Essay, Life


I worked a children’s Disney show this weekend, so obviously I oscillated between “I hate kids, why do we insist on putting the future into their jam-sticky, gremlin hands?” and “Oh that kid is so cute!”

And because I was surrounded by kids, I began thinking about him. The original little jam-sticky gremlin. The original “that kid is so cute”. The original two-foot-tall Tower of Terror.


Sometimes, I think that I would love to be a dad someday. And then I remember what I was like as a child. I was an overly-coiffed, under-socially aware, little know-it-all. Seriously, I was kind of an asshole. Like, I’m an asshole now, but back then (circa 2000) I had no idea the level of my asshole-ness.

And for some reason, a memory popped into my head. In the middle of third grade, I switched schools. We had moved houses the previous August, but I was just now being integrated into the local elementary school. And obviously, as such, I was ready for anything*.

*I was in no way prepared; again, I was eight years old.

In my new school, I was the new kid. And since everyone else had been going there since kindergarten (obviously a lifetime), they all knew each other and I was this strange, primped beast. I didn’t really make a lot of friends in elementary school because A) I was superbly gay even back then, and it was a Catholic school and B) I was superbly aloof.

But this memory doesn’t particularly have to do with me being aloof. I was sitting in Mrs. Angelo’s** third-grade class, chatting with Lucy Duffy**, who had a weird birthmark on her arm, but other than that was just kind of a maniac.

**Names have been changed for anonymity, I guess? I doubt they care.

Mrs. Angelo was a tall, slim ribbon of a woman, with teased, jet black hair and a cake-face of white foundation and dark, Gothic lips. Seriously, even as an eight-year-old, I knew that I was dealing with a member of the undead. She also assigned a lot of homework for being a third-grade teacher.

Anyway, I was talking with Lucy, and spouting off the kind of nonsense that kids do.

Me: I think I’ll change my name.

Lucy: Do it!

Me: My middle name is Patrick, so I wanna be called “Rick.”

Even thinking back on this, I cringe a little. Mostly at the idiocy of being a child. I never really liked being a child because I think I always knew how little power I had. And how dumb I was. But also at that god-awful nickname. But, it was 2003 and it was a different time.

Coming off of the band-wagon that was the late ‘90s, I was dead-convinced that the epitome of cool were those cheesy, awkward 90s-00’s white-boy nicknames. “Bobby” was a big hit for me. “Jake,” “Chad” and “Billy” were some other gems. So “Rick” was not entirely unprecedented.

Apparently early 2000s hyper-masculine names were incredibly appealing to me then.

I thought “Rick” was infinitely cool until it was explained to me that nicknames didn’t really work like that. At that point, I was being called “Daniel” fulltime. I had not yet reached my stage of wanting to be “casual and cool” (aka 12), which is when I first started going by Danny. So for those few brief moments in third-grade, I was someone other than Daniel. I was Rick. I was a god.

Sometimes I think about what my life would be like if I were straight. And Rick became the manifestation of that. I think about what he would be doing if he were a real person. What kind of guy he would be. What kind of human he would be.

So I wrote out a little list of what Rick would be like:

1). Embarrassed of the name Rick, and change it to Ricky

2). Love muscle-tanks

3). Slap two pieces of pizza together and call it a pizzandwich

4). Be a ladies’ man

5). Be kind of a tool

6). Love Dr. Dre’s Beats headphones (like a lot; idk why this is so specific)

7). Be really into Survivor

Straight Rick sounds a lot like Gay Danny, except with a slightly less firm grip on reality, and probably a slightly stronger BO. Just kidding, I sweat like a pig. Just kidding(?).

I’m also sick right now, and I can’t tell if it’s allergies or a cold. Could it be both? Could I possibly have that bad of karma? Let’s not answer that. Let me live in ignorance. And igno-dance the night away.

I’ll end this. This is going on too long. I’ll end it. Or will I? I will. I promise. I swear.



      • Most eight year olds are terrors! But you being a cute, sweet loving kid helped! I remember taking you three ice skating when your sisters were in girl scouts and you held my hand to help me around so that I wouldn’t fall. You were probably around eight then. A terror wouldn’t do that!


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