Monthly Archives: November 2011

The Dumbbell Uppercut

I like a good beer every now and then. In fact, I’m drinking one now because WHAT THE FUCK HANIE, THAT WAS THE WORST START SINCE KRISTALLNACHT. (Caleb Hanie is the new quarterback for the Chicago Bears, and “Kristallnacht” is the name of the first episode of Whitney.)

For a few years, though, I wasn’t a huge fan of moderation. Like many teens, I liked drinking because if you do it enough you aren’t scared of people or hospitals. Plus, the more you drink, the more people around you want to drink, and the more they do, the more likely you are to have sex with something alive.

sample chorus from song I wrote in this period: "I try not to hit on girls at parties, 'cause if they like me they're fucking wasted."

"Looking for warm bodies who like to party!"

I started getting my drunk on at the tender, fuckable age of 15. I’d had a few drinks at parties, but I was so worried about getting trashed that I never let go. Then my parents got divorced and for the first time I had home access to alcohol. Dad’s a strict teetotaler—once, he lectured me on Demon Rum while I watched in horror as he poured a gifted bottle of Grand Marnier down a drain—and my mom was glad to finally keep a couple basic cocktail ingredients in stock at her new place. When she wasn’t at home I mixed myself the worst martinis ever made, varying the dose to discover my tolerance level.

not my fault this party had Tempur-Pedic pillows

Higher... higher... too high.

On one of my drunkest afternoons, my dad called to remind me that his custody period started that day. Shit. Want me to pick you up? Uhhhh, no, thas fine, is a niceday out, I’m gonna walk. What a sight it must have been: me stumbling the six landscaped blocks from her place to his, clutching my backpack like a life preserver. “Sweetie, slow down! That poor chubby boy has a muscle disease. He could wander into the road at any moment.”

The sad part is how close I was to making it. I came in through the garage for some drunk reason, only to be ganged up on by a shelf and the floor.

the shelf rights movement is still in its infancy

I'm not racist, but if I see a couple shelves out on a corner I'll cross the street.

Once inside, I mumbled something about being tired and passed out on the couch for sixteen hours. My bruises the next morning turned me off of drinking for a solid year. Of course, as longtime readers know, I didn’t learn from this experience.

None of the drinking I did in college, though, compared to my Drunk Summer. I came home from freshman year with the exact mix of unemployment, boredom, and self-destructiveness that would’ve made me a terrorist anywhere else. There’s a reason hack Midwestern comics talk about how there’s nothing to do in small towns but drink and smoke weed: living in one drowns their funny brain cells.

IN JOKE

"I spent my twenties killing myself. Go Buckeyes!" (applause break)

Every few days, a couple of friends and I would get together to pound through a bottle of liquor and whatever weed we had. Sure, it was about as healthy as kidney punching each other for an hour, but we never let it get out of hand. No one drove or fucked strangers. All we did was watch stand-up DVDs and lie about girls.

Well, all right. It got out of hand twice.

when people say they're not proud of this period of their lives they're always lying a little

Who put this mug of rum and coke in the freezer? Me?

That picture’s from the morning after the second craziest party I’ve ever thrown. My dad had just gotten remarried and planned to sell his duplex, so before I went back to school my brother and I invited a few people over to get wrecked on a night he spent at our stepmother’s place. The most vivid memory I have of the experience is waking up on the couch that morning, pantsless, with my glasses smashed into my face, a broken guitar and an iron dumbbell at my side, and a thin trail of dried blood between my eyes, unsure how any of this happened.

hope we left a good tip

We ordered pizza AND a ukulele?

WIth a little help, I pieced the details together. The night started with a game of Thumpers emceed by our giant, hyperkinetic Irish friend Matt, who decreed that everyone should chuck whatever bullshit plans they made because it was time to get fucking trashed. Soon after, someone said we should take our shirts off, and everyone did. Well, everyone except this uncomfortable guy I didn’t  know who was there with his already-single-in-her-mind girlfriend, and me, because the sight of my torso would’ve ruined my chances with said girlfriend.*

my brother, ladies and gents. Used to use this as blackmail but now it's just fun public shame!

Like this, but much, much, much worse.

That pic’s from around 10 o’clock. We drank until 2.

Somewhere in that time, I got drunk enough to flirt with Captain Discomfort’s soon-to-be ex caveman-style. By that, I mean I took my pants off and uppercutted her in the face.

Let me explain. My dad tried to un-collapse his body before his wedding and bought some old-school dumbbells from Goodwill, which he used while watching TV. Peter Drunkquist thought it’d be just hilarious to retrieve them from the corner of the room and perform some grunting, exaggerated bicep curls. Oh, also, I pantsed myself so I wouldn’t have to take off my shirt.

note: the previous pic also fills today's naked man quotient. End of discussion.

Like this, but much, much, much worse.

