|Dangerspouse Rides Again|
Garage - Track
Aug. 03, 2006 - 3:00 p.m.
Uninvited Guest Entry
Back before there was Dangerspouse, there was Sherpat. That was the handle I used at a particularly rancid forum for several years, a forum frequented by only a handful of under-achieving losers like myself. ("Sherpat" was a contraction of "Sherpa-T", the first racing motorcycle I ever owned. Not a pretentious allusion to my role as spiritual sherpa guide to the group. Even if I was.)
Just like here at D-Land, all the babes at that old forum wanted me. Unlike here at D-Land, none of them ever got me. But they kept trying.
And the one who tried hardest, the one who made the most desperate, pathetic attempts, the one who cried like Jimmy Swaggart every time she was rebuffed...was Babs.
After 5 years of trying, she'd had enough. One last attempt was thwarted and she could stand no more. I didn't hear from her for 2 years.
Then, out of the blue, I got an e-mail last week.
Dear Sherpat, or should I say Dangerspouse,
I couldn't keep away from you, as you probably assumed I couldn't. Thanks to others at the old forum, I found out about your place at Diaryland. I've been stalking you since your first post, and you never knew it. Pathetic.
You broke my heart with all those rejections, you know that? And now you're breaking my heart with your lack of updates. Not only that, your latest entry was lame.
Well, what could I say?
Go back into hiding, I'm still not gonna fuck you.
You want a quality entry? YOU write one, smartass.
So she did:
I Created DangerSpouse
I saw him for the first time one day in August, 1988. Tom wasn’t a pretty sight. He was wearing a bright red visor and a multi-colored panel shirt. Not an odd attire, actually, considering that his first words to me were, “w-w-would you like fries with th-that, ma’am?” I nodded to him. He trudged his stumpy legs as if lifting bricks with each step, making his way to the fryer area to pick up my fries. His shoulders hung low as he returned to his station. “Th-that’ll be f-f-five twenty-f-five,” Tom stammered. His chin was so absent that it receded into his ample neck. Sad eyes with a drooping right lid stared nervously at me through horned-rimmed glasses and thick lenses. His hair was a dark, curly, straggling mop that was greased down with at least a week’s worth of styling gel. I sighed. Something inside my charitable heart called to my brain, ‘Someone should help this poor guy.’ I’d been seeking out a way to give something back to my community, a cause to embrace, a chance to do something worthwhile. Maybe he was the project I’d been looking for! I decided to observe him while I ate my lunch.
I watched as Tom bumbled his way through the next 30 minutes. He entered the dining room to clean up a spill, only to trip over his own feet and fall flat on his soft, paunchy, belly into the middle of the chocolate shake on the floor. He trembled fearfully and had trouble counting change to a couple of spike-adorned bikers. I saw Tom take a quick men’s room break, and return to work scratching the crack in his ass. This guy was a mess! Was he too big a project for me? I thought of a favorite movie, remembering the joy and satisfaction on the face of Professor Higgins as he introduced Eliza Doolittle to society. He’d taken her from a dirty little char-girl and transformed her into a cultured woman. I could feel the same way! I could be Professor Higgins! Excitement at the prospect of this kind of success filled my soul – until I turned and saw Tom standing behind the counter, squeezing pus from a pimple on his chin and wiping it on his pants. Sighhhh. Okay, this guy wasn’t going to be the easy fix of an Eliza. I couldn’t even think where I’d start with him; he didn’t have a single redeeming characteristic worth saving. But, I’d never walked away from a challenge before. I decided to do it. I threw the remnants of my lunch in the trashcan and walked to the counter.
“Excuse me, “ I said to him. “What time do you get off?” He turned bright red, perspiration immediately springing at his brow. He cleared his throat. “Wh-wh-wh…” He couldn’t get the words out.
I smiled pleasantly, hoping to help the poor pathetic boy calm down. “Don’t worry, I’m not hitting on you. I have some business I’d like to discuss. What time do you get off work?” He still couldn’t speak. He finally held up five fingers. “You get off at 5:00?” I asked. He nodded. “Okay, “ I told him, “I’ll be here at 5:00 to talk to you” He looked very puzzled by my attention. “Don’t worry. This is a good thing. It really is!” “O-k-kay,” he finally said. I noticed his nametag – Tom. I reached over and touched his hand lightly. “Tom, I’m Babs. You and I are going to be good friends.”
“Tom,” I started gently, “what do you want to do with your life?” He looked up at me briefly, but didn’t answer the question. “What’s your passion? What’s your dream?” He looked confused by my inquiries. “I’m curious. Is this place where you plan to always be?”
“No,” he answered immediately. “I d-d-don’t like th-this place. Work’s t-t-too hard.”
“So what are your plans?”
“That’s your dream? Being a street sweeper?”
