Tattoos in Mayberry

77,351 poems read

1973.
was the year I was hit by the realization I was doomed to peon hood, basically an ant in an ant colony,
merely expendable merchandize for the grinding gears of the machine. no trust funds with tours of duty. i wasn't going to be 
the star half back on any football teams. I began developing  another weapon, my mind. 
We are adaptive creatures, who can reason and think for ourselves..
I was determined if the track, the pecking order before me, as an athlete was pre-ordained,
and set in stone, I had to find a way out of  being ground up grist for their mill.
Somone sobered me up over a drink at the bar, when they said to me,
If you're so smart, why aren't you rich?
Perhaps because I haven't been seeking to enslave anyone, or
broker deals that hurt every party but me and my handlers. I cling to
the idea there would fair play, and mutually beneficial outcomes for all parties involved.
A game where there isn't one winner and everyone else, losers..
Where everyone is a champion, 
.Could I navigate through life without leading with my chin. 
The truth was, I had little knowledge about of the cruelty that lay ahead of me.
I locked horns and bumped heads  with fools,thugs,and
amateur mentors drilling me how fortunate I was
being young and able to aspire to become virtually anyone or anything I cared to be.
I saw other kids who seemed to have nailed down their future personae, as adolescents
having prior,, and prescient knowledge of their destiny. professionally..


In school, a friend of mine loved animals and wanted to became a
veterinarian. He became one. We called another friend,, Doc because he wanted to
become a surgeon and later became one.
Is it comforting,good fortune, to have this knowledge regarding future roles
I guess, I was a poet as a child. But, writing about the clash of the dandelions
and the lawn police was my beacon of light to my own path in life.
i was to become a writer.,
Carve out my identity in the road map of life..
My father sold insurance, and as his only
son, I wanted him to be proud of me..
He used spaced repetition to
sell. He would get agreement from his clients. He had a doctors bag and heavy bakelite
glasses. He wore pin-
striped suits and fine silk ties.
Folks thought he must have been an expert, a true blue, stone cold, professional.
He looked and talked the part.
Read this poem.don't forget to read this poem. Incidentally, did you get a chance
to read this poem yet?... Spaced repetitive selling is still etched in my
brain from years of imprinting from my
father. Can I sell my poetry and prose like an insurance policy to you?
I had little ambition or experience in the sciences and less experience in
the arts. My family were business people going way back. Innkeepers, hucksters,
and grifters..
I didn't consider for a long time that writing could be my path to growing up..
I saw many of my
contemporaries chisled into machines. I didn't recognize them anymore.
My folks were always talking about maintaining
their reputation. Reputation as an honest person.
Reputation as consistent, reliable, trustworthy,and prudent.
When they cleaned my father's drawers out when he died,
there were stacks of girly magazines at the bottom of his drawer.
Like most men, he had an active fantasy life.
As a child, he collected comic books.
I think growing up can be too much of a painful sacrifice
when all you are is a money making machine.
Pop got up every day. worked very hard, made money,
supported himself in grand style. 
When I was a small boy
he took me for a ride in his car to a business appointment.
He told me "I wish I was dead." He was stone sober.
He was immaculately dressed and groomed
had a sterling reputation..
A decorated war veteran. He didn't
do drugs,wouldn't cheat, unless he was absolutely sure
he could get away with it, like on his taxes.. He avoided physically hurt anyone.
He was one smart cookie.
Talk is cheap, whiskey costs money,he'd say. I saw through his facade
how he had grown into the man he never wanted to be..
I grew up with this painful memory how unhappy he was in his role.
I vowed that I would take a different path.
I did as he said, not as he did.
. I saw my father in Vegas pick up
a black prostitute.
I turned a blind eye to that because
having sex with a hooker was better than my dad
killing himself, right?
Temporary comfort to offset long term pain.
He didn't take drugs,
but he was getting his endorphin rush, while he could..
I feel my dad missed the boat regarding his growing up experience.
The best he could do was get a vicarious thrill by doing something taboo,
Or illegal..
It thrilled him to break rules society set out for him..
After my mother divorced  him, she  attested that my father was a criminal..

