Shock Value, A Story From Last One To Die

With telling stories I’m what Charlie Murphy would call a “habitual line-crosser.”

I don’t filter and I don’t leave out any detail.

I don’t love disgusting or filthy humor, per se. But I love shock value. Here’s an example, the movie Something About Mary was too much, but the campfire scene in Blazing Saddles should’ve won an Oscar.

About a decade back, my dad took my brother and me out for dinner at some little café or diner in Canoga Park/Fallbrook area. Not sure what anybody ordered, but I remember the waitress was somewhere around my dad’s age. In her mid to late fifties.

Every time she would come to the table, she would, ignore my brother and I and only look at my dad. He was cordial and would smile, but initiated no conversation, or pick up on her.

After the second time, she was at our table my brother tells my dad “I think she’s digging you.” He smiles and nods and plays it off.

I figure I’d push it up a notch. So, I lean over and whisper to him: “I think she wants to fuck your face.”

I got the response I wanted. He spits out his drink and yells, “What the fuck is wrong with you?”

After his shock disappeared, he laughed. One of only a few times I got a real belly laugh from him.

#michaelessington #lastonetodie




Barbequed Bear Shit, A Story From Born Frustrated

Born Frustrated

My father collected comic books as a kid. When he and my mom got married, he brought with him a box was about three feet tall and about three feet wide filled with comics. Everything from superhero books to Three Stooges. The box was off limits. Though when no one was looking, I’d go to the room, find a book, take it to my room and read it then toss it back in the box.

Then one night, about 8:00 or 9:00, some guy came to the door. My dad answered, led the guy to the back room. The guy went through the box, he and my dad talked for a while, the guy handed my dad some money and left with the box. It shocked me.

What they didn’t know was that I had one of his Three Stooges books in my room as I was still reading it. Even though I wasn’t supposed to touch these books, I didn’t know what to do with it. I ended up hiding it for years. I gave it to my dad when I was around twenty-five. He smiled. I knew I would not get in trouble.

Looking back now at the books, the age and condition — I’m sure the books would be worth a half a million. But back then — maybe a hundred.

About twenty years after that box was taken away, I would meet Jack Kirby at a comic convention in Agoura. I sat and talked to him for about thirty minutes. I told him about some books from the box. Some I knew he drew. He said it was a treasure chest. I asked to get some of my books signed by him, but his arthritis was so bad it hurt him to shake hands. Instead, he gave me his address in Thousand Oaks. He said to come by some afternoon and we could have coffee and he’d sign my books.

I was so overwhelmed, this was better than being asked to meet the President of the United States. After six months of driving past his house, I got the nerve to go to the door. I knocked, he wasn’t home.

The next day I mailed my books. Some early to mid-sixties Fantastic Fours and some early seventies DC stuff. He had everything mailed back within a week with a note saying something like, “Feel free to drop on by.” I never made it over there and Mr. Kirby passed away two years later in 1994. And eleven years later in 2005, my father passed away. Everyone I connected to that box is gone.

Two weeks ago I caught my son sneaking into my closet and taking a graphic novel of mine, Kraven’s Last Hunt. My first reaction was, “Hey, leave my books alone,” but I remembered my comic book raids. So, I stopped and said, “That’s a good one, you’ll like it.”

#michaelessington #bornfrustrated



Tom Bradley, A Story From Last One To Die

In life, if you ever step out of the “norm” and end up in a counterculture movement, e.g. punk, hippie, Goth, mod — what have you, you’ll end up with some tales of the crap you took. My dad relayed a story years ago about a time in the early to mid-1970s. He traveled across the country (from California to New Hampshire) with his sister- and brother-in-law to help them move. The trip took them from California through the top of Texas into the Midwest and New Hampshire. The trip went fine except for when they had to stop and eat in the South or the Midwest, almost all the diners refused to serve him or sometimes, even acknowledge him, all because he had long hair and a beard. The first handful of refusals, he was angry and called them outside, but after a while, he moved on.

