G-d never gives us more than we can handle
Said the girl to another girl
Choking on the fumes
In the shower at Auschwitz
G-d never gives us more than we can handle
How do we know if
The dead crunchy leaves
Are survivors of past winter
Or dried aborted droppings
Who couldn’t hang on
Throughout the cold spring
And jumped off the branch
Two weeks before all the sun
Here’s one of my biggest. When I was 19, I was sitting outside in rural Connecticut, overlooking a lake. Me and this girl were sitting on loungers. It was right before dusk. We had both stopped talking, so when she looked right at me and said, “Maurice, a penny for your thoughts.” I knew in my mind that I should say something sweet, but what came out of my mouth was, “A penny? Couldn’t you even up it to a dime?” I destroyed everything with those four or five words. I knew it, but I couldn’t recover; I was too disgusted with myself. John, whose house we were staying at, came back soon after that and I proceeded to drink myself into a stupor. The next morning, I woke up really late. I went to the window, and on the same two loungers, I saw John kissing the girl and rubbing her crotch.
This was in 1976. I still think about it at least once a week. In fact, I spent 20 years trying to find her, looking in multiple white pages. Of course, I had numerous other ones concerning money and investing. With all of them, each regret comes with a sudden feeling of self-disgust. It’s almost like I feel the beginnings of a vomit taste in my throat. Come to think of it, I’ve been having regrets most of my life. And of course, now being 58, I’ve managed to collect a walk-in closet of regrets. At times they feel like they’re going to suffocate me.
But fuck that. I’ve got a new handle on regrets. Regrets are stupid, they make no sense, and they’re completely useless. Take the example of the girl. Of course now at the age of 58, I know exactly what I should have done. But that has completely nothing to do with the kind of person I was when I was 19. When I was 19, I was a scared, inexperienced, crippled kid, who had just the year before come from an ultra-orthodox yeshiva. I had absolutely no experience with girls and there I was, in goy country on Shabbos, with this shiksa in cut-offs. Of course I was overwhelmed. I couldn’t imagine that she could want me. I couldn’t imagine what to say or what to do. I was who I was. And that’s why I said what I said. Of course I wanted it to turn out differently. Even today, I still feel the desire to go back and tell Wynn that she’s so sweet and I’m so glad that we’re in this beautiful place together. But that’s not who I was at the time; I was at least 10-15 years away from being that kind of person who could have said something like that.
So it is with all my regrets. Like all my regrets about selling stocks early, spending too much money on stupid things, or wishing I was more sensible. But that’s the present me talking about the past me, and the past me was afraid that the Apple stock was going to go down to 5. That’s why I sold it at 18. The past me wanted that hand job with my favorite prostitute at $250 a pop. It’s so pointless to think about what the present me would have done as the past me. Even if present me could be magically transported into the past me, knowing both me’s, I would probably do the same fucking mistakes.
So fuck regrets. The only thing that’s useful about them is in helping us think about what we’re going to do in the future. After that, they’re useless. What do they say in AA? Take what you can use and throw away the rest. Like you do with peanuts; you crack open the shell, pop the nut into your mouth, and throw away the shells. Don’t let yourself be buried in the shells. In fact, don’t even let the shells accumulate. Eat your peanuts near the fireplace and toss every shell immediately into the fire.
My left arm is being
Pulled down by the dead
Into my grave
My right arm is being pulled up
By the living on a carousel
Every day of my crippled life, it takes an average of 18.4 people to get me through my day. This is because I can’t feed myself, I can’t dress myself, I can’t wash my own balls, or brush my teeth, or wack off. I can’t even get out of bed by myself. So that’s why I need a full-time caretaker, kind waitresses, patient bus drivers, tzadikim in my shul, and my lovely assistant, Ariel, who’s typing this as I speak.
So I thought I wanted to go through my day, and write a list of every time that I need help from another person. As a kind of tribute to these people, and also to show how completely dependent I am. Because most people are too damn polite to ask me such detailed questions, but I think they’re dying to know and I’m going to oblige them.
Okay, here it is.
