Category Archives: autobiography

The Never-Naked Nudist

Today I have a low-grade fever. A slight cough. No sign of Covid yet, and I am fully vaccinated. But I have been to Walmart without a mask and get regular flu regularly. And it could also be a sinus infection again due to high pollen counts and neighborhood grass-cutting.

But the truly frustrating thing is that I had planned to go tomorrow to Bluebonnet Nudist Park, give them a copy of my nudist novel, and meet some of the members of that establishment that I didn’t meet in 2017.

The frustrating thing is that this marks the fifth time that I had planned to go back to Bluebonnet for a second visit. And now the plans are canceled yet again by illness.

As ever, I remain mostly a closet nudist. Me being a nudist now in the twilight years of my life is mostly a joke I tell, only loosely based on reality.

Part of the problem is the fact that I simply waited too long in my life to give in to the urge to be a nudist. I was one from childhood onward, but always too afraid of the unknown to try it openly. Especially after being assaulted at the ripe old age of ten.

My real opportunity came when I had a girlfriend in the 1980’s whose sister lived with her husband and children in a clothing-optional apartment complex in Austin. I met nudists there fully committed to the lifestyle and who encouraged me to join the movement, even after I broke up with that girlfriend. There were limited opportunities to become a nudist then. A park near Houston, a park near San Antonio, a nude beach on Lake Travis (Hippie Hollow,) and clubs in the Austin area that met in members’ homes. I only ever visited those places with clothes on. I never actually tried it. And now that I am old, I regret the opportunities missed.

Now I am old and ill and unable to express my love of nudism and naturism except through art and fiction. Of course, it has always been a very visual-only experience for me. No touching was ever involved. Whatever sexual feelings there were were always sublimated and deeply buried or strictly controlled.

And, as always, I didn’t absolutely need to share these normally private sort of details, but it seems my art and writing make me far more naked to the world than walking around a nudist park ever could.

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, humor, nudes, Paffooney

Synesthesia (Part One; French Blue Monday)

This link will help you understand Synesthesia

Francois spotlight

Yes, Mondays are blue.  Specifically French blue.  Every day of the week has its own color.  Sunday is golden yellow, Tuesday is a yellow-ochre,  Wednesday is indigo blue and sometimes changes to blue violet, Thursday is burnt orange, and Friday is solid wood brown, and of course Saturday is rich pure red while Mondays are not just any blue… they are French blue.  I learned the names of these colors from being a painter and using oil paints.  I experience these colors every week and they help me maintain the calendar in my stupid old head.  I began to realize when I first heard about the colors of the wind in the Disney movie Pocahontas that there was something to this everyday thing, something different in the way I see the world.  I have in the last few years learned that this condition has a name.  It is called synesthesia.

 

 

It has been suggested to me by more than a few people that I don’t really perceive the world the same way “normal people do”.  When I was growing up, and going to school, I never had trouble remembering to capitalize the first word in a sentence.  I did however, have a great deal of difficulty with capital letters on nouns.  Looking back on that difficulty now, I can say without a doubt that I was having trouble not because I didn’t know the difference between proper nouns and common nouns.  It was because things like the word “dog” or “chair” had to begin with the right color.  Dogs are blue when you are talking about the color of the letters in the word.  But small “d” is blue-green, not true blue.  It doesn’t fit as well as the dark blue capital “D”.  And chairs are orange-red when you write them down, while the small “c” appears light green by itself.

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Sundays are Sun-days, and that’s why they are golden yellow.

I am told that most synesthetes are taken by surprise when they learn that they are seeing things differently than other people do.  I certainly was.  I always got funny looks whenever I described Thursdays as orange, or the month of November as sky blue.  My classmates in 4th grade thought I was nuts… of course, it wasn’t just for the orange Thursdays thing.  I was not a normal kid in any real sense of the word.  I always suspected that if I could look at the world through other people’s eyes, I would probably see the color green as what I called red, or that glowing halo that surrounded things when organ music played in the Methodist church would no longer be there.  But once I learned how synesthesia works I knew it was true.   The visual part of the brain can be scanned to show activity, and lights up on the scanner as if the brain is seeing bright colors when Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is being played while the subject of the scan is actually blindfolded.  I am told that synesthesia is more common in left-handed girls.  My daughter, the Princess, tells me that she also sees color on printed numbers and letters.  She is left handed and also gifted at drawing.  I suspect she inherited the synesthesia from me.

