Copyright 2014 Francis DiMenno
21.WE WERE POOR, BUT HONEST.
We were poor but honest. Most of the time. But I will say this: We weren’t particularly clean.
22. THE NEIGHBORHOOD CANDY STORE
Growing up, my family didn’t have a lot of money, so I didn’t always get to eat a lot of candy. And when I did I had to buy it from the neighborhood candy store. Which was run by an old man who always wore an apron and who had an enormous thumb. And he sold nothing but the cheapest kind of candy. All the other kids got to eat M & Ms. Only they didn’t sell that kind at my neighborhood candy store. At my neighborhood candy store they sold Ms. Funny thing about Ms: They melted in your mouth. They melted in your hands. They probably would have melted on the surface of Pluto. Because they were Ms!
23. DAD, PHD
My dad was a college professor, which is probably one reason why he was always lecturing me.
24. A MOST SPECIAL LI’L BIRTHDAY PARTY
We love our dog. Pa says we treat him just like a human. Pa, he says the dog eats better than we do. Well Sir, now here’s a funny little story. About 5 weeks ago, the dog turned 3, which is 21 in human years. So, in honor of his reaching adulthood, we gave him a very special little party. We made him a warm winter coat out of a leftover turkey carcass. We made him a little birthday cake out of canned dog food. And we crowned it with 21 candles! Also, in honor of this very special occasion, we gave him a special little treat. We gave him his very first can of beer. Well, let me tell you this. He liked the beer so much he finished the whole six pack. That was a night to remember! He knocked over the cake, sent all the candles flying, and the house burned down! So we live in the forest now.
Well, Sir, and let me tell you something else: That dog STILL eats better than we do!
25. LIBERAL DAD
My Dad was a liberal, so just to piss him off I brought a white girl home.
26. THE HEARTWARMIN’ STORY OF THE MAN THE TOWN CALLED “COACH”
“Coach” was a very popular figure in our community, much admired by people of all ages and conditions, but particularly by we boys, who played on his basketball team, or maybe it was his football team, I disremember which. Anyway, maybe one reason everyone loved him was that he was a really great listener, and also he really understood human nature. For instance, one time, during a game, I made a bad mistake and at half time, “Coach” took me aside and quietly said to me, in that special way of his, “Remember, Son—they’re not laughing AT you—they’re REALLY laughing at you”
27. THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A BAD BOY
There’s no such thing as a bad boy. Absolutely not. But from personal experience I know that there is such a thing as a criminally insane boy.
28. MISS GRIZABELA THE TOWN LIBRARIAN
The town librarian always went out of her way to be helpful and kind, especially if she felt that a child was the victim of unfair treatment. In fact, she would often launch herself head first into a controversy without even thinking about the consequences. She was very logical but also intuitive, and the townspeople would often go to her with their problems. Often times, proceeding only on a hunch, she would come up with a solution that satisfied everyone and hurt no one. Folks often wondered what event in her life had compelled her to take up residence in our small town. For, clearly, she was intended for better things. Even though she seemed to have had wide experience of the world, still, she seemed content to be always busying herself with a dozen different little projects at once, nearly all of them involving ways to improve the lives of others in our little town.
Well, this particular story has a tragic ending. Miss Grizabela wore glasses and was very shy. But she when she took her glasses off and let her hair down she was still very shy. And practically blind. Which made it very easy for me and my buddies to knock her down and steal her purse. How were we to know she also had a weak heart?
29. AN APPLE A DAY
An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Now, that’s just fine. But I need to know what keeps the policeman away.
30. HIPPIE DAD
Back when my Dad was a hippie he would say, “Son—I’m going to teach you a lesson I’ll never remember.”
When I was about sixteen I was sent to live with my relatives in Smallsville for the summer.
We were related to the Kents on my mother’s side, which is how I got to know Superboy.
When he was bad he would get coal in his stocking for Christmas, but when Pa Kent left
the room, just to spite him, Superboy would use his super-strength to squeeze the lumps of coal into diamonds.
