Aisle Of Wit

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There’s No Fool Like This April Fool

Maybe you’re in a frame of mind to live up the promise of this day, but I’m nowhere near that jovial.  In fact, I’m feeling far more like a fool than ever.

If I’m to believe the urban myth that CNBC18.com attributes the origins of April Fools Day to, I guess I have to thank, or indeed blame, an ancient religious leader:

At that time, Pope Gregory XIII proposed the implementation of the Gregorian calendar, with January 1 as the start of the year, which replaced the tradition of celebrating the New Year at the end of March.  However, some people were unaware of the change, and they continued to observe New Year’s Day on April 1, thus, they were ridiculed and mocked by others. Those who celebrated New Year’s Day on April 1 were labelled as ‘fools’. That’s how the tradition of celebrating April Fools’ Day on the first day of April came into being.
Well, plenty of companies still use April 1st as the start of their fiscal year.  It’s that reason, and the untimely adjacency of a global pandemic three springs ago, that started me on a road to isolation, emotional torment and fiscal pain that, this morning, once again, leaves me in an absolutely dire financial reality that has me anything but laughing.  With almost no one actually in my life (or used to be) who cares enough to even try and understand the depth of my pain, nor is capable of offering anything other than “it’s your own damn fault” or “you have my thoughts, prayers and encouragement, and I’ll keep you in mind”.  Even the most sincere private e-mails and messages more often than not go unanswered save for a like or a comment.  In the same manner that they might when reacting to the desire for a perp walk or their endorsement of a healthy snack food they bought in bulk online.
It wasn’t always that way for me.  It was on this day 38 years ago that I began working in Los Angeles, at the impressive home of independent TV station KTTV and where a host of sitcoms, game shows and talk shows taped.  I had doubled my salary from what I had been earning in New York, looking forward to living in a rent-stablized apartment that a close family member owned in Santa Monica ten blocks from the ocean, and had put 3000 miles between me and a life of overwhelming immediate family, horrible weather and a world of rejection from women I aspired to be with.   Based on current value, my 1985 salary today would be roughly $73,000/year.  And, even proprotionately, food and gas cost a lot less then.

My best friend from New York had relocated here and gladly picked me up at LAX at no cost.  He helped me get acclimated at my temporary housing in the shadow of Universal Studios and then treated me to lunch at a nearby Mexican haunt quite popular with media people.  My first month here was spent largely with other people who had moved their own lives from Boston and, on the largesse of the company, we set an agenda for the company to try a number of new ideas and formats, spent lunches together hiking near the Hollywood sign and had dinners out at venues like the Polo Lounge and Yamashiro’s, an iconic and scenic Japanese restaurant tucked into the Hollywood Hills.  And, on weekends, my best friend and I would hang out with his friends.  And, in hindsight, I now know why.
I had an expense account for the first time in my life.  And a very liberal and indifferent accounting department.  The phrase “Steve Will Pay” became a signature of our outings.  And why not?  The other members of my work posse picked up my tab for the rest of the week.
Today, my onetime best friend does not even have the desire to pick up a phone; never did during the entire pandemic days when I lived four miles from him.  He literally was incapable of believing I was not, as his even more fearful wife mocked me as, an “asymptomatic superspreader”, because I was living with two amazing women who unleashed, at long last, my ability to love myself.  And yes, these women had other friends, and occasionally dates and lovers who would visit our lovely home, and, no, they weren’t tested, either for COVID or, to the best of my knowledge, anything else.  My onetime best friend was so petrified of me, not only would he refuse to visit me in by far the cleanest and most immaculate residence I had ever lived in, he refused to even touch my doorbell.
And when the relationship with one of these women had broken down enough to the point where I was threatened, both physically and with eviction, by that woman’s “friend” who demanded I check myself into a psych ward, which I voluntarily did in the pious hope of keeping myself housed during a pandemic where, legally, we were all supposed to be in quarantine and therefore this landlord friend had absolutely no legal ground to stand on (a view later agreed to by a small claims court judge), my onetime best friend was somehow not scared enough to enter a HOSPITAL, one knowingly FILLED with ACTUAL COVID patients, to “support” me.   His support was nothing more than a lecture on how pathetic I was to even like this woman.
You’d likely not be surprised to know neither of these people are in my life whatsoever today.  Nor might you be surprised that after three years and three weeks of even greater isolation, bearly 800 jobs applied for that I was “not a fit” more and the expenses of what life costs these days, my net worth is today is less than I had in my weekly expense account when I started working in Los Angeles.  And I’m looking at nearly three weeks before I get an infusion of money that will assure that I don’t become homeless.  Yes, I go to food banks by necessity, and you’ll be likely to see me at one or more in the coming weeks.  I know I won;t see either one of these people anywhere near one.
And yet, I cling to the pious, almost ridiculous hope that somehow, miraculously, one of these sorely missed people, whose absence from my life regularly brings me to tears, might, somehow, find a reason to actually reach out.  Understand my pain.  Perhaps offer closure.  A bit of empathy.  A shred of respect.
In my onetime best friend’s case, someone who earns a six-figure salary, has his house fully paid off and now drives a $61,000 hybrid SUV (paid for in cash) while his wife, who has now apparently become less scared so that she occasionally ventures out, drives a hybrid Lexus.  Do you think this person has contributed a penny to the link below, or, for that matter, even picked up a phone or texted?  Despite what day it is, don’t be as much of a fool as I am.  You know that hasn’t happened.
Nor has the woman who saved my life, someone who actually knows people that I am more than beyond certain could offer me an actual JOB as they do her, whose skill sets are in a different lane than mine but are nonetheless complimentary.  Somehow, she happens to know entrepreneurs and business bad asses who pay her well enough so she can travel internationally and fly back and forth around the U.S. for events, vacations and her loving family.  I have apologized profusely, to anyone in her remote orbit that would actually ever consider listening, for any perceived indiscretions of the past.  At this point, I simply want closure and a job lead or two.  My God, I need both more than breath.  I get emotional just thinking about how much I miss this person.
But I’m pretty damn sure both she and my onetime best friend are absolutely hysterical laughing at my pain, and I am pretty damn sure yet another day will pass where neither one reaches out to me.  And I’m far more certain that unless someone else provides me a life preserver or, better yet, a GIG that pays more than driving (especially when my car needs thousands of dollars of work), my net worth will be negative before tax day.  With increasing legal bills and creditors being the only phone calls I am likely to get.
So I’ll likely spending this April 1st crying my eyes out, drive as much as my body and car will allow me to, and will yet again, with appropriate shame, offer you the same damn link I seem to be doing a lot of lately.  Many of you have contributed.  I can’t expect you to necessarily do so again in those cases.  But if you were somehow inclined to do so, I would be that much more grateful.   Better yet, share that link with someone else you think might want to help.  Even the two people I miss more than breath.
Incidentally, should anyone in particular who has also caused me a lot of pain be noticing, said person will note that references, even indirect, have been deleted.   No, I don’t want to hear from this person.  But I know that person has called me a fool many times in the past, and no doubt is laughing at me today as well.
I hope you’re not laughing.  And, for God’s sake, try to avoid any temptation to prank me that you might have  Save it for someone who isn’t crying hysterically as this is being written.  The building I worked in, the friends I once had, the family that supported me in the same manner than the woman I miss terribky does–they’re gone.  Dead, blown up, or indifferent.
I’ve never felt more like a fool than I do today.
Until next time…