Posts Tagged ‘Dr. Phil’

The Longest Month

November 28, 2013

Tuesday November 26th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

Here come the holidays, like it or not. I, for one, do not. What I like even less is that I have no way to avoid them every year, and every year it’s a challenge to tough it out until December 26th. It’s always one of my most favorite days of the year, but this next month getting to it will be hell.

It’s getting to be such old news I don’t even want to write about it anymore, but I can’t help it. I’ve had a lifetime to try and find ways to “just get over it” and “move on” like all those Dr. Phil wannabes have been telling me for years and years, but it hasn’t worked. Every year it’s torture.

The very nature of the holidays is to get together with family and create lasting memories that get passed down through generations. Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners are supposed to be an opportunity to bond and share and catch up with people that are supposed to be our confidants.

I realize nobody has a Brady Bunch family situation, but those of us who grew up dented cans have a whole other level of dysfunction only another dented can is able to comprehend. There’s a level of psychological pain there I wouldn’t wish on anyone, and it comes back year after year.

It has always flabbergasted me how hearing just a couple of short notes of a Christmas song on a commercial or seeing a poinsettia on a fast food bag can take me right back to that place in my head I’ve been trying to bury since I was a kid. All it takes is a tiny trigger, and I’m right there.

I realize it’s the favorite time of year for uncountable millions – at least in North America. It is supposed to be a positive experience, and for most people I’m sure it is. Sure, everyone has some wacky relatives and maybe there are one or two isolated incidents that stand out, but for the most part over one’s lifetime I would say the majority of Americans look forward to this time of year.

On paper, that’s exactly the way it should be. There should be a time of year when families can come together and recharge batteries. I’m all for it, and I have wished for a family that would do exactly that since my earliest memories. It never happened, and every year is the ugly reminder.

Those who don’t understand what I’m talking about are always trying to give advice, and that’s almost as bad as the situation itself. “Come to our house” they say. “We’ll make you forget about those bad memories.” On the contrary. In fact it makes it worse. I know they mean well, but they aren’t able to comprehend how deep the pain goes. Only a dented can would be able to feel that.

I wish everybody could have a strong family to depend on and that I didn’t have to write about this misery every year, but I know I’m not the only one so I do. It feels at least a little comforting to know I’m not totally alone, so I’m putting it out there hoping someone else might be soothed.

One of the most haunting memories I have as a teenager was my best friend Timbo and me going to a Chinese restaurant on Christmas Eve because neither one of us had anywhere else to go. It was a bunch of Jewish people and us. They looked at us like we were lost puppies.

Unfortunately, we were. In theory, this should be the start of the best time of the year. In reality this is the longest month of them all. I’m going to suck it up and look forward to December 26th.

My favorite day of the year. It means the holidays are OVER.

My favorite day of the year. It means the holidays are OVER.

The Unfixable Hole

May 13, 2013

Sunday May 12th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

    Depending on the year, certain holidays hit me in different ways. Christmas can be a source of major pain one year, but not so bad the next two or three. Father’s Day has also drudged up some ugly memories I’d rather forget, but try as I might they still find their way to the top of my head.

    I wasn’t even thinking about Mother’s Day, but I happened to turn on my radio and listened to sports talk radio of all things and heard ball players giving shout outs to their moms and thanking them for all their support through the years. After a few minutes of that I was feeling mighty low.

   It drove the point home again and again that I got cheated out of one of the most basic elements of human life, and I’ve lost out on more than I realize. If my mother was dead I could put closure to the situation, but as far as I know she’s still alive somewhere and the whole situation rots ass.

   I have very few memories of my mother, and those I do have are far from pleasant. She left my father, two older siblings and me when I was five months old, and that’s when I went to live with my paternal grandparents who raised me until age 17. My mother stayed away and it really hurts.

   This is pain I can share with few others. A mother is supposed to be the one who’s there for the tough times – not be the source of them. I’ve tried to push this to the back of my mind since I can remember. Today it came back. There’s a dark empty corner of my soul I don’t know how to fill.

   I wanted to forget about it and ‘just move on’ and ‘get over it’ like so many have told me, even though not one of those self taught know it all back alley aspiring Dr. Phils of the world have felt anywhere close to a crushing blow like that themselves. They think they’ve got all the answers.

   Nobody I know has any of those answers, including me. How does someone deal with such an ugly situation? I wish I knew. My whole life I’ve tried to suck it up and do the best I could with what I have, but that hasn’t been effective. All these years later, I’m still a lost kid. I need a hug.

