When I was young, I always flirted with checkout girls. Since my lovely wife would frown on that behavior now, I stick to “Dad Jokes” and mind fuckery. Which suits me fine. Today I was in rare form.
Our story begins with a simple task. Drive down the street (literally), enter Publix, collect 3 Pub Subs and a gallon of Raspberry Tea.
After completing this task, I went to pay. Two Covid masked young ladies are at the checkout lane. The bagger askes “Is plastic OK?” This has bothered me for quite some time now. They almost never have paper anymore and since Covid, they only have plastic.
Most of the time I ask for burlap, but today I mixed it up. I said, “Do you have something in a nice Chenille or maybe Egyptian Cotten?” She looked at me and down to where the paper bags would have been and replied rather bored. “Only plastic” Defeated, I asked “Then why ask?”. She seemed to ponder then replied, “I have no idea” Finally I got a chuckle and I moved on to bigger prey.
Publix cashiers have the most annoying tendency to ask cheerily “Did you find everything you wanted today?” As a shopper I know that the checkout is the end of the road. If I need to get items, I get them before I go to pay for them. I ask store clerks to help me if I can’t find something.
So, at the checkout this question grates on me. Often, I will ask if they have a hidden area that I should know about. Sometimes a “Dad Joke” like, “I was looking around for one hundred bucks on the ground but couldn’t find it.” will suffice if I am lazy.
Today though I was in rare form and took it to the next level. I said with the appropriate concern; “Yes, I was looking for your cannabis edibles and couldn’t find them” She started to speak and I cut her off, “I saw them in the paper advertised in the BOGO section.”
She paused and I could see her thinking and slightly turning her head to the side. After a moment she had a visible “lightbulb moment” and said “Hang on I’ll go ask the Manager! She’ll know!”
As she turns, “Plastic OK Girl” slaps her on the arm laughing and says, “Girl, he’s just fucking with you! We don’t sell weed!
We all had a decent laugh and “Find everything Girl” said you are pretty cool for an old guy. 30 something years ago that would have been a win. 😊
… in which Mr John continues the story of the summer job that tried to kill him
Some of the most popular videos on Americas Funniest Home Videos and Ridiculousness are men getting their genitals punched, kicked, or otherwise attacked. Friends, I share this story with love. At the time, though, it wasn’t quite as funny. No one wants a detachable penis.
After spending my summer healing and having a blast, I was ready to go back to work. There were only a few weeks left until school started, but I wanted to make an appearance and finish out the summer on a good note.
A Sad Homecoming
When I arrived at the job site, I was surprised to see that the rough construction was almost complete. A tree topping ceremony had been done, which meant the very top of the building had a large undecorated Christmas tree and a huge American Flag. The High-Rise Construction workers were tearing down their unneeded equipment, building materials, and tools in preparation for crews that handle the rough framing of the interior of the building. The crane atop the structure was constantly replacing heavy materials and equipment from the roof for items more suitable for the subsequent phase of the job.
This process was not trivial and quite risky, a well-choreographed procedure. Here is a quick run-through:
On the ground, I was the rigger. I laid out heavy hoist chains in a cross pattern, and forklift operator dropped the load on top of my chains. The foreman with a microphone guided the crane operator (in a tiny room on the crane) to lower the crane hook to the load. “Crane Down.”
The Foreman shared the progress, via a series of loudspeakers to the job site. I would loop each chain over the Crane hook, often climbing up the load to reach, then jump off, and the Foreman would announce, “Crane up”. When workers on the building’s roof did the reverse, unneeded materials were sent down, which I unhooked. They were then taken away by the forklift.
I was instructed, “Do not twist the chains, do not knot the chains, or someone (likely me) could get killed.” Crane rigging was a serious business. You needed to be tall, strong, and quick on your feet.
And now for the part we have been waiting for
Now finally, the story. August in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is hot. To compound matters, job sites like mine were set atop pure white sand, which reflected the heat making the ground as hot as hell. Five minutes of work and you’d be soaked and dripping with sweat.
A quick note about my attire. In the seventies, bell-bottom hip huggers were a distinct fashion choice, especially among burnouts, stoners, and hippies. They were extremely low at the waist and super tight, and the extreme heat forced me to “go commando”.