Creativity

Synesthesia probably explains what this nonsense is all about.

Now, I acknowledge the fact that my synesthesia is self-diagnosed and not proven by any of the methods the articles I have read about the condition talked about.  But my personal experiences always seem to fall in line with descriptions of letter/number/color combinations and music/color combinations that I have read about.  And if I do have it, it is not the same as any of my six incurable diseases.  It is not a bad condition to have.  In an artistic sense, it might actually be a good thing.  I could use some good for a change.  Good doesn’t usually come from weirdness… not my weirdness, anyway.  (Oh, and capital “G” is lime green… as is the word Goodness).

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, strange and wonderful ideas about life, Uncategorized

Can We Be Clear?

Mai Ling uses psionic ninja powers to separate the flowers from the weeds, a thing that is not easy to do.

I suppose that if I were to be insightfully honest for a moment, I would have to admit that I am a failed novelist. If you take “success” as meaning “financial success”, the fact that I only make less than five dollars a month for my writing means I am a failure at it. If you specify that success means my books find readers, then evidence would suggest that my books are mostly ignored. A majority of those who have responded favorably to my work are actually members of the nudist community on Twitter. I admit that I have cultivated that a bit with nudist characters in about a fourth of my books. But that is a result of having experienced fascinating people and situations that I felt I had to write about because I happened to meet, totally by chance, interesting nudists in real life.

I have lost a lot of writing-community followers on Twitter because of my interactions with Twitter nudists. My work gets dismissed on occasion because your standard teacher-turned-writer on Twitter, usually female and usually fundamentalist Christian, doesn’t want to be contaminated by sinful nudist associations. Ah, such a life. But I don’t wish to destroy anyone’s faith in a God who will apparently burn them for an eternity in Hell if they are tempted to frolic with no clothes on. I would rather be blocked by them on Twitter than have them give up on whatever paradise they are pursuing.

But I am basically on the Brad Bird side of the argument about whether or not you can choose to be a hero even if others will see you as a monster. My fiction does not cause demonic possession and probably does not cause spontaneous bouts of joyful nudism either. Even my werewolf story, which was too much for one potential reviewer, does not have actual werewolves in it. Although it does describe some things that really happened to me as a child in a fictionalized, sort-of-truthful way.

So, by those criteria, I judge myself to be a failed writer.

But I am definitely not giving up on writing in despair. Those were never the reasons I wrote novels to begin with.

I write because I have something to say to the world and stories to tell. And I mean to have my say, even if the world is too stone-deaf and stupefied to listen.

I have things to say about living and learning.

I have things to say about finding love, and losing love, and finding it again.

I have things to say about how I think the world works, and why I’m pretty sure I’m completely wrong about all of that. And what I intend to do about it.

To that end, I have started writing a book full of essays like the stuff and garbage and lovely wisdom I write in this goofy little blog. And I shall call it Laughing Blue. Because, you know, nobody is going to read it anyway, and I can call it whatever the heck I want to call it.

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Filed under autobiography, blog posting, commentary, feeling sorry for myself, irony, philosophy

150 Days and Counting

The WordPress Notices have been telling me I am on a posting streak of everyday posts for 51 straight days now. It started with day 99. I guess that is a worthy thing to pursue and extend. I have more-or-less relentlessly been writing 500 words a day on something, somewhere for a very long time now. That workmanlike dedication to the slavery part of the writing life began back in the 1990’s before I got married. Back to the time when I switched from writing Walden-style journals to the present work-in-progress manuscript mill. I have written 26 novels, books of essays, and autobiographies since then, and I have actually published 20 of them.

