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Man Of Honor

I just had the ‘man of honor’ conversation. He’s like the previously bitched about ‘Do The Right Thing’ guy (here’s that story) but the difference is…HA… joking. There is no difference.

Let’s roll a transcript:

Me: You’ve been telling me, for the last twenty minutes, you’re a man of honor.
Him: No question.
Me: For that same twenty minutes you’ve been trying to beat me out of fifty bucks by any means you could think of.
Him: That is not true. I would never do that.
Me: Really? Then pay me what you owe me.
Him: Oh, well, you know, it’s that. . .
Edited for sanity and brevity. You’re welcome.
Me: Stop. I’m sick of hearing it. We went through this two months ago. What makes you think the outcome will be different?
Him: No, we didn’t.
I hand him a piece of paper.
Me: You don’t remember this transaction?
The paper, signed and dated by him, states, on his honor, that he won’t be a douche bag (or words more fitting a legalese document). He looks at it.
Him: I never signed that.
Me: Very honorable.
I point behind me to the camera.
Me: Would you like me to roll the tape of you signing it?
Him: Blusters and carries on.
Me: Listen, you can take your man of honor shit and fuck off.
Him: You can’t talk to me like that!
Me: So it’s fair for you to call me a fucking asshole, your exact words of less than two minutes ago, but I’m sure you’re having selective memory about that, but I can’t tell you I’m sick of dealing with your conniving bullshit? I guess the rules are different for a man of honor, huh?
Him: Carries on some more.
Me: Knock off your bullshit, we both know you’re full of shit and won’t be happy until you get away with something. So let me tell you what’s going to happen, you’re going to take your honorable ass out of my building, never even drive past again, and the next time you hear from us it will be in the representation of a rather dishonorable debt collector.
Him: Why do you have to be such an asshole?
Me: I am but a mirror.

Absurdist

There are probably a dozen or so people I don’t see often and it’s a good thing. Not that they’re annoying, in fact, they can be pleasant to a degree, but they like to ‘get’ me. It’s like the moment they see me they have to be funny. Trust me, I’m not that funny in person. Here is what a great friend, who has known me for years, has to say,

“He’s not funny.” Said Scott Randolph. “He’s sort of an idiot, really.”

See? And he knows me.

But there are people who get competitive with me. It’s as if they have to be funny because of me not because there’s a need. The worst part is they go into their odd non sequitur world. A normal conversation turns into an absurdist conversation for reasons I’ve never understood.

I had to meet with someone to discuss a show they wanted to do. We went over their notes, it was pleasant, and became even more pleasant when he said he’d buy me beer.

He’s walking up to the bar when a guy approaches me. I’m good at faces but not names. But this guy was good at both. He says some things about me, then says, as a matter of fact, he thought of me just the other day (CA-Reep-E). I smile and, well, that’s about it. I know the face but nothing else is ever going to come. So, like the idiot Scott says I am, I stand and smile.

I can see the guy coming back from the bar and so can this guy. Sensing his time is drawing short he begins. Aw, fuck! He’s one of them absurdists.

Let me explain, these dozen or so people begin telling me these off the space shuttle stories (that always contain time travel) and then ask me questions that mean nothing, go nowhere, and, truthfully, never have made a shred of sense to me.

“So, Chris, what keeps you up at night?”

I know I could answer, ‘I sleep like a baby.’ but how many people do you want to know you suck your thumb and shit yourself in your sleep?

The problem is, if I don’t do some type of ‘humorous’ response they’ll keep it going until they get what they’re looking for. So, to that question, I answer,

“Wondering why eggs don’t taste like chicken.”

My friend arrives and hands me a beer. He looks at me with a look that asks if I need help. I nod him off and wait for my opening to close. The guy knows he’s losing me so barks out another question,

“Do you have a secret skill?”

“Trapeze artist.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, I draw awesome straight lines.”

AH! Okay, stupid. But what was it Scott said earlier? Don’t bitch, you were forewarned.

