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April 6, 2010

I’m not really a “one-upper”…

No really… I don’t mean to be; it’s just something that happens.

One-upper, you ask?  Let me explain.  A “one-upper” is someone who tries to one-up you on a story.  So if you say something about a trip to the beach, they might then tell a more exciting one about the time they went to the beach and a boat drove up the surf and crashed into the beach splitting the hull. (That really did happen, it was rather funny and exciting.)

Point is,  I don’t mean to be a one-upper; it’s just that I’ve lived a pretty interesting life.  It’s full of happiness, sadness, humor, travel, tragedy and human drama.  I’ve yet to see a human baby being born, but I’ve helped with the birthing of animals. I’ve worked CPR on a heart attack victim, and have seen multiple people die.  I’ve been in two fires, one on a boat 60 miles off the shore of New England. I’ve worked on two farms, one where I had to slaughter and pluck turkeys, and on the other cut, stack, and transport hay.  I’ve had three close to death situations. (Rattle snake, bungee jumping, and car accident, not in that order.)

Unlike many who never leave their hometown, I’ve lived.  I’ve experienced.  I’ve accumulated true stories (with only a small amount of embellishment.) So, I don’t intentionally try to one-up someone else’s story, it just happens. (Oh and if there’s anyone out there ready to give birth, seriously I’ve always wanted to be there for that.  Please invite me to the birthing room.  No lies.)

While growing up, I mostly lived with my mother (single mom), who moved from house to house as often as some people do laundry.  From the ages of 2 – 12 I must have lived in 8 different homes; apartments, rental houses, with the grandmother, and in a foster home.

From 13 – 17 I was shipped off to live with my father, and although we didn’t move every year, the home life wasn’t all that stable.  My father was a fisherman, owned his own boat, and expected his kids to work the business, especially the boys. Did I mention I have 13 brothers and sisters?

I’ve lived a pretty interesting life, and I like to be able to relate to others.  I like  for someone I’m talking with to know I understand what they are going through and that I can empathize with a situation or state of mind.  I normally do this by relaying a story to those people.

Maybe it’s how I tell a story, maybe it’s the subject matter, maybe it’s my body language, ( I grew up on the east coast, and learned how to not only speak verbally, but use my entire body in the process.  So not only do you hear my words, but you’ll see my hands flaying about, and my head turns, body movement… it’s like when my uncle…).  I’m not sure, but honestly, I’m not trying to “better” or “beat” your story.

Yes, I know what it’s like to grow up with a crazy brother.  This one time one of my brother’s (two years older then me, I’ll name him Kevin) decided he wanted to play Cowboys and Indians.  I must have been about five at the time and wanted to be the Cowboy so much; after fighting about it, Kevin agreed to be the Indian.  While playing he knocked me down, took my gun and hat, then tied me to a tree, where he then proceeded to try and light the tree, and myself, on fire.  He saw it in a Cowboy movie where the Indians burned people at the stake.

See, these are my stories, and I have lots of them.  But really, I’m not one-upping, or not trying to-it’s just what I have for memories. Here’s another one:  Kevin wanted to play pirate, so we dressed like swashbucklers and he tied a cinderblock to my right ankle and made me walk the “plank.” By plank I mean the neighbors diving board over their pool.  By cinderblock I mean cinderblock.  Now thankfully Kevin was only about 9 at the time, and didn’t’ know how to measure length all that well, so he tied a 20’ rope on my foot, and tossed me into a 7’ pool… I had over 13 feet of slack in the rope, but swimming in pirate gear is hard.

Yes, seriously, it happened.   But this just distracts from the fact that I’m NOT trying to better you and your stories.

This is my arsenal.  I have stories about growing up with crazed brothers and sisters… about living with a single alcoholic mother (who had a thing for married black men who asked that I call them “uncle.”)  I have stories about growing up in a foster home, living with an out-of-touch father and step-monster.  (My step-monster was my 15 year old babysitter when I was 2.)

See I just can’t escape it, my life is just that full of random crap.

My childhood was dysfunctional, took place in the 70’s and 80’s, and not knowing any better, we were wild animals.  This makes for interesting stories…

At 17 I moved out on my own, traveled across the country (mostly to get away from the hell of my teenage years), worked, put myself through college, and when I was 24 I was traveling the country installing computer systems, falling in and out of lust / love, and accumulating what would later be stories.

(Ok, so this one time I was traveling in Tennessee and picked up a hitch hiker-hey she was hot.  She was going to about where my hotel was, and when I dropped her off, she forgot a bag in my car.  I called the number on the bag and I was informed that the bag was stolen.  It turned out that the hitchhiker girl took a few bags from the airport baggage claim that weren’t hers.  So the police come to my hotel, and as they are taking the information from me about the hitchhiking girl, there she comes [the “girl”] into the hotel lobby walks up to me and tells me she forgot “her bag” in my car and if she could have it back…. Seriously, you can’t make this crap up.)

Sigh. Back to the original part of this story.

On a whole, my life can be broken down into three parts.

.             Childhood, where I was bounced around in an unstable living condition, allowed to be a mud-covered hellion (ok, so my mother took my older brothers and me to Woodstock, I was two… yes, really.  There are photographic images of me covered in mud with a sunflower painted on my belly). And then to live like a slave to an ungrateful household of… ugg another story best saved for later.

.             18 – 30: Ah the self-discovery years. I worked, traveled, and discovered my greatest friend Guinness. (I was living with these guys from England and Ireland, and we were out on the piss… when Paul, this big fella jumps on my back and has me give him a piggyback ride for 3 blocks.)

.             30 – 40 (my current years).  I got married, traveled some more, volunteered with theater groups and mentored kids.  (I do amateur theatrical makeup and special FX.  I’ve volunteered with non-profits that run this haunted house, and one time we had this…. Oh here I go again.)

I just have stories, many of them. I’ve lived, fallen in and out of love.  I’ve done many things, but I still won’t jump out of a plane or bungee jump. (A friend of mine convinced me to try bungee jumping when I was like 28.  She was pretty, hot, and insinuated on the promise of some interesting times if I accompanied her on a tandem jump.  We were gearing up, and getting hooked to the bungee, when one of the guys running it goes “huh-oh”, which is not what you want to hear when he’s putting on your straps, and he gives the harness a tug, part of the O-ring mechanism pulled free of the harness.  This of course would have meant we would have gone “splat” had we actually jumped off the bridge.)

A month or so ago I was out with some friends, having a few beers. (Which is the best time to start to spin a yarn of wit and wisdom), when this pretty girl starts to weave a tale. It was funny, and charming… and was something that I could completely understand. So while trying to relay to her that I could relate (to her and the story), I pulled from my arsenal of experiences and the reply was, “Don’t be a one-upper”.   Yes, my story was good. It had a nice punch line, and funny moments, but I wasn’t trying to be a one-upper.

I’ve thought long and hard on this.  And I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll just have to save my stories for some other time, that for whatever reason, I am a one-upper and will need to cut that out.

So to you Pretty lady, I don’t mean to be a one-upper, and will try my darndest to hold back the next time you start to tell me about your midnight photo sessions, or the latest cute thing your cat has done.  Wait, speaking of cats and midnight, this one time…

Now watch this trailer, and see it when it’s in theaters.  (I have no tie in, it just looks awesome).


One Response to “ One-Upper ”

  1. Adam on April 6, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    Oh yeah?! Well, this one time, I was working with this guy and… oh. Wait. It was you, and you’re story is better than mine. I guess that makes me a one-downer, huh?