Insofar as that it's become entirely apparent that I'm incapable of producing anything that even vaguely resembles thoughtful content, I thought I'd instead blow the dust off this forgotten corner of the interwebs and regale you with 10 random and generally uninteresting facts about my life in the waybacklongagodays of when I, TwoBusy, was naught but a feckless youth.
(That's right: I dropped a "feckless" on y'all. KA-BOOM.)
Fact the First: I wanted to work with sea life.
My current guise as your friendly neighborhood blue lobster probably finds its origins in my lifelong fascination with the bloodthirsty creatures of the open sea. Y'remember back in elementary school when "Libary" was an actual class, in which they'd read you stories and then you'd go and pick out some books to bring home for the week? As a male of the species (never you mind, which species), I confounded the expectations of my peers by regularly choosing to forgo the heroic pleasures offered by my school's generous selection of sports biographies - ah, Rod Carew; perhaps this is why I never grew to treasure your life story and accomplishments as I should - in favor of books on sharks. Lots and lots and lots of books on sharks. There might've been a couple of dolphin and whale books thrown into the mix for good measure (and let's be clear: while most dolphins and whales do not actually count as bloodthirsty (unless you're a herring, in which case I have stronger herring demographics on this site than my stats suggest), if they ever chose to go seriously rogue... man. You'd have to imagine that a bad whale could really, really fuck you up. See: Moby Dick.), but mostly I was focused on sharks.
Why? Because they're fascinating, dude. There's a million different kinds (he said scientifically), and they've all got different physical characteristics and appetites and habitats and sneaky vicious horrifying ways to KILL AND EAT YOU AND EVERYONE YOU LOVE. Which, by definition, is cool.
It was at some point during my many long hours of voraciously consuming the contents of shark books (wasn't it ironic? wasn't it? a little bit?) that I decided that when I grew up, I wanted to be a guy who knew all about sharks and did... uh... shark work. The details were a little rough. And I was also - for several years - under the impression that someone who did this was called an "oceanographer," rather than the more appropropriate "marine biologist" and/or "delusional whackjob who will someday be eaten by monsters." But for years and years (really, up until the point where I started taking biology in high school and realized that I actually suck at science) that was my goal in life.
See? There's a logic to this blue lobster thing. (Kind of.)
Fact the Second: My early life was shaped by horrible, horrible music.
Let's face it: as kids, we're often little more than the weasily little fleshvessels that carry our parents' twisted aspirations and anxieties — and as such, we're entirely subject to the whims, influences and cultural trappings that their own preferences force upon us.
In my life, that meant late-70s easy-listening radio.
With a working (read: usually not around) father and a SAHM, I spent an impossible amount of my early life being carted around the greater Boston area in non-descript American cars to the omnipresent sounds of everything that we now - as adults, and as people of compassionate and loving humanity - recognize as antithetical to every recognized definition of "good" music. At some point in the not-too-distant future, when biographers leverage the extensive research of the Ph.Ds in your local 4-star university's Department of TwoBusy, there will be a definitive number grandiose enough to describe with some accuracy the appaling number of congregate hours I was forced to spend exposed - helpless and incapable of defending myself - to the relentless onslaught of Barry Manilow, and Neil Diamond (do NOT start with me, Diamond apologists), and Leo Sayer, and Juice Newton, and Bread, and (of course) the dark princes of everything unholy ever committed to vinyl and/or the AM airwaves: Air Supply.
How does a child ever overcome such burdens? How, as an adult, can one bury these traumas and successfully masquerade as a productive member of society? Ultimately, these will be my biographers' questions to answer — but for now, you should just be aware that beneath this incredible head of hair and shiny blue exoskeleton, there lies the memory of a child who, once upon a time, was forced to memorize the words to "The One That I Love."
Fact the Third: I failed my driving test. Twice.
"No," you say. "This can't be." And I understand your reluctance to believe that any creature as magnificent as I might somehow be capable of failure. And yet: it is true. As are all things written here, in this place of typed purity.