   If she were to come out of the woodwork again, I’m not sure I’d want to see her. I don’t think I would feel any better, and every other time I’ve seen her in my life it has been nothing but brutal to the psyche and a waste of my time. I’m not going to get what I want, and that’s the way it is.

   I’m writing about all this so openly because I hope I’m able to touch someone who reads it and has something maybe as painful in their life. I don’t know anyone to talk to that I think can relate to what I’m going through, and that makes it worse. Keeping it all quiet just adds to the isolation.

   This is an inner torture I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, but I don’t know how to get rid of it. It’s drained me for a lifetime, and continues to be a source of agony. I drove around in a funk all day, and it didn’t help when I wanted to stop for lunch at three of my favorite restaurants and lines were out the door because it was Mother’s Day and people were enjoying their family meal.

   That added gas to the fire, and I was hurting so badly I thought of ways to end my life without leaving a mess for someone else to have to clean up. Why am I even here? No matter how much success I may ever achieve, there will always be this ugly void in my life. It’s the unfixable hole.

   I’ve been far down like this before on Christmases and Father’s Days and even Thanksgivings. I usually move on and keep slugging, but it always sucks a little more out of my soul. If you have loving parents and a family, be grateful. It can’t be bought, and without it life has little meaning.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Versatility Pays Peanuts

May 8, 2013

Tuesday May 7th, 2013 – Lake Zurich, IL

   Versatility in the entertainment business can be a two edged sword. On one hand, it can allow a performer to have the luxury of more than one option to receive a paycheck. On the other, there’s a “jack of all trades, master of none” stigma that tends to go with it and that can cause confusion.

   Those known for ONE thing and one thing only have a much better chance at mass recognition – IF they happen to find that right thing. Mel Kiper Jr. is a perfect example. What the hell has he ever done except claim to know about the NFL draft? He’s got the title of ‘draft expert’, but what does that mean? Can anyone truly say he is or isn’t? It doesn’t matter. He’s carved out his niche.

   Rachel Ray is another. She has books and videos and is always on TV whipping up some kind of miracle meal, but again what else has she done? People like that just appear on television one day and become part of popular culture, and everyone knows who they are for that single reason.

   Dr. Phil bitches at people. That’s it. Nobody knows anything else about him. Does he have any knowledge about the NFL draft? It doesn’t matter if he does or he doesn’t? Can he make himself breakfast? That’s not important either. All that matters with the public is that one source of fame.

   A few select people have been able to parlay fame into more areas, but more often than not it’s one thing and one thing only that anyone becomes truly known for. Rush Limbaugh was hired to do NFL pregame commentary on the basis of his radio show, but he’ll always be known as being a radio host. Howard Stern is the same thing. He did a couple of movies, but he’s a shock jock.

   I’ve never been known for exclusively one thing, and part of that reason is I’ve been able to be versatile for many years. I’ve done standup comedy and radio, and also was a ring announcer for professional wrestling in addition to promoting live shows. None are easy, but I need to pick one.

   Rodney Dangerfield never did radio, and Vince McMahon never did standup comedy. They are both icons in their field, and although Rodney did movies that’s a logical progression in what the comedy business entails. Rodney was known as a comedian. Period. Vince McMahon has tried a few other pursuits, but he’s known as the king of modern day professional wrestling promoters.

   Of course there are exceptions to every rule, but not many. Most people who ‘make it’ become known for one thing, and that’s enough to sustain them for a lifetime. J.K. Rowling doesn’t have to do another thing in her life and she’ll be known after she’s dead for bringing us Harry Potter.

   I’m still looking for my ‘thing’. I don’t think I’ll ever be known for my standup comedy, as it’s not that radical unfortunately. I can rip it up with the best of them, but I’ve never had the massive appeal of a Carrot Top or Adam Sandler or someone else who’s a crowd pleaser. I have my style and a lot of people like it, but I haven’t been able to carve out a niche in all these years of trying.

   Tonight I had a show for 50 church group seniors in Lake Zurich, IL. They were part of a tour group and were all from Wisconsin. Visit Lake County is a group I’m a member of, and they are the ones who set up this gig. It went really well and it was fun, but it won’t make me a big star.

   As I was performing (without a microphone) for this group who was loving it, I tried to picture Rodney or Carlin or anyone else in this situation and I couldn’t. I bet there aren’t five comedians on earth that could have pulled this off, but who cares? Versatility does pay – but it’s in peanuts.