I, Kenneth Drybutter, was born in the first person, by my author, just after his release from the observation unit of Bedlam Hospital. He hatched me like he’s hatched so many literary turkeys before me; by self-fertilizing a stray idea tantalizingly perfumed with his egocentric pheromones. He’s very attracted to himself and his promiscuously fertile mind will impregnate any idea on two legs – as in this case, my birth as a fictional character. His creative process draws primarily from things he learned in kindergarten; where he claims he learned everything he needed to know. His stories, when read backwards, sound like a tourist complaining about the hospitality. In any event, as to my creation, he began by encasing my embryonic personality in a funny kind of eggshell filled with self conscious yolks. Hastily extruded through his literary orifice, he brooded over me until I generated enough gravity to shake a stick at. Using his pen as a sword, he delicately cracked me open like a soft boiled egg and, after scooping out the soft succulent innards, seasoned me with fresh cracked peculiarities and served me on toasted talking points. I thought I was well on my way to becoming a character in full.
Unfortunately I emerged a tasteless and under seasoned cipher, barely registering a personality. I believe the literary term is FPS or Fictional Preemie Syndrome whereby the infantile character can barely express itself owing to its suffocation by the egocentric author. I was barely 2 ounces of reptilian traits because my character gestated for a trifling 18 seconds instead of the usual 2 ½ weeks a real writer uses to flesh out his characters. I wasn’t even skin and bone. I was just bone. Consequently I rattled around the pages lacking any of the insight or foreskin required to evoke a sympathetic response with our dear readers. Incubated under heat lamps fired by copies of People Magazine, I eventually developed some semblance of an inner world and was quickly loosed on the literary landscape below. So here I am naked to the planet, but clothed in the deft keystrokes of my creator. The creator I love. Of course I love him. In the real world, don’t abused children idolize their parents’ despite the treatment they receive? Well the same dynamic holds true in the fictional world. The difference between the two being social workers. I swear if my creator were incorporated as a religion I’d worship him. I hope he continues to do what he obviously excels at and I would encourage him by telling him to “Go fertilize yourself.”
In the Faustian bargain I’ve struck to gain voice, he agreed to write a story about me if I faithfully described his creative process, such as it is. Well I’ve fulfilled my part, now it’s left to you to read on and perhaps lose your soul.
For purpose of this exercise I was born on November 31, 1974 in Greenwich Village, NY, but settled in Greenwich, England where, with the assist of dumb luck and scattershot brilliance, I’m recognized as a playwright of great import but very little export. Being raised in a traditional nuclear family of staunch Republicans, my rock ribbed experience was tempered by the fact that both parents were transsexuals. Life always seemed to present me with a series of events containing both indisputable certitude and patent absurdities. For example I’m the first one in my family to graduate from an online offshore diploma mill. Cayman Island College was the only institute of cyber learning offering degrees in Irony and in no time I was faxed a bachelor’s degree in Matrimony. To my knowledge I am their only sober graduate. As class gullidictorian, I received the honor of tweeting the online commencement address.
My sideways entry into the business of play writing was facilitated by my adoring patron – an unnamed Broadway producer. Why his parents didn’t name him I’ll never know. Unlike Prince, this unnamed Broadway producer wasn’t formerly known as anything. Apparently his school boy admiration of my trim muscular outline caused his heart to go pitter patter and caused my mundane work to be passed around amongst a hierarchy of producerati who took an inexplicable interest in my constant references to leaf blowers. Had these plays been written by a less stellar configuration of bone and sinew, I’m sure he would’ve been utterly dismissive of my work. Although I later proved myself a worthy if unschooled playwright, my initial success is absolutely attributed to animal magnetism. Magnetism whose same polarity attractions I always repulsed. And while I agree good caring love benefits all, I’m a small enough person who would easily buckle under the weight of carrying around a self-imposed stigma of homosexuality. So while I readily admit to a few homosexual experiences; I hasten to add they’ve all been with women.
My work motto: “If it’s not misspelled, it stays in,” has served me well. As a popular playwright often seen on the marquee in London’s West End, I’m astonished to discover such a keen interest in leaf blower themed plays. I’m absolutely nonplussed by my success and if I knew what nonplussed meant I’d understand what I was going through. As it stands now my puissant verbiage and general pusillanimity leave me no choice other than to wonder what in the hell I’m talking about. And I’m me. I can only imagine what you’re thinking.
