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The Road to Self-Help: Freak University (Part One)

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It's 7:45 on Saturday morning and I am doing my best to stay in my current state of being — unconscious, hung-over, stationary, comfortable, horizontal. Unfortunately for me, something, or as it would turn out, someone, is destroying my tranquility with incessant thumping on my front door. Every thump is accompanied by a sharp stabbing pain behind my left eye.

All of a sudden I'm re-thinking my whole 'anti-gun' stance. For some reason the option of owning a shotgun seems a lot more reasonable today than it did yesterday. I open my left eye hoping that it might stop the pain emanating from behind it.

It doesn't. Another thump, another stab. I drag my sorry self into an upright position. Slowly. First sitting and then standing. I put my foot in what looks like an almost empty ice-cream bowl. Can't be sure because I can't really see yet. I think I have Cookies 'n' Cream on my big toe.

I don't quite have my balance. I'm swaying like the old willow tree in my grandfather's yard. The banging persists and so does the pain behind my left eye. I am still wearing my track pants from last night. Inside out. I don't know why. I think I smell bad but I'm not sure. I probably do.

My senses are not fully operational. They take a while to warm up. Just like my 17-year-old Ford. The noise from the front door continues. I fantasize about killing the person on the other side with my bare hands.

And if I wasn't a fat, unfit coward with no fighting skills, I might just do it. For a moment, I'm Jason Bourne. But only a moment.

Back to reality and I struggle towards the front door from my smelly nocturnal sanctuary, leaving a sticky trail of Cookies 'n' Cream on the carpet behind me. I open the door and it's my annoyingly happy, well-adjusted, squeaky-clean buddy. Just looking at his stupid, happy face annoys me.

We enter into some meaningful dialogue…

"Wadda you doing here, you idiot?"

"Man you stink… have you rolled in something?"

"Shut up."

"Love you buddy… ready to go?"

"Go where?"

"Dude, today's the day…"

"I liked you more when you were a pathetic alcoholic; go where?"

"C'mon, today's that workshop I bought you for your birthday — it starts in forty-five minutes."

I panic. I've forgotten all about it. He spent six hundred dollars to take the two of us to one of those stupid 'be-all-you-can-be' seminar things. I'd rather hit myself in the head with a bat. Whatever the opposite of excitement is, that's what I'm feeling.

I so don't wanna go. I consider feigning a stroke, but I don't really know what a stroke is. I feel like smashing him over the head with one of his stupid self-help books. But he does martial arts and has abs, so that's out of the question.

My mind is racing (okay, not quite racing) but I have no excuse and he's knows when I'm lying. And I lie a lot. I find it saves time and heart-ache. For everyone.

"Man, if anyone needs this, you do… get ready, stinky."

"What I need is a best friend who isn't such a pain in the ass."

"If you keep up with your crap you'll have no friends. Get in the shower."

Like a spoiled five-year-old, I sulk my way to the bathroom. The water on my neck is so hot and relaxing that I nearly fall asleep standing up. My knees buckle and I scare myself. My heart races and I get the stabbing pain all at once. This time behind both eyes.

I'm instantly wide awake. And grumpy. Mr. Happy is always telling me that my messy, disorganised house is a metaphor for my life. I'm not really sure what a metaphor is, and I choose not to ask. I know it can't be good.

I know he means well and I know there's a few things I may need to change, but he really doesn't understand the pressure I'm under, or my busy schedule. For me, it's a time thing. If there were twenty five hours in a day, I'd be built like Superman and my house would be spotless. Unfortunately, there aren't.

I always wondered about the logic of making a bed that I'm gonna mess up later in the day anyway. Dumb. And I read somewhere that exposure to bacteria actually helps build our immune system, so exposure it is. I figure that in some ways, the way I live is actually time-saving and health-promoting.

Sure it's a bit smellier and not as aesthetically pleasing as some lives but it gives me quality time to address the important things in my life. Consuming alcohol. Watching sport.

Ten minutes later I'm in the cleanest BMW in the world, toast in hand, wet hair and blood trickling down my neck courtesy of the world's bluntest razor.

"Man, you still look like a train wreck but at least you don't smell like a giant turd any more."

"Moron."

"Love you too; buckle up."

"Yes, Dad."

We have known each other since we were eight. Played football together, got drunk together, chased girls together. All the basics. Unfortunately he's become a sober (boring), successful, happily married business owner. About as much fun as a fart in an elevator.

He tells me that I'm on the road to alcoholism. I tell him to shut-up. He tells me he cares about me. I tell him there's a fine line between caring and annoying. Anyway, I'll change when I'm ready.

Half an hour later I have defiled his perfectly clean car with my toast crumbs and flatulence and we arrive at the stupid auditorium. Even the stupid car parking dude is happy and friendly.

"Hey guys, just park over there and have a great day."

Clearly I've been kidnapped and taken to Weirdo Central. Freak University. I'm about as comfortable as I was on my first (tragic) date. Sorry, Amanda. I didn't know.

I'm not exactly sure what hyper-ventilating is, but I'm pretty sure I'm doin' it. Mr. Happy strides into the auditorium and I follow him like an insecure puppy. I try not to make eye contact with any of the other freaks but every time I do they smile. They're all annoyingly polite and happy. They're all like my buddy. It's gonna be a long day.

We take our seats. The room is packed. I don't fit in. I want to leave.

"I don't feel well," I tell my buddy.

"Get over it," he replies.

"Where's the love now, Mr Fabulous?" He ignores me.

The lights dim, the house music dies down, my heart rate increases and some dweeby, little guy with a voice that's way to big for his body introduces the speaker dude.

To be continued…

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About Craig Harper

  • http://elvirablack.blogspot.com Elvira Black

    Craig, this is very funny stuff and I look forward to Part 2, but I’m guessing that this was you “before,” years ago. Am I right?