I recently published a book. A lot of my friends bought it. (A few received free signed copies as the publisher always gives the author ten freebies. I still have three to give away.) How has it been received? All I can say is that the silence has been deafening.
I certainly never expected the book to be a best-seller. As I say in the book, it was a rush job, a smash-and-grab, to try and get my true thoughts out into the world before the world went tits-up. And as I also said in the book, “And besides, as I explained to friends who asked me why I am writing this book, making a fool of myself is kind of my thing. It’s very on-brand for me.” (The Big Blue Turtle, p. 174)
Honestly, the book sounds like the ravings of a lunatic, and perhaps it is. But I regret publishing now because I had hoped the book would start some sort of a conversation. Perhaps it was a call for help in paperback? As I also say in the book, “I don’t know.” (Emphasis in the original, TBBT, p. 179) I was expecting questions, even some harsh criticisms in the guise of thinly-veiled ribbing, or an outright demand to know what the fuck is wrong with me. But again, the silence has been deafening.
Here’s my point: I hate it when people walk on eggshells around me. Let me tell you something: My father died when I was in the fifth grade. Before that, I had fit in well with my peers. When I returned to school after the funeral and after Christmas break (my father died on December 12), everything had changed. I only wanted to return to what I had come to know as normality. What I got was silence. I remember on the day of my return, we had a class assignment and we had to walk it up to the teacher’s desk to have it checked. As I waited in line with two other students as the teacher worked with the student ahead of us, one boy asked me what the funeral had been like. And in that moment, I felt relief. Finally, someone was willing to talk to me like I was real again. But before I could answer, the other boy in line punched him in the arm and said, “Shut up! Mrs. S says we’re not supposed to talk about that!” And that was when I realized I was no longer one of the group.
Look, life gets weird. That is what I have grown to love about life. To quote Hunter S. Thompson, “It still hasn’t gotten weird enough for me.” People who embrace the status quo, the accepted narrative, the official story, well, these poor fuckers bore the shit out of me. And they make me sad because I see everything they are missing because it makes them uncomfortable. But you must get out of your comfort zone once in a while to realize what the world really is, and who you really are in it.
So as I invite in the book: Talk to me. Ask me anything. Questions don’t offend me. Actions might. But for words, nothing is off-limits. Why the hell would I turn away from inquiries? I’m an asshole, and I love to talk about myself. It’s free therapy! Bring it. Take what you want, leave the rest, but let’s be mutually respectful. No insulting each other, and no enforcing our beliefs on one another. Just a conversation of mutual curiosity. You can ridicule me all you want once you walk away with my full side of the story. That’s your right. But at least ask before you shut down. And I won’t ridicule you, because who the fuck am I to do that? I’m the crazy one here, apparently.
But you know us crazy people. We do love a good conversation. This is why we usually roll up to you at the bus stop or in the subway station or on the soup line, or just shout at you from a street corner. But I won’t invade your time like that. I just want you to know that I am here, and I am willing to talk. You have questions? Great. I think I have answers. But then again, I think humans are an alien hybrid species, so…
I should note that one friend did ask me questions. Actually, her adult daughter did. She read my book, and came away with all sorts of questions with which she then peppered her poor mother. Her mother, in turn, IM’d me her daughter’s questions. And they were damn good questions, and I endeavored to answer them. And this is how people grow. I haven’t said anything to my friend about my feelings on the response, but I am very thankful for her daughter’s inquisitiveness. It gives me hope for the future, as dangerous as hope can be.
Take care of each other. There are some powerful forces that want you all suffering or dead. I’m not one of them, however. I just want you to be cool.
And to the kid back in the fifth grade who asked me about the funeral: I don’t know if you will ever read this, or if you will even remember who you were (initials: T.W.). But THANK YOU for trying.