Sunday, October 27, 2013


     If John Garfield was Fate's Whipping Boy, then I was surely Satan's Target Boy. It means pretty much the same thing, I guess, but since "Fate's Whipping Boy" was already taken, I went with a close facsimile on my business cards.
     It seemed like I just couldn't catch a break ever since I could remember. I was cursed with an unusually wide nose and no philtrum, so my gaudy proboscis blended seamlessly into my upper lip, giving my face the appearance of a billboard. Yet I found that major corporations were reluctant to advertise on it. So I decided to have a target tattooed on it, as if to say, "Bring it on, Satan!"
     And Satan obliged. Or was it God? I couldn't decide. But did it matter if I cursed God or gave Satan a high-five for a job well done? 
     As a young boy, the other kids in the neighborhood were always throwing rocks at me, and this was before I even had a target on my face. Back then I welcomed the winter because they would throw snowballs instead of rocks.
     Things weren't much better in high school. Yes, my prom date was beautiful, but try dancing with a mannequin. 
     When I turned 16 I dropped out of high school and worked in a series of dead-end jobs. When I turned 18 I got my target tattoo, and after that even the dead-end jobs were hard to come by. You could say that with the tattoo I cut off my nose to spite my face, but cutting off my nose would have been an improvement.
     I tried enlisting in the army, but they said that a target on a soldier's face in a shooting war was a bad idea.
     I spent my nights drinking in seedy bars, always being careful not to sit anywhere near the dart board.
     For a while I dated the woman who gave me the tattoo. Her body was completely covered in M.C. Escher art, and for a while there I didn't know if I was coming or going. Apparently one night I mistook a fish for a swan and took the wrong staircase or something, and she broke up with me. 
     It was fun while it lasted, but I was alone again. And I stayed that way.
     Fast-forward 20 years and we find Satan's Target Boy referring to himself in the third person for no particular reason. Maybe after a lifetime of anguish it's my way of stepping back from the pain, psychologically.
     Yesterday I went into the personnel department at a Target store, offering my services as a paid TV spokesperson. They said I would need to contact their advertising agency through Target's corporate headquarters in Minneapolis. Or I could have a job as a stock boy. I've had enough stock boy jobs for a lifetime, and I told them the next time they'd see me would be on television.
     Next phone call, Minneapolis. Next stop, Madison Avenue. Maybe things will turn around for me. Maybe I'll be rich. Maybe I'll be famous. Maybe I'll meet Flo, the Progressive Insurance Lady at the ad agency.
     Maybe pigs will fly. 

This story originally appeared in Funny Times.

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