as "Whoomp, There It Is" blares over the ship's tinny speakers. God, I hate this song. The line snakes around the ship's deck with gringos stopping at no fewer than 6 drinking stations along the circuit. After about 45 minutes we're pulling up to the dock. I'm trying to count the number of tequila shots I've had on-board. Twenty four? That can't be right. So hard to think with "Whoomp, There It Is" pumping over the ship's awesome sound system. God, I love this song! Hey, what's that, a buffet? I fucking LOVE food! And I love you, tiny guy who's leading us to the food! Let me pick you up! What? No, I don't need any more tequi ... OK! I love you, man. Hommes. My hommes on the range. Oh, snap! That's where they get that from, isn't it: "Yo, hommes." All these years I thought they were saying "Holmes," as in "You are to me what Holmes was to Watson" or some shit. What? Yeah, tequila. Don't mind if I do. It's like brain food or something. Meanwhile, there's some kind of show going on. A whole bunch of tiny guys dancing with firesticks. Cool! God, I'm thirsty. Where's tequila guy? WHOOMP, THERE HE IS! MI AMIGO! Oh, AWEsome. That tiny Herve Villachez mother fucker just said we're going to play some kind of games now. Beach Olympics! WHOOMP, THERE IT IS! I can PLAY me some olympics, yo. Wait, what? Herve's pointing at me. What's he saying? He wants me to be a contestant? NO WAY! This is the BEST day EVER! I'm game, Herve! What do I do? Uh huh. Drink tequila, uh huh. Put the butt of this baseball bat on the ground and my nose on the handle, uh huh. Spin around 10 times, race down the beach to the other bat station, uh huh. Drink more tequila, spin around 10 more times and race back here. PFFT, that's EASY! And this other dude from the audience? I'mma kick his ASS! No offense, other dude. I love you, hommes. See you at the finish line. On my mark. Get set. TEQUILA! spinspinspinspinspin (whoa!) spinspinspinspinspinstand. AGHH! What happened to the earth's axis while I was spinning? Fuck, there goes other dude. I'd better hurry. I'm OFF. I'm veeeeeerrriiinnnnnnnggggg rightrightright, can't stop! Picking up speed! Mayday, mayday, we're gonna crash! OH, the HUMANITY!
At this point in the story I'd like to explain that several of Herve's tiny friends had been lining the "runway" charged with keeping participants from falling and possibly hurting themselves. Well, keeping normal-sized participants safe, anyway. Did I mention I'm 6'5"? And when I say Herve's buds were tiny, I'm talking not one of them broke the 5 foot mark. So I guess I can't blame them for running away from me like, well, something that runs away really fast. Funny, when I learned the island we were sailing to was named Isla Mujeres, Island of Women, I thought the name had something to do with actual women, not faggy Mexican dudes. Long story short, I landed in the sand well short of the finish line. And when I landed I was still moving. And because I had neither control of my body nor sense of up and down, I landed first on my right ear, then slid on my right hip, my back to the crowd. The impact of my landing pulled my loose elastic-waist shorts down to slightly below my knees. I was not wearing underwear. Again. You'd really think I'd have learned after the whole Mickey thing. The audience, now on their feet, is shouting, "WHOOMP, THERE IT IS!" at my bare ass.
I spend the rest of the evening digging sand out of my ear and my pockets and hiding in the back of the crowd. Time's up. I make my way to the boat. I find a nice, secluded seat on the bow and am relieved to find that the ride home is much less audience-participation-y than the ride there. Things are quiet, no drinking. The waves are calming. My soul is beginning to heal. And then from the ship's tinny speakers I hear something -- recorded laughter and music. I turn to see a television screen aglow with images of the night's cruise. Wow, they video taped the whole trip without us knowing it. And now they're selling copies for $15 each as souvenirs. Smart. By now the whole ship is glued to the TV sets, people trying to pick themselves and their friends out in the crowd. There's everyone on the ride over, drinking and dancing. There we are getting off the boat. There's the buffet. There's Herve. I turn my head back to the water, not wanting to see what I know is coming. But in perfect time a loud voice from within the crowd yells, "THERE'S THAT GUY'S ASS!" Roar. Where's that fucking tequila midget when I really need him. Oh well, I'll never be able to come back HERE again. The ship finally docks and I hang back to let the rest of the crowd get off first. As I'm about to disembark the ship's captain comes up to me and shakes my hand. They had never sold nearly this many copies of that damn video before. All in a day's work, captain. No thanks necessary. On the 5-block walk back to the hotel, I am approached or heralded by at least 15 different people from the cruise -- some of whom are staying at the same hotel, which allows us to bump into each other several times before I fly back home. Joy. And for the rest of my time in Cancun I will officially be known as Ass Guy.
