Scaring the neighbors

Posted in Uncategorized by Sean Holton on September 16, 2009
The Mask

Bad Ass

The Reality
Crazy Ass

I think I’m starting to scare the neighbors.

The problem with this radiation deal is that after more than three weeks of it now, it’s making the right side of my head really red and puffy. Most of the beams the docs are zapping me with are coming in from that direction. The area around my right eye is scorched red and almost completely numb. It swells up — some days worse than others. The other day I looked in the mirror first thing in the morning and that eye was staring back at me like it wasn’t even part of me. It looked more like it belonged to a rabid pit bull that had eaten its way into my body during the night and was angrily looking back out at me through my own eye socket.

I don’t at all mind walking around the house like this in front of friends. The other morning, my brother Brian and my buddy Dave caught me wandering around my (very private) backyard in my underwear, brushing my teeth and just taking in the fresh morning air. Enjoying another day of life and all that. (And if you remember back to my post about my session with a nutritionist, I’m under orders to get 15 minutes of sun each day with my shirt off to keep my Vitamin D levels high. So I try to combine that time with eating breakfast and teeth-brushing). But with my close-cropped hair, scraggly beard, pallid complexion and generally dazed look, Brian and Dave said I reminded them of one of those Vietnam P.O.W.s who’d been rescued years after the end of the war but who’d refused to come back to the U.S. because staying in ‘Nam to run drugs or something was just too sweet of a gig. Substitute the phrase “brain cancer patient” for “Vietnam P.O.W.”, and maybe that’s not too far from the truth about my attitude toward life these days.

Anyway, the complexities arising from this recent change in my appearance are most pronounced when it’s time to go out into the front yard, or anywhere else in public. My options for presenting myself boil down pretty much to two choices: I can be Bad Ass or I can be Crazy Ass. I’ve included mugshots of each look so you can judge for yourself, but I think we can all agree that both options are pretty scary for different reasons.

Bad Ass looks like the guy in those annoying Brinks Home Security commercials who, for reasons that have nothing to do with how crimes are actually committed in real life, lurks outside some attractive, middle-class  mom’s home as she plays in the backyard with her young daughter. Instead of just bursting through the unsecured privacy fence and attacking right then, Bad Ass for some reason waits until they go back inside the house so he can break down the front door and set off the Brinks alarm. Then, while Bad Ass flees the scene, the stone-jawed, blue-eyed guy wearing a phone headset at Brinks Central Command can alert the police within seconds and assure Hot Mom that everything will be okay. Anyway, I’m thinking my Bad Ass outfit should just come with a head-mounted Brinks Home Security horn that will automatically be activated any time I look at anyone. As scary as Bad Ass looks, I usually go out as him when I go to the hospital or run errands — because despite feeling people bristle and turn away in fear when they see me, at least it’s not as bad as the reaction I get when I go out as…

…Crazy Ass. Now, Crazy Ass looks like the kind of guy who has prepared a massive class-action lawsuit against the EPA, the Federal B.I, the CIA, the DEA, the Homeland Security Administration and the Warren Commission and has all of his allegations written up real legal-like in block letters, red-felt-tip, all caps, on the back of an ABC Liquors cash-register receipt. Crazy Ass has plenty of time to tell you everything you want to know about his blockbuster lawsuit, if you don’t mind giving him a buck so he can go catch the Lynx bus to the federal courhouse to file it. And he promises not to go past ABC Liquors and spend any money there on the way to the bus stop. In a weird way, people generally are even more afraid of Crazy Ass than they are of Bad Ass. With guys like Bad Ass, you just avoid eye contact, cross your fingers and move on. Five minutes later, you’ve forgotten you even crossed paths with him. But with guys like Crazy Ass, there is nothing BUT eye contact. Full, inescapable eye contact that is burned into your memory for the rest of your life.

All I know is that it’s a helluva choice to have to make for me. I don’t think I’m really any more vain about my appearance than the next person is. But I am the kind of guy who generally likes to smile, wave and say hello to strangers on the street or at the store and maybe even start a conversation if they seem interesting. But I can’t do that either as Bad Ass or Crazy Ass. So I’m just going to have to put that part of my life on hold for now. 

There’s one exception to that unpleasant reality: When I’m inside the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, there are no Bad Asses or Crazy Asses. There are just people who are dealing with the physical effects not only of cancer but of the various treatments to kill it. We all know the deal, and even though we all may look messed up in one way or another we’re not judging each other on appearances.

