Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Douggy Dilemma

Douggy comes into the shop today, hootin and hollerin. Normally, I woulda just offered him a donut, or maybe a fender from 63 Cadillac that I got sittin in the back that I was savin for a special occasion. This would only work with Douggy because he's a fender collector. I've got my suspicions that he kept the fenders he pulled off Mable Lou and that he's been hidin them from me somewhere, but I can't confirm anything. Sometimes, I pretend I'm just stoppin by to say hi, so that he doesn't have time to prepare or cover anything up or maybe hide the fenders in the root cellar or whatnot. Problem is, though, you can't sneak up on Douggy. He can hear people coming from a mile away. Now, I may be prone to exaggeration every now and again, but Douggy can really hear you coming a mile away. He's like an eagle, only with hearing. Or maybe it's a shark, but with hearing, not smelling blood. Albert's pretty good at smellin blood. 'Course, he can generally only smell it if it's inside a steak or something. I don't think Douggy really listens to steaks or anything, but I could be wrong, he does some weird stuff. It's pretty convenient for him, this hearin thing, because he lives out by the drive-in, and he can watch all the movies without payin nothin. Everyone else has to pay their two dollars, but Douggy gets his drive-in movies for free. When the drive-in first opened, though, he ended up goin to the city council to try and get a law passed that they couldn't sell nachos or popcorn or anything, but they didn't listen to him, partially because you gotta have popcorn at a movie and partly because he didn't actually talk to them in a meeting, he just waited around in the parking lot of City Hall until they came out and then he jumped out wearing a gorilla mask and ringing a bell. When they looked at him, he'd yell "Ain't this annoying? Not as annoying as hearin everyone chew their popcorn! No on 48!" His campaign lasted about a week or so in the fall of '82, but since then, he's not allowed to go near City Hall or contact government officials of any kind. If the cops come, and they do come, he's gotta stand 500 feet from them. This didn't work out at first because they used to shout their questions and answers back and forth. That got a little old for everyone, so now all the cops took a semaphore class and the city made Douggy take a semaphore correspondence course. Of course, then all his neighbors took the course, too, so they'd know what was goin on and they could gossip about it.

Anyway, like I says, I usually woulda just offered Douggy a donut and a fender to calm him down, but I seen he didn't have his flags with him, so I knew the police wasn't involved. I also never once heard him use the word "gummint", which is how he usually gets real worked up. So, instead, tell him to shut his yapper, sit his split ham down in a chair and try to git straight. Once he done that, I told him to tell me what got him so worked up this time. I woulda sat him down and asked about his feelings, but I'm not Oprah or anything.

"That durned internet!" he yelled.

"What's wrong with the internet?" I asked. "Do we need to call the guy to come clean the pipes out again?" We've got this guy who does that. He only charges $20 or so, unless they're really clogged up. He's good, too. He's usually only under the house for ten minutes or so and then it's all fixed.

"Nah," he scoffed, "there ain't nothin wrong with the pipes, 'cept they're too big."

Well, I didn't know what to say to that. I was kinda worried the guy had been adding extra pipes down there and charging me without tellin me, and I don't wanna get ripped off.

Finally, Douggy took a couple breaths, had a cup of coffee, which calms him down, but that's because Douggy's so hyped up all the time because of that moose attack or clown-drowning-in-the-toilet-when-he-was-nine nonsense that caffeine actually slows him down. Then, he told me. "They're closin the paper," he says, "All the guys from the back room are gettin laid off. They tell us there ain't a market for paper papers anymore and they're puttin the whole thing online. So, I shoot back, 'What're you gonna call it, the news screen?' and they tell me that's a good idea. So now I'm not only gettin laid off, but they stole my idea and I'm not gonna get paid jack for it! And, that smarmy reporter who doesn't do nothin but make lists gets to keep his job!"

"Wow, Douggy, that's terrible," I said, not knowin what else there was. "You want a donut? Maybe a fender?"

"Nah," he tells me, disconsolate, "they ain't gonna help me none. But I have an idea to get by."

