Debby Reynolds wanted to look like Joan Rivers in the worst way, so she went under the knife at the Plastic Surgeon to the Stars clinic on Rodeo Drive, and emerged looking just like Burt Reynolds. Such are the risks inherent in trying to hire someone to accomplish what Mother Nature couldn’t.
Arnold Stang was friends with Wally Cox who had once been Marlon Brando’s roommate when both were struggling actors in New York. Wally had once played a plastic surgeon in a TV drama on Playhouse 90, and after a night of heavy drinking, Arnold persuaded Wally to take a scalpel and turn him into Marlon Brando.
When Arnold looked into the mirror the next morning, he was amazed. Marlon Brando was looking back at him. It wasn’t just Marlon Brando but a younger, better-looking Brando. Wally joined AA the next day, vowing to never pick up a scalpel again.
Donna Reed wanted to look like Eddie Van Halen, and ended up the spitting image of Florence Henderson, who then took her to court for identity theft and lost. The judge had just been on an elevator with two Sigourney Weavers and found the experience life-affirming. Case dismissed.
The Voice in My Head is calm and assured:
You will know when it is time to act. It will come as a feeling, but a feeling of certainty. No longer will you be tempted to procrastinate, to wait for further evidence, to seek the advice of others. You will know that it is time.
Most people will not approve of your decision. Ignore them. They have their own paths to follow, their own inspiration to guide them. They can’t help you with your decision and you can’t help them with theirs.
I want to argue with the voice. Knowing when to act and knowing what to do are two different problems. Hopefully, the inspiration for both will arrive at roughly the same time. If not, then patience and courage will be called for, in equal amounts.
The Voice agrees. If you don’t try, how are you gonna learn anything? We learn as much from our failures as from our successes. It’s just more pleasant to learn from success. And less expensive. And other people find it more inspiring. Serving as a warning to others is a form of service, but not a sexy one.
My life is living proof the voice knows what he is talking about. I was once a movie star, albeit a minor one. I played the stupid guy who served as a sidekick to the leading male. He looked better and smarter with me by his side. I was good at this, and appeared in many low-budget movies made between 1970 and 1980. Still, my IMDb page is often visited, and although I have not had a request for my services in many years, people still stumble across references to me in anything from movie magazines to scholarly dissertations. I am well known among media studies professors.
My SAG retirement will not make me a rich man, but I will be able to retire in comfort in a third-world country with a low standard of living. There are worse fates!
The only real problem I have now is my heroin addiction. I’ve been an addict for more than thirty years now, and as long as I have a reliable, clean supply, I can do just fine. Take away that, and I’m fold like a cheap suit in a matter of hours. All my plans have to do with making sure that doesn’t happen.
I carry with me several secrets in addition to my opiate addiction. These I rarely share with anyone, because I am looking for neither sympathy nor a solution. I am the only person you are likely to meet who is highly radioactive. This came from an experiment I undertook back when I first suspected I had an auto-immune disorder which I first thought was multiple sclerosis, but I now know to be Parkinson’s Disease. Any any rate, I was going through a phase in which I thought I had been born with innate psychic gifts in the healing arts, and decided that if I ingested a few grams of radioactive cesium isotopes, it would cure me. It didn’t. I was not only wrong, but sorely deluded. Fortunately, I had never offered medical advice to others, so I have no guilt attached to this experience. Shame, yes, but not guilt.
The other shameful secret I rarely mention is my propensity to secretly dig holes in other people’s back yards. I do this at night. What am I searching for? Your guess is as good as mine. I’ve been doing this for years, and although I have not yet unearthed any buried treasure, I have come across several cat and dog skeletons. These I respectfully left in entombed. I am not a ghoul, just a person who wrestles with unusual compulsions often succumbing to overpowering needs to act out in ways the world is not likely to understand. That’s OK by me. I don’t need your understanding, just the freedom to act out as I see fit.
Again, I neither seek understanding or permission to be the person I am today. Even though I am an agnostic, I appreciate those who conclude that God made them just the way they are and they needn’t apologize for it.
In my best moments I am one of them. That which makes me unusual also makes me useful in ways I can’t predict but I have faith exist. I am ready, willing and able to be of use.
Lately I’ve noticed that if I am around plants for long, they change. Some wither and die, while others bloom and surge in growth. I have been told that my radioactivity is not harmful to others, though my expert advice for this matter comes from beyond the veil. Automatic writing, the Ouija board, and various ways of talking with spirits have given me access to a whole new realm of expertise.
I have been assured that a mate for me is on her way, and that once she arrives my current liabilities will change to assets. I try not to waste time wondering about her physical attributes. If she is a soul-mate sent to complete me, then whether she is a pinup girl or downright homely doesn’t matter in the least.
