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Never trust a naked bus driver

PDF One of my high school teachers was Mr. Dwayne Manson. In addition to more academic perusals, Mr. Manson also displayed an outrageous sense of humor, for example loudly stating on a Friday afternoon, “I just can’t wait to go home and have myself a nice, cold, frosty glass of – gravy.” In that spirit, he also read from Jack Douglas’s book, “My Brother was an Only Child.” This book consisted of short sideways-humor pieces, such as, for example, “Chapter 19. The hell with Chapter 19! Every book has a Chapter 19! This one isn’t gonna have one!” I always did appreciate this outlook, so that, several years later, when I came across this book (from 1961), I purchased it, and was not disappointed. I recently ran across it again in a box in my storage shed and gleefully re-read it.

Mr. Douglas was a humorist who wrote not only books but also for TV, specifically Jack Paar (Johnny Carson’s predecessor, for you younger viewers – oh yeah, Mr. Carson was Jay Leno’s predecessor). Just think of this type of humor as enjoyed by the cast of “Mad Men.”

Upon re-reading, my impression of Mr. Douglas’s writing is sort of Richard Brautigan with a lot more in-your-face impulsivity. So here’s an example: “Chapter 5: Department of Better Understanding: ‘The Geisha Girl.’ The Japanese Geisha girl has one mission in life – the entertainment of men. Her role is unknown in Western civilization and is widely misunderstood. Most of us picture the geisha girl as a prostitute.” Here’s another from a chapter called “Just Announced.” “An organization called Sports Cars, Anonymous. It’s for guys who are trying to break the habit. Any time a member gets the urge to drive a sports car, he calls a fellow member, who comes over and sells him a motorcycle.” One more: “Chapter 15: If you follow the advice, ‘If you drink, don’t drive,’ how are you going to get home?” (obviously before the whole “Designated Driver” thing).

Some of the longer pieces are stories which go in several directions at once, very avant-garde. I would warn that some of the material is quite dated, but I’d recommend it anyway. Fun read.

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