6:30 Kumara, my helper, comes into my room, takes down my pants, pops the catheter off, lifts me off the bed, and tosses me onto my wheelchair (he’s a strong motherfucker).
6:45 Kumara turns on channel 22 on the TV, brings me my sweet rolls smeared with cream cheese and olives, and my coffee. He feeds me the roll, then he gives me my three pills. Then I blow out my overnight boogers, as he screams “Blow Morris, blow!” I can suck the coffee through a straw myself. Yay me!
7:00 Kumara transfers me onto my special shower seat and wheels me into the bathroom. Then he transfers me again onto the toilet seat. He pushes down the bidet handle. The bidet is another one of my helpers, so Kumara doesn’t have to wipe my ass.
7:40 (Yeah, it’s a long time for kaki.) Kumara comes back, brushes my teeth. He always has to tell me “eeeeh, aaaaah.” Then he shaves me and gives me a shower, including a thorough sponging of my penis.
8:00 Kumara gets me dressed, puts on my deodorant, and cleans both ears (he always almost punctures my ear drums).
8:15 I arrive at my wonderful, Chabad shul. Two guys, Udi and David, fight over who’s going to get the privilege of putting tefilin on me. Other guys clear away a space for my wheelchair, and another guy brings me a siddur and opens it up to the right place. Sometimes they even come over and turn the pages for me.
9:00 At my favorite, local cafe, they give me a latte and a lap dance. I’ve got my own table. I’ve even got my own cafe Morris. It’s a double espresso and cold milk, two sugars, and a straw in a high ball glass. They bring it to me automatically. In winter time, the waitress unzips my coat, takes off my hat, pulls out my legs from my feet rests, and takes out my laptop from my case. They even talk to me and act like they’re interested. They laugh at my jokes. I tell them they’re beautiful. They range in age from 19-24. They kindly accept my harassment.
12:00 I come home, bursting with pee. Kumara rips off my coat, brings out the trusty bowl, puts it on the stool in my bedroom, stands me up, and yanks down my pants (luckily, I can still adjust my penis so I don’t pee on myself). Then he feeds me pasta which he cooks, and puts on Bloomberg TV, enabling my stock market addiction.
12:30 Nap time for baby Morris. FYI, all older cripples get tired.
14:30 I ring the door bell that’s connected to Kumara’s room. The ring is set to “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.” He comes in pissed off because he was napping too. I exercise with a big, green, rubber ball. Kumara picks up my legs and thrusts the ball under my ass. Then he tosses me on my wheelchair. I have to pee again.
15:00 I don’t need anyone. My eyeballs are stuck to my screen, watching the New York Stock Exchange. I lose money, and no one has to lift a finger for me.
17:00 Kumara schleps my huge stander that looks like a half guillotine, half baby table. Then, he opens up the guillotine and brings me my monster walker. I stand in my stander for 20 minutes in front of my large screen TV, watching you-know-what.
17:30 I go from my walker, and plop back down in my wheelchair (I like not bothering Kumara). I’m glued to the ticker on my computer screen again for hours. If I buy or sell, I got one good finger that’s strong and stable enough to hit the keys. I lose $4,220 ALL BY MYSELF. What an independent cripple I am.
20:10 I awaken myself from my snooze. I fell asleep watching the prices on my stock changing from minute to minute. I call out, “Kumara, I’m hungry.” He says back, “You have to pee?”
20:30 I come into the living room, where I eat. Kumara turns on channel 13. We go through all the movie channels. I tell him, “No, no.” Until I find something I like. He feeds me. It’s usually prepared salads and some kind of grilled chicken breast. I usually get the coleslaw all over my face and beard. So my face has to be wiped constantly. I also cough a lot when I eat because of my CP. For dessert, I have an orange that Kumara peels and slices, and feeds me one slice at a time. Then I have to beg for my two nocturnal chocolate-covered jelly rings to eat with my medication. Kumara likes to inform me at this time that I’m getting fat.
