Why “No” Means “Yes” to Me, and How That Saved My Life…Twice (Part 1)

First of all, I’m not a misogynist, a rapist, or a serial killer so, get your head out of the Goddamn gutter right now. That “no means yes” thing has nothing to do with that. Christ, I hope this title doesn’t attract THOSE kind of readers. Eeek.

Secondly, I’m almost 1 year clean and sober (I don’t consider weed a drug so, go argue about that with someone else – the shit I was doing to myself was way worse than any plant could be), and my mind doesn’t EVER stop so, this post will turn into an entire book if I don’t limit it to 2 parts. Sorry, but if I don’t put a cap on my time, 12 days will go by and I won’t have left this spot in front of my screen. Just subscribe and read Part 2 in a week.

I’ve always hated being told what to do. For as long as I can remember it always bugged me. I mean, really Mom, why CAN’T I light the rug on fire? C’mon. Things like that always seemed like a good idea at the time. I realize most of the things I was told not to do were probably for my own good, but hey, you’ve got to try, right? As I got older, it really started bugging me that I was told I CAN’T buy a car, CAN’T start a rock n’ roll band, CAN’T go to the big Anthrax/Public Enemy concert. It seemed like I couldn’t really do anything at all I wanted to do. There’s a fair amount of exaggeration here, but as youth turned into my teenage years, I started getting really frustrated anytime I was told I couldn’t do something I wanted to do regardless if it was a good, or a bad thing.

I had hit the age where my folks decided I should get a summer job. I was really getting into 35mm photography (Google it kids) and especially the cameras themselves. I snagged up a job at the local Ritz Camera store. I was such a good summer part-time camera salesman when I was 13, they made me lie to the district manager and tell him I was 17 so I could continue working 35 hours a week, even during school months. So, even back then I was all about skirting the rules and not taking what was dealt to me as writ in stone law. I remember when I actually turned 17 when we told the DM – he was PISSED! Hahahahaha….he couldn’t really say anything though as I was now legal! Hahahahah.

When I was in college, I met my first long-term girlfriend. We were both into punk rock and I still remember the days cruising around in Pismo Beach rocking out to whatever we were listening to that day. I only mention her here because one day I brought up that I’d love to start a punk band someday. “There’s no way YOU could ever be in a punk band,” was the rapid retort. WTF? First of all, the amount of support in the room in that moment was overwhelming. Secondly, what the hell qualified her to say if I could, or couldn’t be in a punk band? I was super pissed and super confused, but said nothing and filed it away for later. I had really expected a little more support from my longtime partner in crime.

Fast forward a bunch of years when I was out on a date with a girl (yeah the college girlfriend didn’t work out – not because of what she said that day, she just really wanted to graduate college and I just really wanted to play punk rock), and we went to see the Hi-Fives – a great underground band from the Bay Area that we were both into. I hadn’t started playing in bands yet, but the itch was definitely there and I felt I’d get something started up in the very near future. They played a cover of some 50s surf song and the crowd loved it – they just ate it up. “Man, that was great when they broke out the surf song,” I said the second we got out of the club, expecting something similar in reply. “Is that how you play your little surf songs at home on your little surf guitar?” was what came out of her mouth. Holy fuck. It was like someone slapped me in the face with a 30 pound dead fish. Clearly, she was throwing major shade on me, but I was so flabbergasted that I couldn’t even muster a response. I just mumbled out a “yeah sure” and we went about our evening and I tucked that little one away in my head for the future as well. That girlfriend didn’t last either….I think for the same reason actually as the other one. Whatever. A few months later, I decided to go out and have a couple of drinks with a friend who worked at a local bar. I had 2 martinis with her and hit the road. Fifteen minutes later, I took my Jeep off road and ended up crashing into a house with my head in the process hitting a tree going 30 miles per hour (yes, I had my seatbelt on – I came in sideways and that’s how my head hit the tree). I won’t go into the insane details, but basically I had a subdural hematoma (swelling and blood in the brain) that required my head to be cracked open like a walnut in order to stop the swelling. I woke up (I think) 30 hours later, looked in the mirror, and my face had been rearranged. WTF!?! Man, I really fucked up this time. Wow. After I recovered from the shock of everything (like 9 hours later), I spoke with the doctor. He said I would be in the ICU for at least 1.5 weeks, and the hospital for 2.5 weeks. He also mentioned that speaking and walking correctly would be difficult, maybe not even be possible depending on how the injury to my brain healed up. Work? “Forget about it,” he said. Six months if it was even ever going to happen. Wow.

I took stock of what this fucking guy had just told me. Walk, talk, work? Wait a fucking minute. Six months? Never walk again? Wait a fucking minute. Nope. No chance I was going out like that. I asked him for best case scenarios and the best he came up with was “we would see.” All of what I heard was basically, “No, you can’t walk. No you can’t work.” No way I was going out like that. No way Next time the doc came in, I told him as much. “I’ll be outta here in a week and back at work in a month!” I declared (more like mumbled given how much Demerol was in me at the time. Oh yeah, and the chest tube didn’t help really much either) from my prone position on the hospital bed. I cried. I wept. I felt so helpless. I couldn't breathe on my own and had to have this fucking catheter tube pulled in and out of me every six hours just so I could piss right. Man, maybe this guy was right. Maybe it wasn’t even worth trying if it was going to take six months to return to life as I knew it 48 hours earlier. Fuck it. I mashed that Demerol button like I was on Jeopardy – I was going down feeling nothing and that was that. I felt nothing and that was just fine with me.

Come back in a week to check out the conclusion.


Johnny Shitbird

June 5th, 2018 12:30am

The East Bay, California

“Those lonely moments got you talking to yourself

As long as no one’s there to listen you’re not ashamed

Those lonely moments got you drinking to your health

As long as day becomes the night you’re still maintained

And now the situation calls for depth below your greatest fears

And though it seems as time has not progressed your eyes are filled with tears

You haven’t seen yourself in years…”

“You Haven’t Seen Yourself in Years” – Swingin’ Utters -1999

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