My Life Cracks Me Up

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

The Way I See It………………………………………………………………………………….7

Part 1: “GROWING UP”………………………………………………………..10

Meet the Family…………………………………………………………………………………11

My Dad……………………………………………………………………………………………11

My Mom…………………………………………………………………………………………..13

My Brother Bob…………………………………………………………………………………15

Me………………………………………………………………………………………………….17

Me and the girls………………………………………………………………………………..18

Early Prostitution……………………………………………………………………………….19

Sex Education……………………………………………………………………………………21

St. Killians………………………………………………………………………………………….22

Laughter… The Best Medicine?………………………………………………………………26

My Friend David…………………………………………………………………………………28

Wedding Crashers………………………………………………………………………………29

Rick the Girl/Boy Scout………………………………………………………………………..31

Boy Scouts at Last!……………………………………………………………………………..33

Prank Phone Calls………………………………………………………………………………37

At the Car Wash…………………………………………………………………………………45

Burping For Jesus……………………………………………………………………………….48

Our Lady’s Haven……………………………………………………………………………….52

Tthe Family Business…………………………………………………………………………..56

Trip To Portugal………………………………………………………………………………….59

Marie Bragg Andre Martin……………………………………………………………………66

Mount Washington…………………………………………………………………………….68

My Friend Shaune………………………………………………………………………………70

Speculative Absurdities ……………………………………………………………………….71

Groucho Night……………………………………………………………………………………73

My Friend Bob……………………………………………………………………………………77

My Military Career………………………………………………………………………………81

Early Apartmenthood………………………………………………………………………….91

Part 2: COLLEGE YEARS………………………………………………………..95

Songwriter/Singer/Guitarist Years………………………………………………………..96

Politically-Incorrect Songwriter…………………………………………………………….99

The Big Concert……………………………………………………………………………….104

On Welfare……………………………………………………………………………………..109

Biker Rick……………………………………………………………………………………….113

Rick The Sports Fan………………………………………………………………………….128

My Friend Stan………………………………………………………………………………..131

Target Practice…………………………………………………………………………………136

The Perfect Poem…………………………………………………………………………….139

The Champ?……………………………………………………………………………………142

Comebacks To Stupid Questions………………………………………………………….145

Oktoberfest………………………………………………………………………..…………..148

My Friend Don………………………………………………………………………………..152

“Gimme A Head with Hair!”……………………………………………………………….157

I Shoulda Wore Green………………………………………………………………………165

“ISN’T Life Fun?”………………………………………………………………………………169

Roommate Wanted?…………………………………………………………………………174

Joe College Meets The Prime Minister…………………………………………………..178

Rick of the Boston Police……………………………………………………………………183

My Neighbor Teddy…………………………………………………………………………..186

“Shithouse Lit.”………………………………………………………………………………..188

“God Should Have Worked On Sunday”………………………………………………..191

Mr. Audio/Visual Guy………………………………………………………………………..193

The Day Of Rapture………………………………………………………………………….198

Judy………………………………………………………………………………………………200

City Kids…………………………………………………………………………………………203

Happy Holidays!………………………………………………………………………………206

Part 3: ADULTHOOD………………………………………………………….213

The Human Resource……………………………………………………………………….214

Hospitals…………………………………………………………………………………………..225

Recovery Paranoia…………………………………………………………………………….228

Becoming A Dad……………………………………………………………………………….230

Alone……………………………………………………………………………………………..235

The Not-So-Typical Businessman…………………………………………………………238

The Bulletin Board……………………………………………………………………………242

My New Shoes…………………………………………………………………………………246

God, Heaven And The Hole………………………………………………………………..249

Hard-Earned Cash…………………………………………………………………………..251

Our Government Discovers Technology………………………………………………..254

Excuse Moi?……………………………………………………………………………………..257

Big Nipples……………………………………………………………………………………….261

How’s Work? …NUTS!…………………………………………………………………………263

Move To Maine…………………………………………………………………………………278

Tintamarre……………………………………………………………………………………….280

Timeshare Alert……………………………………………………………………………….281

“Freestyle Community Drum Circles”………………………………………………….285

BZJ Ballroom Dancers………………………………………………………………………286

Grandfather Fire…………………………………………………………………………….287

Of All The Stars………………………………………………………………………………289

Psychic Hotline………………………………………………………………………………..291

The Way I See It: Epilogue………………………………………………………………..294

SAMPLE CHAPTER: “Rick the Girl/Boy Scout”

 

When I was 11, one of my mother’s goofy friends decided that scouting would be good for me. It just so happened that her 18-year-old, 410-pound daughter was a counselor at a Girl Scout camp. Wouldn’t it be a swell idea for Rick to go to the Girl Scout camp with Doris just to see if he likes scouting?! My mother found no fault in this logic.

 

There is an age when a boy can just say, “No! What a ridiculous idea!” I had yet to reach that age. I was of that dreaded age when my opinion, even of things concerning me, had no value. The idea of my going to a Girl Scout camp with big, creepy Doris for an entire day just took root and none of my objections were even briefly considered.

 

It was my last gasp of innocence. Though I struggled to be cool, girls were months away from stirring my loins. The idea of visiting a girl scout camp was horrifying.

