My friend - we'll call him Micah - has had a hard time lately.
He used to work at the Wall Street Journal in lower Manhattan, but decided to quit that job after he exited his office and saw that the building across the street was burning and raining people. He and his co-workers were halfway across the Hudson on a ferry when that building fell.
He moved back to Harrisburg, PA, and did some odd jobs, saving up money to travel around the world, something he'd always wanted to do. Then he met a girl, they dated briefly, and they moved in together. But she grew bored, cleared out his bank account, and split town with a guy that worked at the local McDonalds.
Losing all your money is bad enough, but getting dumped for a dude that flips burgers... that's harsh.
He got a dog after that, because he felt like he needed some loyalty and companionship. He'd had her almost a year before she decided to play chicken with a snow plow, and it didn't end pretty.
I hadn't kept in contact with him the last couple years. It's my fault really. I'm lazy. But every time I talked to him, it was like having a polite conversation with Ted Kaczynski. He'd ask me to come out and hang with him and we'd go to a bar and drink whisky until we couldn't stand. I was down with that, but I never had a car I could trust to take me halfway across Pennsylvania.
I wasn't the only one that didn't stay in contact. Everyone else that I knew that used to be friends with Micah had lost touch too. He'd retreated into some kind of protective shell, like a snail or a toll booth operator. We'd all forgotten about the guy.
Well, I heard from him the other day. He sent me a note. I'm not sure why he sent it to me - I guess he always considered me his closest friend for whatever reason, probably because we had a common love of sports and he could identify with my multiple moronic mistakes.
And the kind of note he sent... it's the kind that has to be sent to somebody. Maybe he figured I'd understand.
Here it be:
Residents of this Shithole World,
I am leaving. Buh-bye.
I've got nothing to live for, and it's really expensive. I hate my rent, I hate my car, I hate my electricity and all the porn sites I belong to. I don't really have to explain this to you, other than to say that every day I wake up is a nightmare, and I cannot imagine anything that will make me want to put up with this charade any longer.
I don't care what awaits me - I just want the F*** out of here. If I die and there's nothing, then that would be fabulous. If I die and I get reincarnated as a walrus, that would be a super change. If I die and go to a Heaven, then at least I could finally nail Jennifer Connelly. If I die and go to Hell, then at least I'd finally get to meet Jim Morrison.
To my mother, I bequeath my dirty laundry. You've been doing it so long that I don't know what you'll do with your life without it, and I don't want you to end up like me.
To my younger brother, I bequeath my porn. You can't have enough porn.
To my older brother, I bequeath an axe. I hate your wife.
To Madam Plzyinski, I bequeath what's left of my bank account. You've got most of the collection anyway.
With whatever is left of me, just burn it and throw it in a ditch. I won't be caring by that point.
I have one task left to perform, and I do this for two reasons: one, I don't want to be one of those people they find after they've disappeared for three weeks and their apartment starts to smell, and, two, I have to have at least one purpose in my life.
It took me a while to figure out what that purpose should be - maybe 3 hours. For the betterment of mankind, I'm taking someone with me to Hell.
This person's identity is simple. Who do you think of if I write:
Mumble mumble mumble turducken BOOM!
John Madden has been ruining football games for me my whole life. His rambling stupid comments have me convinced that he gets royally stoned right before getting on air, what with the grunts and noises and obvious observations and random marks on the telestrator and pontificating about food. Why do you think he doesn't fly? It's so he can ship his cache of weed around the country with him. That bus sees more pot-smoking than a Willie Nelson road gig.
But what do I care if he gets paid to sit around all day in his bus getting stoned and watching football? That's every American's dream. What I do care about is that he has to screw up a perfectly good football game with his inane comments. It's enough to make me smash my oven with a sledge hammer.
The last game I watched, I swear he said, "What they want to do is score points, and stop the Redskins from scoring points, and if they do that, they will score more points, and that's the key to winning the game."
You think? God, I'm glad I was able to glean that bit of genius from his insightful mind! No wonder he's been doing this for 75 years!
And his game... yes, I'm really proud that he is responsible for a video game which keeps millions of Americans fat. Just like John, they too can be stupid and lazy, sitting around their house all day, playing video games instead of real games, burning kilowatt hours instead of calories. Thanks to his wonderful contribution to our culture, we will have an entire generation of children that know every aspect of football but can't run 10 yards or throw a ball in a pool.
For all this... John Madden must die.
I have nothing against the guy personally - but he is a symbol of a world I loathe, and that's a symbol I want to destroy. He'll look up, see me, and ask who I am. And the last words he'll hear will be "Turducken".