"Oh yeah?" I asks, "What's that?"

"T-shirts," he tells me.

"T-shirts?" I ask.

"Last night, I designed a shirt for your grand opening, and I thought maybe you could sell 'em on your writin thingy that you do."

"Oh, you know about that?" I ask, worried the whole thing about the meth ninjas was out.

"Yeah, of course I know about it," he tells me, "everyone in the world knows about it these days."

"You're kiddin me," I respond, knowing full well I've got a readership of three, two of 'em bein myself and Albert, and Albert only read it a couple times and quit, mostly because it didn't have nothin about blood hounds and partially because he's illiterate. "Did you read it?"

"Nah," he replies, "I heard on MSN that it was pretty lame, so I didn't bother."

Well, that was a relief right there, so I diverted. "What's that got to do with shirts?" I asked.

"You can sell 'em for me," he tells me, "just put a link up there and people can get a shirt to wear to your grand opening. I put your picture on it and everything. 'Course, I'm not great at these picture things, so it might be a bit blurry. But, like I says, maybe they can wear it to your grand opening and it will be like a party. If that works out, maybe you could get an artist or somethin to design another shirt for you. You know, make a contest."

"Douggy," I says, "the grand opening was last week."

"Oh, right." he says, "well, we might as well try anyway. I hear kitsch is all the rage with the kids today."

Well, I don't know what kitsch is, but I assume it's got somethin to do with shirts. I hemmed and hawed for awhile, but Douggy's been my friend since we was three and he pulled me out of that tractor engine I got stuck in when I was lookin for the little men inside ridin tiny bicycles, like my dad told me. So, I'm obeyin his wishes. If you want a grand opening shirt, you can get one here. I also sorta liked his contest idea, so I'm gonna think about that some more, cuz I cannot draw a squimonk for the life of me. They're very oddly proportioned, and they don't have stick figure bodies, which is all I can draw. That and penguins.

After agreeing to that, I tell him, "Douggy, I don't think this thing is gonna work out. You may get enough to buy a donut or somethin out of it, but you don't need to be buyin donuts, so, you'll have enough to buy a donut and not have to buy a donut, which seems like slaughterin a pig when you have a BLT in your hand. Not only is it unneccessary, but it's hard to do, and your sandwich might get all soggy and you could get poisoned or whatnot. And, if it goes really poorly, you may fall slip and fall over and your sandwich would be inedible and you may get eaten by pigs. It happened to my great uncle, 'cept he was eatin a ham sandwich."

"I ain't followin you," he says.

"Yeah," I respond, "that metaphor breaks down after a bit, doesn't it?"

"Sure does," he says.

Then we sat in silence for a while.

"I know!" he burst out, startlin me, "I could work for you!"

"Whaddya mean?" I ask.

"Well, you got this body shop and stuff, and I got a tow truck. You know I could be on call 24 hours a day, and I would only ask for enough to get by, you know, until you hit the big time and everything."

I was trapped. On the one hand, Douggy's my best friend, he's been there for me through thick and thin. He was there when I had to carry Aunt Rita to the hospital in that snowstorm after the deer bit her leg off. He didn't help me carry her or nothin, but when I got home at 5:30 in the morning, he had coffee ready for me. He'd even already poured himself a cup to make sure it was good. Plus he made me some waffles. On the other hand, though, I don't know how Alistair and the squimonk clan will feel about this plan, seems like they wanna keep in the shadows. So, I told Douggy I had a silent partner that I would check with. He seemed to take that OK. Once he was gone, I asked Alistair, and he said he'd do some research and check Douggy out, to make sure he was clean. I said that clean is a pretty relative term when it comes to Douggy, but Alistair meant that he'd check to see that Douggy didn't have no connection to Clan Platypus. If Douggy comes out clean, then we can give him a job. 'Course, I don't know why he wouldn't. Meth would probably only make that guy sleep. So, I guess I'm gonna have to wait a couple of days to see how it all turns out.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Hello. This is the author of Pat O'Neil. I was wondering to myself whether I should write this in character, but I decided it would work better in my own voice. Up until a week ago, I thought no one was reading the ridiculousness that I was putting up here. As of Sunday, I was aware of only three readers. That brought the total of people who had ever read my blog to 8 or so. Then, Sunday evening, I was told I'd been put on a "lamest blog list" on MSN. After some research, though, I discovered that it was actually PC World magazine's 11 Lamest Blog list. At the time, my heart sank a little. I consoled myself with the saying, "There's no such thing as bad publicity," but it did hurt some, I've got to admit. I mean, it's not as if I'm writing erotic One Piece slash fan fiction or anything. However, I was still going to just let it slide.

