As I look back over my old columns, the faces, voices and stories all rush back to me with such vivid color and detail as if it were last week, or maybe even two weeks before that. I realize that to not share this wealth of experience with the world would be a crime. I have no choice. The time to pen my memoirs has come.
You might suppose that after seeing two 650-word installments of my heart and soul poured out upon the page, there would be nothing else to tell. Alas, fair reader, you know almost nothing about me. Based on my name, you can surmise that I am some manner of minority. Judging by the creepy photo of my eyes that accompanies this column, it would appear that I am some sort of hideous man-beast or perhaps even a gargoyle. But beyond that you know nothing. Did you know that I spent the best summer of my life following Bob Dylan around the country or that I was the first man on the moon? Did you know that I can bench-press 750 pounds? Does nobody care about Vali, the person, anymore? I took fourth in a hot dog-eating contest in seventh grade.
If I were allowed to push my modesty aside for one moment, I would contend that my greatest accomplishments were my back-to-back Miss Teen USA victories. Others might contend that my greatest accomplishment was learning to levitate. To each his own.
Yet my existence has hardly been a charmed one. I was stripped of my first Miss Teen USA crown after I posed for a series of nude photographs. I tried to argue that the photographs were tastefully done, that they were more art than pornography—I was wearing a bow tie in them. But apparently the Miss Teen USA judges had a problem with the whole having-a-penis thing. My second crown was revoked for the same reason (different set of photographs—this series was set in the Australian outback). I guess they had forgotten about the first incident.
The Miss Teen USA fiasco created a difficult time in my life, but it did unite me with my second (and also fourth) wife. We were young and foolish, she more foolish than I. That’s why I had an affair. The affair and subsequent divorce created yet another difficult time in my life, but it did unite me with my third (and also 15th) wife.
After my 40th marriage, things seemed to be going well for me. I was night manager of my local Denny’s and had just won the NBA Slam-Dunk Contest. Or I should say, should have won the NBA Slam-Dunk Contest. I don’t want to go into all of the details now, suffice it to say that it didn’t help that the debacle coincided with the onset of World War I.
The war provided a welcome break from my increasingly constraining marriage. I was in the trenches for two years before my entire company was destroyed and temporary amnesia forced me to wander aimlessly through Europe searching for answers that never existed. It was here that I picked up smoking and mendacity. My only acquaintance was Lt. Slothrop, a rotund and oversexed Harvard alumnus who happened to be an AWOL American spy.
Slothrop introduced me to his friend, Dr. Gonzo, who inadvertently urged me to distill my nonsense into insane ramblings. That brings me to today. As I look back upon the last 20 years of my life, I see a boy maturing into a distinguished young man. I am standing next to him, watching with freakish minority man-beast eyes.