I was in spiritual crisis. Was it strength or weakness to maintain
fidelity to one woman?
I saw how much damage was done in my
parents case,and how they lived a painful lie. locked in a loveless marriage.
They officially separated in 1973. I was 15.
An interesting year of discovery for me. My father told me a very comforting thing.
He said, look,
son, I am only leaving
your mother not you. The truth was, however, he physically and
emotionally left me and my sister a long time ago. But, he still is always
there with me...We share blood,and isn't that thicker than water?
My father is dead.
I am the
only male in a matriarchy. One sister my mother. A step
mother,My auntie.
Three female cousins on my mothers side. My grand
fathers are dead, on both sides. My uncles gone on my father's side
I have two female cousins on my father's side. One dead male cousin
on his side. who died of a brain tumor. So,
I learned fairly young to tread lightly and be wary of the 'weaker' sex. I have said
half jokingly, the women killed the men off in our family.
So far, I am a survivor, and have a healthy suspension of disbelief about
falling too deeply with a female,
going all the way in with a woman.
I developed useful knowledge of how to take
a woman into my confidence to hold her in my sphere of influence, without
becoming 
emotionally too entangled. Yeah, right...
It's a fine line of a balancing act. that exacts a price..
I am not a role model by any means. I admit to
having lived off the generosity, kindness, as well as the loneliness of women.
I have used them and they have, in turn, used me.
Around the time of my
parents split, I wasn't privy to
what my contemporaries seemed to have;
Stability and grounding at home.
At the same time, I made a decision, as a teen, to acquire certain skills
like an ability to hit a softball very far and hard and
in a line drive. That got me my first real job at a fast food restaurant. They felt
I could help the restaurant's team to win softball games. They
had their ringer. I was assigned to the milkshake
machine. They had milkshake mix you'd have to open at the spout of a rectangular
cardboard gallon milk container.
I didn't have much of any food service or sanitation experience. In fact, my
mother never let me near her kitchen when
she would make her standard pot roast or boiled chicken.
I didn't take anything at
this greasy spoon restaurant too
seriously. I would open up the refrigerated
walk in, at this fast food restaurant, and drink the shake mix right out of the container.
Not something to brag about. But, on the flip side
I wasn't pissing in the church koolaid. I was lost, angry,
and was acting out doing bad things in secret as my dad had done.
Instead of being dismissed I was given a promotion to cashier.
The owner of this fast food franchise was
 a rich surgeon, we never met, didn't live in our community. The joint
was right across from our high shool.
which had an average graduating class of 1000 kids.
So, we didn't stand around much. It was busy all day. He may have had some
cash flow problems, though, by
the way some of  us added up sales. You see,
the cash totals only came up on the cashier's side
of the register. Not the customers side. pre-computer,
we had  the big bulky
steel,National Cash Registers
That was back when,, everyone read the same book
of integrity,. which included we trusted each other to
be honest. I had learned from another book..
. So, if you could add, you could ring a no sale,and take the cash and
put it in your pocket before they outlawed employee pockets. Or on a
ten dollar order,you could forget to even ring it up and keep all or part of the money.
Since, the only thing on the balance sheet was loss of product.
. I admit, I bought a car on  my ill gotten gains.
My mother was unemployed and my dad skipped out.
So,I took with both hands.
 It was a 71 Thunderbird with no paint job. It was the color of
bondo. It came to a point, at the front, like a silver bullet and was solid steel.
The first thing I did was pick up a girl, in a Brightly colored bikini.
She looked like candy to me. Her bronzed skin looked like milk chocolate. She
was tanning herself alone, by the city beach. It was an almost
perfectly round, man made city lake.
so I walked up to her on the sand and kissed her square on her
mouth.. I didn't say much,but
It was my [prime, my hayday, my personal good old days, and
I felt fully empowered to act the fool.
She took me home, which were in the projects, she was fun,and pretty.
I didn't care where she lived. she had a nice sweet backside on her too.
I remember
cruising around with her, Once, I smashed into the side of a new American car.