Doing the same thing for hours on end leads to boredom and complacency. Chance saw a crack in my vigilance and launched an attack upon my groin.
I clambered up my next stack of wood and clipped up the chain. I had to tippy toe it, almost jumping to get the clip on. When I turned to jump off, the Foreman yelled, “Crane up”, the chains tightened, and before I could actually jump, the entire load started to lift off the ground, myself included.
The Foreman yelled out over the microphone “Stop the Crane!”, but by that time I was about twenty feet up in the air. The Crane stopped. The Foreman followed up with, “Lower the Crane, SLOWLY”, which to the Crane Operator meant, let the crane free fall for ten feet then slam on the brakes.
Being dropped so hard caused me to lose the fragile grip I had on the load, and I fell, only I didn’t. Seems that as I was trying to get the chain rigged, I caught some of my pants, pubes and man flesh between the load and the chain, so instead of falling, I splayed out backwards, arms thrown out like some twisted caricature of Jesus on the cross, held there only by my crotch.
The rendering on the right shows where I was pinned. The top one was the waist band of my pants; the middle was the “lower pubic triangle” (just above Mr. John junior). That one had caught a decent amount of skin as well some flesh of the patch. The bottom one was “the boys”. Another decent amount of leg flesh got pinned along with just enough of the erm… boys “sack” to cause great pain and alarm that my gennies would remain on the crane as I fell to my death.
At this point the Foreman exclaimed, over the loudspeaker system, which if you recall, is in the center of Downtown Hollywood, “Oh My God the kid has his dick caught on the crane! ” For the remainder of the proceedings, his microphone remained open, so everyone was able to ‘enjoy’ my predicament.
Now back to my problem. I was stuck. There was nothing to grab onto, nowhere to go but down. When the button snapped on my pants, everything stopped for me. Warm blood mixed with sweat as I heard my zipper unzip. Intense pain followed as my pants gave up under the pressure and fell from my body allowing my bare-assed self to fall spread eagle to the ground. When it’s hot, you bleed. A small cut will bleed like you’ve severed a small artery, and this was no exception. It was messy.
Instinctively my hands clutched at my privates and I investigated the damage. Balls; check. Dick; check. I looked up at the Foreman and found he had been joined by my dad who had rushed down expecting a castrated son.
As I lay on the hot sand, nude save my work boots, the foreman asked, “Are you OK??!” Shaken, and at an age where my voice was still cracking, in a falsetto voice I squeaked, “I’m OK!” Men nearby took to gagging and the foreman was horrified. Considering the horrors that are often seen on jobsites, this was quite an achievement.
Realizing I was unharmed and intact I started laughing my ass off.
I learned that day that if you do something fucked up. Own it. I stood up nude and bloody. My father gave me a disgusted look and handed me his toolbelt which I used to provide a modicum of modesty. I was sent to the first aid trailer where the twig and berries were examined, cleaned, and bandaged.
I emerged still nude but with my penis and testicles wrapped in gauze like a sad pink mummy. Awaiting me were The Foreman, my Father, and the General Manager of the job. I was handed my final paycheck and suggested I go home for the rest of the summer.
I drove home dreading the dressing down I expected from my Father. Arriving home, I grabbed a six pack and went to my shed. I reckon I was in into the third beer when my Dad walked in sporting a very stern look.
“I was just fired too.”
He smiled and explained, the job was closing anyway so it was no big deal, his job was done there anyway. He went to the union hall and got another assignment. He also mentioned that he heard men talking about a boy that got his dick ripped off on a jobsite.
“Fuck you”, I said tossing him a beer. Looking back on it this was the best laugh we ever shared.
… in which Mr John learns his dog is a communist –
I didn’t need a rabid Trump supporter to tell me my dog is an asshole. I figured that out the first time she woke me up at three in the morning to go sniff the yard for ten minutes or the time she vomited between my legs in the middle of the night making me think I crapped the bed.
