Home of the Brave

Home of the Brave

by Mark Driver

Oh, my furry little head! It spins and whirls on my brown little neck like a tarantula on a turntable. We’re talking 78 rpm! My legs are jelly donuts and my intestines award winning knockwursts because I AM SURROUNDED BY SO MUCH COURAGE!

Yes, like all the other boys in the world, I was raised with all the ‘be brave and courageous’ lessons. Grover taught me. Dad taught me. Aaron Burr taught me. However, each time I actually attempt to be brave and courageous, it seems like something bad happens and the more guts it takes, the more that people want to see those guts, preferably splattered against a Plexiglas wall so they can get up close without getting dirty.

People don’t really want bravery from you. They want you rolling like a pink little puppy with a funny exposed belly. People want to watch you kick your back leg. Well actually, people want to watch you kick your back leg while they scratch you. They want to have that effect on you.

Bravery comes from other people. People they don’t know. People you don’t know.

Like our President, whose name escapes me right now. Don’t worry. I’m sure he forgets my name too.

When all those greedy workers with clawed numb hands and burning ropes of pain running up their arms into their necks came asking the government for some help, he was a stone wall. Just because their bodies were too weak to do the same little repetitive motion over and over month after month year after year, they expect to take a few days off every so often and maybe have an expert come out to look at their job and possibly make it so that it didn’t make the tendons on the back of their hands swell into chicken bones, elbows immobilized into baseballs, blurry vision and loss of finger movement – when those people tried to bully their poor companies into receiving treatment for work related afflictions, that brave Mr. Bush looked them right in the eye and said, “Fuck you. Too expensive,” as did his brave comrades in Congress, even though they have their own repetitive motion injuries, cramped hands from signing corporate checks and the constant knee bending supplications to the moneyed interests who keep them in Chivas Regal and tight-assed little twentysomethings.

This is bravery. Not just ordinary bravery, but American Bravery. For a body of people who most likely haven’t done a single day of manual labor in the past twenty years, save the effort of pointing out the permanent bleach spot on the tuxedo to the illegally hired maid and why that bleach spot is getting her shipped back to the death squads of El Salvador – for these people to simply step over the millions of their suffering constituents by saying “too expensive” – if that isn’t brave, I don’t know what is.

“Senator Lott, the $460 million dollars of federal tax dollars are ready to be given to the offense contractors in your district to build an amphibious landing vessel that the Pentagon doesn’t want is ready.”

“Hold on, I’m trying to get this recently fired mother with debilitating carpal tunnel syndrome to suck my dick for a frozen turkey.”

“OK, I’ll just leave it in this gold box by the door.”

“Whatever. And make sure they cleaned all the blood stains from leather interior of my personal Apache Attack Helicopter.”

“The red Apache or the blue one?”

“Both of them you fool!”

And then when it seemed like I could take no more bravery, I saw the bravery which with the mighty foot soldiers of the Mardi Gras riots visited upon their enemies. While many of us were slovenly content to drink fruity drinks and have a good time, bravery abounded all about us! The little skinny girl, although tiny and harmless looking, must have been a very great monster indeed because it took eight grown men to stomp her unconscious. And the boy that went to help her, undoubtedly a highly trained enemy agent, was courageously clocked from behind with a beer bottle and then kicked in the neck by no fewer than twelve brave souls who risked their own lives to venture anonymously from the safety of a crowd and grind a basketball shoe into a dead kid’s face.

Oh, and the rioters! What bravery! Yes, kids in backwards baseball hats, show off to your friends and give the finger to the same cops you’ll soon be complaining to when the burglaries in your gated communities go unsolved! Flip the battered old Nissans of the people serving you beer in the bars before escaping to the driving luxury of your father’s Lexus. Give the police plenty of riot practice! Drive public opinion to the point that no one will accept even a legitimate political protest without clamoring for the swift justice of plastic shields, plastic handcuffs, and plastic bullets when a group of more than three takes a corner with signs in their hands. Bring on the bravery of a police state! It’ll be a brave new world!