Which he would then trade in for all kinds of wonderful toys.
Anyway, that summer, I had got hold of a forged I.D. and I took Superboy to a bar and bought him a mixed drink.
He told me he had never had a drink before and that it was tasty.
He asked me what it was called.
When I told him it was a “Kryptonite Cocktail,” he spat it out so violently he beheaded the bartender!
Needless to say, he was banned from THAT establishment.
For several months!
Anyway, after that experience he was kind of woozy so he gave me the keys to his car and I started to drive him home. Unfortunately, I drove the car off a cliff and wrecked it. And he was plenty mad. I asked him why it was so easy to wreck his car, seeing as how he was Superboy. And he told me that the reason was, it was in its Clark Kent identity.
32. JUST BE YOURSELF
My Mom would always say, “People will like you better if you just be yourself.” Then I had to tell her yet again that I was a transvestite.
33. MY DENTIST
My dentist was also my psychiatrist. One day he told me that my cavities were all in my head.
34. I WAS SAD
I was sad because I had no shoes. Then I met a man who had no feet. So I kicked him. Good and hard. Only I couldn’t hurt him very much by kicking him with my bare foot, so I knocked him down and stole his wallet and bought me a nice pair o’ hob nailed boots. But I’m not all bad. After coming back and giving him a couple of good hard kicks I felt so good about my new shoes that I left off torturing him for a while and started picking on cripples my own size.
35. THE WILD HOLLYWOOD PARTY
One time I went to one of those wild Hollywood parties you’re always hearing about. Nothing much happened. Oh! But I did see a dish full of what I thought was cocaine. Only it turned out to be heroin. Don’t you just hate it when that happens?
36. HOW I MET MY WIFE
Unlike most men, I still remember—vividly—how I met the woman I was someday to take as my wife. I even remember the first thing I ever said to her: “Hey–LADY—are you going to finish that drink?”
37. MY WEDDING DAY
The day I got married I’m afraid I caused quite a scene, though it was totally unintentional. I guess I was kind of nervous because when they preacher said, “Do you take this woman?” I didn’t say, “I do.” I said “Yahooie!”
38. THEY CAN’T TAKE THAT AWAY FROM ME!
I know just about everything there is to know about belligerently hanging on to my principles when people try to convince me otherwise after I provoke them into an argument and they can’t take that away from me. I dare them to try.
39. A BULLET WITH MY NAME ON IT
If I seem at times to be unnaturally subdued, it is because I know that somewhere out there is a bullet with my name on it. How do I know? Because it has been bouncing checks all over town. So now my credit rating is “shot” ha ha to hell.
40. THE POLICE AUCTION
I spent a few hours recently at the police auction and it was a pretty interesting experience because, contrary to popular belief, policemen, when they get together in groups like this, don’t really behave any differently than anybody else. There was only one small incident at the end of the auction. Two cops got into a bidding war and as the bids began entering the stratosphere, one officer kept getting angrier and angrier, and finally he pulled out his gun and shot a big hole in the ceiling. The auctioneer paused, and then, finally, he said “Sold! To the man with the .38 magnum!”
41. THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME
There’s no place like home. Truer words were never spoken. Especially if you currently reside in a plastic dog igloo in the back yard of a superannuated wino who lives right outside of Buffalo, and “home” is a Kuwaiti seraglio in a royal palace staffed by petulant eunuchs and protected by scimitar wielding bodyguards.
42. THE $180 SPEEDING TICKET
A policeman pulled me over for speeding. He asked me if I knew why he pulled me over. I said, “Meow.”
43. A BARREL OF MONKEYS
Nothing’s more fun than a barrel of monkeys. Except maybe a barrel with one monkey…giving you that special little smile….
44. BIG CHIEF HUG UM AND KISS ‘UM
In my heyday, an awful lot of girls called me “Big Chief Hug ‘Um and Kiss ‘Um.” Unfortunately, they were all in the 10th grade. My lawyer says I will be eligible for parole in 60 years.
