By Sean Wilkinson
People are always stopping me in the street, saying, “Sean! Where do you come up with all these great Cheery Monologues? What’s your inspiration? How did you get so damn funny?”
“Well,” I say to them, “It all started over a year ago…”
I was working a dead-end job at a print shop, dreading every day’s drive into the sorry-ass mill town I hated and drinking myself silly in my favorite bar every night (R.I.P., Free Street Taverna). My savior was my writing. Every day, I spent hours writing about the shitty things going on around me in that absurd place. About being hung-over and dealing with the two inefficient morons who were apparently trying to run the business into the ground. About lofty subjects like 20-pound lobsters in bars and shitty fast-food sandwiches. People responded to my writing with enthusiastic comments of support, both online (through Blogspot.com) and in real life, and it became for me both an escape from my rather destructive lifestyle and a reminder that there were better things out there and that my mind had not yet completely turned to mush.
One of those “better things out there” was born at the old bar, as a group of us talked excitedly about creating our own publication – a publication that would fill the gaping hole where Portland used to have real, honest, irreverent, local, entertaining and hard-hitting journalism. The Bollard was born out of these talks, and The Bollard has been here in Portland for a year now. During The Bollard‘s existence, I have changed jobs to one that pays well and doesn’t involve homophobic sexual harassment from 50-year-old men; I’ve changed my lifestyle to one that doesn’t involve waking up wondering where I am and how I got there; and I’ve been lucky enough to have a perfect partner through it all in my amazing girlfriend, for whom I still need to come up with a snazzy nickname (everyone thinks the name Cowgirl is really fucking lame… Don’t blame me. I was just lampooning).
What The Bollard has done for my writing, though, is to offer me a well-read, public forum. More people read my work, so I’m pushed to make it better and more consistent. More people respond to my work, so I learn what it is in my writing that entertains. More people ask me when the next one is coming, so I’m learning about meeting deadlines, loose as they may be (this one is a couple of weeks late, I’m afraid).
But it’s also let me grow into a persona that can comment on the strange things in life without having to be at the absolute bottom of the barrel to do so. Whereas before I had to spend my time in the shit pile just to comment on the dung fly, I’m now happy to observe others frolicking in the pile without joining in myself. This has opened up a whole new world of shit piles…
One of my favorite Monologues (and here is where this installment becomes like a recap clip show) was the Christmas decorations episode. Here is a good example of me reveling in being miles away from a particular shit pile:
“In a bizarre twist, as if all this isn’t one big, glowing, flashing distraction from the religious story behind the celebration, let’s make sure we get a full nativity scene out in that yard – preferably at half-scale, because there’s nothing quite as creepy as three midget Wisemen looking over a football-sized Baby Jesus®. Throw some real hay in the manger for authenticity. And if you can, position this idyllic little scene directly under the giant image of our God, with his long white beard, black boots, red-and-white suit and green-gloved hand flapping from the compressed air fluttering through his nine-foot body.”
Oh, heavens. Comedy gold, I tell you. Gold!
I’m also grateful for the situations I find myself in the middle of. Let’s not forget the No-Pants Party. (If any of you have forgotten this, please start catching up on the Cheery Monologue archives now.) The No-Pants Party was truly a classic: ” We walked in and encountered a lithe young man in a Superman outfit, sans pants. He wore thick glasses and had a mop of unruly, slightly greasy hair. He pranced across our path, then stopped, shuffled in place lightly from foot to foot, whispered a timid ‘e-excuse me,’ and as we stepped aside, proceeded to complete his pranced lap around the apartment. A light trot, if you will.”
Cheery Monologues is just a small part of The Bollard, and it’s a small part of why I’m happy this publication has come into existence and prospered for the last year. I’m proud to spread the word about our local news-and-views endeavor and watch our site’s hits go up. I’m proud to hear that someone read my column and thought it was funny or interesting – or boring or offensive, so long as they’re reading and reacting.
I’m proud to see Bollard stickers on cars whose owners I don’t know. And on lightposts, bikes, parking meters, and bars.
I’m proud to say I work for The Bollard, and I am appreciative of all the hard work our editor and publisher, Chris Busby, has done every day for the past year – from gathering news stories to selling ads to editing everything that comes to you on the site. I’m looking forward to the coming years, to watching The Bollard grow and evolve, and to lending my help in making that happen.
And I promise the next Cheery Monologues will be funny.