Suggested Audio Voltage:
 Pharell Williams “Happy”
 Matthew Wilder “Break My Stride”
 The Mamas & The Papas “California Dreamin”
 Paul McCartney & The Frog Chorus “We All Stand Together”
I feel obliged to inform you at the very commencement of this article that, should you be one of life’s pessimists, you may well be shit out of luck for the next few minutes. You see, we humans tend to fall into one of two distinct groups. On one hand we have cynics, naysayers, and the bitter and twisted. On the other, well there’s me and I’m guessing rather a lot of you lot to boot. Before we begin tiptoeing through the tulips, please allow me to remind you that I ain’t going out with a pussy. There’s a time and place where sarcasm is an incalculable ally, too much hearts and flowers can indeed be sickening, and we all like to have a good bitch from time to time. I may be positive but I’m no Mother Teresa. By now, that much should be pretty much crystal. That said, my grandmother taught me all about everything in moderation and I make her right you know. So let’s start by getting the negatives out-of-the-way shall we? Scorn seems like the perfect place to start.
Like I said, sarcasm has its benefits and, while never my most potent tool, I have been known to engage in a spot of ironic ribbing from time to time. However, it all depends on the individual circumstances and person I am addressing. I will not use this to come across superior, belittle someone, play mind games, or for the purpose of one-upmanship. Neither will I do so to show off as nobody likes one of them. My friends are more than welcome to mock me if they so wish but those who cannot claim to know me from Adam have no right to make such assumptions on my character. We’ve all been there, chatting to an old buddy and accepting a dash of ridicule in the name of good old-fashioned banter. Suddenly a third-party emerges and decides you are very much fair game. I take great exception to this and, believe me, few people I know are as self-effacing as I. But I’m also not an idiot. Okay, perhaps I am a little bit of an idiot.
Breaking sentences is another thing that gets my goat and milks its udders ’til they’re red raw. There is nothing worse than when somebody blatantly disregards whatever you are saying and cuts you off mid-flow. Don’t get me wrong, I do that shit too at times, and can be as guilty as the next man. However, I also make a conscious effort to listen to my opposite number, even if I don’t care for what they’re saying. Take a close look at somebody after you break their sentence and you my just spot a little of their spirit being shattered too. As I scribe primarily from experience and ordinarily from the first person, my main concern is coming across as some sort of megalomaniac. Those who truly know me, are only too aware that this is not the case in the slightest. In conversation I try my damnedest to be respectful and non-judgemental. The art of conversation really isn’t all that hard a nut to crack. Think of it like Pong. Both parties have a paddle, neither have more than a vague hope of hitting that infernal ball, but fun is generally had by all, regardless of outcome.
Cynicism is another thing that I don’t have a great deal of time for although, once again, it does have its uses. I’m more than mildly pessimistic about the notion of Donald Trump being voted into the Whitehouse but, should the unthinkable occur, then I won’t waste my time with hissy fits. Where my feathers do become ruffled is the suggestion from others that you can’t achieve the goals you set yourself. If I had a nickel for every time I heard the words “you’re wasting your time”, I’d easily have twelve bucks for some moleskin ear muffs. Firstly, it’s my time, and I shall waste it as I see fit. Secondly, who are you to tell me I can’t achieve the unlikely? Sound advice is one thing, but that isn’t always the intention where cynicism is involved. Had David have listened to all the cynics before his big fight with Goliath, then he likely would’ve turned that slingshot on himself. Instead, he made history. Granted, 99 times out of 100, he would have had his ass handed to him by way of rectal smoothie but not this day. This day he slayed the beast against all odds. Apparantly he was beaten to a bloody pulp ten minutes later by Goliath’s entourage but God bless the bible for keeping things chipper.