One fascinating thing about my writing habit is how it has impacted and altered the course of my life. I used to keep all my secrets very closely guarded and very near. There was a time when I didn’t admit being a victim of sexual assault even to myself. I couldn’t bear to give or receive hugs, or touch people in ways that were closer than a handshake. I only kissed a girl on the lips once when I was nine (and got hit pretty soundly on the cheek for it) and again after the age of 35, after I was regularly writing every day. I still hesitate. Even with my wife and mother. I wet my pants once in school because I couldn’t stand to be alone in the boys’ bathroom where another boy might come in. That all gradually eased and became less of a thing because I wrote about it. Writing actually recovered my repressed memory when I was in college because I could write about it and keep the knowledge on paper where I could reread it. Writing helped me examine my life. Everything. And it took away the fear and self-loathing that filled my life like two thousand pounds of wet sand.

Writing gave me freedom. It allowed me to take my life back from the darkness and the shadows.

In truth, I became an excellent writing teacher because I wrote and shared some of my writing with students, just as I required them to share their writing with me and with their peers.

In Truth, the whole belatedly becoming a nudist thing is a part of how writing about life has really changed my life. I never used to wear shorts or go shirtless, even when swimming, because of the sexual insecurity caused by that childhood assault. I was imprisoned within my clothing by fear and self-loathing. All of that is probably also the cause of my fascination with drawing child nudes. And nude women as well.

Writing about things brings clarity and removes the iron bars of the invisible cages we all build around ourselves to protect ourselves from the things we fear most. So, my passion for today is plainly exhibited in consecutive post-day number 150. I do also intend to write more.

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Filed under autobiography, Paffooney, writing, writing teacher

Chuckles and Tears

Looking at old photos from another century that were in Mom’s photo box was an unexpected kick in the feels. You know how photos were back then, more than a half century ago, mostly birthday parties, Christmas, and Summer vacations taken on an old Browning box camera with Kodak film.

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This photo makes me chuckle. It was an unwritten rule. Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, Construction Sets…. Dad got to play with them first. We always had to build the picture on the box or tube first before I could chew on or lose any of the critical pieces.

Birthday parties were always in pairs. Every child shared the party with cousins born that month. Diane (in the high chair) and I both celebrated in the November party. Nancy. in front, appears to be ready to toss the cake on the floor. I don’t believe she was trying to get even for anything I did during her September party… at least nothing I will admit to here.

Here’s a triple portrait from when there were only three of us. Nancy, Mary (the littlest one) and Me. No David then. But a 60’s space-age design on the curtains.

Mary was one of the triplets all born the same year. Jeanette and Janice were our twin cousins. The three of them celebrated their birthdays together.

Here is the situation the stork dropped down the chimney when I was eight. David was my little brother that is now taller than me, and he weighs more too.

Three of us on Halloween. We were very scary. Especially the evil little demon dressed like a princess. My kids like to make fun of this picture.

Here’s the one that made me cry. Patty was the second cousin whom the Berillas (On my mother’s side of the family) put in charge of me when we went all the way to Cleveland to visit. She was three years older than me, and she kept me out of trouble when we visited the Cleveland Zoo. As we were looking at these pictures, Mom told me that Patty came out of retirement last winter to work as a nurse again during the pandemic nursing shortage. For her trouble, she contracted Covid and died in December. I’m devastated still.

And here’s the last one for today (though not the last one I copied to share with my poor phone-camera skills.)

This is not the Cleveland Zoo. This is the Deer Farm Zoo in Mason City, Iowa. We could feed the deer by hand then with corn and little green “deer-food” pellets. There are still deer in East Park in Mason City half a century later. But they are fended off from people now. They still don’t bite… the deer, I mean. But they have to be out of the reach of people now so they don’t get hurt or get fed something that will kill them (even if it is considered food by crazy people.)

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Filed under autobiography, nostalgia, photos

Random Art, the Art of Picking at Random

Angry Duck Eyes –

Anatidaephobia (pronounced anna-tidy-phobia) is a pervasive and irrational fear that you are being watched by a duck. A person with this rare phobia fears that somehow, somewhere a duck is watching their every move.

I know, that’s pretty random, right?

But that’s how this Art Day post works. I had no idea what the first picture would be until I searched for it. This post began not with an idea, but a title; Random Art, the Art of Picking at Random.

Most of my art posts are exactly that. Pictures picked at random simply by going back through my media gallery and picking them. I usually pick up a theme along the way, sensing how the pictures are connected and deciding what that reveals about the artist and how that should be put into words.

