Tuesday, December 31, 2013


I don't make New Years resolutions, the world is already filled with enough broken promises. 

Manhattan was not made into a walled off maximum security prison in 1988.
You neither called nor respected me the next day.
And I still don't own a flying car OR personal jet-pack.

What I will do instead is continue to fill you with awe by regaling you with tales and truths about Me.

When I was a teenager I really really wanted to sleep with Marie Osmond.

Happy New Years everyone! 
(especially you Marie)


When I was a little boy my mother used to call me "Doubting Thomas". This wasn't because my name is actually Thomas or Tom or Tommy. This cumbersome moniker was bestowed upon me due to the fact that I didn't have faith in anything, and also because religion played a big role in my mother's life and invariably managed to seep into everything she did and said.

For those of you unfamiliar with the story of Doubting Thomas,  its from the bible you illiterate heathens. And also, you're going to hell. 

The story goes that after Jesus died he rose from the dead and crashed a party the apostles were having, but booked before Thomas got back from a wine and fish run. The apostles told Thomas that he had just missed the dead and risen messiah, to which he responded "I calleth bullshit, thou dost yanketh my chain". The rest of JCs entourage insisted it was true but Tommyboy was having none of it and refused to believe them based on their word alone, and wouldn't budge until he had actually seen the man himself, and even then he felt it morbidly necessary to feel the wounds in his hands, feet, and side. Jesus called his bluff and popped in again a week later when he knew Thomas was home and said "Stick your fingers in me". Needless to say Thomas freaked, and Jesus said those who believe without the need for proof are tits.

I disagreed.

I related to Thomas. Skepticism is healthy and I enter into most situations with a general disbelief and elevated level of distrust. I need to question things and people, I'm just not going to take the word of a stranger or manufacturer. There is always fine print to be analyzed, ignorance to be banished, and people to be proven wrong.

I never just trust the Expiry Date on perishable food stuffs. My milk doesn't know what day it is. I'll decide when something is Best Before thank you very much...I question, I experiment, I sample before coming to a conclusion. As a general rule, milk should not be chewed.

I never trust the results of our bathroom scale that has a cartoon picture of a Pokemonesque squirrel family on it joyfully and illiterately exclaiming "Wo Love Family" (yes, "Wo") that we purchased for $3 at a Korean bodega because through repeated trials the results have my weight as 127 lbs, 204 lbs, and 184 lbs all on the same day. Oh, and I also question its accuracy because it has a cartoon picture of a Pokemonesque squirrel family on it joyfully and illiterately exclaiming "Wo Love Family" and we purchased it for $3 at a Korean bodega.
(For my fanbase who need to know everything about me, I weigh myself on the electronic scale in the examination room at the vets whenever I'm left to my own devices ...my weight fluctuates between "Awesome" and "Perfect").

This pragmatic precociousness used to crease my parents something fierce, but then again most of what I did as a child used to frustrate the shit out of them. It was embarrassing for them, and by small-town default the entire community, to discover at Parent-Teacher Night that not only had I been openly and publicly questioning the nuns on the plausibility of the bible, but also forging my fathers signature on the notes I was being sent home with. As an interesting side-note, a byproduct of this artful deception was that my signature today is identical to that of my fathers.

Personally I felt it irresponsible for the habit-wearing Third Reich to try and repress a curious mind and not recognize and admire my resourceful circumvention of their flawed and archaic practices. When someone tells you on Tuesday that someone long dead and unable to duplicate the results defied the laws of physics you had just learned on Monday by walking on water, I think its ok to say "Are Lou Ferrigno?". Much in the same way when the same someone instructs a 10 year old me to hand-deliver a disciplinary note to my  easily-ired parents advising them of my shenanigans, and then have them sign and return said note, all verification being on the honor system, its also ok to say "Are Lou Ferrigno?".

My apprehension and rejection of blind faith extended to all fantastical testaments that were presented to me with an absence of verifiable facts, from blindness caused by excessive masturbation, to the existence of Santa Claus. Both prospects caused countless sleepless nights of consternation and furious dedicated research.

One Christmas Eve, however, my analytical superiority was shaken.

A week before Christmas I arrived home from school, disciplinary note hidden deep in the pockets of my tattered Little Rascals knapsack, kicked off my multicolored Sparx hightops and announced "There is no Santa Claus. Its all bunk!". 

You see, earlier that day The Schultz boys had requested a few of us meet them by The Super Secret Spot (aka behind the grade 8 portable) at recess. I fidgeted excitedly throughout Geography in anticipation of this clandestine gathering, fantasizing what wonders it would yield: nudie mags, bottle rockets, a pair of their older sisters panties, Terms and Conditions for a rumble (something akin to "3:30. Be there. No weapons"). The truth was much less exciting but elucidating nonetheless: They had found their sequestered cache of Christmas presents with the labels addressed "From Santa" already attached along with a stack of purchase receipts. 

The fat man from the North was a sham, a ruse!

My declaration of disbelief really rattled my mother for some reason. Maybe she wasn't ready to have her little boy grow up and forfeit innocence at such an early age, or more likely it was the fact that the principal had unbeknownst to me already called her and interrupted her macrame class to advise her of the thus far undisclosed letter crumpled in the pocket depicting the likenesses of Alfalfa, Buckwheat and Spanky. 

Her sputtered response was prolonged and lacking in ambiguity: Wait til your father gets, wait til your father gets, wait til your father gets home. Go wait in your room!

And wait I did. But idle I wasn't. There were preparations to be made. 