“ N-n-nobody b-bothers you. Y-you go slow. I c-c-could do it.”
“Well, sure you could do it, “ I said. “But is that all you want to do? You never thought of anything else?”
Tom got a sheepish grin on his face. He started to speak, and then stopped. He finally began, talking in a whisper. “I always th-thought it w-w-would b-b-e f-fun to be on the radio.” I just stared at him. The radio?? The RADIO? Shit. This stuttering kid wasn’t going to make this easy. Okay girl, you asked for this challenge.
“The radio, huh? Really?” I thought for a moment. Imagine how good I’d feel if a miracle happens and this worked? “Why do you think you’d like being on the radio, Tom?”
Without the hint of a stammer he answered, “So I can get women. Women like radio guys.”
“What would you say if I told you I could get you on the radio? “ I asked, immediately remembering all the times people had told me I was nuts. His eyes opened wide, he wanted me to say more. I laid out the plan I’d been forming in my head of how to transform the poor wretch he was now into a suave, sophisticated, desirable man. “Y-you c-could do th-that?” He asked.
I gulped. Yes, I’m crazy. “WE can do this, “ I told him. “Piece of cake, “ I lied. He didn’t ask me why I was doing this; maybe he was just too stunned. He agreed to meet me the next day.
For the next three years, Tom was my constant companion, and unending project. Helping him became my addiction. It had to be an addiction. - why else would I have stayed? Sometimes I was almost literally dragging his ass through the journey. It was continually frustrating, and increasingly expensive. I was often dipping into my own funds, although Tom contributed most of the money. Thank God his grandparents died in a fiery wreck that first year of our project, leaving him several thousand dollars to use in our cause. We used most of that money for plastic surgery to fix his droopy eyelid and give him some semblance of a chin. He was afraid of everybody and everything in general, and doctors were no exception. He’d balked at first, asking me, “wh-why d-d-do I need to have a b-better f-f-face? N-nobody
Other things were tougher. I’d signed him up at my gym and given him a workout schedule of two intense hours every day. Three personal trainers quit, declaring he was too much of a klutz, and essentially untrainable. The fourth one had spent his childhood in the Himalayas living with Buddhist monks. His enormous patience and belief that anything is possible gave him the fortitude to stay with Tom. He even managed to develop a modicum of grace in Tom by introducing him to Tai Chi. They would follow that with strenuous rotations on the equipment. I’d given him a low-fat diet to follow, and taught him to cook. He wasn’t very good at it, but his skills became passable. Eventually, I saw the layers of sloppy fat begin to melt away from his body, and toned muscle replacing it. The droop in his shoulders disappeared. He was never going to be body-beautiful, but he was looking pretty good.
I thought we were really getting somewhere, except I needed help to improve his atrocious manners. He kept scratching the crack in his ass at the most inopportune times. His eating habits were beyond slovenly; he wasn’t fit to eat in the house. I found a class for him to learn manners at the local Y. The lovely woman who’d taught the class for nearly two decades had to be hospitalized with nervous tremors after working with Tom for a month. She sobbed as the attendants removed her from the Y, muttering, “I trained a sow once. Why couldn’t I train him?” Eventually, two tough young lesbians took on the task, and basically beat the manners into him.
I had a friend Rhonda, who was a speech therapist. She agreed to assist Tom for free in the evenings. He saw her 3 times a week, and the stutter began to disappear. By the end of the second year, it only appeared when he was really excited. Unfortunately, Rhonda was very young and very attractive, and Tom was pretty much always excited around her. But, even that - he began to control, eventually. It took about a year for him to stop wetting his pants as soon as she opened the door. By the start of the third year, he could get through a lesson without shooting his wad every time she formed her mouth to speak an ‘R’ – which had apparently been quite the turn-on for him. He saw her for another 6 months, and I’m proud to say his pants were dry almost every day. And, the stammering was under control!
I took him to the dermatologist for acne treatment so he wouldn’t have anything on his face to squeeze. I enrolled him in a theater class so he could learn to speak and create a persona. His thick-lensed glasses were replaced by contacts. He attended a beginning radio announcing course at the local junior college. Step by step, Tom evolved. I taught him how to dress well, how to comb his hair. I took him to social functions so he could become accustomed to interacting with people. All of my friends knew that Tom was my project, and after the first few parties where he acted at turns like a scared rabbit and a bumbling Jerry Lewis character, they all began to comment that it was looking as if success was at hand. He was arriving.
It was time to give it a try. I arranged for him to interview at a small 500 watt TV station in the Jersey suburbs for a stint as an intern. Tom walked out of the interview smiling. “I got it!” He squealed, and threw his arms around me. He’d be making no money at radio yet, but still I was as proud as any mother could have been. He spent the first few months toiling at whatever task they needed –emptying the trash, running errands, even cleaning the bathroom. He wasn’t discouraged. In between, he told me he was watching and learning what the announcer was doing. Once in awhile, they’d even let Tom introduce the next song to air. He’d been there 5 months when the overnight jock called in sick, and there was nobody to replace him. The station manager asked Tom if he’d like to cover the shift. He did so well that when the overnight jock died mysteriously of poisoning, the manager offered Tom the job.
