As a whole, I’m happy about how my life has turned out so far. Hopefully, there is plenty more left of my story, but you never can tell. We live second by second, and minute by minute. I first learned about life in that context through Rick Springfield’s epic eighties ditty, Love Is Alright Tonight from his Working Class Dog album. That album is one of the things in my life I do not regret. My sister and I sang that song at the tops of our lungs while the LP played on her stereo before karaoke was a thing, and those are happy memories. The pattern on life’s wallpaper is not always pleasing, though. Sometimes you sit back in your chair, staring at the stains and faded designs that mark the walls of your life and you think, “That part wasn’t pretty. Or smart. Or made any sense at all, you complete moron.”
It’s the complete moron marks of my history that I want to talk about now. The ones that were made in permanent marker. You can’t erase them because if you could, there wouldn’t be anything there to remind you not to be that stupid ever again.
From Atomic Red studios in the heart of the Deep South where God would have placed Eden to begin with if it hadn’t been so stinkin’ hot in the summer, I’m Michael Blackston and these are things NOT to do that I’ve learned during my Funny Messy Life.
Starting from earliest to most recent, I will tell you a couple of things I’ve learned never to do, ever, for the love of all that is pure and holy, ever.
Maybe you have the stomach of a goat. Perhaps your bowels are able to tolerate things like the Carolina Ghost Pepper, the mayonnaise at a county fair, and dudes over 30 singing emo music, without it putting your body in a state of incapacity. If that’s you, then congratulations. Enjoy the fair and grab yourself a turkey leg right before getting on The Scrambler. In fact,,,,,,, that reminds me of a disgusting thing that happened to my while riding The Tilt-A-Whirl with my cousin who did stupidly stupid things with me. And now I’ve made a note in my Stories-To-Tell app for this podcast/Blog/thingy.
I don’t have that kind of intestinal fortitude, though. I can hold my own under normal circumstances, but when you introduce conflicting delicacies from the culinary world, as delicious as they may be separately, or in concert with their kind, my body will protest. It will say, “Nay! Thou shalt not combine these two things, you complete moron!” I found this out the hard way when I was somewhere around 18 or 19 years old. Part of the issue i have, being mildly Obessive Compulsive, is that everything has to balance. I’m uncomfortable with odd numbers, so as a younger man, it never occurred to me that I could eat just one of anything and make it out of the day alive.
Enter my mom’s burgers, fried on the stove, greasy and perfect. I always ate two of them covered in two slices of cheese each, and lousy with mayonnaise.
On this evening, I remained true to my ritual, but it was also the Christmas season and my mom had bought some eggnog at the grocery store.
I love eggnog. I don’t much care for eggs prepared by themselves in any way, except for scrambled, and even then there better be a 2 to 1 cheese to egg ration. I’m cool with them as an ingredient, though. If I can’t taste the edginess of it all, it’s fine. I especially like it as a nog. And being that I wanted to enjoy some nog as a postlude to my cheeseburger feeding frenzy, and being mildly Obsessive Compulsive, I down two large glasses of the stuff immediately following supper.
It didn’t happen for a while. It would have been nice if my stomach had given me some notice so I could mentally prepare myself for what was to come …
Hey, buddy! I don’t want to alarm you ‘er nothin’, but later, you’re gonna regret what you just did there. I’m just giving you a heads up because this isn’t going to be a minor inconvenience. Nossir, this here is gonna be something you’ll tell your grandkids about. It’s going to be so bad that you will beg God to take you home to sweet ol’ Beulah Land because my friend, you’re gonna feel like you’re absolute hell. Alrighty then. We good? Great!
That’s not how it went down, though. I went to sleep happy. I fell asleep quickly, and dreamt of frolicking with beautiful teenage Sugarplum fairy girls. We kissed and fawned all over each other while eating the biggest, greasiest cheeseburgers to be found in Sugarplum Land. And between our soft smooches, we sipped eggnog from the blossoms of candy roses.
