Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Death of a Friend

This week a friend of mine died. 

I've lost a lot of friends in recent years.  All but my friend Dave died because of choices they made. 

I can't sugarcoat this shit today.  Not today. 

Sure, we all die.  And it sucks for somebody that gets left behind.  Right now there are hundreds of Korean parents in anguish on an island.  They sit at the docks and wait for word the divers have found the body of their child in a sunken ship.  It's a horrible thing. 

I'll be honest, when I first heard about that ferry disaster, my blood turned electric and shot around my body.  I thought of my daughter--the one I lost contact with.  The one who thinks her daddy hates her.  The one who has no idea I'm alive.  Or that I think about her every fucking day. 

I lost contact with my wife and daughter through a series of terrible choices, bad luck and horrible turns of fate.  They moved while I was homeless.  I don't have a way to find them and they don't have a way to find me.  As far as they know, I turned my back on them.  As far as I know, they hate my guts.  One day my daughter might come to America and put a bullet in me for how things worked out.  And while it wasn't all my fault, I'll accept the consequences and her anger.  That's life.  And I hate myself for what happened, too. 

But I checked the information on who was on that ferry.  She wasn't there.  Too young, different area, different economic class.  Those were the kids of well-off parents on that ferry.

It was a small sigh of relief and then back to burying all that emotion so I can get through my day without losing what is left of my mind.

Death is always the final outcome.  Death always wins.

And I'm angry at the friend who died this week because he did so much to help Death find him.

I worked with Derek Murphy for about a year.  I'll be honest and say I didn't think much of him until I had to help him key an order.  He was smart as hell and easy to talk to.  He was also nice.

This is what makes it so hard for all of his friends--Derek was a nice guy.  He always had a quick joke and a good take on things.  He didn't bitch and complain about stuff.  It was easy to like him and hard not to like the Durtman.  He had a couple of nicknames.  Durty, Durtman, Murph.

He was generous.  Maybe too generous, at times, as he liked to buy tons of pizza and share with everybody.  He was already well-liked but maybe he didn't understand it.  Maybe he needed more.

In the first 48 hours after his death, a number of people told me they felt some guilt towards his death.  Derek, at the young age of 29, weighed close to 600 lbs.  He wasn't very mobile and had health problems directly related to his weight.

People wondered aloud to me if they had done enough, if they had said enough to him, told him how they didn't want him to die like this.  I had the same conversations with him.  I think we all did.  Nobody wanted him to die like this.

We tried.

I know a bunch of people feel guilty.  Maybe they didn't do or say enough to get him to pull out of the nose-dive he was in towards a certain and very early death.  Maybe we didn't keep the bad food away from him, or helped him get the food so he didn't have to get up and do it himself, or we allowed him to keep doing what he was doing in some way. 

This is common in times like these and nobody has any right to own that guilt. Derek made choices and those choices had a price.  He knew the price and kept on making those choices. 

In the last few months of his life something changed in him.  I felt like he had committed himself to death while talking about making changes.  There was a strange disconnect between word and deed.  And then the infection in his legs got bad, as it did every winter, and he let it go too long before seeing a doctor. 

Murph told me himself that the doctors said he was almost too late, how it had gotten so bad that the infection had crept up onto his stomach.  He posted pictures of his legs on Facebook and I wanted to puke.  He was in serious trouble and he knew it. 

But Durtman played it off.  He joked around.  I got on him about it and he deflected for a bit, then he stopped talking to me.  He didn't want to hear me say I wanted him to live.  Maybe it was too painful to hear.  I don't know. 

All I know is when I found out he was dead, I was angry because I watched a guy slowly die and he seemed to just let it happen.  It was like he was committed to a certain fate and nobody else was going to change that for him. 

I refuse to feel guilty about this and I refuse to allow anybody else feel guilt themselves.  It sucks, I know, but when a kamikaze pilot is in a nose-dive towards a certain fate, you're not going to talk him out of it and you will never be able to reach up and steer the plane for him. 

It was a done deal and we were forced to bear witness. 

It's easy for me to sit in the cheap seats and make comments about how somebody else is handling their life.  Mine is a soup sandwich surrounded by landmines, demons and festering with mold and open sores.  But since the flies aren't buzzing around my head at the moment, I can say I'm feeling okay. 

It's amazing what a human being can get comfortable with after the smallest improvement. 