Ms. Somebody Fuck Me Already leaned her bodyweight on the dumbbell and her face into mine, then asked, coquettish, if I was so strong that I could lift all this. Being drunk enough to rob banks, I didn’t get that this was more an invitation to stare down her cleavage than an actual question.

So I pulled. Hard. First, I hit the girl I was trying to sleep with on the chin, then, to complete the visual metaphor, I swung that fifteen pound chunk of metal into my own face.

hey frequent readers, remember how I said I have marker on my face in my driver's license pic? This is the night before. Continuity!

Ruin!

Safe to say she went home with her boyfriend. I passed out, cleaned up alone in the morning, and got driven to the worst dad brunch since the one where God told Jesus about his Good Friday plans. Despite being as well hydrated as a Lifetime wife’s pot roast, I managed not to puke while staring at the croissant on my plate like it was made of roach larva.

That’s the end of that one. But Peter Drunkquist will return in The Lost Birthday. Stay tuned, you fucking vultures.

I like all of you and find you attractive. Here are kittens.

*Yeah, I said “said,” but I used it right. Shut up.

The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy

It’s time for a very special Thanksgiving Dead Parents, which is like saying it’s time to put some fun Photoshop filters on a cancerous MRI scan. Let’s get warm and fuzzy you beautiful sluts!

Thanksgiving used to be the coolest holiday in my house, mostly because it wasn’t in my house. It was our chance to hang out with Cool Aunt Lois, who threw the illest T-giving (by lower middle-class Midwestern standards). All the Lundqui rolled up to her sweet house with the high ceilings and the patio, where she lived with her Ron Swanson-‘stached architect husband and their kids, who introduced us to video game cheats and Napster.

free music?

"A million bad Sean Parker jokes isn't cool. You know what's cool?"

The coolness didn’t stop there. Sure, we had your usual holiday fare, but tradition called for family members to bring over whatever life-ending “food” they could stuff in their vans on the way over. Our Thanksgivings regularly featured cases of White Castles, buckets of Popeyes, and big aluminum trays of Chicago-style Italian beef.

You don’t know what that is? Or, worse, you ordered one at an UNO off the Interstate and weren’t impressed? Shame on you. Stop reading, go to northern Illinois, and don’t come back until you’re out of stroke rehab. I’ll wait.

hurricane Ditka

I know that I'm "that guy" now and I feel nothing.

Was it white-trashy? You can bet your meth it was! Good thing none of us went to liberal arts schools and got all irritating and self-aware about it. Plus, we were always too busy unhinging our jaws and tripling our body weights to start fights, so these were our salad days (minus the salad).

The Lundqui took the actual giving-thanks part of Thanksgiving pretty seriously, and I might as well not break the streak. One thing I’d like to give thanks for is that, although this blog often makes me out to be a pity case, I’ve never had a year as bad as my aunt Lois’s 2001.

if I knew how life was gonna be I wouldn't wanna grow up either, pal

Like I was really gonna write a whole entry without misery. Grow up.

First, her dear mother died. Then her son was murdered. Then her husband blamed his death on her, revealed a long-running affair, and took off. Also, 9/11, but who didn’t have a 9/11 in those days? Anyway, if she’d hosted Thanksgiving that year, the cranberry sauce would’ve been cigarettes and the turkey would’ve been a game of Russian roulette.

"Lois, where are the potatoes?" "I am the potatoes."

"I'd say pass the salt but I'd just lose that too!"

Cool Thanksgiving was dead. Long live Old Thanksgiving. From then on, we celebrated the holiday with my great-aunt Char, an impossibly sweet elderly Swedish lady who can’t help but sound like someone I made up just to kill off before midterms. The crowd at her place is small and polite; sure, everyone has forty years on me, but they aren’t bad.

“They,” of course, means everyone other than the Hannibal Lecter of anti-Semitism.

"I ate his liver with some lox and a nice Manischewitz."

"Hello, Horowitz."

His name is David Laske, he’s brilliant, insane, and boy oh boy does he hate him some chosen people. I don’t know his connection to the family, but I do know that he has a PhD, two bachelor’s degrees, and eight master’s. If any of that sounds like an exaggeration, check his Board of Advisors profile from the Astrology Learning Center:

if I don't update Monday, it's already too late to find my remains (see below)

And he's single. Female readers, take note.

Notice anything funny, other than that he’s the guy from Ghost Hunters gone even more to seed?

see also the jump to conclusions guy from Office Space and the guy from Pawn Stars

They're different people. OR ARE THEY?

Last sentence, first part: “He has extensive knowledge of practical ritual via membership in several fraternal orders.” From what I remember, he’s a Mason and a Knight of Pythias, but two ain’t several, so there’s definitely more. Note: upon publishing this, I plan to avoid windows and laser pointers until further notice. Their eyes are everywhere.