23:00 Kumara comes into my room, pee pee bag in hand, screaming, “Yallah, it’s bed time.” I check how the market closed, and put on BBC news as my lullaby. Kumara helps me stand up out of my wheelchair, turns me around, and I flop onto my bed. Then he takes my two legs and throws them towards the walls, so my body won’t be close to the edge. Then he rips down my pants, takes my penis and flicks it a few times, so it gets a little big bigger and he can slip on the condom-like catheter. Then he smears my balls with anti-fungal cream (don’t tell Kumara, but I really enjoy this part). I get turned on my side. Kumara plugs the wheelchair in to charge. The last thing he does for me is adjust the pillow exactly where I like it. Kumara used to kiss me goodnight, but now we have an understanding that no one is going to say anything, except sometimes a “fuck you sweetheart” slips out.
I know I said I would tell you about how people help me in the shuk and on buses, but because my assistant Ariel is helping me, and paying her by the hour, and I’m a lazy motherfucker, and also this post is already too long, and it’s getting closer to my nap time, and you don’t give a shit anyway, I’m going to end now.
Don’t you ever get tired
Of being time
Of being present
For every God-damn second, minute
Of moving, sweeping, blinking, pulling
Don’t you ever get tired
Of people waiting
Don’t you want to stop
See their own
It’s hard twisting
A head backwards
I use a mirror
I don’t know if it’s age. I don’t know if it’s my antidepressants or my blood pressure medication. I don’t know if it’s atrophy from lack of use. But it’s happening. My penis looks like a little growth coming out of my balls. I don’t think I’m imagining it. My caretaker tells me that it’s getting more and more difficult to find a piece of penis to put on the catheter (which is like a condom with a tube and bag attached to it). In fact, he has to flick it a little bit, just to get it a little bit bigger. Also, when I have to pee after I go kaki, I used to be able to press my penis down and pee into the toilet, but now the pee goes all over the place. Even when I’m standing up, the same thing happens.
Here’s a little Morris penis history. From my teens to my 30’s, my penis was a force to be reckoned with; I always had a nice sized hard-on. In fact, I was always proud of it. Lots of prostitutes would say, “Oh Morris, it’s hard like a rock!” For a guy with CP, who didn’t feel like much of a man, this was a huge source of male pride. Then, in the year 2000, tragedy struck. I lost a ton of money in the stock market. I sold my apartment in Manhattan and was stuck in the middle of Yonkers, and I went into a tail spin. It got so bad that I looked up the schedule for express trains that would go past my stop, in order to jump. But I didn’t do it. Luckily, I made a friend in Yonkers that saved my ass. He schlepped me to his Russian psychiatrist. After 10 minutes, she said, “I know what anti-depressant you need.” Two weeks later, I was a new, happy man. But with much less of a penis. It reduced my libido by 50%. I had no more instantaneous hard-ons. It would take me at least 20 minutes to a half an hour to cum. But I could still do it. And with the help of Viagra, I was able to have sex with my girlfriend at the time.
Then adding insult to penis injury, a few years ago, I started taking high blood pressure pills. This was almost a death sentence to my poor, little thingy. Now after this, I noticed that not only has my libido gone done another 20%, but it actually got smaller. It took ages to masturbate. I could no longer use my hands, I had to use my wife, Mrs. Panasonic Back Massager. When my ex-girlfriend came to visit me from Singapore a year and a half ago, I could barely get an erection. She worked on it with great diligence for 45 minutes without any results. (She was too proud to let me use Viagra.)
But this penis story has a happy ending. A real happy ending called Meodi Rabinowitz; my gorgeous, genius thirteen month old daughter. If I believed in G-d, I would call her a miracle. But instead, I thank three helping hands, a very hot lesbian team on YouPorn, and a sterile urine cup. So Mr. Penis came through for me after all. Despite his diminished stature, he did his job. He did what he was created for. If he were any bigger, and I was more flexible, I would bend over and kiss him.
But I still don’t want to let go of my penis. I google for new antidepressants with less side-effects. I’m nostalgic for my penis of yesteryear. That beautifully hard hard-on pressing against my Levis. I still yearn for that. As we say in the Musaf prayers, “Chadesh yameinu kidem.” “Renew our days as of old.”