In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, yout's (for proper pronunciation, consult this) were allowed to get their driver's permit at the age of 16 following successful completion of a written exam (well... I think it was multiple choice. But close enough), and then their full driver's license at age 16 1/2 after successful completion of driver's ed and a road test. And so, not long after I turned 16, I got my permit. And then, that summer, I took driver's ed. Ah, Death on the Highway... what pleasant, lingering memories you still offer. And then, finally, that autumn... I signed up for my first road test with the DMV.
I remember being anxious. I remembering being polite, as I had been taught to be with authority figures. I remember listening carefully to the instructions of the tester. And I remember, after the tester had me pull up along the edge of the sidewalk on a long, empty stretch of road, being asked to put the car into reverse and back up. And slowwwly backing up... slowwwwly... slowwwwly... until my hand twitched, just a touch, and the car swerved a few inches to the right... and the rear tire made contact with the edge of the curb. TEST OVER. FAILURE.
I was crushed, dudes. Failure wasn't a common experience for me (AT THAT POINT. HA. HA. HA. HA. HA.), and I was heartbroken by the thought that I couldn't carry off the successful completion of a driving test — something even the most colossal blockheads in my grade had accomplished with little difficulty. But after several weeks of moping and self-pity, I nobly dusted myself off and scheduled a second road test. This time, without a doubt, I would succeed. I WOULD SUCCEED.
Except, of course, that I didn't. My sequel failure was even more humiliating, as my attempt at parallel parking resulted in the momentary squeak of my bumper against that of a parked car's — at which point the road tester basically hurled herself out of the vehicle, declared me unfit to sit behind the wheel, and refused to get back in until my father pulled himself out of the back seat, got in the driver's, and drove us all back to the DMV building.
"FUCK A DUCK," I may have said to myself at the time, because god knows that isn't something I would've probably said to the angry DMV lady and my father. But the fact remained that this had progressed beyond the realm of failure and into the nether regions of epic fails — and I remained a boy rapidly hurtling towards his 17th year, yet still bereft of the right to drive.
In any case, you will be enormously relieved to know that I finally - on my third attempt, mere days before a big fancy winter cotillion dance that involved going out to dinner with a date and some other couples before heading onwards to the dance proper, which would involve driving to said dinner out and which, without a license, would leave me incapable of driving to said dinner out and OH THE HUMANITY - passed the driving test. And received my driver's license. And became a capable, bewheeled member of society whom today (something like eleventy billion years later) prowls the highways of North America with all the nimble strength and stealth of a highway-prowling jungle cat.
Fact the Fourth: I tried to act and play music, but ended up sucking at both
Is there any sound more mournful than that of an untalented fourth-grade boy trying to learn to play the saxaphone? And by mournful, I mean "pitiful and pained, like a Canada goose that's been struck by an 18-wheeler and is now slowly dying by the side of a highway." Yes, such were the glorious of living in a house with me waywaywayback around 1980ish, when I was given the opportunity to participate in the school band... orchestra... thing... and (as such) to choose my weapon instrument of choice.
But which one? A piccolo, perhaps? A playful piccolo? No, I was not meant for such delicate things. Nor, as it turned out, was I meant to be a flautist (ahem). Or a percussionist capable of beating on others keeping a beat. Or a guitarist capable of doing those fancy finger... things... that guitarists do. But a saxaphone? Oh, my.... yes, the saxaphone. Which is probably almost the same thing as a sexaphone: I would drive women wild with desire at the sound of my woodwind in action!
Except: it turned out... I did not have a natural proclivity for music. Yeah, I learned to read the notes, but there was no music in my music; it was merely a flaccid rendering of notes, robbed of passion and meaning. Sexaphone? Not even close. And none of it was helped by the fact that I hated, hated, hated, hated, hated practicing. On those rare occasions when my parental figures forced me to actually haul the instrument of torture in question out of its coffin case, I'd be far less likely to actually pull out my sheet music and work my way through my assigned songs than to stand outside the always-shut door of my younger sister and taunt her with the anguished, atonal skronk and moan that only a hapless fourth-grader armed with an unlicensed woodwind can inflict.
I was a cruel child.