I learned all of this within minutes of meeting the guy, and, being 11 and in my politically correct phase, I got upset and tried to fight him. Not physically, since he’s three hundred pounds of Caucasian purity, though that would’ve been hilarious—I took him on with my sparse mental faculties. If only I could tell my younger self that old racists are comedy goldmines who should only be halted mid-ramble when you need to find a pen.

y'all can bring tea bags, I'm bringin' POPCORN

Hope the other sign's as well thought out!

A few choice bits of Laske:

  • “Why watch sports? You’re paying to watch black millionaires have fun.”
  • “There’s nothing anti-Semitic about T. S. Eliot. In fact, he was probably a  British spy in World War I.”
  • “I’m not racist, I’m culturist. There’s nothing wrong with other races, but the people who choose to follow the culture of the inner city make me sick.”

And so it was for several years. He’d make some remark about how a Goldstein was rude to him at the bank and then we’d have sweet potato casserole. After getting shot down the first couple years, I gave up and took it in stride.

while researching this image, I found the worst website in the world. It's just a guy putting up pictures of every Jewish girl who's ever been naked and then saying that their tits run banks and destroy civilization. Good read!

"I get it, you can't face what you're into. Quit blocking the game."

Tensions only boiled over twice. The first time was in response to a book he sent my dad, T. Lothrop Stoddard’s The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy. What a title! You know, so many people focus on the contemporary hate that hardly anyone’s paying attention to the classics. Good to know ol’ Dave’s keeping the fire lit for 1920s eugenics.

Speaking of which, my brother and I tried to burn it. Our dad wouldn’t let us, not because he was a big fan of white world supremacy, but because he didn’t want us to set the house on fire. We never had any fun.

those eyes could smoke the melanin right off you

Wait, this is T. Lothrop Stoddard? Cougar noise.

Far worse was the next year’s face-stuffing. We were shocked when he spoke favorably of a black former student of his, so my dad tried to get his whole POV on the race thing by asking what he’d do if he saw a black stranger on his lawn. “I’d ask him to get off, but I’d ask that of anybody.” Fair enough. What if it were a Jew?

Bad questions get bad answers, pa! “If it were a Jew, I’d shoot him.”

“Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…………. sooooooooooo, hoooooow bouuuuuut theeeeeeeeeeeeeeee…….. uhhhhhhhhhhh………” was all that came out of anyone’s mouth for the next ten minutes, because really, where the fuck do you go from there?

both of these men's tongues made me feel the same way

Nowhere but down.

The postscript to this is that my brother and I are stealth-Jewish enough that he’d probably have to burn down a synagogue in penance if he ever found out how much bread he broke with our kind. We weren’t bar mitzvahed or anything, but somewhere down the line on my mom’s side we’re dirty Jew rats. Take that, guy I’m afraid of!

Anyway, the point of all this is that if you’re having trouble dealing with your overbearing family this Thanksgiving, just be glad that you haven’t been told you’d be murdered if your wacky uncle found out what you are. Unless he did, in which case you shouldn’t have come out on Thanksgiving. Have you ever seen a sitcom? Jesus. Also, you probably didn’t lose the three most important people in your life recently.

Either way, I don’t give a flying fuck how tough your flight was or that your parents’ internet is slow. Don’t be an asshole today. Suck on Christmas, see if I care, but today is the day to brush your whining aside—don’t spend it enumerating why not everything you feel entitled to is happening. Cram disgusting shit in your face without calling it disgusting; just for today, be okay with the fact that you have a lot and you can enjoy it without complaining about all that cholesterol that’s killing you. That’s what Cool Thanksgiving is all about.

Thanks. I still love you. How did that last paragraph happen.

The Crutch Waddle

Like any fat kid living in one of the few parts of the country where most kids aren’t fat, I was insecure about everything. Southern kids are lucky: every day they can find a vein for their insulin, they get eight free brownies. The neighborhoods I grew up in had bigger things to worry about, like not getting deported/murdered, and fat Hispanic kids are adorable anyway so who cares?

When I was 11, though, we Made It Out, and suddenly I was the fattest person in any room I failed to walk into because they don’t grease the doors in neighborhoods that get fresh vegetables.

am I the only one who hears angels when I see this?

"I ate a taco today. It was an edamame taco, but still. Kitsch!"

By the way, I do mean I was insecure about everything, not just the fatness. Suddenly becoming the fattest kid means you take a chute down the social ladder, and you notice shit about yourself you never thought of when you were all the way up at the third-lowest rung. I stopped smiling in pictures, first because my mouth made me look like a shark that just lost a fight with a boat, and then because my braces looked like a post-earthquake railroad.

hope you go outta business, shitbag

Now it's because my orthodontist did this without asking me. Thanks Eric Liedtke!

Some other choice new insecurities: I sweat the entire Dead Sea daily, my hands are barely big enough to palm a baseball, I have the same face-ruddiness as a Norwegian alcoholic, my tits are so perky that I’ve seen them throw straight guys into identity crisis, and all hats look weird on me.