Can’t have it
See the kid drowning in the middle of the lake. See doggy furiously swimming out to save kiddie. See doggy bravely schlepping kiddie back to shore. Everyone thinks doggy is so fantastic. The video gets millions of views. But this is nothing, we humans are even better than doggy. We have entire organized professions to help people in emergencies. We have hospitals and universities. We are such good mammals that we even help poor fucking cripples who can’t feed themselves. Would doggy give 2% of his income every month just to keep some crippled Jew alive, able to pay for his caretaker, and maybe even have some schnitzel on Shabbat? Aren’t we something else? Aren’t we great?
But most people don’t think like this. We think exactly the opposite. We have such incredibly high standards for ourselves. We criticize ourselves. We’re always saying, “Look how awful we humans are; look how we don’t take care of the poor, how we kill each other. Look how many starving people there are who don’t get any help.” All this trash talking about ourselves leaves us to feel that we are very very bad people, and G-d should strike us down with the most miserable form of testicular cancer (even the women). But this kind of thinking only comes about because we believe as humans, we should all act like Mother Theresa.
So I’m here to scream real loud and say to us adorable, little human munchkins. WE ARE ONLY POOR, PATHETIC MAMMALS! Don’t expect so much from your little, chimp brain. Don’t expect yourself to be some Nobel Peace Prize winner. Don’t expect to be another Angelina Jolie, adopting 7 1/2 disease-ridden orphans.
If we do awful things; if we rape, kill, flush our newborns down the toilet; we shouldn’t be surprised. We should be biting and stealing the other guy’s banana every second. But look around you! We don’t eat our young. We pay $200,000 to give them a college education. In 116 countries, leaders relinquish their powers voluntarily, without an ounce of bloodshed. We stand in line for the cash machine, and so far, I’ve never seen anyone take a club and beat the shit out of the guy who took out $500.
We humans are great animals.
My dead father visits me
As a disgusting water bug
He knows that I still hate him
But he comes anyway
Just to look at his boychik sleep,
When I wake up
I try squashing him
He just stands there
His antennas don’t even flinch
He loves me that much
Oh, my poor disgusting water bug father.
I’m in awe when I go to the emergency room and I see signs that say “Emergency Room was donated by Mr and Mrs Albert Schusterman from Woodmere, New York.” My mind reels. What did this Albert guy do to have the bucks to build an entire fucking emergency room? Was he in the schmatta business? Did he make jeans in Hong Kong in the 70’s right during the Jordache/Sasoon jean craze? Maybe he sold out to Ralph Lauren? Then, he hung on to his money. He saved it. He invested it. He made it grow. Before he donated the emergency room wing, I’m sure good ol’ Albert bought his mother and father a condo in Boca, and set up nice trust funds for his three kids. Without a doubt, he helped his local shul, and his kids’ yeshivas too.
I know you’re wondering, why should I be in awe of this guy? He just happened to be in the right place at the right time, and he had the smarts to take advantage of it. Also, Albert and pigs like him got their money by fucking everyone; by using cheap labor; by not paying taxes; by making crappy jeans with a zipper that would break after two days. But, I’ll tell you why I’m still in awe of him. Maybe it’s because I compare myself to Albert. And compared to him, I was extremely stupid.
32 years ago, I was handed $800,000. And I had incredible opportunities to grow my money; to make a business; to invest in the stock market; to buy property. But I didn’t. It’s not like I didn’t try. I spent most of the last 30 years checking on the stock market five or six times an hour. The talking heads on CNBC became my best buddies. But I lost and I lost and I lost. I lost all the $800,000. I sold two apartments in New York, and I lost that money too. Thank G-d my parents left me money and I get social security, so I’m not homeless. But I don’t own a house. I can’t help my ten nieces and nephews. Not only can I not donate an emergency room, I barely have enough to buy smoked salmon and give a kiddush in shul. G-d knows how much I’m going to leave to my one year old baby, when she needs it to go to college.
