Thursday, April 08, 2010

Goofball, Heal Thyself

I am a digressor. This is a major problem of mine: I am chronically digressed. I belong to Digressives Anonymous. The meetings are rotten because everyone digresses so much that we never get anywhere near Step One: “We admit we are powerless over digression, that our lives have become unmanageable.”

If you ask me, I think digression is genetic. My paternal grandfather was the greatest windbag I have ever known. The man knew absolutely nothing about everything, and he could talk about it for hours. God, I loved that man. He was a walking filibuster. He could bore the paint off walls, and snow would melt three times faster when he was talking while strolling down the sidewalk.

Lucky for me, I grew up to be just like him. I love to talk because I know nothing about everything too. Whenever I manage to corner someone I can cover ten or twelve subjects in no time flat. But therein lays the major problem: I bore people. I irk them. I make their eyes glassy and some become narcoleptic. I confuse them. Many, if not most, think I’m odd. I will admit to some amount of oddness, but not to the point where it shows.

This essay is a perfect example. It is not about digression, my grandfather, or my alleged oddness. It is about “Physician, heal thyself.” Or, since I am not a physician, it is about “Goofball, heal thyself.”

That’s pretty good advice to me because no one is going to fix my goofiness unless I do it. Oh, the pills help, but mainly they keep me from humping the furniture. No, it’s up to me, and me alone, to get in touch with my inner goof.

So that’s why I write this crap. It is affirming. It is cathartic. And most of all, I like to hear me write. If I have to suffer writing it then by gum, all of you are going to suffer with me by reading it.

Gee, that’s an oldie: “by gum.” I wonder what it means. Something to do with orthodontists? A Wrigley chewing gum ad misprint? The way they talk in old Westerns?

Ah, but I . . .

Because I am a digressive, spreading my goofiness willfully among the normal makes me a serial sociopath. But because my inner goofball tells me to do it, and because I listen to him, that makes me a serial psychopath instead.

Which reminds me of another psycho I met one time, a “recovering” drug addict. “Know what PISSES me off?” he shrieked in group therapy one day. “I just can’t HANDLE crystal meth like a NORMAL person! That shit makes me CRAZY!” Imagine, if you can, any normal person who smokes or injects a drug into their veins that consists of cooked Drano, WD-40, and cat piss. The guy was a psycho.

There I went again. Or did I? Now that I think about it, I have fixed me of some pretty darn big things. My alcoholism has been gone for over twenty years. All of the anger I had as a kid and a teen, all of the rage I had as a young adult, that really deep down kind of anger and rage, is gone. So is the shame, that really deep down kind of shame, that had me believing I was worthless as a human being.

My inner goof tells me that there is no sense in getting the vapors because I tend to run off the conversational track now and then. I have done a lot of fixing me over the years, so what’s a little harmless digression—save for boring people to death?

Hmm, “the vapors.” That’s a good one. I wonder what it means . . .

[The photo is a scan of my brain in goofball mode. No it isn't. It's a new bowling ball design. Did I ever tell you my bowling stories . . .]


Barlinnie said...

WD-40 and cat pish... now there's an image sure to stick in a mans mind.

Charlie said...

JIMMY: Stick to your life-giving nectar and you'll be okay.

Drano, by the way, is an acid used for unclogging household drains. Powerful stuff.

Meg said...

I enjoy your digressions. It's entertaining and I always learn something new from your blog.

Pat said...

No bore worth his salt ever suspects himself of being one so I'm afraid I have to declare that you are not boring.
BTW I'm really enjoying a book you reviewed - it's in the bedroom so I can't tell you the title - something like 'Now I'm going to leave you.'

CiCi said...

Do you see what a good writer you are, how many people can write a whole post about digressing and keep it interesting? I couldn't do that. You are a much better writer than I am and than lots of people. I like that you can throw some painful childhood things into the mix here and there and twenty years sober, stir with humor, and pour.

Elisabeth said...

Show me the people who are bored by your digressions. I'm not among them. This is wonderful freely associative, hilarious and in a strange way profound stuff.

But like you I love to digress. I find it therapeutic, healing and great fun.

