The Bottom of the Food Chain (Part Four of Five)

Back during senior year of high school, I made contact with a guy by the name of Joe Haynes. Our circumstances in meeting were altogether non-spectacular. We were just waiting for our respective buses when I glanced over and made a remark about how he looked like an old friend from Judson high school where I used to go.

Joe was a big guy, very stocky, with thick glasses and a bushy head of greasy hair. He wore this oil-stained army-green trench coat and carried himself like an outcast, always with a bright blue book bag thrown over his right shoulder. That scored points with me. He didn’t really look like my old friend from Judson. I just said that because he looked cool and I thought I could use another friend.

So, we start chatting and automatically it becomes clear as day that this is my kind of guy. A guy who boasts about having paranoid schizophrenia and bi-polar/multi-personality disorder…alright! You don’t get any cooler than that! Haynes was one of these people who loved to talk about the medical conditions he had (or wished he had).

In some respects, he’d fit right into society today. I’m convinced of that. Our culture is pressed-down-and-running-over with medical terminology alarmists who think that an applied term for a medical condition always has to mean something. Take, for instance, that overused label OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) or that now tiresome term ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).

Today, everybody and their goddamn Dutch uncle has these disorders. You can’t even have a fucking conversation with someone without them asking: “Are you OCD? I am.” Like that fucking means something. A body of experts develop a psychological label and it’s like it’s a set-in-stone thing, like once a doctor pronounces that you “have” it, now it’s official.

Long before these terms were around, the described conditions existed. They’ve just been made worse by psychologist-worshipping dusches who think that what is referred to is a rooted and grounded fact. A thing only becomes “a condition” when it is given special status as one. We have the medical alarmist community of cunt-munchers to thank for that.

Learning disabilities, those are another example. If the common sense people had their way, a learning disability would mean that you’re not good at something when compared to someone else who is better. Why can’t it be that simple? We’re good and bad at lots of things. A lot of us aren’t good at math or English or history. Should we devise labels that identify some neonatal deficiency that resulted in a deformation of pathways within the brain to explain why we suck at calculus? Fuck that. Unless you learn so very poorly that you require an assisted living program, then let’s just be intelligent and say that that’s the way your brain operates. Everybody’s brain processes information differently.

Now I’m not saying that terms or medically diagnosed conditions like mental retardation or autism or bipolar disorder have no meaning. I’m saying that the more difficult a time a person has functioning in society, the more worthy of a label to wear they are. I believe that. The problem is, we can’t leave well enough the fuck alone. America has a real long hike ahead of her before she’ll finally clear the woods of alarmist territory.

Swine flu? Bird flu? Give me a mother-fucking break! It’s just fucking flu, not a new condition by any stretch. They used to encourage you to come to school when you were sick. I knew parents and teachers who bragged to me that their kids never missed a day. Not anymore. Nowadays, they encourage you to stay home when you have the flu so that your sick ass won’t infect anyone else (that’s the smart position, of course).

If only we could gather up every medical term junkie, combine them with every hypochondriac, douse them with turpentine and light them on fire, the world would be only half of its current population. I will go to my grave believing that.

Oh, and there’s one more class that needs to be burned alive, and that is the class of fuckers who harped on and on and on and onnnnnn about Elian Gonzalez when he was in the news. Remember that shit? I hope those blabbermouths lose limbs to gangreen, those alarmist fucks who wouldn‘t shut up about that.

So, to get back on topic, Joe Haynes was an alarmist. I liked alarmists. Alarmism makes you feel useful, gives you something to talk about, something to focus on. Unlike my other loser friends, Joe was well-behaved. He never got into trouble at school. He had an almost normal home life (I say almost normal because his mom wore nothing but a slip in front of the kids that you could see right through). Haynes also had the distinction of being my most talkative friend who only began running his mouth when he was around his trusted friends. I soon got into that inner-circle.

Pretty soon, Haynes and I were loading up my truck with Styrofoam weapons and meeting to play a game called Amtgard. It was an organization of losers from all walks of life who come together to fight with padded medieval weapons. If you want to get a better idea of what this was like, watch the movie Role Models and you‘ll see or click here. We met in a public park about 20 minutes from my house. It was so beautiful. But if they could talk, those majestic 300-foot tall trees would have knelt down and whispered: “losers!”

