Random Reflections


Monday February 17th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

For as long as I’ll be around, February 17th will have personal significance. It’s not because of the fact it’s both Michael Jordan and Larry The Cable Guy’s birthdays, but that’s also in the mix. They were both born the same year as me, and they’ve achieved levels of success few ever reach.

Nobody doubts Michael Jordan’s esteemed position, but “Larry” is a topic of debate. For one, that’s not the name I know him as but I have nothing but respect for what he has done. He’s the same age as me, and worked many of the same gigs I did on his long way up the comedy ladder.

He found what the public likes, and cashed in. Good for him! I don’t begrudge him in the least. He earned it, and by all accounts is a very nice guy. I haven’t seen him in quite a while and we were never close buddies, but we did cross paths a few times and always got along splendidly.

I’m long past caring in the least what any entertainer does in their act. Michael Jordan played sports, and that’s an unforgiving force. The nicest person in the world will get cut if they aren’t able to meet the physical requirements. That’s all it is. There is no gray area whatsoever there.

Entertainment is a whole other scenario. It’s completely subjective, and what is great to one is garbage to another. Is “Larry” funny? Millions of paying customers think so, and that’s the only thing that matters. Comedians like to say “I’m WAY funnier than THAT” while driving to their gig in a town nobody ever heard of that pays $200 flat while ‘hacks’ sell out arenas nationwide.

I admit, I used to be one of those elitist comedy snobs that thought I knew what funny is. Who gives me or anyone else that right to think we have authority and/or control on what’s funny or not funny? It doesn’t matter in the least. All that matters is who can sell tickets. That’s the key.

Does Dane Cook make me laugh? He hasn’t yet, and I doubt if he will in the future. Most of my comedian friends share the same opinion, yet he’s performing for more people in one night than most of us do in six months. Who’s ‘funny’ now? I’m changing my ways in my old age.

Do I think Larry The Cable Guy is funny? I really don’t care. I’m not his target audience, so what’s the difference? If we cross paths again – and I hope we do, I like the guy – we won’t be talking about either of our acts anyway. We’ll share pleasantries, and that’s all that I care about.

I’ve got enough to worry about doing what I think is funny, and finding enough people that are in agreement and will pay to come see me perform. I have a pretty good grasp on who my crowd is, but I need to get in front of a lot more of them in a hurry so I can sock away some cash soon.

Michael Jordan and Larry The Cable Guy are just a month older than me on a calendar, but as far as finances go they’re eons ahead. They could live like kings for six lifetimes, but I still have to worry about paying my bills every month. I thought I’d have that figured out by now, but no.

Every time I see Michael Jordan have another birthday, part of me feels like I never came close to where I could have. He’s got a gorgeous new wife and twin babies, and I’m trolling back into my past hoping women I had a crush on years ago might toss me a mercy date. I’m embarrassed.

But that’s not why this date has personal significance. Today was my grandmother’s birth date in 1911, and coincidentally the date her son (and my father) died. I don’t know if that carries any meaning in the cosmos, but it always causes me to reflect on this date whether I want to or not.

I almost let the day get by without thinking of it, but then I signed online and the first picture I saw was a photo I’d never seen before of my father and step mother when they were very young. My brother Bruce posted it, and it caused me to do a double take when I saw it. That’s not how I remember either one of them, and it cast a whole new light on things. Everybody’s life changes.

Bruce and I have only recently become Facebook friends, and I’m thrilled we are. I commented on the picture and how I had never seen it before, and it started us on a positive exchange about a lot of things that gives me confidence that our reunion in March will be nothing but spectacular.

I’m seeing a side of him as an adult that I never saw as a kid, and it’s amazing. He’s extremely intelligent and very sharp witted and funny. My other brother Larry and sister Tammy are funny in their own way too, so if nothing else I think we’ll have some big laughs – and also some tears.

I couldn’t help but stare at that picture for a bit. I don’t have any pictures of my father. Not just none with me – none period. He was such an evil ogre in my memory that I wanted to block him out of my life force from an early age. We never posed for any pictures together, and that’s sad.

The image of my step mother Ann was anything but what was in the picture. She was younger than I’d ever known her, and I have to say quite attractive actually. She was the polar opposite of that in my childhood, and I remember praying for her slow and painful death. The saddest part of that is that I got it. She died at only 59 from the horrific complications of diabetes of all things.

It was only when I heard she died that I was able to forgive her. She was Bruce’s mother and it was very apparent that we were the step children. It was torture to live through as a kid, but now I can see why it was. Blood IS thicker than water, and she didn’t have to be nice to us. My father made her life pure hell, and it was all a big gaping wound that is just now starting to heal over.

My grandmother was no June Cleaver mother figure either. She came with her own bag of ugly and that was passed down to my father, who passed it on to Ann and us. Grandma was a cold one for sure, and Bruce hated her just as much as I couldn’t stand Ann. But now they are ALL dead.

And soon enough, Bruce and Tammy and Larry and I will join them. We have limited time and opportunities to patch things up, and live the rest of our days in peace. I have wanted this to take place since childhood, and I can feel it will be good for all of us. Our exchange today was a treat.

People can and do change, or at least let their guards down. I built a terrific relationship with Grandma before she died, and that’s how I’ll remember her. Ann and Russ (I just can’t come to call him ‘Dad’) were a different story. They and I never hit it off, and that’s a painful memory.

Bruce idolizes Ann, and I’m glad. I will never say anything bad about her again, and I’m very sorry and ashamed for what I’ve said in the past. But that was a lifetime ago, and I can see how much we’ve all grown. Bruce and Tammy and Larry and I have a real chance at a happy ending!

Michael Jordan and I were born less than a month apart in the same year. That's about all we have in common unfortunately.

Michael Jordan and I were born less than a month apart in the same year. That’s about all we have in common unfortunately.

Larry The Cable Guy has the same birthday as Michael, but we have crossed paths a few times. Nice guy, and I respect what he has accomplished. Like Michael, he's had a great ride.

Larry The Cable Guy has the same birthday as Michael, and we’ve have crossed paths a few times. Nice guy, and I respect what he has accomplished. Like Michael, he’s had a great run of success.

Today is also the anniversary of my father's death. This is a picture I hadn't seen before today, and it's nothing like how I remember him. I want to be nothing like he was - or at least that awful memory.

Today is also the anniversary of my father’s death. This is a picture I hadn’t seen before today, and it’s nothing like how I remember him. I aspire to be nothing like he ever was – or at least that awful memory.

It's also the birth date of my grandmother in 1911. Here's a dorky picture of me, and her in some sort of Loyal Order of Water Buffalo attire. Not sure where she got that, but PITA wasn't happy.

It’s also the birth date of my grandmother in 1911. Here’s a dorky picture of me, and her in some sort of ‘Loyal Order of Water Buffalo’ attire. I’m not sure where she got that getup, but I’m sure PETA wasn’t happy.

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