I am aware that by relying on my library of already-used images, I am bound to be putting up something that you may have seen before. But I do have a large supply of already-downloaded pictures, and I find that I deeply love seeing some of these over and over again. However, they are all original artworks done by me. (Yes, I know I didn’t make any of the Pez dispensers or anything in the above photo. But I made the arrangement and took the photo. That makes it as much my art as Campbell Soup cans can be Andy Warhol’s work.) And I have seen them far more often than you have, and I haven’t tired of them.

Many of these pictures are actually self portraits. And that’s because an artist can only come up with whatever is actually inside him at the time.

I am not myself in this picture, but it is never-the-less very much about me and who I am inside.

You might be able to spot the connections between this picture and the last one if you are observant of small details.

Boz, the Bard, Diz, and Poe

This picture seems awfully random until you start to see them as Mr. Dickens, Mr. Shakespeare, Mr. Disney, and Mr. Poe.

So, there it is, Random Art for Saturday Art Day. Picked totally at random. And yet, at the end it seems somehow organized. That is a sort of small miracle, and probably proof that God exists… at least in some random way.

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Coca-Cola Mind Control

If you’ve read very much of my goofy little blog, you’ve probably run across the fact that I am something of a conspiracy theorist and strange-twist believer… sometimes referred to as a tinfoil-hat-wearer, or that old uncle you don’t want your kids sitting next to at the Thanksgiving dinner table.  And I’ve got another one for you.  I discovered while obsessing about nostalgia and old ads in the Saturday Evening Post, that the Coca-Cola company is probably  responsible for warping my mind as a child.

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My plan in revealing this hideous conspiracy is to take a look at ads and illustrations that I saw as a kid addicted to reading Saturday Evening Post every week at Grandpa and Grandma Aldrich’s farm.  I will scour them for hidden meanings and try to reveal to you the insidious plot underlying these mind-altering illustrations.  Keep in mind that you should probably take everything I say in this article with a grain of salt.  No, really, salt can protect you from subtle mind-control messages.

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And, yes, I realize that not all the messages are that subtle.  Sometimes they shout at you, “Drink Coke and you will have more sex!”  And you have to remember we are trying to avoid that kind of mind control.  We have to fight every instance of ad companies trying to take control over us by exploiting our baser animal urges.

So, let me take a momentary interlude, a break if you will.  I have this big glass of Diet Coke I just bought at QT, and…

Well, that was good!

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Coca-Cola has been at this for a while.  This ad from the  1940’s is apparently attempting to win World War II through choice of soft drinks.  Look at this feisty brew the soldier is about to quaff.  It is actually struggling in the cup to get out and go bite some German soldier’s face off.  Any American soldier who can choke this stuff down is tough enough to take on the Axis powers, Napoleon after Hitler dug him up and used Frankenstein’s scientific breakthroughs to re-animate him, and even several countries we weren’t actually at war with.  Even Rush Limbaugh and his weird lesbian-farmer-subsidies theory can’t compete with Coke on this level of propaganda wars.

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I also think Coca-Cola ads may have something to do with why I became a Cardinals fan when I lived in a place full of Cubs and Twins fans.  I admit, I added the dialogue and the commentary, but I used to do the same thing in my head when I was eight and the Cardinals went to the World Series… and the Cubs could not win it all even with Ernie Banks on their team.  The Cardinals beat the Yankees in 7 games!

I blame Coca-Cola.  Especially their ad department.  Cause the generic manager is telling the generic Oubs player to “Relax… take it easy.”  But the Cardinals won because Bob Gibson had that laser-intensity stare that bored holes through Mickey Mantle’s bat!  (It is Oubs, not Cubs, by the way.  Look at the big “O” on his jersey.)

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And you can’t tell me that the Coca-Cola ad seen here, the one with the white-haired goblin child casting a spell on you with his crazy eyes and pointing at your dark, delicious master isn’t seriously trying to mess with children’s minds.  There used to be a big five-foot-tall metal sign with this very picture on it in the one and only alley in Meservey, Iowa.  The one time I went to the barber there to get my hair cut I had to sit in that barber chair and stare at this evil thing staring back at me from the alley across the street.  It warped me.  For one thing, I never went back to that barber shop again… at least until I was in college and the sign was gone.

