Fruits Born of a Leaded Brain


You think a triple shot of espresso is stimulating? Pour a can of Jolt over a bowl of Fruity Pebbles. The mere thought bulges the eyes, eh? The trick is to do it by mistake. Intoxication helps.

Are you a man? If so, do you ever leave home with a dollop of shaving cream hanging off the lobe of an ear? I don’t mean on purpose. You catch glances from fellow pedestrians as you stride toward the train. You assume you’re having a good hair day. But then you hear a little girl whisper, “Mommy, is that man foaming at the ear?” Instead of taking the hint, you rationalize that this kid is talking about the Mighty Morphin Power Ranger toy in her twin brother’s hand. You forget that denial can eclipse the sun.

On the train, an attractive woman takes the seat opposite yours. She looks at you and smiles. What with your good hair, could this be your lucky day? Has your natural animal magnetism reached its zenith? Everything is possible in this moment. Her smile is a gift. At last, have you found your soulmate? Haven’t you’ve suffered enough rejection for one life? Why can’t love simply land on your shoulder as lightly as a splatter of creamy bird shit? Must everything be such a struggle? You smile back at her. And this beautiful woman, she raises a perfectly manicured finger and says to you, “Is that Barbasol or Gillette Foamy you’re wearing?”

It must be something to live within spitting distance of a gas station. In the summer you can throw open your windows and breathe in the rich fumes. What’s more, you have the luxury of chewing the fat with the motorist at the nearest pump. Until the tank is filled up, they’ve got nowhere to go. You are free to lean out and ask, “Do you always use Super-Premium? Or do you so indulge only on special occasions?” And if the motorist thumbs his nose—or seems the type to do so—you might try this: “Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon?”*

As a child, I loved the smell of gasoline. I was a strange child. Sniffing gasoline fumes likely made me stranger. Or, perhaps I was perfectly normal up until my first whiff of leaded gasoline. (This would explain why, throughout my entire life, I’ve let opportunity knock its fists bloody.) My favorite car was the exploding Ford Pinto. My mother owned a copper colored one. As a wee lad, I’d climb up onto its hood (when it was parked) and perform my best material. I’d pretend that its long, bendy antenna was a microphone.

A few years later I shook Jimmy Carter’s hand. “I’m a big fan!” I told him. He liked peanuts, I liked peanuts, what’s not to like? Jeez, America, was it an allergy thing? Reagan liked Jelly-Bellies—which, okay, they’re sweeter than peanuts. Bush liked quail. I’ve had quail once. Tasty. And Clinton, well, he likes everything. That could be a problem.

Do you know anybody who likes to rub soda pop on their forehead? Will they immediately thereafter stick an empty aluminum can to said sticky spot? People do this. I’ve seen it. But how does it happen? I don’t mean the mechanics, I’m talking about the inspiration. It’s a curious fella who wakes up one morning and says to himself, “I think I’ll rub some Shasta on my forehead today…and see what else sticks.”

Better soda pop than superglue.

*"One of life's finer pleasures."

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