Humor award winner at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference. This is my reading at the awards ceremony.
Recently, I had fears for my own sanity. I’d concluded it was normal to question one’s mental health at thirty days’ sobriety but now it had been three years since I had a drink and still I felt my brain was like a newborn puppy in need of house training. While possessed of a certain antic intelligence, it was in need of constant discipline.
My sponsor shook his head. “Damn it, Opperman! How many times do I have to tell you? Your thoughts don’t mean a thing! It’s your actions that matter. I’ll bet there isn’t a single person on earth who’d like to have all their thoughts placed on a big screen for everyone to see.” I laughed, but the idea intrigued me. All my thoughts on a big screen? Could I do that? Would I let the general public see everything that crosses my mind during the course of a day? Of course not. It’d be totally embarrassing. I doubt a thousand future space probes will never scan terrain as bizarre and forbidding as the panorama behind my eyeballs.
This morning was a case in point. Typically, I get out of bed at 7:30 a.m. Unfortunately, my brain gets up about 7. He’s already showered, shaved and sitting on the couch waiting for me to wake up. His mission–kill me.
Again, I was naked in the arms of the phenomenal dark-haired beauty named Candy.
“Dean, oh Dean, whatever you do, don’t stop.” She kissed me again and again. “Never stop, Dean. I love you more than life itself!”
I wanted to make love to her again, but this time something held me back. I arched an eyebrow and gave her a faint, knowing smile.
“A sixth time, Candy? Even I have my limits. All right, but first I have to pee.”
“What do you mean you have to peeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee?”
Her voice was suddenly annoying, persistent, like a buzzer, like an alarm clock.
The greatest lover in the world opened his eyes. I was in another bedroom now. It was morning.
God, I have to pee! What time is it? 7:32. Shit, it’s Monday! I overslept! How did that happen? I’m late. I’m late! No wait, it’s Sunday. Oh, God. I’ve really got to pee. Where are my slippers? Why did I think it was Monday? What’s wrong with my memory? Isn’t there some memory pill? I need to start taking that, ahh… what’s that stuff called? Guh… Gruh… Gringo? Ginkgo! I better go write that down. As soon as I finish going to the bathroom. Oh, God, I really have to go.
Okay. Bathroom light. Toilet paper. Oh, God, I’m out of toilet paper! No, there’s a package on the shelf up there. Why do they wrap everything in heavy plastic like it’s going to Venus? You need to carry a goddamned sheetrock knife to get anything open anymore. Scented toilet paper. That’s weird when you think about it. It’s almost an oxymoron. Okay, pull up your underwear. No, take them off. You might as well take a shower as long as you’re in the bathroom. Wait, coffee first, then a shower. Go to the kitchen and make some coffee. How about tea for a change? No, coffee. A hot cup of coffee. Where are the coffee filters? I always keep the coffee filters right here in this cabinet. I bought a brand new box of coffee filters just the other day. They were right here on this shelf and now they’re gone! Somebody stole my coffee filters! There’s a law against that!
How am I going to make coffee without a filter? Oh, I know! Use a napkin for a filter. Sure, why not? A paper napkin would make a perfectly good coffee filter. Unless it’s scented like the toilet paper.
All right, stick that napkin in the coffee maker and throw some coffee grounds on top. Not pretty but it works! That’s American ingenuity, by God! They didn’t have Mellita coffee filters in the old west. The pioneers would have used a napkin in their coffee machines probably. Coffee Filters of the Old West, now that’s funny! I better write that down.
“I’m Roger Mudd. Join us for Coffee Filters of the Old West next on the History Channel.”
Now that’s got potential! Gee, I love it when I get a good idea first thing in the morning. It’s going to be a great day, I can tell already. Nothing like a good idea to get the day started right. As soon as I get this coffee started I’m going to write that down. Coffee Filters Of The Old West. Okay, fill the coffee maker with water. That’s it. Now turn it on and go write that down. Hurry up. Let’s see, I need a pen. There’s a pen on the desk. The desk is a mess. There’s a pencil.
Oh, here are my slippers! Right under the desk! That’s one mystery solved. I must have left them there last night. Now, what was I going to write down? Ahh… the pioneers didn’t use coffee filters- That’s not funny. What was it that was funny? Cowboys didn’t have coffee filters in the old days they had…? Shit! I can’t remember what it was now. Son of a bitch! Every time I think of something funny, I can’t remember what it was later! It had something to do with coffee beans and covered wagons or something.
