Chapter 16: Full Retard


Chapter XVI: Full Retard

Next up, New Castle, Indiana—the place in which I was tragically born.

First stop: Caroline’s dad’s house in Knightstown, Indiana… or somewhere in that vicinity. This house is out in the middle of nowhere. He had moved here fairly recently with his new wife of maybe two or three years or so. Prior to this they lived in Spiceland, Indiana where Caroline was raised. There is not much nobility associated with Spiceland, Indiana. Periodically, there will be some random person who just shows up out of nowhere and possesses a vast amount of knowledge about Spiceland, IN—and these people always seem to appear in the most unexpected places during periods of Universal Disturbance—sometimes forming out of mystified clouds of fog.

Visiting Caroline’s family is always a pleasure. This is yet another fine family that I’ve had the privilege of knowing through some crazy sector of the cosmos. Through various marriages, I have had the benefit to fraternize with quite a few different families. All of my aunts and uncles marriages, my step parents, past girlfriends, friends, neighbors, from the Bassett’s to the Criscillis family, it has been gratifying to associate with so many different family gatherings.

I first established a truly meaningful relationship with her father at a football game we attended shortly after I had knee surgery; my brother happened to score two extra tickets and they were allotted to us in a different section—we hardly knew each back then, but have since developed a marvelous friendship. Also, Caroline’s brother Andy doesn’t always have the most outstanding of morals, and that’s why he and I have always gotten along. We were the ones we could cuss around, and we both smoked and some even worse habits in the past. He had quit smoking though, good for him.

Immediately upon arrival, we had to have our picture taken. I was still shaking off the cold as this part of the world was experiencing blizzard like winds and it had recently snowed 6-10 inches. At first, I was certain that I was not supposed to be in the picture; it should just be Tim, Caroline, and the kids. I felt I had no business being in that photograph, but I was told to “get in there too.”

Tim said that I had to look “normal” for this picture and I didn’t even know what that meant. So, I tried to look “normal” and altered my natural stance, which was already altered from the cold and being outside my natural habitat, in order somewhat fit in with the rest of the group. And the photo was taken, of me trying to look normal… a photo that would unknowingly change my life soon.

The following day, the photo was posted online and I eagerly anticipated viewing it. I hoped for a wonderful family photograph that I would cherish forever. Instead, I had gone Full Retard.

I barely even recognized this person. This was me attempting to appear “normal.”

I re-examined the photo I had taken of me in my natural state…

…and compared it again to the glimpse of me going full retard.

That’s when I realized all of my problems in life. All attempts I have made in life to appear “normal,” as in fit in with everybody else, I had gone full retard in the whole process. I have had my most success when I had opted to blossom as my natural self and not be concerned with appealing to others from different environments. In fact, as noticed on the Christmas Eve Needel’s Family Gathering, when I am being myself without worries of shocking or offending people, the entire scene becomes more joyful as a result; whenever I am forced to conform to standards that conflict with my own, I succumb to a depressive state and eventually go full retard.

This has applied to everything, even at work. Put me in the company of a decent looking woman where I can show off my skills, I look at least moderately presentable…

However, put me in a situation where I have to act a certain way in order to please customers I may not be fully compatible with…

Full Retard!

During this era of attempting to redefine myself, I have struggled with the conflict of whether or not I am normal or a standout. Somewhere along the lines, one side of me (possibly the Virgo side) wished to be viewed as normal. I had stated that I wanted to be exactly like everybody else and simply fit in with the rest of the world as it pertains to mainstream American culture. My goal was to eventually like TV, stop talking to myself, rid my mind of all thought processes deemed out of the ordinary, and to be completely ignored by all of society. It just sucked knowing that a good portion of my life, I not only had the capability, but in fact, held the appearance of a person mentally handicapped.

I had always suffered from the inability to disappear in a crowd. Wherever I went, people noticed I was there. The occurrence of this phenomenon I could never explain, for I always assumed I looked like everybody else; I do not have an outlandish hair style or anything of that nature. However, I had always wanted to disappear from the world without a trace and never be seen again.

Upon viewing the pictures though, I realized that I will never be perceived as normal. I could either:

A.) Act naturally without concern of shocking anybody and embrace the notion that I have certain qualities that people will notice and deem as unique. By doing so, there will always be certain individuals who shall despise my very presence.

B.) I could attempt to appear normal and everybody will still notice me and stare. They will stand around staring at me awkwardly, asking each other, “Who the fuck is that retard standing there in the back?” By doing so, there will always be certain individuals who shall despise my very presence.

This was a notion that I would ponder deeply for the duration of my trip as I further attempted to discover the place in the world in which I truly belonged.

However, because both circumstances are ultimately faced with the inevitable conclusion that people are going to despise my very presence, I sometimes find it difficult to interact with other people. If I am getting paid to do so, then I am fully capable of initiating a conversation with anybody. However, when I am not required to speak to people, I generally do not. For numerous reasons, I have assumed that nobody is even remotely interested in having a conversation with me. I feel that anytime I even sit next to somebody at a bar that I am instantly getting on that person’s nerves; should I actually speak to somebody, I would be viewed as that annoying imbecile that would be discussed among friends in the mode of: “Oh my God, this huge fucking loser just came up and started talking to me.” I feel that anytime I am talking to people, the entire time that I am speaking, they are contemplating shooting themselves in the head in order to not have to listen to me for even five more seconds.