The new car caved in like
a soda can against my silver bullet mobile.
Very little surprised her. as well, 
I remember
backing out, and as quietly and quickly as possible, driving away with
Not a mark on my vehicle.
I don't recommed this, but
if you are a new teenaged driver, or,an octogenarian,
and you can find
a 71 thunderbird to run around in,
buy it. It's a bonus
If it's bondo instead of paint...
I also ran into anopther strikingly hot teenaged runaway. Said, she
was emancipated. I guess, her family had given up trying to parent her.
After a few days with this very hot,but vacuous,female, I realized why
her parents and her had parted the ways. Her saving grace was
she was great in bed. I didn't ask her age, and she didn't ask mine.
She said she was waiting for someone. I said, you'd do better waiting for me. I guess
she agreed since she changed plans and
followed me home. lucky me, right?
we messed around some. We stayed together
for a few days on the run. Not long after our rendevous, I got bored with her since
she slept all day and lived off junk foods like chocolate bars, hard candy, doughnuts.,
In ten years, she would surely turn into a sea hag. I dumped her off at a popular cruising park,
and got a couple of marijuana cigarettes for her. It felt sort of macho selling a
chick to some bikers. Put it this way, I didn't altogether dislike the feeling.
It was also pretty good weed. I then walked to
a drug store and tried to steal a pack
of cigarettes,and see if the clerk would chase me. I did it
boldy, not trying to conceal my actions.
He did chase me, but I could run faster.
Just as I was going to get out of his
range, a cop rolls up and
the clerk starts whining about the cigarettes I took from the store.
I said, this isn't your store, dude, chill out. The
cop said did I take the cigs, I said no. They were in my shirt pocket.
He could see they were there, but
so much paperwork and it wasn't his store either.
So, he told the clerk to go back to work. The clerk looked like he had just been told
he wasn't smart enough to join the Marines and he'd never be a real man.
I was in a perpetually blue mood. I didn't care what anyone
thought of me. When I got buzzed I got feisty with a chip
on my shoulder. I was an angry young man and picked fights easily..
The cop winked at me and told me to beat it. It was
a lot of work to reform me over a pack of cigs.
I free smokes as it started to.pour buckets about 10 inches came down
in a few hours.. Their
was flooding in the streets. It was mid July. I remember that month and year.
It was for me, the end and the beginning of an era. I moved out of my girlfriends
house since, she didn't tolerate cheating, I found myself living
homeless and in a shelter. I went to visit my father
and when he dropped me off. I told him he could drop me off at the entrance of this Ritzy hotel.
I sauntered in the front door, as he waved goodbye, 
then when he was gone, I slinked out the back. I wasn't going to cry
to my dad how I was homeless and broke.
I took the bus to the shelter where they'd.
 let us in the door around 7pm. The shelter was
a paradise for drifters and bums who did nothing all day except smoke cigarettes,and eat free
snacks and partake in their dinner meal...It worked out for me on the short term until I could get other
accomodations.
We would stand in a line in the cold, and wait for the shelter to open and get our room assignment for the evening.
We all had our own room. Once you were in, you were locked in for the night.
i was generally pretty tired anyways, so that was no big deal. I imagine there was a way
around being locked up all night,, but I wasn't yet a seasoned homeless
vagabond and didn't plan to be.. I heard
David Bowie was in town. His concert was across the street.
at the St. Paul Civic Center. They played hockey
and had concerts there. The planets must have been in alignment because
the next day, this bearded, methusalah character, while were're drinking
beer. begins walking away from me toward the interstate. He starts to hitchhike.
I said,why are you doing that? He said to me,and I will never forget his words.
"I can always come back here".
What was I holding on to? A lightbulb went off in my head. I said, wait, let's get out of town
together. He said he wanted to go to New York. New York back in the day
sounded kind of good to me.
I said, let me scrape together  what money I have 
so we can do this thing right.
We can start out tomorrow. He agreed to travel with me and in
the morning we started our journey out of town..
So, the next morning, we hitchhiked out of our Midwestern Mousetrap,and were on our way to the
bright lights and the big city. We got to this town,
in Dunne County Wisconsin. But, we were let off by a driver, right on the interstate.
I don't know what they were thinking because the cops went up and down the
interstate like guard dogs patrolling their territory.. We were arrested and booked into the jail for
the illegal offense of walking to get to an offramp 
right on the interstate Highway. How else could we get to an offramp.
. We saw the judge
the next day. I felt set up
so when it was our  turn to be heard I said to the County Judge. Sir,
weren't we traversing 'Federal' Interstate property,and If I am not mistaken,
, aren't you out of your local
jurisdiction in prosecuting us for this matter. He looked
at me and asked me in my scuffed walking shoes, jean jacket and
long hair, if I was an attorney.
I said no your honor, just a defendant,and a
a citizen. Well, that got us 4 more days in
jail than we would have gotten if I had just said nothing.
The kids in this jail seemed like they
were starving to death.
 It was four days of T.V, dinners, and it was bad food. 
Their were kids in there that
had been in there for 6 months.and had lost an unhealthy
amount of body weight.
They were fighting over ,mustard and ketsup packets
My travelling partner was not pleased either.
We finally got out of there to continue our travels after this setback.