But you what it’s like when you dream. Things can turn fast. My beautiful fairy glided her delicate hand along my cheek, but didn’t stop there. It made its way past my neck to my chest, moving downward, and stopped on my stomach. In a flash, the delicate hand transformed into a cheeseburger fist, only the cheese pour from between the buns was made of broken glass and rusty nails. She sank her burger fist deep into my belly and the pain was terrible, like having the Super Bowl firmly in your grasp, then the coaching staff deciding NOT to run the clock out and letting the other team come back from a 28-3 deficit in the fourth quarter to beat you. Actually, no. When that happened to my Falcons, I think that was worse than the fairy with the cheeseburger fist full of glass and nails.
When I felt the pain, I looked into the eyes of my beloved teenage fairy. (It’s okay to write this because I hadn’t met my wife yet, and if I had, it would have probably been her in the dream and we never would have gotten married because, well … cheeseburger fist.)
Her whole face had changed from the fantasy of my good dreams, into an evil, grotesque creature of my nightmares. She grinned from ear to ear in a smile that stretched impossibly the full width of her face. Her teeth were wedges of rotten pickle and she drooled rancid county fair mayonnaise from the corners of her lips. Her wild eyes had grown enormous with insanity and the delight of what she was doing to me, and she began to cry happy tears that looked curiously like thick tendrils of eggnog.
I woke from the dream enduring the worst pain in my gut I’d ever experienced. It felt like I was a man having a baby. I thought maybe I was. Somehow I’d been impregnated by my dream fairy/ogre and I was about to deliver a demon child with cheeseburgers for hands. I made my way slowly into the hall towards the bathroom, propping against the wall with my hand to keep myself upright. I looked down at the floor at one point to make sure my eggnog hadn’t broken, and finally made it to the bathroom, shutting the door behind me.
I sat on the toilet just as the worst surge of pain so far erupted in my bowels. I tried not to scream and wake up my parents, and that’s the last thing I remember before waking up on the floor between the toilet and the sink. My mom was pounding on the door, calling my name.
“Michael, are you alright? Answer me! I heard a huge crash in there.”
I came to my senses just enough to answer her.
“Don’t worry. It’s just gas.”
Since that night, I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter what the volume of the food comes to, if I eat even one greasy cheeseburger and chase it with any sort of dairy product, I’m going to get the same result. My fairy demon will return to me in my sleep and stab me with her meat hands.
Five or six years later, I found myself working an overnight shift at a large market, 100,000 watt powerhouse radio station in Greenville, SC. I’d been there for a few months, so I knew where they kept all the goodies, like CDs to give away, T-shirts, coozies with the station logo, and products that had been given to the station by sponsors. It was good thing that I knew where to look when I found myself trying to take phone calls from drunk listeners and at the same time, nursing the worst headache I’d ever had.
“WESC this is Mike.”
“Hey, buddy! How about playin’ that Achin’ Breakin’ Heart song by Rilly Bay Sarce?”
I’ve noticed that nothing good usually follows a guy starting his sentence with, “Hey, buddy!”
“I don’t think I recognize that one. Who am I talking to? What’s your name?”
“Puddin’ Tame! PBBBBTHHHHH HA HA HA! Hey, buddy … hey! My old lady loves that song and I’m tryin’ to get her goin’. You know what I mean?”
“Oh, you mean the one by the guy whose little girl is going to win everybody’s heart on the Disney Channel one day, then lose everybody’s lunch for them a few years later by acting a fool. I tell ya what … I’ll try to get that on for ya.”
That’s what we always told people who insisted on us playing requests when we weren’t allowed to play requests. I’ll try to get that on for ya!
Anyway, that’s the kind of thing I was dealing with while my head felt like it was being beaten senseless by Miley Cyrus’s microphone.
Luckily for me, I remembered the goodie supply. Actually I remembered the GOODYS supply. We played spots fort he popular headache powder, and they had sent us a thousand year supply of the stuff. There was a case of it in the cabinets above the coffee pot. I’d taken GOODYS before, so I knew it was fast acting, and would hopefully take the edge off of my headache. I went and got me a pack.
I sat back down in front of the control board. The song that was playing was about to end … something by Toby Keith, or Reba McEntire maybe, and I went live to introduce the next song and tease the weather before I took my medicine.
Oh God, let me live long enough to get through this so I can take the GOODYS as soon as the next song starts.