There is much to be said for a can-do attitude and, without it, I wouldn’t be sat here now. Creative souls are often their own worst critics and the very first to pick holes in their own output. I’ll openly admit to being something of a perfectionist and, should you spot a typo in this piece, then try again tomorrow and chances are you’ll struggle to locate it as quality control happens to be something I take very seriously indeed. However, I have learned not to be too harsh on myself, and make a point of not informing myself that I’m barking up the wrong tree. Lack of self-belief can be a real issue and, indeed, many of my dear friends suffer from this very affliction. Reminding ourselves that we can do what we set out to is vital and the quote “It’s never too late to be what you might have been” is one I fully endorse. This particular little nugget of wisdom has helped me out of some pretty tight fixes and hits the nail on the head with regards to can-do attitude.
With regards to comedy, I would take its black variety over all-out slapstick any day of the calendar year. Pratfall is funny and I’m only too happy to engage in it at every available opportunity but I’m also a bit of a cheeky blighter and nothing pleases me more than a laugh donated at the expense of another. I’m not fussy, should this mean lampooning myself, then even better. Neither do I wish for harm to befall anyone. Perhaps it has something to do with being wired for horror from such a tender age. Believe me, when you’re watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre at ten-years-old, you need all the belly laughs you can get. Alas for poor Sally Hardesty, one of these arrived after being pursued by a chainsaw wielding nonce for a full ten stretch. As she arrived at that service station clearly distraught, only to be bundled into a burlap sack by its proprietor and assured everything will be fine as he pummeled her with a blunt object, I damn near shat a kidney. As I said, the blacker the better.
I regularly speak about the art of paying it forward and champion its cause unerringly. Should I say that I’m happy for someone, then they will never have to concern themselves with any underlying sentiment. Playing games doesn’t interest me in the slightest and neither does insincerity. What does tickle my pickle is watching another flower blossom. Indeed, in Waiting To Live, I compiled myself a bucket list of sorts. One of my ten published aspirations was this – During my lifetime, I wish to witness somebody dear to me realize their dreams; become embellished with riches, maximize their potential and exceed their expectations. That shit isn’t hot air. Recently one of my dearest friends found out that she is about to have her work published. I couldn’t have been more made up. Was a part of me thinking “that should have been me” ? You want an honest answer? Not in the slightest. Sorry to disappoint any cynics but I am genuinely thrilled for her. I’ll worry about my own path forward on my own shift, but that will never entail wishing for another to fail. Simple.
We are all provided with a voice and how we use it is entirely up to us. Sure I have my gripes from time to time but have no great desire to make them public in a way that will slander another. Herein lies the issue with my prose as it is designed to speak to each individually. That doesn’t mean I’ll exercise that privilege for nefarious use. Fuck that gristle, I’d much rather be known as an overly romantic sap than a vessel of venom. I leave breadcrumbs scattered in all I write and make no secret of it either. However, rotten morsels disinterest me in the extreme. If I make a point that hits a little too close to home, then rest assured it is only to enlighten and never to frighten. I can’t control what others think and neither am I looking for a crash course any time soon. I worry about what I can change and that involves everything in my own jurisdiction. But I can control how my neurons fire and can say with hand on heart that they do so unmistakably without so much as a smidgen of malice.
You see, I’ve been on this planet we call Earth for forty-one-years plus pocket change now and have learned how to prioritize my time. A dear and very wise friend mentioned just now about older, wiser eyes seeing anew and I lapped that shit up like Benji. Should ill-feeling come a knocking, then I naturally recess and have less than no time for tattle. Not my thing, by forty-one we all should have sussed out that karma knows how to kick our tail feathers. At this point, I have no idea how long I will still be active in the most literal of senses. Could be six minutes (in which case I’d better get my wriggle on) or it could be six hundred years. I know what you’re thinking, aiming a tad high there Keeper my old buddy. Perhaps I am but you gotta remain hopeful right? Should I croak in an untimely manner, then freeze me up and thaw my ass back out in 2549. I’ll still want to spend my remaining time grinning like a deviant. Whatever time is left on the clock, I’m going to be a good person dagnabbit. Granted, not quite Gandhi, but I am rather fond of rickshaws.