About ten or fifteen years later my father, brother and I are in Downtown, Los Angeles to attend the annual Street Scene festival, one summer, I think 1981. Anyway, it was overcast, so I used that as an excuse to wear my leather jacket. So, as we’re walking along the Street Scene workers keep handing us leaflets, maps, and coupons, etc. all the while I’m stuffing them into the inside pocket of my leather jacket. After an hour or two of walking around, we notice people lining up along the sidewalks, preparing for a small parade. So, we stand to the side and the Los Angeles Mayor (at the time) Tom Bradley walks up the street flanked by two huge bodyguards (with short Jheri-Curls). Around this time my brother asks where we should go next. As the Mayor is right in front of us I reach into my jacket to get the map and by the time I look up I am being accosted and damn near leveled by the Mayor’s bodyguards. After being shaken down for about a minute my dad yells, “Tom, it’s my son!” My father worked in City Hall as Head of The Street Tree Division, so he had dealt with Bradley occasionally. They let me go and the Mayor walks over and pats my head and says “Good boy.” And walks away. The bodyguards thought I was reaching for a gun. It’s funny how as time passes the culture gives way to acceptance. This past July at the Comic-Con, in San Diego, I counted at least 25 Mohawks in the crowd, with no one batting an eye.

#michaelessington #lastonetodie



Writing, A Story From Salvation

Back in 2011, when Last One To Die first came out they overran my in-bin with messages, people wanted to chat. Chat about anything, most often how to get their book published. I had a standard response I would copy and paste. It went something like this: “I sent my manuscript to many publishers and most would tell me it’s good, but times are hard for the industry and they are tightening the reigns and publishing less. So, I did everything myself. Wrote it, laid it out, I took pictures across the street from my house, etc.” Some thanked me; some would get pissed as if I was holding onto some sacred publishing information that would keep their books from ever getting published.

Another interesting (i.e. creepy) thing that happened was I got two stalkers in that first year. One was a girl I met in elementary school another I met in junior high. Neither one had contact with me in over 30 years. The messages from both started the same, “How are you? I know you’re married, but I want our special friendship to continue.” I would respond, “Sure, we’re friends. If I’m in your neck of the woods, we’ll get coffee.” But it continued, with messages like “I’ll send you a ticket to Vegas and make it worth your while.”

They both got so out of control (mind you, I didn’t remember these people when they popped back up), I had to block them. Then they both friended my brother and tried to get my attention through him and then hit on him until he blocked them.

After that mess calmed down I got all these offers from people that wanted to “work” with me. One person wanted me to work on a script treatment for my book. He “knew” a big-time producer that wanted something “gritty,” and would jump at the opportunity to turn it into a flick. I’m not a scriptwriter (hell, some might say I’m not a writer) so I tried, but I sent him the text for the story of me being accosted in Hollywood by some ex-junkies. He loved it. Guess what? This week marks one year since I’ve heard anything about the “script.”

This week also marks the one-year anniversary of having another writer call me and tell me they were about to be published and their contact at this company had read my book and would call me. I was skeptical. Then one afternoon the writer called back and said to wait by the phone the contact would call me any minute and wanted to offer me a $40,000.00 contract for publishing rights for Last One To Die and two more future books. So, I told the writer I was half done with Life Won’t Wait and a partial script treatment and a book of unpublished poetry. The writer said, “Oh my god, your advance is going to be huge.” Of course, I was already plotting in my head, college for the kids, etc. A week went by and nothing. I was crushed. The writer called back and said the contact was mad because the writer tipped me off, so they weren’t going to contact me. Bullshit or not, dangle $40,000.00 in front of somebody and then say it won’t happen, it took a minute to get over.

Another year and another book, let’s see what happens now!

#michaelessington #salvation



Full Circle, A Story From Last One To Die

Back in September 1978, after a year of idolizing all the Dogtown guys, my father took my brother and me down to Skatercross in Reseda and got us memberships; I was twelve, my brother was eight.

One of the funniest things about Skatercross was their application. At thirty, you qualified for a discount, because they considered you a senior citizen. My father was thirty-two and not amused. Another of the things I remember most about this application was the three categories: “Novice, Intermediate,” and “Pro.” It pissed me off, because my dad checked, “Novice” on mine. I remember freaking, asking my dad, “Why novice?” And he said, “Because you are.” I was very disillusioned, hadn’t he seen me hop off curbs? Grind along the edge of the sidewalk? He knew nothing of skateboarding.

