What should I complain about today? Funny career I’ve chosen, writing the bottom end of tens of thousands of opinion pieces, complaining about wars, stupidity, that new crappy excuse for theater popcorn and my suspicions that the all-beef cheeseburger mysteriously became extinct.
I sent my best pal Phil a gif this week. Phil lives in Chicago and on the first day of summer, the mercury hit 100. I sent him a short video of gin and tonic poured over ice cubes. He wrote back, noting he was enjoying an ice-ladened tropical drink while reading my latest book. Phil accused me of copying the entire contents from some long-dead Signal columnist. I didn’t deny it, but sent back a suggestion that every few hours, Phil ice his index finger to allay his chronic reading disabilities. I’m guessing Phil and I were musketeers and swashbucklers in uncountable previous lives. We love the joust and the problem with jousting is, without trying, you can aerate hundreds of perfectly decent friends in a lifetime.
But not if he’s Zorro and I’m Cyrano. Oh you just don’t want to mess with us in a battle of wits. After 60 years of friendship, I’ve yet to have a single complaint about dear Philly In Chicago.
I’m going through some groin-punching unexpected bills lately. Spent more than a grand on a new windshield, tires and sundry front-end work on my beloved Toyota Prius. I should complain. I’m entitled. Hate being late on bills. But, you know what? I have a new windshield, squeaky clean new tires and my front end is no longer scraping asphalt like a tractor bucket.
Haven’t seen my daughter in a year. COVID. Money. I miss her on the quarter-hour and at the danger of being a Helicopter Dad, I’d move my desk behind hers for the rest of college. But, you know what? She called me on Father’s Day last weekend. We chatted for a couple hours about our shared disinterest with wild, drunken parties. I told her about one New Year’s bash when I was her age. A certain dear friend/intellectual on the college wrestling team was so drunk, he kept grabbing people and flinging them. Some of the guys he was flinging were college football players. They voiced no objection.
The house owner was a big guy, one truck size up from me. We politely guided our pal to the front door, closed and locked it behind. A few seconds later, like in a horror movie, our friend’s fist comes smashing through a solid wood door. Bloodied, bristling with splinters, his hand starts searching for the locked door handle. He kicks in the door and laughs — maniacally. For some reason, he wants to fight Phil, who’s reading New Year’s in a back room.
Arms outstretched like Frankenstein’s monster, our drunk mutual friend pal keeps advancing. Several more warnings then Philsy-poo lands a haymaker on our inebriated friend’s jaw. And our friend. Just. Keeps. Coming. Eight — EIGHT — really big guys rushed into the room and that works out to two combatants per limb. We pin our varsity grappling amigo to the living room floor and he’s literally throwing us off like we’re Junior Mints. Cops are finally called. It being New Year’s, we draw two miniature volunteer sheriff’s deputies. The homeowner (6-5, 240) and me (6-2, 205) jog out to explain the disturbance, which includes this brief, breathless description, “…yeah me and Bob here and six other guys about our size have our drunk friend pinned on the floor and we just can’t hold him anymore…”
I can’t blame the two deputies for laughing. The pair went about 5-foot-4 and 5.425-foot and I’m guessing weighed 215 — combined. They looked at the house, then up at us, then at the broken door, waved dismissively, said, “Naaaahhhhhh…” in unison, got back in the prowl car and drove off. Laughing.
Later, they’d manage to bump into our inebriated pal. It took us an hour to calm the intellectual with superhuman strength. Still psycho drunk and paranoid, he wouldn’t let anyone drive him home. He drove himself. Made it to about a quarter-mile of his abode, hit a big, thick oak tree on Valley Street and pretty much wrecked his Volkswagen. The cops came. Our dear pal tore the uniforms off two of them and spent a few days in the pokey.
My daughter got a big kick out of that story. Me too, still. How could I complain about that night? It’s part of the ongoing blessings of a life, part of what makes me — me.
I’ve petted a wolf. Led out the Fourth of July parade, on horseback. Rode my motorcycle solo to San Francisco. Slept outside in a pasture with the cows. Talked with friends until sunrise. Co-emceed a mucky-muck convention with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Owned a racing Alfa Romeo and have far too many wedding anecdotes to be considered Christian. Heavens. I’ve worked at this Mighty Signal.
All my life, I’ve been paid to complain. I’ve griped about the sight-challenged umpiring baseball or judges sitting on the bench, minus their dunce caps. I’ve carped about the senseless donation of billions to actors, directors and producers to make films that really should have been cause to issue the death penalty.
Imbeciles? Surrounded by them, from our local William S. Hart Union High School District to the White House to the pickup window of any of our local chickenatoriums. I’ve penned, in a thousand different ways, the same sentence: “How Could You Be So Stupid?”
But, it’s Friday. I’ve got air conditioning. And a sofa on which to nap not a yard from my big, giant, cool, rock ’n’ roll computer. There’s Coke when it’s hot, hot tea when it’s cool. I’ve hundreds of friends, more in enemies or worse, a gazillion times that with the disinterested.
It’s Friday. I’m jolly well blessed to have them all.
John Boston’s is Earth’s most prolific satirist/humorist. Buy one of his books at johnbostonbooks.com.