1) I grew up in an intact, semi-traditional family.
In a country where half of all marriages end in divorce, my parents have been together for nearly three decades, and my mom was a stay-at-home mom until I entered middle school. I wouldn’t exactly call their relationship “happy,” but when half of everyone my age I’ve ever known grew up in a broken family, they deserve credit for sticking it out all these years. Thanks Mom and Dad.
2) I was one of the only kids in my neighborhood, period.
I grew up in the city of Syracuse proper, not one of the ‘burbs, and save for a couple houses, my street was pretty much all old people. As a result, my sisters and I pretty much kept to ourselves. In the years since, most of the oldsters have either died or moved away, and their houses have been taken over by renters of a low class persuasion. As a result, property values have taken a nosedive and crime is way up. My mom and sisters used to be able to go for midnight walks in the nearby park; nowadays, leaving the house on foot after dark is a fine way to get mugged. It ain’t the ghetto yet, but it’ll be there in ten years.
3) I got into fights with bullies and tried to rally other kids to help me.
About 20 percent of the fights I was in as a kid were caused by me being a smartass, while the remaining 80 percent were scuffles with bullies. I was picked on for the usual reasons; wearing glasses, being bookish, having a deformed ear (more on that later), but unlike most of the bullied kids in my place, I fought back. I frequently got into scrapes on the playground, vainly trying to kick the ass of the one kid who always tormented me, stymied because he was six inches taller and weighed like 400 pounds. Our fights were typically broken up by the teachers before they got too physical, always denying me the sweet thrill of victory (or more likely just getting my ass beat). I tried to rally the other bullied kids into an alliance to take on the bullies, but was never able to convince them to fight back.
4) I have a deformed right ear.
You can’t really see it well in my videos, but my right ear has less cartilage than the left one, which means it has fewer folds and looks thinner. It’s purely cosmetic; I can hear through the ear just fine. When I was a kid though, I was taunted all the time because of it, with one bully even claiming that it was a fake, plastic ear and my real one was “stuck up my mom’s asshole.” Ah, kids and their knowledge of reproductive anatomy.
5) I couldn’t pay attention in class.
Like I’ve said already, I read a lot, particularly during class when I was supposed to be paying attention. It was instinctual; public schools are geared towards morons, and I’d already figured out much of the material by the time my classmates got around to it. I was frequently scolded for not paying attention in class, though I still got good marks on tests and quizzes. This habit probably screwed me when I got to high school, because I moved to a private school with more rigorous material, causing my grades to drop. My parents resisted the school’s efforts to have me diagnosed with some phony disorder like ADD and medicated, God bless them.
6) I was big into science when I was a kid.
If you met me when I was seven, eight, or nine, I’d probably have had my head buried in an astronomy textbook. I was addicted to reading about the planets and the stars and fantasized about working for NASA when I was a kid. My personal favorite book was The Grand Tour, a eighties-era tome with beautiful artists’ rendering of all the planets and their moons. When I hit puberty though, my interest in astronomy and science pretty much died with it, and I took to playing video games and reading Hunter Thompson.
7) My first job was as a parking attendant for the (Great) New York State Fair.
“Parking attendant” was my official job title, but a more accurate description would have been “human stop sign.” For two weeks at the end of August, from noon to nine every day (save one day I got off for legal reasons), I stood in a hot parking lot waving my arms around like an idiot. Actually, I only did that for two hours at most; the rest of the time, I was assigned to some middle of nowhere intersection that got maybe one car an hour, leaving me with nothing to do but stand, stare and go mad, unless I got lucky and they paired me up with somebody.
The best part of the job was making fast friends with a reprobate from Cortland who regaled me with tales of his numerous run-ins with the law for marijuana possession. The worst part was having to give directions to the sub-moronic human amoebas that attend the Fair. During one four-hour shift working the entrance to the truck/RV lot, I had no less than eight people stop and ask me where the RV lot was… when I was standing right next to a sign pointing to the RV lot.
The kicker? I didn’t get paid for my work until a month after the Fair was over, and after taxes and union dues (all public employees in New York are required to join unions, even grunts), I only saw about two-thirds of it.
8) My first relationship wasn’t until college.
Being a geeky, fat kid didn’t do anything for my self-esteem, so I resigned myself to daydreaming about the cute girls in my classes and never asked anyone out. It wasn’t until my freshman year at college that I started trying to get laid, and usually failed at it. My mentality was that I was going to straighten my life out first and then worry about women… never mind all the fuckups around me (including my friends) who were getting laid just fine. None of my “relationships” made it past the two months mark, mainly because I was screwing girls who were just as hopeless as me.
9) I have a receding hairline.
For some reason, my hair started falling out when I became a teenager. It was so gradual I didn’t even notice it until my mom pulled me aside one day and showed me my yearbook photos in order. Starting with seventh grade, my curly mop was progressively thinner with each passing year. I ended up seeing a dermatologist who told me that it was routine male pattern baldness, which is weird because my mom’s dad has a full head of hair (that’s who you’re supposed to look at to determine if you’ll go bald). The doctor put me on an anti-baldness medicine that did nothing but slightly slow my hair loss, so I eventually just decided to shave it all off. As of right now, I cut my hair once a week.
10) I don’t make friends easily.
At any given time, there are maybe three or four people in the world I completely trust. Part of it is my inherent shyness, but it’s also the fact that few people in this world are worth trusting. I’ve been burned too many times by people I considered my friends to give away that trust easily.
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