Grand Champion Hell Raisin Sumbitch

By Seamus Muldoon, Himself
Copyright © 1997-2017
All Rights Reserved

Throughout my entire life there has been a wonderful disconnect. I enjoyed the luxury to have been the adopted child of a totally dysfunctional couple who never had a spontaneously happy moment together throughout the time I lived with them. Everything between them was completely transactional, and everything between them and others seemed also to be completely transactional. Now, as a child, I had no idea what transactional relationships were. Yet I sensed that something was lacking, and that the lack was – or certainly should be – abnormal. As a consequence, there never was any bonding between them and me. I didn’t like them, and, truth to tell, neither they nor their extended family ever liked me.

Before you start to think that this is sad – and in a way it could have been sad – consider that it left me with the opportunity to sort out my life according to how well or badly, soon or late, I came to perceive a route to a reasonably happy and well-adjusted modus vivendi.

Among the many blessings for which I am eternally grateful, perhaps the most critical has been resilience. There is no level of stress that could ever overcome me. And because I have always been a consummate fuck up, that resilience has been an absolute lifesaver. I have dealt with fear and insecurity almost from birth, and it has made me stronger. It might have destroyed someone not so fortunate, but God has provided me with abundant strengths. Because of those fortuitous endowments, despite having taken much longer than necessary or proper to achieve equilibrium, I have survived all my mistakes and, while moving along the road to the present, have managed to raise more hell and have more psychic revenue than anyone I have ever met. Indeed, several who sought to travel a short distance along that road with me self destructed in the process, and are simply no longer here among us. This is something of the story of just how much hell I have raised, and how much I enjoyed raising it. If I had it to do all over again, while I might wish for earlier maturity, I would not change one damn thing.

I must first give credit where it is due. I had the great good fortune to come under the influence of some very fine people – all outsiders – who for various positive reasons took an interest in me and provided constructive guidance. Had I been entirely self-raising, I am certain I could never have sorted it out for myself. These included parents of friends; teachers; and, ultimately adversaries and judges in the many cases I have tried over the years. While some folks tried to take unfair advantage of my ignorance from time to time, and some quite successfully, I might add, I even learned from them. Indeed, I learned from my dysfunctional parents. What I learned from the bad folks is that it is important when you see something bad to try very hard not to become like that. It is very important for children to learn that the lessons are not all taught by positive example. Much of the awful things that young people witness should be instructional. Bad examples teach as much as the good.

Never having bonded with anyone while I was young has made it impossible for anyone to really hurt me emotionally. The child who never knows a parent and who senses his abandonment tends to defend against that loss ever having another chance to occur in his life. He never lets anyone get really close to the point of their loss becoming a traumatic event. On the positive side, this nurtures immense self-reliance. You are on your own is a very positive circumstance in many respects. I recall with sardonic humor that many of my friends thought I was lucky that my parents were comfortable, as theirs were usually hard working and often experienced material privation at some level. Yet, for the most part, they had family closeness that I could never appreciate or understand. They had more bonding than money. You can be dysfunctional and poor, and that’s probably awful. Being dysfunctional and comfortable is better? Probably yes. Being dysfunctional is simply bad per se. I often thought that I was adopted so that my father could provide something for my mother to do other than nag him. He should have bought her a dog.

The unfortunate consequences of this situation were mainly that I was not a very easy child to deal with. To the extent that I was disciplined, it was a discipline born of being interested in something that required concentration, focus and hard work to learn. To those who helped by encouraging me in those early projects I felt/feel the greatest bonding of which I am capable. In my frustration with social coping, I sometimes lashed out. Some manifestation of that trait was to continue for many, many years. I could do anything that required intellectualization. It was the frustration with lack of grace that kept me from assimilation into healthy relationships. I was never “cool”. I was a fuck up whenever I felt like it. Pushing myself to the limit, regardless of who might be in the way or just trying to do the same thing, wasn’t kept in proper perspective. Not until much later did I begin to understand the concept of grace. When I did, everything changed for the better, in every imaginable way. But even then, there was/is that vestigial tendency to “go to war” on very short notice.

