RW21 - Closed Head Injuries

This week, Dan and John talk about:

The show title refers to John getting knocked unconscious five times as a kid, which were all closed head injuries.

This is the third long podcast Dan is recording today.

John was briefly in Dan’s old haunt, his old hometown of Orlando, which is the best way of being in Orlando. Orlando is really coming up. John had some very positive experiences in downtown Orlando. He finds the town itself very charming, The bars aren't great, but the town itself has lots to recommend it.

Raw notes
The segments below are raw notes that have not been edited for language, structure, references, or readability. Please do not quote these texts directly without applying your own editing first! These notes were not planned to be released in this form, but time constraints have caused a shift in priorities and have delayed editing draft-quality versions to a later point.

John getting attempted mugged in Orlando, Go back to mugger’s school (RW21)

He had a wonderful experience there where he was attempted mugged. Three young men in their late teens or early 20s attempted to mug him as he was walking around that big Lake Eola in the middle of the night, but they were unsuccessful in mugging him. They tried to mug him in the style of contemporary times, which is to say that they have seen a lot of movies and music videos where people play-acted violence, and so they came up behind him and when John heard them he turned around and said: ”Hey, what's up?” John had stopped on a fence and was watching the swans on Lake Eola swimming-swan like in the dark, which makes you look like a victim.

They walked past John first to size him, but he didn't turn around. John was wearing white jeans and may have looks like a target. John heard that distinctive sound of people's feet turning in the little gravel that is on the bike path. John continued to lean on the fence until they came back and he turned around: ”Hi, fellas!” - ”Do you know what time it is?”, but they kept advancing. It was pre-cell phone and John may have even looked at his watch, but then the kid in the lead stepped directly to John and tried to punch him, but the way he punched John was by lifting his hand way up in the air as though to come down upon John. He was going to punch him down because he had seen this somewhere and this was not something anybody would have taught you and it wasn't ever going to work unless you were punching a six year old.

It was in the style of the way that in music videos they will hold the pistol sideways in the air and shoot down, which is a terrible way to hold a pistol, an extremely bad way to aim a pistol at anything. It looks very dramatic and incredibly tough, but it is moronic. He was going to just punch John down, but that is a very inefficient way to punch someone. He was certainly tall enough to give this a try. They were going to get into some trouble and they were going to rob this dumb guy that wandered away from some Mexican La Cucaracha bar. In his mental picture of how this was going to go he imagined that he was going to punch John, John was going to fall into a heap and begin crying. He was up high and came down at John, but the very inefficient expenditure of punching energy, all John did was simply raise his left arm half way at the elbow.

John completely deflected his punch effortlessly, causing no injury or even inconvenience. Not only did his punch deflect, but now he was standing basically completely wide open one and a half feet from John, at which point he realizes a) that John is enormous, b) that John is not drunk, c) that his white jeans said nothing about him. They were not indicative of his capabilities or of what he was doing out here. They were not a signal of any kind. If anything, they were a camouflage. Also, he is completely open to John, both arms effectively useless for this brief moment and also he was bent over at the waist from the exertion of his missed thrust. He got a very different look on his face than he had just seconds before.

John took a step back and he took a leap back, and his friends and he square off. One of them was fumbling in his pocket and there was the possibility that he had some sort of popgun with him, but he couldn't quite get it out of his pocket. Maybe it was a knife, maybe it was a lighter. He was wrestling in his pocket and can't quite get it away. Then there was this like hilarious standoff where John was standing there and they were standing there. None of this was a surprise to John. It was something that John had to anticipate, but it was a surprise to them. John wasn't in any mood to prolong it, he didn't have anything to prove, and so they just stood there and then they said: ”Fuck you!” - ”Go back to mugger's school!” It was the first thing that popped into John’s head.

