I’d Rather Be Like Dave Barry Than Mick Jagger
I Don’t Need Fame, I Just Want To Be a Hell of a Writer
It’s funny how popularity works. Those who don’t have it, often really want it. Those who do have it, feel pressured to keep it. It seems to be an exhausting cycle, so where does one find the balance?
I was not a popular kid, growing up. I could always make friends and had a small circle of close confidants. I didn’t have to eat alone and rarely was I bullied. Yet, I saw other kids who were popular and longed to fit in with them.
It started around junior high, possibly the height of my awkward teen stage. I looked like Ric Ocasek from The Cars, but without the musical talent or Paulina Porizkova. I had a few solid friends who I’d trade baseball cards with and we’d play basketball together at recess.
We had each other’s backs so as not to be bullied or picked on by other kids. Having a few people around you made you less of a target for bullies. And if the shit went down, more feet for trying to land a kick to a bully’s balls.
I had girl friends. A girlfriend? Certainly not. Friends that were girls? Yes. Generally, just girls that I sat in close proximity to during class, or interacted with during P.E.
I was a funny kid, especially starting around late grade school to junior high. I learned quickly that if you could make girls laugh, they’d actually talk to you and be nice to you. That sounded pretty cool to me.
I aimed to be the Eddie Murphy of Parsons Junior High. I mean, I didn’t show up in a red leather jumpsuit with a medallion. I didn’t run around yelling, “HA HA, very funny, motha-FOCKA!”
No, I just wanted to be funny like Eddie, or any other comedian we’d watch on Saturday Night Live or The Tonight Show. Funny people seemed popular. Popularity is what I wanted.
As I honed my craft and prepared for my career in stand-up comedy, I also noticed that athletic kids were usually popular. Kids who played sports seemed to get the attention of all the little cheerleader girls who I thought were so cute. Perhaps a tryout for baseball was in order.
I decided I’d try out during the summer for Little League. I severely miscalculated how hot it would be during the summer in Redding, California. I once saw the temperature reach 122 degrees. It was hotter than a whore in boots out there.
Still, I persevered and tried out. I hit four pitches for hits and caught one of the two pop flies hit to me. This was good enough to make the team! I was the next Pete Rose and it didn’t hurt being Charlie Hustle, playing for the Death Valley Dumb-Shits.
I informed my parents that I was going to need a waterbed and a bowl of condoms for my nightstand now that I was a semi-professional baseball player. I started shopping for medallions in catalogs, wondering where Eddie Murphy purchased his. More research was needed.
Shit, I’m late for my first practice! I flung my catalog onto my bed and hastily biked it over to the junior high baseball field. Damn it, why didn’t I own a BMX bike instead of my mother’s old 10-speed Schwinn?
I met my new teammates and was paired up with some kid to warm up. Chad thought he should show off his alpha-male status by throwing 100 MPH fastballs at me. During WARM-UPS.
I struggled to catch each one and a number of them zoomed right past me. The ones I did catch left a huge bruise on my left hand. My mitt couldn’t stop the damage of his sizzling warm-up throws.
That was enough for me to quit. I got home, showed my dad my bruised and broken meat-paw, and told him I had no desire to do this in 100-degree weather all summer. I felt sore and defeated.
He actually took it better than I thought he would. Likely because he wouldn’t have to sit out in the blazing heat watching my games all summer. He put an ad in the classifieds to sell my like-new waterbed and I put a halt to my medallion shopping to focus on my comedic talents.
Fast forward 20 years. I was now a real estate agent looking to increase my sphere of influence. I had been turned on to a new website called Myspace. I quickly learned that being funny made more random strangers far more likely to accept a friend request from Jason Provencio, RE/MAX Agent.
I was posting ridiculous, funny status updates that everyone seemed to enjoy laughing at. I built a following of almost 19,000 mostly local virtual friends. Some turned into clients and I sold homes to them. It didn’t hurt being a funny, locally-popular funny guy on Myspace.
I carried my following over to Facebook once it became apparent that Myspace was headed in the direction of pay phones and fax machines. I was able to keep building my social media following on Facebook and Instagram. Once again, I felt popular by being fairly clever and funny.
When I started writing for a living, I still felt that humor would play an important part in my writing success. My goal was to be the Dave Barry/Samuel L. Jackson of bloggers. I want to write as well as Dave while being able to say “motherfucker” as often as Sam.
I love everything about writing, especially when I’m able to use humor in a piece of writing. I’ve built a following here on Medium of over 8900 followers in 14 months. I adore the other writers I’ve gotten to know and interact with.
However, with solid, regular growth comes a few problems. It’s getting harder and harder to return each and every comment I receive with a comment back of my own. This is when I started worrying about popularity not being a good thing.
I am committed to building my blog following to whatever level it is destined to reach over the years. But I’m not looking forward to the day I’ll be unable to comment back on every comment I receive. The idea of this happening makes me feel bad.
This is why I don’t want to be a rock star in writing. Reaching a certain level of popularity and beyond has its downside. I’d rather be the Dave Barry of writing than the Mick Jagger of it.
I want to be talented like Dave and write something awesome and funny every day. He was a nationally syndicated humor writer for the Miami Herald from 1983 to 2005. I read him in the Record Searchlight, the local newspaper we had growing up in Redding, California.
Dave’s daily column was an important part of my daily newspaper reading regimen. It ranked right up there with the sports page and the lingerie section of the JC Penney ads.
Dave made me laugh. Dave was a funny dude. Dave was well-respected and enjoyed all over the country. He didn’t have to worry about groupies showing up at his home and his wife having to hit him over the head with a rolling pin, while a bump slowly rose from his noggin.
That is what I want at this stage of my life. I want everyone to be able to enjoy my writing, to have a few laughs, and to know that if they leave me a comment, there’s a likely chance they’ll get one back from me.
That is what will make me feel like a success as I keep at this Writer’s Journey of mine. I don’t need a waterbed, a gold medallion, or groupies. Just y’all. &:^)
About the Creator
71x Top Writer on Medium. I love blogging about family, politics, relationships, humor, and writing. Read my blog here! &:^)
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