September 16, 2004

the tell-tale little jimmy stains

Due to a frustrating bout of writer's block, it's time for me to dip into my old journals once again. This was written on October 29, 1997. If memory serves me correctly, I composed this in between answering phones and taking messages for some weenie account executive. It kind of trails off at the end because I was no doubt torn away to FedEx a media kit, send a fax, wipe his ass or some other bit of useless nonsense. Anyhoo, brace yourselves for the choppy sentences ahead...

I think that one flaw that has followed me through life, and probably always will, is my tendency to not think things through [Ed note: Sadly, the same still holds true.] I have spent more time wishing that life came with a remote control than some have spent dreaming of fame and fortune. I really wish I could rewind and tape over some of my more dopey episodes. For example, if I could do it all over again, at age nine, I would not have stuck my tongue out at the neighbor driving by in retaliation for the scolding she gave me the day before. I don't regret the intent behind it because the woman was a raving bitch. My regret is that she caught me.

If I could press rewind, I wouldn't have suffered the consequences of drawing an unflattering picture of the same woman's daughter entitled "Michelle Smells." It wouldn't have been so bad except another friend stuck it in Michelle's mailbox. It turns out neither the mother, nor Michelle, enjoyed this artist's rendering. [Ed note: Personally, I thought it was rather clever to use Scotch tape for hair. It made for an impressive bas relief effect.]

If I could press rewind, my ass wouldn't have been slapped when I declared "Disco sucks!" in front of my tattle-tale sister. She proceeded to relay the off-color musical critique to my infuriated mother. Based on my mother's reaction, I can only guess that she was a closet disco lover... [Ed note: I remember this vividly. I was playing wiffle ball with some kids in the neighborhood. I was pitching at the time and some kids on the other team were talking about music while they were waiting to take their turn at bat. I overheard someone mention disco so I stopped my windup and said, "Disco?!?! Disco sucks!" I think I overheard some older kids say it so I was just repeating it. At the time, I wouldn't have known disco if it came up and bit me in the ass. I do believe this was the first episode of my obnoxious, opinionated music snobbery.]

I got nailed in these instances for several reasons:
1) A complete lack of discretion, obviously
2) No grasp of the basic concept of cause-and-effect
3) An inability to think before I spoke or acted
4) Fucking snitches

Admittedly, it was my own fault that the woman caught me mid-razberry as I forgot about that device called the rear-view mirror. In retrospect, that was silly of me to not consider that possibility.

In the other cases, I got a raw deal. The friend who placed the offending picture in the mailbox cracked under what I assume was hardly an intense interrogation. When confronted by the victim's mother, that bitch plea bargained and blamed it all on me. According to her account, I masterminded the whole project and forced her to make the delivery. It was a bitter betrayal too because I sat on many a secret of hers. Did I tell anyone that she had a "booger wall" in her bedroom? Noooo-- well, uh, I guess that cat's out of the bag now.

Okay, but did I drop a dime on her when she had the bright idea to deliver wet, dirty, dead leaves to the mailboxes of everyone in the neighborhood? Again, no. You know, in later years, I had my suspicions that she was The Unabomber [Ed note: How's that for a dated reference?] given her eagerness to deliver "mail" not sanctioned by the U.S. Postal Service. Anyway, the point is, she named names awfully quick and I did time for it. The lady came to my house and showed the picture to my parents while bawling me out which then caused my parents, in turn, to bawl me out. Some mothers in the neighborhood labeled me a troublemaker and forbid their children to play with me. It was quite scandalous.

Next up is the situation involving the sister of mine who took great pleasure in ratting out her siblings. Did I tell on her when she wrote all over the bathroom door with my mother's new tube of lipstick? No! Even when the parents threatened to make me take a lie detector test, I just said, "I don't know who did it." Too bad she didn't adhere to The Code. I mean, was it imperative to inform my mother that I had joined in the chorus of criticism of that much-maligned musical trend of the 70s? I knew the minute I walked in the house and saw my mother's face that she blabbed. I think my mother got in one good whack on my butt before I escaped. Fortunately for me, I was quick on my feet and was able to race up the ladder to my top bunk, well out of her reach.

