Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
I made up all of the stories I wrote for The Sun, a national supermarket tabloid newspaper. They knew it, and I’m proud of it. This is the saga of my dive into the cesspool of my own mind. And since I made up fake bylines too, never using my own name, it had been my own private cesspool until I outed myself in front of millions of TV viewers as having done these awful deeds.
Wait, that’s too dramatic, but not by much. I mean, it isn’t the New York Times we’re talking about.
And this isn’t “Shattered Glass.”
All of the facts in the narrative parts of this book are eminently checkable. The facts in the stories came from inside my head, except for one story which was suggested by a guy who was cutting my hair at the time.
I have re-written these stories, as the folks at The Sun re-wrote my originals, which were cut (unmercifully) to fit their space and standards. Yes, “standards.” I must admit, there were some parts of these stories that were a bit much, even for them.
The narrative was first a story for The Oregonian and The Baltimore City Paper. Upon publication, in Portland, I was invited to be on a talk show in Seattle. They asked me to make up a tabloid story on the spot. But they stopped smiling when I made up a story about how there was a talk show host farm where people just like the co-hosts were mass-produced from pods.
Over the years, I used the piece to introduce myself to women. It was good if they laughed, and just as good if they were horrified. Better to know at the beginning. I have read the Oregonian piece in public several times, and the jokes always killed. One night I was sitting around with pianist/writer David Vest who suggested this book.
I am supposed to thank the people who influenced me to write this book and these stories. But if you had inspired this stuff, would you want to be thanked? Think about it. I can’t thank deities, as athletes do. I might get struck by lightening.
I suppose I can thank poverty, drugs and my colleague Garey Lambert, with whom I was making one of the Baltimore Orioles’ pre-game radio shows when I first wrote this stuff. We weren’t making any money doing that show. I had to do something, so I ended up writing these stories.
We had put all the money we were making into production gear, and although I was being well-fed in the Orioles press box, I did not have the “luxury” of being the projectionist at an art film theater, as Garey did.
These stories helped keep the lights on in the apartment we shared. People called us “the odd couple.” He was gay, I was straight, and one of my ex-wives lived upstairs.
Garey “edited” these stories, to some extent, but mostly he was my friend and laughed at the jokes. He was also the brother I never had.
Garey became one of the top AIDS journalists in the U.S. before that disease took him in 1996. There’s hardly a week that goes by that I don’t have the urge to call him about something. Thanks, Garey.