The Day I Realized I Was an Asshole

If you’ve been here for a while, chances are you’re also a fan on my Facebook page…and if you’re not, what the hell is taking you so long, that’s where the real is fun is happening.

For those of you who ARE fans on FB, you know the majority of my posts are about how much toddler is ruining my life. And, I give him a lot of shit for it. Most people get that it’s all in good fun, and of course I love my kid, but in the year and a half I’ve been running the page I’ve had my fair share of people tell me what and asshole I am for talking about my kid that way, and how kids are a blessing, blah blah blah.

Luckily, I have some of the best fans on the internet who just get it, and quickly come to my defense, and those individuals who have their heads firmly inserted up their rectums have been weeded out. But, I’m going to break some news to you my loyal subjects…the jerks were right; I am an asshole, I know the exact day I realized it.

The day was Friday, September 5, 2008. The Fiance (now known as The Wife) and I had moved from San Diego, CA to the Washington D.C. just 3 months prior and since I was still looking for work, I decided to supplement a little extra cash with officiating youth sports; high school football to be more exact.

I had been a football referee for around 5 years before moving to the East coast, giving it up briefly for a year to focus on finishing my degree and as well as taking a job that required I work nights and weekends. I had officiated all levels of experience ranging from 5 year old flag football, all the way up to Junior College, but I was still nervous when I got my first assignment in DC. If felt like I was rookie ref all over again. New area, new people, and new fellow officials; I couldn’t help but be a little scared.

I received my first assignment from the commissioner of our league at school called Model Secondary. Along with the assignment the commissioner sent special instructions emphasizing how important it was that we remember how special this particular environment was that we’d be working in, and how we needed to utilize all our experience with making calls without our whistles. I thought nothing of it, as any good official knows the whistle in football means very little. I was confused why he went out of his way to send such a note. Maybe this school was known for players cheap-shoting other players after the whistle, maybe there were a rough crowd, either way, I wasn’t worried. Any referee worth his salt can officiate an entire game, and never use their whistle once.

Finally the day arrived. Still not knowing the area very well I ran into crazy DC traffic on a Friday afternoon. Frantically following the direction on my GPS, I grew more and more anxious as I arrived at what looked like a large college campus in the heart of downtown DC. I was convinced this had to be the wrong spot, which meant I was going to be late, making a bad impression on my crew chief and possibly get me a bad rating.

I entered the campus and began driving around. I quickly saw a sign saying, ” Model Secondary School Located on East Side of Campus.” HUZZAH!!! I had in fact made it to the right place, but now I had to navigate this large campus and find a small secondary school. As I sat at a stop sign I found my saving grace; a student crossing the street in front of me.

I rolled down my window to ask the student for directions.

“Excuse me, do you know where I can find Model Secondary?”

The young man didn’t answer. Maybe he didn’t hear me; so I called to him again,

“Excuse me, over here! Do you know where I can find Model Secondary?”

Still, the young man who could not be more than 10ft from me, nose in a book, refused to answer. Can you believe this fucking kid?!? While it’s not my style to yell at people, my frustration and fear of being late got the better of me.

“HEY KID!!! Over here!”

At that moment he looked up and saw me staring at him. He looked back at me with the a disinterested who, me? look that seems to be all the rage with the youth of today.

“YO! Yeah you! I know you heard me! (Speaking slowly to emphasize my disdain with him) Do…you…know…where…Model…Secondary…is…located?”

At this point the young man’s face changed from disinterested to something resembling slightly confused, with an overwhelming amount of offended. Clearly me asking him for directions and pulling him away from his book was beyond reproach in his world.

He slowly shook his head no, while maintaining a look of disappointment. As I drove past him I added one more parting shot to put this kid in his place saying, “I don’t know why you look so mad; don’t act like you’re deaf next time someone talks to you.”   As I drove away I thought to myself, “Good for you Mike, kids like that need to learn a lesson in being respectful.”

After meeting up with the rest of my officiating crew, the head ref held out pre-game meeting, and once again emphasized using our best non-whistle mechanics. As we walked out of the locker I strolled up next to him and asked why such the emphasis on non-whistle stuff. He looked at me somewhat shocked and said:

“Are you serious?”

“Yeah, I’m new in the area. Are these guys a rough team, prone to cheap shots, stuff like that?

(Stopping in his tracks) “No one told you about this school?”

“No, why? What’s so different about this team?”

“This is Model Secondary School for the Deaf, on the campus of Gallaudet University, the only university to cater strictly to the deaf or hearing impaired.”

All the sudden it was like I was just kicked in the stomach. Not only was the football team deaf, but so were the students, and the college kids…just like the one I had just yelled at for not listening to me. Holy shit, what had I done?!?

When I returned home that night the Fiance lovingly asked, “How’d your game go? Did it feel good to get back out there?” Standing there like a shell of myself, all I could muster up was, “I yelled at a deaf kid today,” to which she appropriately responded, “WHAT THE SHIT?!?”

I told her the whole story. I explained my frantic nature, and how it was an honest mistake. I kept saying things like like if I could back in time I would. She just sat there, expressionless. I waited for her to say something; anything that would help me feel better and absolve me of my massive fuck up, and then it happened; the Fiance busted out in uncontrollable laughter. It went on for what felt like an eternity, and it was all at my expense.