But as with the tongue incident, there were plenty of times when I was solely responsible for my downfall...
In the distance the faint tinkling of bells could be heard. Tremors strong enough to be felt through the concrete shook the ground with the intensity of a large T-Rex bounding towards its prey [Ed note: Guess who just saw Jurassic Park?] But this was no dinosaur. It was something more ferocious than a 25-foot cold-blooded carnivore. It was a mob of kids, money in hand, chasing after the ice-cream truck.

Like a charismatic preacher in a traveling tent revival, Little Jimmy could command the faithful to turn out in record numbers to worship him with one blast of his tinny, off-key theme music. I was devout in my adoration. With great reverence, I sacrificed my stash of hoarded change to receive Communion in the form of cherry Italian ice. Technically, I simultaneously received under both species since midway through my consumption, the ice would transform into a half-solid, half-liquid substance allowing me to eat and drink at the same time. Three quarters of the way through, the small, white pleated cup became soggy enough for me to stuff in my mouth and chew like paper-and-cherry-flavored gum. When it was done, I would sadly remove the pink, tattered wet mass from my mouth. At this point, it resembled something that was accidentally left in my pocket and put through the washing machine several dozen times.

I had always been a loyal subject of the cherry Italian ice but after an unfortunate incident, I abandoned it in favor of the less conspicuous lemon flavor. It happened one day when a friend and I were sent by her mother to the local deli. After devouring our ices, we were off to the store with evidence of what we just ate all over our faces. Mine was more noticeable since my friend's bubblegum ice was a light pink shade. I ate a cherry one and resembled Robert Smith of The Cure with my haphazard pattern of bright red on and around my lips.

One of the items on our shopping list was a fresh loaf of Italian bread. My friend had to get a few things so I offered to help carry the bags home. It turns out my load had the bread in it. If I were to sing a personalized (non-rhyming) version of "My Favorite Things," bread would be nestled right in between Italian ice and cake batter. And it was literally poking me in the face as I walked. Do you know how hard it was to be within nose shot and not be allowed to eat it? I made a few "discreet" comments along the lines of, "Mmmm... I like Italian bread. I wish I had some." I had hoped she'd pick up on the subtlety and offer me some. She didn't.

We continued walking home but I couldn't stand it anymore. I was a relatively polite and well-mannered kid, however, in the face of bread or some types of candy, I couldn't be held accountable for my actions. I had a jones for some carbohydrates and I had to obey. Good sense had completely abandoned me at this point so whenever the coast was clear, I would gnaw on the end of the bread and then strategically arrange the bag so that my friend couldn't see what I had done. [Ed note: To explain, there was a shortcut between the street the deli was on and our street. It was rather narrow so we had to walk single file. The friend was in front of me so I chewed when her back was to me.]

A few minutes later, we reached my friend's house and I couldn't hide my dirty deed any longer. For that short walk home, I was consumed by my bread lust and didn't fully realize what I had one. I said a quick prayer hoping she wouldn't notice. She noticed.

If it was just bite marks, I could have blamed it on some rodents at the store. I could have assumed a haughty posture and given her a lecture that she should have checked both ends of the bread much like one checks eggs to make sure they're not cracked before buying them. I thought denial and delusion were going to save me but my devotion to Little Jimmy came back to bite me in the ass. I tried pleading ignorance but my friend quickly countered with the damning evidence: the tip of the bread was the same shade of red that was smeared all over my face, teeth and tongue. I was totally busted.
I never got to finish this piece and now I don't really remember what happened afterwards. The friend yelled at me and threatened to tell her mother, I know that much. At that point, I think I dropped the bag and ran home. If I had to guess, her mother probably cursed my name while she sawed off the nasty end of the loaf. With any luck, maybe she later took pity on the poor kid who stole some bread. Wow, this story has suddenly taken on the tone of a Victor Hugo novel. Anyone care to join me in singing "I Dreamed a Dream"?