Am I A Loser? Discuss.


For 30 years, I opened the comics section of the newspaper and saw the adventures of Brutus Thornapple, The Born Loser. Now to be honest, I don’t think I’ve read an entire strip, which either speaks volumes for my attention span, or the weekly musings of the committee that writes Garfield these days is too distracting.  Of course, it’s a little ironic that The Born Loser has been successfully published for three decades. So with our phasers set on Nerd, lets take a little trip down Loser Lane.

 

Exhibit A

I was wondering if you would give me an opinion on something.

You see, I loved the Silvertone record player I had as a child, and moreover, I loved playing Harry Hibbs records as a kid, couldn’t get enough of his stuff. Growing up on Bell Island in the 1970’s, it was impossible to not know the name Harry Hibbs. And I was in the camp of people who enjoyed his work. But then one day, our record player broke and I was stuck with no way to play the records. It was fine for awhile, but children don’t manage free time well, and eventually I had to do something to hear Harry’s music. So I grabbed a pot cover from the kitchen, took the handle off the top and placed the record on the exposed screw. I used my finger to achieve (approximate?) 33 revolutions per minute and my vocal chords to make the sound of the songs.

Now, you tell me. Sitting on a floor at 8 years old and humming folks songs to myself and convinced the sound is coming from the LP spinning on the pot cover; does it seem to you that a path is being laid out for me?

Exhibit B

Eventually, my parents took the pot covers away, and I was given a radio. Curious things, these “radios”. It was through this medium that I was given a whole new form of music to entertain myself, popular music. More specifically, 1970’s popular music.

Q-Radio was the AM station of choice back then and I was regaled each night with the talents of Alan O’Day, Robert John, Yvonne Elliman, Don McLean (a lot), and Ray Stevens, especially that Shriners song of his. And, of course, the singer who caused me to buy my first 45 single – Shaun Cassidy. A star of TV’s The Hardy Boys Mysteries, he moonlighted as a teen singing idol and his version of Da Doo Ron Ron was the first single I ever bought. This gave rise to appreciating the works of Styx, the Bee Gees, ABBA, the fine products of the K-Tel Corporation. I remember specifically hearing Laura Branigan for the first time and going…Yes!

How I ever got around to enjoying Van Morrsion, I don’t know, but I sure am tired from the climb.

Exhibit C

In 1978, I decided that celebrating my birthday is a waste of time. You see, birthday parties in my house happen very close together. I’m not sure why, but I think it must have been some quirk in Bell Island municipal law – it’s hard to get clarification. I asked my parents if I could see my birth certificate once, and they shrieked and ran away for three days.

Anyway, this one year, my tenth, my birthday came in the order it usually does, last. Up to that point, parties, presents, songs, and friends gathering for each occasion. Now for some reason, which I think had something to with the fact it was a Monday and all the shops in town were closed for Washing Day, it was just and the family, and my grandmother. Things were progressing orderly, and just as my cake was being brought to the table, Nan gets up blows out all the candles and says, “What are ye at this nonsense for? It’s not my birthday!”

So, I haven’t bothered with birthdays since. Not much point really when you consider all the ego-centric old women around everywhere you go.

Exhibit D

Halloween is also a sore point with me. I’m 8 years old and I’m minding my own business in our family living room when my parents tell me I have to go Trick or Treating with my brother. I don’t want to go because my favourite TV show is coming on, The Adventures of Superman. This was going to be a good one cause it was in colour(!), although everyone insisted on wearing shades of gray.  It made Superman look good though. Anyway, the Bullet Men are about to rush in and capture Perry White, when my parents hand me one of those plastic Halloween masks, and said I was going out as a bag of groceries, whether I liked it or not.

So I go on the fool’s errand, I’m light-headed from the costume, I’m getting nothing but apples and open packets of raisins, and to make matters worse when I get home, Superman is over.

And to this day, it’s never come on TV again. Not once. And I’ve looked. So damn you Halloween, damn you to hell!!!

Exhibit E

It’s strange what we’ll do to impress someone. Take me, for example. (But enough about me, what do you think about me?)

Grade Twelve, St. Boniface High School, Bell Island. Hotbed of Hormones.

Our religion teacher wanted to organize a debate on the subject of euthanasia, mercy killing, and he wanted to tape the debate and see how it sounded. Unfortunately, I’ve always looked smarter than I ever was and I was pegged to speak on the “Pro” side. I was roped into it by a girl in my class who I was actually hoping to impress with my athletic skills, but I never went to Gym class because the Phys Ed teacher seemed unnaturally pre-occupied with ordering the boys to wear shorts.

Anyhoo, I figure speaking for a minute can’t be that hard, I do from my seat in class nearly all day. Ha Ha, famous last words. In short order, I became the poster boy for a mercy killing. I would have loved to have been one of my classmates that day. What would it have been like to be there the day that nervous moron from our Grade 12 class got up to speak but instead shook and sweated for 20 minutes?

Oh, and when the tape was played back and we all awkwardly listened to the tape hiss. Ooh, what a hoot and a holler.

I wonder whatever became of that guy. Must’ve never spoke in public again.

Exhibit F

There have been less thought-out events in my life, but my decision to get into the radio game is right in there. It was June of my graduating year in high school whereupon I made the decision to pursue radio. Sadly, it’s been running from me ever since. I was inspired by a handful of role models, so I joined the local college station and within a year I was hired in professional radio. By no less than VOCM, the Voice Of the Common Man (if by Common you mean one who appreciates middle of the road pop from Marie Osmond and Michael Bolton) and I began working the all-night show. I tell ya, I was never more informed about weather in my entire life. “Twenty past, Twenty to, and on the hour” was the regularity with which I would impart this knowledge to the attentive masses. Speaking to thousands in a voice that was not even my own.