My pants are looser, I'm dropping weight.  Today I tried to go for a walk and my knee started to hurt.  Instead of facing reality I'm blaming it on the storm moving through the area.  I wonder if Murph told himself the same bullshit as well. 

Right now I'm working up the courage to write a letter to the Korean Consulate in Chicago to see if they can help me find my family.  I'm not sure I can face it, but lately the price of not doing so seems so selfish.  And I'm tired of burying stuff so I can get through my day.  I'm tired of ignoring screaming echos and shutting down so I can function. 

I'll do this, I'll fall apart, I'll melt down and I'll be just another human being.  I have friends who know me very well and know I'm so fucking tired of digging holes so I can wake up in the morning and not scream my god damned head off at the top of my lungs at the gods. 

Through death we learn to live.  Thank you, Durty. 

The Durtman is dead.  Long live the Durtman! 


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Creepy is Fun

A number of years ago, I was at some function at a convention center, and the idiots running it made me wear a name tag that had my legal first name written on it. 

You know those blue and white, "Hello!  My name is _____" badges of stupidity?  Yeah! 

My full name is Gilbert Theodore.  Only judges and doctors called me Gilbert.  Everybody calls me Ted and at work, I'm Uncle Ted.  More on that later. 

So I'm wearing my shitty name tag and I notice a table of hotties laughing and drinking coffee.  They were MILFs because they were older than myself. 

I walked up to lay down my mojo and one of them made a comment about my name. 

"Is that what your mother calls you, Gilbert?"  The way she said my last name pissed me off.  Something about her sing-songish tone. 

"No," I said.  "It isn't." 

"So what does your mother call you," she asked.

I smiled and said, "Creepy!"

Cue the uncomfortable laughter and look of fear across their faces.

You have to have fun when you can.

Today's story is why I got called Uncle Ted at work and how the creepier comments I've made came to pass.

First, you have to realize I work with underage kids.  My company sometimes hires kids who are still in high school as part time employees.  Most of them are decent kids just trying to earn a few extra dollars so they can pay for their car insurance, get a better stereo or smart phone.   Most are seventeen, a few are sixteen and once in a while they hire a fifteen year-old. 

Most of them leave me alone.  But every once in a while, a female decides to be a problem.  One girl used to talk about how badly she needed to get laid.  One day she followed me outside on break, got on her knees in front of me, looked up with wide eyes and began to rub my belly.  Jail bait just waiving under my nose, as it were. 

She wasn't attracted to me.  None of them ever are.  No, it's a power thing for them.  They want to get a rise out of the old guy.  They want to flirt and tease to see if they can get a reaction.  Silly girls do silly things. 

I got sick of the whole mess because it just seemed like a mean thing to do to a guy.  So, me being the guy in the creepy van, I decided to let them know it was a bad idea to do that to me. 

The first thing I did was give them a warning shot.  I would ask how old they were. 

When they replied they were seventeen or whatever, I would wrinkle my nose, scowl and say, "Meh, too old!"  And then I would ignore them. 

If that didn't work, and it hasn't worked in only two occasions, the Uncle Ted nickname comes into play. 

I've had a couple of nicknames at work.  As part of my efforts to be pre-emptively creepy to avoid the situations mentioned previously, one of my nicknames was Tedobear.  My friends and I spent a couple of days working that one out.  The day we thought of it was a triumphant one indeed.  My friends loved saying it.  But a manager there knew what it meant and didn't like it so much.  He removed it off the various boards, signs and whatnot around the workplace.  Some shit about "professional environment" and how it was not "work appropriate." 

I thought it was bullshit because I figured as long as I show up moderately sober and wearing pants, anything else they get is gravy and they should be satisfied.  Ecstatic, really.  Maybe even grateful.  I'm a special guy, after all. 

I had been helping a couple of kids there with some car problems, and another with a series of personal issues, and another with some health problems.  The result was somebody started to call me Uncle Ted.  To add a touch of creepy to it, we began to say Uncle Ted--The uncle with benefits. 

This is the final hex.  The last warning to these underage girls who were flirting with me and really getting to be a problem.  One used to wear low-cut blouses and bend over in front of me.  She would sit next to me and talk about giving blowjobs.  She was only seventeen.  It was beginning to be a problem.  Thankfully, that was the last time I had to worry about it.  After that, no more underage girls tried to get a reaction out of me, much to my relief. 