"Rectum? Shit, it damn near killed him." -- Richard Pryor
Ethan, I understand that the past few posts have been kinda emo and may give you reason to suspect that daddy was a big, hairy girlscout back in the day. So I figured I'd change the tone a bit with a few quick stories about my ass. Because nothing redeems one's reputation for masculine levelheadedness like a good ass story.
Story 1: The Real Reason Daddy Can Never Be President My college roommate, the guy you call uncle Mickey? Total prick. Oh sure, he seems like an OK guy when he's giving you dollar bills for fetching him beer, but don't let him fool you. Prick prick prick. The fact that he keeps calling you Evan should give you a pretty clear idea of what I'm talking about. When we were in school together uncle Mickey used to have a job working for one of the hotter nightclubs in the area. His job was to take a sweet-ass, state-of-the-art video camera and cruise the beaches looking for beautiful people. He'd tape interviews with them, maybe throw in a few random hot bod shots and tell everyone that if they wanted to see themselves on TV, they should come to the club that night and bring all their beautiful friends. (And for this he was paid? Of all the jobs I held during college, I'm hard pressed to remember one where I didn't smell like a NY cabbie's ass in August by the end of my shift.) The lure worked pretty well, as apparently beautiful people are really into seeing themselves on TV. At the time I was working the graveyard shift as a room service waiter at a hotel-casino (smellier than it sounds). My days began at about 10 p.m. when I'd wake up to get ready for work. I'd work from 11 p.m. until 7 a.m., do a little studying, head to classes, then come home and go to sleep at about 2 in the afternoon. Honestly, it more than kinda blew since I didn't get to hang out with my friends during the day, but it was really good money and I got to meet a lot of celebrities who wouldn't dare show their faces in restaurants for fear of being mobbed. For all I know, I'm the only guy from our school who ever scored a bathrobe autographed and worn by Frank Sinatra -- well, the only guy who didn't have to compromise his beliefs to get one, anyway. Big tipper, Ol' Blue Eyes. Salta da oyth. So I had this one particular night off from work. Mickey was begging me to come to the club that night because he had shot this amazing video and I gotta see it and it will change my life and may end all disease and hunger and wars and there may be a vice-pope position in it for me if I play my cards right. Cha, whatever. Mickey knew the bartenders. He had me at cheap drinks. Now, one of the hooks to this club was that there were televisions on every wall, spaced no more than a few inches apart, from about waist-high up to the ceiling. There literally must have been more than 500 TVs in the place. That's why Mickey's beach video worked so well there. I walk into the club that night with our other roommate, TJ. Not a lot of people there, not a lot going on. I scan the room looking for Mickey and finally see him up in the DJ booth. He's pointing wildly all around him at the TV screens, which at the time were playing the head sucking scene from Videodrome. He looks down and appears to be playing with some kind of switch. The screens turn black for a second and the music stops. Then the screens brighten with a new scene. Hand-held, kinda shaky, obviously not Videodrome. It looks like this was taken in somebody's house. Familiar. I've been here before. Wait, that's our house. The "Hotel California," in beautiful Marvin Gardens. Cool. I watch as the camera heads upstairs. The audio track, now being pumped full-volume over the club's impressive sound system, is what sounds like at least 2 guys whispering and giggling. Sounds like Mickey and another roommate, Matt. They're at the top of the stairs. There's my bedroom. Why are they heading toward my bedroom? They're opening my door. Why are they opening my door? Hey, there I am sleeping on my bed. On my side, relaxed fetal position. Hey, there's my ass. Hey, I sleep uncovered and in the nude and there's my ass. On TV. No, on 500 TVs. In a bar where there may be people who know me. Everybody in the club -- patrons, managers, bartenders, cooks peeking out from the kitchen -- are laughing hysterically. The volume from their collective laughter seems disproportionately high considering the number of people responsible for it. Me? I'm paralyzed -- too numb to feel TJ's arm around me as he leans in to whisper, "I had nothing to do with this, man." No matter. You're still a dead man, jerkoff. As soon as I can move my legs again I'm gonna bury one or both of my feet in your ass. The camera swings around to my face. The camera operators are having a hard time suppressing their laughter, but are apparently quiet enough to not wake me. I'm really a sound sleeper, eh? Quite cherubic and innocent, too, in the frames that feature my face. The camera moves back to my ass. Zoom in. Zoom out. Zoom WAY in. Mercifully, my nads are hidden between my legs. Slow pan back to the face. Zoom in. Zoom out. Zoom WAY in. I can hear Matt on the videotape asking the sleeping me if the camera smells funny. Then one more shot of my ass annnnnnnnd SCENE! The screen goes dark. The houselights come up. Mickey grabs the DJ's mic and says something like, "Ladies and gentlemen, we have a movie star in the audience tonight. Ed, take a bow." Now, some folks say that videotape was overwritten. Some say it sits in a vault somewhere in a warehouse in New Jersey. Some say it's in the remote corner of the basement in an ancient Italian church being guarded by the Knights Templar. All I know -- all I CARE about -- is that it's not on youtube. Not yet. Stay tuned for Story 2: La Isla Moon Hairies
"Doin' the butt. Hey. Sexy, sexy. Ain't nothing wrong if you wanna do the butt all night long." -- E.U.
