My cousin Freddie came dressed in full pope regalia. One year my buddy’s wife Donna came as a fully functioning refriger- ator. As the party went on, I drunkenly opened her fridge front door and actually rifled through it looking for something to eat just as I would have with my real icebox at home. One year my Navy Yard co-worker Deuce came as a Christmas tree that plugged into an outlet and lit up. It was a great costume until he realized that if he was going to drink beer all night that sooner or later he has going to have to use the John. And he forgot to bring an extension cord.
No one has ever topped the year I dressed as an IRS agent. I wore a lame costume most of the evening until I wanted everyone out of my house. Then I came down my steps with my IRS badge and my guests ran for my door screaming in terror.
Every year it becomes more and more difficult to come up with a clever costume. But then I realized that this problem is much deeper than a wig and a mask. It’s me that I want to change.
Look, I am one lucky dude. As a stand- up I have worked with some of the biggest names in showbiz history like Ray Charles, Smokey Robinson and B.B. King. I have been a talk show host in my home- town for over 20 years. Most radio and TV folk have to go from city to city before they settle in. In short, I’ve been really lucky and live a cool life.
But the truth is most of my existence is a daily routine that doesn’t appear like it’s ever going to change. Eat, shave, pay bills, fight traffic, try to lose weight, argue with my wife, watch TV, watch more TV. As much as I will tell you that there is very little about my life that I would change, I want to change everything about it. Here are some examples of what I’m talking about that might better explain what I’m trying to say.
I have watched the first three Bourne films countless times. They have ruined my life. I’ll be lying like a slob in my bed with a big bowl of cheese curls teetering on my chest watching Jason drive through the streets of Paris being chased by half the country’s police. He’ll then hop a train to Switzerland. He’ll climb a completely flat wall of some building in Moscow while I’m noticing that I’ve stained my blanket with my orange cheese curl fingers. And he does all this without ever using a gun. He’s amazing. I understand that dodging bullets and being brainwashed by the CIA might get scary and weary after a while, but I would love just a couple months of living that lifestyle. If I said to my wife that I was going to be Jason Bourne and that I would be out of the country and unreachable for a couple months, she would probably ask me to show her how to use the DVR before I split. Look out Europe, here I come! See what I’m talking about? This is much more than simply donning a pirate hat.
Just so you realize there’s much more to me than just disarming nuclear missiles and such, I am also tempted to quit everything that I do, find a comfy outdoor rocking chair, and sit on my porch and wave at cars as they go by. There used to be a dude on Route 49 near Vineland on the way home from the Shore and another hipster on Route 45 near the Heritage in Mullica Hill who did just that. Sit on the porch and wave at cars. Every day. Year round. I always waved back and beeped the horn. Both of these heroes are gone now and have never been replaced. It’s a lost art. So there’s a void that needs to be filled. I know it doesn’t sound all that exciting, but it would most definitely be a mystifying career change. And mystery is my middle name. One night I’d be running my talk show and the next night I’d be gone with the wind. My shows at the Broadway Theatre in Pitman and other local venues would simply cease to exist. No tweets. No Facebook comments. No article in this magazine. Friends and fans would wonder where I disappeared to and then the story would slowly spread.
“He sits on his porch every day and waves at cars as they go by.”
People would always know where to find me. I would be a source of comfort. I’d wear a bright orange hunter’s hat with the big earflaps. Heck, I might even become really famous as my legend would spread— which would kind of defeat the purpose. Fellow Americans would drive great distances just to say they waved at me.
See what I’m getting at here? These are not costumes. These are lifestyle changes. I’m beginning to see what Caitlyn Jenner went through, minus the bra and lipstick.
When I was a kid I was fascinated with Trappist monks. I was told that they worshipped their God and never talked because they took a vow of silence. This really freaked me out since I grew up in a house where everyone was always screaming at the top of their lungs. Again, this would lead to me ceasing all that I do and my wife would have to answer all calls with, “I’m sorry, he can’t come to the phone right now, he’s praying.”
I even have a Trappist joke:
A man became a Trappist monk where he was only allowed to say two words every seven years. After seven years he was called in to Father Superior’s office where the Father asked the monk what two words did he have to say?
Another seven years went by and his next two words were,
Another seven years went by and his next two words were,
To which Father Superior replied “Good. All you ever did was complain.”
I write these articles in my kitchen. My wife was making coffee and said to me that she always wanted to be a magician. She wanted to perform that trick where I, as her loyal assistant, would get in a long box where she would then pro- ceed to cut me in half. I said “Well, that sounds pretty dangerous. I hope you know what you’re doing.” To which my wife replied, “Ah what’s the worst that could happen?”
Big Daddy Graham is a renowned stand-up comedian and overnight personality on SportsRadio 94WIP. Check out his new podcast, Big Daddy’s Classic Rock Throwdown, at BigDaddyGraham.com.
Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 7 (October, 2016).
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