I get called weird a lot.
It’s a common occurrence; I make weird noises, do an impression or some random thing, and receive a “why are you so weird?’ response from family or friends. Recently, there has been an abundance of these ‘weird’ moments and it got me thinking – not whether I am weird, my freak flag is tattered – but WHY am I so…bizarre at times. Am I predisposed to be ‘off’? Am I prone to some contaminate in the water?
Most people look at the photo above and think, wow Roam About Mike, Sr. looks like a fucking serial killer, or how did he get such a hot wife in Roam About Mom? Did he threaten to dissect her family? Then they look at my ET shirt…awesome!
I look at this picture, and follow my dad’s shoulder down through the discoloration of the photo to what looks like his very small baby hand pinching my ET shirt, and I laugh hysterically. Dad has a baby hand! Haha!
The beautiful couple above are to blame for majority of my genetic weirdness, and a large part of the environmental influence. Don’t get me wrong, I had a fantastic childhood growing up in a cul-de-sac within Nautical Themed development ‘Aurora Shores’ in the ‘burbs of Cleveland, Ohio. Our street name was Smuggler’s Cove. And if you’d like to know your Porn Name, it’s your first pet’s name, plus your first street. Mine? T.J. Smugglers.
Tangential, I know, but this precisely the weirdness I’m talking about!
On the impending birth of my little sister, Christy:
“Mom? How are babies born?”
“Well, after 9 months in Mommy’s belly, a special door opens up, and out comes the baby.”
“A special door? Like a microwave?”
“Yes, like a microwave.”
For a few years, I thought a woman’s belly literally dinged like an Amana microwave, and swung open after nine months to expose a finished baby, cooked to perfection.
Then I learned about vaginas in sex ed class and everything was totally set straight….
On the diagram of a penis entering a vagina in 5th grade Sex Ed class:
Nurse Johnson: “…the man will lay on top of the woman, and insert his….”
“Mrs. Johnson? How long after a man lies on a woman does it take to… ejaculate?”
Giggles from the class.
“Two hours.” Mrs. Johnson, completely serious.
“Whoa!” Class, in unison.
“That’s like, 4 episodes of The Simpsons!”
For 2 years after this episode I thought sex was robotic – a ‘heterosexual only’ club, man and woman, laying down, staring at each other for exactly two hours until the time comes (pun!).
Then, a video watched starring oscar-winner Ron Jeremy at a friend’s house set me straight. And by straight, I mean my sex education went from the stagnant (yet tantric) Nurse Johnson, to the horrible, hairy game of failed leap-frog starring Ron Jeremy. Ack!
Hopefully, Nurse Johnson has since strayed from ruining the sexual expectations of budding girls, and boys everywhere.
When I was 11, I started having frequent and happy little seizures. I would be at the mall, shopping with the fam, and without warning lights out, smash my face on the ground, eyes rolled back, unconscious floor dancing. Per the doctor – no baths, no swimming at the pool, no sports I loved so much.
After a year or of testing, needles, prodding, CAT scans, MRIs, butt scans, freaked out parents, the doctors prognosed I had epilepsy. Roam About Dad, a pharmacist, called bullshit, did some research on his own.
His findings? Donald Rumsfeld and Ronald Reagan tried to kill me. Stay with me here.
Donald Rumsfeld was once the CEO of a company called G.D. Searle which owned the original patent to sugar substitute aspartame. In 1980, Rumsfeld was a part of newly elected President Ronald Reagan’s transition team, which hand selected Dr. Arthur Hull Hayes, Jr. as head of the F.D.A. Soon after, aspartame was approved, and within a year, the first carbonated beverage containing aspartame was released to the consumer market, even though testing had garnered horrific results on test subjects including cancers, violent seizures, and fourscore lasting erections.
Hayes soon resigned due to fall out/sketchiness in his approval process and illegal kick backs received (and G.D. Searle was bought in 1985 by a delightful little factory of chemicals called Monsanto).
I’m horribly allergic to aspartame, saccharine, Nutra-sweet or however they sell it, and during my pre-teens, drank Crystal Light with each meal. The doctors misdiagnosed, almost put me on some very powerful epilepsy pills with a complimentary bike helmet accessory. It was during this time I became aware of being slightly different.
I’m also allergic to non-organic apples, carrots, celery, pears, and any movie starring John Travolta.
A lot of this genetics talk is really just a cover for the experiential confluence of curiosity, imagination, and mimicry – a trifecta of untamed bizarre carving zig-zag paths of education and occupation.
After highschool, I wanted to be a surgeon, but couldn’t stay focused for more than five seconds, which is never good for the operating room.