So all my losing only adds to my awe. This awe accompanies me when I go to a museum, or when I go to any school or library. I’m riveted by all the donor plaques. I have to stop and look at them. All these rich people that had the smarts and the foresight and the self-discipline to conserve their money; to make it grow. They could have easily pissed it away on bimbos, drugs, or stupid investments. But they didn’t do that; they weren’t like me. Because they were doing everything right, they have the generosity to give it away. To me, this is great.
And think about it. There are tens of thousands of Alberts all over the world building hospitals, museums, schools, supporting painters, musicians, writers, and thinkers. Look at Bill Gates, he’s single-handedly wiped out Polio. Andrew Carnegie built Carnegie Hall. The Ford Foundation started the Human Rights Watch. But I’m not only in awe of rich people. My awe also extends to the regular shnooks; working class people who stay in their jobs no matter what, pay down their mortgage, provide good education for their kids, and contribute to the larger community. These people don’t get plaques, but in my mind, they’re still great.
And my tongue
And you will
I cannot say
I should’ve killed my mother. I hate myself for not doing it. My poor mom was suffering so much. She had bad Parkinson’s and later, she had a stroke on top of that. She was in a nursing home for four years. She couldn’t talk. She couldn’t eat. She had a huge, festering bed sore. She choked on her own saliva. Her hands had to be tied down to the bed, so that she wouldn’t take out her feeding tube.
And I didn’t do anything. In fact, my sister and I made it worse. We prolonged her misery: we not only had her regular daytime caretaker, we hired an extra aid to be with her at night in case anything happened. So my mother was definitely the most well-cared-for patient on her floor, which very ironically, prolonged her life. I know this to be true because during those four years, my mother probably had twelve roommates. The ones without any private care usually died within a couple months. If the oxygen fell out of someone’s nose, it could be hours before anyone noticed. So people died. Unfortunately, my mother didn’t have the same luck. There was always her dependable caretaker, Maria, to call the doctors when she wasn’t breathing.
But I didn’t kill her. I thought about it a lot. I thought about ripping out her feeding tube when Maria took lunch, or putting a pillow over her face. But then I would tell myself, “Wait, what about my CP? I can’t do it quickly enough. I’ll get caught in the middle.” I had other excuses. I told myself, “My sister will kill me. She won’t ever talk to me again.” I didn’t want to lose her too. I didn’t want to go to jail for 5-10 years either.
It’s not like I had any legal recourse. I tried getting a DNR, but because my sister is very religious, she would not agree to it. This was a big part of the problem, but my sister, being religious and very attached to my mom, wanted my mother to live no matter what. I, however, am not religious and saw my mother was suffering too much. We were always fighting about this. Whenever my mother would get sick and needed to go to the hospital, like when she got complications from her feeding tube, my sister always told the doctors to do everything they could. She told them to do the operations and give her antibiotics. I couldn’t say anything.
It’s not like we knew what my mom wanted. She would indicate different things to me and my sister because she knew we each wanted a different answer. So when I would ask her, “Mom, have you had enough?” She would nod yes. “Do you want to die?” She would nod yes. But when my sister would ask, “Mom, do you want to live?” She would nod yes. Before she got really sick, all three of us were sitting around the table, and I asked her, “Mom, what do you want us to do if you get like Grandma?” (She died slowly from the complications of Parkinson’s.) She didn’t want to answer, but finally, I pressed her. She said, “I don’t want them to patchka around with me.” Which in my mind meant, “I don’t want them to do all kinds of things to keep me alive.” In my mind and in my heart, I knew that my mom had had enough.
So now when I think about it, instead of feeling powerless, I created this revisionist fantasy. I would be in my mother’s room. She would have her eyes closed, not responding to anything I would say. She would just be there, moaning in general discomfort. Then, I would decide to do it. I would stand up in my wheelchair. (I was in much better shape then.) I would reach over the handrail, yank out my mom’s feeding tube, then take one of the pillows, propping her up on her side, and smother my mother. My mom’s screams would be weak and muffled. It would take three minutes. I would get supernatural powers to press down on the pillow. It would feel good when my mom stopped pulling on my hand. She would become quiet.