My friend settles down but is keeping a close eye on the proceedings. I hear the next question and know this is the one that’ll bail me out.

“If you could be anyone in the world who would it be?”

“You.”

“Me?”

“Yeah, ’cause then I could have stopped this conversation before it began.”

How’d Ya Meet?

I have a standard answer to that whenever it’s asked about me and how I know anyone,

“Prison. I was a guard and they needed a REALLY big favor.”

Needless to say, it get laughs (or I wouldn’t keep doing it). The best was when it was asked about me and a priest.

But my girlfriend hates it. Loathes it. Forbids me to use it. So, to keep peace and myself alive, I acquiesce to her when that question is asked.

Until the other day.

I don’t know what came over me (except my personality) but I answered that question thusly,

“We were in the Army. There was a firefight and someone was pinned down in a kill zone. I got to the front and saw that getting the wounded soldier was a suicide mission. I asked who it was and someone said,

“Chuck.”

“Chuck?” I said. “I hate that fucking guy.” So we waited until he bled out and I took his girlfriend.

That is why I tell people to let me go with my first idea. History shows the next one will only be worse.

Have I Grown Horns?

Seriously, can someone check that out for me? I don’t see anything but I may need to put a fresh set of eyes on this.

I ask because I’ve been running into so many people lately who are trying to convert me. I’ve been handed prayer tracts, been told I’ll be prayed for, all that stuff so much recently there much have been some change of head appendage.

As you’ve come to notice, I don’t react well to these situations. It’s not that I don’t appreciate their interest in me, it’s just that I’d rather they keep it to themselves. You know, like an anonymous donor of goodwill.

I’d be cool with that.

But that’s not how it happens. They have to let me know they’re having the big guy look out for me.

I try to be nice but, honestly, after I tell you that, as kind as the offer sounds, I’m not interested in coming to your church, it would be best for all involved if you just left then.

I’ve declined many invitations, secular and spiritual, over the years and not once after I’ve stated my disinterest have I changed my mind.

Sometimes they just can’t take no thanks seriously. This guy was talking long after we should have parted ways. I was in a place (work) where I couldn’t walk away and, sadly, also can’t be as rude (very) as I’d like.

So I stand there and think my stupid thoughts. That usually doesn’t end well and I often come up with some odd phrases.

One I thought of, but had the good sense not to use, was his breath reeked of body of Christ and alter boy cock.

I don’t know if it did, I was never that close, but it could have. I just liked playing with that line.

“You really should, at least, wear one of these.” He said holding out a WWJD? bracelet.

“I wrote one of those but it never took off. It said WPWJD?”

“WPWJD?”

“Yeah, What Position Would Jesus Do?” The guy begins to interject but I carry on. “But it didn’t work because everyone knows the only position he’d do is missionary.”

Boy, he got as pissed as if I’d talked smack about his breath.

Teacher

A woman looks at me and asks if I taught at this tennis club. I remember this club because it was one of two I ever interviewed to get. I’m not saying that as if I’m the be all and end all of tennis instruction. I was well known in a small area so jobs came easy. When I was on tour I’d call my agent who’d have a list of resorts, clubs, hotels, and yes, private residences that were looking for a ‘tour pro’ as a special guest. They didn’t seem to care how close to not being a ‘tour pro’ you were as long as you had the credentials.

The two interviews came one on tour and one after. The one after was in a very affluent community and they wanted a long term commitment and, as it turns out, my heart wasn’t in it.

This one came a year or so into the tour. I had to take care of personal business, would be home at least six months so wanted a club to call my base. Someone suggested this one and the owner was happy. I came with a list of students and he liked that but the manager was unhappy.

I went to the interview to assuage any issues. I’d bring my own students, do clinics for the club, I didn’t even ask for an office. But he kept whining. It wasn’t until the end of the interview (I had to fill out an application!) where he showed I wasn’t the only stud in town,

“So, this is what a tour player looks like?”

“No, this is what a struggling tour player looks like.”

“So, you’re not very good.” Now why did he have to do that? I grabbed a tennis magazine, flipped to where the rankings were and looked WAY down but found my name.