Maybe worst of all, though, was my waddle. I’ve got duck feet and my knees are crazy double-jointed—from the side, I look like an upside-down question mark—so when my thighs were thicker, I had no choice but to flop around like an obese baby turtle.

Now take that image, put it on crutches, and tell that voice that tells you not to laugh at kicked puppies to shut up.

"Are there gonna be chicks there? You know what, doesn't matter."

The difference? He takes his shirt off at the pool.

The only kids at White Privilege Middle School (Asians, You’re Cool If You Know Your Place) who ever used crutches were all future white-sport champions. Volleyball players who took a hard dive, skiers who over-slalomed, cross country runners who’ve gotta condition better before trying 10Ks on back-to-back weekends—if they had a French tutor and a guest room, they’d get at least one cool extracurricular injury to complete the set.

Technically speaking, my what the fuck, is my ceiling leaking? Dammit. Hold on.

Technically speaking, my injury was extracurricular too. My sport? Spelling bees.

there's a tall white dude in the back who looks lost and scared, which was appropriate because seconds later we all asked him what sports are

Pictured: future moderators of internet SAT prep forums

I tried to compensate for being the town Quasimodo by focusing on my skills, like spelling, clarinet, and self-loathing. I won my first spelling bee in first grade and never looked back, winning at least once per year all eight years I was eligible. After coming a word away from nationals three times, I got ready to rock my last shot by doing, well, nothing, because I was old enough to get that spelling bees are for queers.

notice the jarring difference between nerdy and showbiz-nerdy

They have a musical, dude. A musical.

As bad as I am at preparing, when I’m actually up against someone at something I’m good at, I flip my Kobe Switch and get competitive as a motherfuck. It’s bad. When I was eight, I got grounded for yelling “SUCK MY DICK!” at a library computer upon beating a level of a Learn 2 Type game. Any time another bicyclist dares to occupy the same lane as me, I will swerve into traffic just to beat him to a red light. When high and playing Smash Bros, I am convinced I have the right to call anyone who plays as Kirby a “buster-ass nigga.”

etymologize my DICK

"Naw I don't need a definition. Back the fuck up and lemme spell this shit."

Naturally, I brought this fire to the 2004 Indian Prairie School District Spelling Bee, pictured above. As the two-time defending champ, I had a legacy to uphold: the winner got to compete in the regionals, whose winner went to nationals. Let me tell you, as soon as I walked through the door, the thing was over. I smoked everybody. And I was really shitty about it.

It’s tough to explain, but here’s my attempt: I didn’t say anything, but it was clear I wasn’t saying anything so that I’d appear better than everyone, and also clear that I was aware that I was giving off this appearance and half-heartedly trying to undercut it, so really the message was that I was too good to seem too good.

get a education

It's not my fault if you have to read that paragraph again.

Anyway, they gave me my trophy (that I would throw in the pile with all the others! Ha!), and after a few photos, I stepped outside into the Chicago winter and slipped on some ice, badly spraining my ankle and shattering my new trophy. I didn’t bother Googling it, but I hope for the sake of every other pathetic K-8 in America that this was the first and only spelling-related sports injury.

I was so unathletic that I got hurt at words. That doesn’t make sense. I don’t care.

"Get the fuck outta my Athens with that."

This isn't a logic bee.

So I waddled around on crutches for the next three weeks. It was horrible and I was bad at it. Since the only people I’d seen on crutches were all at least passable at the athletic feat of walking while holding something, I didn’t know what was in store for me. Remember that puppy-kicking voice? Show it this image:

A sweaty, red-faced fat kid with man-tits stopping to catch his breath halfway down a hallway while the guy assigned to carry his books between classes stands there awkwardly and says, “uh, d’you need some water, or, uh, something?”

This story doesn’t have an ending or a message. Happy Monday. I got you a GIF.

YOU'RE WELCOME

It's okay, laugh at the fat. It's our fault like 97% of the time.

PS: Dead Parents is moving to a regular schedule. Updates every Monday and Thursday. The mystery is gone, but at least you know when to show up, which is good. I love you.

The Elephant in the Room, Part III: The Bittersweet End

If you throw out panic attacks and onions, I’ve cried four times in the past ten years. The most recent time was the only one in that period anyone’s seen me: I got hit by a car while biking and lost my shit at the blind old Russian guy driving it. One of them’s another story, and the other two were at movies, the names of which I guard like dragon treasure. (Weakness is death.)

Jews did my bike accident, it's all in this documentary "Loose Chain"

Didn't cry on 9/11. I was saving my tears for a real tragedy.

Side note: the panic attack thing is pretty broad, but it was an extra-mile situation that would unfairly inflate my cry count. I dropped some legal hallucinogens during my semester abroad in the Netherlands and had a bad trip on one of them. I cried then and a few times over the next couple weeks because my ears kept ringing, which made me think I was hearing things and drugs had made me schizophrenic. (It was just wax.) Don’t mean I’m not a thug. What evidence do I have to support this, you ask?