They walked away really mad, going ”Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you!” over their shoulder, which is not a very effective way to say ”Fuck you!” to somebody. John may have said it again: ”Go back to mugger's school!” because he was so proud of having said it the first time. John walked back into the town, he didn't have a diamond tipped cane or he would have been twirling the cane, walked into the terrible Cucaracha style bar where his friends were and said: ”Get a load of this: I just got jumped!” - ”What?” and they all got up and said: ”Let's go get them!” - ”No, it is fine!” and John told his story and ended with: ”Go back to mugger's school!” John was pretty pleased because it was a Herculean diss that will stick with them for a long time. Those kids are probably 35 now and when they are lying in bed they still think about that. Maybe, maybe not. They could all be in jail or maybe they are all responsible parents. Who knows?

Then ”Go back to mugger's school!” became a little bit of a meme within John’s group of friends before he even knew what the word meme meant, which made him even prouder. They would tell each other to go back to mugger's school whenever one of them was fronting, and John was super-glad about it and still every once in a while he will say: ”Go back to mugger's school!” if they front to him. That all happened in Orlando and you might think John got jumped in Orlando and hates that place, but he got jumped in Orlando and he loves it there. That was super hilarious!

John’s relationship with physical confrontation (RW21)

John has been in many brawls over his career. What was his first fight? John hated physical confrontation. The first time John was in 6th grade and had a couple of friends who were brothers. The older brother was John’s age and he had a younger brother, Paul and Andy. They used to play guns in the forest. It was the summer and John’s dad came home one day and said: ”Come on, let's go get in the plane!” and they got in the plane and just flew away for a week. They flew over to Toelke Junction and to Whitehorse and to Dawson City and to Fairbanks. They just spent a week flying around, land in some little airport, walk over to the town, get a hamburger, get a hotel room. John’s dad used to believe that when you visited a place you had to find the river that ran through the place and then pee in it, which was one of the missions. They had to pee in the Yukon and then pee in the Kuskokwim.

When John got back from this trip Paul and his brother had resentment against John because when they played cops and robbers or when they played army John was always the general and he was always Starsky even though he looked like Hutch. John was bossy to them, he was a bossy kid and they couldn't dominate him. Today, Paul and his brother are both sheriffs in real life. One of them or maybe both of them were involved in a fatal shooting where there was some question about whether the shooting was 100% legit, the investigation found them to be innocent, but they were also placed on administrative leave for some time. John is not sure, he has no certainty about that, but he remembers reading it in the newspaper.

They played a lot of guns back in the day and they weren't very good. John was the general. John came back and there was a new friend that had arrived while he was gone, which seems unlikely that he would be gone for one week and come back and there would be a new friend. He lived in the shitty little two-story apartment building that was on the next block. They lived on the street that had little three bedroom houses on it, John’s dad lived in a condo on that street, and he lived in the little shitty apartment building that was on the poor street on the next block, and he seemed like a poor kid and he was also quite a bit older than they were. They were in 6th grade and he was probably an 8th grader.

All of a sudden he was running the show. They were playing baseball, not guns, but baseball! John showed up and was like: ”Hey, what's up, fellows?” and Paul and his brother were really, really cool to John, like: ”Oh, what's up? Where have you been?” - ”I went on a trip with my dad!” - ”Well, this is our new Bernie!” - ”Oh hey!”, and Bernie was not having it. He picked up a rock and threw it at John and then Paul and his brother started throwing rocks at him and hitting him with rocks and John was super-betrayed by his friend Paul, they had been friends for three years, and really scared of this bigger kid ,and he turned around and hightailed it out of there.

Some workmen, some guy probably in his 20s, carpenter or something, who was standing on a scaffold and working on a nearby building had watched the whole thing and he yelled at me and said: ”Don't run away from those guys, you got to fight them back! You got to get back in there and fight those guys!” John had no idea what he was talking about. Nobody had ever said: ”Go back and fight somebody!” and John was quadruple confused because not only was he running from these terrible bullies, but some strange guy on a scaffold was telling him that he needed to go fight them.

John was devastated and went home and was sitting in the living room crying. He was a latchkey kid, so there was nobody there to comfort him, just sitting in front of the cold fireplace crying at the ashes. It really did a number on John and when he would go outside for the whole rest of that summer he would turn left instead of turn right. He just avoided that corner, he avoided those kids, he never prompted a confrontation of any kind, and that continued to be John’s mode through junior high and high school.