The admiral goober status attained by this crowd is something that words have a hard time describing. How do you get to be this fucking dweeb-ish? And this was (and is) a nationwide organization. About 60 people participated at the meetings I was at, from the very young, to the middle-aged, and a few upper-50-year-olds.

One young kid who couldn’t have been older than 15 was arguing with some older guys about stats and game rules. A few dozen yards away, a 30-something dude with a big gut and a mustache, who - aside from the mustache - still looked like he hadn’t gone through puberty yet, was trying to sell these worthless “weapons.” Traveling through the air were countless references to “Lord Dirka,” “Mr. Bloodthirsty,” and “Death Master Kaivoe.” The guy with the mustache drove a big yellow early-1980s Ford LTD and made weapons of PVC pipe for everyone who would buy them for around $10 to $25 a piece. I was so moved when he shared with me his dream of making a living building Amptgard weapons full-time. That way, he could quit his job as a forklift driver at an ice making company. Ah, land of opportunity!

It was a “had to be there” event. There’s something awfully funny about seeing a 36-year-old man with cut-off-at-the-knee blue jeans, a nearly full red beard, and a ponytail with a taped-up padded long sword and a duck-taped shield diving forward to deliver “a kill blow,” as he put it…

“No fair! I got you! [arguing in a huddle]…maybe not a kill-shot, but
you can’t use that leg. You lost it in battle!”

What I soon lost in battle was interest! The game wasn’t for me. Me, I would rather have been home playing Chess with Old Man Whitecotton or sculpting or reading one of my Time Life series books on the Lost City of Atlantis or the mystic powers of the Egyptian pyramids. I didn’t want to do Amptgard anymore. Haynes was disappointed to hear that, and it left us with not much in common. After each game, I was ready to head home and work out in that stinky hot garage of our new house that I called a weight room. Amptgard meant nothing to me, and oddly enough, Dungeons and Dragons (a dorky thing I loved) meant nothing to him.

We still hung out, but not as much. When we did, we ended up talking about the only thing my ridiculous ass knew about that he cared to hear about -- Star Trek and people whose asses I wanted to kick at school. Big mistake on my part--never talk about fighting with Joe Haynes! It was like squeezing toothpaste out of the tube--you can’t get it back in again. Haynes had a lot to say about fighting, but it wasn’t what I expected to hear.

I don’t care who you talk to, but there’s a saying about the quiet ones when it comes to mischief or the commission of evil. The saying is, “It’s always the quiet ones.” Ask law enforcement if this isn’t true. Ask a psychiatrist. The nuttiest people in this world have been (and are) usually quiet, reserved, generally private people. Haynes was quiet. Know what else he was? He was vocal about the “fact” that he had a “sensei” who levitated trucks and could kick asses “without moving a single limb.”

To Haynes, the secrets of chi were everything. It was Star Wars’ “the Force.” His type invests in machines like this and this, but Haynes went way beyond the brink. To Haynes, it was possible to shoot bolts of energy out of the palm of your hands like something off of Street Fighter. His insanity was UFO convention level…and then some.

And it never stopped. The bizarre stories of cop cars being smashed by this glowing-eyed sensei of his, who (strangely enough) was not above going into bars to look for trouble, never stopped coming. By fucking god, Haynes really was schizophrenic! And his details always lined up. He remembered his delusions perfectly. Names were never changed. He spoke of a dark being inside of him named “Samuel.” I couldn’t catch him in a lie except to say: “Wow! Amazing how none of this mayhem you or your teacher caused was ever mentioned on the evening news.”

I wanted to say that, but I never did. I knew he was either a pathological liar or a complete and total nut-job. Either way, he was a loser. I could have investigated and been hard-nosed and skeptical, but I never did. Why didn’t I call him out on his untruths? What was it that made me keep my mouth shut? There was a reason.



  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Agree with you, Joe, about all this labeling. It's definitely overdone.

    I'm also feeling kinda dubious about the "swine flu." Just recently heard a newscast about all the pregnant women dying of the swine flu, and the need to be immunized.

    This doesn't make alot of sense right now to me. Why would pregnancy make someone more suseptible to "swine flu?"

    Maybe I just need more information, though.

  3. LOL!! Hey, there's always some common ground.


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