Thursday, October 21, 2010

Excerpt from the short story, "I Blame Mickey"

            I’m a loser. Look, I don’t want you to get all up in my craw about my low self esteem. I’m not bashing myself for the sheer joy of it. I’m not cruel. I’m practical.  I’m a loser in the practical sense.
     You know those people that enter raffles and somehow are able to win baskets of hair care products, or Swedish massages at the local feel me up shop, or the occasional meal at the local fat and butter cookery? Those woman who stand up and squeal like their name has just been called on “The Price is Right”?
     “Virginia Louise Stuck-up-ing-ton! Come on down!”
      Yeah.
      That’s not me.
      I’ve never won a raffle in my life.
      I’ve never won anything.
      Well, sort of.
      To clarify: I’ve never won anything as an adult.
      As a child I showed incredible skills at luck.
      In the sixth grade, I played my violin in the school talent show, and beat out our resident special needs kid, who played the piano.
      I had a hard time accepting the blue ribbon over the shrieking bellows of Bufford Kingsley as he threw a tantrum in the back of the auditorium.
      That kinda killed it for me.
      Then, in the eighth grade I won an award in drama class because I volunteered to round up all the poor saps who had said they’d go to play rehearsal during our lunch break. The drama teacher was thankful and sent me home with a plaque at the end of the year.
      In high school, I won an award for writing.  I wrote a story about a love sick woman who’s mother had to sell the family farm. I tell you, sap sells.
      After that, my lucky streak abruptly ended.
      Nada.
      Zilch.
      Well, sort of.
      At the very end of my senior year of high school there was a contest for a TV show.  Brace yourself, this is going to demonstrate just what a loser I am. It was for The Mickey Mouse Club.  And not the cool old fashioned one with Annette Whats-Her-Name and Frankie Other Dude, it was the lame ass one with Britney, Christina and yes, even Justin.
      Lame.
      Anyways, apparently if you told a joke on camera in under a minute, and submitted the tape, you could win a prize.  For some strange reason, I entered.
      I borrowed a camcorder from my father’s best drinking buddy, set it up on a desk in the drama room one day at lunch, and convinced some schlub to press the ‘record’ button for me, so me, my hair back in a bun because I’d woken up late and forgotten to wash it, and my eight hundred layers of metal that were in my teeth, told a joke. I was talking so fast it was probably impossible to hear what I was saying.
      “There was this boy and his rich father. And one day the father told his son, ‘If you get straight A’s in elementary school, I will buy you whatever you want.’ So, the boy worked real hard learning his ABC’s and those lousy multiplication tables and got straight A’s. At graduation, his father said to the boy,  ‘You got straight A’s. What can I get you? Do you want a pony? How about your own Disneyland?’ And the boy said, ‘All I want is white pants with white pockets on them.’ The father was totally confused, but wanted to please his son, so he got him white pants with pockets all over them. Come Junior High the rich father made the same deal. ‘You get straight A’s, and I’ll buy you what ever you want.’ So the boy worked real hard, dissected a frog, and conquered pre-Algebra and low and behold, got straight A’s.  At graduation the father said to him, ‘Son, what would you like me to buy you? How about a motorcycle? Or, a trip to Space Camp?’ But the boy turned to his father and said, ‘All I want is a pair of white pants with pockets all over them.’ Now, the father was a little put out, and didn’t really want to buy his son a pair of silly pants, but he loved his son and got him the pants. Then came High School and the rich father made the same deal. ‘You get straight A’s, and I’ll buy you whatever you want.’ So the boy worked real hard on his geometry and chemistry, and scored real high on the SATs and golly gosh darn, got straight A’s. At graduation, the father asked his son what he wanted. ‘You want a car? How about a free ride to an Ivy League Boy’s Club of your choice? I’ll buy you anything you want!’ And what do you think the boy asked for? Sure, enough! White pants with pockets all over them. The rich father was rather ticked off by this point, and tried to argue with his son about those ridiculous pants, but ended up giving the boy what he wanted, because, after all, it was what he had asked for. Then one day, while crossing the street, the boy was run over by a bus.  As he lay dying in a hospital bed, the father asked him, 'Son! I could have bought you anything you wanted in the world…Why did you always want white pants with pockets all over them?’ And the boy turned his face up to his father and…”
      My minute was up.
      I ended the tape, recorded two seconds of snow from our television set at home and sent in the joke.
      The producers of The Mickey Mouse Club were so curious about the punch line they actually called.  Some woman, who I can’t remember her name, begged me to tell her the end of the joke.
      “The end of the joke is that the kid dies before he tells his Dad.”
      “What?”
      “The joke is, I’ve just wasted a minute of your life on a stupid joke with no punch line! That’s the joke!”
       Crickets.
       I won third prize and got a free tee shirt.
       After that, I won squat.
       I think The Mickey Mouse Club killed my mojo.