John was a year younger than everybody and he wasn't big relative to kids who hit puberty and were 5’7” (170 cm) while John was still 5’3” (160 cm) or something small. All the 5’7”-5’8” guys were pushing him down and he took a lot of shit off of people because he would just freeze up and the kids who obviously came from bad places that were mean… There was a kid named… his name rung out in the hallways in Junior High like he was Beowulf. He was a lot bigger than everybody and he was the kid when you walk into the locker room he would snap you with a towel. All the overweight Asian kids and shy kids he just victimized and tortured. The Eskimo kids, he was just vicious to them. John avoided him at all costs. He never went in the shower, he just stayed out of this guy's line of sight.

In High School John was a prominent kid in my high school. But still, if the hockey players decided that they were going to sweat him or if he said something snotty or made a joke at some big kid's expense and that kid turned and raised a fist at him he would cower. But then some time in his junior year he realized first that the pen was mightier than the sword. His ability to be viciously humorous was a greater power of destruction than anybody's fist. John could deploy that shame-gun, he could say things that would ruin a kid in school, and he could raise his fist at him and John would just say something else until he melted.

There were very few kids that wanted to tangle with that, and John suddenly felt a very cruel power that made him into a really bad little dude for a couple of years when he came into that kind of sorcery. Once he realized that he could injure people with his tongue he didn't have any governance over that for a while until he injured people that he cared about and watched them suffer. He would perform for an audience and be like: ”Watch me take this big hockey player who thinks he is so tough and watch me just dismember him!” and he would do it for the crowd. John did that a couple of times to people that didn't deserve it and was ashamed afterwards.

Contemporaneous with this John also grew a foot and a half and suddenly he would weigh 215 pounds (97 kg) and was 6’3” (190cm). He went from 5’6” (168 cm) to 6’3” (190 cm) in the course of 18 months, you could hear his bones growing. But he didn't realize it at first, he didn't understand that he was big, he just noticed that everybody suddenly was leaving him alone. All those years of being picked on and bullied, it was never, ever, ever his impulse to use his physical strength or size, but when he got to be 21 and was playing in bars he was fighting above his weight in bar. He always wanted to go to the sailor bar, the dark shitty bar, and wade right in. Then you are in a class of people where there are a lot of guys in this bar who weigh 215 pounds (97 kg) and also a lot of guys in this bar that fight and have always fought. They are not bullies, they are just people that fight.

When you smart off to them they are just going to fucking hit you. John got into that thing completely by accident, but also that was at a time in his life when he could take a punch. You would hit him hard and in a way he would finally feel something. He was so emotionally closed off and damaged that this feels kind of amazing! Hit me again, Mister! Not that John liked being hit, but it just felt alive and real. Of course it feels like there are never going to be any consequences and John got punched in the face and got his teeth knocked out, boxed in the ears and thrown to the ground and kicked and hit with bats and all these things. There are no consequences! The problem is that now that John is in his mid-forties all those wounds hurt.

All those things that were broken ache when the weather changes and his teeth are a fucking train wreck because three of them got knocked out. John got little scars all over him that didn't ever go away. Looking back that was pretty rowdy and he definitely felt stuff for a while, but nobody ever knifed him, which was nice and he is proud of. The thing that was the most useful to him was that he learned to tell people who can fight from a distance. People that can fight just carry themselves a different way, they watch the room in a different way. They are confident, but they are also ready. They are not paranoid, they are not skittish. They are ready without being skittish. If you drop a glass on the floor they don't jump three feet in the air, but they are combat ready and those are the people that you don't want to get in a fight with.

John had experiences with those guys back when he was drinking. He was messing with some guy one time, tangling with him, and he just put John on the floor. He didn't punch him, he was just standing face to face with him and then suddenly he was sitting on a wet concrete floor not by choice with him standing over him and his fists weren’t raised and John had no idea how he got on the floor. That happened to him enough times, kind of like him in the park in Orlando where he was like: ”Listen, I don't want to get in a fight right now! You are messing with me, and I am watching the swans, but I also don't want you to keep messing with me, so how about you sit on the floor for a second?” - ”Oh, shit, if I didn't know how I got on the floor, I also probably wasn't going to see when I was going to get my nose broken!” A few of those and you realize like John was not the one that should be out there tangling, but he should represent a peaceful mentality because there are people faster and stronger all around.