PM DAWN GOT NOTHIN ON ME

Other than this picture, of course.

Here are some of the things I’ve never cried at: girls, death (nonfiction), music, sports, books (fiction and nonfiction), birth, theatre, boys, nature, TV finales, the Holocaust (fiction and alleged nonfiction).

to-do list: be better at comedy

Here is one thing I rarely laugh at: list jokes.

When it comes to crying over big events, my dad and brother are like me. First of all, being a pastor’s kid, you go to a lot of funerals. It’s not that we can’t feel sad, but we got desensitized to the shock part of loss by being around it all the time. That’s all just icing on the prinsesstårta. His side of the family is stoic, Scandinavian, and notoriously blasé towards death. At one of her first Lundquist events, our gallows chitchat horrified a newly married-in aunt: “You guys are, like, the death family! It’s all you ever talk about!” We, of course, laughed in her face.

way to ruin the swastika, dude, it's a symbol of peace

I think this guy's got the lock on "death family."

She wasn’t wrong, though. A few years ago, my cousin died in her early 20s. This didn’t surprise anyone; she and her sister were crack babies that my aunt and uncle had adopted from the inner city, and she had health issues all her life. Most of the family made it up to their tiny upstate New York town to attend the funeral. (I wasn’t there, but have heard the story so many times that detail barely matters.) There to perform the eulogy was the sincere if under-educated town pastor.

Most everyone in town loved my cousin, including the pastor, who decided to express this love with an emotional, climactic eulogy. “I know,” he croaked, “that Annie’s up in heaven now, with the Father, basting in the light of his glory.” Not a typo. “Basting.” Every head in the front row ducked for cover. My family must not be seen laughing, en masse, at a funeral, especially not a relative’s, especially not if that relative was young, especially not if that relative had Down’s syndrome. The guy couldn’t leave well enough alone, though, working himself into a red-faced froth: “She’s basting in heaven! Basting with Christ! Basting with all her lost loved ones! Hallelujah!”

basting actually dries out turkeys because the heat lost from opening the oven decreases temp & increases cook time (not a joke, just a Thanksgiving tip)

Truly, this is a time for Thanksgiving.

Many drops of lip-blood had already been shed, but my uncle couldn’t resist adding his own punchline: “They’re eating the black ones now?”

So, yeah, we laugh in the face of death. My dad cries at anything fictional with puppy eyes, but little in the real world gets a rise out of us. Fave example: in 2001, more of us cried at the end of Shrek than at the news my cousin was murdered (1-0). The one exception was the wacky sitcom ending to my parents’ marriage. Strap in, y’all.

My brother and I got the news from our mom in May 2005. We were actually pretty happy–we knew they were miserable and hadn’t had common ground in years. Plus, she’d been cutting her hair short and wearing denim jackets for some time, and if we needed help figuring that one out we would’ve spent most of our teen years investigating reports of stains just below our chins.

one of the top search terms leading to this blog is "cholo porn." Hoping to diversify.

You mean this doesn't do it for you?

One evening in June, someone was going to come to our house with divorce papers, and we were to make every effort to be as far outside the blast radius as possible. Our D-Day was supposed to be in the middle of the month, with brief advance notice on the day itself. We went around to our friends and scheduled as many long nights out as possible in the week of the 12th-18th, because that’s mid-June, right? RIGHT?

Wrong! The week came and went, and our dad started getting suspicious. My brother and I were at peak The Kids Are Running WIth A Bad Crowd And I Think They’re On The Pot risk: my brother was headed to Long Hair College with a double Socialism/Bicuriosity major, and I was the age that young white drug dealers/Em & Em fans in DARE videos targeted with free samples of Pot Cigarettes. It was 10 PM! Where were the children?

in the realm of imagination/social retreat!

Where I was. Worry.

I couldn’t tell my friends what was up and wouldn’t want to anyway. Divorce is a total buzzkill! Finally, while at my friend Sean’s house the next week, I got the word. We’d only planned out the afternoon, but once I told his family what was going on they agreed to shelter me for the night. They calmed me down as best as they could, and I tackled my toughest acting role yet: lying to my dad on the phone about how much fun I was having (since surpassed by Drunk Guy #4).

But UH-OH! I’ve been going out too much and I’m coming home tonight and that’s final, young man! TROMBONE SOUND!

DID I WRECK THAAAAT?

What a caper!

Sean watched me make the call the way guys watch someone tell them their grandma died. Uh, that sucks, dude, and I have no clue what comes next socially. We got twenty minutes, you up for another round of Mario Kart?

To be clear: this wasn’t funny at all then, but it’s hilarious now. My dad’s timing was pure Shakespearean comedy, and if you slapped a laugh track on footage of Sean and me coming up with increasingly ludicrous lies to save my ass, it’d be the best Friends episode ever.