Of course there are a few intimates who deeply value me, but truly I’m at the epicenter of nothing. No one is. Everyone has their own worlds roiling and circulating around themselves never stopping to consider that maybe orphaned children are lucky not to have their stupid birth parents. I barely survived my “loving” ones. So as you can see it’s true. Despite a modicum of success and a corkscrew penetrating intellect, something was not quite right. Being me gives me insights into myself you could never have. Not that you’re lining up to see my ratiocination (Jesus what an *sshole I am writing: Not that you’re lining up to see my ratiocination.) No you’re too busy wrapped in your insular world of high definition dictionaries and low maintenance janitors. No, how could you possibly take the time to understand the universe when you’ve still got compacted ear wax residue that’s decades old blocking any hope of hearing the truth. You just blissfully keep pushing it deeper and deeper into your ear canal despite clear admonitions on the Q-Tip box Warning: Not to be inserted into ear canal. Even though that’s the first thing everyone does. I double my pleasure by cleaning both ears simultaneously, but I’m green enough to save those Q-Tips and reuse the opposite ends after the next shower. Can’t you hear what I’m trying to say to you? Of course not, your ears are too filled with earwax. You’re following the thread of this OK. Good.
This now brings us to my challenges. As those who stalk me know; I was born with crestfallen arches – a hereditary malady long afflicting the Drybutters. My fallen arches support group is practically a contradiction in terms. In time I got over my arches, but I never got over myself owing to my creator imbuing me with his egocentric pheromones. It’s so unfair. His keystrokes stimulate the same ecstatic areas of the brain that cocaine does. I can’t get enough of me. You know fictional characters have addiction issues too.
As one might expect my bachelors degree in Matrimony opened few brick and mortar doors, so I returned to my online success in the hopes of making scads of PayPal cash selling idiot ring tones to people who wanted their idiotic bells rung. My “Drybutter in the belfry” scheme failed so I focused on adult entertainment. And after my XXX website failed (Don’t Worry, it’s Only Peanut Butter.com) I skulked art museums seeking solace in the arms of limbless statues – not an easy thing to do. To this day I still have a fetish for alabaster. Not one for self analysis, I regained my usual timbre by watching season II of Kojak on DVD. Telly Savalas’s clarion call to Tootsie Pops spoke volumes to me. “Who loves ya baby?” He loved me. He was my Barney and Mr. Rogers all rolled into one. His squad room became my chapel. The mean asphalt jungle of New York City became a metaphor for a nasty paved urban area. It wasn’t so much that sachem Telly Savalas, but his brother Stavros who moved me. Excuse me, Detective Stavros (George Savalas). This prophet cum fictional police detective taught me everything about having someone parrot your lines, not giving a sh*t and then collecting the approbation of an appreciative audience. Welcome to my world in jolly old England where it’s ironic watching Telly on the telly. It’s even more ironic I’m having such a good time, because I’m always living in mean time – Greenwich Mean Time. And despite all the seductive non sequiturs and my delimited frenzy of expression; at the end of the day all I really know can be summarized thusly – Sex is one killer app.
It was my collaborator, the celebrated playwright Uriah Fordyce, who first brought the alluded to matter to my attention. And he was right. Something was amiss and it wasn’t Lady Gaga. Uriah Elkhart Fordyce and I stumbled upon each other at Billy Shear’s Tavern in Saville Row London. He was 14 years my senior in fictional short story years which, for reasons too involved to delve into, are like 17.3 regular years. Mr. Fordyce was there to hoist a few tankards in celebration of his boffo play “Back in the Tube” which closed in just two acts after critics lustily booed the last scene dealing with an in utero rhinoplasty. Uriah admired the way I finished his sentences. “With you here,” he said. “I don’t have to say anything about leaf blowers,” I interrupted. He glared at me, raised one eyebrow (which he always kept in his left hand) and stated, “Sir you have made a mockery of my.” “Leaf blower,” I continued. He tried to compose himself but was having trouble with the overture, so instead just smiled broadly and convulsed in laughter. “Drybutter, there is something not quite right about you” he began, leaving it to me to fill in his thought. “However, I invite you to become my writing partner and collaborator,” I continued.