As time went on and John gained that kind of confidence there were also people who need a punch in the nose. Every once in a while you meet somebody who just needs a punch in the nose and that is the only thing that is going to help them. It is obviously not something John will pursue, but for a long time he just was getting hit all the time and he deserved to get hit every one of those times. It is like building a model railroad: You get so that you know the ins and outs and you are not afraid to get hit more. If that kid threw rocks at John today he would punch him in the nose.

Sponsor Mack Weldon (RW21)

John went online on his phone, which is his only interface now with the world while he was in an airport. He went on his phone at Dan’s insistence and went to and saw their very concentrated selection. They just have underwear, T-shirts and socks, mostly underwear and T-shirts, primarily underwear. This is spectacularly focused and John went on there and these are cool, these are cool, these are cool. Boop, boop, boop, boop.

Normally when he is sitting in an airport and goes on to a website, it is just a torture session. He is using his iPhone 5s, which he had no idea was a ridiculous phone, but everywhere he has been going in the last month, people are like: ”What are you doing?”as though he was carrying a Motorola car phone around with him. This was a fairly recent phone, but it is all bogged down and is garbage now. Within five minutes John ordered basically a whole new underwear wardrobe, including a pair that are threaded with anti-bacterial silver. John immediately realized he ordered a package to be delivered in two days and he is in an airport and is going to be gone.

He wrote them a letter right away and asked if they could delay shipment and they wrote back right away and said they couldn’t delay shipment because the machine was rolling, but if the package doesn't arrive they will totally fix it. Smiley face emoticon LOL, or whatever. Super nice email! John was gone for 10 days and came back in and the package was leaning against his front door. He is wearing their Mack Weldon underwear right now and couldn't be more pleased. It is really good stuff! It is a really fun website, they got it down so that it is a pleasure to use it, even on the phone.

This is the only pair of underwear John has that is threaded through with silver and if you can get into the silver stuff he would do it because it you are wearing superhero underwear. John likes a pair of dusty pink underwear because men’s underwear in particular are such boring colors and John typically doesn't like the colors or patterns. He doesn’t want underwear with blue stripes that looks like a tent on the beach in Brighton in 1960, but they have dusty pink underwear, which is a very becoming color on John! He would call those the Roderick picks.

fighting (cont)

He was a lot bigger than John and he was a classic bully. He was throwing rocks at a smaller kid as a way of saying: ”You are not the hot shit around here anymore!” and in a way John probably deserved that. ”Why the hell did he think he was such hot shit?” John can't think of any injustice. There were a lot of fights he wishes he hadn't gotten in and a lot of fights where somebody got the better of him, but he can't think of any, even the ones where he was just attacked, he still can trace a pretty short line to some behavior on his own part that had earned their attention. John was not afraid of getting hurt either.

One time John was describing his RV to a friend in New York City who is an epicurean, the editor of a fairly well-known food magazine, a hale and hearty guy with a lot of New York confidence. John was talking about his RV and he said: ”Aren't you afraid of getting murdered? Driving your RV, park on some campground somewhere. Aren't you afraid of murderers?” - ”Murderers? What are you talking about? Do you think the streets are run with murderers?” The idea of a murderer has never occurred to John. If you were out walking along a country road in the middle of the night, which is a major fear for people that your car runs out of gas and you are on a dark road in the middle the night. Not talking about a single woman in a car because there are rapers in much greater proliferation than there are murderers. For a single woman in a car it is a much worse situation to run out of gas on a dark road.

For John to walk down a country road in the middle of the night and a car comes along, he does not think and is even sure it is not a murderer. When John parked his RV on the side of the road in the dark somewhere there is no murderer there. The one time that John will come up against a murderer he is probably going to be wearing white jeans and he is probably going to underestimate how susceptible he is to being murdered. John is not worried about getting hurt. He is much more now reticent to get hurt, but fear of getting hurt doesn't motivate him.