Ultimately, the sexaphone was abandoned to its rightful place in a dusty corner of the basement... but when high school arrived, the fine arts once again erupted into my life in the form of drama. Now, before y'all start getting all up in arms about the idea of your beloved blue lobster being some kind of drama club type, allow me to clarify: HELLS, NO. What I was, however, was the friend of some drama club types, as well as some other "unclassifiables" who would decide, on occasion, to meander into the dramatic arts... and would (as often as not) drag an indifferent me along with them for the ride.
Which is how, at some point (Junior year? Senior year?) in high school, I found myself not only doing backstage work but also actively onstage for two brief parts in two separate BUT COMPLETELY SIMULTANEOUS plays. "Good lord!" you exclaim. "TwoBusy, you brilliant blue genius you... how is it possible that even one as gifted and incredi-haired as you were capable of remembering all those lines and cues and whatnot from two different plays at the same time? Is it even possible? Is mankind capable of such wonders?"
Ah, my friends. Such kind and generous questions you ask. But let me bat those questions away gently, with feigned modesty and immeasurable grace: my parts were minor in the extreme, and only consisted of a handful of lines. And truth be told: I was pretty horrible in both performances. At this point, I've honestly forgotten what one of the plays was and what my part was within it, but the other lingers with me a bit more if only because, well... I got to kill someone in it. Which was fun.
Y'ever read "Sorry, Wrong Number?" It's a play from the 1940s about an invalid who, while trying to make a phoen call, gets misconnected through one of those old-fashioned phone/crossed-wires things and ends up hearing a call where someone is plotting to kill someone else... and then she tries to alert her husband and the cops, only no one believes her... and in the end, it turns out that it was her husband plotting to have her killed all along, and then the killer shows up and... uh... kills her. As killers often do.
Anyhow: I was the killing killer who killed people. And the reason I remember all of this (when I've completely forgotten just about everything else from that time in my life) is because not only did I land the opportunity to kill someone onstage... but because after landing the role, I made an acting choice and decided to do it WITH A RUSSIAN ACCENT. Because, y'know, that would make me seem way more legit and believable as a killer.
And the actual performance(s?)? Um... well, helpfully, I don't really remember, other than I think there were only about two dozen people in the audience and I remembered most of my lines and - oh yeah - MY ACCENT WAS TOTALLY FUCKING BADASS.
And then I never acted again. The end.
Fact the Fifth: As a kindergartener, I knew how to spell "rhinoceros."
I have about three memories of life in kindergarten; this is one of them. And it revolves around the weird schedule we had, where (for most of the year, at least) we all had regular half-days... and then once a week, something like 5-6 of us would stay until 3pm and do extra schoolwork stuff. Looking back, I can see that they were breaking us into smaller groups where the teacher could do more concentrated, academic-focused work — but at the time, all I knew is that one day a week, I had a whole bunch of extra intellectual hoops I needed to jump through.
ANYHOW. My one real recollection comes at the end of one of these full-day sessions, where our teacher told us that we could all go out to recess to finish the day... after we'd each successfully spelled the name of an animal. So she started going around the room, and the first couple of kids got "dog" and "cat." Fine. No problem. Then the next couple of kids got "pig" and "cow." Also fine.
And then she came to the last two kids: me and this girl. I honest to god... I have no idea what she was thinking, and if she was just trying to fuck with us or if she had some kind of irrational mad-on at two six-year olds, but first she asked the girl to spell "hippopotamus."
That's right: FUCKING HIPPOPOTAMUS.
So, of course, the girl (after a couple of false starts) actually got it right. (She turned out to be brilliant, btw... I just looked her up and she ended up getting her Ph.D from Harvard. I hung with the smart kids, yo.)
And then the teacher turned to me and said, "Rhinoceros. Spell rhinoceros, and then everyone can go out for recess."
(Allow me pause for a moment while I hop in the wayback machine and say to the 1970-whatever K-teacher of me: "Bite me, rhino bitch.") (Alright; now we're back. Thank you for allowing that digression.)
Anyhow: I fucking nailed it - because I'm awesome - and we all went out to recess.
::high-fives K-aged TwoBusy for awesomeness::
• To be continued. Eventually. Maybe. •