We soon grew fast friends despite the height difference (I was 6 feet and he was 72 inches). As a prodigious playwright team we of course knew each other in professionally intimate ways and he was always privy to my peculiar sensibilities. I remember one time when we were writing the book for a musical spoof on Nazi Germany called “Hitler on the Roof,” he said, “You’re wrong. It’s nothing like ‘The Producers’.” “You’re right,” I countered, “‘The Producers’ actually made money.” Anyway, Uriah and I had written ourselves into a humorously complex corner while trying to improve a joke about a booby trapped Ritz Mock Apple Pie served at a Ku Klux Klan rally. As I pondered our Act II scene 3 cul-de-sac, I lapsed into my usual despair. I rarely gave my gloomy disposition much thought. Instead I just sort of reveled in its injustice. He’d seen me this way many times and finally after years of forbearance he offered counsel. “Sir,” he said in his patrician English accent, “Haven’t you been informed not to take life so personally? You’re just one of the herd.”
This time I couldn’t finish his sentence. He was right. I was one of the heard. In fact, I’m probably heard too much. His sagacious words were scarcely out of his mouth when I instantly realized I’d been living a benighted existence. An existence that sought to mitigate pain at the expense of truth. As I contemplated the enormity of my epiphany (which I used to mispronounce epifanny; likely owing to my cleft fanny) it came to me. “Hey Uriah,” I said with the clarity of a nasal decongestant, “Thank you so much. I can breath easy now and as a bonus, I’ve got the fix for our joke. Ready? OK. In the KKK rally scene, little Buford rushes into the kitchen and exclaims to the family, ‘Mom, dad! A Ritz Mock Apple Pie exploded at the Klan rally. Oh it was an awful mess. There were crackers everywhere’. “
Fordyce patiently listened to my exposition and I could see that a-ha look in his eyes when I accelerated through the punch line. Then he emptied his pipe onto my head. Such was the easy back and forth we shared. The circuitous route which led me to a career in writing is well known to all Fordyce & Drybutter aficionados. Few realize that for many years we were more popular than Hannah Montana. True, these were the years before Hannah Montana actually performed, but still not everyone can make that statement. I won’t regale you with a tortured retelling of our mania. Instead I’ll torture you with a window onto the mindful exchanges we share while conducting our work.
Act III: The Ineluctable Exchanges
By the time I met Uriah Fordyce at Shears’ Tavern, I was rewriting a classic Christmas show about a goofy bigot called, The Nutty Cracker. I showed it to Fordyce and he immediately suggested removing my favorite scene “Dance of the Sugar Plum Leaf Blowers” and replacing it with an array of dancers arrhythmically waving advertising placards reading: Slabs of Pizza$5 or Welcome Mats with Cheese also $5 – your choice! This was our first collaboration and it left audiences stunned and critics apoplectic. One said “…..” Another was more to the point “How happen? Bad. Me hate.”
Our next concoction was a play originally called “Big O’Me.” It soon morphed into a Mormon musical revival called “14 Brides for 7 Brothers.” It became a smashing success despite one of its brides complaining that all her solos were now duets – “It’s bad enough I have to share my bed with her, but my spotlight too…now that really hurts.” A line so poignant I included it in the book of the show. The 7 brothers operate a landscaping service; a nimble plot device which allowed for the organic introduction of leaf blowers. “14 Brides for 7 Brothers” was suffused with ear splitting leaf blower bathos like “The Dance of the Sugar Plum Leaf Blowers.” To my knowledge it’s the only play whose tickets came with a set of earplugs. By now (which was then) Fordyce & Drybutter became synonymous with “must see” plays and to a lesser extent hearing aids.
But I write this not to draw attention to myself (he’s lying), nor to garner hefty praise for promoting some egocentric display of something I can think of but you can’t (he’s in complete denial). What the reader needs to be aware of is that I’ve allowed Fordyce to add instructive parenthetical edits (that’s the first time he’s told the truth) in order to explicate (he means explain) our unique relationship. And this isn’t going to be some bullsh*t Fight Club scenario where at the end we discover Fordyce & Drybutter are one in the same (amen to that brother). This isn’t going to be easy (This isn’t going to be easy).