That was it. My job was done. And I was immensely proud of Tom, and of me. I took that sad sack mess of a guy and created a confident, capable man out of him. But, it was time to turn attention to my own life. I told Tom I’d see him from time to time, but he was on his own now. He got a little teary eyed, as did I, but we agreed this wasn’t good-bye.
As time went on, intentions to meet were delayed, then cancelled, and then forgotten altogether. Tom was doing well, and his life was busy. I learned that he’d moved up to the drive-time slot at the little station, and was noticed by a bigger station. He moved on. He was getting to be known for his wit and quick thinking! I could hardly believe this was the same guy.
A few years passed before I saw Tom again. A friend in the industry invited me to a radio awards banquet in the City. By this time, Tom was known to audiences all up and down the Eastern seaboard as DangerSpouse. I assumed he’d be in attendance, so I agreed to go. I wanted to see him again. The event was held at The Plaza, and it was quite the gala affair. Bars were in every corner of the huge ballroom, elegant flower arrangements adorned the tables, and black-tied waiters served up exquisite hors d’oerves to the milling guests. Men were dressed as if they’d stepped from the cover of GQ, and ladies from the pages of Vogue. It was a swanky event. I looked around for Tom, but didn’t see him. There must have been 500 people attending. Suddenly, I heard his voice. “Babsy, Baby!” He called out. I turned. He was dressed in a pair of Italian slacks that were so tight he couldn’t have scratched his crack if he’d tried. He wore a cashmere pullover with a ‘V’ so deep I could almost see his navel. He had on a few too many chains of gold around his neck, and the diamond stud in his ear was so big I guessed that he’d bought it out of the NFL case at the jeweler. “Babsy!” He threw open his arms, and I went to embrace him. He gave me a slobbery kiss on the ear, and I found myself feeling faint from the dual odors of his overwhelming French cologne and the Scotch on his breath. “How are you, Tom? I asked.
“DangerSpouse!” He corrected me. “the name is DangerSpouse!” I noticed a lovely young redhead that he seemed to be dragging behind him. I glanced at her. “Hey Babs – meet NewWifey!” He announced.
“You’re married!” I smiled.
“Sure,” he answered. “In a manner of speaking. NewWifey, say hello to Babs.”
She smiled and extended her hand. I shook it and expressed my pleasure to meet her. We spoke briefly, while Tom was glad-handing everyone who came by. She was a soft-spoken, lovely girl from the Mid-West. She seemed bored. She told me, “Tom insists we attend parties at least 4 or 5 nights a week. He says he has to network.” She sighed, and smiled an ‘oh well’ kind of smile. She obviously loved him. Tom whispered something to her, winked, gave her a swat on the ass, and walked into the crowd. She was as tolerant as a saint.
I watched Tom as he collected phone numbers from dozens of star-struck young women in the room. He spoke in a loud lounge-lizard sort of voice as he schmoozed with the producers, cozied up to any and all promoters. He had one eye to his subject, and one eye on the room, so’s not to miss a hand he needed to shake, or a face he ought to kiss. He came back around to me when he seemed satisfied that he’d touched all the bases he needed at this party. He put his arm around my shoulder, “So whataya think, baby? The boy’s becoming a fucking star!” He took a big swig of the scotch he was holding, pecked my cheek again, and said, “good to see ya again dollface,” With that, he left to follow a curvy blond heading to the bar. WHO THE HELL WAS THIS??
I drove home alternating between the need to scream and feeling an overwhelming urge to return to the party to smack the crap out of Tom. My God, I’d created a monster! All that work came to this?? He was a sorry, awkward misfit, and he’d evolved into an abominable oaf! Success had ruined him!
In the past couple years, I sometimes tune my car radio to one of the stations that carry his broadcasts. I hear that same lounge-lizard voice that I’d heard at the party, offering up the weather forecast, generally getting it wrong. He provides traffic reports, but rarely gets the right road in the right state. And yet, people love him! He’s developed a character that’s hip and funny, and nobody cares if he knows what the hell he’s doing. He entertains, and that’s what it’s all about. Whenever I listen to Tom, I find my mind wandering, wondering if maybe I robbed a street sweeping machine of its driver.
Do you suppose Professor Higgins ever felt like this?
So for all those of you who complain that I write long, poorly worded stories, let this be a lesson to you.
On the other hand, she did spare me from having to rouse myself and actually write an entry.
And, uh...most of that WAS true.
So, thanks Babs!
I guess I'll have to fuck you now. Dammit.