Mostly I don’t drive anymore. My wife doesn’t trust me to be safe and most of the time she isn’t wrong. Yesterday though, she had a wisdom tooth out, and I got a rare chance to adult. (whee). My appointed task was to drive to KFC, collect food and return home, hopefully without incident.
Siri suggested a sensible route of larger city highway, under an overpass and there I would find the KFC. Easier than falling off a log.
As I pulled up at the light beneath the overpass. I couldn’t help but see a large gathering of Trump supporters. Mostly Boomer folks, waving assorted Trump 2020 flags intermingled with confederate flags, the “thin blue line flag” and an eye-catching gray flag with a black AK-47 on it.
My mind wandered at the long light; What would you call a group of Trump Supporters?
Grumble of Pugs, Murder of Crows, Unkindness of Ravens, Stench of Skunks, a Knot of Toads – all taken. I was at a loss.
The light soon changed, and my mind shifted back to the task at hand. Four KFC Famous bowls, a Diet Pepsi, and three Dr. Peppers. On the return trip, I noticed a few counter-protesters had gathered a safe distance from the Trumpers, with black hoodies and black gloves, standing silently with raised fists.
As I passed under the overpass, I really hoped I would not end up stopped in front of the Trumpers, but naturally, that is exactly what happened. Busses can be hatefully timed at rush hour. I couldn’t help but study the spectacle. It was like a rotting carcass being devoured by a pack of vultures, revolting yet so interesting.
My musing was broken when someone thumped on my window and yelled:
“Your dog is a fucking asshole”
Startled, (on several levels), I muted Nine Inch Nails, turned, cracked the window down and asked the gentleman; “What the fuck are you talking about?”
“Your dog is a god damn communist asshole.”
Now it might be my condition, or my relative fearlessness, but my mind turned to what in the hell could have so triggered this freak of nature. I ignored his rants. “How did he know I had a dog?” Antifa! “Think think think.” Socialist! “Is this happening, or did I forget my pills this morning?”
Finally, it hit me. The magnet I took off the old freezer we just tossed out. ‘My Dog is a Democrat’.
Just as traffic was moving, I looked up at him and said “Yeah, and she’s black too.”
As I drove home, I decided on: A vitriol of Trump Supporters.
Update: Driving past the intersection today, right in the middle of where the story unfurled was a large “NO TRESPASSING” sign “BY ORDER OF SEMINOLE COUNTY SHERIFF”. somehow my dog and I feel safer. 🙂
I’ve taken a long hiatus from blogging. In the throes of Apocalypse Lite, I’ve decided to start up again.
It’s hard to believe how quickly seven months pass. 2019 ended on the suck for me. My doctor decided that I was doing too well on my meds; so, she took me off a some and changed up others. This fucked me up until February. I was in no state to write; much less be entertaining. I got a new doctor and we have me “normalish now”. 2020 has not been kind to the world or my mental state. We’re going to chat about that in the next couple of posts as well as get back to the stories.
I don’t like my Facebook page. I’m crap at posting and thinking about starting a Facebook group.
… a story of labor, gluttony, and disgust all involving a roast beef
The last couple of posts discussing my childhood abuse were a lot harder to write than I thought. I still have a couple to go, and I have been procrastinating. For now, I would like to share a quick tale of a Pug Dog, A Roast Beef, and a Crazy Woman.
I think it’s clear that I loved my Pug Dog very much. We were inseparable. He was my best friend, my partner in crime, and my constant companion.
I have already discussed my Mother’s lack of cooking skills in The Vomit Story, so not necessary to elaborate there. Pee-Wee and I had a secret dinner time partnership. When Mother would present some disgusting gray meat-like substance for dinner, I would cram as much as I could in my mouth, chew it into an appalling ball, and then cough. The “meat” ball would shoot into my hand, which I would then dangle beside my chair until the dog spotted it, grabbed it, and would take it into a corner to feast.
Now and again, a dinner time miracle would happen. My crazy Mom would present a Roast Beef, which will be forever now be known as “The Roast,” as delicious looking as the cover of this post. No bland gray meat here, just juicy, delightful goodness. I swear sometimes I could see sunbeams breaking through the clouds illuminating the dinner time miracle.