Same thing happened to my brother. Half an hour later, the three of us were watching TV on the couch, my brother and I tense enough to face a firing squad.

if you caught the reference, go outside

Paths of Glory 4 Teenz.

You can figure out how the rest of the night went. The one thing that stands out most in my mind is that we were all visibly emotional–something that had never happened. My brother’s 100% certain we all cried, I’m 100% certain I didn’t, but either way, for the first time, the barriers were down. This night was directly responsible for the height of my weirdness as I adjusted for the next couple years, but without it, I never would have been the almost normal person I am now.

Being raised by two people who see eye-to-eye on literally almost nothing doesn’t lend itself to compromise, but to contradiction. They were and are just two people doing their best to raise kids who don’t suck. Sure, I talk a lot of shit about myself, and I swear too much and believe in things both of them strongly oppose, but I’m a college graduate living on my own at 21. My mom was 24 and my dad just 22 when they got married; 26 and 24 when my brother was born. I can’t imagine making the commitments they made at that age.

haha jk I can't afford coffee

This alone can ruin my morning.

Once they did the smart thing and bailed, all of us became much happier, better-adjusted people. Both of them are in loving, committed relationships for the first time in a long time. My brother’s engaged and finally made it out of the Midwest, where the highways out have signs at the borders that read Congrats! Send Money, and I haven’t puked on anyone or taped anything to myself in years. It took some crying, but it was fucking worth it.

What I’m saying is, thanks for getting divorced, Mom and Dad. Anytime I make them look bad, it has nothing to do with how I feel about them now. Like most kids, I was angry and hateful at the ‘rents all the time, and however accurate my reasons were for being that way, those emotions spurred some wack-ass behavior. One of the main reasons for sharing these stories is to recognize all that as childish and let it go.

I didn’t cry writing this, but I know that even though you’re dead for narrative purposes, you both read this thing and might cry reading it. Sorry. Now can we please drop this and get back to making fun of me?

fun fact: I've lost 60lbs since this pic was taken and still sweat exactly as much

There we go.

The Elephant in the Room, Part II: The Mom Vacation

I’m an experienced camper, if by “camper” you mean “cheap-hotel-sleep-inner.” Every summer, we’d all climb into a car and hit the open road, bonding at national parks and monuments within two or three days’ drive of our strategically located home. (That’s one thing about the Midwest you can’t make fun of! It’s right where it says it is!) After a few summers of flailing at tent stakes and loudly exclaiming that there’s no soap anywhere!!!, my dad realized my brother and I are pussies and gave up on the sleeping outdoors part of camping.

I can bring shame upon the white race from anywhere!

Mostly me.

If you’ve never seen America from its fuckhouses, you’ve never really seen it. Sometimes the places were nice: in Estes Park, Colorado, we stayed at a cute little b&b where one of the breakfast guests was a high school teacher from Little Rock who really didn’t want to talk about his job. We stayed close enough to the strip of Gatlinburg, Tennessee (think Branson without entertainment) to walk to its Ripley’s museum and infinity fudge shops. For the most part, though, we stayed at places that put $45 coupons in truck stop magazines under ads usually containing the words RV PARKING, FREE CBS, and NO CHECKS.

VACANCY. EMOTIONAL VACANCY. I NEVER THOUGHT I'D WORK HERE

CONT'L BKFST: OJ RAW EGGS & METH

Whatever you may think of hooker graveyards, it was worth it. They’re barely more expensive than campgrounds, easy to set up and take down, and always close to one of this great land’s many middle-of-nowhere diners. Anyone who tells you they prefer campfire beans to weird buffalo-meat sandwiches named after drunken regulars is a lying poser who should be strung up by his Timberland bootlaces. (Though the diners aren’t always great: there’s a place somewhere in South Dakota that sells five cent cups of Skoal dissolved in engine degreaser and calls it “coffee.” The waitresses are pretty cute, but be advised that all their dates end in watching men drown.)

they will look up and shout "refill!" and I will whisper "tip"

"That shriek sounded like 'pecan.' Would you like it a la mode?"

I recall our mom being there at least once, but in general, these were boys-only affairs. At first I didn’t care one way or another. She said she didn’t like camping and that was that. As I approached my tween years I kind of relished it. Sure, I didn’t get why she’d say no when Dad clearly said there’d be no camping, but this was our thing now. Once a year we’d have the chance to eat junk food in the car and go to a palace made of corn and scream at canyons like men, like overweight, effeminate men.

It wasn’t until I was thirteen and she finally took us on a vacation that I got it. Our vacation was her vacation.

dro = hydroponically grown marijuana, have you HEARD of urbandictionary?

I got two ounces of dro and a house to myself for ten days. Bring bitches.

