Tuesday, September 27, 2005

How I got stabbed

It is my freshman year of college. My roommate is Joe. We are having a party in the dorm room and Jenny, Rory, Erin, and a guy named George are there. George was a fabulously flamboyant gay fellow from Paw Paw. He was one of those gay guys that are bred by small oppressive towns. In other words he was overgay, a stereotype, a homosexual rebellion against the persecution he must have endured. I hope he got out of there when he graduated high school because it seemed like a downward spiral, the more he was oppressed, the more flamboyant he became. The more obviously gay he acted, the more kids picked on him. It didn't help that George was tubby.

Earlier we had all gone to a restaurant together. In the parking lot either Jenny or Rory jumped on my back for a piggy back ride. "Me too!" screamed George and immediately leapt on Joe's back. Joe's face went a little red, I don't know if it was from embarrassment or strain, but he was a good sport and carried all of George toward the car. Then George moved his hand down from Joe's neck and cupped one of his pec's. Joe's arms flew up and George got ignominiously dumped off his back.

Well we were all having fun in the dorm room, cracking jokes, drinking mountain dew and eating bugle chips. Of a sudden I yelled, "Hey everybody, watch me stab myself in the leg with a knife." I knelt down on one knee and looked up at their expectant faces with a goofy grin. The weapon in question was a butterfly knife, and a big one. If you are unfamiliar with this type of knife you can look it up, it is also known as a balisong.

This one was big and impressive and shiny, and I wanted them to all be amazed by it so I held it at the very end of the handle instead of in the usual spot. This was my mistake. The trick involves me plunging the knife at my leg and at the last minute rotating my hand down so that I punch my leg with the blade harmlessly parallel and then quickly jerk it back upright. The trick is effective because it is quick enough to fool the eye and the punch generates an impact so people cannot believe that you have not in fact stabbed yourself. Here's what really happened. I looked up
at their expectant faces as I struck so that I could see all the amazement. I did a quick stab at my leg and jerked my hand back up. Something was wrong. For a second I wanted to do it again because part of me felt frustrated. What was it? I could tell you, but I would rather show you. Make your right hand into a fist. Are you doing it? I can wait. . . Good. Now punch your open left hand. Now punch it twice, quick. Now go to punch it three times and before the third one can land stop short. Do you feel that cool tingle on your knuckles? They were expecting another impact weren't they? But they were disappointed. That's what my knuckles felt like and I realized that it was because they had not made contact with my thigh. Something else had stopped my downward plunge so rapidly that I had thought I had made an impact and pulled back up. It took a while to describe the first clue I had that something was up, but the second clue arrived at the same time. All those astonished faces I wanted to see, you know, surprise followed by delight? Well there was surprise followed by disgust. George actually gasped and turned away, hands raising like delicate butterflies, as if he was about to faint. I tell you Scarlet O'Hare could not have done it more gracefully than George.

I looked down and my first thought was, oh crap, I put a hole in my jeans. Then the space around the hole got wet. The wet was spreading and a really cool effect happened. It was like Technicolor. The large dark blue patch in the middle of my denim blue jeans turned red, almost all at the same time as I bled through the jeans. I dropped the knife and fell on my side.

What happened? Well I held the knife too far towards the end and did not look at what I was doing. I was aiming for a spot right behind my knee, but I did not rotate the knife quick enough on the down-stroke and so the point went in at an angle about a hand-length higher on my thigh. Like I said it took a long time for me to explain from my point of view. Here is what happened from theirs.
"Hey guys, watch me stab myself in the leg with a knife!"
Jon kneels, stabs himself in the leg with a knife and falls down.
The party is over.
If you want to end a party quick, stabbing yourself in the leg works, especially if you call all attention in the room to yourself first. I don't know what they thought. Either they knew I screwed the trick up bad, or they thought, "Man! That guy will do anything for a little attention!"

The interesting thing about being stabbed, it feels exactly like you think it would. I had to go to the hospital and watch the guy move a cotton swab around under my skin like a mouse under a blanket. And then the doctor asked me in a very serious tone how it was that I came to receive a stab wound to the leg. I told him that I had screwed up a party trick and he burst out laughing. Then he called some nurses over to have me tell them what I had done to myself. Finally after they had all had a good laugh he sutured me up.

I am a lot better at the trick now, though. Maybe I'll show it to you sometime.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Please, don't read this post.

You are not ready to read this story. It will disgust you. I am grossed out of my mind just thinking about it. I know apologies in advance seem disingenuous, but I am sorry for what I am about to tell you. The only balm to my straining conscience at this point is the knowledge that you asked for it. Even though you may not have been prepared to reap the fruit of that request, the blame does not lie on my shoulders alone.

One day I was riding with my friend Jeph here in Kalamazoo. His car was in the shop so I was driving him home from work. We passed a gas station that had a sign for
"Chester Fried Chicken" I laughed out loud and started mocking it.
"Come on Jeph!" I said, "Who is going to buy chicken from a gas station?" Several other unlikely shops were brought up. "Welcome to Larry's Mechanic and Cheese shop! A free wheel of Brie with your alignment."