Our story begins with one such roast. The table laid with care, the family, all happily placing dishes while laughing and joking, looking forward to a delicious meal. A delightfully normal moment in my atypical childhood.
“The Roast” was placed, in all its glory, in the center of the table.
We finished getting ready for dinner; drinks were being prepared and such when my Mother suddenly let loose with a bloodcurdling scream that could have awoken the dead.
I turned around just in time to see the dog on the table with “The Roast” in his mouth. My Mother yelled, “God Damn Mother Fucking Dog!” and grabbed the broom. Startled, the dog turned and proceeded to drag the meat off the table. He bolted to the back door hauling “The Roast” with him like a prey, trailing behind him a parade of my Mother, alternating between screaming obscenities and trying to thwack him with the broom, and a bewildered Father and Son following at a safe distance.
When we caught up to the dog, he was hovering over his prize snarling. Poking, cursing, and crying, my mother wrestled “The Roast” from the dog.
Covered with sand, twigs, teeth marks, and heaven knows what else, she carried the once wondrous piece of meat to the kitchen and to an orchestra of curses and rants, she haphazardly rinsed it off in the kitchen sink.
I’ll be honest here; both my Dad and I were afeared. We stood silently by as she attempted to make “The Roast” edible after its dog induced adventure. When she finished, she matter-of-factly slammed the meat on the table and announced. “Dinner is Fucking served!”.
Hastily carved and plated, my serving came complete with bite marks, sand, and the odd bit of debris. I knew it was a bad idea, but it was so gross I could not help myself: “But Mama, it has bite marks and dirt on it.”
“Eat it or I will wring your neck!” she replied, continuing, “I busted my ass all afternoon on this, and you WILL enjoy it. OR ELSE”.
I looked to my Dad for guidance, but he was head down silently eating. I did the same without my partner in crime. He was in the doghouse. Literally and figuratively.
… in which Mr John had to choose between Jew or Jesus and chose none of the above.
A short story about religion, God, and a confused child: child abuse can come in many forms. This one was pretty bad.
Growing up, I was raised as a Jew. I went to Hebrew school, and my mother took me to the temple. She spoke often of her relations who remained in Poland and died in the Holocaust. I knew a fair bit of Hebrew and peppered Yiddish into my conversations.
My adoptive father was Catholic. This wasn’t a bad thing, as we got to celebrate Christmas AND Chanukah. As I grew older, (and this was explained to me later), my father wanted to go to church. He was, as it turned out, profoundly religious, and at one time had studied to be a priest.
So, one day, we all went to church, followed by Sunday school. This was a long time ago, and all I remember was confusion and anger and being scared. Being tossed into the deep end of a religion with no explanation is pretty traumatic; even more so if it’s Catholicism.
“Jesus died for your sins” – I sinned? When? How could Jesus know if I cheated on a test? I wasn’t even born when he died. It makes no sense.
“Jesus rose from the dead” – I knew about zombies, and I was having a hard time dealing with God being a zombie.
“In the name of the father, the son and the holy ghost” – GHOST! What ghost?
“Go up and get Communion, It’s the body of Christ” – You mean that is a piece of Jesus’s corpse? Yuck.
Each weekend for years, I went to the temple on Saturday and church on Sunday. At Sunday school, I was introduced to the “real” nature of Zombie Jesus, The Holy Ghost, and my Eternal Soul. To me, it was stifling and scary. At Hebrew school, we learned about all sorts of cool stuff, memorized and recited prayers, baked Challah bread, and it was fun.
Sadly, the longer this went on, the more I became disenchanted with both religions. Kids discovered I was practicing both faiths. The Jewish kids, who had once been my friends, now teased me about Zombie Jesus and the Holy Ghost. The goyim (catholic kids) called me Christ Killer and Jew Boy.
At one point, it was explained to me that the parents wanted me to experience both of my heritage religions, and this could guide me to make my own choices later on in life. However, moving forward, though, we would be a Christian family. I was gutted. To further drive home the point that I was now officially Catholic, I was sent to a Catholic middle school.
