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For Years by Ray Printer Friendly

You know, very rarely do I get excited: trips to Taco Bell, when I get to go watch a movie, when I see a deer outsideÖokay, so maybe Iím easily excited. But very rarely do I get excited about something that Iíve done. But today I did something that I got pretty excited about.

Itís cool, man. Probably the coolest thing Iíve done since I learned how to smoke, or take a shot without looking like a little punk.

Yeah, yeah, Iím going to tell you about it, just calm down. But I want to tell you a little story, because thatís what I do here. If you didnít want to hear me tell a story, you shouldnít have clicked on me, man. Go check out whatever mind-twist Coobellowís tossing out.

The year is nineteen ninety something, I think. Or maybe it was two thousand and somethingóI donít know, and I donít really care. Itís not important, anyways. What is important is that I was sitting around with a couple of my friends, tossing back shots and laughing my ass off at whatever seemed funny at the timeówhich was pretty much everything. It was a wild and crazy night, and I bet if you knew what happened, you would give pretty much everything you owned for the chance to jump in a time machine and travel back so you could be there. But Iím not telling you what happened, you donít own anything good, anyways, and thereís no such thing as time machines. Amongst other things that happened that night, one of my friends started talking about being fat.

ďCome on, man, youíre not fat,Ē I slurred at him, ďYouíre justÖĒ I thought about finishing the sentence, but instead, took a shot of whiskey.

ďPortly,Ē he said, and I laughed the whiskey right out of my nose. I hadnít ever heard that word before, I donít think. And if I had, my brain was keeping it from me. I knew what it meant, but I had never heard it used in conversation. I laughed my ass off, man, choking on whiskey, my nose running, gasping for breath. And as I struggled to hold onto life, I heard someone choke out, ďPortly Boy.Ē I donít know if it was him or me, but I knew right then that something was going to happen with this fellow Portly Boy.

I had hopes of being a comic book artist at the time (the only thing holding me back was the fact that I sucked at drawing), so I thought about maybe making some character in a comic strip or something. Being a slacker, I never got around to it, though.

A year later, I was living in San Marcos, Texas, working in a place called The Kettle. In case you donít know, The Kettle is like the poor manís IHOP, except the prices are about the same. The foodís not nearly as good, but you get served a little quicker because itís hardly ever busyódue to the poor quality of food.

I was a cook, working either the afternoon shiftó2 pm to 10 pm, or the graveyard, which lasted from 10 pm to 6 am the next morning. Being a short-order cook is terrible. Iím not kidding around, man. Itís so bad that you almost feel like youíre accomplishing something. Because youíre back there in the kitchen, itís like a thousand degrees, youíre constantly getting splattered with scorching-hot grease from some dead animal or another, and you think to yourself, ďWhy am I doing this? Itís got to be for the greater good, because I refuse to believe that Iím so stupid that I would do something like this just so drunk people can have pancakes at three in the morning.Ē

You go home, your pants are so caked with grease that they actually stand up by themselves (not exaggeration, by the wayóI tried it once. Then I started thinking about what my lungs must be going through, breathing the shit that would make my pants stand up by themselves, and I never tried it again). Your hands have a constant sheen to them, because theyíve soaked up so much fat from whatever dead animals you were cooking up, and theyíre super-soft, except for the welts caused by spattering grease.

So Iím sitting there one night, itís about two in the morningónot quite time for the drunk crowd, but late enough that I have all of my sidework done (note for the people who have never worked in the food industry: ďSideworkĒ is the crap that you have to do besides your real job. For example: aside from serving food to your drunk ass, the waitress also has sidework to do, such as roll silverware, fill the ice bin, make coffee and ice tea, stuff like that). Iím bored out of my mind, so I grab my notebook, and start looking over the Christmas letter that Iím thinking about sending to all of my friends and family. Itís supposed to be a letter telling everyone about how my lifeís going, whatís new with me, blah, blah, blah. Itís not going well, because I keep lying. Like this:

ďLifeís going really well. I never thought about acting before, but I actually got a part in Star Wars: Episode One. If you look real close, youíll see me during the pod-racer scene. Iíve also filled in for the green dinosaur on Barney a few timesóbut thatís supposed to be a secret.Ē Shit like that. And then I start writing about how Iím now a part-time superhero, patrolling the red-light district.

And I suddenly realize that the superhero Iím writing about is Portly Boy. I draw a quick picture of him, just to let him know that Iím thinking about him.

And then a mob of drunk college students comes in, and Iím forced to go back to work.

Because it was still on my mind a few days later, and because I was still trying to do the whole comic book thing, I drew another picture a few days later, like what if Portly Boy really was a hero. It was an all right drawing, I guess, but it wasnít Portly Boy, not the guy that I was already getting to know rather well.

And that was it. I thought off and on about writing Portly Boy for the next few years, but never did anything with him. By that time, I had realized that I was never going to be an artistócomic book or otherwiseóand had decided to stick to doing the things I was good at. Drinking and smoking and cussing entirely too much.

It worked out pretty well, tooóTrey asked me to move to NYC. This was several years later, of course, and since I was basically just floating around aimlessly, doing nothing with my life, I agreed.

Let me tell you something about New York City. When youíre in it, you are totally in it. Itís like life incarnate, man, like youíve died and gone to some strange movie set that youíve seen forever but never quite believed in. But there are times where you just go to work, fight your way through the day, and end up at home, wondering what the hell to do next.

There were lots of nights that I had nothing to doóI had no disposable income, and about six gís in credit card bills. But I had a computer, and Trey had just recently decided to make a website. He came stumbling in one night, drunk out of his gourd, telling me to think up some ideas for it. I told him I had to go to bed, and he told me to drink some rum. I was out of booze at the time, and free booze is free booze, no matter how early you have work the next day.

A few days later, I started writing Portly Boy. And here we are, over fifty issues later, over six hundred double-spaced pages later. So today, I decided to find out what Portly Boy really looked like. I grabbed my first picture, the one that I had scribbled down in that hellish kitchen so long ago, scanned it, and went to work.

Itís not art, by any means: itís ugly, itís crude, and itís dumpy. But I think itís right on. So, without any further ado:

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Yeah, man, it rocks.


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