Cover art for podcast Funny Messy Life

Funny Messy Life

80 EpisodesProduced by Michael BlackstonWebsite

Stories about life, relationships, and culture delivered in a way that will help brighten your day or at least make you ask, "What is he smokin'?" But don't worry. It's all in good fun and it's family friendly. I'm Michael Blackston and these are tales from my blog - in audio form - all based on rea… read more

13:18

A Day In The Life Of An Ape - 062

   I have a laundry list of insecurities that keep me in a perpetual state of uncertainty. Uncertainty about whether or not the last thing I sang was on key, uncertainty about whether or not the last thing I wrote was up to par, uncertainty about whether or not the last thing I painted or etched would cause the viewer to retch and look for the closest bush. I even worry about the sound of my own voice because it never fails that I’m addressed as “Ma’am” at a drive-thru, no matter how deep I try to make my voice to avoid it. Just as I sat down to write this, my son sent me a text. And I quote: “Well, McDonalds just ‘yes ma’am’d me. So this is how that feels?” The two of us sound a lot alike when we talk, so I’m afraid he has a life full of annoying drive-thru lanes ahead of him.

   One of the ways I’ve always combatted being insecure around people has been to mirror their personalities. There’s a word for this that crossword filler-outers everywhere will recognize. It’s called “Aping”. For the most part, the ability to mimic a person’s personality has been a good thing for me, because the result is that I’m able to get along with almost anybody, but it’s never on purpose. It just happens, and I’m always afraid someone’s gonna notice it and call me out.

   “So there I was, minding my own business, when all of a sudden that hag comes out her front door and hollers for me to get off her lawn, like I’m the only one that digs up the neighbor’s flowers!”

   I reply with, “Giiiiirrrrrl, no she DIT-INT!”

   I’m not thinking about it. It’s just a knee-jerk reaction. But now, my neighbor thinks I’m on her side, and I really can’t say anything to her as she walks away from my bare rose bushes with three dozen long stems in her basket.

   That’s an exaggeration; I don’t have rose bushes, but you get it!

   I’ve decided that to make my point even stronger, I should dramatize a day in the life of an ape like me. Maybe it’ll help you get to know me a little better and to understand that the struggle is real.

   From Atomic Red Studios, I’m Michael Blackston, and this is a reflection, so to speak, of my Funny Messy Life.

_________________________

   The alarm rings to signify the beginning of a new day. I don’t feel like I got enough sleep last night, but I have a schedule to keep, so I go to the bathroom, then take a look at myself in the mirror and sigh in disgust. “Dang. Just dang.” 

   I try to cheer myself up with a joke because I think I’m clever.

   “Time to scratch my rocks.”

   I laugh at myself. I’m not clever, but that joke never gets old.

   Once I’m out the door, headed to pick up whatever rock I’m actually gonna scratch, I know that I have to detour in the direction of coffee. Unfortunately for the drive-thru attendant, the last thing I watched before going to bed last night was MasterChef, and one of the hosts of that show is Gordon Ramsay.

   Can I take your order?

   Yes, I want you to make me the most amazing medium cup of coffee.

   Cream and sugar?

   Ah … cream, my darling. 6 to be precise, but no sugar. You can toss one phenomenal packet of Splenda in the bag, along with a stirring straw.

   $1.75. Pull around.

   This had better be a delicious cup of coffee, my darling, otherwise, what am I even doing here?

   Ordering coffee.

   Ordering coffee. You just don’t get it, do you? Wow. Wow wow wow!

   The coffee is fine, giving me no excuse to shove it back through the window, shouting, “LOOK AT IT!”

   I need to put gas in the tank before moving on, so I pull into a station. At the pump adjacent to me, there’s a teenager who helped me with a theatre set at some point or another.

   How are you, Julie? (We’re just gonna call her Julie, because I don’t want to use the actual names of any of the other young ladies who’ve helped me with sets over the years.)

   OMG, I’m totally doing awesome! How are you?

   (Here it comes) I’m totes awesome, too! Hecka busy, though.

   Right?! It’s like somebody turned on a busy faucet and totally forgot to turn it off!

   Right?!

   Right?!

  Totes right!

   Of course, I live in the Deep South, where not only does everybody know everybody, but they sincerely want details. I get to the office of a granite manufacturer to pick up my stone, and Reba greets me with a smile.

   Well, hey! How’s ya mama’nem? I saw ya daddy day before yestiddy at the Walmart. He was lookin’ good, but said his knees was bothering him.

   I don’t doubt it, little lady. Paw’s knees’re bound ta give him the devil’s time as much as he’s on ‘em. Cain’t do nuthin’ with that man.

   Well, tell yer people I said ‘hey.’

   AH-ight. Y’all come go with us.

   I reckon we better stay where we’re at.

   It’s probably good that I’m pretty much left to myself while I work, because it gives me an opportunity to reset. I can put on my headphones and wrap up into a world of sound that I’m in complete control of. Maybe I’ll listen to some podcasts, some audiobooks, or that new 80s station I found. Maybe I’ll dial up The Office and let that play in the background. Whatever path I stroll down in my audio journey, it’ll be like wrapping my head in a sound burrito. It won’t matter what ingredients are inside it, except for cheese. I promise there will always be plenty of cheese. That’s the kind of place my mind can go when I have nothing coming into my head from the outside, and more than likely, it will also influence my lunch preference. 