Skating into the starting point of Skatercross was frightening. You had your choice of going up to this two-story ramp and skating down into the bowl at top speed or starting out at ground level. This was my first attempt at a skate park so I started at ground level putting along as fast as I could go and then half a dozen kids come barreling down on me from the ramp, everybody’s screaming: “look out to your right! Lookout left!” A few sailing over me via the walls of the bowl. It was crazy! My brother and I skated for a few hours until dad scooped us up for dinner. I remember feeling cool after that. Every street skater wants to attempt a park. I remember looking at pictures of Tony Alva airborne at skate parks in Santa Monica, wishing it was me (minus the crazy hair). So, for the next few months, I showed everybody and their momma my Skatercross membership card. I later gained the nickname Mellow Cat (from Linda “Ziggy” Daniels) taken from the Skateboarder Magazine comic by Ted Richards.

Fast forward thirty years to July 2008, my four-year-old son and I spent a Sunday afternoon restoring an old Kryptonics skateboard I had. It was missing a wheel, bearings were rusted, screws and bolts were rusted. So, over the course of an afternoon, I replaced the screws and bolts, put on new wheels and bearings, my son, Lucas, put on the wheels, I tightened them. The same stuff I used to do with my dad (when he had the patience) before we lost him in 2005. Everything comes full circle.

#michaelessington #lastonetodie



Eulogy, A Story From Last One To Die

I gave this eulogy late November 2005, or early December 2005.

I was telling my wife last week, that the news of my father’s passing is like walking into an abandoned office, an office hit by a hurricane. I have been trying to pull together every memory, every bit of time we had together, everything he ever told me and put everything in its proper compartment.

When I think of my dad, even at this age, I am 8 years old, it’s 1974, and he’s holding me by the ankles raising me to the ceiling and he asks me “do you want to go higher champ?” My father was always 10 foot tall and bulletproof. He could intimidate the biggest men with a look, but everybody would feel safe in his company, men, women, children, and animals.

After my parent’s divorce, my father used to pick my brother and me up every other Saturday. After a year of doing this, in 1974, he asked to take us for an entire weekend, so he could take us to our grandparents in Morongo Valley. I packed like I was leaving for the summer, a pair of pajamas and thirty comic books. My grandfather went all over the city and stockpiled all the comic books he could find. So that night I was drawing pictures and making my own comics, my dad sat down on the floor with me and picked up the paper and pencil and drew a picture of Spider-Man, eyeballing it off the cover of one of my books. It was so perfect; you would’ve sworn it was a Xerox. I said to my dad, “I didn’t know you could draw.” To which he replied, “I wanted to be an artist, but grandpa said it wasn’t a man’s line of work.” My father discouraged no hobby, job or my even, sometimes, weird musical taste.

My father was an employee of the City of Los Angeles for thirty-nine years; during this time he made a lot of friends and met many influential people. One of my father’s favorite stories was the time he took my brother and me to the Los Angeles Street Scene in 1979. We were trying to figure out where we would go next and me wanting to be a 13-year-old punk rocker wore a leather jacket. So, I reach into the inside pocket of my leather jacket (to get the Street Scene map) at the exact moment Mayor Tom Bradley is walking past us. His security team saw me reach into my jacket and throttled me. My dad yelled to the Mayor “Hey Tom, it’s my son!” To which our Mayor said, “Oh, sorry, Tom.” And gave me a pat on the head and walked on.

A few years ago, my father and I got into a stupid argument. Being stubborn we both chose not to talk to each other for a while. As time went on it hurt more and more. I went to his house one afternoon, scared at what the reaction would be. He hugged me and said, “I hear I have a grandson on the way.” We talked for about four hours. After that, we talked on the phone every day and saw each other twice a week until he moved to Lake Elizabeth.

Growing up, he was the blueprint of a man to me. Who I wanted to be. Though some have considered it a shortcoming, I inherited his temperament, his writing and in a lot of ways his sense of humor. My father would always smile at our dumb jokes, but the goal was to make him really laugh. So, naturally, the jokes and comments became more outlandish. None that I can repeat here.