Then, this afternoon, I find 14 comments awaiting moderation. All of those were posted in roughly three hours. To those who like what I'm doing, thank you. To those who don't, I know this is not for everyone. I would like to make clear up front, and this seems as up fronty as this is going to get, I have no illusions about what I write. I know this is not literature. I am not expecting to change the world with the tale of a guy from Iowa fighting ninjas with an army of hyper intelligent, genetically modified squirrel monkeys with the financial backing of Charles Lindbergh. If you're expecting to find literature on the Internet, you should navigate over to the Gutenberg Project's homepage right now. I suggest starting with the Odyssey and working your way forward in history from there. When you get to Huckleberry Finn, follow Hemingway's advice and quit reading before the boys free Jim. He was right, everything else after that is cheating.

The reason I began The Adventures of Pat O'Neil, and the reason I will keep writing, whether anyone reads it or not, is that our world needs a little ridiculousness. Stand up from your computer and look around you. Our world looks like its falling apart. Our economy is failing because no one was on watch. Much of the time, it seems our government is out to make our lives as unlivable as possible (don't believe me? Go to the DMV. Better yet, try dealing with DHS sometime). Our children have forgotten how to go outside on a nice day and just stare at the sky for an hour or so. Now, when you stack all of that up, maybe we need something we can acknowledge as utterly, totally insane. We can, and I include myself in this, live for a little while in Pat's strange world, knowing that, when the insanity is too much for us, we can step out again. That's why I write it. I need that. I need to know that there is a place that weirdness can have a safe home. A place that weirdness can live its brief life in our heads, make us simply happy, and then blow away like crushed leaves. From everything I've seen in the past couple of years, the natural home for weirdness is the Internet.

I am not ashamed of Pat or my writing. I am not ashamed that it is silly, confused and frantic. I do not feel bad that some people don't like my brand of humor. I've been dealing with that since I was a wee lad. I am going to continue Pat's story because I enjoy it. If you enjoy it as well, you are welcome to come. If you don't, that's all right. Maybe you could try out Dave Barry's blog. He's pretty consistently funny. If that doesn't work out, keep trying, you'll find something you like.

For those who stay, thank you. Now let's fight some Meth Ninjas.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Grand Opening

Before I tell y'all about all the stuff I gots to tell you, I just wanna say hi to my fan base, which, according to my estimates is all the way up to three now. And at least one of them fellas or ladies is married, and he's a fella. Unless he's a lesbian, then he's a she and she's a lady. If that's the case, though, she must live in Massachusetts, cause he or she has a wife. Regardless, hello people, thanks for reading, it makes it easier to write on a Sunday morning if I know someone's going to read all the drivel I'm spewing here.

Anyway, the body shop finally opened on Friday. It woulda likely been opened a month ago, but, in a fit of frustration at havin to drive down to the donut king every couple of days because donuts turn to bricks so quickly and because I can't live without my morning donut and coffee, I said to the squimonks that it sure would be nice to have a donut shop closer. So, a couple of them fellas, or ladies, I don't ask, decided they should just add a donut shop onto the body shop. They had to tinker some with donut recipes, but they finally nailed it and made the perfect maple long john. So, now I gots myself two businesses to pretend to run. It's tough, but I'm managing to get through it. I'm still tryin to figure out how donuts are gonna help us fight ninjas. I suppose that, if they get hard enough, we could throw them at the ninjas, or maybe build us a ninja jail out of old donuts. I've heard, though, that ninjas are good at escapin places, and I'm just not sure old donuts make a really secure jail. Of course, I've never seen a ninja eat a donut, so maybe donuts are like ninja kryptonite. That'd probably be too convenient.