Perhaps the most palpable manifestation of this malaise was my enjoyment of extremes. Whatever I was enamored with at the moment became all consuming. If I got into something, I got all the way into it. That applied to music, to dramatics, to whatever I might be studying – and I studied only what I really liked. In the areas that appealed to me, I excelled. In everything else, I barely got by. I found that what I really liked year in and year out was raising hell – having fun – no matter what. My collection of friends reflected that. I didn’t have general all around friends. I had music friends, theater friends, affinity group friends for whatever interested them and me. None of these groups ever fit with any of the other groups. These were small, specialized groups. I hated the boy scouts. I couldn’t abide fraternities. General puerile socializing was not for me.

Early on I can recall only one relative that was interested in me. Aunt Doris was a student of the opera. I liked classical music and opera and had a grand singing voice. She decided to teach me. I used to get on the Atlantic Coast Line train on Friday at about three in the afternoon, and she would meet me at the station in Savannah. We would spend time together with music lessons and trips to Daffin Park. She may have been the poorest of the relatives. Her husband had died young and she had raised two sons by herself on very little money. Those weekends were my first truly happy times. I had the attention of someone who was teaching me something I really wanted to learn and who, because of the common interest, cared about me a great deal. The other relatives who lived in Savannah imperiously expected that on those trips I would come visit them. In reality, they couldn’t have cared whether I lived or died, but didn’t want it known that I had visited Aunt Doris and neglected them. They really had no use or interest in me, and I had no use for them. But there were battles about it. I would refuse to go see them. They would call my parents and whine about it. My parents would call and insist that I go waste time with them. I would refuse. Everyone would nag Aunt Doris about it until I went to see the bastards just to get them to leave us alone. One aunt even sent her older son around to beat me up because I had been disrespectful to her. He didn’t bring enough to the job and had to go back and explain his bruises. I had the pleasure to read his obituary some years later. That encounter actually was helpful in minimizing future involvement with those sumbitches. That was my mother’s side of the family. Thankfully, my father’s side of the family refused to recognize me as a “true” member of the family; never included me in any family functions; and I was spared the necessity to beat the shit out of any of them.

The adoption transaction between my “parents” and me was never a balanced account. I disappointed them at least as much as they disappointed me. In fact, I am certain that anyone knowledgeable about the facts would feel very sorry for them. They really got short changed. Fortunately, they made very little psychic investment, so their loss was de minimis. But I was always doing things that didn’t fit their idea of what life was all about.  They were Jewish. I was not. No matter how much skin you cut off me, I could never become one of them. Years later, after I had devoted many years’ study to trying to understand whatever it is they really believe, I was informed by an orthodox rabbi that no matter what I did I would never be Jewish – it was simply against their law. Neither bastards nor their children could ever be admitted into their congregation, to at least the tenth generation. Under their law, if a bastard married a Jewish person, the marriage was invalid and their children then became bastards. (Deuteronomy 23:2) Accordingly, I could study till I died and it was all simply a waste of time. I told him that when I was adopted, a local rabbi had circumcised me and performed the rite of Brit Milah. He laughed and said that a poor rabbi in a small town would circumcise a pig for a fee. That should have been a tense moment of rejection for me, but it was rather a moment of deliverance. What I was having the most problem with conceptually in my Jewish studies was the fact that they had so many laws and rules, but very little sense of equity or justice. Under their system, because of the circumstances of my birth over which I had no control, I was an irredeemable and total waste, never to be allowed through the door. Nothing I could ever do in my life could possibly make me “worthy”. My defects could never be “cured” through prayer, commitment or by any other means. For me, under their system, there would be no salvation. And at that moment I realized that one of the great gifts that Christ brought to humanity was the concept that you could redeem yourself from almost anything through confession and repentance and amendment of life. Oh, truth to tell, there was a bit of frustration over the years of study I had wasted trying to understand what it was about their system that might justify my belief in it. But that didn’t last long, and I finally understood that all my parents’ complaining that I was something terribly unJewish was – though they didn’t realize it – not an accusation, but a subliminal recognition that adopting me really was a frustrating waste of time and resources. The biggest loss was that eating pork had lost the added flavor of being illicit.