John not accepting his daughter’s drama when she gets hurt (RW21)

John doesn’t have a lot of admiration for people that can't bear a little bit of suffering. It affects the way he raises his kid. She will stub her toe or skin her knee and make a big production out of it as kids do. There are a lot of people, even in her life, whose reaction to that is pure sympathy. ”Oh my God! I'm so sorry!”, get down on their hands and knees with her: ”Oh, baby. Oh, sweety, oh!” They accept her level of drama and they participate at that level of drama. They respond to her drama in kind. John’s reaction and his mom's reaction to that kind of injury is: ”Are you hurt? I mean, sincerely hurt? I saw you fall, I know exactly how hurt you are. And I am sorry that you fell, but you fell because you were not watching where you were going and when you don't watch your feet, that is what happens: You fall! You are overdramatizing it because you get rewarded for that sometimes, but you don't get that from us, you never have. Did you forget who you are with?”

When she spends concentrated time with John, she falls, looks up at him, you can see her think, and then she goes: ”Oh, right! I am in daddy world where making a big hullabaloo gets me nothing.” and so she gets back up and runs off and back on the playground with barely a peep. If she is around other people who reward her for that kind of thing she is just like a soccer player! A lot of people were from a very young age rewarded for all their suffering drama and are throwing a tantrum. Instead of being told to sit up straight and stop throwing a tantrum John was told: ”Oh, honey, you are probably just hungry! Oh, sweetie, you need a nap!” and all this lawyering that people do.

Mothers and fathers so often appoint themselves the public defender of their lying little child. The child is clearly making some lie and the parent proffers all these excuses for it. They are arguing in front of a jury to convince the jury like an insanity defense or a hardship defense, when in fact John’s approach is generally as a good-hearted prosecutor. ”On the night of the 14th, were you really hungry or were you just trying to get away with whatever you could in order to get a dessert without eating your dinner? Answer the question!” When you get to be 19-20-25-45 and everyone in your life has always been your defense attorney and no-one has ever been your prosecutor, you are going to be a little son of a bitch defendant in everything you do. ”I am hungry. I can't go another step. Low blood sugar.” - ”No, you got no chill! If you can't hang, then you got no chill!”

That is partly because no-one ever said: ”Look, when you got a serious problem there is no-one who will come to your aid faster than me!” When she is legitimately hurt he will run across hot coals. Has she ever been legitimately hurt? Needed medical attention of some kind? She had fevers, but she hasn't sustained an injury. They had her tonsils out. There are times when she takes a header and you go: ”Oh, sweetie, you are hurt! I know that hurt and you are indignant and you have every right to be!” When her mom goes away and she feels that: ”Mommy!”- feeling. John remembers that feeling, he knows the power of: ”Where is my mommy?”, so he doesn’t mock that. But you run across the playground and you trip on a crack because you are not watching your feet, you fall on the grass and then you want to call an EMT? No!

Dan’s daughter having nursemaid’s elbow (RW21)

Dan’s daughter is almost exactly the same age, they have almost exactly the same name (Marlo vs Mary-Jane), and they are very identical on the cuteness-scale, but different brands of cuteness. Dan’s little girl has had nursemaid’s elbow twice. She also needed stitches on her chin to sow her chin back together and she once bit through her tongue and a part of her tongue was off, but it healed fine. Nursemaid’s elbow is when your elbow joint gets dislocated. It is apparently one of the most painful things that can happen to a child without being something that is very serious and a doctor is able to fix it very simply just by putting pressure on the outside of the elbow and then having that child bend their elbow. When it happens to the child, and it is very common, their arm dangles as if the lower arm has become detached.

The first time that had happened to her she was walking, but she was still in diapers, being their second child you don't need a special pad on a special stand on a special piece of furniture to change your child's diaper. You just lay them on the ground and you change your diaper right there on the ground because that is all you really need. Dan’s wife laid her on the ground to change her diaper the way she had done probably a thousand times and while adjusting her so that she was lined up correctly somehow just that slight movement was enough to make it pop out. She immediately started screaming and she called Dan because she had been screaming like this for half an hour nonstop. Her arm was dangling. It happened again six months later when she was just playing in the house and it happened. She had enough things where Dan has seen her hurt and he knows when she is really hurt and when she really needs to go. She has no memory of the elbow or of biting her tongue. Hopefully your child never gets hurt, your children never really get hurt, but there is a very big difference between when they are running on the playground and they trip and bang their arm or when they are really hurt.

