I've Always Been This Awkward - Prologue


I remember when I was in third grade and decided to write a book. It felt like the right thing to do at the time and I actually got a pretty good start using a friend's parent's typewriter. "Tina Around the World" was moving fairly steadily towards a rapid, heroic completion until I fucked with the stupid typewriter ribbon and couldn't type anymore. I broke the only thing standing between my brilliant little mind and the fame and fortune of juvenile book publishing. I was going to be on easy street, too. Maybe get on Donahue or the Dick Cavett show or something. I don't even know if Dick Cavett was on in 1973 but you know what I mean: Pay day, bitches.

The story, as I remember, was about a little girl, Tina, and her friends (some real and some imaginary) who decided to see the world. They walked aboard a sea freighter and off they went to see said world. Unfortunately they didn't make it so far given I had no way of purchasing a new typewriter ribbon. So I returned the typewriter. I remember the weight of the "portable" typewriter thing as I lugged it several blocks back to Tim's house. My story was that the ribbon just jumped out of the typewriter and I couldn't, try as I might, put it back right. It was the machine's fault, of course.

I suppose I could have figured out a way to complete that genius project but I suppose I got distracted with the discovery of cussing, TV, and putting my hand under the dress of this one girl at after school care. "The Six Million Dollar Man" was pretty distracting. I think I got kicked out of that after school care program. I think we had to move soon after that too. To Texas. I'll talk about Texas some other time but I hadn't become truly skilled at multitasking at eight years old. Tina was shelved. Postponed not cancelled.

Tim had a deeply religious family who, as I recall, lived on the property of this big church. I guess his dad was the minister or something. That was a long time ago. I do remember his older brother calling me goofy. I was offended. Still am! Goofy? I'm a serious novelist, I recalled.

We "played" in the dog house once and got fleas once. Tim was my best friend. I hit Jeffery that year, third grade. I haven't hit anyone since but people think I'm crazy so they stand, generally, clear. How crazy? I feigned amnesia once at recess in third grade and just couldn't remember anybody or anything. I was fucking goofy! I puked on my desk once but that was because I got sick. I really liked this girl named Kim or Monica or something. One of many brutal crushes to come. There were (or was) identical twin black girls who were taller than everyone else in the third grade. I only remember like four names from third grade.

Later, like more than twenty years later, Mark and I got going onto the big screenplay idea. Beers were involved (and a little pot in my case). It was brilliant, too (and we were going to be the voice-of-a-generation easy street rich, too like Quentin Tarantino or something). "Klub Kaos" (note the mouse ears on the "o") was about these three Florida high school marching band kids who were going to smuggle guns into Disney World, steal the costumes of Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy and happily shoot guests from the back of a convertible and ride off into some sort of blaze of glory sunset. The character Billy was a little slow and played the bass drum. He had issues. Nick had a very high IQ and access to guns and lived in a home with a single parent, his mom of course. Daniel kept the plan moving. None of the three had love in the family.

Well, that Columbine thing came around and Mark moved back to California and, you know, things happened. Between us there are now three kids, two mortgages, and about three thousand miles to intervene. He's still one of my greatest friends ever. More of a brother than a friend. Another project postponed (not cancelled!).

When my father fancied himself a novelist I couldn't help believe that I could write something too. I'm a little competitive. Okay, I'm hella fucking competitive. After all, if he could write then it was an evolutionarily fact that I could write better. Right? I've read some of his writing. Most of the words are spelled very nicely. Some of the sentences make a lot of sense in and of themselves. But as stories? There's no real depth or breadth to the writing. In many ways, it's like what you've read here so far. In this case, I may have been theoretically incorrect.

But, there's something I have to say. At least when I started typing I believed that there was something I needed to say. In fact, at four this morning I had plenty to say (a whole god damned encyclopedia of voice-of-a-generation easy street shit). And it was brilliant, too. No, there's not a story yet, but I have something to least I will eventually. I'm just warming up. Playing with the ribbon. I'll edit it later so don't worry. Just like my music and my photography I cannot write so you just have to be patient. As my Ph.D. advisor once said (to every class), "I'm semi-literate...I only know some English." What I mean is I'm neither musician nor photographer nor a writer. Fuck. I really cannot tell you or anyone else what the hell I am anymore.

And, yes, I have always been this awkward. I'm also very shy. I'm also quite unsure. Nobody believes any of that because I've developed such a robust character that I play called "Ty" who can be funny and smooth and confident. A leader of all men and situations is Ty. He knows first aid and a paragraph or two about nearly every subject known to humankind. He's a bad ass and rumored to be hot shit in the sack. Well, guess who started that rumor. I may be awkward but I know a thing or two about branding.

Or not really. Maybe the awkward, self-deprecating, unsure rube is the act. Ha! Maybe I'm a terrible lover. Maybe I cry and rock at the sight of naked women. Maybe. Maybe I am a world class bad-ass genius voice-of-a-generation hard-core pimp motherfucker.

And, oh yeah, I remembered what I wanted to say: If I don't get too distracted, I'll write something more for you. Maybe tell some stories. I've got a couple of stories to tell. Stories about growing up poor and black and white and suburban in Los Angeles and then in a wealthy community with good schools and blond girls and free weed and Coors light and how I toured America and went to college in Santa Cruz and moved to the east and had bands and friends like Big Dave Wave and the Otter Prince and Efrain and Mr. Smiley and all the lies I've told and people I've met and told lies to and all that shit. See? I can't write worth a...worth a...what would a writer write? I can't write worth a bon mot.