If I've learned anything in this life, it's that human beings absolutely adore a pleasant fiction. Being human myself, I'm no exception. The expression, "The truth shall set you free" is a lovely, wretched lie. Take a moment to think back to all the times in your life that you were hit in the face with a bit of truth about yourself, and it sucked. Children like to do that. To ignore compassion and scruples in favor of a good, nasty joke. Once I purchased an expensive, vintage 1950's tan colored shirt with a slit pocket and loop collar, accented with stitched fleur-de-lis. What a shirt. It made me feel like Montgomery Clift in From Here to Eternity. Except for the getting shot part.
Then it happened. While standing on line at FoodMaster, buying some pretzels and day old creme horns, a 12 year old prick loudly pointed out that I looked like a fat Charlie Sheen. When I got home, an Internet search revealed that Mr. Sheen does, in fact, wear vintage shirts like that one. The Charlie Sheen Signature Series.
So that was a little bit of truth that didn't set me free. It set me out $70
Most people like to think that they will be around forever, sitting next to God or playing ping-pong with Martin Luther King. And if they do go "poof," at least their accomplishments will shine like a beacon throughout the ages. Or as General Maximus (Russell Crowe) in Gladiator told us, "What we do in this life echoes through eternity." Like having the moniker General Maximus. Cripes.
It's a lovely thought, and one is inclined to think that the "echo" will be of something magnificent and beautiful and heroic. Like Mandela going from prisoner to Prime Minister, or Ghandi marching to the sea to make salt in defiance of Limey law. Wonderful echoes, those.
But unless there is a cosmic editor floating around out there, or in here, then everything we do rings in the echo of space like an annoying "Tap That App" ring tone. There are many more humiliating and embarrassing events floating around in eternity than noble ones. Here's a list of five, and this is just off the proverbial top of my head. Each of these anecdotes are true, and they are echoing through eternity like a fart in a cathedral.
1. I went to a Jethro Tull concert.
2. At King Richard's Faire in Carver, Massachusetts, a greasy turkey leg gave me a heinous bout of diarrhea. Before I could make it to Ye Old Port-a-Potty, shit happened. As I crouched down behind Vince Conway's hammered dulcimer booth and found a modicum of relief, a sexy serving wench passed close by and spotted my royal ass poised and crapping. We saw each other four more times that day, at the joust, during the parade, and around the merchants. Each time something horrible and unsaid passed between us. I imagine she was never the same. Poor dear.
3. A lady friend and I were caught having sex in the brush at a beach in Oyster Bay, Long Island. The timing and angle were extremely unflattering. My hairy ass rising and falling amid grunting and groaning and...well, you get it. Another life ruined.
4. In the men's dorm at a psychiatric ward (The Arbour in Jamaica Plain) I slept in a cot in a room with about 30 other men. A lack of planning had me sleeping in my underwear. That's the trouble with psychotic breaks...no chance to get ready beforehand and pack a bag. The blanket came off due to the stifling heat. But no big deal...I wasn't alone and we were all medicated into blissful sleep. At 3:06am something woke me up. It was a filthy, disheveled, underwear clad and most likely homeless man leaning over me while making kissy-kissy noises. When he saw my bugged out Tex Avery eyeballs, he moved on. I often wonder what would have happened if I woke up 10 minutes later.
5. Back when I walked amongst the living, I worked at the Fairmont Copley Plaza, mostly cleaning public areas in the wee hours of the morning. Big lobby, pictured above. At around 2am, my cohort Napoleon bet me $20 to stand on the Bulldozer heavy-duty marble buffer and turn it on. One had to hold on with vigor to prevent it from spinning out of control even when used properly. Neither one of us could imagine what would happen if one did something so idiotic. So I took the bet, stood on it and squeezed the handle, thus turning it on.
I can't be sure what happened next, but I know I flew through the air, into a ballroom and onto a wooden table, thus breaking a vase and tearing my uniform. Napoleon laughed until tears ran down his face, and I wondered if I had internal bleeding. While I did win the bet, a security guard later told me that it was all caught on film, and that is was hilarious in a baseball-to-the-crotch kind of way. Everyone who worked for the hotel eventually saw it, including me. It was not flattering. I looked like a fat rag doll.
All of these moments will live forever in time, the half-ass philosophers tell me. Right along with the storming of the beaches of Normandy, the burning of Joan of Arc, and man walking on the moon.