But the fantasy does not end there; it gets better. Maria would come back in to the room, see what happened, and start screaming at me. “Buddy, Buddy, you killed Ima!” Then the staff would come running in. I would be yelling, “I did it, I did it, I did it!” They wouldn’t believe it; a crippled guy could never do something like that. Everyone would tell me to shut up about it, but I would announce it to the world. I would insist on being put on trial; attracting worldwide media attention. Angelina Jolie would champion me. A whole new movement would be born. Every day, you would hear about another child smothering their very sick parent. Me and Angelina would kiss every time we heard such wonderful news.
But I didn’t really do it; I’m a coward. As my dear father would say, I went along with the tide of the cesspool. I did what every other Joe would do: nothing. I did not get Angelina Jolie. My mother suffered every day for four years.
I should’ve killed my mother.
I’m thinking about writing a poem
But not a word comes to me
I’ll eat a hamburger
And the ketchup will
Splat on my pants
An indelible blotch
Now that’s a poem
I hate people
But I’m lonely
So I go to my café
The waitress speaks to me
Then walks away
I hate people
But I’m lonely
Can we have a ten minute love affair?
It could start with a one minute conversation
On the relative humidity
And its correlation to foreign movie attendance
In the next three minutes
You could get to know my cholesterol count
I can listen to what your daddy did with schmattes in the sixties
The next two minutes to look soulfully into you dark green eyes
A minute for two good semi-dry kisses
That leaves three minutes
Enough time for you
To call me a selfish, verbose bastard
And for me to cry
Then buy a large buttered popcorn
This guy on CNBC was talking about how great Amazon is; how their stock went up by 120% in 2015; how they’re conquering online shopping; how they’re beginning to dominate the cloud; how they’re beginning to dominate the air with delivery drones; what kind of genius Jeff Bezos is. At this point, an alarm went off in my head. If this is such a perfect company and they’re doing everything right, and everyone loves them, this is the perfect time to sell it.
This is the exact feeling I had last night at my daughter’s first birthday party. I came into the room, and she was just standing there with her gorgeous smile and her mother’s adorable crocheted dress on. Her mommies came over to give me a kiss and the same little alarm went off in my head. I have to sell; I have to sell this moment; I have to cash it in. How can it get any better than this?
Of course, I didn’t have to think like that. I could’ve thought, “Wow, how many more wonderful moments I’m going to have with this beautiful child and her mommies! How many more birthday parties; how many more kisses!” And how about all the pleasures of watching her grow up? But unfortunately, I don’t think like that. I guess it’s because of almost being suffocated as I was coming into the world. As a result, I’m always waiting for the next impending disaster; the next crash; the next depression; the next war; the next Holocaust.
Maybe that’s part of the reason why I started balling and could not stop.
P.S. Amazon (ticker AMZN) closed yesterday at 643.20. Down 8% from when I watched that CNBC program.
At 58, there’s no sense in denying it anymore. I’m a loser. Here are the facts:
- I’ve lost one million dollars. Six to seven hundred thousand in the stock market, and another three hundred thousand I pissed away on whores, cappuccinos, and $16 Calvin Klein underpants.
- I’ve only had one real girlfriend. I’ve ruined three or four relationships through my vile, cynical, angry behavior.
- Professionally, I was a failure as a copy writer. I worked in the business for 10 years and had a total of three radio ads, four print ads, and zero TV ads.
- As a poet, after 30 years of writing, I have one book that I self-published, and 20 published poems. I’ve received no awards, and won no competitions. Not even one single blow job.
I think about these failures all day. I think about how it could have been different. I think about what I could have done, what I could have not done. How I could have been nicer, smarter, less impulsive. I think about actual moments of mistakes. I have some favorite failures. Such as, not giving my money to a money manager, on account of my arrogance (which continues to this very day.) Women asking me how I felt about them, and me replying with some stupid joke. Always trying so hard to be accepted by non-cripples, even when I saw how impossible it was.
Up until recently, I tried to negate them. I made excuses for them. I’d say to myself, “Buddy, you have very bad CP. Buddy, you had a motherfucker as a father. Buddy, you were an alcoholic drug addict. Buddy, you’re a compulsive gambler. Buddy, you suffered from depression all your life. Buddy, you’ve had no woman who loved you.”
