After living in the mountains for the past four months with famous spiritual writer, and somewhat slacker-looking, thirty-something Todd Hubb, we both decided to go on a “quest” for the subject of his next multi-million dollar bestseller, but since Todd’s wife has recently taken control of his assets, we now have to resort to doing radio shows for funds, with long hair naturally dread-locking, filthy, long-bearded faces, and me wearing nothing but a plastic garbage bag.
A few days ago, Todd and I attempted to do Todd’s first radio call-in show since he left for the mountains but Todd ended up crying about his wife leaving him.
The radio station manager, a gruff 50-ish man who smelled like 40-cent cigars, looked for me all over the station. He finally found me alone in the green room, stuffing my face (I hadn’t eaten anything that most naturalists would call “edible” in about four months).
STATION MANAGER: There you are. Todd is threatening to jump off the roof, and he’s asking for you.
ME: Oh my God… No…
STATION MANAGER: You’re probably the only person who can talk him out of it.
ME: How do I do this? Let me collect my thoughts for a second.
STATION MANAGER: We don’t have much time.
The station manager marched off. And stomped back, a half hour later.
STATION MANAGER: He’s really freaking out right now.
I was now sitting on the couch, staring at the TV, enjoying The View (I hadn’t seen anything that most geek bloggers would call “must see” in about four months).
I held up an index finger to my lips to signal “hush”, and then another index finger to signal “one minute”, never once taking my intense gaze off the television screen.
STATION MANAGER: Come up as soon as you can. Your friend might die today.
The station manager plodded off. And clomped back, an hour later.
STATION MANAGER: What are you doing? Your best friend is now hanging from the ledge by his hands!
I was awakened by his rather loud voice as I lay on the comfy couch I had fallen asleep on (I hadn’t enjoyed anything that most insomniacs would call “a restful repose” in about four months).
ME: Can’t a guy get a rest around here without people gibbering and jabbering about jumping and hanging off ledges and such?
The station manager groused something inaudible and was gone. He soldiered back, two hours later, with five NYPD officers who forced me to the roof as I kicked, screamed and bit.
On the roof, the police finally let go and I approached Todd’s fingers, as Todd was hanging off the edge of the building by his fingertips.
ME (stone-faced): How’s it hangin’?
Todd didn’t answer me.
ME: I know you’re upset.
He still said nothing.
ME: My grandma Gertie used to say, whatever you’re upset about, it probably still has something to do with the first time you were ever upset about something. Can you remember what you were first upset about? In your life?
TODD: My mother never let me eat caramels. Every kid had caramels but me. My mother would never allow it.
ME: Your mom was a bitch. See… that’s what you’re upset about. You still want those delicious caramels but everybody keeps saying, “Hey, you aren’t good enough for caramels.” People know that you don’t deserve caramels, and they know that you’re not worth giving any caramels to. Suddenly your mom doesn’t seem to be such a bitch, does she? You’re the bitch.
Todd looked up into my eyes. Tears streamed down to his chin.
TODD: How do you keep going on? For the life of me, I can’t imagine how. You left your wife pregnant, and with a debt that is going to take at least four generations of hard toil to pay off, and you plan on never going back, don't you. You are probably the most despicable human being I have ever met. How do you live with yourself? Why haven’t you killed yourself? If I were you, I would have killed myself a long long time ago. How do you do it, Eric? What’s your secret?
ME: Well, for starters, you are not the first person to have asked me this very question. And this has been my answer every time. My secret is: even though I have failed at everything I have ever tried, everyone who comes into contact with me ends up much worse for it and everything I touch turns to vomit… every time I walk past a mirror or I see my reflection in a window, I like what I see.
I smiled down at Todd. My teeth were caked in tartar and plague, my hair was bunched up in filth and my face was blackened and hairy with four months of unsanitary mountain living.
ME: When I was a kid, I was so pleased with what I saw that I used to kiss myself in the mirror. Now I open-mouth kiss myself. As I get older, I know that one day others will come to see how beautiful this face is, and that will be a fabulous day.
TODD: When they see what? I don’t get it.
ME: My face.
TODD: Your face?
ME: The public will discover it one day.
TODD: And what are they supposed to do?
ME: Rejoice. You see, I bring beauty into this world. That’s my job.
TODD: What’s my job?
ME: Maybe your face balances things out… I don’t know.
I winked and smiled, showcasing a plague-encrusted set of teeth.
ME: Now do you see it?
TODD: I see quite the opposite, actually.
A police chopper approached, slicing the afternoon sky overhead, soon to be followed by a news chopper.
CHOPPER COP ON A MEGAPHONE: What’s going on? What are you guys doing?
ME (to Todd): Give me a pocket mirror and I’ll make out with myself, you’ll see.
TODD (to me): Call an officer over. I can’t hold on anymore.
ME: Just wait a sec. I’ll make out with my hand.
TODD: Officers! Help! I can’t hold on anymore!
I turned to the onslaught of NYPD officers racing toward us.
ME: Officers! Halt! He needs to see this first!
I turned back to Todd as I licked and open-mouth kissed both my hands and the cops body-checked me.
As the officers pulled Todd to safety, he looked down at me.
TODD: Thank you. Just now, the universe spoke to me through you. I’m not meant to die today. You are one lost dude and I’m meant to help you find your way again.
ME: I think when your mother didn’t let you have caramels, she was really trying to say you don’t deserve to live.