“Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.” -George Carlin
It was either during or after college. Again, the exact date doesn’t really matter. All that matters is that I was a stupid, stupid, stupid kid.
I was involved in community theatre during this time and was performing in the Caine Mutiny. It’s a good show if you ever get the chance to see it. Funny enough, I was playing a stupid kid. Not a stupid, stupid kid like I was in real life, just a regular stupid kid.
The show took place in a building called the Clemens Center in my hometown of Elmira, New York. If you’ve never heard of Elmira, she was the character on Tiny Toon Adventures that squeezed small animals to death. It’s also the birth place of Hal Roach!
The Clemens Center is a performance arts center named after Mark Twain who spent a chunk of his life in Elmira. I don’t know what it’s like now but growing up it was the only place that I remember in the area that got any of the major touring acts. Carrot Top used to play there a lot, I saw Alice Cooper there which was a blast and they also got a lot of the big NYC shows when they went on tour. I hope that’s still true.
Like a lot of big performance art centers, the Clemmons Center had a main stage and a little black box theatre. We were performing the Caine Mutiny in the black box. There was another show in the main theatre, which we’ll get to in a moment.
Anyways, the show played for two weeks if I remember correctly (and I probably don’t) and one day something astonishing happened. I just didn’t realize it was astonishing because I was…well, you get the idea.
I’m sitting in the dressing room sorta getting ready, sorta goofin’ off before that night’s show when one of the older guys that was in the show with me came downstairs and was awfully excited. Why was he excited? It took me three days to find out.
“Erik, you’re not going to believe this.” he said, “George Carlin is upstairs. He’s taking pictures, signing autographs and just hanging out with the cast.”
I looked at him. He looked at me. Then I said the stupidest words that have ever come out of my mouth.
“Who’s George Carlin?”
I don’t recall much about the conversation after that, but I’m sure this very nice man explained to me who George Carlin was while resisting the unbearable urge to call me a “stupid kid”. Looking back on it, he probably should have punched me.
Because I didn’t go upstairs.
Three days later I’m hanging out with a friend and we’re talking about the show and somehow this “George Carlin guy” was brought up. His mom overheard me asking him who George Carlin was and handed me a book called Brain Droppings. She said I should read it, I’d probably really like it.
I say this with all sincerity. It changed my life.
Up until that moment I always felt like an outsider, like I just didn’t fit in. I still do and I’m sure most the people reading this probably feel that way too. Funny enough, feeling like you don’t fit in is very common.
Reading this book is the first time I didn’t feel alone, like there was someone else out there who got it. Who felt like I felt and thought how I thought. I never had this before. Not from music, not from movies, not from anything. He was and still is lightyears ahead of me in intellect, humor and (as you’ve probably noticed) writing. Yet, it still felt like he was speaking to me. It was finally something I could relate to. My friends at the time didn’t get it, but as I got older I realized they didn’t get me either. And that’s OK. It’s OK to be on the outside.
It is not OK that I didn’t go upstairs to meet him.
On one hand, I can’t beat myself up too much. I really didn’t know who he was. On the other hand, I probably should have gone upstairs anyways and found out who he was. That’s a mistake I won’t be making again.
So what’s the point in this blog? I guess I have two, first: if you have the chance to meet somebody and you don’t know who they, go meet them anyways. You just never know.
Second: this story is why I give kids a lot of slack whenever they do something stupid. Because I was a stupid kid. A stupid, stupid kid.
So leave Justin Bieber alone.
What’s the dumbest thing you ever did as a kid? Let us know in the comments and; if you liked this story, hit the recommend button below. It may inspire me to write more embarrassing stories.