What’s that sound? I hear raindrops. Is it raining? It’s coming from the kitchen. Oh shit! I forgot to put the coffee pot under the coffee maker! Son of a bitch! There’s hot coffee all over the drain board! Dammit, I can’t find a towel! Find a towel! Unplug the coffee maker. No, put the pot in the coffee maker to catch the drips and then find a towel. Use a napkin!
Okay, just sop up the coffee and try not to get pissed off. It’s too early to get pissed off. It’s too early to be on your hands and knees mopping coffee off the floor with paper napkins, but that’s not the point. The point is…?
I’m losing my mind, I really am! What’s wrong with me? You haven’t eaten breakfast, that’s what’s wrong. Low blood sugar. Make breakfast. You need a healthy breakfast to get off to a good start. I’m really hungry. Donuts! NO! Donuts! NO! Go get donuts! NO. Yes! NO. Donuts! NO! Yes! NO! NO MORE JUNK! You’re eating a healthy breakfast from now on.
What’s in the fridge? Eggs. I could make an omelet. I can make a healthy omelet. I’ve got vegetables. Let’s see. Pea pods. A pea pod omelet. Never heard of that. What’s in the dairy drawer here? Cheese, coffee filters. What the hell are the coffee filters doing in with the cheese? Jesus, I’m losing my mind! I need coffee, that’s why. I just can’t think without coffee in the morning.
Okay, just cool it and start over. Breathe. All right. Open the box of coffee filters and put one in the coffee maker. Now, put coffee in the filter. Not too much! Whoa. That’s good. Now, put the pot under the coffee maker this time! Now turn it on. Was that so hard? No. No big deal.
God, I’m losing my mind. I’ve got to get some of those memory pills. Starts with a G. Guh… Geh… Ginseng! That’s it.
Isn’t that coffee done yet? I could have walked to Starbucks and back by now. I spend a hundred dollars for a German coffee machine and it takes a week to make a cup. That’s what I get for buying a Nazi machine. How lame is that? I didn’t want to buy it in the first place but I was hoodwinked by that beautiful blonde at Macy’s. But she wanted me, I could tell.
“I’ll bet this machine would look great on your kitchen counter,” she said.
Yes, I wanted to say, and you’d look great standing next to it every morning.
Leaning against the kitchen counter the soft morning light from the bay window streams through her long blond hair creating a halo of fire. Slowly her white terrycloth robe drops from her shoulders and falls to the floor.
I arch an eyebrow and give her a faint, knowing smile. “But Carla darling, I haven’t even had my coffee yet.”
“I know but I can’t wait any longer,” she says in a breathy voice. Reaching for the honey jar, she provocatively takes a spoonful and…
What am I doing with this spoon in my hand?
Oh yeah, I’m going to use it to stir my coffee. Okay, it’s almost ready. Where’s my favorite cup? My red coffee cup. Where’s my favorite coffee cup? I leave it in the same place here in the rack. Now it’s missing, too! I swear to God, somebody is playing with my head! Where did I have it last? In the car. I left it in the car yesterday. Go get the coffee mug out of the car.
Wait a minute, I’m naked. I have to put on clothes before I go outside. Oh, who cares? Just run out there nude and grab the cup out of the car! Screw the neighbors. Haven’t they ever seen a naked man before? Just run down the driveway naked and grab the cup out of the car. It’ll take five seconds. If anybody sees me, I’ll just wave. Who cares what the neighbors think? I don’t care what they think! Yes, I do. Put on some clothes.
Wait a minute, there’s no sense putting on clothes before you take a shower. Take the shower first. Then put on clothes. No, wait. Coffee first. Then a shower. Then clothes. OK, slow down a minute. You better eat something first because you’re not sane. A bagel. Heat up a bagel in the microwave while you decide what to do next. Now put the bagel in the microwave, set it at thirty seconds. OK. Maybe if I run down the driveway nude the woman in the house next door will run out naked, too, and we’ll make love on her lawn.
“Dean, oh, Dean! I’ve waited weeks. Love me now!”
I glance at her golden breasts then arch an eyebrow, and give her a faint, knowing smile. “But Daphne, darling, shouldn’t we turn off the sprinklers first?”
The early morning sun streams through the mist and a perfect rainbow envelops the two of us. Daphne grabs my massive shoulders and pulls me closer. “I don’t care who sees us, Dean! I want the universe to know my passion for you! Take me!”
I kiss her so hard, I hear bells.
It’s the microwave signaling my bagel is ready.
What are you thinking? HER HUSBAND OWNS A GUN SHOP!
And so it goes every morning. Actual elapsed time, five minutes.