My father was not overly nostalgic. He didn’t live in the past. It wasn’t until his last few years that he started to reveal stories of his childhood. Stories about wandering away, while his father was building their house in Woodland Hills and hanging out with Buster Keaton, who would become victim to tongue lashings from my grandmother, in broken English, for having his dog use their lawn as a restroom. Or the summers in Canada with his hunter/ trapper uncles, who worked all day, then at night would hand their car keys to my twelve-year-old father and have him drop them off at a local bar, then tell him what time to be back to get them. All this, while never driving a car before.

Growing up, my dad was two people; one we felt like could destroy New York City and then scale the Empire State Building. But the one I will remember forever was the one at my house in September 2005, the last time I saw him, laughing and joking, my one-year-old son standing behind him playing peek-a-boo and pulling my father’s hat off, while my dad had our six-pound dog in his lap. He was a wonderful grandfather.

After the events of 9/11, the field in which I work, pretty much, bottomed-out. I got by on freelance work. I remember telling my dad, that I may give up design altogether and go back to school and pick up a new trade. My father only said, “Take your time and find out what you’re interested in.” The next time we met up, he asked me to move in with him while I go to school. I was surprised, telling him, “I have a wife and kids and a dog.” To which he replied, “Really, I had no idea.” Shortly, I landed a job, but I truly regret not moving in to have that extra time with him. Even though we would’ve driven each other crazy.

I was always amazed by my father’s knowledge, he was one of the few people that would get two or three newspapers every day and read every article beginning to end. He knew every restaurant and backstreet from here to Las Vegas to Boston. I told him several times that he should write a book about restaurants in Los Angeles, then another one of his growing up, he’d always say, “why don’t you write it, then you can keep the money.”

The beauty of this is the man had seen it all and he no longer judged. If you asked, he’d give you his opinion, but he didn’t meddle. He was the rock for us to lean on when we needed him. In my selfishness – I need him now.

I love you, dad. I’ll see you again.

By the time we meet again, I’ll have my office organized and every memory and image will be in its place.

#michaelessington #lastonetodie



Dark Party, A Story From Life Won’t Wait

Somewhere back in my early adolescent days I must have made my dad think I was gay.

Not sure if it was that I was scared of everything, or because I showed no real signs of being a “man’s man.”

A few (wretched) examples: When my parents took me to see Santa Claus when I was five, I ran like hell out of the building; When my mom took me to see Ronald McDonald and the McDonaldland Revue in the parking lot of our local Golden Arches, I ran like hell towards our car; When my dad took me on our Indian Guides weekend retreat to the snow, the after-dinner movie one evening was Frankenstein, I freaked and said, “I am sick and tired.” My dad put me to bed and watched the movie without me.

When I was five years old, in an effort to butch me up, my dad enrolled me in a wrestling class at Pierce College. I didn’t care. My mom would drop me off and I would learn how to wrestle/become a man.

Now, here’s where I failed at this: One kid (I keep thinking his name was “Kenny”) was very hyper. Even when it was two of the other kids’ turn to show the move they taught us, Kenny would move up and down the line of kids waiting for their turn and would try to do a headlock/chokehold on us. No big deal, right?

It so happened that my father had enrolled himself in a night class at Pierce a few days after my enrollment. His class let out, and he came to check on his son’s new masculinity. What did he see? Me pressed up against the wall with Kenny performing his best date rape techniques on me.

When I wrestled away from this kid, all I saw is my dad looking over at me, shaking his head in disgust and then walk away. Hmm, not good.

Once I got home, I heard my dad and mom talking in the other room. It went something like this: “I go to check on him and he’s busy hanging all over the other boys.” I wasn’t old enough to understand what was being said, only that my dad was disappointed.

Fast-forward seven years to midway through the sixth grade. My dad popped up at my mom’s house one day (they had divorced six years earlier. Think it might have been because of the wrestling situation?), and said, “I will sign you up for football. What do you think?”

I kind of shrugged and said, “Sure, whatever.” As far as football goes, I’m the wrong guy to ask. Shit, my favorite football player was O. J. Simpson and look how that turned out.

So, my dad left, and my mom asked if I “wanted to play football.” I thought about it for a while, and said: “No, I want to run track.” Why did I say this? I’ll never know.