Lots of people there are scared. But no one is scared of each other.

(photo credit: Dave Noland)


25 Responses

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  1. bluedevil said, on September 16, 2009 at 8:18 am

    Bucket, some of us always knew Bad Ass and Crazy Ass were in there all along. The bright side is the opportunity to explore your many rich complexities. We love you no matter what kind of ass you decide to be.:-)

  2. Ann Hellmuth said, on September 16, 2009 at 8:22 am

    I think you look good either way. Hey just think about it. You could be one of those “forever young” types with botox and facelifts trying to beat back the years and looking like something from Madame Tussauds..

  3. Gene Kruckemyer said, on September 16, 2009 at 10:29 am

    Why limit yourself to just two personalities? Sybil had more than a dozen. With different accessories and clothing, you could take turns being all of these…

    * Sybil Isabel Dorsett (1923), the main personality
    * Victoria Antoinette Scharleau (1926), nicknamed Vicky, self-assured and sophisticated
    * Peggy Lou Baldwin (1926), assertive, enthusiastic, and often angry
    * Peggy Ann Baldwin (1926), a counterpart of Peggy Lou but more fearful than angry
    * Mary Lucinda Saunders Dorsett (1933), a thoughtful, contemplative, maternal, homeloving person
    * Marcia Lynn Dorsett (1927), an extremely emotional writer and painter
    * Vanessa Gail Dorsett (1935), intensely dramatic
    * Mike Dorsett (1928), one of Sybil’s two male selves, a builder and a carpenter
    * Sid Dorsett (1928), the second of Sybil’s two male selves, a carpenter and a general handyman
    * Nancy Lou Ann Baldwin (date undetermined), interested in politics as fulfilment of biblical prophecy and intensely afraid of Roman Catholics
    * Sybil Ann Dorsett (1928), listless to the point of neurasthenia
    * Ruthie Dorsett (date undetermined), a baby and one of the less developed selves
    * Clara Dorsett (date undetermined), intensely religious and highly critical of Sybil
    * Helen Dorsett (1929), intensely afraid but determined to achieve fulfilment
    * Marjorie Dorsett (1928), serene, vivacious, and quick to laugh
    * The Blonde (1946), a nameless perpetual teenager

  4. Michael Blumfield said, on September 16, 2009 at 10:34 am

    Sean, I think you’re overlooking the obvious opportunity that your chance in appearance presents. As Bad Ass, you now have a whole new group of people to hang with: bikers! I recommend wearing your bandana and shades to the nearest biker bar and bring along that shot of Dylan sitting on his Triumph, looking like the chess club president forced to ride a motorcycle by the football team. Instant camaraderie! You can let them weigh in on the scorn of him riding an English bike instead of a Hog, get their views of the whole Cheney-vs-Dylan great-American issue,and get ’em to buy you a Bud or two by going over your interpretation of how it’s a good nutritional substitute for merlot.

  5. fish said, on September 16, 2009 at 11:59 am

    When i was bald, i wore a baseball cap every day except for a couple of times when i wore a pink wig, which may have been cute but made me feel ridiculous and annoyed my head. i could tell that even with the cap hiding my bald head, a couple of folks at work were pretty uncomfortable with it. So, me being me, i’d take the ball cap off around them. heh.

    But you’re nicer than i am, Sean!!

  6. heather said, on September 16, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    hi, you don’t know me, but i know fish 🙂 loved your writing and how brave you are to be so open and self-deprecating in your humor.
    and the fact that your friends give you shit, (blue devil’s response was hilarious!) must mean that you have good friends!
    best wishes on your recovery, h.

  7. claudine hellmuth said, on September 16, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    I think you look great either way but my vote is for Bad Ass!!!!

    PS I hate those brinks commercials with a passion!!! Have you seen the new one where the woman’s boyfriend breaks down the door? these people really need to get better quality doors. I have never seen a door so easy to kick in.

