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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
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I Found the Truth in a Trailer Park

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I’m not quite sure how I got the way that I am. I mean, I know how I ended up on the planet, of course. I got the ‘birds and bees’ talk, just the same way that most people got it — from a gaggle of 13-year-olds who didn’t know any better than I did at the time, and got most of the important bits about sex horribly, horribly wrong.

(Only a small percentage of folks will want anything — much less something wet and squirmy — stuck into their ear, for instance.)

Of course, it probably wasn’t helpful that I was 24 at the time… maybe I just didn’t understand all their ‘kewl kid’ code, and something got lost in the translation. No matter — I’ve been straightened out, so to speak, and now I’m on the right path. There are very few situations left in which I’m unsure of where to put my wet, squirmy things, and I think that’s solid progress. Solid progress, indeed.

But I’m not sure that’s really what I was talking about. Moving on…

So, I have a pretty good idea of where I started from.

“I think they eventually squirted some WD-40 in there and charged in with a plunger to pry me loose, but I accomplished my mission.”

(And, of course, if there was ever any doubt as to the nature of my initial entry to the world — like if I thought I’d sprouted from seeds or been dropped here by aliens or rogue Scientologists — I only have to ask my mother how many hours of labor she endured for the privilege of having to listen to my ‘smart mouth’ for the rest of her life. It’s somewhere on the order of thirty, though the actual number creeps slowly upward as the years go by, as though it’s a tall fish tale, and I’m the marlin. Or more likely, the largemouth bass. Or crappie.

(Oh, go ahead, say it, ya dildo — ‘The tuna. Charlie the tuna.’ Happy now? Ha-de-fucking-ha.)

So, anyway, it’s pretty clear that I was launched into this world as we all are — with plenty of screaming and sweating and blood. You know, the way rock stars usually end up going out of it. Or like an ER episode.

(Is it just me, by the way, or are the producers of that show just trying to depress the living shit out of the entire country now? I mean, I watched the first couple of seasons, and it was ‘edgy’ and ‘gripping’ and all those other words that Hollywood made up to use in movie reviews, but have you seen this show lately? Now every show is like a frickin’ Shakespearean play — it seems to go on for-ever, it’s filled with language that nobody understands, and everybody dies at the end. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that Ming-Na and Maura Tierney are men just dressing up to play their roles.

(For those of you unfamiliar with the customs of Shakespeare’s time, and didn’t at least see Shakespeare in Love, I’m not suggesting that those two lovely — okay, fine, actually fairly hot — ladies aren’t ladies. What I mean is that way back when Shakespeare wrote — in the ’50’s or ’60’s, I think — they wouldn’t let women actually act. On stage, anyway, though they were still allowed to put on their ‘Oh!’ face in the sack, even if the fish didn’t happen to be fryin’ that night. So don’t get upset about the ‘really a man’ thing. They’re not, and I’m not actually saying that they are, okay? Laura Innes — well, the jury’s out. But the others, no. They’re not men. Let it go.))

All right, what the hell was I saying, anyway? Oh right, how I got to approxitudely where I am today.

So, I presume I had a fairly normal childhood. I don’t remember too many haunting traumas… though to be fair, I don’t remember all that much of my childhood at all, so I’m probably repressing a fair amount of nightmarish horror. I fully expect to run into that trigger any day now — a wire hanger, or a hypodermic needle, or a branding iron, maybe — that will send it all flooding back, and I’ll ball up into a fetal position and desperately try to swallow my tongue.

(Oh, don’t look so ashen, people. I’ll recover — a couple of years of electro-therapy and a nice creamy lobotomy, and I’ll be back. Straightjacketed, of course, and typing this crap with my nose from a padded room somewhere, but I’ll be back. Oh, yes. I will be back.)

Anyway, I can’t think of much in my early past that would have made me so cynical. Well, there was the time that my father scarred me for life — literally, and the only scar that I still have — but that’s a story for another time. And he denies actually doing it, so I’m not sure it counts.

(I mean, who you gonna believe? Him, a then-thirtyish father figure, husband and breadwinner for the family? Or a four-or-so-year-old-at-the-time, drooling, snot-nosed kid who doesn’t even know his multiplication tables yet? Still. Anyway, one of these days I’ll let you be the judge, and determine who’s fault it is that I’m so horribly disfigured, even to this day.

(I needed six stitches! Six! And on a four-year-old, isn’t that like half a body? I mean, that’s like sewing an arm back on or something… Six! Drop that jaw, dammit — six!))

Anyway, I don’t remember being particularly smacked down by Fate in my formative years. Oh, there were bad times along with the good, of course. I never got my pony. Or later, my inflatable Tiffany doll. And that kinda sucked.

(Well, the Tiffany doll would’ve, if you could believe the advertising on the box, but apparently we didn’t do that sort of thing in my family. It just gave the neighbors ‘more ammunition’, from what I gathered.)

Oh, and I did briefly live in a disaster magnet — er, trailer park, when I was really, really young, maybe two or three.

I doubt that had much effect, though — I only have one memory of being there, which is getting randomly stung by a wasp while riding down our street on a plastic green caterpillar with wheels. I even saw it coming, too, the little pecker. I was mindin’ my own business, just ridin’ my ‘pillar through the park, when I looked to my left — see, details! Little personal details that give the story authenticity; you don’t get that kind of shit on Slashdot — anyway, I definitely remember it was my left, and I saw this insect flying at me.