On a side note the woman who finally kicked me out,
all during our relationship,
wouldn't admit she was
older. I mean how could a thirty four year old woman have a 25 year old daughter. She was
Austrian,and talked about her love of Hitler.
She owned Nazi uniforms in her closet and sometimes marched in
rallies...She talked about the Kazars of Russia. I think she was some kind of
whacked out Reich scholar. I asked her, how could you date me, my family is Jewish.
She justified it by telling me
I was a white Jew. As opposed to those other filthy dark ones.I guess..
I thought her daughter was cute,and once made a run at her, before she got hitched.
What a freak show she married into.
She married a frenchman who's family ran a junk yard in the next state from us.
She,in order to keep the marriage together sort of had to let her kids be exposed to
his Vichy french side. They were "Liberal"...Let's just say, they kept love "in the family"
Anyway,I spent as much
time as possible away from her daughter's crew when they and
the Von Schtoop family would pay a visit. If you are
a Nazi, you can do anything you want to do because you are a superior race of being. Even have
sex with your kin...It's old school family law I wasn't on board with..
One time, while my Nazi and I were still knocking boots,
I was hanging out by the bus depot. And, this jolly guy walks up to me out of the blue.
He says, do you like cars. I said sure,why do you ask? What kind of cars? Do you like trucks?
I said,of course, but what's the angle? He told me to take
a walk with him to see a truck he just drove in from California. He
wouldn't be needing it any more. There was gas in it too. and he showed it to me. It was one of
those Japanese, four wheel drive utility trucks. With the paper taped to the window for license plates.
It expired in three months..He said I want 50 bucks for it. I said, look all I could really
come up with was
35, since I needed to buy gas, if it runs.. He handed me the keys and said get in the car.
It started right up so I gave him my thirty five bucks and waved goodbye
 I kept the truck for three months and then got 300 bucks for it from the Frenchman. He
was supposed to strip it for parts, then have it compacted. Instead, after
stripping it, it was dumped in a shallow
lake, and it turned to be stolen from the West Coast.
. The retrievers of it, traced serial numbers,
Frenchie and his ship of fools got in some trouble,
I narrowly dodged that bullet.
I always longed to write a novel. I failed English Composition three times in College. I
didn't take to the system. Maybe like a musician who can't read sheet music, I am a writer,
who tells an unorganized story, skipping around alot.
I want to write a great novel if for no other reason than
to prove those windbag academics wrong. I didn't graduate college, but
I finally figured out their game, then dropped out..
Looking back, I could have had a lot more fun in
college and seduced alot of beautiful women But, many of them were as aimless and shiftless and confused as I was.
. I also could have gotten Hep C,genital herpes or worse..
So, When I finally figured out the  college system 
get a respectable average, I quit. I learned how to study. Then to attend the professsors question/answer
symposium before the final. Where, at my school, they would give you an overview of the test.
Only maybe a third attended these seminars. But, if you took good notes,and read between the
lines of what they were telling you,
you could figure out what they expected you  from you on the final exam 
how they wanted you to understand the material and how to spill it back for a good grade.
c. Once you plugged in their method, the rest was easy now that you were an
expert on taking their test. Sometimes the reading material got in the way of your performance on
the tests. Many of the profs were insane. Delusions of granduer where they
would plug themselves into the people we were studying. Like they knew the ancient philosophers and were there to teach them all they knew.
They lost their grip on any reality of what they were teaching us anymore..
Dangerous legends in their own minds. Like they
invented philosophy. One professor had been an economics advisor to
a president for five minutes...
That was all he talked about
LBJ this and LBJ that.
They would walk into the classroom like Adam Smith, Nietzke's or Hume. We had acting
professors who taught class as if they were famous actors or directors.>>
Willing suspension of
disbelief I guess. Yes,Mr De Niro. May I ask a question Mr. Coppola?

