I like to think of myself as a principled man, but sometimes the slavering, snarling, pitiless wolf of financial pressure backs you into a corner, and you have to choose between self-respect and giving out metaphorical hand jobs to every Tom, Dick and Harry just to pay the rent.As usual, I chose the latter.
“What do you see?” Kevin asked me.
“Hmmmm.I see a pirate ship. What do you see?”
It was the day after Christy fired us, and unseasonably warm for December.Kevin and I were sitting on a bench at Quail Lake Park in Colorado Springs, finishing our delectable Taco Bell lunch and trying to decipher patterns in the truly staggering quantity of duck shit on the lakeshore path.
“I see,” Kevin replied, “man’s eternal struggle to come to terms with the existential angst caused by his consciousness of his own mortality.”
I leaned forward, squinting at the path for a moment.“Nah…it’s definitely a pirate ship.”
I love relaxing by a lake or stream.It’s peaceful and helps me clear my head.I inhaled the scent of pine mingled with the damp, weedy smell of the water.Just then a couple of sparrows landed on Kevin’s shoulder and he shoo’d them away.It’s always amazing to me that wild animals are not afraid of Kevin.It’s probably because he’s a gorilla—a fellow wild animal, so to speak.
I pulled out a couple of hand-rolled maduro cigars, cut the ends, and handed one to him.He leaned forward and I held my torch up to his cigar as he puffed and turned it in the flame to get it started.In a few seconds it was blazing away nicely.Then I sparked mine up.We leaned back and sat in silence for a few minutes enjoying our smokes, blowing aromatic clouds into the air which were carried off by the gentle breeze.Kevin pulled a couple of Fat Tire ales out of the ice chest, popped the tops and handed me one.We clanked the bottle necks.
“So, you say your Mom doesn’t want to abort you anymore?” Kevin asked, and took a pull from his beer.
“No.She’s back on her meds, and back to being pro-life.”
“Great!You can stop sleeping on my couch and move back to your parent’s basement.”
“She doesn’t want to abort me at this particular moment, but I don’t want to push it.Besides, Daddy says I can’t move back because I need to stand on my own two feet.So, I need to stay at your place a little longer.”
“I can’t believe you call him Daddy.”
“I already told you, I don’t have any choice.If I don’t call him Daddy Mom makes a big scene and starts crying.”
“Hey, nothing wrong with that family dynamic.Very healthy.”
“Thank you for your expert psychological analysis, ass hat.”
“Well, I need my couch back,” he said.“This was supposed to be temporary.”
“I’m telling you my blog is going to take off in a big way, and then I’ll be able to get my own place.I just need a little more time.”
“I didn’t know you could make money blogging.”
“Lots of people do it, Kevy.All you have to do is write from the heart and put it out there.Pretty soon the money just pours in.”
“Something about that doesn’t sound right.”
“It’s true.I get ads on Facebook and Instagram and YouTube all the time offering to teach me how people are making tons of money blogging from the beach in Hawaii or Indonesia or other awesome places.Everyone’s doing it.The key is having the right name for your blog.”
“Wait—having the right name is the key?How about writing something that people actually want to read?”
“Well, yeah, I guess that’s important, too.But having the right name is how you make the fat stacks of cash, Kevy.”
“Something about that still doesn’t sound right,” he said, scratching his head.“Do you have a name yet?”
“Well, don’t keep me in suspense.What is it?”
“Civilian Fuck Monkey,” I said proudly.“Pretty awesome, huh?”
Kevin cringed like he’d just bit into an unripe lemon.“That’s the absolute worst name I’ve ever heard in my entire life.”
“It’s not the absolute worst,” I said defensively.
“Well, lemme think,” he said, rubbing his chin.“Over the course of my entire life, is it actually the absolute worst name I’ve ever heard?I mean, does it actually take first place in being the shittiest, suckiest, most fuck-witted name I’ve ever come across since the day of my birth?”He frowned in thought for a moment, then nodded.“Yep, it’s the worst.”
“Oh, fuck you.It’s a great name.Everyone loves monkeys.”
“Everyone hates monkeys, moron.”
“No they don’t.”
“Yes they do.Second, it doesn’t make any sense.”
“Yes it does.”
“No it doesn’t.Third, if you asked an A.I. supercomputer to calculate the worst possible name for a blog—a name that would maximize the number of people who, after hearing the name, would vow to never read that blog—it would come up with Civilian Fuck Monkey.”
“No it wouldn’t.”
“Yes it would.What does it even mean?”
“Well…it’s not about having a concrete meaning, per se.I’m going for more of a vibe.A feeling.”
“Of what?Acute nausea?”
“Oh, that’s humorous.Very witty.”
He flipped me the bird.
“Oh, very mature.”
He flipped me the other bird.
“As I was saying, I was going for a vibe, something with wide appeal that will bring the people of the planet together in love and healing, and create a sense of a community with a transcendent purpose.”
“And you think the name Civilian Fuck Monkey is going to do that?
“How could it not?”
He sat in dumbfounded silence for a minute, shaking his head.“Okay, so what’s this blog about?”
“It’s about starting a movement.Building a coalition.Saving the planet.”
“Yeah, but what’s the subject?”