Now, I’d never been stung by anything — a bee, a wasp, gambling on cockfights, nothing — so I didn’t actually think about this little bastard having it in for me. I thought it was a fly or a beetle or something, and just sort of watched it fly towards me, blissfully unaware that it might actually zip over and stick its ass in me. I mean, who does that? What experience up to that point in my life could prepare me for something to just mosey up and stick its ass completely inside me, as though it were just saying ‘hello’? Sure, Aunt Gracie used to jam her boobs in my face (or vice versa, I forget), and aptly-named Uncle Willie had his, erm, issues, but nobody ever went around trying to shove their ass physically into my body. No one.

So of course, I was completely taken aback when this wasp — this little bitch-ass insect — just keeps comin’ full-bore towards me, bumps into me, and then just stings the shit out of my arm, without so much as an ‘Excuse me’ or a ‘Hello old chap; it appears as though you could use an arm-assing, and I believe I can help you out.’ Nothing. No warning, no provocation of any kind, just ‘squeak squeak squeak’ on the caterpillar one minute, and then wham!, some bug’s hairy butt inside me the next. To this day, I don’t know what I did to piss him off. Maybe he was aiming for the caterpillar. Maybe he woke up on the wrong side of the hive that day. Or maybe he thought I was looking at him funny.

(I found out a couple of years later that I needed glasses, so in fairness, I probably was peering at him all squinty. But that’s no excuse.)

Anyway, he hit me, and then buzzed off. And my arm hurt, or course. So I cried, naturally. Like a baby. I cried and ran and cried and ran, and abandoned my cater-vehicle where it stood, and ran for the safety of… trailer.

(How’s that for adding insult to injury? Ya get assed in the arm, and then gotta run for yo momma’s and daddy’s trailer… that’s just wrong on so many levels…)

So eventually, I was fine — we iced down my arm, and I stopped blubbering, and even went back to get my caterpillar. With a broom, of course, in case that coward bitch came back for another piece. But he didn’t — I never saw him again. And soon the swelling eased, and we moved to a proper house, and things got pretty normal.

But you know, the more I think about it., maybe that was the turning point in my life. I mean, looking back, I just don’t see how it’s possible to be running, screaming and crying with a freshly-stung, still-assy arm, toward a trailer, ’cause that’s the best option you’ve got, and not believe that the entire universe is lined up against you. There’s nobody on your side in that situation, and even if there’s a mommy on the other side of the double-wide door, those few minutes it takes for your pudgy little feet to pitter-pat all the way back home have got to take a toll. You’re changed forever — in that moment, with tears and snot and sweat running down your face, and the rows of trailers jiggling in your view as you careen past them, you have to see it: the world hates me. There’s no other rational conclusion a two-year-old could come to. After that kind of experience, you know you’re on your own. It’s us versus them, and your only weapon is to ridicule them into submission before somebody comes around and asses you again.

Wow. I’d never realized. Well, thanks for reading, and for letting me pinpoint the moment when the light befell me, and I finally saw this world for the ass-or-be-assed minefield that it truly is. If you’ve never had the sort of life-changing experience that I’ve just described, then consider yourself lucky. You’re still living in the Matrix — your world may be filled with sugar and spice and gumdrop goodness. I envy you your ignorant bliss. ‘Cause I know better — in the real world, people are as likely to ass you as to give you the time of day. And Mothra help you if you squint at ’em the wrong way. But now you’re armed with the knowledge to fight back, to see the true nature of the world around us. I’ve given you the red pill. Take two, and get pissy in the morning. It’s the only defense you’ve got against them. Good luck, stay away from trailer parks (like that oughta be hard), and watch your ass out there. Not to mention the asses of others — that’s the real danger.

Oh, and if you happen to be that wasp that accosted me almost thirty years ago… you’d better be watching your back, bitch. I haven’t forgotten, and I know what you look like. You’d better lay low, or I’ll rip you a new one and break you in half, ya little peckernose. There’s some payback coming, ’cause I finally have someone to blame — you did this to me!

CRAP (see this post for the CRAP 411):

So I can’t be sure exactly how long it took me to ‘shoot through the poop chute’ and into the world (okay, fine, so that’s not entirely anatomically correct…still, you’d have a hard time convincing me that a lot of people out there weren’t born via assholes, given that they’ve grown up to be such impressive representations of the species). Suffice to say that it was long enough to discourage my parents (read: mother) from ever wanting to give the experience another try. Which is just how I wanted it, of course.

See, I was a crafty little fetus, and I knew even then that I didn’t want to have to share my Lincoln Logs with another snotty little brat or brat-ette. I wanted to fly solo, baby. So I dug my stubby little fingers in, and held on for dear pre-life. I lasted more than a day, too, if you can believe the hospital records and the police reports. I think they eventually squirted some WD-40 in there and charged in with a plunger to pry me loose, but I accomplished my mission. And to this day, I haven’t had to share my Lincoln Logs (or Legos, or Etch-a-Sketch) with anyone. Well, okay, truth be told, my wife does Bogart the Silly Putty every once in a while… but after thirty-plus years on the planet, I suppose I have to compromise a little now and then, right?

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