During the years between 10 and 13, wasted languishing in bar mitzvah preparation classes staged by rabbis who would have given anything to be able to afford not to have to teach bar mitzvah classes, I spent long hours doing everything that I liked to do with other kids I liked. Instead of studying material that didn’t interest me and learning to pronounce (but not to understand) words in a language and script totally foreign, I would daydream/call friends/hang out/smoke/shoot pool/have fantasies about girls/participate in contests to see who could tell the biggest lies about imaginary experiences with girls/look at dirty magazines/learn how not to throw up after drinking a lot of beer. Someone who knew my father would inevitably see me doing all or some of the above and report having seen me to my father. He and “mom” would discuss what to do with me, and when I arrived home at the end of the day, court was in session, and I was in need of – but without – adequate representation. The closest I ever came to winning one of those “cases” was one evening when I got really sick and threw up beer and peanuts all over everything and everybody within a ten foot radius. There was a lesson in that. Never come home – even if you were sober – without appearing to be on the edge of a giant vomit event. I could fake the heavings with sufficient credibility to cause court to be adjourned.

Somehow I muddled through my bar mitzvah service and associated humiliations in which so-called relatives would pretend for a few moments that I was not a pariah and bestow upon me monetary gifts to honor the occasion that were calculatedly the smallest denominations that could be imagined. My “cousins” all had their bar mitizvah days end with their entire college education fully paid for. “Dad” never gave less than a thousand to any one of them. In an extended “family” of about forty people, all mine totaled $600. And that I had to deposit in a savings bank owned by the “uncle” who was the most hated of them all. It was a good thing I was never included in any of their family events, as I lacked the resources to buy anyone a present even if I had been inclined to do so –which I wasn’t. There was also a big fight with the rabbi, who had been promised – not by me – that I would remain in Hebrew school for at least a year after my bar mitzvah. As I never darkened that door again, he felt the absence of the pittance of revenue stream that would have been associated with my continued presence. I hold the record for being the youngest kid in Charleston ever to tell a rabbi to kiss my ass. This he reported to my father – “All rise. Court is now in session.”

I did love baseball. In Charleston the Little League was organized by religious affiliation. Each belief system fielded its own Little League team. The Catholics had several teams, one for each church. The Baptists could not, of course, be expected to team up with Presbyterians, Methodists, Episcopalians or Lutherans, all of whose parents were known to take a drink and dance, so there were many Christian teams. The Jews had only one team that had to accommodate the orthodox, the conservative and the assimilated reform Jewish kids. The Greeks had their team that refused to speak English during a game, which made the opponents believe there was some weird casting of spells going on. In those days, Negroes couldn’t be in a white Little League. I remember that there was one black kid who was so good at athletics that we really enjoyed including him in all our pick up games, but he couldn’t play for the Jews in the league. Several of us tried to get a rabbi to circumcise him. Oh well – it couldn’t hurt to ask.

To this day I believe that I made the team because I was the only Jewish kid whose mother would let him be the catcher. And I would crowd the plate to the point of being able to feel the air in my face when a batter was swinging. This drove everyone nuts. There was much screaming and hand wringing about what was expected to happen to me, all of which made me feel like I was being a real tough guy. And I could throw on a straight line to second base to catch a runner trying to steal without having to get up out of the catcher’s crouch, which gave me two seconds advantage on any runner. I was never taken out of the line-up, no matter what manner of unJewish shenanigans I might recently have been caught at.