Anyway, on Friday, I got myself some balloons and streamers and whatnot, then I put an ad in the paper lettin everyone know I was open for business and everything. It was a pretty big ad with my picture in it. It said, "Friday, why go out shoppin for all that stuff you don't really need anyway? In this economy, it may be better just to go have a donut and maybe get that fender fixed from when you hit that deer a couple of years ago. We know you were gonna do it yourself, but you haven't yet, have you? You don't even have a rubber mallet. We have rubber mallets, though, and other stuff to fix your car up. We'll make sure all your doors are the same color, too. You can even have a donut while you wait. If that sounds good to you, come on down to the Grand Opening of Pat O'Neil's Body Shop, Refurbished Car Emporium and Donut Eatery. Friday will have a bunch of specials, many of which I haven't thought of yet, but there will probably be free donuts involved in there somewhere."

Now, that may not be the catchiest ad ever written, but you gotta know your audience. And, knowing the people around here, there's nothin they like more than free donuts. That ad worked, too. In fact, Frank brought it with her when she came to the opening. She even showed it to me. Of course, what she said was, "Are you an idiot? Why the hell would you write an ad like that?" All I could say to her was, "People like free donuts."

"Are you kidding me?" she said, "Why are you opening a body shop of all things. I've known you all your life, and I've seen you work on cars. You been drivin that rickety truck around for nigh on 15 years now with it painted four colors of primer. What makes you think you can run a body shop?" After this tirade, she seemed a little out of breath, so she had to sit down for a bit. I gotta say, I was a little dizzy, too. I mean, she was right, what do I know about running a body shop and donut eatery? But then I remembered that the whole business was fake anyway, so I was OK.

"You know, Frank," I told her, "I been workin on my skills. In fact, I got that truck all fixed up and I did it myself."

She didn't believe me, so I took her out to show her Mable Lou, all cleaned up and beautiful. You couldn't even tell that she had been flipped upside down, torn apart by a town truck, rebuilt and then had a flaming couch fall through the bed. She looked better than new. When she saw Mable Lou, Frank was aghast.

"You did that?" she asked, unbelieving.

"Sure did, all by myself, too," I told her.

"The sparkling flames, the chromed tailpipes, the cow horns on the front, Pat O'Neil's Body Shop, Refurbished Car Emporium and Donut Eatery hand-stitched in the white leather of the steering wheel? You did all of that by yourself?"

"You betchya," I told her.

"Where did you learn to do all of that? Two months ago, I woulda sworn you were incompetent to pee standing up, and now you're telling me you did all of this by yourself?"

"Yeah, I sure did," I told her, "I been taking on-line classes and listening to a lot of Car Talk lately. And I been watching some cooking shows, and that's why I'm doing the donuts, too." So, it was all wrapped up in a neat little package.

Then, she looked me right in the eyes with all the understanding a big sister has to offer and told me, with caring and honesty, "You're full of horse crap! What's really going on here?"

"Honest injun!" I told her, "I ain't lying about nothing!"

"BS," she shot back, "I know you're lyin because you always start usin your g's again when you are. What's the story here?"

Well, I couldn't tell her, so I spun some story about something, I don't recall very well now. It's really all a blur. There was something about aliens takin my brain and replacing it with that of a much more motivated man and something about a French chef dying in my arms and passing on to me his recipe for a perfect long john so that humanity did not lose out by not being able to eat the perfect donut. It was a yarn and we both knew it, but I think I distracted her enough to get her to go home. I think she'll be back, though.

After Frank left, the grand opening went great. I had about 20 customers. All of 'em apparently hit a deer a couple of years back and had always meant to fix their fenders themselves, but had never even bought rubber mallets. Like I said, know your audience.