Yeah, that whole Katie Couric thing? I know it's only a few days old, but nevermind. I quit. You know, from the time it crossed my mind to put it out there it felt ... odd. Like totally-against-everything-I-stand-for odd. I actually wondered where the hell I was going with it and, frankly, I'm surprised I let me get as far as I did. Oh sure, I could have found a way to weave some gems into the fabric, like using "I Can Hear Russia From My House" as a post title, but at the end of the day that whole celebrity stalker thing? Smokescreen. And not one that I'm particularly adept at keeping up, either. (I knew Bloggess, and you, sir, are no Bloggess!). Truth be told, I don't give a rat's ass about Katie Couric (no offense, Katie). In fact, I consider her to be part of "the problem" -- part of a machine that intentionally blurs news and entertainment together to make we poor shitheads think that by following the Balloon Boy story loosely we're sufficiently invested when actually we've just been distracted from shit that would make us bleed from the eyes if we bothered to watch (offense, Katie). But that's a breakdown for another day. This isn't about Katie Couric and it never was. No, this is all about Ethan and DAMN me for diluting that for a single second. DAMN me for putting my own internal conflicts ahead of the needs of my child. And in classic circus format, too. What the fuck is wrong with me?
You know what the hardest part of this whole trip is for me? It's not the waiting. In fact, there's safety in waiting. Because when you're waiting, distractions are OK -- welcome, even. The elephant is free to roam about some other area of the room. Hell, you may even busy yourself in the Oncologist's office by reading a magazine while waiting for your next chemotherapy treatment -- maybe something about the Top10 Places to Retire in Style because, for just a moment, you forgot. No, what's hardest about this is NOT waiting. Because every time I'm NOT waiting -- every time I'm forced to regard the whole fucked up thing in all its glorious fuckedupedness -- I have to remember to forget the three most dangerous words I know: IT'S. NOT. FAIR.
It's not fair that Ethan was born like this. There I said it. That seems like such a natural, organic thought, doesn't it? But follow along as my mind attempts to put the ARG!!! into argument, and it does this EVERY. FUCKING. TIME: The genesis ... This was just a random thing. So there's technically no one to blame. And if there's no one to blame, there's no one to get mad at. And if there's no one to get mad at, then anger is a waste of time. Well, that makes sense but the fact remains that I do feel anger. So there must be something wrong with me. And if there's no logical place to direct this anger, what the fuck do I do with it? Maybe I should just cry. Again. Oh, I know. I can stalk Katie Fucking Couric! I understand that, at least in part, my anger is just a redirection of my fear. Like when you corner a wild animal and said animal responds with some expression that looks an awful lot like anger. Perfectly understandable in my case since Ethan's going to have to go through 2 pretty intense surgeries in a very short time after all. There's a lot to be fearful of. Phew, finally some negativity I can embrace! Meanwhile, every time I have to make a phone call or get an e-mail or think about this at all, I get a knot in my stomach. I feel the adrenaline jetting through my body. Dread. Fear. Anger ... and they all crash full force into the Inbox on the desk of my mind's editor, who's no doubt sitting there just shitting his pants at the magnitude of his job. Poor little bastard has to take all this raw emotion and bundle it into something digestable. And I'm thinking that the fact that you're reading this now may be a sign that he quit. Otherwise you'd no doubt be entertained (?) by my follow up note to Katie Couric where I attempted to pressure her by suggesting that she could be replaced with Dustin "Screech" Diamond, whose birthday also happens to be on January 7. No. No. No. My goal for this space is to provide Ethan with some insight as to what these times were like. And I failed miserably. I'm sorry, Ethan. It won't happen again. And for the record? During these times? If you ever wanted to know how I felt? I was scared out of my fucking mind.
"One need not be a chamber to be haunted: One need not be a house; The brain has corridors surpassing Material place." -- Emily Dickinson