As music was then one of my two true intellectual loves, and my voice was changing into a really grand and mellifluous baritone, I came to meet and spend a lot of time with people of musical persuasion other than my Aunt Doris. As with the smokers/beer drinkers/pool shooters and others of my social circle, none of these were Jewish either. “All rise. Court is now in session.” Not only was I totally occupied with things unJewish and with people unJewish, but I was also concentrating upon a field of study in which I was unlikely to make money – the ultimate sin.

I began doing odd jobs – mostly mowing lawns on weekends. My father heard of this and was furious. One morning while I was sweating away like someone utterly unJewish, mowing the lawn of some gentile for $ 3, my father drove up and created a loud scene in which the central theme was that if his friends knew I was mowing lawns they might think his business was failing. The financial/social and god knows what other implications of my lawn mowing were simply not to be tolerated. He had spent years building a reputation in town of being a careful and competent businessman, and here I was about to destroy all he had built up over his entire life. After all, it was loudly pointed out, none of the other Jewish kids in town worked. What was the matter with me? What could I have been thinking?  If I needed a few dollars all I had to do was ask. There was no excuse for this. I was a humiliation to the entire family. If I would agree to stop mowing lawns I could have $ 25 that I could do with as I pleased. All I had to do was come home right now and put the lawn mower away and agree never to do anything like this again. So I took the lawn mower home, took a shower and got dressed to go out and asked for the $ 25. The response was, “What are you going to do with $ 25?” Lesson learned! I gave up $ 9 that I could have earned that day, concerning which I would not have had to account to anyone, in favor of the promise – not the reality – of $ 25 the use and application of which I had to declare, and, ultimately, I got $ 7 of it on orders that I had better not be seen taking a Christian girl to the movies on that money. Since all my friends were other than Jewish, I was bound to be seen by some spy of my father’s, and court would again be called into session.

I became a member of the Rivers High School glee club. In this curriculum I attended glee club practices, socialized with unJewish musical types and took overnight trips to other towns to participate in interscholastic glee club events. Some of these programs were held in churches. Some of the music was Christian religious music. Within the glee club were kids who also sang in church choirs, and liturgical songs found their way into the repertoire. “All rise. Court is now in session.” To placate my parents, I also joined a synagogue choir and learned to sign Jewish liturgical music as well. There were evening choir practices, to which my parents consented, thinking that I would be immersed in things Jewish. But in those days, the Jewish choir members were mostly Europeans who had survived world war two. They had been involved in secular music, mostly classical, back in the old country, and for the most part were quite secular. As they had done in Europe, after practice everyone went back to the home of one of them for a few beers. I know I was the only Jewish kid in town who sang (except for one girl I later found out), and I was like the mascot of the choir. They gave me beer and told me all their stories of the old country, and this was one of the groups from whom I learned a great deal about a lot of important things. I began coming home quite late from synagogue choir practice redolent of cigarette smoke and beer! It seemed to my parents that wherever I went, I somehow managed to get everyone to smoke and drink beer! Surely I had to be the very devil himself. As they didn’t care at all for anything musical, the fact that we made some very lovely music had no redeeming value at all.

Of course the next step had to be real voice lessons and several years of intense study of vocal music. And of course, even though I was working with the best voice teacher in Charleston, Mr. Vernon Weston, God bless his memory, it  was still a waste of time to them. He was a consummate musician, and while he lacked a mellifluous voice, he knew the science of vocal music production and could teach it well. He was not only choir master at one of the large churches, but also the conductor of the Charleston Choral Society.  I was admitted to the Charleston Choral Society, and every spring we performed Handel’s “Messiah” at the Citadel Square Baptist Church. All rise. Court is now in session. What he taught me was inspirational. I had a great love for music that became constantly greater, and his kindness and tolerance of my less than mature tastes while they developed into an appreciation of musical refinement meant a great deal more than I can say. Some of his other students of voice and I became friends, and we would have our own musical “sessions” that were part listening to various artists perform the same compositions, noting styles and technical variations, and part our singing the same music with our own whatever it was that passed for style in those days. Those were great days, and the memory of them will always be with me. Of course they were all laced with bottles of cheap wine and cigarettes, and I always came home happy, just as court was beginning its session.

