I never planned to be a failed journalist or a hack writer. Seriously, in my youth, I had big plans that included wealth, women and worldwide fame.
Now I’d settle for a Twinkie and a Diet Coke.
I’m not one of those quacks that hope to better his or her life by climbing Mount Everest or learning to make origami swans. Instead, I am devoted to Self-Hypnotic Introspection Therapy. (You figure out the acronym for that).
That’s where you study your past lives and learn all the mistakes you made to better avoid stepping in the same S**t once again.
So far, I haven’t mastered the art.
For example, the earliest incarnation I can recall was my life as the caveman inventor Alley Oopkins. I invented the fork, and, inadvertently, one of the most-used phrases in history. One day, as I watched a Neanderthal eating with his hands, I held up my longest finger to catch his attention and said “Fork, you.”
The Neanderthal apparently misunderstood what I was telling him and threw me into a tar pit. I still might have escaped if it weren’t for my other invention. While working on the wheel, I had created the first inner tube.
Unfortunately, it was made of stone and I was wearing it when I was tossed in the tar pit. It proved less than satisfactory.
Next, I nearly conquered the world as Alexander the Grape. I planned to build an empire of wineries all across Mesopotamia. In addition to wine, I planned to serve fertile crescents. But one day I slipped into a vat of grapes and found myself in a real jam.
During the Middle Ages I was a hip-shaking troubadour known as Quellvis The Pelvis. My dreams of becoming wealthy seemed about to come true when I met The Kernel, who made his fortune selling fried chicken. As a hobby he also ran a travelling troupe that toured the land. But, alas, I had to give up my career as a bike-riding rockabilly singer when I couldn’t synchronize my minstrel cycle.
In the early 17th Century I was a great Indian chief named Gourd. One day we stood on the beach and watched as a big canoe brought Pilgrims to our shore.
“There goes the neighborhood,” I said. “I bet these illegal immigrants will take all our jobs.”
The Pilgrims had a funny New England accent, but it sounded like they said they wanted to be free to worship Gourd in their own way. What harm could that do, I wondered?
After they promised to print “In Gourd We Trust” on all their money, I agreed to let them stay.
“It’ll only be for a few weeks, until we find our own place,” the Pilgrims pledged.
As a token of their friendship they gave us blankets; I thought they said the blankets came with a small box …
In another life, I was an inventor named Tommy Fedison. But my poor penmanship doomed me to poverty. When I wrote a grant hoping to get support for the phonograph I was working on, a newspaper reported that I planned to phone a giraffe. I was left destitute after Alexander Graham Cracker sued me for using his phone to make long distance calls. He even ended up with my idea for a cinnamon snack cracker.
In another incarnation I was a major adult film star known –for good cause – as Howard Huge. I amassed a fortune, but had to spend most of it on Valtrex and penicillin. When computers came along I immediately saw the potential for online porn, but due to a misspelling I ended up investing in a virtual chess company – which led to an unhealthy addiction to internet pawn.
I won’t give up though; not as long as there is a chance that at least one of my dreams might come true. There’s still Debbie, a pretty redhead from high school; I asked her out once and she said “Maybe if you were the last man on earth!”
So I’ve still got that going for me. Of course that was 30 years ago so I don’t know what Debbie looks like now.
And she’d probably have to give up the convent.
John Christian Hopkins, a member of the Narragansett Tribe, has spent more than two decades in journalism, including as a nationally syndicated columnist. He is the author of The Pirate Prince, Carlomagno and Twilight of the Gods.