Under the council of my friend, Suzy (I will formally introduce you to her later), I was persuaded to “go with it,” “keep to myself” and stick out the two years. She was convinced that when High School came around, I would be allowed to go to North Miami Beach High School (where she went), and everything would be great.
This advice was ignored. I was an angry, rebellious asshole, and so I entered “Jesus school” with an impossibly lousy attitude.
I remember early on being asked to write a paper on “What Jesus Means to Me.” I concocted a narrative.
Jesus lives in a giant turtle bowl in the sky. The Holy Ghost was in charge of cleaning the bowl and feeding Jesus. Once each year Jesus would fall to earth on Halloween and go trick or treating with all the other children. He would go from door to door, asking for candy and turning all the wine in each house to water as a trick. After a while, Jesus would start to dry out and need to go home to his bowl. He would stay in his bowl waiting until the next Halloween when God would let him come down to play again.
The nuns did not appreciate this at all. Back then, corporal punishment was the rule, and I got bare-assed paddled until the welts bled. That afternoon I was given detention with one of the few teachers that weren’t a nun. She convinced me that blending in was the best for me and to “go with it.” I still contest that there is no wrong way to answer “What Jesus Means to Me.”
It took a while for me to get the message. Once, during some talent thing, I selected stand-up comedy. I wore nude pantyhose under my pants with a giant cock and balls drawn on them. I started my act my dropping my pants and announcing, “I’d like to share something with you all that I am very proud of.” I was drug off stage by the ear and beaten yet again. They just never got my humor.
Eventually, I was assimilated into the Catholic culture. They made me an Altar Boy, and I read the pre sermon thing. I also discovered dope. The second year of middle school was much better. I kept mostly to myself and learned that the wind blew just right behind the outdoor bathrooms, masking the smell of a joint. Add in some quaaludes, and middle school became acceptable. I didn’t have a girlfriend, but I did deflower a few girls. I had my first great crush, but the fact she had a 17-year-old boyfriend meant anything with her was off the table.
As my sentence (the school term) was coming to an end, I looked forward to joining Suzy at North Miami Beach Senior High. These hopes were dashed, though. My parents were so proud of how I had become such a good Christian student they were going to send me to a Catholic high school. They wanted to protect me from “the bad influences.” They didn’t know that I was “the bad influence.” I went to high school, and no one had any clue about my “origin story.” The “Offical Story” was that I was a Catholic, and that was it. Easy, straightforward, no conflict.
After high school, after marrying a Secular Pagan, after seeing all the horrible things people do in the name of God and their religions, and all the horrendous things that have I dealt with my life, I have settled on Apathetic Agnostic.
I didn’t know that was a thing until recently, but it fits how I feel; no debate without the word faith involved can prove or disprove “God.” To that regard, if there is a “God,” then great. If not, then that is fine as well. “God” has no direct effect on my life. If there is an afterlife, then “Yay,” otherwise, I will just be gone.
In spite of all my heathenistic and sinful ways in my past, today, I choose to live with only one goal; to be kind. If kindness were the predominant goal of corporations, bureaucrats, and individuals, most of our problems would be solved, and life would be joyous and beautiful for us all.
… in which Mr. John talks about the formative influence of mental abuse
“Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me.” This adage, popularized in the mid-1800s and enforced on boomers and late boomers like me, was supposed to help steel you from verbal abuse and bullying. Verbal and mental abuse is like death by one thousand papercuts. It changes you, twists you into something you barely recognize.
Here I am at 5, enjoying a pretty care-free life. I didn’t know I was being abused. I was innocent and just thought that this was normal. My abuse at this age was “knowledge.” Knowing things that no little person should know.
The freak. The strange kid.
As a youngster, I knew the word “suicide” and that my Mommy tried it twice. It makes for some fascinating playground talk until a parent gets wind of it and tells their child to avoid “the weird kid.” I had a puppy! I loved to play with bugs and snakes and climb trees! I wasn’t weird!
As early as I could remember, my mother would wake me up in the “middle of the night,” which as a kid, could have been 9 pm or 3 am; the result was the same. We would have a “Party.” Sleepy eyed, I was greeted at the kitchen table with cookies and milk. Then I would listen to “tales from my mother,” otherwise known as “how to mind fuck a little boy.”
