One of the things which sustains me, keeps me going through even the most difficult day, is comedy. The most painful memories of my life are not earmarked by the actual event, but the comedy which somehow enabled me to get through the moment. When my father died six years ago I sat in the front row for the service (one of only 2 times in my life I’ve been in the front row for anything; the other being a Village People concert with my girlfriend). I wore his aviator sunglasses. My explanation was as a tribute to him; the reality was, just behind them I was a wreck. My uncle, who is a Lutheran minister, 75 and nearly blind from diabetes, gave the eulogy. I wanted to collapse in a heap of emotion but I couldn’t. I needed to hold it together for my mother’s sake. My own grief would have to wait for a more private moment. I turned to comedy. My friend of 40 years would get me past this.
I started glancing around the church. Nothing was remotely funny. Funeral directors must be notoriously unfunny, despite having the chance to take the best, most unique selfies in the universe. Funeral directors might be neck-and-neck with morticians in this category…I’ll get back to you. But I digress. The flowers were plentiful and ornate, with “Rest In Peace” on the front. Jesus this wasn’t going to be easy. Wasn’t there at least one mixup? One arrangement which mistakenly said “Get Well Soon” or “Congrats Chad and Susan”? The waters of tears were rising and the dam was going to burst. I couldn’t, wouldn’t, let it happen. Then, as if sent by Almighty God Himself as a sign that I’d be okay, my uncle started speaking. He leaned on the podium, unable to stand for more than a minute or two without assistance. His eyesight was so bad he had everything written on big index cards, some a mere 3 or 4 words. The problem was, he really didn’t know my Dad very well (they saw each other maybe once a year for a few hours), so some of his statements were not only false, they were 180 degrees from my father’s situation and/or viewpoints. My uncle at one point seemed a little discombobulated, causing him to repeat phrases. He started shuffling through his cards to find his place. It was like watching a World Series Of Poker event where the dealer had the shakes. At one point I thought someone might go to the podium and help him off, but it didn’t happen. He was on his own. And then appeared…the humor.
My Dad had always hated anything religious. Long before it was popular, he saw the hypocrisy in organized religion. And he would have loathed this, probably more than I. In my mind I pictured him raising up and saying, “Ya know Son, right now I’d rather be in this box than where you are. Come here. I’ve got room for one more. Let me scoot over.” Behind the few tears which had managed to break through I had to stifle a smile. I could no longer hear my uncle, only the words I imagined coming from my Dad a few feet away. It had taken a while but my release valve finally worked. I managed the rest of the funeral fine, and held up in front of my mother.
You might assume my homeless state is occasionally, terrifying. You’d be right. There are times when I’ve prepared myself to sleep in the Camry by checking the evening weather forecast, knowing there was almost no way to reach my daily nut. Last night was just such a night. The rains of SoCal had slowed down the delivery business for three straight days. Logic says maybe the tips would go up as people saw appreciation for my braving the cold rain to get their pizzas and tacos to them hot (and dry). Didn’t happen. The tips stayed the same, but with fewer deliveries. I couldn’t zip from one spot to another. Each delivery seemed to take an extra 15 minutes and it might as well as have been raining directly on my wallet. I had a little cash in reserve built up and it disappeared quickly. I needed to get to $110 to pay for my room, gas, and food the next day (fucking weekend rates!), and my total after 9 hours was a sweet $75. It was 8:30 PM, and the busy hours were over. I could sense the Jaws Of Life opening my asshole for the fucking I was about to take. A little confusion of my own set in. I lost focus, and I knew I was done for this night. I was unsure of how to handle this so I could work on Saturday, hope it would be a typical weekend, and stay sheltered.
I couldn’t get my mind off this dilemma. I figured the best thing to do was log off the delivery app and head into Jack In The Box for my $4 dinner. I couldn’t see or think of anything remotely beneficial in the diner, so I hurriedly finished my burger and headed outside to sit in the car. I couldn’t waste gas running the engine so I just sat there and closed my eyes, similar to a meditative state. And it was getting pretty goddamned cold. So yes, I abandoned the warmth of a JITB to sit in a freezing car. Nothing was coming to me. The thought of gathering up my things (and not even ALL my things; only some of my things, others would have to be abandoned), tossing them in the car, and then not being able to work on a Saturday for fuck’s sake, was eating me up. I thought, “I’ve got to come up with something! Failure is not an option.”
BOOM! There was my release valve, and I pulled it harder than my cock when I first discovered masturbation. A smile crossed my face for the first time all night, and suddenly the money troubles disappeared, albeit temporarily. But at the very least I’d be able to sleep tonight, and perhaps a good night of sleep would bring a solution or two in the predawn hours of Saturday. To explain the smile:
I despise any movie, TV show, or speech which has “Failure is not an option” contained within. Failure is ALWAYS an option. It might be the suckiest of sucky options, even behind blowing an angry koala, but nonetheless…an option.
Picture a battle. At the bottom of a hill is the Sergeant who tells his troops, “Men, we gotta take that hill. On top of that hill are Commies and if we clear that hill, we can march all the way to the Capitol and end this damn war. But we’ve got no reserves coming up. It’s us, do or die. We MUST take that hill. Failure is NOT an option!“
At the same moment on top of the hill is the Commie Commander talking to his troops. It’s in a foreign language so I’ll provide the translation. “Comrades, at the bottom of that hill is our sworn enemy. They do not want us to conquer the world, a world to which we are entitled. They are the ones who want to get to our beloved Capitol. We’re the only ones who can stop them. They will attack at dawn. We must hold this hill. Our countrymen, women, and children depends on us. Failure is NOT an option!“
News flash…for one of these groups failure is not only an option but a certainty. I make no apologies to various screenwriters and speechwriters of the hack variety.
PS: I slept fine that night and awoke with a fresh mind, and fresh ideas.