45. WHO IS RIDDLE? WHERE IS RANSOM?
Looking back on my long career, two questions continue to plague me. Who is Riddle? And where is Ransom? Judging from their names, I may never know.
APOLOGIA: I hate to be a major league drag, but did you ever have one of those days when you just didn’t feel like making excuses for the dull wittedness of other people? Days in which you just don’t want to be actively nice, or even absentmindedly pleasant? Days, in fact, when you feel downright mean? Well, here are some uninspirational thoughts for when you’re feeling like that.
It was only when I started stealing weapons to commit further crimes that my phenomenal run of good luck really began.
You cannot change your life by changing your life. Zero plus zero will never equal one.
Nurture your mind with thoughts think by great men, for your own are so mundane as to induce nervous laughter in sick babies.
A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle and remember, the same goes for a crack pipe or a Molotov cocktail.
Have no fear for what tomorrow may bring even though a tough gang of street punks have promised to give you a major league thrashing, maybe there will be a sale on bandages.
Honesty is the best policy–when the camera’s running.
In wine there is truth, and in whiskey there’s some extra strength truth mixed in with a whole lot of hidden resentments which have been boiling under the surface for about ten years and which only start to come out between drink number six and number seven, and there’s also a lot of shouting and usually stuff gets broken, which is why I tend to stick to seltzer water.
The truth shall set you free but if I were you I wouldn’t go about sharing that particular bit of wisdom with the boys in Cell Block A.
Not every man is born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Especially if he already has a forked tongue.
The meek shall inherit the earth and after that we’ll get to see just how far a fellow can get with the meek routine.
Beggars can’t be choosers, but certain people and I name no names can stand in line at the supermarket checkout counter haggling with the clerk over raggedy assed 20 cent off coupons which expired weeks ago, counting out every lint encrusted penny from the bottom of their mildewed change purse and answer me this if they’re so penny conscious, then why haven’t they already added up the total in their heads and gotten the exact change ready in advance… unless they’re really desperate even for negative attention?
Everything’s coming up roses, which is too bad, because actually I was fixing to grow me some poppies, hemp and mushrooms.
Business before pleasure, especially if you’re a prostitute.
Life is just a bowl of cherries but remember that President Zachary Taylor died of indigestion after eating too many cherries.
There is strength in numbness.
The family that prays together stays together. I guess that’s true even if what they’re praying for is a quick and easy death so they can escape their family.
Blood is thicker than water, but I’d prefer tomato juice, if you don’t mind.
You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink, only who can afford to keep a horse these days?
Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face: it didn’t work for Michael Jackson.
No labor, however humble, dishonors a man. Except maybe telemarketing.
Remember: always look on the bright side, unless you’re driving late at night and it’s the oncoming headlights of an out of control 18 wheeler.
If an alien came to earth and said take me to your leader I think that on the way I would suggest we stop at the International House of Pancakes, just to give him a taste of the sheer diversity of this kooky planet.
Hysteria repeats itself.
I wanted to be known as an optimist. But then I realized that it was hopeless.
Two fryends sit side by side in easy chairs grateful in each others company and reveling in the high-priced atmosphere of the Clean Room. These were rooms–and there were only one or two in every building of the great conurbation–where people could be assured of absolute quiet. No outside stimuli would be permitted to invade the sanctity of the room so set apart from the others, and soundproofed and rendered inert within the limits of technology.
Two fryends sit side by side and are inclined to make easy conversation until they have a truer opportunity to unburden their minds. One is a stout blonde man in his late 70s, an age at which, due to miracles of modern technology, it was possible to be fit; though, to be sure, as ever, no one would mistake him for a 20 year old. That man was named RYCRYD. The other man was his opposite; a ferret-thin dark man in his mid 50s; a veritable child in the new world of nutriceuticals and transplants, but, nonethelesss, old enough to have become discontented with his lot and to long for a change in his state of affairs. His name was ANTONI.