It is amazing how fast life makes hypocrites of us all. The very next day I was going to visit my wife (We were dating at this point.) Between her apartment and mine there was only one stop where food could be purchased without going out of my way. You guessed it...Chester Fried Chicken. I had an ironic chuckle at myself, turned into the gas station, topped off my tank and bought a box of the Chester.

My wife gave me a dubious look when I offered her the box of chicken. "You got this from a gas station?" she said. But it smelled delicious and it was golden brown and so we ate it. It tasted pretty good. I'll say that much. We went out and rented a movie and had just come back to watch it. But now I have to come to the part of the tale that we both know is coming. The part that you don't want to read and I don't want to tell.

It started with my wife. She was having stomach pains and she thought it might be the chicken. I did what I could to comfort her but by that point my own intestines were making balloon animals.
"I think I need to go lie down," she told me.
"Maybe I should go home, babe." I said. At that point I had a decision to make. Should I tempt the fates by trying to drive back to my apartment without having a bowel movement in the driver seat, or should I shame myself by nuclear bombing my wife's apartment (three other girls lived there.) At that point the matter was decided for me when my small intestine made a poodle. My wife went to use the bathroom closest to her room, so that left me with the only other restroom in the apartment. The second bathroom was through Amanda and Stephanie's shared bedroom. I was in a bit of luck as both of them were out shopping, but they were returning soon so I knew I had to be quick.

I will spare you the details of the struggle I had in that tiny restroom, the hollering, the tears, the clenched eyes, the sticking my feet straight out and grabbing the seat with both hands. At any rate it came to an end and that is when the most disgusting fact presented itself.

The smell.

It smelled . . . Delicious.

It smelled exactly the same as when I opened the box. It smelled like hot, fresh, fried chicken. I don't know what kind of Plutonium chicken it was, but my digestive process had no effect on it whatsoever. So I am standing there shocked and I hear the front door to the apartment open. Oh no, Steph and Amanda are home! I did some quick paperwork while they are going over their findings with my wife and I came out just before they entered their room.
"Something smells good." said Amanda. I blushed. "Did you guys cook something?"
"No," I said, head down. "That was me. I just pooped."

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

. . . you never go back

Here's one that happened when I was in college (hmm. Most of them happened then)

I was depressed out of my mind because I had just had a breakup with a girl I wanted to marry. She was at college in Colorado. I thought that I might cheer myself up by going to a comedy show. There was this place on campus called Bernie’s After Hours which was a student-run comedy club with no booze. It is where I got my start in Stand-up comedy and it is still my favorite venue. (I performed once at the Blue Dolphin, downtown K-zoo, and once at the Bernhard center across from a McDonalds)
The woman performing that evening was Katsy Chappell. She was big, black and beautiful. Towards the end of her set she looked out into the audience for a volunteer. Her gaze fell on me and she asked: "You got a woman?" Great I come here to get my mind off things and what is the one thing the lady asks me?
"I just lost one," I said.
"Oh," she said with a big smile, "well when my man and I are havin' trouble this is what I do."

She got me up on stage and sat me down in a little chair. Then she retreated to the other side of the stage. A few of my friends were out there in the audience chuckling in anticipation. Suddenly this throaty jazz starts to play, real skanky stuff. Katsy spins around and starts dancing very seductively. She yanks her belt straight out of her pants in one pull and snaps it at me like a whip. Then she doubles it over, pushes the ends toward each other and looks at me through the hoop before snapping it shut. I become nervous. The crowd loves it and I know that something’s going to be at my expense soon, but I can’t take my eyes off of her.

She grinds and rotates like a fertility totem, then breaks and runs, leaping through the air and showing the audience what it looks like when a whole lotta woman lands in Jonny10's lap. She lands facing me with her legs gripping my ribcage and grabs the back of my head with both hands. I can't see much besides an ebony goddess, with a deep v-neck, but I can hear my friends roaring with laughter somewhere on the moon. She pulls on my head and my eyes widen. I have a split second to scream before my face plunges into her ample, heaving cleavage. Suddenly it’s night, and a hot, humid night at that. She holds my head there for a moment and then whispers in my ear "I am going to pick you up."

I was lofted over her shoulder and she spun me around, spanking my hiney in front of a crowd that had gone absolutely mad with laughter. I caught a quick glimpse of my friend Garret on one of the revolutions. His face had gone purple and I swear I actually saw some foam at the corners of his mouth. I wondered if it was possible to laugh hard enough to rupture something important. I wondered if everyone died if I could sneak out.

With one arm she flung me back into the chair, put her foot on the seat right between my legs and asked: "Now what do you think of that!" I was confused, I was embarrassed, I was amused, but underneath it all, I was still a comedian. I could not let her have the final word.
"Well," I said, "If she did that, I might take her back!"
"Once you go black you never go back!" She said, clearly not to be outdone.

One thing is for sure. I went there trying to escape my situation and Katsy provided a distraction I could not ignore. That’s true comedy, the stuff that can lift you out of the most selfish depression and force you to laugh at yourself. When you can do that, some perspective has been given to you. Laughter is a gift. Katsy, if you are reading this I want you thank you for getting me out of my head. You did your job, and hilarity ensued. That is why you are one of my favorite Stand Up artists.

I saw Katsy years later on Hollywood Squares in the square next to Bruce Vallanche, I jumped up and down calling to my wife. "The lady that molested me on stage is on TV!"