Monday, January 12, 2009

You rip, a tease

I don't know.

Comedy is such a difficult vein of literature.

Only the greats can come up with lines like,

"I don't get any respect."


"But, Ollie!"

So, I'm not going to try.

Instead, I'm not going to make it all so difficult for myself. I'm just going to write, which since I really really enjoy it at all times will make the reading of this just so much easier for you, my dear audience.

Speaking of audiences, I used to have this theory. Oh, never mind. Suffice it to say, the practice of it has obviously culminated with me staring at this nearly blank screen, alone in this room, in the early morning hours, with only the most fragile thread attaching me to reality or even what i'm writing.

How can that be, you may ask?

Go ahead, ask!

It seems that because communication of ideas is at least as important as having them, that as is so often the case I have simply replicated the isolation that I was in to begin with.

Sierra Vista. Antarctica. President Bush -- isolated places.


See, I get a line to myself.

Where is this going? At the moment, look at the first line of the blog.

"I don't know."

This, of course, was a line that the great Steve Martin used in that era long ago when I was about 12 or 13, and he was in the midst of selling out big venues as a stand up comedian with his big "Excuse Me!" routine. I believe the sequence when standing in front of the judge, was "I don't know." Then, "I forgot," Then, "Well, excuse me!"

This is important. How? Give me a chance, will you? (A locution of another comedy great my regular readership may recognize.)

My very good friend Frank Leslie (when I was 12 and 13) was a big-time comedy fan who introduced me and my little circle of 2 or 3 other ahem, boys*, to for instance Steve Martin and Monty Python. This was in the mid 70s, and these acts had been around for years already but we didn't know that. All I knew was that Frank was hilarious telling jokes, especially including while we were riding on the Church bus. He was also quite skilled at playing "dots" and "tic-tac-toe" with me during services as well as making out with one of his girl friends during the midst of the (Southern Baptist) rigmarole. That's another story.

What else was in Frank's life besides comedy was his father, with whom he lived in a mobile home in a trailer park, of which there were many in my home town (where I'm at now). I only went to visit Frank (to my memory) once at his house. His father was incredibly abusive to the point where I was scared, and my father was no slouch when it came to yelling and making you feel that you wanted to leave his overbearing presence. I think he may have drank.

Anyway, there are three facts about Frank which I wish to relate in this here writing, and then I will be finished (hopefully).

First, was his burglary career. Frank when he and I were about 14 or 15 turned to breaking and entering, which he loved to tell me about. It was the first time I was near anyone who practiced criminal activity at that level. He would tell me about the tools used to scratch the glass of windows and screen doors, the pushing-in, and the fun of wrecking the furniture/appurtenances of those places he let himself into. I was fascinated, and typically for me, scared. How could anyone do that, I thought. I never practiced it myself. What does it matter? To me it shows how normal and commonplace it was at that time to do things which were against authority and not only not worry that it was somehow wrong, but actually brag about it. It seems to me somehow very different now. You're supposed to feel guilty about everything even potentially out of line. The public has been changed either into law-fearing, criminal-hating, passive victims in the making, or scary, violent, raging criminals. Who's done this? The authorities, the cops and of course behind them big business. Why? The only reason I can think of is to protect their precious money. Because I remember those times, I have little respect for law or its imperatives.

Anyway, to keep going. Frank was the first person who sussed out my little difference from the other males in my circle. He said the word "transvestite" to me, openly, I believe asking me if I was one. I, totally shocked and embarrassed, said, of course, No. I believe that if the time and place were different or if maybe I was different, we would have ended up lovers at some level. Oh, yeah, I forgot to say that he was rather attractive, with dark hair and eyes, slender and a little forward sexually. This is important to me, because it brought home the possible consequences for me of being who I was. I knew that if he knew, others might know. And I knew that I stood an extremely good chance of being ostracized, probably physically attacked and disgraced within my family. From my perspective today, this is funny. To think no one would know when I was going to school with traces of pink fingernail polish left over from the previous day's dressing up episode. Amusing.

Lastly, from comedy to tragedy. I'm pretty sure that Frank died many years ago. He became, I believe, an alcoholic or drug addict of some sort, and ended up in Colorado. Just thinking about it makes me angry. Here was someone who probably had his own complete insecurities with respect to his father, the fact that he was half Mexican, the fact that he was hanging out with incipient perverts like myself who were on the social oddball list, and a beautiful vulnerability and anger that he could only express through comedy and burglary. And then nothing but a short time on the planet to follow. I wish to this day that I could see him again and let him know what a good friend I thought of him as for a while (I was already becoming an intellectual snob I should say) and what better things I think he deserved.

So, to conclude, this blog is for you, Frank.

Did I make this interesting?

Even if not buoyant.

I would like to go on, but it's been nearly an hour in the writing, and I'm tired. So I'll make this THE conclusion of this post.


J. Be-atch ("Tears")

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