June 19, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Auto-Biography

I think I was in seventh grade when I remember thinking to myself that it seemed that my immediate circle of friends and I were unusually entertained by jokes having to do with crap, poop, farting and the various bathroom evacuation processes.  Paul, my best friend, and I seemed particularly amused by crap jokes.  Paul recently died of Parkinson’s.  It was maybe five years ago that I realized that Paul had Asperger’s.

I did not have Asperger’s, though I was definitely maturational delayed.  Still, a number of my friends were very smart, very strange and immature for their age.  It wasn’t until after SAT and other exams were taken that I discovered that several in my group of friends were not just smart, but scary smart.  Several tested highest in New Trier High School, one of the highest testing schools in the country.  There was more than one candidate for Asperger’s among the folks I knew.

Not fitting into that class of super smart folks, I’d grown up focused on comic books, reading hardly anything else until sixth grade.  My father was a talented athlete.  My focus was baseball.  I was terrible at baseball.  Nevertheless, I had a passion for playing the game and spent sizable amounts of time until high school corralling friends together to get up teams.

In the 1990s, I spent five years as a comic panel and strip creator, producing over 1,000 comics.  My sense of humor was sometimes subtle and sophisticated, occasionally coarse and dumb.  It’s almost as if an audience of different me’s sit inside my body chuckling at different comic inputs.  I astonish myself at the evident number of different developmental stages that occupy the same space, representing different times of my life.  I am enamored of subtle, beautiful stand-up comic creations by such artists as Dave Lippman, while at the same time a good shit joke can feel satisfying.  I observe many grown-ups with this ability to appreciate full comic spectrum.

It seems to me that one of the secrets of growing up is never leaving anything behind.  I used to believe that the goal of maturity was to abandon all the unproductive anguish that seemed to tie my feet to helplessness while flailing away to grasp a seemingly unattainable embrace.  It took me a while to realize that growing up was about accompanying first where I am, and then where I’ve been (which paradoxically is also where I am).  Finally, accompanied, I have a feel for where I am (are) going.

I remember clearly the immaturity that characterized my childhood, with stages that kept prolonging their way past appropriate points of display.  I picked friends that also seemed loath to grow up.  Yet, somehow, somewhere along the line, I seemed to have caught up with myself.  That feeling of lingering out of time has faded away.  Again, paradoxically, that which partially characterizes my sense of wholeness is my embracing the various stages of delay.

Nevertheless, sometimes I long to use a coarse shit metaphor because it so satisfies my sense of elfin impropriety.  I’ll save it until my grandson reaches three.


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