Sometimes before going to bed, when I’m brushing my teeth, I look in the mirror and try to imagine her standing next to me. If the lights are low, my teeth glow in the dark, and I can see her standing in the shadows just behind me. Sometimes a tall blonde, sometimes a short brunette. My soul mate.
The spirit who tells me most of this calls himself “Doctor Pretorious.” I’ve been talking with him for so long now that he feels like family. Although I’ve never seen him, I’ve heard his voice in my head ever since I started my experiments with automatic writing. When I try to ask about her, he refuses to add detail, simply saying “Patience my son. She is on her way.”
A few evening ago I was back to my habit of sneaking onto the property of my neighbors, shovel in hand, and digging for an hour or two. The main house is hidden away behind trees and I am careful not to make much noise. They have no dog. I avoid properties with dogs. After an hour or so, I saw something glowing beneath the soil at the bottom of my pit. At first I thought it was the moonlight reflecting on something shiny, but no, the more I dug the more I became sure it was actually something glowing from below. The glow was deep yellow, custard yellow, and with a few more scoops of earth removed I could see it was a large rock, almost the size of a bowling ball. I lifted it up and out of the hole. It was cold to the touch.
I have a feeling about things that I often can’t explain, but that I put stock in. I follow these gut feelings and I am usually not wrong to do so. My finding this rock was no accident. It was meant to be, maybe put there since the dawn of time awaiting this moment.
Bundling the rock in my jacket, I hurried back home, carrying the shovel with one arm and the rock in another. It was all I could do not to shout “thank you!” at the top of my lungs, but instead I whispered it under my breath, over and over.
When I got home, there was a woman sitting on the steps of my front porch. In the glow that came from the rock, I could see that I didn’t already know her. She was very short, under five-feet tall. Black hair and black eyes.
“I’m Helga,” she said. “Dr. Pretorious sent me.”
“Helga?” I responded, stunned.
“If you don’t like the name you can call me Jane.”
“Jane,” I repeated. “Come in, Jane. I’ve been expecting you.”
Jane is my antithesis. Where I emit gamma radiation, she absorbs it. She is my graphite rod.
We don’t talk much, because we don’t need to. Our silence together is enough. She spends long hours reading and playing solitaire. She listens to early jazz recordings. Anything recorded before 1930 delights her, anything after that date she finds annoying. To me it all sounds the same, like music from a Krazy Kat cartoon, or the soundtrack of a Woody Allen movie.
Jane was once a nun in a cloistered order that observed strict silence. She hardly spoke for over ten years. Then, one night, Jesus appeared before her and told her that it was time for her to leave and go out into the world. The next day she left and took a bus to the city, where she was able to find work as a children’s librarian.
Fortunately, she had received a degree in library science before joining the convent. Through diligent service and by keeping a low profile, she was eventually promoted to head librarian, when the current head was fired for having sex with teenage boys. She said that contrary to popular belief, public libraries were dens of gossip, politics and outright iniquity. Her training at the convent had allowed her to bypass many of the snares that trapped others. But then she fell into a trap of her own making. She fell in love with another woman, also an ex-nun, and their conservative community was unable to handle such a scandal. Happily, they offered her a generous settlement to resign and she moved to Giant Rock, Arizona, where UFO sightings are a frequent occurrence and where Wilhelm Reich once built an Orgone accumulator.
Not Sure You’ll be Raptured Up?
Don’t feel bad, you’re not alone. Many of us at times have been lukewarm in our faith, so that He might just as soon spit us out of His Holy Mouth as raise us during the rapture. We can still get to the gates of Paradise and avoid the Tribulation, but waiting around to see if we’re chosen is just too risky. What if we embrace the Beast in a moment of End Times lunacy? Better to avoid risk and die a conventional death to meet your Maker under less fraught conditions.
We will help you.
Just as Jim Bakker sells buckets of freeze-dried food to help Believers survive the coming Holocaust, so do we offer a service that will send you on your way before you know it. “Look over there!” (painless shot in back of the head) That’s all there is to it.
Our marksmen and women are as attractive as they are skillful, and you’ll be so caught up in conversation with these personable and energetic young people that you’ll forget they’ve come to send you over to the other side. One moment you’re talking about your grandchildren to someone who seems interested, the next you’re facing Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates.
You must obtain written permission to do so from a group administrator. If you don’t know one, you must ask around.
If you can’t contact a group administrator, you must petition the National Security Agency for a Ad Hoc Release From Page Membership (form 1099A-EX) or hire counsel to do the same in your stead.