“92.5 WESC - Good Times and Great Country. It’s gonna be wet for the remainder of the weekend, but don’t worry. I’ll give you the forecast and everything you need to know about how to still have a great time with all the happenings around the Piedmont. That’s coming up right after Reba McEntire tells us all about how awesome it is to send our daughters away to be hookers. Here’s Reba … and Fancy … on your station for Good Times and Great Country … 92.5 WESC!
I killed the mic and looked longingly at the tiny, rectangular packet of headache powder. Back then, it was just folded paper. You unfolded it, worked it between your fingers, and chucked it to the back of your throat. Then you chased it with anything that was liquid and wouldn’t kill you to avoid as much of the bitter horror that is the taste of headache powder.
The only thing was, my headache was worse than anything I ever remembered having. I also remembered once hearing that it got to where it needed to go more quickly if you snorted it like a cokehead. I mean, it was already powdered, and it came handy with a paper packet that I could easily roll into one of those straws like the junkies do. Win/win, right? What was there to lose? It was just medicine, not hard drugs.
First, I emptied the packet of powder onto the counter in front of the control board. Then I rolled the paper in a tight little straw, just like I saw them do once on Miami Vice. But then I noticed something. The powder was too ill formed on the counter to make this efficient. According to the movies, the powder needed to be cut into a couple of thin lines with a razor blade. Bonus! There was a razor blade to my left because back in those days, there was still a reel to tell machine and some things had to be manually spliced.
I picked up the blade and made my lines. The Obsessive Compulsive in me insisted that there be two, and that they should be perfect. By then, Reba had already advised Fancy to be nice to the gentlemen and they’d be nice to her. I didn’t have much time left before I needed to break in with that info I’d teased about.
I stilled myself because I didn’t know what to expect as far as sensation, and I stuck the rolled up paper into my right nostril, bending over the lines of GOODYS powder.
It’s at this moment that at this time, it would have been nice if my nose had broken in to give me a word of warning …
Hey, buddy … I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking ‘I saw a dude with a sweet mullet do this on TV in the mid eighties and I think I’m tougher than him’. You’re not tougher than him, buddy. You know why? Because he’s a character and that actor didn’t really snort that stuff. Sure, people do snort coke. They take a snow ride. They sniff the nose candy. But they’re stupid. Are you stupid? Let’s find out. Because if you snort that, it’s gonna light you up like a firecracker. You know how that feels … your sister lit one in your hand. Is that what you want, buddy? For your face to feel like your sister lit a firecracker inside it?
That didn’t happen though. The only thing I heard just before I took a big old snort of GOODYS headache powder was the sound of innocence lost streaming over the room from speakers booming the voice of country music’s favorite redhead.
I was desperate and I snorted it.
Let me explain now, the sensation that goes hand in hand with snorting a GOODYS headache powder.
It’s nothing like having your sister light a firecracker in your nose. In fact, the nose part of your face is the least of your worries. Sure, it stings, but what happens all up in your sinus cavity is the real thrill ride.
Immediately upon the snorting action, your face is invaded deep within by white fire. White is the hottest visible color when it comes to a flame. If there were a hotter color of fire, say … chartreuse, then I would describe it as fire in your face the color of chartreuse. Chartreuse face fire. It knocked me off my chair onto the floor. There was screaming involved. I’m glad I was alone, or someone would have called 911. Maybe somebody need to call 911.
“AHHHHHHH! OH GOD!!! MY FACE! MY FACE IS ON FIRE! MY FACE IS ON FIRRRREEEEEE!!! THERE’S CHARTREUSE LAVA INSIDE MY HEAD IN THE AREA OF MY FAAAAACCCCCEEEE!”
I’m not proud of myself. I’m not certain how long it took me to realize that Reba had stopped singing and there was nothing but dead air and the sounds of my sobbing, but the good news is, I’d forgotten all about the headache.
Needless to say, I DO NOT recommend snorting headache powder, or anything for that matter, without being in the presence of a doctor. My wife and son do some kind of thing where they shoot something up their noses for their allergies. I won’t. Nope. I refuse. Because I know good and well that just when I need that voice of reason, there won’t be anybody in my head saying, “Hey, buddy …. this is gonna hurt!”
We have to learn lessons as we grow, I guess. Those are two that I’ll never forget. I’m always up for hearing about your bad decisions. Send me an email if you’d like ...
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