Just after the Nico era, I was facing the completion of high school. The summer of ’92 was ending. This brought me to senior year. It would have been one of my best had I not had the crap knocked out of me literally at mid-term in a bus boxing match with a mean Irish kid who happened to get the better of me, but that’s a story all its own.
The summer wasn’t yet over. I was young and got caught up like so many young and dumb kids do into the door-to-door sales routine. I needed a job, and so I got one. The job was selling Kirby vacuum cleaners, and I sucked at it. In case you’re wondering how I got it, I went into an office where a guy ten years older than me was sitting. He told me to hang in there and that if I kept talking to people, I’d be making a thousand a week in no time. He promised and I bought into it. I found out the hard way exactly how dumb I was. Just wait until you have a couple doors slammed in your face…
“If I could have a moment of your time, ma’am, I’d like to demonstrate how to make your home cleaning easier. Do you vacuum [cluck-clunk]…a lot?” ☹
And then there were the Asian people who threatened to loose their dogs on me. I once had the police called on me for being a solicitor. I made it away before they got there. I figured, shit, staying home and masturbating to freeze-frame images of naked women from R-rated movies was better than this. Hell, I could be watching Terminator! Having no job was a lot better than this, even if that meant I had no independence.
But my quitting didn’t happen fast enough. I couldn’t quit before being put in touch with another fellow who quit, being equally disappointed. I still remember that scrawny silver touring van and it being filled with other kids who had no lives. It was a loser’s experience. The guy who recruited us and delivered us in the van managed to round up about 12 kids, half boys and half girls. I still remember the boss’ inspirational speech…
“Guys, you’re gonna love it! Fuckin women coming to answer the door naked or with a blouse on and their pussy hairs showing…YEEEEEEHAAAAAH! I’m tellin ya, you’re gonna love it!”
All the girls just smiled and rolled their eyes. And of course, we didn’t love it, not one bit. I quit. I suspect we all quit, but I know one other guy did. The fellow’s name was Chris Kennedy. He and I hooked up as buddies. Chris was a loser of fucking monumental proportions. He had one Fuji brand cassette tape, and on it he tried to record all the songs he loved. The tape wasn’t big enough, naturally, and so rather than taking the rocket scientist option of getting a new another tape, he just recorded parts of the songs he had to hear and always talked about how he wished he could have recorded them each in full! I remember him playing “Juke Box Heroes” by Foreigner till I wanted to throw up.
He would work out with a set of 35-pound dumbbells in his garage. Those were all the weights he had. I was bored and had nothing better to do, so we hung out and I worked out with him. We never really did a full workout, but he thought he did. Our unemployed asses had to think we were doing something productive. Industriousness flew from us like a horsefly.
I met Chris’ dad once. He was a small, glasses-wearing, bald man who, when he built a fence, measured everything in meters and centimeters. He was an intellectual with those “Dickies” shop clothing outfits. He was very emotionless, like he was tired of dealings with his son. Stupid as I was, I read the man right. It turned out, he was tired of dealing with his son who was quickly headed for a life of living on a discarded old mattress under a bridge somewhere. I could tell his dad wasn’t going to have him around forever.
I never will forget it. The man looked at me and hated me as much as his son. He sneered at me with his eyes when our gazes lined up. I could just see him saying to himself: “This guy’s a loser like my son! Why couldn’t I have a successful son?” I was a clueless kid, but I knew what he was thinking for sure.
I was 17. Chris was 25. Low as I was, I was nowhere close to the level of loserdom of Chris. I wanted to tell him that at times. He looked like a cool guy, but he was just too stupid for words. But Chris was too intimidating for me to ever confront. With his big goatee and grow-able full beard, I wasn’t in a position to lecture him. He’d been to jail before. Plus, I liked the idea of bumming rides.
Speaking of rides, he had a suspended license, but he still drove. He drove a beat-up 1985 GMC Jimmy truck with torn seats. The overpowering smell of Michelob was everywhere in the cabin. He had a bad alcohol problem…and a 15-year-old girlfriend! I was present when she brought her little overdeveloped body outside and dumped him. She was way more emotionally mature than he was! He cried like a baby at bedtime and drove home like a maniac, burning rubber and making a public scene. That night, he blew all the money he had left over from our doing yard work and odd jobs on 2 cases of beer which he bought at a place near my house called The Beer Barn. He drank nearly both cases and the result was that we missed out on a chance to mow some yards to make money the next day like we had planned.
