One thing I’ve been noticing lately is that people that screw up their lives royally and then manage to come back from it get a lot more respect than people who never screwed their lives up at all.
Let’s see which of these stories will end up as a Lifetime movie…
Story #1: A 9 year old boy finds a bag of weed on the sidewalk and experiments with smoking it. This leads him down a 20 year path of drug abuse including multi-day heroin and cocaine binges. Throughout, he overeats, gaining 300 pounds. At the age of 22 he contracts AIDS during a needle-sharing tryst with a blonde Asian hooker. At the age of 30, while watching a televangelist, he realizes that his life is on the wrong path and simultaneously checks himself into rehab and a weight loss center. 2 years later he comes out clean of drugs and 175 pounds lighter. His HIV is being controlled with drugs and he’s found a nice girl he’s thinking of marrying.
Story #2: A 9 year old boy finds a bag of weed on the sidewalk. Not knowing what it is, possibly a bag of oregano, he leaves it there and continues on his merry way. He never drinks or does drugs. He never goes to strip clubs or has drunken one night stands. He gains a few pounds but takes them off with some exercise and better eating habits. He goes to college and graduates with a degree in a subject he loves then goes on to have a fairly successful career in that field. He maintains a long-term loving relationship with a wonderful girl.
Take a guess at whose book will end up on the best seller list? Why? Because people value a good story more over anything else. And if that trainwreck of a person ends up dying, “Oh, that’s sad.” If they clean themselves up, “Oh, good for them.” We love a trainwreck because it makes us feel better about our own lives. I’ll admit, I listen to Love Line too.
This is different from people who had to overcome circumstances that weren’t of their own doing. If you had to overcome having a 3rd nipple or a mother that forced you to refer to the family dog as “your sister” (or vice versa)… More power to you. I hope your book sells more copies than Harry Potter and The Golden Dildo. (Come on J.K., you know that would be a hit…. just do it…)
What this all leads me to believe is that my memoir is going to suck. I definitely more closely resemble story #2 up above. When Keith Richards wrote his memoir the tagline should have just been “You won’t believe this shit!” Mine will be “You will totally believe this shit.”
I guess I’ve always valued having some control of my life too much. It’s too late now to change that. I can’t start a drug problem now just for PR. It’s just sad. And I’m not well-known enough to become a Sheen-esque meme of any sort. At that age you can only go back to drugs. Unless you were a child star, then you have a little more license for late-life indiscretions. Mostly because there was no time when you were younger. Too busy on the set repeating your famous tag line a hundred times.
I mean there’s a whole industry built on overcoming stuff. Reality shows look for the best stories. There’s books and high paying speaking engagements. Presentations called “Emerging From The Cone: One Man’s Struggle Against Bugle Addiction” There’s a ton of money to be made from overcoming stuff.
Not that my life is perfect by any means. I have mild struggles with money, exercise, eating right, career advancement. The problem is, so does everyone else. Those are normal problems. There’s nothing exotic about struggling to make the next mortgage payment when I haven’t missed any yet. Now, if I missed 12 payments and the bank threatened to take my home, but I did battle with them and won, keeping my house and coming out ok… There’s a book. But my girlfriend would be super pissed. No need to do that to her. She holds a grudge. I’d hear about that forever.
So I’m going to have to figure out something I can overcome without it just being a sad midlife crisis that nobody will hear about anyway. If I can figure it out, maybe I can do some of those high paying speaking gigs on the subject of “How To Find Something To Overcome That Will Only Inconvenience You A Little But Make An Awesome Book And/Or MiniSeries.”
That’s right… I’m going to overcome not having anything to overcome.