Dan’s boy, they used to play this game where one of them would be running, the other one would run and then go into a room and slam the door. They would say: ”Don't do that. You are going to wind up getting your fingers caught in the door! Don't do that!” Eventually Dan’s son was the one chasing and he got his finger slammed in the door and it started swelling up. It is very, very painful. They went to the thing and they put a hole in his nail and let the blood during, it was really gross, but he handled it really, really well. Ever since then he had a thing with blood where even a little bit of blood he starts to just lose his mind and that could be a detriment to his fighting career. Dan should cover him with blood a couple of times, like Carrie. Do the G. Gordon Liddy thing and tie yourself into a tree and eat a rat while it is a lightning storm.

John getting hurt a lot as a kid (RW21)

As a parent you never want your kid to get hurt, but Dan got hurt all the time as a kid. By the time he was 7 years old he had been knocked unconscious five times, just knocked completely out cold. They were all closed head injuries. One time he found a giant truck tire that was as tall as himself and he had two kids hold it while he climbed up on top of it because he pictured himself running down the street on top of a truck tire. Of course he fell off of the truck tire backwards and landed on the back of my head. Those are terrible injuries that probably made him reckless and stupid.

One time he fell into a marble coffee table, he would fall off of playground equipment and always land on his head which knocked him completely out. He bit through his lower lip and all these terrible things. John is super glad that his kid has never been seriously hurt.

When Dan went to the emergency clinic with his daughter they are gauging you if you are a child abuser. Was this an accident? His wife was the one who took her in for the elbow things both times and she was just hysterical and it is clear from the child's reaction and from her reaction that this was truly an accident. It is one of those injuries if you grab your kid and say: ”You come over here, you stop doing that right now!”that could do it if you pull it the wrong way. She was so paranoid that it would happen again and they had a house rule that they couldn't touch her lower arm for the next year. They apparently grow out of it after a period of time.

John’s friend Peter up in Alaska, his shoulder would come out of joint because he was a hockey player and he had hockey injuries and when his shoulder would come out of joint it was John’s job to throw him up against a wall. Or John would grab his arm and lift it up and pull it while he was just screaming. He was a tough kid. Peter wasn't a big guy, but he was a he was a good skater and he was naturally just tough inside. He wasn't a fighter at all, he is a lawyer, but after the apocalypse you would still find Peter and he would be quietly running a town.

John’s stories remind Dan so much of his childhood except he never grew the extra foot and a half. That extra foot and a half has has really been an advantage, there is absolutely no question about it! The difference between John and kids who are always on the bigger side is that the experience of a beautiful woman who thinks that the world is a wonderful place and people are always helping around, doing things for her, carrying things for her, opening doors, people always seem to smile.

Getting bullied as a kid (RW21)

Years of being bullied caused John to always be very reticent. If you are smaller than everybody else for a long time… John wasn't tiny, he wasn't that much smaller than anybody else, but he was a sensitive kid and he got pushed around and that sticks with you. John was a big guy for a long time before his internal self image stopped being that he was a little kid and he carried himself still as a small. That was in his eyes and that was in his reactions to things, and when he was 20/21 he realized he can do anything and that was a liberating period, but John never ever lost sympathy for people that were smalls.

Dan talks about the movie My Bodyguard about a kid who moves to a new town. He is a nerd, a geek, and he starts in the new school and he gets beat up. Matt Dillon is the bully in this. He then finds a big kid who is clearly older and bigger, not a bully, the Lenni character who is played by Adam Baldwin of GamerGate fame. He was in The X-Files and also this movie and he was in Full Metal Jacket and Predator 2 and a whole bunch of other things, but he is infamous because of GamerGate now. He originated the GamerGate hashtag and he said a lot of things that put him on the bad side of GamerGate, is Dan’s understanding. He was Animal Mother in Full Metal Jacket and he was the bodyguard in the movie My Bodyguard.

