|Dangerspouse Rides Again|
Garage - Track
Oct. 08, 2003 - 4:17 a.m.
I've noticed that my last two entries were dedicated to the humor inherent in intestinal pyrotechnics. That's all well and good, but I thought I'd shift gears here. Just for a bit of variety, you understand. Don't worry, more poopie/fart tales will be told in days to come I'm sure. Especially considering my cooking. But I've been meaning to write about Doug, and thought this would be a good juncture to do so.
So when did you sell out?
That's what I asked myself today. I had gotten out of work, climbed into my SUV, stopped at the store for some milk and Depen...er, toothpaste, then headed on to my little house in Suburbia where waited my wife, dog, and Playstation-2. I settled into a recliner, the wife handed me a Diet Pepsi, and I stared around at the sponge painted walls and neo-country furnishings. I could see a mirror on the far wall. My father stared back at me. (Don't you love hackneyed literary devices? Me too!)
What had happened to me when I wasn't looking? Where were my tye-die shirts? My "Peace" posters? My ab muscles? My snarling hatred of the Military Industrial Complex? My VW Beetle? Granted I'm still irked by the M.I.C....but I sure don't get into arguments about it with my parents and ROTC drones anymore. What happened?
(Um...actually I'm a bit too young to have had tye-died shirts and peace posters, or attend anti-war rallies. But you get the idea. I just wanted to jump on the whole retro bandwagon. Oh, and I never had ab muscles either. But I did own a Beetle for a while there, if that counts.)
I know what happened of course. I had to make a living, coupled with a body that was no longer just a mobile horemone factory. I made that fateful decision to major in Experimental Psychology instead of dedicating my life to pro bono legal aid, and the die was set.
But a buddy of mine, Doug, went a different route. He's a little younger than me - 30 or so when I first met him. Doug was almost frustratingly laid back. He stayed up every night watching TV til about 5am, then sleeping until 2 in the afternoon. He never held more than a part time job in the years I knew him, and none of them for more than a 3 month stretch. He lived with his mom, who out of guilt from divorcing his dad, or just an overactive maternal instinct allowed this lifestyle of his while she worked 10 hours a day as an executive for a large corporation. He had converted their living room into a shrine to the TV show 'Dark Shadows', and two entire walls were taken up with his collection of classic 45's. A third wall was devoted to video and trivia books. Doug has the most encyclopedic knowlege of pop culture of anyone I've ever met, and I've worked in major market radio for over 13 years now.
Do you remember the British singer Crispian St. Peters? He had that hit "Pied Piper" in the 60's, along with one or two other songs that just cracked the Hot 100 on the charts back then. He was more popular in England, as part of the Mersey Beat. He was a bit of a hearthrob there, also. Well Doug is the president of the US Crispian St. Peters Fan Club. He still corresponds with the guy, and has gone to England to visit him on some ocassions. Doug tells me it's kind of sad, as Crispian is a schizophrenic and alcoholic now, and sometimes the alcohol interferes with his medication or makes him forget to take it altogether. Last time he was there Crispian offered to sell Doug bits of memorabilia for the price of a beer. But Doug still reveres the guy.
In fact, Doug reveres ALL the artists of that time. So much so that he harbored a secret ambition. And one day he acted on it.
Doug had taken up with a nice young lady named Helen (although he only referred to her as 'Muffin'). They met through an internet dating service. She moved in with Doug at his mom's house and after about a year they started talking marriage. Since Doug had no discernable income, he went to his father for help. His father gave him a fair chunk of change to get a nice ring and throw a respectable wedding. Doug looked at that pile of cash in his hands and drove right past the jewelry store on his way home without stopping.
He kept Muffin at bay with promises, but spent the money on a year's worth of singing lessons. With the remainder he hired the band 'Vanity Fair' (they had that old hit "Hitchin' a Ride") to back him up on a cd - a cd comprised entirely of 'B' sides of 45's. ie: Songs that never made it the *first* time around, with the original artists. He called his group "Vlad and the Impalers" and had such a blast with the experience that he wrangled his way into a touring rock and roll show in Europe! He was gone for something like 8 months playing venues in different countries with a number of other bands. While Muffin stayed back home and stewed. When Doug returned, happy but broke, and with no future job or wedding plans, she finally had enough and moved out.
I don't mean to paint Doug as some sort of underhanded cad here. He really is one of the most likeable guys you'll ever meet. Like an irrepresible 10 year old. That's why Helen stuck with him so long, for one.
I kind of lost touch with Doug for a couple of years after that, partly because my last few contacts consisted of him hitting me up for money, which I didn't have. Then I heard he'd met another young lady through a personal ad. On their first date he managed to knock her up. Figures. But this time he did the responsible thing and married her. That was about two years ago.
The next I heard his name, I was reading it as a news story on the air. I couldn't believe it. It was in what we call a 'kicker' story - one of those humorous stories at the end of the serious news that people love. This one was about "a local New Jersey guy who moved up to Salem, Massachusetts, bought a hearse and was giving guided tours of local murder and witch burning sites. The town council is fighting his attempts at setting up the business, which they say is creating a bad image of the town." Sure enough, it was my buddy Doug. The only thing I was suprised about was the fact that he'd cut the umbilical cord and finally moved away from his mother. But it figures - if there was one line of business I wouldn't be suprised to hear he'd gone into, I guess it was this one. I followed the story over the internet off and on for the few months.
Well it seems he made it - defeated the city council in a well publicised lawsuit, allowing him to continue his business. He got a loan for the startup costs (refurbishing a great old 50's Cadillac hearse) and apparently is doing decent bookings. He can still sleep until 2 in the afternoon - assuming the baby lets him - since the tours are mostly at night. What a life, huh? I must admit, I'm a bit jealous as I sit here in my little studio, looking down at an asphalt parking lot 6 days a week. I still do some nifty stuff, considering, but Doug is really living The Life.
If you want to see how much fun he's having, he's put up a website:
And if you ever take the tour, tell him I said 'hi'...but don't lend him any money :)
Addendum: The link to his business doesn't work anymore! I cut-n-pasted it from my files, but hadn't actually visited the place in a couple of months. I wonder what happened? Knowing him, he probably just never got around to paying his web hosting bill for a few months/years. I hope he's ok! Listen, if anyone up there in Salem, Mass happens to be reading this (talk about a long shot), could you let me know if you think he's still in business? It was "Mass Hysteria Tours", run by Doug Antreassean (or some ridiculous spelling like that). Thanks!!