Therefore, I have struggled with any sort of intimacy. One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to stop flinching whenever people came near me. Unfortunately, this has also been misinterpreted. I flinched one day when a friend walked past me and she responded to my actions with, “What the hell? I’m not going to beat you.” In actuality, the flinching was an effort to avoid physical contact with her because I assumed that she would be appalled if I accidentally touched her. As with all of my struggles with self assurance, there are brief periods in which these mannerisms are revoked—and I am completely uncertain which side is preferred by the majority of the population. It is probably best to assume that nobody in the world has any interest in anything I have to say and therefore I do not initiate conversation with random people I do not know, and I am not overly aggressive with embracing attraction.

The people in the Smith household gave each other kisses… on the lips even. Andy picked up Ella and kissed her on the lips several times and nuzzled noses and all of that lubby dubby bullshit. It suddenly occurred to me that I have never kissed any of these kids in my entire life and had no intentions of ever doing so. One time in my life, somebody told their child, “go give Tony a kiss,” and I was like “Hell no! Get the fuck out of here.” I don’t even remember who the hell it was. I just automatically assume that people would rather perform the tedious 14 hour task of filing their taxes than kiss me for even one second; should I give a kid a kiss in the manner everybody else did, the child would cry.

I wondered if I was in the right on this or if there was something wrong with me. It’s none of my business… I don’t give a fuck actually. One day, I found that I had fallen out of favor with the entire human race. And the next day, I shrugged and declared, “Oh well, fuck it.”

Whenever people initiate conversation with me, I am generally kind to them. I often wish that more suitable people would approach me, but I do welcome most invitations to conversation; I very rarely reject people—perhaps that is a major reason why I have been in some bizarre situations. It should be recognized that I am the easiest person to approach on Earth because I will generally participate in whatever is asked of me—especially if it is a female. I suppose it is both fortunate and unfortunate that I go through prolonged spells where nobody will even speak to me. Life might become easier if I initiated the conversation and attempted to persuade people to participate in my interests as I do theirs. But then again, there is no certainty because there is no consistency with how I am perceived by others. I am not bi-polar, but the world I live in is.

However, I have noticed that once people get to know me and realize that I am harmless, I am at least moderately tolerable in small doses. People I know well enjoy being in my presence for about an hour or two. Those who truly love me can put up with my association for sometimes up to three days. Anything after a week is highly unlikely. Whenever I am hanging out with people, my biological clock is ticking and I try to exit the premises within that 2-3 hour timeframe in order to prevent ruining their evening the same way that I ruined the above picture.

After a while of playing with the kids, watching a basketball game, and standing around looking like a full-fledged fucking retard uncertain as to what I am supposed to be doing, Andy came up to me and told me a colleague perused Facebook and confronted him with, “who the heck is Snapper Cridge and Tony Effing Neal!”

I wondered what I had posted that would cause such an outrage for I usually try to be on my best behavior on Facebook. Due to the fact that I have some Facebook friends with good Christian morals, I try to refrain from posting anything profound or too out of the ordinary. I also try to avoid politics, but I did get caught up in some of the political rants during the election. This served as substantial proof: I had never even been in the presence of this woman and she already despised my very existence. The amount of people I can freely converse with is limited and people often warn others about me beforehand.

Oh well, it’s somebody I’ll never meet and Andy apparently thought it was funny. But, that part of me that could be universally accepted still remained; I do not like shocking or offending anybody.

Index: Chapter List

Chapter 16 Soundtrack Listing:

1. Thinking Fellers Union Local 282
"Sister Hell" 3:23


2. The Church
"No Certainty Attached" 4:00

Hologram Of Baal

3. The Sea and Cake
"Bring My Car I Feel to Smash It" 4:27

The Sea and Cake

4. Butterfly Child
"Deep South" 3:44

The Honeymoon Suite

5. My Morning Jacket
"Anytime" 3:51


6. The Jim Carroll Band
"Day And Night" 2:22

Catholic Boy

7. Caetano Veloso
"Neolithic Man" 4:55


8. Harvey Danger
"Flagpole Sitta" 3:38

Where Have All the Merrymakers Gone?

9. Built to Spill
"Conventional Wisdom" 6:21

You In Reverse

10. Royal Trux
"Turn of the Century" 7:04

Cats & Dogs

11. The United States Of America
"The American Way of Love" 6:42

The United States Of America

12. Modest Mouse
"Make Everyone Happy/Mechanical Birds" 6:04

This Is a Long Drive for Someone With Nothing to Think About

13. Butthole Surfers
"The Annoying Song" 2:41

Independent Worm Saloon

14. Rangers
"Podunk Baal" 4:02

Pan Am Stories

15. Dinosaur Jr.
"Don't" 5:42


All Sections Written, Designed, and Music Compiled by Tony J. Neal


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