Oh, and the bravery of school shooters! Imagine all the guts that it takes to bring a gun to school and start shooting people! I try to think of the people I went to school with, and to be honest, I can’t remember many of them. I know that the hottest girl in high school works in the HR department at Bell South, because she keeps emailing me and acting like we’re friends (yeah, like I want to be friends with someone who works at the phone company). I know that the old captain of the football team sells Hyundais a few blocks away from the gridiron he used to rule. I know that most of the cheerleaders never quite lost the weight after their second kid and third year of marriage. I know that one of the weirdest nerds is now an associate professor at Oxford.

I know that if I do run into someone from those hazy years, we’re nice to each other. We talk for two minutes. I blab about writing a book, they’ll say, “wow, that’s really impressive, let me know when it comes out,” and then they’ll talk about their boring ass job and I’ll say “wow, it sounds like you’re doing really well for yourself”, and then we’ll make plans for a drink we both know that we’ll never have, shake friendly hands and walk right back into our lives. Big deal.

So imagine how much bravery it takes to end your own life before you get to the fun part of moving out of the house and staying up all night with BOOZE and GIRLS without having to worry about getting busted. How brave to never take roadtrips across the country for weeks on end and meet people living through truly fucked up conditions that make your worst day of life look like cupcakes at the zoo. How brave to go into the prison system as a puffy, white, teenage boy with a good forty years of soapy showerroom gang rapes ahead of you. How brave to never see the scope of the world, the range of human beings, the dizziness of landscapes you’ve only seen on television, how fucking brave that in the face of the endlessly amazing expanding and enormous universe you choose to end it all in a tiny, insignificant microcosm of your rinky little high school, taking some equally clueless chumps with you for good measure, completely oblivious to the fact that the day you graduate from high school it will disappear behind you in a slightly embarrassing fog. Ending life before you really bite into it. This is about the bravest thing I can think of.

You will forgive me if I am flushed. If I cannot talk. If I am a little choked up. It is all this courage. All this bravery. All this bravery around me …

=========================

OK, well enough bravery. In an act of cowardice, I have finished the third draft of my book, now tentatively entitled Ratcatcher and am putting on the finishing touches. Those with the fortune of reading my last crazed entry can witness first hand what twelve straight hours of editing the same twelve pages will do to your head. Jesus. ‘Defensive Tackle: Groundhog MVP!’ read just fine at 5:30 in the morning.

According to Abe Vigoda’s Rootin’ Tootinest Guide To Tricking Some Sucker Into Giving You Some Money to Publish Your Book, the next step of this book process is finding a literary agent, which means I send 1,000 letters to shiny panted people in New York and wait for them to send me letters back saying “we thank you for your letter, unfortunately we must inform you that you suck, that you’ll never get anywhere in this business, and by the way we’re shutting your website down too.”

Of course I’m kidding. I will undoubtedly be receiving seven figure offers shortly and be far too cool to ever answer your emails again. I will be on the Today show tomorrow and then immediately proceed to dump my girlfriend for Bette Midler or Bea Arthur or some other Hollywood superbabe. Yes, this is what will happen.

However it happens, this should be a hilarious undertaking full of plenty of failure, and you, gentle readers, will get to experience every painful little setback in excruciating detail. That’s right, I am documenting the entire experience of trying to get a book published, and putting that experience online, real time, as it happens. My gosh! Those of you who have been reading my shit for years, who have seen me change from a timid little ocelot into a full blown mustachioed Mexican revolutionary will now get the honor of passing me Kleenex and tabs of Oxycodone (or Oxistat, as the case may warrant) as I fade into further obscurity, crushed into a lime green powder by the whirling gears of the publishing industry, snorted off glass tables during high rise power lunches and rubbed into the pulsing gums of bleached teeth that glow fiercely when the fat lips curl back in a smile that can only mean money or death .. and � and .. ok, ok, deep breath. Sip of wine. Another deep breath. Mmm. Good wine.

I know I had planned to print the book myself but, as my Spanish brethren out there will understand, no hablo dinero. And to completely contradict that last statement and confuse you all even further, Mark Driver will soon be making his first trip to Europe. A tragedy in someone else’s family has paid of in spades for your humble author, who now holds two round trip tickets to Rome, Italy in his filthy little mitt. Yes, for the first time in his life, Mark Driver will be leaving the Continent of North America and making his way to the cradle of Western Civilization where he will win a bocci contest, eat octopus gelato, take pictures of tourists, and try to get used to spending 100,000 units of currency at dinner. Or is it the Euro there now? Shit. I don’t know anything. I’m so unprepared.