 

Nonetheless, Doris pulled her tiny car in front of our house one Saturday morning and off we went. Doris was so huge that her driver’s seat had been permanently crunched and twisted against her rear seat. The ride took forever. She talked about womanly topics like Girl Scouts and cookie sales the whole time. The Girl Scout camp was in the woods. When we arrived, I was introduced to the other camp counselors and then publicly to the huge assemblage of girls.

 

Someone decided to have a baseball game. Everyone wanted the boy on their team. They argued over me! Later, we played Hide and Seek. I actually climbed a tree and hid just to get a break from those girls! I felt like a fox trying to avoid the deadly grasp of the English hunting party. I held my breath while 60 or 70 Girl Scouts passed. I held that branch for dear life.

 

When no more girls were in sight, it began to rain hard. I climbed down from the tree and headed for the tents. There were four large tents in the camp. Room enough to accommodate everyone. But all the girls insisted on being in the tent that I was in! We could hardly move! The counselors all shouted for the girls to split up into the other three tents but, as far as I could tell, not many of them budged. One of the girls handed me a ‘samoa’ she had cooked up. Suddenly dozens of girls were making Samoas for me! Some girls split bananas down the middle and loaded them up with milk chocolate and cooked them until the chocolate melted. Those tasted incredible! We were packed like sardines in the overcrowded tent but I was sure being fed well!

 

By the time my hormones kicked in and I began to see girls differently, they would never fight over me again. They would never chase me by the dozens. They would never again line up to feed me like a sultan.

 

Life is funny when you get the joke.

 

Boy Scouts at Last!

  

Several years later, my friend, Michael, who was in Boy Scouts, talked me into joining Troop 61. We met in the basement of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church. Mr. Lewis was our scoutmaster. I’m sure there are lots of reasons to become a scoutmaster and many rewards for those who do but I suspect that Mr. Lewis only became a scoutmaster to get time away from Mrs. Lewis.

 

Unlike most scoutmasters, Mr. Lewis didn’t have a kid in scouts. Nor did he have the slightest interest in any of the kids who were in scouts. He would sit behind a desk reading magazines and chain-smoking cigarettes the entire time we were there. A handsome devil, Mr. Lewis had ruddy skin and possibly three teeth left in his mouth… just enough to prevent him from gumming his cigarettes.

 

From time to time, a scout would approach Mr. Lewis excited about the prospect of earning a merit badge. I was one of them:

 

RICK: “Mr. Lewis! I’ve decided to get a merit badge in Veterinary Medicine!”

MR. LEWIS: “Did you read all the requirements for that badge?”

RICK: “Yep!”

MR. LEWIS: “You don’t want that badge. Too much is involved.”

 

That was the reply we all got. If there was a merit badge in identifying primary colors Mr. Lewis would have said it was too hard. I think that there must have been paperwork involved which would have required him to part with his cigarette and hold a pen in his hand. Mr. Lewis was content with us spending the evening playing cards or horsing around or telling dirty jokes to one another.

 

“Parent’s Night” was a big deal. Mr. Lewis was forced to wear a sports coat and do a scoutmaster impression for the parents. He told us to come up with skits to entertain the parents but didn’t ask to see what we came up with. He had no interest whatsoever.

 

I got my friend, Michael, and one other kid to learn to sing the following song… in rounds… to the tune of ‘Frere Jacques’:

 

Bad, bad matches

Bad, bad matches

I touched you

I touched you

You made quite a fire

There goes brother Meyer

Toodle-loo

Toodle-loo

 

We actually sang that to a crowd of parents. Some giggled while others were stunned. Mr. Lewis sat through it wearing his best pretend interested/proud face, no doubt suffering through having to wear a tie and refrain from smoking. I’ll bet he didn’t hear a single word we sang.

 

In all fairness, we actually went on a camping trip once. We journeyed across the town border to Dartmouth, MA where Mr. Lewis instructed a few of the older kids to set up his tent for him while he sat on a stump and smoked cigarettes… Yes, in the middle of the woods. The older kids actually set up all the tents. I don’t think Mr. Lewis even knew how.

 

One kid found a piece of vegetation he thought looked interesting. He brought it over and asked excitedly, “Mr. Lewis! What is this?!” Mr. Lewis peered down at the plant as if it was a turd being held under his nose and answered, “How in the hell would I know?”

 

That was Mr. Lewis. Scoutmaster extraordinaire.

 

My last memory of scouting involved “Magazine World” bookstore. It was the best bookstore in New Bedford’s north end. I bought my very first psychology book (and my first Playboy magazine) from Magazine World.

 

Magazine World had an adult section against one wall. It was clearly marked “OVER 21 ONLY” and steadfastly monitored by the guy behind the counter. Kids weren’t allowed anywhere near the hardcore aisle.

 

Some people in the neighborhood decided that Magazine World was a bad influence on the community, despite their success in keeping kids out of that one aisle. They decided to form a picket line outside the entrance to the store.

 

They did this on the same day that many of us in scouts had been assigned a book report for school. Some kids got their books from the library and some went to Magazine World. I was one of the latter. After scouts, several of us had decided to stop at Magazine World on our way home.

 

Imagine the look on the picketers’ faces when a group of innocent-looking boy scouts in our clean and pressed uniforms crossed their picket lines to enter the store! The picketers shouted all kinds of weird things at us as though we were marching into the very gates of hell. If I were ten years older I would have grinned and said, “We’re getting the merit badge in Pornography!”

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