It was now clear to me just how much of a miserable loser Chris was, but I didn’t tell him because he was like a really, really, really weak authority figure to me—that and because I felt sorry for him. I started to realize that I was his only friend. He couldn’t make friends his own age, and so he ran around with a younger, less discerning crowd.
We once stopped off at some man’s house whom he said he knew. It was this man with a cowboy hat and his crowd of 30-somethings having beers on their porch. He walked up and shook each of their hands and grabbed some beers for the road. I just stood back because it was as obvious as the Elephant Man that they wanted to tell him to go fuck himself and the rest of the high school crowd. I just waited by the car as he tried in vain to cozy up with these people. Finally, we left and picked up some more beer, which we took to his house and consumed.
I barely finished my one beer. He kept saying, “You look depressed. Want another beer?” I took one just to fit in, but I never finished more than one (never had a tolerance for beer as a youth). I went home and thought about how much more cheese-ball-ness I could take from this walking empty beer can. When we next hooked up, he told me more about his past and how he went to jail for nearly killing a small child whom he had run over because he was intoxicated. He told me the whole story. Then he needed to compose himself….and then he went for another beer!!!
I decided that I wouldn’t throw him to the wolves of non-friendship yet. I’d be there for him like his under-aged girlfriend wasn’t. But this wasn’t destined to last long. Old rock head Chris got worked up about how the girl who dumped him was seeing some other older guy, a 27-year-old named Mike who frequented the acquaintance’s house we visited earlier. Chris confronted the guy the next day and got the mother-lovin’ shit beat out of him in the front yard. I didn’t see the fight, but he told me about it. I knew he was telling the truth because when he called me, he came totally unglued…
“Listen, listen very carefully! Mike beat me up! [heavy breathing] He beat my ass, man! [heavy breathing] We’re gonna fucking kill him, ok? We’re gonna fucking kill him! He will die! [heavy breathing] He will not do that to me. [phone noise, inaudible sounds, heavy breathing into the phone] He will not do that to me! Listen very carefully, we’re gonna do it tomorrow! [heavy breathing] Listen, listen very carefully, he’s gonna die, I swear to fucking god [more inaudible crying], etc…”
What made this event even more pitiable than it sounds was that a day earlier, Chris sat me down and told me about how he beat the hell out of Mike for messing around with “the woman of my dreams.” He bragged about how the guy was put on life support in nearby Northeast Baptist Hospital. Then he said: “I got proof.” I remember thinking: “Oh? Do you need proof? Is there some reason you suspect I won’t believe you?” Could it be that you don't believe yourself? He pointed to a red dot on his loafers and said that he got that from kicking in the guy’s head. The dot was not even as big as a raindrop. It was more purple than red. It sure wasn’t blood. Poor bastard was unaware that I’d seen the dot on the same shoes before this day. I didn’t have the heart to tell him how much of a retarded, self-esteem-less, dejected, hopelessly despondent loser he was. I just sat there and pretended to listen.
Poor Chris…the cops had to chase him when they decided to pull him over for unsafely backing into an intersection…he made the cops chase him and he wondered why he got the ticket! Big fucking mystery! The idiot continued to try and make money mowing lawns, though he once mowed the wrong lawn and got bitched out by the owner for doing it. God damn, he was stupid! He was nearly half as smart as a mentally retarded peanut.
So I decided to distance myself from Chris. Fuck, getting lectured by my parents was starting to seem better than putting up with Chris! I kept finding other reasons not to hang out, and after a while, it worked. He comes by the house one day and we talk a bit as I pretended to be heading out somewhere, and he left. That was the last time I ever saw or heard from him.
Is this pathetic story of loserdom not telling about developing a healthy self-image? Our entire lives we are told to feel good about ourselves and to have self-confidence. It’s all such shit. The truth is, a healthy self-image is seldom built. You just have it or you don’t. The closest you can come to building self-esteem is to look at all the other pathetic fools worse off than you and say: “At least I’m leagues above that sad sack!” It shouldn’t be true, but it is. “There are bigger losers than me!” is the lesson. Chris never did much in life – and I’m sure (if he’s even alive) he still hasn’t – but he taught me to have more confidence in who I am. The one good thing about the evolutionary food chain is that those at the very bottom don’t fucking know it!