2010: I blame myself. So does Nigh Perfect. It’s what keeps our marriage intact.
I was chatting to my dear old Mum in Britain the other day, trying to explain what it is I actually do for a living. Describing my various roles on the CybeRacers production induced the same kind of reaction I got when I told her that someday I would like to be a professional Jai Alai player. (I remember when I told her that last month – she sounded really confused). The point is I tend to do a lot of really crazy shit and have a lot of crazy jobs. But that pales in insignificance when compared to five jobs I narrowly avoided, and which I’d like to tell you about in a coincidental little spot I am urged to call…
Five Jobs I Narrowly Avoided
I don’t know, Chums… I really don't. I am attracted to strange events as if aliens somehow pulled me from my bed one night and surgically implanted a Weird Magnet in my abdomen. Weird seems to find me. I seem to find Weird. People seem to find me Weird. It all evens out, I suppose.
For some reason people assume that because I write comics and am British, I must have a natural aptitude for just about everything. Which, as my Nigh Perfect wife will cheerfully and quickly point out, is not even close. Nevertheless, this does not stop people from just coming up to me and asking me to do weird stuff for them, such as ironing their clothes, or turning the minds of America’s Youth into Jello during a career day.
Which leads me to Stupid Job #1:
I am really not sure why but my old neighbors in Roswell, GA, liked me. And it came as no surprise when Nice Neighbor Joan knocked on our front door one evening to politely inquire if I would consider DJ’ing her daughter’s wedding because I have “earrings and therefore know a lot about music”. Now to someone like me, this is like asking if I would like to sing the National Anthem at a NASCAR race – it’s like entertainment crack. I looked at my wife with the Bambi-like eyes of a five year-old kid.
“Please, Nigh Perfect? Pretty Please?”
I was lucky enough for this to be one of the days Nigh Perfect had been sniffing paint thinner because for some reason she also thought this was a genius and hilarious idea (we were only recently married at the time and she hadn’t yet plumbed the depths of my stupidity). And so with no formal training and absolutely no sound gear whatsoever, I found myself a week later heading towards a very proper Georgia wedding reception with a bunch of old punk rock CD’s, an increasingly nervous wife and grin on my face the size of Texas. And if you think the possibilities are hilarious, the reality was oh-so much better.
I actually got to do all that crazy shit they do at weddings, like announce the arrival of the bride and groom for their first dance, and introduce the speeches. Even better, I made up a few fun wedding bits of my own.
“Well, folks… next up we have the traditional dance of the groom’s best friend and the caterers. Please form a conga line and we’ll start with that old Russian Standard, The Song of the Volga Boatman!”
And the best part about it was that simply because I have a British accent, the guests would dutifully line up as the best man and some random serving girl waltzed clumsily about the floor. I did this for four hours, while playing the roughly twelve songs I had brought with me a total of nineteen times each.
And did I alienate Nice Neighbors Joan and David? Nope. They invited me to DJ again whenever they could marry off Daughter #2.
Paul Jenkins: Best Color Commentator in the Business
This one falls into the realms of the Outrageously Weird. Though it makes no sense to you, and it makes no sense to me, it apparently made sense to someone from the Turner Television Network.
As a brief preface: before I blew out my knee I used to play with one of the Atlanta Silverbacks amateur teams. The Silverbacks are pretty much the biggest soccer organization in this area. They even have a stadium!
I do recall one time standing around by the beer concession stand watching a pro game and having their Director of Operations ask me if I would consider doing the stadium’s play-by-play because I am a “comic” and I “have a British accent”. Now, that kind of miscommunication always plays into my dastardly hands, and despite being three sheets to the wind roaring drunk, I agreed to this unlikely plan. But someone must have informed the poor person that I am not a comic but in fact write comics, and so nothing much came of it.
Or so I thought.
A few weeks later I happened to be in Vancouver working on the Prototype video game when I received a call. Strangely, this call was piped through to the main office of the developer. Someone had tracked me down.
“Hello, is this Paul Jenkins? The comic?
“Well… yes. Yes it is.” “The same Paul Jenkins who does play-by-play for the Atlanta Silverbacks?”
“Yes, that’s the one.”
“Hello, Mister Jenkins, this is (Confused Dude) and I work for Turner Broadcasting. Our color commentator for our soccer matches has come down sick and he’s had to cancel for one of our A-League soccer matches this week and we’re wondering if you could take the job at short notice?”
“Why, yes. Yes I could.”
“Excellent! It’ll be live on TNT!”
SEE ALSO: What Sleuth Are You?
I will admit, Chums, that for a brief moment I got a bit nervous. I mean with absolutely no previous experience I was going to have to go on television and say inane things about what I’d just witnessed. I thought hard for a moment about the particular Jenkins style of color commentary I’d dreamed about bringing to the masses for all those years:
Play-By-Play Guy: “And it’s a goal! Terrific shot! Right into the top corner! And that makes it one-nil to Atlanta!”
Me: “That’s right, Bob! And if the score remains this way until the end of the match, I’d say Atlanta are favorites to win! It’s a game of two halves, though, so anything’s possible!”
Can you imagine, Chums, how excited I was to be subsequently informed that the match would be between the Atlanta Silverbacks and the Vancouver Whitecaps? I was in Vancouver! How amazingly coincidental!
And do you know why I did not provide color commentary live on the TNT network for a match between Atlanta and Vancouver?