“Maybe not, but at least I’m on the list.”

Now is where he let me know who I’m dealing with.

“I’m in the badminton hall of fame.”

“Really? Where’s that? Your basement?”

Hey! If it’s contention you want, I’m just the guy.

“As a matter of fact,” I answer the woman. “I did.” She tells me I instilled in her a life long love of the game. “That’s the best review ever.” She asks what I’m doing now and my girlfriend tells her I write comedy.

“That’s quite a transition.”

“Not really. I’m a renaissance man of the sphere. Then I hit balls, now I bust ’em.”

Persecuted

Now I know how Lenny Bruce feels. Okay, that’s a huge stretch but, as this story was unfolding, I thought of Bruce when he was in his obscenity trial. The prosecution was letting a police officer on the stand do Lenny’s sick jokes. Lenny objected and asked the judge to let him do the act in court so the judge could understand his callous humor in context. The judge refused.

The lesson is, let the guy who wrote it do it. It’ll come out much better that way.

But that’s not how it always works out. I was standing right there and would have gladly taken over. If just to stop the butchering. But the guy I know would have none of that. He wanted to prove to his friend just how funny I am. Even if he had to destroy my work to do it.

What I do can be pretty hard to do if you’re not me. I’m not saying it’s anything great, I’m just saying it’s very specific in timing and wording. It’s not a joke you can just tell. It’s a specifically tailored story to a specific event. I’ve called them foible fables but they’re more often seen as mean spirited verbal beatdowns.

I won’t belabor the point. It’s a potato/potahto/tomato/tomahto/fuck you you’re an idiot ruining my jokes thing.

And that’s with all the care I take writing it. Okay, you got me. I don’t take much care. But at laest I chek fur contant, propah useage and mots timez spill chek.

I stood there, trying not to kill, but it wasn’t working. I wanted to kill. He was mixing stories, tagging bits with other jokes, it was a mess. But I smiled. I don’t know why. Maybe I thought if I didn’t say anything or move the thoughts of filling his mouth with cement until it poured out of his ass would go away.

I could also tell by the sideways glances I was getting that his friend wasn’t convinced. How can I be so sure? He looked like he was half way through finishing a prune juice and castor oil butterscotch float.

Even though, a few times, I tried to shore up the failing imitation I knew there was no recovering. You can’t explain jokes and it’s even harder when there was no joke heard in the first place.

Although I offered to do a bit or two to exorcise the room my pal wouldn’t hear of it. He was willing to ruin story after story (even with my prompting and precise guidance) no matter how big the crater from the bomb blast.

I finally asked him to stop but it took until I threatened to suck out his eyes and put them back in the wrong sockets so he’d spend the rest of his life walking in circles that he ended his set.

When I said that, a pretty good joke even the guy who’s eyes were threatened laughed at, and noticed his friend didn’t laugh I began counting moments until they left. There was nothing I could do so I left it up to them. Leave before it gets ugly.

I knew the ugly potential was there because of the friends expression. Have you ever seen someone’s expression when they’ve smelled a rather vile fart? But there’s also a little grin because the metal rod up their ass is tickling?

That’s the expression I got when the friend said,

“I will pray to the lord for your soul.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done a lot of fucked up things in my life so anyone looking out for me is a good thing. But I tend to bristle when it’s done with pious intent. When you pray for my soul you’d better be serious because you may be spending some time.

“Right backache, big guy! I’ll drink to my Lord for you!” I hold aloft my sacred adult beverage and intone. “I know you’re listening but, this time, pay attention. Hey, Jack Lord, open this guy’s mind and show him a little greatness from the book ’em, Dano?”

Okay, so maybe I wasn’t trying to convert him but if I’m going down in flames with my shit I’d like to be the pilot. I wasn’t sure if the guy who got me to this point was happy or sad at this moment but, in this time during the flight, his brain was in the locked and upright position.

“Let me ask you something. You know, for a fact, that gawd exists.”

“Of course.”