So when my dad returned to pick me up the following week to sign me up for football, my mom made me face him and say, “I don’t want to play football, I want to run track.” My dad went slack. My words, in his mind, meant “My son wants to skip around in shorts and a tank top rather than smash the opposing team’s players.” Oh, the pride in his face.

He said he’d “Be back next week.” He had to check into track programs.

A day or so later my mom asked if I was sure I wanted to run track. Again, I thought about it, and said: “No, I want to play soccer.”

That weekend, when my dad returned to pick me up to sign me up for track, my mom makes me face him, yet again, and say “I don’t want to run track, I want to play soccer.” This time he seemed relieved. It was as if I’d just said: “Dad, I’m not going to troll Santa Monica Blvd. and pull tricks.”

Again, my dad left, to check into soccer enrollment before I changed my mind. I got enrolled in a small organization called West Valley Soccer League, not the larger AYSO. I was fast and fairly strong. I started at “forward.” Then moved to “fullback” and finally over to “goalie.”

I did great as a goalie. Very seldom did I let a ball get by. Then just as I’m showing my dad that there might be hope for me — in our second-to-last game of the season, as I was defending the goal, it started to rain. A forward from the opposing team came up the center, as my backups were slipping and sliding on the grass. We were squaring off. He kept running in, ducked down like a bull and charged. I jumped for the ball and the base of his head slammed into my eye-socket. I swear I heard my skull crack. I fell, he scored, I cried. Coach took me out of the game. I sat next to my mom, she rubbed my head and I tried to stop crying. My dad walked over and said, “You’re fine, go back in the game.” I looked at my mom, hoping she would overrule it. She hugged me, and I stayed out of the game.

After the game, my dad took my brother and me to his house, as it was his weekend with us. (When I turned eight my dad started to exercise his visitation rights. He’d left when I was six. I didn’t see him. Then at eight, he started the every-other-Saturday visits. After six months to a year, it turned into every other weekend.) The car ride to his house was tense. “Mumble, mumble, you could have still played, mumble, not injured.”

We walked into the house and as I went to change out of my soccer clothes, my dad started telling the story to his wife: “He could have still played and he was not really injured but he was crying,” he said. “Oh shit, here it comes,” I thought to myself. I hurried into the room, changed, then stayed in the room and read a comic book, hoping they would forget.

Then I heard “Come on guys, lunch is ready.” I sheepishly came out.

Next, surprise, surprise, my dad’s wife started in: “Why didn’t you go back in the game? Your dad pays a lot of money for you to play soccer. You shouldn’t waste his money by sitting on the side.” I just nodded and said, “Next time I will.”

The one good thing that came out of this is that I played my ass off in the next game, and our team came in second place in the league and I got a shiny trophy. Hurray!

Did I redeem myself? Was I officially heterosexual? Not so fast. Since my dad saw that I completed an entire season of soccer, he wanted to enroll me for the next season before I changed my mind and decided to take up macramé.

The first day of practice of my second season was odd. The coach did drills and every person played every position. Most of us–a few guys from my last team included—went to the coach and explained what position we were best at. Invariably, he said to each of us “Get back out there and run the drills.” Fine. Every day the coach wore this T-shirt that said “Sunkist, all juice, no seeds.” Whenever he would turn his back, all the mothers would shake their heads in disgust. Most of us kids were clueless. (Hey, it was in 1978; we were a bit more naïve back then.)

After the second practice, the coach sent most of the team home and asked to see about five of us with our parents. He stood in front of my mom and me and said, “Sorry, he isn’t any good. I want to win the championship this year.” My jaw dropped. Oh boy, I’ll never be a man’s man now.

My mom tried to keep my spirits up on the drive home: “Don’t worry. He’s a stupid old man. Your dad will straighten this out.” Great. Just what I need.

My dad was steamed, he showed up at the next practice ready to lay the guy out. The coach was prepared. He had a reimbursement check for the soccer enrollment and an apology. My dad argued, “This isn’t fucking club soccer, it’s a few twelve-year-olds!” The coach agreed but said, “This is how I coach.” The funny thing is that my dad never asked me to play any kind of sport or activity after that 1978-1979 soccer season.