I bought a Berlitz record from 1967 to teach me Italian slang. And I already know a little Italian: Uno con una frattura al cranio. Un altro dovra avere amputate tutt’e due le gambe.

This roughly translates to “Your friends are so fucked.”

Anyone who knows Rome really well will be my best friend forever if they can direct me to some punk/metal clubs, some good record stores, things to look out for, late nite discos within which I can unleash my Pacific Northwest dancing maneuvers, and the exact route around the city that will keep me from passing a shoe store and having to spend my afternoon watching the girl try on 15,000 pair of Prada shoes and asking me for an opinion.

“I think you’re a retard for spending more than $20 on shoes.”

“Fine, I’m an idiot. Do you like this in black or in gray?”

“Do they sell wine here?”

“No, black or grey. Or did you like the other style better?”

“Maybe they sell wine next door. I’m going to go look, but I’ll be right back. I swear.”

“OK, but you know the second you leave, some Italian man is going to ask me to marry him.”

“I doubt it. He’ll probably just pinch your ass.”

“And that doesn’t bother you?”

“Not as much as having to spend my first trip to Europe watching you put on 15,000 pair of shoes that look exactly like the ones you have at home.”

“Well I just loved spending an hour in that record store watching you piss yourself over Italian metal bands.”

“Yeah, well you’ll listen to these records more than I will.”

“Fine, little baby, you can wear my shoes.”

“I don’t want to wear your stupid shoes.”

“My shoes aren’t stupid.”

“Oh yes they are. Ask them a question. A math question.”

“You ask my shoes a math question.”

“OK, hey shoes, what’s the tangent of 90?”

“The shoes say that was a trick question.”

“Man, those shoes are smart.”

“See.”

“Ask them if they know what the fastest way to get you out of here is.”

“They told me to tell you to say ‘the black ones’.”

“OK, I like the black ones.”

“Really? You don’t think they make me look-”

“No.”

“Beautiful.”

“Yes.”

“Well, which is it? No or yes.”

“Wine.”

“That’s not an answer.”

“I would really be much more agreeable if you would simply allow me to get a glass of wine next door without threatening dago matrimony.”

“I can’t believe you used that word.”

“Is it a bad word over here? I don’t think they use it. Besides, dago is also Spanish. And you know I’m part Spanish.”

“So you keep telling me. You look more Mexican than Spanish.”

“I’d rather be Mexican than Spanish.”

“Really.”

“I like being called a ‘bean’ better than I do a ‘dago’.”

“No one ever calls you either.”

“Remember how that racist lady in our old apartment complex used to call the swimming pool ‘the bean dip’ because me and Hector were the only guys who swam in it?”

“You thought it was funny.”

“It was funny. Besides you know they’re calling us bad names here in Italy.”

“I’ll bet they’re calling you bad names here in Italy.”

“Har-har. Wine. Mark needs wine to deal with stupid girl.”

“Don’t call me stupid.”

“Mark needs wine to deal with superconsumer, able to support three years of illegal prison labor in a single cash transaction.”

“These shoes are made in Italy.”

“By prisoners. You should read the pamphlets by the door.”

“This can go on forever.”

“No. One of us will eventually die.”

“Hopefully it’s you. And soon.”

“That’s an awful thing to say.”

“I know. I’m sorry.”

“Me too.”

“Who is talking now?”

“I forgot.”

“Let’s go get some wine.”

“What are you? Some sort of alcoholic?”

But I’m not just an getting off being an unemployed international playboy. Other things are afoot. Now that most of the book writing is done and snowboarding season is almost over, I’m blowing the cobwebs off poor Wendy O. Williams’s radiating green face at index.html, and realizing that I’ve been away from this site too long. Two dead links off the main page? How do I ever expect to co-brand my market blah blah? Baby, I’m sorry I neglected you. You mean so much to me and I’m such a jerk for never showing it. For taking you for granted. I realize that now, honey. I’m going to make some major changes around here, and that’s almost a promise. Pretty close to a promise. As close as you fuckers are gonna get anyway.

Here’s a map of what’s coming next. It’s not much, but it’ll have to do.