“Well, well, well, My little man–and what did you wish to talk about this fine forenoon?”
It should be explained that RYCRYD had a charming habit of making condescending remarks which were intended to be seen by their receipients as backhanded compliments. A slightly more clever person–though there were few people more clever than RYCRYD–might have found such irony distasteful, but, in the future, as we shall see, irony was an antique rhetorical flourish little understood by the mass of men and the use of it here was intended to represent a compliment–that one had arrived; that one was sufficiently learned or at least sophisticated to be in on the joke; that one had a type of special inside knowledge denied to all but adepts of the Realm.
ANTONI was excitable and perhaps a little too over-eager to give back a compliment in the spirit it was received. he responded, “Nothing special, my little man, my Great Spiritual Master. Some things that have been bothering me.”
“And what could THOSE things possibly be? Look at you. You’re young…young-ish, anyway. Single; unattached. You have your whole life spread out before you. You could spend the next fifteen years consolidating your position and then take the rest of your life and do with it what you will, which, as we all know, is/was the whole of the law.”
“Was, indeed, was. What is this thing called “was”. I have no conception of it. It sems that everything nowadays happens so fast–“
“A common complaint in mid-life. History, you’ll find, is not a straight arrow, pointed to infinity. History is an eternal circle. The same things happen over and over, only they happen in different ways. Don’t you think our meat-eating ancestors were bewildered by the same feelings? Back then, when they turned 50, their teeth started to fall out and they had to go on soft foods and that’s about when they had to decide for themselves, what’s it all about, anyway? It was a lot for a limited mind to sort out. No wonder they all had worry lines and needed to resort to cosmetic surgery.”
“Don’t get me wrong, RYCRYD, I/we have no complaints. I didn’t book the Clean Room just to whine. Quite frankly, I look back on it all and I see how I lived better than 99 people out of 100 and I want to ask myself, why me? What sets me apart?”
“Then you are too modest by far. You don’t need to me tell you that you are an accomplished man. There is bnothing false in the things you say or do. Why be unhappy about the perceptions that others have of you? They are beyond your control and should not be part of your apprehension.”
“I will tell you, RYCRYD, that I/we become apprehensive when thinking over the nature of the past. I know what you’re about to say before you even say it–that it IS the past, let it go, it has done and can do nothing for you, though that would be a needlessly utilitarian way to think of it. since I’m not asking what the past can do or has done for me. My concerns are more metaphysical. I am concerned about a central quuestion: What IS the Past? I’m supposed to be a historian, but I don’t even know what the Past IS anymore. I feel like an old-time preacher who doubts there is a god. I feel like a man with a cold who has lost his sense of smell and who can no longer taste his favorite foods–he is hungry, but he has no appetite because the food has no taste. I don’t know who I am anymore because I have always defined myself in terms of my knowledge of the past, and now I no longer even know what the past really is.”
“Perhaps it is just as well you are no longer burdened with the pressures of Past Knowledge. Perhaps, as the ancients would say, it is a Blessing. The ancients had a great many words which are no longer in wide usage, but which could come in handy among the elite, if only the elite weren’t so purblind–and there is another excellent word; it basically means stubborn, but it also connotes a lack of insight. Of course, insight has never had a high value in the marketplace of ideas. It is too personal. Too individual. Insight is not an experience which is easy to translate, so it must, of course, fall by the wayside. Did you know that there was once a time when people actually kept their insights to themselves? they did not want to have them known. In those savage days. I suppose it was because they might be regarded as weak.”
“I can’t say that what you have just said has made me feel better. But at least it has not made me feel any worse. I am haunted by the past. That is what I wanted to confess to you today. How is that for an archaic concept? I am haunted by the image of a sexy elf in a red and white Santa Uniform wearing black lipstick. I feel as though I might as well be living in a cave and lighting the inner darkness by lamplight….”