Speaking of my own delusions,
as I have gotten older, I look like a blend of Albert Einstein,
Jerry Garcia,
and Ron Jeremy. Sorry, if
I spoiled your lunch? I live in a very young town too, which makes it worse. You can't even
go out at night. They have party kids
roaming the streets all night long here. I swear, if you are over 30 here, they don't want to get old person's disease
to me,
 Ooh, keep your necrotic, dead, self away from me, old man.
I play street music which is the only place I feel I belong in this youth culture.
I could be just dreaming
this all up. Maybe people just care or don't notice my
eye brows are growing up like C's and @ rather than like a^^. I have hair in my nose now.
I pluck it but the more I pluck, the worse it gets...Can't wait for the hair to
sprout
in my ears...
.
In my younger years, I went to raucous concerts,
stayed up all night in cheap and expensive hotels.
, had unprotected sex. We cracked wise and
pursued girls who were stuck up, or ambitious and looked at guys
as they would gum on their shoe. I figured it was just
a defense mechanism and you had to wear down their defenses.Sometimes I was right,and
sometimes not.
It was the 70's,early 80's
There was no sexual harassment .
laws at that time, no stalking laws, you could drink legally
at age 18. There were bullies and a pecking order. As for a knuckle head like me, I gave some
beat downs and took some too.
. It was life and you dealt with whatever, good or bad,
came your way.

I got to make mistakes with women. I got to taste some fruit that I wouldn't have otherwise
tasted in other times.
I wasn't really an intellectual at that time. I wanted to know things. But, I
also was young and had material wants. I was influenced by my father who was a
top earning salesman. He was honored in Who's Who for
salemsmanship. Which meant, he worked
long hours to make some bigger shots rich. He also served in
the Army, Infantry, for two years as a machine gunner. He was
a great man but he was all messed up too and wild when he came home from war..
My mother's father pleaded with my mom not to marry him.
when he got my mother pregnant
with me and then later my sister, I thought they hated each other.
Screaming and yelling all night and day.
It would start like a match to kindling,and
turn into a blazing forest fire of discord.
My parents were passionate about their
dislike for one another. It wasn't a healthy example for
relations between siblings either..
Every problem you have is solved with a
screaming match. I had a dream my younger sister came screaming at me, crying out, like
a rabid dog,snarling, coming, closer. In this dream, as she approached
me she, suddently morphed into sand and sort of vaporized in front of me.
That pretty much describes the lack of depth of our relationship.
When it
came to business the only question his father would ask my dad, having, immigrated from  Rumania. 
was, are you putting money away?
That was it. Dad could have been a hit man, or sold human organs to rich foreigners.
And, my grandfather would be proud only if my dad was putting more and more his money in the bank,
Save your money and retire. My dad retired at age 65. He died a year and a half later.
Not a long retirement. His parents had married
first cousins. Now, I don't know about some places,
but If you marry your first cousin, in Romania,, you don't stick around in 
the village and run for
Mayor. So, they they took the long boat ride to this land of milk and honey
Not being able to speak a word of English.
Gramps sold apples on the street corner when he arrived.
I never felt like
a true American growing up. I tried, you know, to sing Christmas songs at school and
join the boy scouts, but,I wasn't a joiner.
When I quit college, I went into the insurance business for a while. Only because my
father told me to try something easier..I would show him, I thought.
Validation from my father was like finding a Uranium deposit in a sandbox.
It happened, but, you wouldn't want to hold your breath between high water marks for
it. He died a millionare. And left his two children no money. Not even a cufflink. But,
I learned not to sell people all the time. Give it a rest, you know. Smell the roses.
Take a vacation from yourself sometimes. My father worked all the time. He was the top
salesman in his company for over 2 decades. Without getting up in the morning, he had
a bonus check coming in at 10,000 dollars every month. Not bad for a man who went to
the school of Business on the G.I. bill. He trusted the wrong people. His boss said to my
father, why don't you transfer over with me to this new company.
He baited dad's hook  telling him how he could convert all his clients
to this new insurance company policy and make
a brand new first year commission. Which
was sizable. Of course, when
dad was through draining the first company of all his loyal clients for the
benefit of the new company, his new employers fired
him. Once dad had
fulfilled his goal, How could they trust an employee
like my dad. Maybe he would do the same thing
to them.