Because the fucking game was played that night in Atlanta. Clothes by Benetton, Shoes by Gucci…
Hair by Dipshit of Cumming
One Summer afternoon a few years ago, I thought I’d go by the local mall and take my friend, Megan, out to lunch before heading off to play golf that afternoon. So, I threw on my khaki trousers and a nice white shirt (the only clothes I own that do not have a picture of Ren and Stimpy on them) and headed off towards Toni & Guy, where Megan worked at the time.
When I got there, she was busy finishing up a haircut and so I sat around in the foyer looking suitably bored, and fretted about missing my tee time. Naturally, a couple of somewhat attractive ladies began to stare at me… and then, of course, the shameless flirting began. One of the ladies began to flick her hair around, suggestively. Obviously trying to get my attention: it’s a curse I live with, dear Chums.
“What do you think,” asked this flirtatious minx as she pointed to a picture of Jennifer Aniston’s latest “do” in a magazine, “would this suit me?”
I decided to play along and politely informed the lady that of course she would look just like Jennifer Aniston (pre-John Mayer) and that she should go for it.
She wanted specifics: like, would it suit the shape of her face? Or should she maybe lighten her hair up a little bit? Her friend urged me to check out a couple more pictures she had found in a different magazine. Maybe I could come and sit with them for a while and look at the photos?
This was getting uncomfortable. I wondered how I could let the poor girls down easily. There really is no competition in this world for Nigh Perfect. I decided I would just give it to them straight.
Which is the very moment that God chose to show me I am a moron.
“So,” asked the Minx, “are you over here from London to teach the other hairdressers?”
“Do you do cut or color?”
You see, Chums, given my unruly “Just Got Out Of Bed” hairstyle (because I probably just got out of bed), my British accent, and the fact I was wearing a white shirt and khaki trousers just like all of the other people in the salon, the two ladies had become convinced I was, in fact, a hairdresser.
The sad and pathetic thing is that at this point I had a panic attack. I was in way over my head. I’d just spent twenty minutes unwittingly convincing myself that these two ladies respected my opinion on their hairstyles, blissfully unaware that they assumed my opinion was of the professional variety!
I did what any self-respecting moron would do: I mumbled something about being on my lunch break and escaped into the Mall.
Paul Jenkins: Available for Weddings and Bar Mitzvahs
I really don’t need to add too much to this one: sadly, the job never materialized but oh by Crackey it would have been my greatest triumph of all time:
For some reason, Melinda’s lovely friend Robin thinks I am a lot more famous than I really am. This is evidenced by the fact that she sucks up to me a lot and laughs at all my jokes.
For a while, Robin was an event coordinator for a very large multinational company – let’s sake for the sake of argument that this company was called General Electric. One day, Robin had a rather wonderful idea:
“Paul, we’re about to do our Annual Sales Awards Banquet. It’s kind of a black tie affair with all the Board Members and the CEO and the company President in attendance. I think this year it’d be really wonderful if you could host the awards.”
Yes, Chums… I was going to rent a tuxedo and actually bring my brand of sophomoric humor to the Annual Banquet of a five trillion-dollar corporation. I considered how much fun it would be to humorously accuse the CEO of boinking his secretary, or the mirthful possibilities of using a handshake buzzer every time I handed out an award. This was going to be the grooviest night of my life.
But as you already know, this potentially incredible event did not happen. Sadly, Robin lost her job before I was able to accept the gig. I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s probably because she tried to hire some random comic book writer as the Master of Ceremonies for her Annual Sales Award Banquet.
Seventeen and Already Cursed
Chums, I should have known. I should have seen the writing on the wall. Random job offers were lining up for me the minute I entered the workforce.
When I was just a wee lad – seventeen and never been kissed – I played guitar and sang in a God-awful band called Platform One. The memories of those days are hazy and involve driving around North London in search of kebabs and ultra-violent pubs. We played North London a lot. Sometimes, we even escaped without a beating.
One particularly strange evening, we four impressionable lads were sent by our agent to some kind of skinhead’s social club, whereby we proceeded to play two hours of God-awful punk music before the club’s owner would take a break. At that point we were informed that as a rule, guest bands were also required to call out the bingo numbers for the old people. The old people in question had clearly been anxiously awaiting their bingo break because they had cards and pencils at the ready.
And so in a moment of sublime surrealism, the boys of Platform One stood up on a stage and tried to work out the bingo mechanism, while at the same time trying to avoid the angry gesticulations of the assembled football hooligans at the back of the bar. Being the singer, I was given the task of calling the numbers.
Now in Britain, the old people take their bingo very seriously indeed. This is one of those “you have to understand the culture” moments, but to cut a long story short there are certain things you are required to know about bingo calling. For example, if the number “22” comes up, you are required to say, “Two little ducks: twenty-two!” Because the two numbers look like ducks, see? The number “11” is known as “Legs: eleven!”
On this particular night I had been suffering from stage fright, and since my throat had been hurting I had been drinking gin, which is my Kryptonite. I decided it would be funny – despite the fact that some insane skinheads had already informed me they were going to kill me – to mess with the old people’s heads.
“A leg and a duck: 12!”
(Old people hiss and boo)
“The Frenchman’s shame: 69!”
(Old people get testy. Skinheads begin to laugh)
“Death by aerosol can: 35!”
And so it went, dear Chums. I will confess that this story is going to peter out into nothing because I have no memory of the rest of that gin-sozzled evening, though I obviously escaped alive and was even invited by a few of the now-friendly skinheads to come back and annoy the old people again in the future. Needless to say, I agreed to their plan but did not return.
And there you have it, Chums: five tales of almost, all of which make me yearn to work retail.
I am available for weddings and bar mitzvahs. And award ceremonies.