Wednesday, June 07, 2006

My Friends

The idea of me ever being offered a book deal -- or any sort of deal whatsoever -- came totally out of leftfield for most of my friends. For all of my friends, to be perfectly honest. I have a lot of history with a lot of people, and none of them, until this past year, have ever thought of me as a writer. Far from it, believe me. It's something I've had to explain to everyone I know, and a good many of them probably still think I'm lying. One conversation between my friends "Clint" and "Andrew" comes to mind:

"Have you ever read Rob's website?"

"No," replied Andrew. "What the fuck kind of website does that idiot have?"

"It's a blog."

"A blog? You mean, like, one of those personal journal type things? Who the fuck wants to read that shit? Sounds like a waste of time."

"That's how he got his book deal," said Clint.

"From his blog?"

"From his blog. Still think it's a waste of time?"

Andrew considered this for a moment. "I still think," he declared, "it's a waste of my time."

Andrew works for a living. He's married with two kids and drives a minivan. His wife has a job in the city as well, but she's on maternity leave. I'm fairly certain she makes more money than he does. Andrew wakes up at six in the morning, takes the train into the city for work, does his thing for ten hours, then comes home and helps take care of his son and daughter. He and his wife bought a house on Long Island about a year ago, and things have been tight, but they're managing. Of course, there's always something that needs to be done -- landscapers aren't in the budget, so Andrew just made a $400 investment in a mower -- and the two of them don't have time for much else besides what you might call "life maintenance."

Andrew doesn't read my blog. Andrew doesn't read anyone's blog.

Patrick did two years upstate on a drug charge. When you grow up within the five boroughs, "upstate" usually means "prison." When he got out, his father helped him restart his life by getting him a shot at the plumbers union in the city. He's working as an apprentice right now, waiting for an opening. It's a tough union to crack, and some of the things he has to do are downright disgusting, but he's not complaining because the work's been steady, even for apprentices. Pat's problem is that he has trouble steering clear of some of the things that've derailed him in the past, even after having done time. He spends way too much time at the bar. I won't say which bar, because I don't know what else he might be doing in there besides drinking. And he blows entirely too much money at the OTB, but he thinks that's okay, because he has a system. He's always had a system. And it's bound to kick in any day now.

Pat doesn't read my blog. Pat doesn't read anyone's blog.

Rich is a New York City firefighter. He works somewhere in Brooklyn, in a neighborhood where the only white people passing through are teachers, sanitation workers, firemen and cops. Like most FDNY guys, he trades shifts so he's at the firehouse for two twenty-four hour shifts per week. And like most FDNY guys, Rich has a "side job," working as an electrician for the balance of the week. I've worked many electrical contracting jobs with Rich over the years, and I've learned a shitload about building and construction in the process.

Rich has a computer. He uses it to look at porn most of the time, because he likes that sort of thing. I like it too, but probably not nearly as much. I emailed him once, and never received a reply, so I called him to ask why this was. He told me it was because he forgot his email password because he never sends anyone email. I told him he could save the password in his computer, and that his email service would sign in automatically. He didn't understand this, exactly, so I dropped the subject.

Rich doesn't read my blog. Rich doesn't read anyone's blog.

They say there's anger in the world, and that people need authors to give a coherent voice to the feelings people are having. Angry feelings about a wide variety of things. We need ideas. Somebody's saying that "real men" are becoming extinct, the world is becoming "metrosexualized," and that we need fresh voices to do something about this before we, as men, are transformed into a generation of pussies. I don't know who's saying this. It's just some shit I've heard.

The way I look at it is, if you have the time or the inclination to walk into a bookstore and buy a book, you're already ahead of the curve.

See, the world's a big place. Bigger than the internet. Books and blogs have no reach, at least not with the people I know. And unless I'm completely out of my mind, I think the types of people I know are exponentially more common in the world than the people you know. My thing is, I've never worked a corporate job. Never had the chance, and wouldn't want to if I did. My other thing is, nobody I know, really, has ever worked a corporate job. At least not in terms of being shoved into a cubicle and forced to live vicariously through somebody else's movies, shows, books and websites. I don't know anyone like that. When I first started this site, I wrote between jobs, late at night, when I was done being out there, living, and getting angry for my own damned self. And knowing damned well why.

Of the three friends I've mentioned, Andrew's your best shot. He reads, when he has the time. Trouble is, he rarely ever has the time anymore, what with the kids and all. And if you tell him that something he reads is going to redefine his gender or his masculinity, I'd love to sit back and watch the response that he, as a stressed-the-fuck-out parent, homeowner and taxpayer, would give you. Good luck with that.

As for Pat and Rich, they don't read much. Pat reads the Daily Racing Form and watches the Yankees. Rich studies for his FDNY promotional exams and watches the Mets. Occasionally, they read the New York Post while eating egg sandwiches and drinking coffee at five in the morning. Pat doesn't worry about reading my posts while fecal matter is seeping out of the drains in the floor of a project bathroom in East Harlem. Rich doesn't worry about my overuse of adverbs while he's responding to a five-alarm in Brownsville. Andrew doesn't worry about whether I keep comments on my site or not while he's taking his turn doing the 3 AM feeding of his newborn son.

Nixon called us -- and given my platform, I now have to use the term "us" loosely -- the Silent Majority. I think, when you're out here in the "real world" -- the world where people care about "real world shit" like changing diapers and making sure you have a good lock on your toolbox and using nail clippers to trim your calluses because it's a bitch to rip them -- you'll find that things simply roll along like they've always done. That people are too busy with the mundane to give a flying fuck what some gang of eggheads is telling them about what it means to be this, and what it means to be that. That what matters is getting to work on time so your job's there waiting for you tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that. That people are more angry about paying $3.50 for a gallon of gas than they are about being emasculated by popular culture, because nobody I know pays attention long enough to even know it's happening.

For my money, therefore, I'd have to say it's not happening.

Trust me on this one, folks. If you're reading this blog, or any book or blog for that matter, you're in the minority. You're out there on an island, alone, and you're destined to be alone there for the rest of your days because you're outnumbered -- a million to one -- by the Andrews, Pats and Richies of the world.

And for that, oddly enough, I'm thankful.