And guess who became a big star in the supermarkets on Bell Island? That’s right, my mother. “Is that your son on the radio after Ron Pumphrey’s show?”

One morning, around 6am, I’m looking out of the window to VOCM’s front lawn, and I’m staring at the road sign out front, watching the screen change from displaying the temperature back to the time in rotation. All of a sudden, it figuratively, dawned on me.  “So, when I say ‘It’s 10 degrees on the Big Number One in VOCM Valley’ that the Big Number One is a road sign in the shape of a giant Number One?!?”

And here I thought they were just referring to themselves.

Exhibit G

Of course, losers like me don’t get this way by being shut-ins. Oh no, even we tempt fate and leave the confines of the four walls we call “The Happy Place”.

Every loser has a story about his relationships with women. There was Marie, a girlfriend of one year, who thought we should try and see how long we could go without speaking to each other. It’s been 12 years, and I think I’m going to win.

Edna, who I was going out with six months until, I realized she didn’t know we were.

Alexandra, who dumped me after our first date because I was too cheap to buy her a week’s groceries and fill her gas tank.

Chantelle, who dumped me even before we had our first date, because she was drunk when she asked me out and didn’t mean to that.

Angie, who deferred her decision on going out with me until she found out what happened at her current boyfriend’s jail hearing.

Monica, who started going out with my best friend less than a month after she found out I had a completely singular concept on what tampons were for. I mean really!  You seen the ads. Who wouldn’t have thought that feminine wetness was sweat?

Exhibit H

For awhile, I worked as an interviewer for one of those telephone research companies but I needed some way to make more money, so I got a part-time job at a telemarketing company.

It was my task to pick a U.S. state and sell VISA cards over the phone that had the Israeli national flag or the Waling Wall on them. Let me tell you, for a place that doesn’t allow caffeine, you’d never think that were so many irritable people in Utah.

Just before they laid everybody off, I had a stroke of luck. They picked me, and eleven others, to head up a new sales team. We would sell webpages to small businesses such as painting contractors, plumbers, palatte manufacturers; things like that. We got a lot of No Answers with that calling list, but I did manage to get good at selling once I got someone on the line. So good, that other people in the office were asking me to help close their sales.

I got so good at helping other people sell, that they made me a manager the day before the business went under.

Exhibit I

I’m convinced that the car industry is run by crooks.

And the only thing more crooked than car salesmen is car insurance salesmen. So in order to avoid being ripped off, I accepted a car given to me by my brother. Looking like an abandoned taxi, it was a sporty little 1980 Chevrolet Impala. Other than the two back doors which had been welded shut, the roomy interior was relatively accessible through the two front doors. In the interest of fuel economy, the gas tank leaked, so putting more than 10 dollars in at a time was your only option. But, boy, what you could see on the 75 km you got from each fill-up. But, hey, for six months, it got me from A to A-&-a-half. It transported up to 8 of my friends uncomfortably, and even attracted the attention of the criminal community on occasion. I’m going to miss my Calvin mudflaps, but there ya go.

It eventually came time to relieve my transportation of its duties and continue with my explorations of the pedestrian world. The memories that one vehicle gave me though have been carved into my brain like a teenager’s initials professing love.

I wonder how the Taxi company I sold it to made out with it?

Exhibit J

Of course, the world of fashion and I have always had a mutual relationship. I haven’t bothered it, it hasn’t bothered me.

I’d like to think that when it comes to fashion, I have had what could be called “Salad Days, but my waistline has always suggested the main course. Our entanglements started, like everything else, in my childhood. My mother insisted that my brother and I dress like alike. We were only a year apart, but we looked nothing alike. Me, brown hair and eyes, sarcastic and fat. My brother, blonde hair, freckles and oblivious. Here we are, dressed in paisley vests and white turtle necks, yet two very different physical – um, well I want to say ‘specimens” but that seems charitable. Shall we compromise on ‘examples’?  We looked like children who made very poor choices. As I grew into my teens, I discovered that there is nothing fashionable that incorporates the size “Husky”.

I eventually settled into oversized shirts and pants of varying quality. The closest thing to fashionable I have these days is some sort cargo pant clone from Wal-Mart and a pair of Dockers from Value Village. As soon I get down to my ideal weight, somewhere under 200lbs, I’ll try and buy something fashionable. Until then, I shall continue my arms length association with fashion and treat like the freak show it is.

Epilogue

Russ’s Helpful Hints for Loveable Losers

1. Don’t bother owning a plant. It won’t convey a message of life affirmation if its yellow and dead.

2.  Avoid dating anyone who seems to have “that look”. You know the one.

3.  Avoid people who laugh at you, a lot, and continuously. (Stand-up comedians, please disregard).

4.  Don’t bother owning a pet. See number 1.

5.  Avoid joining or listening to any band with a name that uses or combines any of the following names; Blowfish, Hootie, Styx, Orchestral, Maneuvers, Dark, Matthews, Dave and Journey.

And finally, the following humourous picture I found online will really break you of Loserville. Absorb carefully the image which summates this pieces and it will truly change your life, even more than an Deepak Chopra book.

Ready?  Look and Learn!

 


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