Working with underage girls isn't always a problem, though.  I can be a great opportunity--especially if you want to troll your family.  Many years ago, we had a girl working there who was seventeen and extremely pregnant.  Because she was so young and tiny, she could have passed for fifteen or younger.  I wanted so badly to bring her to a family reunion or picnic.  I wouldn't really say much, just introduce her and then dote on her all day, making sure she had a ton of food and was happy.  All the while, my family would be going nuts wondering if I was the father of that beach ball she had tucked under her shirt.  Plus, they would spend a hour guessing how old she was. 

"Ted," they would ask.  "Who is your friend?" 

"Oh," I would say aloofly.  "That's Sara (or whatever)." 

And then I'd walk away while trying not to smile.  I told the girl my plans and she called me evil.  Then she said she would never do that to my family because from the way it sounded to her, I was a troll just trying to cause trouble.  Then she and her boyfriend laughed because, as she said, "That's really funny but so wrong." 

Hello!  My name is Ted.  Welcome to my van. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Why I Hate The Walking Dead (in animo scelus)

I love bad guys.  Probably more than I should, really.

Many times I have lamented that woman prefer bad boys with their tattoos, motorcycles and whatnot.  But they don't want really bad boys.  Those guys are just posers.  Pretenders.  Give a woman the severed head of her boss, or a piece of gold jewelry with her rival's blood still on it, or a video of an abusive ex-boyfriend being tortured to death and suddenly she's screaming and calling you crazy.

Women are so weird!  

But who doesn't like a bad guy?  A real one.

I remember going to the theater to watch Basic Instinct when it first came out.  The whole place was full of yuppies but for myself and a couple of friends.  Remember the opening scene?  It's a sex scene.  The woman is on top and suddenly she pulls out an ice pick and goes to town.  I laughed my head off because it was a great kill scene.  Apparently it bothered other people in the theater though.  They kept looking at me and whispering to each other.

Bad guys teach us things.  I've learned so much from Hannibal Lector about life, cooking and taste.  I even had his lines memorized for a while.

I think this is why I hate The Walking Dead so much.  Granted, I watch it almost every weekend.  But I hate it, too.

Each character there annoys the shit out of me.  They make horrible choices and do stupid things.  That whole arc about The Governor wouldn't have happened in my reality.  He would have died as quickly as possible.

But there is one good thing to have come out of that show--it started a national dialogue about what we should do in case of a zombie outbreak.  All around the watercoolers, at the bars and online, people have compared notes regarding how they would survive the zombies.  Granted, I'm in Wisconsin instead of Georgia, so all I need to do is wait for winter to freeze them in their tracks.

The entire debate on weaponry was solved by watching TWD.  We now all understand how important a sword can be.  Personally, I'd use a bar mace, but that's me.  With a mace, you don't have to sharpen it and if it's the type that has a chain, once you get momentum going you can mow through a whole group of zombies.

But I still cheer for the zombies.  Carl pisses me off.  Daryl might be a bad-ass but let's face it--he was poor white trash before the zombies and is still pretty ignorant.  All these woman who love Daryl crack me up because you know damned well if they met somebody like him they'd reject him outright.

 Did I mention I hate Carl?  A lot?  Seriously.  I can't stand that kid.  I hope they eat him first. 

One of my favorite bad guys of all time is Pinhead.  He had some of the best lines ever.  Doug Bradley brought that character to life in such a way, nobody else could do it.

And who doesn't like Crowley on Supernatural

Personally, Crowley is the main reason I keep watching that show.  While it has pretty much jumped the shark, Crowley's scenes keep getting better and better.  The actor who plays him is doing an amazing job.  I laugh and cheer every time he does something evil.  And once again, he has the best lines. 

Finally, I'm currently watching The Following.  Sure, I love Joe Carroll, I would totally love to be one of his cult members.  But I'm totally in love with Emma. And a few of the other crazy women they've had on that show.  Beautiful, crazy and willing to get bloody--I should put that on a Craigslist ad in the personals.

This brings me to the real reason we watch these shows.  The bad guys have the best lines because we all want to be the bad guys.  We want to get away with it.  We want to go on a rampage and not have to worry about the messy business of getting caught, going to jail or being gunned down by a hero.  It's the character that makes the difference.  Even when they're covered in blood, they can make us laugh or teach us a valuable lesson about life.

It's good to be bad.