Part of the Vernon Weston curriculum is public performance of musical works – recitals. Standing up in front of a hundred or so people and singing for an hour and forty five minutes might scare the living shit out of some people – not me. I love the attention. I am the consummate ham. And, I can tell you, it places you as romantic potential very high on any young woman’s scale. Imagine yourself a teenager who can invite a girl to go out to hear a musical recital, and you are the featured artist. Give me a fucking break!

I have never lessened my love of music and of singing. It has always been a source of great joy. And, having no shame at all, it has always been nothing difficult for me to sing a song to or for someone and a lot of fun knowing that they are enjoying something that I am doing. I know that aint what you think of as big time hell raising, but for me it is. I do, however, tend to be more spontaneous on the second bottle of wine.

Now at the same time that all this is going on, and I am having a very happy and constructive teen age period, my parents are having fits about the company I keep, the non Jewish girls I date, the beer and wine I drink, and the cigarettes that I smoke, not to mention that I am becoming more and more intense in serious study of something not likely to make me wealthy. There was a period during which “MOM” would run up to me every night when I came home and grab my hands and smell my fingers to find out whether I had been smoking. Now she knew damn well I was smoking, and this was just part of her act, to pretend to be outraged at finding out that after all the lectures I was still using the noxious weed. I wonder what they would have been like if we had had marijuana in those days. One night, on a hot date, there was my first experience at “heavy petting”, as they called it in those days. After I took my date home, I was going to stop and find a place to wash my hands and face – I smelled very much like a girl in heat. Then the thought occurred to me to just leave it the way it was, thinking that it would serve MOM right to grab my hands and take a big smell to see whether I had been smoking. And that’s exactly what I did. As I came through the door, she ran up, grabbed my hands and took a big whiff. There was a scream, and she ran back into her room, slammed the door and screamed for about fifteen minutes that I was going to bring ruin upon the family. But she never again ever sniffed my fingers for the smell of cigarettes – or anything else for that matter.

At fifteen, someone came to school to talk about the Civil Air Patrol, an organization sponsored by the USAF to stimulate interest among high school students in flying. They talked about the things high school kids wanted to do in those days – wear uniforms – go to summer camp at air force bases paid for by the air force – being flown there and back on military aircraft – studying navigation, meteorology, airplane dynamics – going on search and rescue missions for missing flyers – YUMMY SHIT! Well, my immediate reaction was “Where do I sign?”

You can just imagine the reaction at home. Jewish kids didn’t belong to the Civil Air Patrol. I would be the only one. It was a disgrace. Jewish people didn’t fly planes – this was to come later – the Israeli air force was in its infancy, and besides, Israel wasn’t Charleston. Once again I would be surrounded by things and people that were not Jewish. Everything not Jewish was to be avoided at all costs. Can you even begin to imagine what I put these poor people through?

Every other Monday evening I would get into my spiffy CAP uniform and go to squadron meetings. We would learn military drill, marching, manual of arms, military courtesy, and have actual classes about navigation, meteorology, how airplanes work. And afterward, the senior members who were real (former) air force people went along home, and the “Cadets” went to a beer joint and drank beer and smoked cigarettes. I came home from the first CAP meeting drunk, ready to throw up and reeking of cigarette smoke and stale beer. “All Rise. Court is now in session.”

I loved every minute of the Civil Air Patrol. I learned a lot about aviation. I went to the summer camps; to the search and rescue training trips; to actual search and rescue missions. It was wonderful. There were girls in the Civil Air Patrol – what more need I say on that subject – use your imagination. At school I was asked to talk about my experiences in the CAP. I was a big booster.