He plays the bully, the kid hires him and he is his bodyguard and he hangs out with him and as necessary he beats up the bullies. Matt Dillon gets his own bodyguard and then the two bodyguards have a final boss fight at the end of the movie. There is a montage where the main character in My Bodyguard at the same time that the two bodyguards are fighting, he also has gotten some courage and is throwing a punch and punches Matt Dillon.

Dan was watching this movie as a kid at 8 or 9 years old, thinking: ”If this was real life, I would totally find a way to hire a bodyguard!” because he was always picked on. He was even probably smaller than John was. He never had a movie moment where somebody stood up for him.

The movie Three o'clock High from 1987 is one of those movies that makes you feel like you need to stand up for yourself, a very humorous film like a lower budget Ferris Bueller, pre Coen brothers, pre Brazing Arizona. John hasn’t watched it since 1987, but he found it hilarious then. It is about getting bullied in High School, but it is funny. It is in the style of office space. It was made by Phil Joanou who also made videos for U2, like the video for One, which is a bad video. He also directed Rattle and Hum which John didn't like either. See Three o’clock High if you are looking for a Ferris Bueller meets raising Arizona style teen comedy.

Dan never had that moment, at least not on the playground, where he was getting his sweet revenge in the form of justice, physical violence against my oppressor. Every one of those bullies is now sitting somewhere, going: ”How do you even do a podcast?” Everybody is telling them they should start a podcast and they don't even know where to start and they go online and search for: ”How to do podcasts?” and up comes Dan Benjamin. "Damn it! I should have been better friends to him!”

Everyone else got that moment where they got their comeuppance. Jason, a buddy of Dan from college in his second year at college was more of a geek than Dan was, which probably is why… like the pretty girl hangs out with a girl that is almost but not quite as pretty. Dan found the one kid in college who was nerdier than he was to make him look less like a nerd. They were good friends and one day he got in a fight. He was in the restroom and some guy came up to him and said such as such to him while he was washing his hands and he turned around and hit him. He put his two hands together and made a big fist with both hands and he spun around and popped him with his double hands, knocked a guy down and walked out.

He was a tall guy, at least six feet tall, but this didn't fit with Jason's character at all. You would not imagine that not only would he stand up for himself in a fight, but that he would throw the first blow when he was aware that it was going to come to blows, he knew that was going to happen, and he did a preemptive strike. It didn't connect with his personality at all, but there is something in a person that connects them to a readiness to engage in violence in one kind of person versus somebody else whose goal is just avoidance. That avoidance is the same thing that when you throw a ball at somebody, is their instinct to catch it or is their instinct to dodge it? That separates two different kinds of people. When John was a kid he would have dodged it, but now he would catch it.

Dan’s instinct changed when he was hit in the head with a football from dodging to catching because the worst had happened. Somebody threw a football, it was overthrown, and Dan was just stupid enough to be standing where he was standing and in a perfect spiral that came down and hit him right in the temple and knocked him down. That really hurt, but he thought it is probably not going to be that bad if it happens again, and that opened the door to him at least trying to catch a ball. Today Dan could probably go 50:50, he could go either way.

Dan wants his kids to be the kinds of kids who catch the ball, that their instinct is to attempt to catch the ball. Dan grew up in the city where they didn't play games like that. Dan just tried to avoid getting in fights, that was the main thing he did. This was Philadelphia, standing at the bus stop, and you had kids all the way from kindergarten to middle school 8th grade, going in the same bus at the same bus stop. There was a kid Greg that Dan will never forget who was probably Dan’s best friend, and very convenient for Dan he had no fear. There was actually something a little wrong with him. He didn't have any fear, he didn't feel pain, he didn't care about any of that stuff.

There was this real big kid. Dan and Greg were in third grade, and this kid was at least in 6th grade and he was big for his age. He might have been in 8th grade. He wasn't a typical bully in the sense that he wasn't always bullying people, but if he just was in the mood that day, he might come and mess with you and push you around, just to see if he could get a rise out of you. There were a lot of kids like that in Philadelphia who had something to prove.