Years later, I would do well as an amateur and, briefly, a professional boxer. But I don’t know if it was boxing or me having kids that finally made my dad realize that I wasn’t going to be a dancer in the La Cage Aux Folles revival.

#michaelessington #lifewontwait



Beth, A Story From Life Won’t Wait

Occasionally when I sit down to write, I try to push myself to see how far back I can remember. Not just how far, but how far I can remember.

Well, here it is. I remember hopping into a car with my mom. I can’t remember if it was our green 1965 Mustang or the old Dodge Charger.

I was three years old or had just turned four, so the year was 1969 or early 1970.

Anyway, my mom packed me into the car and we drove from Canoga Park, CA to Glendale, CA.

My mom stopped at the front gate, asked two questions, nodded her head and we drove on.

Mom parked, and we got out of the car in one of the most beautiful parks I had ever seen: trees, flowers and green grass for as far as the eye could see.

Mom held my hand, I was smiling because I wanted to run and play. I felt a change in my mom. Her hand tightened, her face looked red—red, but she was not angry.

She sat down on a square piece of metal on the ground and wiped it off with her hand.

I wandered over to a huge tree and tried to climb it. I couldn’t. Mom called me back.

I ran over to her and she was sobbing. I couldn’t figure out what happened. “This place is so great,” I thought to myself. “Why is she crying?

She was talking, a sort of whispering. I hugged her and tried to run off to another tree.

Thirty to forty-five minutes later, we left.

It wasn’t until almost twenty years later that I figured out we were at her mother’s gravesite.

I had gone to another funeral and as I was walking away, something triggered this flashback.

I wish I could’ve told her it was okay to cry. My mother was young, only twenty-three or four. She lost her mom at thirteen, married at seventeen, had two kids and was divorced at twenty-four. She needed the cry.

#michaelessington #lifewontwait



There’s No Business, A Story From Life Won’t Wait

Occasionally I’ll write a story where I mention my dad. I’ve always meant to write something lengthy about him—something that served as a tribute to him—but as the years go by since his passing, I sort of freeze up every time I sit down to write about him, whether it’s a good or bad memory.

I’ve mentioned my dad here and there, but nothing in depth. Nothing like him warning me not to start any fights at a local Hell’s Angels rally. Or him asking me to calm down after I tossed bodies onto the hood of his car to protect him. Nope. Too hard to go into.

Dad had a very sarcastic wit. Sometimes a little dark. As kids, whenever my brother or I saw something we liked or wanted—and made the mistake of saying, “I want that”- -our dad would just smile and say, “Now you know what it is to want” and he’d walk away. It wasn’t in our vocabulary, but more than likely we’d be saying in our heads, “What a dick.”

When he passed away in November 2005, I bought a pair of dog tags. One says “Now you know what it is to want” and the other has his date of birth and the date he passed.

One thousand stories I could share about my dad is the one about his tattoo. My dad was still a student at Taft High School (in the L.A. Suburb of Woodland Hills) when, at 16, he went to Hollywood, fake ID in hand, and got a Chinese dragon tattooed on his right bicep. It was crawling down his arm, and they inked the claws in a way that appeared as if they were digging into him and drawing blood. As a kid, I always loved that thing.

So in July 2009, I went to my sister-in-law’s husband, David, (he’s an insane tattoo artist) about doing a tribute to my dad. I know, I know, they base every tattoo show on that concept. A guy walks in and says “My mom died and she liked the ocean, so I want a tattoo of a dolphin so she’s always with me.” It’s all bullshit. But I wanted to do something. So, I came up with the idea to get his dragon tattooed on my back. Something small and hidden that I, but not the rest of the world, knew was there. I searched for months trying to find something similar to what my dad had done forty-three years earlier. I couldn’t find anything.

Then one day I’m thumbing through a book on old tattoo flash art and I saw a dragon almost identical to my dad’s. I made a copy, sent it to David, and told him I was on my way over.

He set me up in his tattoo chair, asked where I wanted it and how big, I said: In between my shoulders and about the size of a dollar bill. He then said, “It’s too detailed to do small. It has to be big.”

“Uh oh, how big?”

“At least half your back.”

Shit. I hadn’t been tattooed since 1995! How was I going to hold up?

