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Look Close, Or Look Away by Ray Printer Friendly

You know what I’ve been thinking about a lot lately? There was this time I went down to Florida for a school trip. Okay, fine—it was a bandtrip, okay? Yeah, I was in band, and you can tease me about it as much as you want, because while guys like you were running around playing football, dressing up in tights, slapping each other on the ass and rolling around in the mud with each other, guys like me were getting all sorts of nasty with your girlfriends on the band bus. Think about it.

Anyways, yeah, so we went down to Florida. And, yes, I was kissing all kinds of chicks who were for sure not my girlfriend. Most of my friends at the time strongly discouraged this kind of behavior, so I spent most of my time talking to Trey, as he was the only one who would speak to me after a series of pseudo-sexual shenanigans that landed me in hot water with the rest of my usual crew. In fact, one of my friends ended up slapping me around quite a bit, as I recall. Last I heard, she was married to a small-town cop, had a baby, and was a librarian. If the world was a fair place, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have been her hitting me, you know?

Anyways, so we get down to Florida, we’re playing some sort of thing in the Disney park down there, whatever. Florida is not my kind of vacation spot—I’ve always hated the sun, and the drinking water they pump in from the swamps down there makes me sick. I spent most of my money on bottled water and sunblock. And I find the entire Disney scene tired and boring. Shitty, if you will. The day we spent at Epcot center, I just found a nice patch of lawn and went to sleep. I woke up three hours later, there’s a bunch of Japanese tourists taking pictures of my friends and I. Maybe they thought we were part of the scene, I don’t know.

Anyways, we end up at the Universal theme park, and they usher us into this big theater for something or another. I was ready to be done with the whole damn state at this point, and the only fun I was having was entertaining my friends (they were all speaking to me again, because even if you’re mad at me for making out with a skank, I’m just too damn cool to ignore for long—plus, if you ignore me, I’ll lick your face until you stop). So we walk in, there’s this life-size monster statue right in the aisle, with a big sign hanging around its neck that says, “DO NOT TOUCH!”

I’d give you three guesses about what I did next, but if you need them, you’re too stupid to be reading my rants, so go away.

Yeah, man, I touched. The thing is, it wasn’t a statue at all—it was some guy dressed up like a monster, and when I poked him, he jumped towards me and howled. Scared the piss out of me, I’ll tell you that. Not literally, but almost. I made a terrible terrified face—like where your mouth curls all up and your eyes get real wide and you generally just look like a little punk—and I screamed like a little girl.

You might be wondering how I know just exactly what I looked like as the monster frightened the shit out of me, so I’ll tell you: they had a camera set up, recording people as they walked in. And showing them on the thousand-story movie screen at the front of the theater. See, I guess there’s a jackass like me at every showing—some poor fool who thinks he’s above the rules, and pays in humiliation. They showed the clip of me jumping and screaming like a little punk-ass over and over and over again, while the rest of the theater filled up. And every time they showed it, everyone laughed, and most of the people turned and looked at me.

Certainly a life lesson.

So, yeah, I’ve been thinking about that event quite a bit over the last couple of days—I don’t really know why. It’s almost like a defining moment in my life. Because I realized that you can break whatever rules you want to, and you might get away with a lot of shit in life. But if you don’t get away with it, you better to be able to deal with the consequences…and they will be much worse than you ever thought.

And I realized that I’m the guy that doesn’t get away with anything. Any time I do something, I do it with a full understanding that—more than likely—the entire world is going to find out about it. I knew a guy that woke up once, naked except for a pair of boxer shorts, at the alter in a Catholic church. He woke up because the morning bells were ringing, and people were just about to start filing in. He snuck out the back way, and the only people that ever found out about it were the people he told. He walked out the back of the church just as the services started, man, can you believe that?

I can’t even fart in church without getting discovered. Like the entire building will be singing and hollering, and I think it’s safe to bust a little one out, and suddenly every one decides to take a moment of silence. Pfft! And then you’re the center of attention in God’s house, and as cool as that sounds, it’s really not cool at all.

That’s never actually happened to me, but I can picture it all too well. People come up to me, “You should join us this Sunday, it’ll be nice.” I just stagger back, hands out in a defensive gesture, “Trust me, man—nobody wants that.”

But back to topic:

Try living your life like that, man: like everyone will, at some point, see every moment you thought was a secret one. And then be yourself, anyways. It’s not so easy, but once you get over the initial shock, it’s very liberating.

The other day, one of my managers came up to me and asked me, “Who’s that lady back behind the front counter?”

“I don’t know—that lady that comes in and counts the movies.” There’s this lady that comes in, I don’t know what her job is, but I know she hangs out looking at the DVDs, and that somehow constitutes a job. Too cool, right? She has to sign in and out in this notebook that’s behind the front counter.

“I don’t like her being behind the front counter,” my manager mutters to me.

“Tell you what,” I say, “When she comes back out to give me my pen, you distract her, and I’ll punch her in the throat. She’ll learn her lesson then.”

“I can hear you,” the DVD-count lady says.

My manager, he turns bright red, and he runs off into the store somewhere—wherever it is that managers run and hide whenever there’s something they just can’t handle. I don’t know where that place is, incidentally, because I’m always left cleaning up the gorilla shit.

“I guess I’ll have to come up with a new plan,” I yell back to the DVD lady. She walks out and hands me my pen back. Her face is flat and unhappy. “Maybe I’ll just stab you with this pen,” I tell her, “Or are you going to screw that up, too?”

And she smiles. I don’t know if it’s because I’m so freakin’ funny or if it’s because there’s just no use being mad at a jackass who doesn’t care about how un-called for his remarks are. And to tell you the truth, I don’t care. I wasn’t bothered by her being behind the front counter in the first place, you know?

Anyways, that’s it for now, kids. Not the most entertaining of posts, but I apologize for nothing (well, I guess I apologize for that mix-up with the president-elect and the thing with the bananas, but that’s a whole different story—and I only apologize for that because they made it a national law that I had to). Look close, and maybe you’ll be able to learn something from this one. If you don’t feel like looking close, then don’t—heaven knows we already have enough of that going around.


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