To be honest, I don’t have a good answer for why I did it. Hell, I don’t know why I do most of the things I do. I’m stupid that way. But I do kind of feel bad about it. I feel like, with my awesome imagination and unparalleled story-telling skills, that I owe some kind of story to those who ask.
So, to that end, I’ve come up with a few stories and you get to pick the one you like the most and helps you sleep at night. Enjoy!
1. When I was a kid, (growing up in Toledo) I used to be very adventurous and very stupid. Unlike now, where I am only slightly less stupid, and yet a whole lot more dumb.
I used to do all types of dangerous activities because (and how sad is this?) I wanted to be a stuntman when I grew up. Between Hal Needham (R.I.P. 2013) Super Dave Osborne, and the tv show “Fall Guy” (An 80’s show about a stuntman who also randomly solves crimes while doing more stunts, starring Lee Majors. It was the best. Go 1980s!) I felt that I had no choice but to jump out of second story windows, crash vehicles into other vehicles that were already on fire, and get into fights with large bald men named “Tiny.”
One day, I was walking to school when my archenemy Junior Barnes stopped me and dared me to jump across a nearby creek. The ledge in question that he wanted me to jump across was eight feet high and six feet across. Seemed like a chinch, so I agreed.
“What do I get when I make it?” I asked.
“I won’t mess with you for the rest of the year.”
“And if I don’t make it?”
“A punishment of my choosing, to be named later.”
I figured that it didn’t matter, because I’d make it.
Anyway, long story short, I didn’t make it across, ended up with a nasty gash on my leg from the rocks below (14 stiches) and Junior Barnes laughed at me all the way to school.
He never brought up my punishment, and in time, I’d forgotten about it and assumed he had too. How naïve of me. Fast forward to our ten-year high school reunion. Junior Barnes decided to make good on his punishment for me. He made me get a misspelled word tattooed in a very visible spot on my body, so that all potential bosses for any future jobs I applied for would see it and silently judge me. Unfortunately for him, it kind of backfired and, much like a coffee table book, invites conversation and breaks the ice. Joke’s on you Junior Barnes!
2. During my college years, I became obsessed with the occult. Going to college far away from home and the wonderment of this transition into a new, independent world, and eye-opening way of living expanded my mind and left me open to all sorts of new ideas and actions. The very concept of the occult , and the idea that there were other worlds, realities, levels beside the conscious one of which we are presently aware, fascinated me to no end. What could we glean from these other planes of existence? These thoughts consumed me. Soon I was seeking out tomes and grimiores to further gain the dark knowledge of beyond. Poe, Crowley, Lovecraft, I soon saw how narrow-sighted they were. They were blinded by their own human desires and fears. They had no idea how to shed their earthly, corporeal selves to travel deeper and deeper, to bathe in the glorious dark light of the Ancient Ones.
So many magnificent displays of art I created! The acid, the mushrooms, the mescaline, even the fasting, the sacrifices and the rites of putrification, all of these were my tools, my keys to enter realms that were beyond imagination. I reveled in it. I was baptized in the blood of the unholy.
My greatest achievement, was when I was able to locate one of the few remaining manuscripts of the Necronomicon in a marketplace in the bowels of Hatra. At this point, I had obviously dropped out of school. I saw no point in keeping up the charade of caring what those fools had to tell me when I could learn so much more from the dark. The dark called to me. It offered me so much more than any earthly instructions could. The dark whispered to me, it teased me, it showed me the most exquisite dreams, nurtured all my desires. Who was I to say no to such delights?
With the Necronomicon in my possession, the most vile and blasphemous book ever created (they say that it was inked in human blood and bound in human flesh) I could devise such feats as mankind had never seen. I held the power to the very fabric of existence. It was mine to wield, to abuse at my slightest whim. Only one thing remained in my way.
In the course of my studies I have had to undergo many surgical procedures and operations to transform my body into a vessel to hold the power and might that was soon to be mine. The self-mutilations I performed were very painful, but what is the severing of fingers and the bloodshed and pain involved in such acts when compared to the delicious, everlasting pain that was to consume my body for eternity, the unholy anguish that was to course through my veins?
According to the Necronomicon, all I had to do was have a mystic rune engraved into my flesh. And so I was off to have my latest tattoo etched into my skin.
It wasn’t until I woke up many hours later that I realized what had happened. I had been tricked by the Cabal. A group of people who were jealous of my power and inspirations. It turned out that they had fed me a fake version of the Necronomicon and that by having that false word tattooed on my hand, I was forever locked out of the other realms. I was trapped, confined to the limitations of the here and now. A punishment worse than death itself.
So I dusted myself off and got a job at McDonalds.
Damn, I wish I hadn’t dropped out of college.
3. Spring break, 1974. It was early evening, but my friend Frost and I had already spent most of the afternoon, bellied up at the bar of our favorite dive, The Hill. I sat there with a nice glass of Ol’ Brooksies’ single malt. Frost was enjoying an appletini, which, in retrospect, seems odd, since appletinis hadn’t been invented yet. After many hours of drinking, we were itching to go out and have an adventure. The bartender (busy wiping out the inside of the same glass for the last 20 minutes with a dirty rag, as bartenders are oft want to do) overheard our conversation and wandered over to where we sitting.
“You fellahs lookin’ to get into a little mischief tonight?” he said with a wink. ”Here, take this card, follow the address, be sure to knock five times and the password is “banana.” While talking, he handed me a business card, with rudely written words on it. Drunk and with nothing better to do, we hopped on to the public bus (don’t drink and drive, kiddies. Or, do. Who cares?) and made our way to the address on the card.
Twenty minutes later we were as close to our destination as the bus could take us. We debarked (stumbled would be a more apt word) and proceeded down an alley until we arrived at an old rusty door, with a sign above it with the address “742 Evergreen Terrace” which was confusing to me, as there wasn’t a single tree to be seen. We knocked and gave the password and were granted admission, both of us curious as to what we’d see inside.
Turned out that it was some kind of underground pine wood derby racing syndicate. Midgets in Cub Scout uniforms and their pimps/”fathers” would race miniature wooden cars that they had crafted themselves. They raced for “badges.” It was all kind of creepy and unsettling. So Frost and I decided to leave and go get our belly buttons pierced.
Turns out that we had gotten stupid tattoos on our hands instead. Why? That’s a story for another time.