At one of the squadron meetings I met a man who had come along to talk about fixed base civilian aircraft operations. He was a circuit riding/flying Methodist minister who had a small field out on John’s Island – about a half hour ride from home. It was a couple of grass-covered runways cut out of a cornfield, and a small shack that was the office and workshop. In his presentation he talked about providing flying lessons. Later I asked him about flying lessons, and he told me that I could get through the student and the private pilot program for about $ 600. That was the easiest sale he ever made in his life. All I had to do was get my hands on $ 600. I knew, of course, that I could never go to my parents and ask for $ 600 to attend flight school ands get a pilot’s license. Then I remembered that I had $ 600 plus accumulated pittance interest in the bank from my bar mitzvah. BINGO! Off I went to the bank to withdraw that money. The lady at the window asked if I had my parents’ permission to take out the money and I lied that I did have permission. She gave me the money. I gave the money to the flight instructor and lessons began immediately. It only took about eight hours of ground and flight school to get a solo student license, so you could fly without an instructor. Then you practiced certain things and generally flew around, getting better and better at landings, dealing with engine failure practice, cross wind techniques, stalls, maneuvers and so called “cross country” flying – a trip of a few hundred miles where you had to do the flight plan, navigate, fly there and back by your own self. By the end of about forty hours, you were ready for your private pilot test. The dead stick landing with a fat slob FAA test person aboard was tough. The glide path of a J-3 Piper cub is different with that freight than when you are in it by your own self. But I managed to pass, and soon my official US Government Private Pilot license arrived by mail. I was an airplane pilot. I was king of the CAP – the only cadet in the Carolinas to get his pilot license while still in high school. They even let me fly the CAP planes after I passed flight tests on them. And those were available with no charge – free – courtesy of the taxpayers of the United States of America. My parents still didn’t know a damn thing about it.

The CAP wanted to get press coverage for the first cadet to get a pilot’s license, so they called the Charleston newspapers and set up a meeting with a reporter and a news photographer. The cat was about to be let out of the bag. The afternoon of the day I was interviewed, I took a Piper Cub and buzzed my parents’ home. We lived on the river, so I could get right down on the deck and fly right in from the river, right over the back yard. MOM was outside when I did that. She had some kind of episode, thinking that a plane was going to crash into the house. Someone got the aircraft number off the underside of the wing. The police were called. When I got back to the cornfield, the cops were waiting. I was thrown into cuffs and into the back of a police cruiser and away we went – straight to my house where the cop proudly announced that they had caught the culprit who almost crashed into the house and almost caused MOM to have a heart attack. Out I was dragged. MOM screamed. THAT’S MY SON! HE CAN’T FLY A PLANE! YOU GOT THE WRONG PERSON! “All rise. Court is now in session.”

It took about three hours for that session. I can’t even begin to describe it. Something else totally unJewish! He’s doing it again. He will kill us. We will be put into an early grave and our name will be disgraced. But when the story and pictures came out in the Sunday paper, everything changed. Suddenly it was “Our son the first cadet pilot in South Carolina.” “My son can fly airplanes.”

Now I was the only high school kid in town who could invite a girl to go flying – to fly down to what would later become Hilton Head Resort (then still just a lazy, lonely beach), land on the beach at low tide, skinny dip, picnic and whatever, and then fly back to Charleston, taking off right along the shore.

I made a mistake. I took a Jewish girl flying. That evening at dinner, her dad asked what she did that day, and she announced that she had gone flying with me. EXPLOSION! YOU DID WHAT? WITH WHOM? Phone call to my parents – did they know I was flying airplanes? Yeah. Didn’t you see the newspaper article about it? Telephone slammed down. “All Rise!…” Now, for the first time, I was forbidden to so something with a Jewish girl. Irony of ironies!

I’m having more fun and raising more hell than anyone I ever heard of, and I’m still in high school!