“Scalpel…oooh look a penny!”
Got kicked out of the University of Akron for failing every class. I decided to become actor, but couldn’t act worth a damn, so I become a spokesmodel for various products of swill, hocking sugary beverages at Festivals, Car Shows, and Tradeshows. This led to a permanent job with the Tradeshow circuit, traveling the Southeast US for a couple of years, which led to the move to New York City when I was 23.
I have hundreds of NY stories, better suited for a book, but the epitome of NYC is summoned up with this tale:
I modeled for a bit in NYC – wasn’t very good at it, meaning I made little money, mostly because I hate(d) vanity and superfluous egos; a terrible disposition to have in the modeling biz.
There I was, a goofball among all the pompous Dominics, Xanders, Ashes, Angels, and other mononymous twits. My manager was a 6’8″ uber-effeminate black dude from the Virgin Islands named Dimitri, who pronounced my name MY-coallll, purring the ‘L’s. Dimitri failed to book a single gig for me in the two years I was with Uptown Management. He was the nicest guy, but also one of the strangest, and laziest.
“MY-coallll, you must be patient” – Dimitri
“I can’t! I need to eat something aside from Ramen noodles. My hands are all puffy from the MSG in those silver packets. I need work. ” – Me
“Ok-ay, MY-coalll. Come back tomorrow for an audition.”
“And shave your chest.” – Dimitri
“Shave your chest, and your bell-llly.”
“No, I heard you. But why the hell would I shave my chest?”
“To look smoother.”
“I’m all ribs!”
I’ve always been a hairy guy, I also have sensitive skin that breaks out when shorn. Why? Because I’m a mammal who’s supposed to have hair all over, not shave it off to look sexually androgynous like Tyler Durden in Fight Club.
Next day, turns out Dimitri had lied, it wasn’t an audition, but a learning session in how to walk down a runway. I spent an hour stifling laughter, itching my freshly shaved splotchy chest, watching twenty-something year old “men” (including myself, in a mirror he had propped against the wall) strut down a fluorescent lit hallway while Dimitri yelled random commands at us like, “Look more fortunate!” “Care less!” “More primitive!”
I started to distrust Dimitri’s managerial abilities, and second guessing my logic.
The last straw – Went to an ‘audition’ in an industrial ‘body-never-found’ section of Brooklyn. I passed the address twice as it was a nice, but eerie townhouse near a tortilla factory, and a car audio shop. Never one to back down from adventure, I knocked on the door.
A very short, slight gentleman invited me in, was very cordial, and gave me a quick tour of the front rooms. Everything was completely normal except for all the puppet and muppet bodies strewn about in various stages of completion. I moved a detached orange puppet arm from the couch and sat down.
The guy, who never gave his name, said his client was searching for a particular look, which I apparently had, for an upcoming modeling show.
He asked if I wanted some coffee.
Sweet! Getting a gig!
He came back after about 10 minutes of murmured deliberation in the kitchen, without coffee. He said his client (who was either: A. A large puppet B. Watching from CCTV C. Both) is offering $2,500 for me to go to a hotel on a regular basis, and masturbate in front a group of people, whose identities would remain anonymous. Normally, I would have punched the guy in the face and stormed out. But, broke, starving, my thought process went a little like this:
“Dude, that’s a lot of money.” Me
“I know! You masturbate all the time. What’s the diff?” Me
“For one, I’m not gay.” Me
“So! The client could be a lady person. C’mon! $2,500!? That’s rent for two months AND at least a bag of groceries!” Me
“The puppet thing is pretty weird….” Me
“You love The Muppets!” Me
“Are we really considering this?” Me
I fled Jim Henson’s House of Puppet Penis with my pride in tact, getting on the N train towards Manhattan, bound for Uptown Management – where I would tell Dimitri I was quitting his agency.
Stepping off the subway, I swear I recognized one of the puppets from my ‘audition’, smiling at me from an advertisement for Avenue Q….
I have a tattoo on my upper right arm, something I designed when I was 17. Within the tattoo is the Kanji symbol for ‘unique’ or ‘weird’, or so I thought. Danny over at Don’t touch my mustache corrected my tat during a party a couple of months back.
“No. It actually means ‘small peninsula'”, he said, to the perverted, euphemistic joy of the party-goers.
I’ve had a tattoo degrading my manhood for 15 years, and didn’t know it. – Mike
I feel comfortable enough asking – If ever I needed feedback/comments on a piece, this is it. This is the super rough draft for chapter 1 of my maybe/who knows book. Please, please tell me what sticks, and what stinks. Thank you everyone.