I don’t know what she did when we were gone, if anything, but I’m sure it helped her keep her sanity a couple extra years. About a year previous, she’d coincidentally started getting scheduled for every Sunday shift the public library system could give. Around the same time, she started taking online courses that ate up what little free time she had. Most days, she’d come home and head straight to her room to get to work again. Probably half of the conversations I remember with her from this time happened on opposite sides of a closed door.

Notice how I didn’t mention a story about my mom in the non-confrontational section last time? It’s because it’s impossible to pick one. Let’s review: She 1. slept in her own room, 2. never bothered to update her vacation excuse, and 3. wouldn’t come to church despite the threat of eternal damnation! Yeesh. Despite my motel experience, I’d be a shitty concierge. I can’t tell when someone checks out.

I also offer recommendations for restaurants you can eat alone in without getting stared at

Please leave the keys to your marriage in the slot before It's a Dead Husk PM.

One spring, my mom announced that she was taking us to Cedar Point in Ohio. If you don’t know what that is, you had a joyless childhood, because it’s the best amusement park in the world. Go demand an apology from your parents, then eat some candy. It tastes like something now, doesn’t it? Anyway, don’t worry about anything, because she’s worked out the expenses and she’s paying for it all. Here are the dates, chosen in advance not to conflict with anything; here are the tickets and hotel reservations. You kids like rollercoasters, right? Great, because the three of us are going to go to a place full of them!

Even then, I was too in denial to see what was happening. I mean, shit, dude, rollercoasters. The best ones. No mosquito bites or forced visits to churches with leery inbred kids who ask what cities are like on what’s supposed to be our Sunday off or finding out that Mount Rushmore is kind of bullshit.

"My lands are where my dead lie buried. Over there."

"Sixty foot heads? Suck my Lakota cock (as soon as it actually gets made)."

Up to that point I only barely registered the oddness of spending all my parent bonding time with one or the other. This time it was real, like a trial divorce before the divorce trial. You know how hacky sitcoms show kids when mom’s gone for a few days? First they breathe free air, bucking her dictatorial restrictions, then they descend into anarchy because she’s not there to tell them to eat vegetables and only shit in the toilet. It was a weird inversion of that.

this reminds me of one of my grandmother's favorite sayings: "white power"

We're always finding new ways to ruin your life!

On one hand, we got to play our Tenacious D CDs and talk about our school crushes without getting a sex lecture, even say a fuckword or two, but on the other we were coming to the realization that the dad usually gets in that episode. He learns that his kids only know him as the void where mom isn’t, there to impose his will on big things every now and then and take everyone out for ice cream once a month. Then he pledges that gosh dangit, he’s going to be a more active parent, starting now. Jimmy, get that thing out of your mouth!

I waded through a lot of dick to bring you this and you'd better be grateful

But daaaaaad!

I barely knew my mother. And I just figured it out then, while spending a few days living in her world and seeing how different it was. How’s that for a rollercoaster?

My dad comes off as a clueless jackass in the last entry, and my mom like a distant robot in this one. That’s not really my aim. I just want to show you how far apart they were. This blog, after all, is about me, not them. A big part of my weirdness comes from being raised by two people who didn’t have enough in common to have kids, but did anyway, only clearing up the mixed messages when they got around to raising us they way they should’ve from the start: in two different houses.

Kris Humphries can no longer dunk on a five foot rim.

"We're just two different people!"

Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion, where I try to bring comedy to the darkest moments of my life and fly up my own ass with messages!

The Elephant In the Room, Part I: The Dollar Store Christmas

I haven’t written a new post in a while. For once, this has less to do with my self-defeatism and more to do with not knowing how to handle an obvious topic.

My parents are divorced. Seems like a pretty big part of any weird kid’s childhood, right? Well, when I finished my last post and compulsively re-read my entire blog (don’t judge me), I noticed I’d never mentioned it anywhere on here. It’s just been too tricky to write about. How do I come off as light-hearted about dark subject matter without seeming either insensitive or pity-grubbing? I think I found the answer:

No fucking clue. I’m just gonna start writing and try not to look like an asshole.

evidence

Also, too many of my paragraphs start with "so" (7) (I'm insane)

All this not talking about divorce reminded me of my parents’ marriage. They separated in 2005. Took ’em long enough! Flashback to fall ’94. My parents were young, realigning themselves as professionals after returning from years of missionary work in the South American jungles. They scrapped through my dad’s seminary bills (seminary = grad school + Jesus – weed) by working odd jobs, counting down the hours until the next WIC payout, and knocking on every wooden surface in sight.

"The wolves have bikes now. Call the National Guard."

"If you get hurt, tell the hospital you were raised by wolves because Daddy doesn't have insurance."

But good news was just around the corner. A local church offered my dad a preaching job with insurance and benefits—including a fully funded education. Hip hip hooray! Nailed it, dad! No more sardines for this family! No more broken plunger we can’t afford to replace! All he had to do was sign the church charter and we’d get beds under our mattresses.