“Cool. Can I get his email from you?”

“What?”

“Email. I don’t even care if it’s his work one. You should have it if you’re such good buds, right?”

“You are ludicrous. You can’t email the Lord.”

“Oh, old testament, I see. New technology can fuck with old folks. What about his address? I’ll send him a note. I have a few questions. Nothing bad. I’m wondering what he was thinking when he created the manatee and platypus.”

“I’m not going to humor you any longer. My faith in the Lord is absolute.”

“Now we’re getting somewhere.” I could tell that wasn’t what he expected but this is where I was hoping to get before he got pissed and left. Because I wanted a complete story. You wouldn’t believe how many times I start down Funny Story Lane and end up on Bubkis Boulevard.

“Faith.” I continue. “That’s a big thing for you, right?”

“Yes.”

“Cool. Cool. It’s even in your rule book, right?”

“Rule book?”

“Yeah, the book the Gideons leave in hotels and prisons.”

“The Bible?” He snarls unhappy he even has to say the word in my presence.

“That’s the one. Damn, let me tell you, from what I’ve heard, I’d love a third of that books sales figures. But, hey, I don’t begrudge any writer their success.”

“Are you going to continue your stupidity?”

“Probably. It’s a huge part of my personality, but, please, before I royally piss you off, I want to talk about faith for a minute.” He sits back. He thinks he can make headway. Gosh, do I love hayseeds in the land of Zell. “You believe, with all your heart and soul, in your faith, right?”

“Yes.”

“Great. Let me prove that I too have absolute faith using that book you follow.”

“The Bible?”

“Didn’t we already establish that’s the one? Do you have others?” I knew I couldn’t push too far but I just can’t help myself. It was a hanging curve. What was I supposed to do? Not swat at it?

He sits silently.

“I’ll take that as a no. We’re working from the Bible here.” I sit back and adopt a relaxed posture. “Faith. It guides both of our lives.”

“I sincerely doubt that.”

“Let me prove it to you.” I lean over, pick up a knife and cut a piece of cheese. I lean back with the cheese. And the knife. “I’m going to give you a situation where I have total faith that, in the end, we’ll have no choice but to agree on the outcome. Ready?”

“If you proceed quickly.”

“Thataboy. What would you do if I took this knife and jammed it in your eye?”

The man was appalled. I ate a piece of cheese. He’s sure I’m beyond help, a mad man actually, so says,

“I would call the police, have you arrested and thrown in prison for a very long time.”

I shake my head sadly.

“Oh ye of little faith.” I put the knife back in the cheese.

“What are you talking about?”

“How can you say you’re a man of faith, that you know the Lord exists, when you don’t even live up to his own christian teachings found right in gawds little rulebook.”

I can tell the guy is done with my silliness because he says,

“I am done with your silliness.” If you listen messages are easy to understand. “You are not worthy to question my christianity.”

“Yes, I am because you don’t even follow the basic rules of your faith.”

“What are you talking about?”

“If you were a true christian you would forgive me.”

I watch the wheels grind so hard in his head I felt the christian thing to do would be grease them.

“And then turn the other cheek.”

I love when they’re speechless, if only for a second, because it’s easier for me to continue.

“Which I’d also stab because I have faith you’d forgive me again! Man! Faith is a cool thing. But, I guess that’s where it would end, right? I mean, there’s no turn the other cheek of the turned cheek rule, is there?”

I went after him and offered a Contemporary Comedy Institute tract but when he turned around and saw me coming he flinched and beat it double time. His loss. As we all know, the CCI has faith by the buttload!

I went back to my seat and looked at the guy who made all this possible. I could tell he wasn’t sure how he felt about it. On one hand, he got to see me work. On the other I pissed off a friend he knows much better.

“Listen to me,” I say grabbing the knife and slicing off a hunk of cheese. “When you have the urge to speak of this, and you will, don’t.”

I sat back and was pleasantly surprised to see it only took a few moments to come to the correct answer and smile.

“I’ll send them the link.”

“I think that’s better for everyone, don’t you?”