Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Fat Old Man

Just ask me for a copy. I hear it's really good.

Fat Old Man

Tom Dark

Some days I feel like a fat old man. Some days I don't.
Some days I feel like a fat old man. Some days I don't.
Some days I will behave like a fat old man. Some days I won't.

I'm a fat old man... talking in my sleep, from three to five
I'm a fat old man... mumbling my mumbo jumbo about the universe... every night from three to five.

And while I mumble and I wonder, there's that gal there over yonder, listening, making sure I'm still alive.

She's a fat old gal... a churning urn of sweet concern.
She's lyin' there awake, listening to me mutter, taking careful note of every word I utter, she says sometimes there is truth in the nonsense that I blurt.

If some truth jumps out to bite her, while I'm lyin' there beside her,
I hope it doesn't hurt.  Swing it, fellas.


We sail across the rolling silence through the middle of the night
I am the captain of the blankets, snoring orders left and right
With my spyglass on the sleeping seas in search of distant dreams,
If I mutter "Thar she blows," she knows that all I mean

Is that I am a fat old coot... talking in my sleep, from three to five
With the moonlight on our shoulders, anchored like a couple boulders, she will rock the boat to ascertain that I am still alive.

And I appreciate that -- and I should tell her so
But I'd just as soon she didn't know
Can't help it, though, even so,
I am talking in my sleep, I know,
So let the whole world know
That I'm just a fat old man.

That's all right honey, don't get up.  I'm just goin' to the bathroom...


LIVE from the Wooterville, Ohio, Lion's Club and Oddfellows Hall! It's the annual Father's Day dance and pot luck free-for-all! Bring a covered dish and canasta cards! Best cookin' on either side of the Cuyahoga! We're too old to remember which side this is. But come on a' supper, wherever we are!

This is a true song: Some days I feel like a fat old man, some days I don't.

I've been practicing to be a fat old man since I was fourteen years old, which, at this point, as of my birthday today, is not so far from forty years ago.

Depending when you finally read this, that point may have been well over forty years ago... maybe even a hundred.

If for you it is now over a thousand years since I began practicing being a fat old man, I've misjudged my own importance.

If all new babies look so cute to us old folks, how much cuter must babies not even due for a thousand years look? More neotonous molecules could not be imagined. If it’s past 3000 AD when you are reading this: hellooooooo, you adorable, adorable little sweeties, whirling in the air, as yet unborn!

I bet that a thousand years from now, your language sounds like "zip!" "vip!" and "boopbeepboop!"

Let it be written in the language of Zipvipboopbeepboop that I didn't invent practicing growing old. My best pal Paul Richard did.

Paul was practicing being a fat old man before we met. He got really good at it. He'd stick his belly out, splay his legs and grunt and snort and complain just like a fat old man. He could roll complacently down the sidewalk just like a fat old man. I learned how to say "Aaah, shit. Snuffle. Snort," from Paul. Lots of us did. We thought acting like fat old men was very funny.

Paul made a fat old monkeyshine that history should record for you teens in your zipbeepboop helmets and silvery space suits a thousand years away.  One day after school, as we were seated in a tired old after-school teen hangout called Porter’s, Paul grunted out the latest teen hit song as a fat old man, dressed in the latest teen fashions. I fell out of the booth laughing.

"Come on baby light my fiiiiiiiiire," he grunted, like a hairy old man with a mountainous belly in a swayback bed singing in the middle of the night.

Paul said, "imagine waking up on a Sunday morning when you’re 70 dressed like a hippie clown singing that. That’d be real keen.” "Keen" was an outmoded word even then, a thousand years ago. Paul had a double sense of irony.

Maybe there won't be such a thing as "Sunday" in your time, unborn molecule kids. It was a day for going to church, and most of us had stopped going to church even back then.  Most of us stopped going to church because we began to suspect it wasn’t who we really were.  I hope people can still translate what Paul meant into Zipvipboop.  He meant, "imagine waking up on the morning when you are most supposed to be who you really are, but who you make of yourself is a silly clown in a puffy polka dot shirt and striped bellbottom pants and square-toed shoes with high heels, singing about being sexy."

Are there still polka dots in your time?  Are they now a sign that you know who you really are?

Yes there are least a thousand years left from now.  The wicked world leaders we now have, a thousand years ago, are only temporary.  If mentioned in Zipvipboop at all, they'll be amused footnotes about how humans most think they are important when they least realize they are clowns.

