Rusty Reads Aloud
I met my friend Trooper at Stardust Cafe in Winter Park the other night.
He used to be a student of mine when I taught animation at Full Sail University. He’s called Trooper, by the way, because he works so hard. It’s a show business tradition to call someone a trooper if they can be relied upon to try their best and never give up.
Now he’s my go-getting wanna be creative director, and I’m the one being taught.
Life’s funny, isn't it?
He arrived early, setting up his camera equipment to record me when I read one of my stories at the open-mic, on stage in front of some of my writer friends.
I was nervous, but the Fireball Bourbon I was sipping was helping a bit. I kept looking out for Oola Goodens, the gorgeous blonde sex goddess I like to be seen with on these occasions. She’d said she might make it. Rusty has to look smooth and a beautiful girl on your arm is certainly that.
Oola never showed up but sent me a text message telling me to break a leg.
Oola has shapely brown legs, I was thinking when Trooper spoke.
“Don’t worry,” he said. “You’ll be fine.”
“If you say so,” I said, hoping they wouldn't announce me until I’d finished another Fireball.
“Better take it easy on the Fireballs,” suggested Trooper. “How many’s that? You don’t want to fall down on your way up to the stage like you did last time.”
“I blame my eye patch for that!” I answered defensively. “I had it on the wrong eye.”
Did I mention that another of Rusty’s ideas about looking good is to look something like a grinning deviant half-drunk pirate?
“Don’t forget to put this camera on the table behind you and point it at the audience,” reminded Trooper, handing me a camera. “And don’t scratch your crotch if you can help it!”
“Sure,” said I, taking one last sip of my Fireball. “That’s easy for you to say.”
“And now... for all you Rusty fans!" called the DJ Chet and for a moment I thought I was in Vegas. "Open your toolboxes and reach inside... because I give you … RUSTY PLIERS!”
I heard applause as my mind went blank and I started for the stage.
“Thank you,” I stammered into the mic. “I’m Rusty Pliers.”
I cleared my throat and began speaking.
My family emigrated to New Zealand in 1967, when I was fourteen-years-old.
I was a gawky, introspective kind of kid who didn't adapt very well to my new country. I especially found school difficult. My parents, trying to be helpful, said that I should ‘buckle down’ and try harder.
They kept insisting a boy with my talents could do better.
I told them I was doing my best, but I don’t think they were falling for it.
So during the week on schooldays, my usual nighttime occupation was homework. My parents insisted on that, too. “Better hit those books, son,” ordered my dad every night. Studying History, Math, Geography, English. Not very exciting nocturnal events.
However, not every nocturnal event that year was unexciting.
Sometimes there came to me unbidden in the night while I slept, realistic visions of an extremely sensuous nature.
Unfortunately, rather than enjoy these wonderfully erotic dreams for what they were, the morning found me covered in shame and the sheets spotted in semen.
I’m sure I’m not the first person that that has happened to, awaking to shame and semen, but that didn't make it any less disturbing when it was happening to me, especially the first few times.
I did my best to hide my shame and my sheets.
Naturally, my mother discovered my secret almost immediately.
“You’d better talk to your father about this,” she said, blushing a little. She wasn't disgusted, as I feared she would be. That made me feel a lot better.
“It’s a natural thing that comes to every growing boy,” she added. She had been a nurse and I figured she knew what she was talking about. Also, my mother could never tell a lie so I knew I would get the truth, and even a fourteen-year-old boy knows that truth sheds light and light dispels fear and shame.
“And,” she said, “being part of nature, it’s not unhealthy, do you see?”
“I think so,” I said.
“So don’t be worried or ashamed, honey.”
I felt relieved, but questions flooded my mind.
“Yeah,” I started. “But what about when my…”
“Your dad will explain everything,” she hastily promised, anticipating me and dismissing the subject.
And explain dad did.
I think he was more nervous than I was, as we sat down to talk. After the first hour, my head was dizzy, my innards were knotted, my faith was crumbling. After a few hours more we had to halt for an intermission and call for sustenance. Mom, bringing in the tea and cookies, glanced nervously at us and departed in silence. After another hour Dad’s voice grew horse and he resorted, as I suspected he had planned all along, to diagrams. Being an artist, I believe he felt himself on firmer ground with a pencil in his hand. Try as he might though, Dad’s explanation was vague and more dismissed the subject than elucidated it. Maybe it was me, although I’m usually not so dumb about a subject I’m interested in.
I wish I’d taken notes, because this particular man-to-man talk between a father and son, with its confusing mix of science, religion and voodoo, could never be realistically captured all these years later by a writer of my, shall we say, modest endowments.
Yes, I said modest endowments and a pun was intended there. After all, I’m a humorist and I’ve got to grab them when I can.
( To those of you looking for a joke about grabbing endowments, I salute you!)
Odd, but I remember that our epic ‘Birds and the Bees’ tete-a-tete, covering human history and the sciences from the dawn of man to the present time and lasting more than four hours according to the kitchen clock, had not one mention of sex, or bird, or bee.
Mom later said, as the hours passed and we had not emerged, that she was getting ready to call in the marines, although how in the heck they could have helped I have no idea.
I stopped reading.
I heard applause.
It was over.
I heard applause.
It was over.
Incredibly nobody had thrown rotten fruit or empty bottles at me as I read.
“Thanks for listening,” I said as I left the little stage. “I’m Rusty Pliers.