College and law school weren’t much fun. I emerged with so much pent up party power that a good deal of the rest of my life was focused upon doing everything to excess. My friends who thought they would like to tag along soon found their marriages gone bust and their health and their careers following suit. Occasionally, one of em would just up and die. The years from 1972 through 1983 were years of extremely hard work. Starting a new law firm from scratch and building it into a premier franchise litigation boutique didn’t leave a lot of time for world class frolic. But there were the hazy days of Charleston lunch at Galligans Saloon in Detroit where many pranks were pulled and the world’s best bartender, Tom Byrnes, would save cigarette ashes to put on peoples’ foreheads on Ash Wednesday so everyone would think we all had gone to church instead of Galligans. Then, in 1983 or so, I discovered the motorcycle and saved my life. The stories of life and wanton revelry from then to now are all elsewhere in this anthology of short stories, beginning with “Culo de Piedra”.

I tell better stories than I used to. And I have learned to animate and accoutre really great bullshit. My favorite, not in any of the other stories in this anthology, is the World Unlimited Heavyweight Hog Wrestling Championship that I won in 1995. One of the universal identifiers of things TEXAS is the belt buckle. The week before the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is “Go Texan” week. Everyone wears their “cowboy”/”cowgirl” shit all week long. It’s great. I wish it was that way every week. We even BBQ fish. It’s wall to wall beans, beer, BBQ and bullshit. I arrived here too late to begin a career in rodeoing. If you try to become a bull rider in your 40s, you’re just gonna get busted up real bad. But that didn’t seem to me to be a valid reason to opt out of fantasy rodeo bullshit. So I went over to Cavender’s western wear shop and designed me a humungous goddam silver championship belt buckle that proclaims me The Grand Champion Hell Raisin Sumbitch, and instead of a bronc or a bull mounted in the center of the buckle, there’s a pig.

Belinda won’t let me wear the thing as much as I would like, but when we’re out of town, especially in some place where people don’t know shit about anything TEXAS, I can wear the buckle and respond to questions from all and sundry about what the buckle is for. I tell em that I am the unlimited heavyweight grand champion hog wrestling champion of the world. When they say they never heard of that, I tell em it’s a new rodeo event for folks who just got too old to ride bulls anymore. They always want to know how it works. Well, it’s divided into weight classes, and I’m in the top weight class, unlimited heavyweight. We draw our hog from a pen randomly, with the hogs in the pen for the unlimited heavyweight division averaging over 180 pounds. The hog is let into a very muddy pen, and you have to get in there and catch him and wrestle him to the ground on his back for a three second count. The hog is very upset, as you might well imagine,  and is trying to bite your face, is shitting and pissing on you and screaming one horrible loud scream. You have to keep your head right close up alongside the hog’s head so it can’t bite your damn face off, and you are hearing that screaming right in your ear and getting your face and eyes just covered in hog slobber. Now these yuppie bastards are just glued to the story. So I tell em I’m gonna be on an ESPN sports special about this new rodeo event, and they start asking for autographs, wanting to have their pictures taken with me and buying me drinks. Meanwhile, Belinda has moved away somewhere where they can’t see or hear her laughing her ass off. Sometimes folks will go up to her and ask if it’s OK to approach me about what the buckle is all about. No one ever actually reads the print on the buckle anyway, so the fact that it just says I raise a lot of hell doesn’t ruin the bullshit story. It’s the gross first impression of the buckle on someone six feet tall and over 250 pounds who can pretend to talk like some south Texas hick that gets em into a we’ll believe anything he tells us frame of mind.

The story ends with my explaining to them that I have to wear very baggy pants for this event, because being on top of a thrashing, screaming pig gets me very excited, and when I get up off it I have this unbelievable erection. As stupid as that sounds, they never catch on that all this is just one giant bullshit story being told to them by a true champion bullshitter.

Today I am building new friendships to replace all those dear folks who were in my group and who are now dead. At this age you make friends on snappier judgments. There aren’t ten years to spend sorting out whether people are really worthwhile over some potential long term. Even if I’m around in ten years, they probably won’t be. The crowning touch is, I guess, that I am so much in love, romantically in love. Life is truly beautiful.

By Seamus Muldoon, Himself
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