I catalogued my possessions and began to divvy them up, updating my Last Will & Testament (Garfield Notepad edition circa 1980)to ensure each would be allocated to a deserving home. My Justice League of America comics would go to 'Army' Armstrong, my Doctor Who novelizations would need to be split between 'Sniff' Schneider and Theodore, and I left specific instructions to be buried with my Famous Monsters and Fangoria magazines...and a flashlight, just in case.

Next I strategically slid copies of Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing, Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang, and several Fighting Fantasy books down the back of my oversized hand-me-down Levi's orange tabs in a feeble defensive attempt against the impending and inevitable whupping that was about to occur; I used paperback editions so they could conform to the contours of my perfect and shapely buttocks, although the end result looked like I was smuggling a Betamax in my gitch. Or that I was literally shitting bricks, which was a fair assessment.

There was little left to do other than wait. As always, I knew I was right. My convictions and resolve were strong, my arguments and validation solid. But I'd still get punished, persecuted. I realized that this was how James Tiberius Kirk must have felt in The City on the Edge of Forever when he chose not to interfere with history when he went back in time and instead accepted the dire consequences of the death of his lady love, and I took comfort. Solidarity through sacrifice, brother.

My father arrived home resplendent in his beige three-piece polyester suit, the buttons on the vest straining to contain the massive girth housed within and in threat of becoming unexpected projectiles. I pressed my ear to the coolness of the Flash Gordon poster tacked to the back of my bedroom door (Get Ready To Kick Some Flash!) and tried to make out the exchange between my parents. Hushed quick mumbles tripping over each other, curt staccato baritone interjections, punctuated by the sound of ice-cubes hitting glass. I did make out two exclamations that were recognizable in their familiarity through frequency: "What now" and "Jesus Christ".

I hurriedly jammed another Judy Blume down my pants.

But the expected charging elephantine footfalls never came. The door remained on its hinges. 

They were making me wait, sweat it out. I imagined my father at a wheel-stone sharpening his belt buckle.

The door slowly creaked open and I said a quick prayer to JT Kirk. Instead of a belt wielding sumo or rampaging Gorn I was greeted by my sweetly smiling mother holding a tray containing a plate of homemade cookies and 3 tall glasses of homogenized milk. 
What fresh hell was this?! Was this some new psychological tactic?! I eyed her suspiciously as she handed me one of the glasses and took one for herself. "Who's the other glass for?" I inquired warily, knowing my father preferred beverages of an amber nature.

"Santa" she replied. I took a deep breath, summoning my inner Kirk, and explained that I now knew the truth about ol' Saint Nick, that he was as phony as Burt Reynolds hairline. In what can only be called Dirty Pool I added "Every year I ask for a happy family". 

She smiled sadly and patiently and insisted Santa was real. "Prove it" I challenged.
"I don't need to. I just know. And as for what your friends think they know, all I can tell you is that sometimes Santa works in mysterious ways, and that includes working through other people" she deftly countered.

Wait a second...this was starting to sound awfully familiar...

Before I could call "SHENANIGANS" there was a series of loud, startling bangs. My mother's face lit up in mock surprise. "There's Santa now, on the roof! You best get into bed like a good boy or he may skip our house!".

The commotion had not originated on the roof, it had come from the kitchen, and it was very obviously the sound of my father rhythmically opening and closing a couple of cupboard doors in what he thought was an approximation of reindeer hooves.

I may have been 9, but seriously, Are Lou Ferrigno?!

Should I just play along and placate their need for me to believe, or should I press on with my argument.

As I contemplated the presented Choose Your Own Adventure paths before me, there came a window shaking 'WHUMP', this time definitely from the roof. My mothers look of mock surprise was replaced with one of genuine and sincere amazement. My father burst into the room and exclaimed "What the hell was that!?". As he stood there framed in my doorway, his chest heaving from the exertion of taking 6 steps, the look in his eyes gave me pause. He was startled, and a bit afraid. They both went to the window looking for the source of the thud.

My conviction faltered. Could it be....no, it couldn't...could it? I was unfamiliar with this new feeling of uncertainty.

The novel prospect of being wrong propelled me into action. I hastily pulled on my red-tongued Cougar Pillow boots and charged past my frozen parents, out of the house, and onto our front lawn. I looked up and saw nothing because my eyes were squeezed tightly shut, as if part of me was afraid of what I might see pawing at the roof of our humble bungalow. 

I slowly opened my eyes. There in the middle of the roof was a very large branch from our neighbors ancient pine tree that had succumbed to its snow laden weight. 

No flying caribou. No mystical sledge. No red garbed winking Kris Kringle. No ghost of Christmas Past.

I sighed in relief. I wasn't wrong. The planet continued to rotate on its axis. The sun would rise in the east. Buck Rogers would be on tv forever.

But for a brief moment a window of wonder and belief had been opened. 

I will always hold on to that feeling of wonder. It made me realize that blind disbelief is as irresponsible as blind faith. I am now open the possibility of certain beliefs.

What my beliefs and opinions actually are is not the point. What's of consequence is that it is important to question things, to find out the truths for yourself. Well...that, and my beliefs and opinions are the right ones.

But sometimes, just sometimes, the end results supercede and discount the need to analyze the Why, and it is ok to look a gift horse in the mouth. Just trust it, go with it, accept it, enjoy it. Embrace the wonder.

It may have taken the fat man a couple of decades but I finally did get that happy family. I will never question The Why and The How.

To those of you that are lucky enough to be part of my inner circle, and especially to my beautiful wife whose wonder I marvel at daily: 

Wo Love Family!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Live Long and Prosper!