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You Never Forget Your First

A quarter century has come and gone...

By Chris ZPublished 4 months ago Updated 4 months ago 2 min read
Time weathers remembrances, my compositions serve as a storm shelter.

I can’t recall the date with any certainty, but I was still working on my undergrad. I can’t recall the time either, but I can recall the sun screaming overhead.

I parked my car, and approached the supermarket on foot. Some vicenarian urchin had idled his gauche SUV due fore of the main doors, impeding a shuffling septuagenarian’s access to the handicap gradient/wheelchair access ramp. Old Timer called Young Punk on his bad form. Young Punk rejoined with profane flippancy. The episode rankled me enough to record my sentiments earnestly as a rank amateur writer could.

I read my uni’s paper avidly, despite its dearth of substance. Ads for local mom-and-pops kept the lights on. Fluff pieces about sports and frats mottled most pages. Watercooler conversations passed for opinion columns.

I foisted my prose upon the paper’s editor. He praised its candor, cogency, and word economy. He published it, paid me $15, and pledged that same sum for any future submission fit to print.

Soon, most my waking hours were spent waiting for the muse’s capricious homecomings. For 2 years, give or take, I wrote, give or take, two columns per month. I received more reader replies than any contributor in the paper’s 40-year run. Alas, all good things end.

A new editor-in-chief took the reins. He promptly slashed the already insulting pay per published piece by a third. His chief subordinate functionary gutted a poignant piece I’d penned sans my knowledge or consent. My labor of love was becoming my slave labor of love.

Before long, I’d finished school. I was auditioning for commercials by then, as well as cutting my teeth on the regional standup scene. Penning punchlines left little time for scribing think pieces. Commuting to/from far-flung bar gigs left me little time for chronicling my trials and tribulations.

A quarter century has come and gone. I’ve loved and lost. I attempted to recast Renee’s role several times. Her successors proved soulless facsimiles, on par with Jimmy Buffet’s cover of Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry.” My first five years in LA went to plan; the last five saw opportunities dwindling inexorably. My 20-year standup comedy “career” ended in spring of 2020, an early COVID casualty. My long, lean frame has bent, bloated, and paled into that of a plaintive corpse fished from a baleful bog. Worry, chagrin, and loss have weathered my once guileless and unfettered smile.

Time weathers remembrances, my compositions shelter mine from it. My lyrics are my lamentations. My musings are dispatches from my psyche’s darkest circuits. My chronologies commemorate my victories, a must for someone who sees the world through Rose Madder-colored glasses. My journals will evince the manner and degree to which I lived my life post putrefaction. Barring the childishly naïve notion of “man’s immortal soul,” I know of no other way to outlive death.


About the Creator

Chris Z

My opinion column garnered more reader responses than any other contributor in the paper's 40-year run. As a stand-up comic, I performed in 16 countries & 26 states. I've written 2 one-man shows, umpteen poems, songs, essays & chronologies.

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