Uriah Fordyce is an expansive man of considerable conviction (go on). Once we shared a paddy wagon together after protesting the outrageous prices our local police department was paying for paddy wagons (yeah instead of placing us in chains they placed us in iron-ies). I’ve esteemed not so much his friendship but his honesty in the way he allows me no misrepresentation or artifice in my dealings with him (and…). And the way he reflects the best in me right back at me (and..) Alright…your ability to penetrate any pretense I may hold dear and present me with its apposite meaning (what young Drybutter means to say is his torrent of description is only surpassed by his arroyo of misunderstanding). Uriah, will you please extricate yourself from the parentheses and engage me in a real conversation so readers don’t have to contort their minds like a gymnast in order to decipher….(Sir, this affectation is your idea. If you prefer me out of the parentheses then write me that way, although let me just say parenthetically, ‘Good luck to all’).
Fordyce: OK I am fairly out and ready to engage (Drybutter: Damn, now I’m stuck in parentheses). Will you get out of there and get on with your own story. You’re like a child Drybutter.
Drybutter: You mean I’m child like don’t you?
F: That’s an interesting distinction. At least you’re out.
D: Right. I’m out. But I’m not gay. I want to make that clear to all parties.
F: While it is true I’ve never known you to pursue nor covet the same sex, what good does it do to announce you’re straight? Do you fear being gay?
D: I don’t fear it. I’m frightened of it.
F: Another interesting distinction. Do gather yourself and move on.
D: Yes. You’re right. Maybe if I spoke to you in brackets and you to me in a different font.
F: Is that all you do is adorably obfuscate?
D: Wait let me put my contacts in so I can hear you better. No. I don’t know what my essence is or even how to express genuine warmth without wanting to receive full credit for being human. No mine is a sickness of the ego whereby self satisfaction substitutes for wisdom.
F: Quite a damning statement, but true. You can be quite inconsequential when you evince a persona. That is a legitimate fear because what else are you then?
D: Hey I’m supposed to be the one who’s in need of philosophical buttressing remember. You do the paradigm, I’ll provide the amorphous angst. Agreed.
D: Tell me Fordyce, do you ever dream?
F: What is this “The Princess Diaries”? Of course I dream. We all dream and then we inoculate ourselves from the vicious and not so vicious truths on Earth like randomity or accepting the fact that in God’s eyes or ears or throat we’re all equally capable of everything; from the divine to the despicable.
D: I do go on don’t I?
F: Especially when you’re writing my character. Now then, the order of business is liberation of self and recognition of source. A proposition made doubly difficult because we only think we know who we are and have only vague ideas where our source is. As Woody Allen said, “Anything worth knowing cannot be understood with the mind. It has to enter the body through a different orifice, if you’ll forgive the disgusting imagery.”
D: Ok well, uh…..I’m about out of things to say.
D: Yes me.
F: Well then how about some of that clear eyed drivel you so often visit upon us with such prodigious avidity.
D: Appeals to my vanity will get you everywhere. Alright here’s a meaningless portion-controlled snippet couched in superlatives, riddled with candied phrases and marbled with verbal lipids thereby providing enough satisfying mind feel when cogitated over in one’s brain to make you salivate for more. You like high fructose musings, well I’m your dentists worst nightmare. I’ll leave a cavity in your head the size of a Buick. I mean we’re all on 2000 calorie diets and it doesn’t really matter how we get them, does it? So here’s a 1770 quote courtesy of Boswell’s famed biography of that insightful lexicographer Dr. Samuel Johnson on the merits of women preachers: Sir, a woman’s preaching is like a dog’s walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; and you are surprised to find it done at all.
F: That was fun. Have you got any more?
D: Have I got any more? That’s all I’ve got. How’s this agonizing analogy:
I’ll gather seemingly desultory vectors of worth and redirect them on a white hot truth much like an array of heliostatic mirrors that collects random sunshine and, with great éclat, brilliantly focuses them on a solar tower producing clean, green energy for all to share. In this simile I would be one of the divine actuators redirecting a mirror. The dirty truth, however, is I enjoy calling FAX machines just to hear their other worldly sound effects when they answer. In this facsimile I would be the idiot calling the FAX machine.
F: Well you honor yourself by assuming the movement that’s on your shoulder.
D: I’m going now. But just let reassure my creator; I’m onto him. He can no more escape me than I him. And when the sun sets and all the impediments have been mercifully marginalized or banished from our purview, everything will be right. All will be quite right and we can once again focus not on what divides us, but what keeps us shopping.