By the time you read this note, I will be gone. No, not dead. Just gone from my apartment. And John Madden will most likely still be breathing. It's up to you whether or not that continues. If you feel the hero, go ahead and try and call his mobile frat house and give him the heads up that I'm coming. It'll make it more fun.
Screw all you all,
PS - Oh, and I changed my mind. I want you to bury me face down. That way everyone can kiss my ass.
In shock, I laid the letter down. It had definitely been a long time, but I never thought Micah capable of this kind of insanity. I wondered if he was just joking. I have a dark sense of humor, but Micah could always top me in an instant - to a point where I wondered if he were joking at all. Had he really snapped?
Just in case he has, I'd better make a concerted effort to get in touch with Mr. Madden. I'm looking around my desk. Huh. Nope. Doesn't look like I have it written down here anywhere. Guess I don't have it.
Ah well. At least I tried.
***Note to Micah: (Look away if you're not Micah!)
If you're reading this... don't forget Deion Sanders. Wink wink.
***I have a very important reaction to the Mitchell Report.
That period of time in baseball is completely Sporked. But it's also over.
Drug test the hell out of them from now on. Make sure it doesn't happen again. Move on.
***I must admit that I think less of Bobby Petrino after his cowardly escape from Atlanta. To quit midseason was bad enough, but to promise Arthur Blank just a few days prior that you will not be leaving, then phone in your resignation and send all your players a ridiculous form letter to explain your departure... you must have the soul of a worm. Or what was floating in my toilet yesterday after one of my daughters ate green Play Dough.
*** For those of you that have the NFL Network and watched the Broncos-Texans game: How nice was it not to hear Bryant Gumble stumbling through the game call? He was sick on Thursday (and for all of those of you who have seen him recently, this is eminently believable), and had to have a sub.
Sure, his replacement, Tom Hammond, is not the second coming of Howard Cosell, and he wears more make-up than Tammy Faye Baker, but at least it seemed he was somewhat aware of what he was talking about.
It must be an interesting thing - drawing on your eyebrows each week.
I'm Scottish, so I don't get that fun. I get to comb the suckers.
***It's Midnight on a Friday, and I finally have a chance to write.
My daughters each had a friend overnight, and I've spent the night refereeing hurt feelings and getting chocolate milk and picking up broken objects and trying to convince little girls to stop screaming as they splashed water all over the bathroom walls from the bath they were giving the Barbies in the sink.
That would be apart from the normal rigmarole with the girls, which includes cooking dinner, cooking breakfast, baths, gymnastic lessons, homework, washing dishes, packing lunches, laundry, bedtime stories, combing hair, getting them dressed, forcing them to clear up their toy disasters, further cleaning up what they did a bad job cleaning...
It's also - as you know - the Holiday season, and there're trips to the mega-stores and Christmas events and package wrapping and...
Oh yeah. Work.
On one hand, divorce from an unsavory person sets you free. On the other hand - truly as far as my children are concerned - it domesticates the hell out of you. I can no longer rely on help with the multiple tasks that accompany little ones. I am responsible for all that. And I won't shirk any responsibilities, because the stakes are too high. Someone's gotta ensure that my daughters grow up to become good people.
I never thought this would be me. I never wanted children. I never wanted to get married. I never wanted to leave California.
Fate sometimes takes a hand.
In 1998 - a million years ago, it seems - I had completely different plans. Shit happens. Life's tough. Boo frickin' hoo.
Once you have kids, your life is no longer your own. It belongs to them. Thus, instead of spending this Holiday getting stoned on a beach in New Zealand with some girl I met in Paraguay, I'm immersed to my ears in suburban anonymity. I traded New Zealand for Canton. I traded my Jeep for a minivan. That's just the way it goes.
Sometimes I look around and realize how domesticated I've become. It really hit me today as I drove my minivan home from the daycare and submitted to my daughters' 700th request to listen to The Chipmunks Christmas CD. If the me of 10 years ago could just see the me of today, I thought. Someone would get headbutted in the nose.
Most likely the me of 10 years ago would get it for criticizing my fate. The last person that should be judging me is that stupid bastard.
This is my life, and it ain't too freakin' bad. It's busy. It's hectic. It's devoid of so many of the things that used to make life fun.
But I love my girls and I love my girlfriend and I love my house and I can't complain about my job and I still get to express myself from time to time.
And that time, apparently, comes at Midnight on a Friday.***Merry Whatever to all y'all, whatever your religion might or might not be. I don't care who you are - this is the Holiday season, and I like it all. So Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Joyous Kwanzaa, Beautiful Boxing Day, and Wonderful whatever the hell else makes it worthwhile to roll on another year.