Forget about those folks who like to travel in straight lines. You see so much more of the world when you take the side paths of your thoughts.

Robert the Skeptic said...

My former mother-in-law was like that... we could just have returned from a fascinating two week vacation somewhere and begin to tell her about it when, only a few scant phrases into our account, something we said would prompt her to pull out an anecdote from her past.

We would then have to listen to this story that happened (maybe) decades past... and she would never hear about our latest vacation or anything else of current that we fruitlessly thought we could tell her. That is not just digression, that is completely upturning the conversation!! She should have been a lawyer.

Ponita in Real Life said...

You know how to take a tangent and run with it... You're a master, in fact!

Full of literary skill, never boring (to my mind) and highly entertaining, all rolled into one... I very much enjoy reading your blog, Charlie... digress all you want. :-)

stinkypaw said...

Digress all you want, I still think you're interesting... Can't wait to read some of your balls stories.

Fay Campbell said...

That was one of the best essays I've ever read. I mean it. I wish like poo I'd written it. It actually sounds like something I'd written when I was at my peak. And THAT is about the highest and most narcissistic compliment I can give. Brilliant, just brilliant!

ps, I don't think men get the vapors.

mapstew said...

So why do ya think we all come here? Have a good weekend Charlie! :¬)

ditzymoi said...

I love your stories and digressions and all the stuff inbetween :)

Claudya Martinez said...

I wonder if I could handle cystal meth like a normal person? Hmmm....

Tiffin said...

By gum, I am stuck, Charlie. But I do know the origin of "vapours". I'll send you the explanation by email so that I won't digress all over your thread.

Linda Koons said...

Oh, Tui, you chicken, you. If you hadn't got here first, I would have just told him about the vapours. Don't you think he can handle it?

I'm pretty sure "by gum" is a minced oath, like "bloody". Bloody is a "nice" contraction of "By our lady"; By gum is a swallowing of "By God Almighty".

Barbara Bruederlin said...

As Pat said, the truly boring never suspect that they are.

I would sit beside you at a dinner party any day!

Murr Brewster said...

If this really is an illness, then blogging is the cure. You know, like methadone is a cure for heroin.

hope said...

Hey, if it weren't for folks who digress, politicians would talk ALL the time and we'd have to actually listen. :)

I like the way your mind ambles's a fun path to follow.

Have a good weekend!

Samm said...

I laughed pretty hard because I can relate deeply to "vapors" - I think what you may have meant is these moments of indulgence...I mean, I get a feeling that you Charlie get a real big kick from writing. If someone were to send you to Writer's Rehab, you'd be their most unpromising patient. You'd be in there, the back room, scribbling on walls with a stub of a pencil - subject after subject- and I think I'd be there too.

Many of us here, I think :)

This week I realized writing is a form of nudity. And getting naked is just something you gotta do from time to time - for yourself.

Charlie said...

MEG: I'm overjoyed that you enjoy my digressions, and it is a good thing that you learn from them. Now you can bore people to death too.

PAT: You are wise beyond your years, Pat. But I know of a radio show "personality" who is addicted to painkillers because he has to listen to himself.

I'm glad you're enjoying the book.

BABE: What a nice compliment! Maybe we should share a writing cocktail.

ELISABETH: I'm overwhelmed by your comments—I'm pretty sure you are now one of my ten most favorite people in the whole wide world.

As far as straight lines, I couldn't walk one if I tried. Never could. Never will.

ROBERT: I suspect that you're thankful she's your former MIL.

The thing about lawyers: "If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit."

Charlie said...

PON: I try not to run with tangents because some of them are really heavy.

And I'll take your second paragraph, turn it around, and apply it to you.

STINKY: I've never asked you this, but wasn't Stinky one of the Seven Dwarfs (or Dwarves)?

Balls threw me for a minute, and then I remembered bowling balls. For a minute I thought you were getting fresh with me.

FAY: If you wish like poo that you'd written it, go ahead—it's yours, and for free.

And what's a little narcissism now and then; it would be nice to read some of your "peak" stuff. And how do you know you've reached your peak?

MAP: Thanks, pal. I'll digress especially for you.

KIM: Back atcha, Kim. You already know how I feel about your writing.