She shared all sorts of things that a little boy shouldn’t know; how my sister died, how my “real father” was a dick and did all kinds of horrible things to her, stories of her childhood and how her parents beat her.
Betrayal and Anger.
As an adult, I know now that she was stoned, drunk, mentally ill, and venting to a captive audience. I wish my father had stepped in and put an end to it at the time. He had his issues and drowned himself in his job, so he either couldn’t see what was around him or could pretend he didn’t. I do not doubt that she made his life hell too.
One gruesome and scarring story was about a pet puppy she had. Supposedly it was a dachshund puppy, and her parents made her keep it in the cellar when she wasn’t playing with it. According to the tale, one night, the little puppy was nosing around behind a large refrigerator. It stuck its nose through a grate and had the tip cut off by the compressor fan. She woke up in the morning to find the pup dead, having bled out from its wound. The story continued that she was beaten for the incident and denied pets moving forward.
An epilogue to the story was that she later found a lost kitten. Her mother made her put it in a sack and drowned it in a well.
She talked of cutting the heads off of chickens, being raped, and more things that I successfully pushed from memory over the years.
Unwanted Accident. Anger and Guilt.
One revelation that I can’t forget is her announcement one evening that she didn’t love my adopted father. The consolation was that she was learning to love him, but she married so that I would have a family. I was unplanned, and she made this great “sacrifice” for me. In 1962 Wilfred was 41, and Mother was 28. Now I am older. I realize how fucked up this was.
Night after night, this continued for years.
One night Mother went away, and I stayed with neighbors for a while. When she returned, the green and black pills were gone. Years later, I figured out that she had overdosed on the benzo and anti-psychotics she was on and after had a time out in a mental facility. After that, things were better for a time, at least.
My abuse over the years wasn’t neatly layered upon me. It came in waves, sometimes subtle, others violent and painful.
Data visualization was one of my specialties when I was an application developer, and sand art in a bottle is a perfect visual aid of how my abusive childhood was.
My early childhood was pretty damn good. I had a puppy, friends, and loving, caring parents. As mentioned in the Orchid Thief, my mother nurtured my love of our natural world and taught me to be kind and caring. This was “The Official Story” everyone was told, rather than have to explain or admit to the truth. We’ll have a chat later as to why “The Official Story” is different from a lie. The reality is that four specters rose to ruin a wonderful little boy; mental abuse, violence, religion, and sex.
Our story begins before my birth.
My Mother married one Franklin Gammon, a TV repairman from Ohio in 1955 when she was 21 years old. In the same year, on December 11th, they had a child, Debbie, and they moved to North Miami Beach, Florida, into what would later become my childhood home. I would assume that this was an unplanned marriage due to the timing and the era.
As far as I can tell, they had a happy life up until my sister, Debbie died in 1958. One moment she was a perfect child, the next she lay dead in my Mother’s arms, asphyxiated by a tumor that had fallen across her windpipe.
That tragedy leads my Mother into an understandable downward spiral into mental illness, suicide attempts, drug abuse, and more.
Debbie died on July 12, 1959. I was born in 1962. What happened between those points in time turned my Mother into a monster. I pretty much think that my ‘supposed’ biological father was a massive dickhead.
What transpired in the two and a half years between her death and my birth is mostly a mystery to me. I know there were two suicide attempts. One was a good old wrist slashing (but no one told her down not across), and the other was a hardcore throat slash. Also during this time, of course, was a stay at an Institution. I was likely conceived in May of 1961 but the stories told to me by my Mother about that time period are a concoction of lies, half-truths, and misdirection. What my Mother hadn’t calculated was that her bullshit would be unraveled by “The Internet”.
Meanwhile, Wilfred (my adopted Father) was married to one Lily Cave in August 1960. It was a short-lived marriage and they divorced in June the next year when she apparently left him and he spent a number of months recovering from the trauma in a Mental facility.
I was born in February 1962, my mother divorced Gammon in April of 1962 and she married Wilfred in July of 1962. My life was a cluster fuck by the time I was six months old.
A new happy family was started, and we will continue this story with mental abuse.