In the first installment of About Me, I listed 10 random things about myself. Now I feel the need to reel off 10 more.
11. I actually like to watch pro wrestling. I don’t do it often, and I’ve never ordered a pay per view or anything. But if I’m flipping channels and come across it, I can get sucked in. Yes, I’m entirely aware of how pathetic that is, thanks.
12. I actually tried wrestling when I was in the 7th grade, freestyle (as opposed to Greco-Roman; don’t ask me what the difference is, I don’t know). I was, quite simply, the worst wrestler in the history of the known universe. I compiled an incredible 0-35 record and only once managed not to be pinned. My record for being pinned was 7 seconds – and it takes 3 seconds to count the damn thing. The punchline, though, is that I had a drawer full of medals from my brief wrestling career, primarily because there were very few kids in my weight class (118, if I recall correctly). If there were only three kids in my weight class at a tournament, I got a bronze medal. I actually finished 11th in the state. The top 3 from districts went to regionals and there were 3 of us. The top 5 from regionals went to state and there were 5 of us. A total of 12 went to state, but one got hurt. So I finished 11th. But I have no doubt that the 12th place finisher could have beaten me despite his debilitating injury. On the good side, the medals look really good in my trophy room.
13. I hate musicals. Hate them. You know that one scene in every musical where the entire cast spontaneously bursts into song? I secretly hope that they will instead burst into flames. I am firmly of the opinion that there will be no peace in this world until Andrew Lloyd Webber is strangled with the entrails of Stephen Sondheim.
14. I’m a BBQ fanatic. Smoke it, grill it, cover it in sauce, and Ed is a happy guy. I have a BBQ apron that says “The Grill Master” on it. One of my comedian buddies came over for a BBQ, saw the apron, and said, “Sounds like a superhero from a temp agency”. Hmmmph. No steaks for you!
15. When I was 7 years old, my family’s house was destroyed in a massive flood in Lansing, Michigan. The day before it hit, firemen were coming around and advising everyone to get everything off the basement floors because there would probably be a little water. A little? How about 4 feet in the living room? A few years ago I was having dinner with some friends and somehow the subject of disasters came up and I mentioned that one. My friend Josie says, “Oh my god. I was born on that day. My father actually couldn’t get to the hospital because of the flooding.” I replied, “Well see, that explains the whole thing. Your mom’s water broke and the rest is history.”
16. I love James Taylor. I’m a total James-head. I don’t even know how many times I’ve seen him in concert, but the only other performer who even comes close in terms of concerts I’ve attended is Wynton Marsalis. By the way, Wynton is the greatest trumpet player in the world, and this is not up for discussion.
17. I’ve read very few novels in my life, even the great ones. Since I graduated high school, I can easily count the novels I’ve read on two hands. Maybe even one. The only ones I can recall at the moment are Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum, Gore Vidal’s Live from Golgotha and Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses. I much prefer the essay as a literary form. Short attention span? Probably. I just find so many things interesting that it’s difficult for me to focus on one subject for very long without being lured away by some other idea, dressed up and looking hot. Ideas are temptresses.
18. I once TP’d my junior high school. I was in the 8th grade. Three friends and I, in a fit of absolute stupidity, decided it would be funny to do it, and boy did we do it right. Dozens of rolls of toilet paper flung to the highest reaches of the trees in the courtyard and, of course, rude and obscene messages written in soap on the windows of various teachers. Unfortunately, one of the four demonstrated that he had not yet plumbed the depths of his own idiocy by bragging about it the next day in school. When I heard the principle get on the P.A. and say, “Would Mike and Scott McNell, Harold Cagle and Ed Brayton please report to the office immediately”, I knew I was in deep, deep shit. We got suspended, but first we had to clean it up. Right then. During school. There is nothing quite so humiliating as standing in a school courtyard with a razor blade, scraping “Mr Reichard sucks donkey dicks” off the window of a classroom while he tries to teach history on the other side of the glass. It’s a wonder I didn’t turn the blade on myself.
19. The first dirty magazines I ever had as a kid I got when I was helping in a newspaper drive for my youth group in our church parking lot. Someone dropped off a couple of paper bags full of them and I snuck a bunch of them out of there and smuggled them home in my coat. Praise the lord. I never did find out who donated them or I would have sent them a thank you note. Anonymously.
20. I was raised by a pentecostal and an atheist, who are still married and going on 26 years. This is a bit like being raised in downtown Beirut in the early 80s. My stepmother actually believes in little cosmic particles of sin called “zoomies” that invade the house. I found this out when I was home from college after my freshman year and my father and I rented an R rated movie, which set off a chain of disturbing events that led to her informing us that if we bring such things into the house, these zoomies get in. Apparently that’s bad. I remember asking her, “Okay, so what if our neighbor has a subscription to Playboy and his mail rides right next to our mail in the truck. Do they get in that way, or can they differentiate property divisions?”, which met with a sigh and an exasperated, “You’re not taking this seriously.” I laughed and replied, “Oh, you’re right. I am definitely not taking this seriously.”