If you are under the age of sixteen, or over the age of sixty-five, you must also ask that prayers be said for you at the Vatican, preferably on Holy Tuesday, a slow day during Holy Week, which as everyone knows, culminates with Easter Sunday.
If you are Vitamin B deficient, or suffer from restless leg syndrome or a transient certainty that nothing matters anymore, then there is no point in trying to leave this group, for we shall never let you go!
If your name is, or used to be, “Barnabas” then you have already automatically been kicked out of this group.
If you have ever attended a Bing Crosby Road Movie Film Festival and found Dorothy Lamour to be more interesting than either Bing or Bob, then write that in block lettering on a four by six inch card and mail it first class to PO Box 35446, Radio City Music Hall, New York, New York 10045. Allow six to eight weeks for processing, and your name will be expunged from this group.
You must be able to swim ten meters underwater on one breath.
You must be able to derive square roots without the aid of a calculator.
You must know which of these three words is not a word: irregardless, irrespective, immaterial.
Explain in fewer than 100 words why most harmonicas are sold in the key of C but most blues songs are written in B flat or E.
You must be able to whistle.
You must be able to recall the seven cardinal virtues and the six deadly sins.
You must be able to find on the map Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
You must not be Vitamin B deficient.
You must be able to discern the difference between the Elmore James songs “Look on Yonder Wall” and “The Sky is Crying”
You must be immunized against Mad Cow disease and Epstein-Barre syndrome.
You must speak at least three languages besides your native tongue.
You must have spent at least a week in Albania.
You must believe that Artie Shaw’s band was at least the equal of Benny Goodman’s.
You must certify that the concept of spending your retirement years “kicking back in some beach community” sounds stultifying.
You must attest that you lost “that Christmas spirit” years ago and find most holiday promotions tiresome at best.
You must wake up in the middle of the night at least twice a month convinced that your body is riddled with cancer and it’s too late to do anything about it.
You must miss the character actors one used to frequently see in movies and on television fifty years ago more than the “stars” who got top billing and most of the attention.
You must admit to yourself and to others that you find the act of yodeling unmusical and watching old men in lederhosen perform it, distasteful.
You must refuse to accept the notion that all religions have some value, and are at least partially good.
You must get down on your knees and beg God for mercy.
You must admit the fact that you are hopelessly addicted to social media, and that its impact on your life has been almost wholly negative, except for providing a way to stay in touch with old friends, but the more you see or hear about them the more you realize there’s a reason you lost touch with them in the first place, and the only reason you log on so frequently is because you have absolutely nothing else going on in your life to fill the seemingly bottomless void that social media attempts to address.
You’ll have to stay put until something can be established. As long as no one is certain what’s going on, or can reasonably describe what happened, we’re going into lock-down mode. All exits will be sealed until further notice.
People don’t just turn into liquid and flow down the street. Babies don’t spontaneously combust. Sure, unusual things can happen, but then the burden of proof is greater. No one is going to believe you were taken up to Heaven, met Jesus, and then came back down to Earth to tell us all about it. At least they won’t believe it unless you can start showing some miraculous proof.
Miraculous proof is all that we require. Oh, and promotion. Nothing matters without proper promotion. In a better world the important and true would rise to the top, but not here. On this miserable rock bathed in a veil of tears, if it hasn’t gone viral, it simply hasn’t gone anywhere.
What you witnessed may or may not have happened. You might be deluded. Many deluded people aren’t aware of their condition. Look at our President. Just because you fervently believe in something doesn’t mean it exists. Artistic types make stuff up all the time. Some are quite convincing, but everything they invent is conjured up out of thin air.
These are not necessarily bad people who invent things that don’t actually exist. They might be benevolent, caring, imaginative, and supportive of creativity in others. They might also be pathological liars. We who are inclined of give the benefit of doubt are potential victims of this latter group.
And so for the time being we must seal or borders. We must suspect that everyone has a malevolent purpose. Their intentions are to do us harm. “What would Jesus do?” you ask. He would do what we are doing. He would hunker down.
“But” you protest “the Jesus I met in Heaven after I had been swept up to kneel at his feet would embrace even the most snarky of us.” Maybe. But we are not Jesus.
We are simply your neighbors who are trying to make the best of a bad situation. We did not cause this calamity, but we are trying to minimize the negative outcomes. Maybe there won’t be any. Indeed, we could be making a mountain out of a molehill. But someone did testify that he saw another person liquefy and that other person has not been seen since. There is a noticeable smell in the air, like burnt toast, except it smells a bit like burnt rubber and burnt toast. There is also a dog that won’t stop barking, but no one has been able to find the dog. So we are confused and anxious. We will batten down the hatches until the storm has passed.