I didn’t. I damn near pussed out. Every 20 minutes I got up for a break. Whenever he would ink on my spine it would feel like I was getting drilled at the dentist. These electric shocks would shoot through my body. It took two and a half to three hours to complete. The last hour, David refused to let me get up.

At about 11:30 that night I was done. I was sore as shit and felt like I had come home from a blind date that had gone horribly wrong (or right for some of you.)

When I got home, I pulled off my shirt to show my wife and she snapped a picture. In the picture, you can still see some of the blood on my back. So, corny or not, I’ve got my own personal tribute to my dad on my back.

#michaelessington #lifewontwait



Bruce, A Story From Life Won’t Wait

Years ago, my half-sister got pregnant. I had never been ultra-close with her or my other half-sister, but for my father’s sake, I would pop up at birthdays or try to remember them at Christmas.

So she got pregnant, and my dad wanted me to go to her baby shower that her mother had arranged — at a bowling alley. Yeah, you read it right: a bowling alley.

I tried to blow it off. First off, I was not wild about his ex-wife (my half-sister’s mother) and second, his ex- was then with an old co-worker of my dad’s named Bruce (who went by the nickname “Smoke”).

I wish there was a nicer way of saying it, but there isn’t: Bruce was a white trash piece of shit. Look in the dictionary under “white trash” and you’ll see a long-haired, bearded piece of human waste named Bruce.

When my brother and I were kids, Bruce would act like he dug us until my dad would look the other way. Once, we were playing dodgeball with my dad against the garage. My dad lobbed it, my brother and I could dart back and forth, dodging the ball and thinking we were the fastest kids alive. Bruce showed up, talked with my dad for and then asks for a beer. My dad handed him the ball and went to the kitchen. Bruce threw the ball at me with everything he had. Mind you, I was eight, and he laid me the fuck out.

A few months later we were invited to a barbecue. My brother and I were paddling around in the pool. I couldn’t swim well and was doing an improvised dog paddle. Bruce was working the grill when he said he needed to cool. My dad took over the grill and Bruce decided it would be fun to throw me into the deep end to see if I’d drown. He did it once, and I told my dad, who said: “Punch him.” So I did and then I got tossed so far I almost hit the tiles on the wall of the deep end. I yelled for my dad again and he said: “Get out of the pool.” What the fuck!?

As I got older, I saw Bruce less and less. Then one night when I was seventeen, he popped up at my dad’s. He seemed drunk. I was full-blown into punk rock. He starts in on me: “Punk rockers are fags.” I flip and start with the whole “Don’t talk shit, unless you’re ready to back it up, old man.” We go around and around like this until my dad loses it and yells “Shut the fuck up!”

So when my dad insisted that I go to the baby shower, I couldn’t figure out why, but I knew if I went, I was going to beat Bruce’s ass. I arrived at the bowling alley and, lo and behold, my dad wasn’t even there.

Since I didn’t know what I was walking into there, I decided to pack a police baton with me. If Bruce or any of his white trash people tried to jump me, I would be breaking skulls on the way down.

My wife and I went in and said “Hi” to everyone and I looked for Bruce. Turns out he’d gone on a beer run with his son. Not too long after, they returned. As he approached, I stretched my arms out like I was leaning against the door jam. He took one look at me, went around to the back of the building and came in through the exit. Incredibly disappointing to me.

So, I tried to pick a fight with his twenty-three-year-old son. Nothing. He kept talking about how big I’d gotten—6’0 and 195

Finally, I was really worked up. I went into the reception hall, saw him standing off to the side, and came up behind him and said, “I don’t know how my sister got pregnant. All the guys in this place are faggots.” He took off again. (Now, I’m not a homophobe, but I know this word terrifies white trash, so I used it.)

That was the last time I ever saw Bruce. I wanted him to say something, give me a look, hell even sneer. I’ve never been able to sucker punch people. But now that I wasn’t a kid, this bastard didn’t want to hassle me anymore.

The whole event was much like being minutes away from having sex with Salma Hayek and realizing you left your penis at home. In this case, Bruce was the penis.

So, if you bump into a white trash guy named Bruce in Lancaster, kick his ass for me. Hell, I’ll send you some punk rock CDs or something.

#michaelessington #lifewontwait