Nobody tell him that we die alone

I haven't been this happy since I popped those bubbles!

Dad came home one evening with his thorny-is-the-path-of-righteousness sermon face ‘n’ voice combo pre-loaded on his head like some kind of sad, Puritan Nintendo. Any relatives we care about (anyone but the shitty kids from Dan’s wife’s first marriage) dead? Nope! He turned the job down.

My mom was confused. Why? Would you have to let the mafia dissolve corpses in the baptismal pool? Did you catch Deacon Brown eyeraping you while taking six minutes to find a pen in his pocket? Were they actually just confused Muslims? Three strikes and you have misplaced faith in your husband.

good thing no one reads this or we'd all be in secret prisons

Don't tell me this is another one of those fake churches.

The church, he said, had some doctrinal points he stood against too strongly to find common ground. Biggest was infant baptism, which, okay, he wouldn’t have to perform them, they’d just be in the building, but still. Really, he wouldn’t have to do anything he didn’t believe in and they didn’t expect him to, but, but, but they were wroooong! My mom’s favorite quote from the ensuing argument: “Do you expect me to stand before Christ in judgment and tell him I preached at a church that believed in amillenialism?”

I was too young to get what was going on, but I probably would’ve gotten repressed-memory level fight trauma if my brother didn’t whisk me the hell out of there. (Or did he?) Sure, we were just a year out of voluntarily living in the third world, but god had never come this far ahead of the family.

The next few days were really quiet. Like there-are-Nazis-under-us-and-if-you-acknowledge-the-tension-we-will-be-shot quiet.

No joke in this alt text, I just fucking hate that show

Getting alienated from the ones you love is hilarious!

Everyone in my family, including myself, is infuriatingly non-confrontational. Knowing this is the only way the rest of the story will make sense. Here are some choice examples:

  • I once had a roommate who masturbated in bed every night and also thought I only take five minutes to fall asleep. Unless he’s reading this now, he still doesn’t know that I don’t.
  • My brother and his recent bitter ex were assigned acting partners for three months. He couldn’t talk to her about the awkwardness, so he gave her a mix CD as an olive branch. It included a funny little Stephen Lynch song about murdering one’s grandfather. Except hers had recently died—something he forgot and wasn’t reminded of until he asked her why she was being such a bitch a month later.
  • I was an avid partier at seventeen and hadn’t gotten around to getting my driver’s license. Rather than just telling me to stop drinking, my dad dragged me to the DMV at 7 am in the middle of what was then the worst hangover of my life. My face in my first license pic is covered in barely-visible marker streaks.
2 SOON RIP HOMIE DOIN JAGERBOMBS WITH JESUS NOW

I can totally drive. Can I just get a, like, a big coffee and a couple Grand Slams?

Conflict isn’t our thing. If asked to point to any day to explain why, I’d pick that Christmas.

The month leading up to the big day was like someone trying to knock together two magnets with the same polarity. Nobody knew how to respond to anything, so we all kept coming close to having The Big Fight and then flying away from it. My dad, too insensitive to see why he might be wrong, my mom, too shell-shocked to try to find a way to reason with him, my brother and I, figuring that if our parents weren’t saying anything neither should we. What I’m trying to say is that we were the cast of the boringest fucking Sundance movie never made.

If you recognize these guys, I probably don't like you

"Unexpressed emotions are fertile territory. Did you even SEE American Beauty?"

This post’s title is a bit misleading. True, most of our gifts came from the dollar store, but plenty of our Christmases were like that. 1994 was the dollar store Christmas we could’ve avoided. Like usual, my dad took my brother and me to Dollar Tree and we split up to pick out gifts. At the end of the trip, we compared our choices and formed consensus. Most of it was pretty normal: my brother and I got each other plastic weapons and our mom some candles or something. Dad showed us his gifts to mom, the highlight of which was a brand new plunger! Hilarious! Like what cartoon characters use to climb buildings! Do it, pa!

So (8) he wrapped it up and stuck it under the tree. Unboxed, form clearly visible, addressed to Linda. For our sake, she had to pretend for weeks that she couldn’t tell that the man who ruined her year was going to cap it off by giving her a plunger for Christmas. Finally, when the morning came and she unwrapped what had clearly always been a plunger, she had to fake excited surprise and say, “A plunger!” while we squealed our ignorant joy.

the male nudity's more organic this time

Not what I asked for.

That’s the long answer to why I haven’t been posting. I grew up learning to be really, really good about not talking about things smacking me in the face, and I’m trying to get better at not doing that. And what do you know, I finished the first act of my parents’ slow, brutal divorce in almost-hilarious fashion. It took them over a decade to acknowledge that their marriage was over, and it only took me two weeks to acknowledge that I have to acknowledge that acknowledgement. Personal development. Where’s my goddamn medal?

currently trying to find someone who will engrave this on bronze for under $50

There we go.