   Mexican it is! A burrito sounds like a winner, and so when that hunger bell strikes, I’ll head off to … well, the Bell. But then again, nah. I think I want to be served. There’s a great Mexican restaurant where I live. I still wonder how close the food in those places comes to real, honest-to-God Hispanic cuisine like you’d get at one of those side street places in Mexico with no ceiling and dirt floors, and there’s a mariachi band playing. No, I don’t mean one hired to entertain you, but a mariachi band made up of old dudes wearing actual sombreros they built out of straw, and playing instruments they also made out of straw and adobe, but sound awesome. That’s real Mexican cuisine. I don’t think their food comes out of the oven to your table in those places within two minutes of ordering it. But that’s okay. I’m hungry, and they’ll keep refilling my tea while I write yet another amazing podcast episode.

   There’s just one problem. The authenticity of the food might be suspect, but the authenticity of their ethnicity is not. Those are real Mexicans running the place, and as my son will attest, that’s a recipe for disaster due to my subconscious aping. Allow me to explain. I’ll keep it short, as I can’t remember if I’ve told this story before.

   My son travelled with me a couple of years ago to Alabama for a job. It was the summer, and he had not yet decided there were better things to do with his summer than to go on work trips with dear old dad - things like sleeping, sleeping, and sleeping.

   There’s a great Mexican restaurant in Jasper, Alabama, too, called Pepito’s, and I introduced Noah to them. The server was quite chatty that day, with his thick Hispanic accent, and although I didn’t intend to insult him or humiliate my son, I think I might have managed to do both. He was talkative enough that his accent got into my head, so that when he asked if I wanted beef or chicken in my quesadilla, I answered with a resounding, “Cheeeekin!”

   I know that teenagers overdramatize how badly their parents embarrass them sometimes, but it’s safe to say Noah’s basically crawling under the table was justified. Once the server was gone, he decided it was the funniest thing he’d ever heard, and he still won’t let me live that down.

   The good news is, I’m able to walk away from lunch without coming across as a great big racist, and I can continue my day.

   I’m not ready to go back to the etching yet, but I remember that the bin store sometimes gets a new shipment on this day of the week, and off I go to find some treasure. Maybe I should have picked a different day.

   When I get there, just as my concentration settles on finding more audio equipment I’ll never use, the guy next to me decides that I look like just the person to talk to about this wonderful place he’s found. He’s from out of town, and this store is magical. Problem is … he’s from WAAAYYY out of town.

   What’ll you be tryin’ t’foind? The parrfect thing to tek home to ye’ woyf, mehbeh?

   (It’s on) Tha parrfect thing fer me’woyf don’t exist, let meh tell ya!

   Well bless yer little Irish heart, and every other Irish part!

   Now I’m in trouble. He thinks I’m one of his people, which isn’t hard to believe. I have the skin of an Irishman, the hair of an Irishman, the blue eyes, and now, apparently the dialect. Why do I do this stuff to myself? I have to come up with something.

   Ya think we’d be lucky enough to find us a pint? I understand you can always sound like the real deal if you mention a pint to these guys, and why not engage in a little unfounded, romanticized stereotyping?

   If ya, do, let me know, and we’ll drain it together. But I wager around these parts, the tongues’ll be awaggin’ at that.

   He has no idea how right he is. I lead worship in a Baptist church. That’s why I keep a light conscience. There’s no need to fear th’ wind if yer haystacks’re tied down, I say!

   Aye. No sport actin’ the maggot when there ain’t a need, me boyo.

   We go our separate ways at that point, but dang it, now I want some Lucky Charms, so I take a side trip to Ingles before getting back at it with my rock.

   (Sigh). There’s an angry man from up north ahead of me in the line. He can’t stand how slow it’s going, and he thinks I’m just the man to whom he should express his stress.

   He says, Can you believe how slow this line is goin’? I got places to go, things to do, am I right?

   I say, FUHGGEDDABOWDIT!

   He replies, Right?! Fuhggeddabowdit!

   Then we just go back and forth.

   Me: FUHGGEDDABOWDIT!

   Him: FUHGGEDDABOWDIT!

   Me: FUHGGEDDABOWDIT!

   Him: FUHGGEDDABOWDIT!

   Both of us together: FUGGEDDABOUUUUDIIIIT!

   I realize it’s safer for me to head home. So after jumping out of line because I was suddenly in the mood for ravioli, I make it to my truck without insulting anybody else. The day is getting long in the tooth anyway, and I have one more stop to make. I need to pay $200,000 to the vet for my English Bulldog’s latest weekly visit. Her name is Barbara and she’s my precious baby, but let me assure you that if you’re thinking about giving a bulldog a home, they tend to smell, and you’ll buy veterinarians large houses and sports cars.

   I walk into the vet’s office and a bell on the door rings, alerting everyone, including all the dogs in the back wearing their cones of courage, that I have arrived. They all greet me at once. The vet tech at the counter pulls up my records and tells me the total I owe.

   That’ll be $200,000 for the blood work, a vial of your own blood for the teeth cleaning, and we will accept your first born as payment for figuring out that smell around the anus area.

   I reply in the only way I know how. BARK! and then I offer a vein.

   I know I’m not really a dog, though.

   I’m an ape.

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