But now, I’m feeling like it’s okay to be a fuck up. It’s okay to lose a million dollars. It’s okay to be an asshole and cause people who you love to not want you anymore. It’s okay not to be a success in advertising. It’s okay not to be a famous poet.
I know what some of you are thinking. “Morris, look at what you’ve done! You’ve overcome your handicap. You’ve been functioning in the real world all of your life. You held your own in universities, in business, in the whore houses, in bars, on the streets of New York, in subways and buses. You write good poems. You wrote some great ads. You were a good son, a good uncle, and you had the great fortune to be picked by two wonderful women to make a baby. And boy, what a baby! You’re also very fucking funny. You’re not a failure Morris.”
Yes, I know all that is true. I also know that the whole notion of being a failure is so middle-class; it has to do with my upbringing, and the time in which I live. I also know that the notion of calling yourself something, whether it be “loser,” “success,” “gay,” or “angry,” are all labels that we stick on ourselves and other people. And they may or may to have anything to do with reality. But despite all of that, in my mind, according to my own criteria, which may or may not be fucked up or narrow-minded or really judgmental, I am a failure. I don’t want to negate it anymore. Negating takes so much freaking effort. It feels so much better to say it. Once I’ve said it, and announced it, it’s okay. It’s like, “Yeah, so join the club.”
I think about my father. I know he also thought of himself as a failure. In his mind, he should’ve been a big rabbi of some big community. Or maybe, he should’ve come to Israel in ’48 and started helping to combine halacha and the law (he went to law school). He shouldn’t have been an alcoholic. He shouldn’t have lost his business. He should’ve been like his famous father; a well-known Yiddish journalist. But I don’t think the problem was the failures themselves, but his reaction. He drank because of them. He was jealous because of them. He had an awful temper because of them. He abused his family because of them. Until he died, there was never a moment of admitting or accepting his failures.
I don’t want to die like he died (although he definitely mellowed in his later years). I don’t want to be angry and jealous when I see someone my age and he looks like he has a fat bank account, a house, a job. I don’t want to expect that everyone show me respect just because I don’t respect myself. It’s okay to be a fuck up, whatever the fuck that means.
I’m always apologizing for my offensive language, for my filthy mouth, for my sex talk, for my inappropriate jokes. People are always telling me that I should think about what I’m saying; that I should be more considerate of other people’s sensitivities; that I would have a lot more friends if I cleaned up my language. Just yesterday, this holy roller in shul told me that he loves me, even though he doesn’t know me. I told him, “Oh you love me? Well I hate you.” I thought it was hysterical. My friend looked at me in absolute horror.
But let’s really examine this. Who was really offensive? Yes, I admit it, I hurt this well-meaning guy. He probably meant to make me feel good. But, how about him? Wasn’t he mindless? Did he think about his words? Does he really, in fact, love me? Did he think about how I would feel about such a statement? No, I don’t think so. He was being maybe even a little condescending. Also, maybe more than that, he was boring. It’s boring to say I love you to a handicapped guy. Everyone likes handicapped people, or respects them, or admires them.
Every day, I’m confronted by bland people making bland statements to me. Such as, “How are you? How’s your family? Are you going to the shuk? You must like the coffee in this cafe. Wow, how do you manage with your wheelchair in the rain? Where’s your caretaker? How was your shabbos?” These are all perfectly legitimate questions, but they drive me up a fucking tree. I want to kill the motherfuckers who say them. But instead, I tell them, “How am I? I’m very handicapped, thank you. Oh my family? They all died yesterday. The shuk? I’m going to the methodone clinic. The coffee? No, I like the waitresses with their beautiful boobs. The rain? I wear a condom. My caretaker? He’s back home, fucking a girl on my bed. My shabbos? I had a bacon cheese burger after shul.”
So okay, let’s make a deal. You bland people just try to be a little bit less bland, and I’ll meet you in the middle and be less offensive (you boring motherfuckers).