  8. Mark Boeh said, on September 16, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    I’ve been doin bad ass for years and gettin away with it, but on you crazy ass looks good. Sean, you should go with it. Spend the day being an obnoxious pan handler. Stop people and ask for stupid directions. Sit down on a park bench with two old ladies. Wander around that park with a bottle of Coke in a paper sack. Have some fun, what the hell

  9. Mark Boeh said, on September 16, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    Oh I forgot put Dave in a white smock and have him take you back to the home. HHHHAAAAAAA

  10. Jamie said, on September 16, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    I’ll believe crazy ass when you start writing this blog in circles winding ever inward towards the center of the page. Now Bad Ass might be a good reason to take up riding Harleys.

  11. Sue Holton said, on September 16, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    Hi Sean, this is Elizabeth. I like the pictures you sent and I like Crazy Ass. How are you feeling? How are Chopper and Caley? Who do they like better?

    Hi Sean, now this is Julia, I like Bad Ass!

    It’s Sue now and I vote for Bad Ass too , I think it’s that super Italian look I go for.
    I love how you are brushing your teeth outside now, a lot more fun than doing it indoors. Perhaps I’ll try that on our next sunny day.

  12. maxtrue said, on September 16, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    You look the natural bad ass Sean. I agree with MB that you fit nicely now into the biker mold. You just need some loud tattoos and a leather vest. I guess Halloween eve should make you feel more comfortable with getting out of the house.

    I wonder if accupuncture might relieve any pain you have without hampering any chemical regime, but some good recovery time after this scorched head policy is over will restore your good looks. You remind me of that guy on cable who makes custom bikes.

    It is amazing how much appearance works. Keep telling yourself you have one more round with mean Joe Frasier who keeps nailing your with that left hook.

    To make you remember the good old days based on your posted recollections, I found this:

    I guess it was more inspiring back then. Now its more like “No We Can’t”. But don’t you forget, “Yes You Can” battle bruises and all.

  13. Pat & Becky said, on September 16, 2009 at 8:59 pm

    Wow. So many possibilities here!

    “Biker” is an obvious “Bad Ass” choice. “Pirate” comes in a close second. Both would be easy transformations with the bandana in place. Last choice, “Axl Rose”. (OK, not bad ass…just BAD)

    However…as I think about “the past” many of us share via “Holton Parties’….I gotta say that “Crazy Ass” gets my obvious vote!

    In the realm of/the History of “Crazy Ass”….two words come to mind immediately.

    These two words should be all that you need to hear to know FULL WELL what you need to do:

    “Kitty Belly”.

  14. ColoradoBob said, on September 16, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    There is a 3rd option.

    Shave all the hair, and go for the really old baby look.

  15. paul lester said, on September 16, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    I agree with Gene, you should explore as many personalities as possible. However, if I had to pick between the two, I would choose Crazy Ass…mostly because you could have more fun freaking people out also because I’m bald too! Hang in there, man. You are almost done! God bless!

  16. Wayne F said, on September 16, 2009 at 11:55 pm

    I would choose Crazy Ass. Crazy Ass compliments your sense of humor. I wish I could be Crazy Ass on occasion. Glad you are upbeat and approaching the finish line.

  17. Mike Thomas said, on September 17, 2009 at 12:14 am

    If I saw Crazy Ass at Publix, I’d quietly and without making eye contact remove my children from the store and flee back to the burbs in my Prius.
    If I saw Bad Ass, I’d say, “How’s it goin, man.”
    Bad Ass is harmless unless he catches you with his woman, or you back into his motorcycle or you have a big, fat wallet in your pocket and there are no witnesses.
    Crazy Ass, well, who knows what will set him off and what he’s liable to do. That pit bull in his head may order him to attack.

  18. Kelly J Fent said, on September 17, 2009 at 10:15 am

    P&B’s mention of “Kitty Belly” immediately took me back to that house in Westport.

    I vividly remember the night of the notorious hachet-throwing contest. Hurling our weapons of minimal destruction at the stairway support beam, I saw a glimpse of things to come. That night, laughing maniacally, you were transformed into a double threat – Crazy Bad Ass!

    You and I, of course, won the respective men’s and women’s divisions. That’s a title I will always hold dear.

  19. Nancy Pate said, on September 17, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    I’m thinking David Axelrod’s evil twin, either way. Get people taking health care reform seriously!

  20. Mike Weatherford said, on September 18, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    The third choice is clear. It has been well-proven that you can’t help but smile at a man in a nacho-shell hat.

  21. Denise said, on September 25, 2009 at 12:12 am

    Better a bad ass or crazy ass than a dumb ass, which no one could ever accuse you of being.

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