This is a book about choices. Ironically, I didn’t set out to write a book about choices, meaning technically I didn’t choose to write this. Meaning (fuck), I’m kind of a hypocrite and probably shouldn’t be trusted.
This may need some explaining. Not that there’s anything complicated or highbrow in here. Far from it. But still, it could stand a little something to keep you from going “What the fuck?” every other sentence, especially when I'm only aiming for twice a page.
Also, bleeding baby dicks.
That was your first What the fuck? Sorry it was so gross. Rest assured, there aren’t any stories about bleeding baby dicks here. I repeat, there are no bleeding baby dicks anywhere in this book. If you’re some weirdo that needs more bleeding baby dicks, you can bug my friend Alexis for the whole story, but she’s a heartless crone and will probably just throw a cat at you. If you happen to be holding a baby, and your natural reflex is to shield yourself with that baby while the cat flails wildly with its claws out—and the infant you’re holding to your face is a boy infant, as they sometimes are—you might draw your own conclusions. But they would be wrong.
This is a book about choices, questionable ones in particular. Like writing bleeding baby dicks on the first page of a book. Choices that some people, or most people, or anyone not infected with a brain-eating virus, tend to shy away from. Choices that seem perfectly, obviously bad, at least on the surface. But are they really bad? Usually, yes. But not always. Sometimes they’re the best thing ever.
They’re funny little things, choices. Hundreds and thousands of nearly imperceptible tracks we switch between every day of our lives. Some mean nothing on their own yet add up to big things. Others loom monstrous in the moment but don’t amount all that much in the end. And still others involve cake, namely which flavor to eat for lunch instead of a salad.
Others include (but not necessarily in this book): Should I go to the bathroom at home or wait until work? Should I have children? Whole milk or two percent? “What? There’s fetal chicken on the menu? Should we try it?” Is it wise to let a fisherman believe I steal cars for a living? Should I steal cars for a living?
Also, is it wrong to falsely suggest I may be a close, personal friend of Barack Obama to get a discount on a psychic reading? Is successfully receiving a discount on said psychic reading an indicator that I should probably find a new and better psychic? Is it a good idea to sneak up behind wild armadillos and pet them?
That one I’ll go ahead and answer. It’s a great idea.
And right there is another choice. Do I go off on a tangent about how armadillos are known carriers of leprosy? Should I recount the day I discovered that icky fact after literally years of stalking armadillos while they rummaged in the Florida dirt, utterly blind to their being hunted by a teenager with an armadillo fetish? And furthermore, why choose the word fetish? That makes my perfectly natural fascination with the armadillo sound like a sexual thing, which I assure you it is not. Not even with the ones that look like Darth Vader from behind. Which is all of them.
To top it off, do I now choose to somehow tie this whole rambling mess together, to make a point about how one person’s Damn Fine Choice! is another’s How the Fuck Did I Get Leprosy? And how, as far as I'm concerned, neither one is particularly right or wrong? And of particularly particular importance, does it really matter anyway?
That’s what this is all really about, when you get down to it. Whatever direction you choose, whichever seemingly crazy choice you commit to, you’re always right. Or never right, rather, because there is no right. Only what feels right. Right and real and honest. Even if you get leprosy. Because let’s be right and real and honest here, we’ve all got Obamacare now, so everyone can please stop whining that I gave them leprosy and go get a penicillin shot.
This book is about doing what feels right, about following your intuition, no matter how weird/stupid/pointless it may seem to anyone else. Those people aren’t you, after all, so how can they know what’s in your best interest? Despite any argument to the contrary, it’s a rare thing for any living person to know you better than you know yourself. Not even if you once journeyed through the various tubes of that person’s crotch.
Please note I said living person. If great-grandma Josephine floats into your bedroom tonight wrapped in a prom dress made from the sun, you might want to do whatever the fuck she tells you. Especially if it’s to give this book another shot (not everyone makes it past bleeding baby dicks).
To be clear, there are limits to this whole Do What Feels Right thing. I don’t advise that you sell your kids to finance a secondhand rocket launcher to blow up an ex’s wedding, no matter how right it feels. If your right hurts yourself or anyone else, then by all means do what feels wrong.
When my wife Kate and I decided to move to Thailand in 2014 with our labradoodle Chloe, sacrificing good jobs and our beloved Berkeley apartment in the process, lots of people, very important people, thought we were crazy. “Not enough hookers for you in San Francisco?” some of them asked, perhaps imagining some large, hook-nailed variety of Southeast Asian armadillo I would spend my time petting.
Those poor, poor fools. Thailand has bigger, more exciting game, after all. Like tigers, for Chrissakes. And mango farmers. I’d sneak up and tickle the shit out of a mango farmer, then eat all the mangoes he dropped. Because nobody can manage an armload of mangoes and a surprise tickle attack, not at the same time. That’s just science. Armadillos only poop when you tickle them, which is considerably less delicious than mangoes on pretty much every kind of lunch cake. That’s also science.
It got really awkward when the Thai army unexpectedly took over the government a few months before we left. Now they’ll come to their senses, our Very Important People assumed. Surely Kate and I would acknowledge how thoughtless and irresponsible we were being and move somewhere safer, like—I don’t know—Orlando. Or San Bernardino. Or Las Vegas. Especially now there were guys with machine guns in the picture. But no, we went anyway. It felt right.
It’s about that too, this book. Moving to Thailand in the middle of a revolution. Which, incredibly, turned out to be a pretty good idea, one we would never have considered had we been stuck on the “smart” choice. To be fair, we did nearly die at one point, but come on. You can be violated by a tiger anywhere. Didn’t you see The Revenant? Yeah, that was a bear, but still. Same size genitals. Probably. And I’m sorry, Leonardo DiCaprio, after our run-in with the tiger I can honestly say I saw your bear coming a mile away. Or would have, if they hadn’t CG’d it out.
But that’s life, right? Lions and tigers and bears (oh shit!). There’s some of that in here too. Tigers, that is. And shit. It couldn’t be avoided. Not that I’d choose to anyway.