UNKNOWN: It all depends on how you define normal. If psycho is your norm, then go for it.

Then again, don't.

Charlie said...

Why do I always leave these comments on comments until there's a mess of 'em?

TUI & LINDA: Would you girl children kindly take your name-calling and hair-pulling outside? Martha will kill me if she finds any blood on her good "stuff."

I don't think nuts is a strong enough description of you two; lunatics comes a bit closer.

BARB: Great. Now the Zombie is here.

I would love to sit beside you at a dinner party—just imagine how sick we could make everyone digressing with our mouths open while eating. Talk about fun.

MURR: You are one funny lady. A comment about your analogy: the heroin addicts who take methadone have to take heroin to get off the methodone. In that sense, blogging and digression is a vicious cycle, and I'm addicted to both. Hence and therefore, it is an illness.

Someday, I may be able to out-snappy-comeback you.

Charlie said...

HOPE: A beautiful name.

I think politicians DO talk all the time, but no one can force me to listen to them. At any rate, my digressions are at least honest.

I do amble, though, the same way I walk—kind of a continuous "S" pattern.

SAMM: Welcome to La casa dumpa—my feaux Spanish for the the dump house.

You're right about me liking to write, whether or not its any good. And if someone does an intervention and sends me to rehab, I'm going over the wall. But I'll leave them a written note.

I assume you mean nudity in the sense of baring our thoughts to cyberspace. If you're talking about real nudity, I can't do it—it makes the dogs throw up.

Kim Ayres said...

But in these days of tiny attention spans, your digressions make you a master of communication. Before we have a chance to get bored with what you're saying, you're off on another subject.

Perfet for the blogging age

You're problem, Charlie, is that for most of your life you were just way ahead of your time

stinkypaw said...

Stinky was the eight dwarf! ;-)

I wouldn't dare get fresh with you, c'mon, at least not in the comments!

Pat said...

P.S. Isn't getting the vapours getting your knickers in a twist so to speak? I would associate it with the likes of a heroine in a Baroness Orczy novel- for vapours read smelling salts - but I could be wrong.

Wandering Coyote said...

Well, I love all your digressions, Charlie! You amuse me like no other, so keep it up.

I loved that line about your grandfather knowing nothing about everything! That is so true! My dad is kinda like that!

Charlie said...

KIM: Your dry and droll sense of humor sometimes has me wondering if you're pulling my leg (or legs). I agree with short attention spans and my jumping subjects, but I'm suspicious of being ahead of my time. Most of the time, I'm way behind--especially when it comes to figuring out how to use my cell phone and digital camera.

STINKY #8: What you're saying, then, is we'll have to go somewhere else to get fresh. Like out in the polluted fresh air.

PAT: I could look up the definition of vapors, but that's too much work. It seems to come up a lot in Victorian lit—Balzac, perhaps.

WC: Thank you for the compliment.

So your dad likes to run of at the lips too, huh? I expect I'd really like him.

(I owe you a huge email, and will get to it when I finish digressing.)

Kevin Musgrove said...

By Timothy! These days it's usually a fit of the vapours and ooh look! A potato crisp in the shape of Queen Victoria, what are the odds on that?

Charlie said...

KEVIN: Don't faint on me, man. Take a swig or two of ammonia, put a cold compress on your forehead (NOT your afthead), and whatever you do, don't step on the Queen!

Buzzard said...

Damn Charlie, you may be the best digressor in the whole damn world. Even your comment section digressed.

Isn't it amazing how much you can say when you don't have that much to say?

Charlie said...

BUZZARD: I honed my disgressionary (new word) skills in the Army and working as a civilian for the Feds. I fit right in, except for the stupidity and bureaucratic bullshit.

And yes, I can talk when there's absolutely nothing to talk about.

Mary Witzl said...

But that's why we come here, Charlie! Pat is right: bores don't know they're bores.

I'm a first-class digressor myself. In the old days, they called people like us storytellers.

Charlie said...

MARY: YOU are a natural-born storyteller, while I'm more of a bullshit artiste.

Alice said...

See, I call it stream of consiousness. It's much more poetic. And I agree with Kim Ayres...we with short attention spans will never find it boring.