So, I seriously believe Coca-Cola was messing with my mind as a child.  They did it through subversive ad illustrations in Saturday Evening Post Magazine.  And if I’m completely crazy now, I blame them.  You don’t see that kind of thing going on today, do you?  Well, I mean, we should be very worried.  Because it probably means they have gotten better at it.

 

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Filed under autobiography, baseball, baseball fan, commentary, conspiracy theory, foolishness, humor

Dark Thinking

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On a quiet back street in Toonerville there is a haunted house.  Obviously four meddling kids and their talking dog are looking around inside, but they won’t find anything.  It is my dark place.  I am the only one that can go inside and discover what truly is there, for the dark things inside are all a part of the dark side of Mickey.

But Mickey doesn’t have a dark side, you try and argue.  Micky is all goofy giggles and nerdy Dungeons and Dragons jokes.  Mickey is all cartoons and silly stories and he makes us all guffaw.

But I can assure you, everyone has a dark side.  Without darkness, how can anyone recognize the light?

So, I have to go inside the old Ghost House every now and then and take stock of all the furniture, and make note of everyone… and every thing that has been living there.  I go in there now because I am starting to rewrite a very dark story that I really have to get down on paper in novel form.  It isn’t a true story.  Ghost stories never are.  But it is full of true things… old hurts, old fears, panics, and ghosts of Christmases Past.

There was the night I was stalked by a large black dog when I was nine and walking home from choir practice at the Methodist Church.  We are talking Hound of the Baskervilles sort of big damn dog.  I knew every dog that lived in town in those days, but I didn’t know that one. Maybe it wasn’t actually hunting me, but I ran the last two blocks to my house that night faster than I ever knew I could run before.

There was that cool autumn afternoon when he grabbed me and pushed me down behind a pile of tractor tires in the neighbor’s yard.  He forcibly got my pants down… and what he did to me… It has taken more than forty years to be able to talk about what happened.  I wasn’t able to talk about it until after I learned that he had died.

There were the nights spent in the emergency room.  Severe potassium depletion… chest pains that could’ve been heart trouble but weren’t… The morning when my blood pressure was so high I thought I was going to die in front of my second period seventh grade English class.  And the terrible waits in the emergency room when someone I loved was serious about suicide… that was the most terrible of all.

I am not frightened by the grim reaper in the same way that Shaggy and Scooby are.  I have spent time in his company too many times for that.  I do not fear him.  In some ways he brings welcome relief.  And I do believe I can beat him in chess and at least tie him in checkers.

So, yeah, the dark resources are all still there… still in place at the bottom of a deep, dark well. Bad things do wait in the future… but they are in the present and the past also.  I am not a slave to fear and evil has no power over me.  So, I think I can safely write a horror story.  And I admit I am not Steven King.  But I don’t want to be him.  I want to be Mickey.  And that is certainly scary enough for me.

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Filed under autobiography, battling depression, Depression, feeling sorry for myself, ghost stories, horror writing, humor, novel plans, photo paffoonies

The Quest for Acceptance

We all are on a Quest to find our place in this world. We labor hard at trying to get other people to see us as the people we think we are.

Of course, we always fail.

The problem is, first of all, that we are not even remotely… usually… the person we think we are. Sure, we put that clown paint on our face in the mirror, and we think we look funny. But since sitting in front of the mirror we ate a sandwich and smeared the red around the lips. and we rubbed our left eye with a gloved left hand and didn’t even realize it.

The first wide-eyed child we meet screams and runs away from their parents. To her we looked like some sort of vampire clown who eats children for lunch.

And the parents threaten to call the police because they insist we were leering, not knowing we suffered gas pains at the moment because that damned sandwich had red peppers in it, and we are allergic, now approaching intestinal distress.

So, we run and hide for a while.

What’s that, you say? I’m not talking about you? That never happened to you?

Well, it didn’t really happen to me, either. It was a ding-danged metaphor gone rogue and taking over the post just like you would expect an evil vampire-clown to do.

Harker Dawes, owner of the worst hardware store in Iowa.

The thing is, I have always wanted to be a storyteller. And not just any storyteller, but an extra-funny, goofy-clown of a storyteller. And not a vampire-clown either.

But it’s not easy to be funny every day.