One day John was sitting out in front of the junior high waiting to decide that he was ready to walk home. His first name was Julius. He was big, he was violent, he was mean. All of a sudden this rusty junkie van pulls up in front of the junior high. It was janky enough that John noticed it, although this was in the state of Alaska where janky motor vehicles are not noticeable. The windows were tinted black, there was a bunch of garbage on the dash, it was a rough looking truck. The door on the side slid open and out of the front door of the junior high came Julius walking fast. It is only 30 steps from the front door of the school and the side of the van, but in the time that it took Julius to at a fast clip move from the door to the door of the van, the person inside the van had cursed him out eight time: ”Get your ass in here! God damn it, motherfucker! Get your butt in here. You better haul ass!” At that moment John understood that Julius was mean for a reason and he had enormous sympathy for him from then on. He treated him differently and was different around him, he wasn't scared of him anymore.

Growing up in Philadelphia, every street has its own little vice lord. One day a big kid came over and was pushing Dan and Greg around. Greg, who was Dan’s age, had no fear and said: ”Stop!” - ”No, make me!” - ”Fine!” He started throwing punches at this kid who was twice his size, knocks the kid down, sitting on top of him, throwing punches, and the bus driver had seen this thing so much that he was just driving away and Dan was looking out the bus window just watching Greg wailing on this kid. It was more important to Greg to beat the kid up than to go to school that day. He wasn't in school that day and the next day he was there. Dan would go over to Greg's house in the morning sometimes because his mom had to leave early and she didn’t like him being alone if it was avoidable. His mom was like the movie mom: Frizzy blond hair, red nail polish, always scattered, running late, the 1970s movie mom. Always burning the toast and having to scrape that toast off in the sink. Greg eventually making his own lunch. He came from this family of insanity and disarray, single mom doing all this stuff, and it blew Dan away that he just had no concern at all. Things were pretty bad for him already, it couldn't get much worse, really. He didn't have anything to lose so you don't worry.

It is impossible to know what you were thinking as a kid. John had a pretty good sense of what reality looked like to him when he was young, but he doesn't know if he is right at all. He had a very hard time visualizing what kind of adult he was going to be because people were putting so many visualizations in his head. People were always telling him what kind of adults he was going to be and so he had no idea what kind of adult he was going to be and it didn’t even occur to him that he could make his own decision about what his dream of being an adult was. He was just trying on all these different hats that people handed him: ”Oh, you are going to be a lawyer. Oh, you are going to be a politician. Oh, you are going to be this, you are going to be that!” and John spent all that time and mental energy that he should have been spending thinking about what kind of person he was going to be, instead he was like: "I'm going to be a lawyer, I guess. I'm going to be a politician, I guess. I'm trying those things on. I'm telling other kids that is what I'm going to be!”

Adults ask kids all the time: ”What do you want to be?” - ”A lawyer!” What does that mean when a nine year old says he wants to be a lawyer? It is meaningless! It is just that somebody told you that enough that you say it. John has so much sympathy for all the people who actually became lawyers because of that, who are like: ”Well, I'm a lawyer because I always was going to be!” John spent all that childhood time picturing the world that way and never picturing the world as it actually was. John tries to go back to being a kid and think: ”Was I happy as a kid?” He went through a long period where he was convinced he was not happy as a kid, that he had been a miserable kid, but he wasn't! He was out playing in the sand, he had a good time as a kid, like everybody. It was just that he was anxious because there was enough in his world to make him anxious. Isn't that true of every kid?

We spend a lot of time measuring ourselves and there is no yardstick. John got to go through a phase where he had been small and gotten picked on and then he got big and neat-o for him for a little while. Now he got to do things like walk around and not be afraid, and that is great. John’s envy is always directed at people that found love early or that knew and know how to love and enjoy romance. People that enjoy romance seemed to have the greatest gift of all while John got to walk around dark alleys in the middle of the night when it is raining and not be afraid of murderers. Oh, slow clap for you! That is a great superpower, except you are in an alley in the middle of the night and it is raining, that is not actually that great. Those people who from a very young age fell in love with their high school sweetheart and they loved each other passionately and either got married and are still together or she went her way and they went theirs and met another person and they were in love. Those people that go through love affairs and have never known a life without love. John would trade being fearless for that!

Silent ending

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