Finally I plopped down on the couch:

“I feel like an asshole.”

“That’s because you are!” (more laughter)

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Have you ever done something or said something so bad, and out of your character, that you felt like a complete asshole? You know I’m not going to judge you, because at least you didn’t yell at a someone who was deaf.

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It’s Been a Year, And I Still Miss You

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Have you ever received news, or heard a story that affected you so quickly, so deeply, that you almost felt numb? That’s how I felt one year ago today; when I read that Robin Williams had committed suicide.

I’m sure some will brush this blog off as someone looking for a quick and easy topic to talk about; a cheap grab for clicks by using the headline of the day. And if you feel that way, that’s fine; that’s your prerogative. But let me assure you, this topic means so much more to me than just generating traffic to my little blog. In fact, it means so much that it’s taken a year for me to be able to sit down and type these words without breaking down into some sort of emotional wreck.

Robin Williams was so much more than just an actor to me; he was my idol growing up; my literal inspiration to become the person I am today.

Growing up I spent a great deal of time on my own. This was mostly because as a single parent my mother worked a ton of hours to make sure the bills were paid, and we had food on the table. With no one to talk to or hang out with it was really on me to entertain myself, so TV became my best friend at a very young age. And one thing that I love most was watching stand-up comedy.

I grew up during a time that, in my opinion, was the golden age of comedy – the 80’s. All the best to ever do it were on stage during the 80’s; Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, George Carlin, Roseanne Barr, and of course Robin Williams. I can remember the first time I saw Robin’s act, it was an HBO special, and my mom let me watch. From the second I laid my eyes on him, I couldn’t look away.

Williams was so full of energy and life. People described his delivery and jokes as manic and spastic, even hard to follow at times, but to me, it was like watching poetry in motion. It was like seeing my thought process play out in front of me. I knew I had discovered someone who clicked the exact same way I did. I had found someone who completely understood me, even though he didn’t know me, and for the first time I knew what hope felt like. Hope that I’d be ok.

I could tell early on that Robin and I shared other traits in common too. I could tell Robin was, like me, living with depression. Even though at such a young age I didn’t know the word depression, I certainly knew I was different from other kids. Just behind the glint of my youthful eyes was a darkness, a sadness I tried every day to mask the best I could. I saw that same sadness in the eyes of the funniest clown I had ever seen. So, I knew if he could mask the pain through comedy, then so could I.

I spent the majority of my teenage years cultivating that mask. Immersing myself in the arts in school, acting on stage, being the funny guy in my group of friends. Like Robin did with the rest of the world, I kept those closest to me laughing and entertained so they would never see what was really going on; a magician of sadness if you will. But like all tricks, eventually the curtain gets pulled back and the world sees what’s really going on.

My house of cards came tumbling down New Year’s Day 2006. As I have talked about briefly in my writing career, I came very close to taking my own life that day. For whatever reason I didn’t follow through with it, and I’m glad I didn’t.

Some have said to me that I was never really going to do it, or that I was only looking for attention. I don’t feel the need to justify or talk about how close I was to those kind of people. Those are the same people who said Robin Williams was a coward for doing what he did, or selfish. I in no way agree with what Robin did, but I will never see him as a coward. I, like many others, know the daily struggle of masking depression, and the toll it takes on your body and mind.

Robin was tired, and like me in 2006, he was done fighting; done masking. But unlike Robin, I got back up and chose to move forward, and will always choose to move forward. But again, I do not judge or criticize my childhood, and adulthood hero, because I understand.

To be fair it should be recognized that Robin had found out some time before taking his own life that he was suffering from the early stages of Parkinson’s Disease. I cannot even imagine how someone who already is struggling absorbs that news.

I will always hold a special place in my heart for the sad clown that was Robin Williams. He inspired me more than I would ever have been able to tell him, if I had had the awesome fortune to meet him. I think if I ever did me him I would first apologize, mainly because I ripped off his “Gotta see about a girl” line from Good Will Hunting in my wedding speech. But something tells me he wouldn’t mind. But then I would let him know how he taught me that laughter was indeed the greatest medicine, even if that sickness eventually wins, and how making others laugh is one of the greatest gift someone can give.

I’m not particularly a spiritual person, and I don’t claim to have some divine belief, but there will always be a part of me that hopes there is something after this life; some great beyond. If for no other reason than to know, right now, Robin Williams is on stage somewhere telling every penis joke he ever told during his life, to all the souls that have passed on, and maybe I’ll finally get to meet him. I’ll hold onto that hope, and until then I say this to you O’ Capitan my Capitan….nanu nanu!

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You may have noticed my liberal use of the semicolon in this post, probably even in places that it doesn’t belong. That was done on purpose. There is an amazing organization called Project Semicolon who is trying to help those who suffer from depression and other metal health needs. Please check them out for stories about people who have thought of, or attempted suicide. A please know if you are think you are suffering alone, you’re not. There are many out there (like me) who are always whiling to talk and share, and most importantly listen. Lastly if you are thinking of harming yourself, and don’t feel like you have any other options, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK. There is always another way.