I was the teacher that middle-school kids loved because I had a laughing classroom. I used humor to get the point across. And most of my discipline strategies were to head off bad behavior before it actually happened. Get them to laugh rather than act out.

But even then, there were bad days and sad days sprinkled into every week.

Of course, now that I am retired, I no longer have a captive audience to play to and force to laugh at my jokes with the threat of perpetual after-school detention.

The only audience laughing at my jokes now is the imaginary one in my head. And maybe the three people who read my Twitter tweet-wittiness. And of course the six or seven people who bother to actually read my posts on WordPress.

I have twenty books published, the first of which, displayed above by plastic Batgirl, is Catch a Falling Star. That one is about an alien invasion of a small town in Iowa by totally incompetent aliens. The aliens get blitzen-schmuntzed when they kidnap a child specimen from the town who turns out to be more dangerous to their way of life than any Navy Seal could manage, and accidentally leave one of their own tadpoles on Earth to be adopted by a childless farm couple.

The book won two awards from the publisher, Editor’s Choice and Rising Star Awards, which basically means that they appreciate all the money I spent on editorial services and marketing advisors. The book is not a best-seller. In fact, I have made sixteen little dollars on it since it was published in 2013. And I-Universe Publishing does not send out a check for less than $25, so they are still holding on to my money. And very few people read my books. Fewer still buy them.

Anyway, we keep trying. We are on a Quest. And some day, some way, somebody is bound to accept us. As what is yet to be determined.

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Filed under autobiography, clowns, feeling sorry for myself, humor, irony, novel writing, writing humor

Musings on Manic Mumbles in My Mind

The voices in my head never stop mumbling. For the past year I have been having trouble with passing out while trying to write or draw or watch TV. And yet, scenes play out vividly in the theater of my mind while I am briefly unconscious. I’ve been to the doctor about it. But there is no cure for the yammerings of an unquiet thought-mill. The word-weavers keep weaving new sentences. The cloth-cutters keep snipping out patterns and themes. And the prose-sewers keep making essays and shirts and jeans. How did my mental-breakdown voices get stuck inside a garment mill?

The mutterings this morning have been about writing success. Do I dare think any of that has my name associated with it?

Well, my blog views have been up this week. And this morning my prayers have been answered for my book Sing Sad Songs. A reviewer defended my book as a legitimate 5-star novel, and refuted the charges that my book is somehow child-pornography. I have been needing some validation that my book, the product of my darkest secrets and the affirmation of my victory over personal pain, is worthy of being seen as a good book.

And, of course, I have been thinking a lot about the talking-dog story, the one about Horatio who smokes an imaginary meerschaum pipe and talks only to Bobby Niland, and solves murders committed on chickens by the evil Dr. Rattiarty, a really evil real rat.

I have been discussing it endlessly with my dog on our walks in the park for her to take care of her pooping in public. We argue endlessly about how to make the tale believable.

She says, “The thing you don’t seem to understand is that, in real life, dogs can’t talk.”

And I say, “Then how is it that we are even arguing at the moment?”

And she answers, “It’s all because you insist on listening continually to the voices in your head.”

And there is a considerable discussion going on in the faculty lounge of my mental monkey house about the fact that for so many years I had numerous opportunities to be a practicing nudist, and I ran away from it as something I should not do… Until I grew old and weak and gave in to the desire to become a naked man amongst socially nude naturists and now I am unable to physically do it in any way but in my imagination.

“You simply lack the resolve, Michael, to take the bull by the horns and tackle it,” said the Dean of Brain Studies.

“Well, of course he can’t do that!” exclaimed the Professor of Inappropriate Thoughts. “Mickey has no Moo-Wrestling muscles to manage the kind of bull fighting you suggest. The kind where he wrestles with bull-puckie.”

“Mike is a man who can make up his own mind,” said the Associate Professor of Metaphor Mixing. “He just has to stop listening to us.”

“Can you all just SHUT UP!!!” said the Teaching Assistant of Pragmatic Prattle. “We are just a Monkey-House faculty incapable of making any sense.”

So, I am taking the Teaching Assistant’s advice now, and I am closing this essay immediately.

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, humor, mental health, metaphor, Mickey, Paffooney, self pity