It was the same boss who got me fired from the first company, my dad's
original firm, when I first
tried the insurance game.
I learned the insurance business is crooked as any underworld crime syndicate.
There is this front of respectibility, but underneath it's comprised of
a blood thirsty band of money hungry cutthroats.
I didn't like lying to people, and promising them protection that they would pay for
but probably never use or have attached so many pre-existing conditions that
they would be denied coverage when they did file a medical claim.
Life insurance is almost pure profit. The
amount of people who die that you insure you can count on your hands if you sell
life insurance for 30 years. Most of it, is term insurance. People tend to
outlive the term. Whole life insurance is now a good investment. that should tell you
something about how messed up the investment banking and stock broker business has become.
My last foray in the insurance business,
I landed a job selling as an independant agent out of Tampa Florida.
They had me work a territory of migrant farm workers outside the city. They couldn't speak
English, so the children would translate. You'd give them candy and tell them what
true lies you had to to get the parents to get out their wallets. They always paid in cash.
They always bought in groups. You would work a farm,then another. Once you got in with
one you'd get in with the whole community. The only problem was when it came time to use
the insurance. You couldn't possibly sell migrant workers anything other than basic
guaranteed issue, dollars a day policies.
How do you check medical records on them. The company I worked for
had a guy in it who took me out a couple times. I liked him. He would say everybody lies like
rugs. This one lies like a rug. That one.
He was an old East Coast Jew who relocated to Florida.. He was a charming cynic, who was bored. Retiriement meant death to him.
If he was pitching a homeowner and felt the
interview wasn't going anywhere. He'd start to pick up his things and walk out the door.
He was in the insurance business long enough to know, where there was a sale, and where they
were wasting his time.
He had outlived his retirment plan, but still, retained some of his boyhood charm.
. His favorite thing was to talk. At some point after his monologues
I wondered , why I signed onto this chaotic business?
Like an intern, or a doctor,,you are on call almost 24 hours a day.
Somebody calls you up at two in the morning
and says, momma had a stroke and she's
in the hospital and she doesn't know how to fill out the claim form
. Of course, she doesn't. the language on the policy is vague,
and hard to decipher. Like a foreign language.
So you hustle over there, to sort this jumble of confusion out,
and sell the family more insurance and
gather referrals, because you are the rescuer,the prodigal son..
I felt like a  buzzard  who fed off the flesh of  policyholders.
Drinking from the fountain of their
misery, at their most vulnerabile moments.
Insurance policies are
written by attorneys .
The language although elegant, is too often confusing and ambiguous,
It can be  an impossible gauntlet to comprehend.
This is intentional so you end up flusterted
and confused, needing the "professional agent to step in to come to their rescue..

Fully aware of this quid pro quo relationship,.
If I had stayed in the insurance business longer, I believe I would
have been offered "special services" by desperate female
family members who I promised to rescue, like some predatory
guardian angel swooping in to protect them from
the jargon of my own company. from  their brick wall
between their their medical expenses for the heart surgery or cancer therapy for dad.
and waivetrs and riders from our company to deny their claims..

It was particularly predatory to use my one up
position. This type of exploitation was common place There was no guarantee they would
get their bills paid from the doctor or hospital either.. Their was no shortage of greedy opportunists
and ragin alcoholics,
with a few sociopaths thrown into the insurance game.
.I didn't want to admit  the truth my dad was trying to tell me
about the nasty side of this business 
when he warned me
I should try something easier.

Buddy Bee Anthony

All editing and publishing rights reserved as is by this author.




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