“‘What’s it about?What’s the subject?’” I said in exasperation.“Kevin, we’re talking about building a tribe!Making a difference!Saving the motherfucking planet!These are transcendent concepts that can’t be boxed in with something so mundane and pedantic as a ‘subject’ or being ‘about’ something.”
“Ahhh,” he said, understanding dawning on him at last, “I think I get it, now.”
“You don’t know what it’s about.”
“Goddammit, Kevin!I just told you what it’s about.Now, if you’ll shut your pie-hole for a minute and listen, I have a business opportunity for you.”
“CFM is going to be a big, big deal.Massive.It’s going to be the Kim Kardashian of blogs.”
“What does that even mean?”
“It means it’s going to be hot, curvy, and important.With big boobs.”
“Well, metaphorically speaking.Anyway, how would you like to get in on the ground floor, buddy?”
“I’m not sure,” he said doubtfully.“How much does it pay?”
“Pay?Pay?!” I snapped.“Haven’t you heard a word I’ve said?I’m talking about an ownership stake in the biggest thing since twerking!This is major!This is a once-in-a-lifetime, life-changing opportunity!”
“What do I have to do to get in on this ‘life-changing opportunity’?”
“Come to work as CFM’s Membership Coordinator.And maybe write an advice column.”
“One more thing.Let me stay at your place until the moolah starts rolling in and I can afford to get a place of my own.”
“So, lemme get this straight.I give you free labor and let you sleep on my couch, and in exchange I get an ownership stake in a blog you haven’t started yet?”
“Yep!Oh, and be our mascot.Our mascot should really be a monkey, but you’re close enough.”
“Listen, fuck face. I’m an African Silverback Gorilla, not a goddamn monkey.Monkeys suck so hard that when they enter a room everyone’s ears pop from the drop in air pressure. All they do is sit around all day masturbating and slinging shit at each other.”
“But you have to admit—gorillas and monkeys do have a passing resemblance,” I replied.
“Yeah, and your mother tugs more hose than the entire New York City Fire Department, asshole!Stop comparing gorillas to those un-evolved shit slingers!”
“Okay, okay, calm down.Sorry.Fuck’s sake.”
After a minute Kevin asked, “So, what are you going to do in this hypothetical blog partnership?”
“I’m the CEO.”
“Yes, but what tasks are your responsibility?What actual things will you be doing?”
“There you go again trying to box deep, spiritual concepts into words like ‘tasks’ and ‘doing things.’You’ve got to learn to open your mind, Kevin. I’m the founder.The CEO.The thought leader.My ‘task’ is saving the motherfucking planet.Make sense?”
“Not really.What will we do for money in the meantime?”
“Well, we were supposed to work for Christy, but you fucked that up with your shitty website design.”
“No, fuck face, the website was awesome.You fucked it up by doing therapy without a license.”
“No, twat weasel, you fucked it up by bringing booze into the fucking office and leaving empties scattered all over the fucking place!”
“No, you fucking fuck head, you fuckingfucked it up by fucking being an overall fucking fuckwit.”
“This isn’t fucking helping!” I snapped.“We have to figure out a way to make some dough, pronto.”
“Well, I have an idea,” Kevin said, pulling out his iPhone and doing an internet search.“I found this ad on Craigslist this morning.Here, look.”
He handed me his phone and I read the ad he had pulled up.It said:
SANTA & ELF WANTED.
Chapel Hills Mall, Colorado Springs.$15/hr.December 7th-24th.Must be good with children.No drugs or alcohol.No felonies.Apply in person at the mall office.
“I’m not going to be a mall Santa,” I said.“It’s beneath me.”
“Beneath you?This coming from a fifty-two-year-old who spent the last eight years living in his parent’s basement, with his mom telling him what time to go to bed.Besides, I’m going to be Santa.You’re going to be my elf assistant.”
“It says no alcohol.”
“It means while you’re on the job.You can abstain for a few hours each day, you fucking lush.”
“But…but…what about my standards?My self-respect?”
“You don’t have either, so it’s not a problem.”
“No way.I’m not doing it.”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake.Why not?”
“It’s flu season, and kids are germ bombs.I don’t wanna get sick.”
“You’re pathetic,” Kevin sighed.He sat thinking for a moment.“What if I agree to help you with your blog?”
“Really?Does that include letting me sleep on your couch?”
“Yes, it includes letting you sleep on my couch,” he said sarcastically.“But you have to actually get the job.And once you have it, you can’t get fired.That means actually showing up for work.On time.And not drinking while you have a little kid on your lap.”
“Oh, alright.But the kids are going to be on your lap, Santa.Not mine.”
“Let’s go apply in the morning,” he said, standing up and shooing away a pigeon that tried to land on his head.“Where did we park?”
“This is gonna be fun!”
“Say that after some four-year-old brat snots all over your red coat, Santa.”
“Oh stop being such a big baby,” he replied as we walked towards the parking lot, a big grin on his face.“We’re gonna have a great time.”
“Yeah, a fucking blast.”
We reached my car and I unlocked it.“You should do some research on how to be an elf so you don’t fuck this job up, too,” Kevin said as we got in.
So, after we got back to the apartment I Googled ‘how to be an elf,’ and wound up spending the next three hours drinking Knob Creek and surfing elf porn.