There’s an episode of Cheers where Woody asks Norm how he’s doing as he walks into the bar. Norm replies, “It’s a dog eat dog world, Woody, and I’m wearing Milk Bone underwear.” I had that kind of day today. With the exception of some very nice words from a good friend of mine, it was a stone cold bummer from beginning to end. So I came home and sat down to write and… Nothing. I knew what I wanted to write about, but the words just wouldn’t come. So I watched the movie Hard Eight instead, and watching Gwyneth Paltrow get slapped around a bit cheered me up just enough to give it another crack. Seriously, I don’t know why she irritates me so much, but I gave the movie Contagion five stars based solely on the fact that she dies in it. (SPOILER: The previous sentence contained a spoiler, and if you wanted to see Contagion without knowing what happens to Gwyneth Paltrow (she dies), you shouldn’t have read it.)
Anyway, I was going to write about my boys playing soccer, and how my four year old is SO FUCKING PROUD OF HIMSELF for getting a medal, that he wears it to day care and sleeps with it in bed. It promised to be a cuteness overload post that would have made you smile and warmed the cockles of your heart. (That’s an odd phrase isn’t it? Heart-cockles sounds like a serious fucking medical condition.) Anyway, you don’t get that post now, you get a quick one about an utterly stupid roommate I had named Frank.
I’ve written about Frank before. He was the mailbox-crushing lunatic who destroyed an innocent man’s car (along with about a hundred mailboxes) and blamed it on me. Frank had a habit of not thinking things through at all before making decisions. One night, as we sat at home, broke, sober, and not too happy about it, Frank came stumbling through the back door. “Holy fuggin’ shit you guysss. I’m so fuggin’ WAAASTED!” Frank mumbled something that sounded kind of like, “Follow me!” and ran back out the door. Thinking he’d found a party, we followed.
He led us a few blocks, staggering badly. When we asked him where he was taking us, he’d laugh and say, “You’ll see… It’s fuggin’… Hahaha! Wow! HAHAHAHAHAHA!” Cool. Sounded like our kind of party.
Only it wasn’t. He led us to the back of a private dormitory just north of campus, and walked over to a large air conditioning unit that was humming loudly. He pulled a plastic bag out of his pocket, leaned over and twisted a knob, filling up the bag. He held it up to his face and took a few large huffs. Then he fell over, convulsed a few times, foamed at the mouth, and finally came to about two minutes later. Looking up at us, covered in drool, he said, “Isn’t that fuggin’ awesome?”
“You’re getting high on freon? You fucking dumb-ass! If getting high on freon sounds like a good idea, then you probably can’t afford to lose the brain cells that it kills. You are a total fucking moron, Frank.” We turned to go home, and Frank bent over to fill the bag again.
The freon-huffing episode probably explains why Frank fell for the following gag. We were getting drunk and playing cards one night when Frank started getting what we called “oversloshed”. When this happened to Frank, he started talking VERY LOUDLY, and often took a very long time to understand a joke that had been told. This would be a typical example:
Me: Why don’t blind people go skydiving? It scares the shit out of the dog.
(6 years later, in traffic court)
Frank: HAHAHAHAHA!!! SCARES THE SHIT OUT OF THE DOG!!! HAHAHAHA!!!
So seeing as Frank was oversloshed, I decided to have a little fun with him. “Hey, Frank. Did you know that if you sniff hard enough, you can smell your brain?”
“GET THE FUCK OUTTA HERE!” bellowed Frank.
“No, seriously, you should try it,” I replied, as my roommates snickered and backed me up.
“Yeah, you’ve never tried that before? It’s pretty wild.”
“HUH. HOW HARD DO I HAVE TO SNIFF?” yelled Frank, already starting to try it out.
“Really, really hard. Like as hard as you possibly can.”
And so we sat there, practically pissing our pants with laughter as Frank staggered around the living room, sniffing like a fucking maniac, and occasionally getting light-headed and falling to the floor. “Harder, Frank, you’re almost there!” someone would say, and cause the rest of us to double over with laughter.
Finally, Frank said, “HEY! I THINK IT’S WORKING!” and took another violent sniff of air. “YEAH, I CAN SMELL MY BRAIN!” And the damn thing is, I think he was right because an absolute geyser of blood erupted from his nose. Quickly, we went into freakout mode, scrambling to get Frank to lie down as he shouted, “I CAN SMELL MY BRAIN! I CAN SMELL MY BRAIN!”
It got kinda scary for a minute there, because Frank was still kind of light headed and seemed to fade in and out of consciousness as we were doing shit like putting ice on his nose and looking at the ungodly amount of blood all over him. This was going to be hard to explain to the authorities.
Dispatcher: 911, what’s your emergency?
Me: Uh, we convinced our roommate that if he sniffed hard enough he could smell his brain, and now he’s got a really bad nosebleed, and we’re afraid he’s going to die.
Dispatcher: (sigh) Is this Greg?
Luckily, we lost interest in Frank before we felt like we needed to call anyone. “Just lie there a while, and the bleeding will stop,” we told him, and then went back to playing cards. Before we knew it, an hour had passed. “Frank sure is quiet,” someone said. There was a split second pause as this registered.
“Shit! Frank! Wake up! Frank” We ran over to the couch and shook Frank, who was luckily not dead, but just sleeping it off. He told us when he woke up late the next day that he had the worst hangover of all time.
“Well, no shit. You lost the half of your blood that wasn’t pure alcohol.”
“What the fuck happened?”
“You were trying to smell your brain.”
“What? Why would I do that?” he asked.
That was over 20 years ago, and to this day the best answer I can come up with is “freon”.