This information is presently top secret for most people.  The government is hiding it.  But a thousand years from now, you maybe probably know. Truth has a way of leaking out, if slowly.

"How do you get to the belly of the whale?" Paul asked rhetorically one day after school, smoking cigarettes and drinking soda pop in my room. "Just follow the Yellow Brick Road," he rejoined to nobody and everybody, staring out the windows of the upper floor of that big old Victorian house. This sounds crazy now, but a thousand years from now, you all probably understand.

I nicknamed Paul "the King." He committed suicide at age 19. He'd already thought everything a fat old man thinks, felt all a fat old man cares to feel and decided to leave the planet early.

After slitting his wrists on three different occasions across the next year, the King succeeded in killing himself.  He'd stop by in dreams now and then in the same fashion we used to hang out together, now in dreams.  One night he described what his death was like: it was all a black nothing; then he'd remember he was somebody and that it was a Sunday morning -- which it would have been, had he not killed himself.  Time to get up, looking forward to sweet rolls, milk and the funnies; then he'd realize he couldn't wake up, he'd remember he'd killed himself.  This led to a seeming eternity of horrific mournful sound and regretful feeling, after which, there'd be nothing again. This would repeat endlessly, remembering himself, trying to wake up, and realizing he couldn't. Although I was only an observer, it was terrifying to see what he described.

After a few rough dreams of him as these, the King was doing well enough.  He'd finally put the suicide behind him and grew up in some other reality. When things got lousy for me over the years, he would show up in a dream to cheer me up.  By jove, I'd cheer up.  Things did get better.

He hasn't visited my dreams in quite awhile.  We tend to get lost in busy-things at middle age, too absorbed in them to be sociable, even when one of us is dead.

Insomuch as you may still be somewhere conscious of me, old King, I have given you a song with a fat old wife in it for the probability in which you achieved the fat old manhood you were practicing for.  In this probability, you despised your mother and didn't want a girlfriend.  You didn't even want to masturbate.

In fact, King, I wrote this song with Susie Narak in mind, who is really young, really really smart and really, really, really cute.  Susie gave me permission to use her name.  She can be your fat old gal in some nether-nether land.

I have a photo of Susie standing with Melissa Ferrick, which Susie sent me.  I've taped it to the mirror in my studio.  Susie looks innocent and unaware that she is more delicious than pie a la mode and as warm and fuzzy as a gerbil. Melissa looks like a kitty cat who has just found the key to the gerbil's cage.

I laugh each time I look at it, which is often.  And so, I hoped also to make something that would make young Susie laugh just as goofily.

I love that photo.


I woke up in the middle of the night humming the beginnings of this song not long before my 50th birthday. Shortly after, my deejay friend Don Campau opened the door and discovered a whole lot of people standing there going "Happy Biiiiiiiirthday!"  He too had just turned fifty.

And now, fifty was longer ago for us than Youth Today would like to imagine.  You wake up and there you are.
Surprise, surprise, old fella.


Blogger Edgar W. Hopper said...

Now that's my kind of story even though I've struggled mightily so as not to end up a fat old man. Too short, I'd probably look like one of those fat blow up dolls that you can't knock over. Truth is though now that I'm old for real and a bachelor, I do wish I had a fat old lady to look after me and complain about my snoring and critique my struggle to write and not mind my filling the air with old Miles Davis tunes. Well, can't have everything. I'm grateful that I wake up in the morning and find I'm still living on the Lower East Side of the greatest city in the world!

8:02 PM  
Blogger Tom Dark said...

Miles Davis tunes? You ain't old a'tall, brother.

8:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember Paul from high school. He wrote something very kind to me in my yearbook that I never thanked him for. What a terrible tragic loss of a friend for you, and yet, it is heartening to know that he is still able to cheer you on some level. Like your writing, love this song/story.

4:52 PM  
Blogger Tom Dark said...

What'd he write?

7:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The gist of it was that my shy, quiet nature was a virtue.

6:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Me, again--been thinking about it--if Paul wasn't that fond of the female sex, then maybe he thought it was virtuous for all women just to be quiet. So, I guess the joke's on me! Oh, well, I thought it was sincere and meaningful at the time.

4:32 PM  
Blogger Tom Dark said...

Paul thought it was a virtue that he never masturbated. He was afraid of women and was a virgin when he died.

1:26 PM  
Blogger Tom Dark said...

Oh, say, if you'd like a copy of the song, I found an MP3 of it. Shoot me your e-mail address to tomdark10@yahoo.com

4:51 PM  

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