Every day I open my eyes is a good one in my book. There’s my celebration right there. Made it, that’s another cross for the calendar. Good on you Richard. Fourteen more awakenings like this and you may just earn yourself May’s full house. I even started my morning with muesli today. Forget about the box of Lucky 7’s that I polished off by midday, I do believe I took me something of a positive stride there. Had I been cynical, then I could have suggested that it tastes like stodge, thus encouraging a last-ditch boycott. But I ate that shit and those red berries were simply delightful. Fuck you negativity, suck on my curds and whey as you ain’t climbing into my muffit. As I was saying before rudely interrupting myself (practice what you preach Keeper), every day perched on this lily pad lapping up sexy flies, is a good one. The moment I take Frogger’s lead, I’m tire tracks baby.
The Frogger Affliction
That reminds me, I once met a guy who was cursed with The Frogger Affliction. Poor bastard was a real nice fella and all. For some reason, likely damnation, this jaywalking ribbit ranger had managed to become involved in literally dozens of traffic altercations in the past two years alone. Now I ain’t the Dalai Lama but, last I checked, them there are some pretty damning statistics. I’ve been a pedestrian on occasions of lofty numerical nature and, unless I was born under a lucky star, there’s no great science to not getting your ass pinballed. Granted, some accidents cannot be avoided, and I get that. But over forty in twenty-four months. Seriously dude, I’ll pay for your cab. On receipt of this intelligence, a spot of gentle ribbing was necessitated even though I barely knew him. As a result of our vague association, I never once used over-familiarity, and followed up every negative with its counter-tive. It went something like this. You seem to get run over a lot. However, you’re a fine-looking figure of a man.
I watched for clues as to how he processed the data and kept on twiddling the knobs until the end of our interaction. By then he was Frogger. But he also knew about the see-saw accident I endured as a whippersnapper. Dang he even knew what nut I landed on and just recalling it brought tears to my squirters. But I took that shit gladly for the team. And that is the key word here methinks. I’m not about to come out with the old “there’s no I in team” chestnut although, let’s be clear, there isn’t. But for me every last exchange is a team sport. I’ll spike up those smashes when I know you’ll spike mine up also. And if you’re not feeling spiky, then I’ll still bag us the win by feeding you snapshots as that’s what good teammates do.
Anyhoots, I’m digressing now and you know nothing pleases me more than a good hearty tangent. Back to the lily pad for closure. I may not have been able to take away all the hurt, the bitter memories of fender facials, and the dislocation – oh the dislocation. But I do possess a joystick and, if we work together, you may just reach the river bank after all. Granted, that ominous crocodile is licking its gums as we speak, and perception evidently isn’t your strong suit, but two pairs of frog’s legs are better than one. Alas, I also remember how difficult it was to control an amphibian whose lefts were more right than his rights and vice versa. Had I informed him of my paltry Frogger high score, than he possibly would have wilted right then and there. Thus I patted him on the back and he headed off to grab us some smokes on foot in treacherous conditions. Bless him. He only made it back.
You see, had I (or indeed he) been pessimistic then where would it have gotten us? Positivity wins hands down for me and I will sing its praises until rotten vegetables become airborne. Sticks and stones may break my bones but a punnet of mushrooms will never harm me. Yikes. Now I’ve done it. Had I ever mentioned that I believe toadstools are inherently evil? It’s true, I wouldn’t eat a pizza that had hosted a solitary cap if you painted my toes green and tickled my inner wrists. Hate the bastards and, you may have cottoned on by now, I use no word less than hate. Actually, now I do. But you get my gist. Therefore, there are two things I wish to fuck today. Fuck negativity and fuck mushrooms too. Don’t even get me started on negative mushrooms or mushroom infused negativity. I’m still smiling after three years as a self-endorsed creative and I’m fairly sure there’s a medal for that. Tell you what, you wear it. Looks better on you.