Thursday, April 27, 2017

Self Help

They had plenty of self-help books when I was a kid, but I sure didn't know about them.

The modern era of self-help probably started with Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People, first published in 1934, although books about how to improve your outlook date all the way back to the ancient Greek philosophers.

But me, I read Stephen King novels and comic books, mainly. 

Around the time I hit my early teens, I was aware I wasn't particularly happy with myself. I was a bit pudgy, had bad skin, braces, and was moody and unfriendly.

There were no good role models around me. I lived in small-town Southern America. People were fat but had great teeth, or they were dumb jocks. I considered them phonies at worst, completely ignorant at best. (My father was mostly absent, spending most of his time working in Brazil during my formative years.) 

There was no internet then. And only 3 television channels. 

I was aware that books were the place to look for answers, so I began poking around them for tips for betterment. 

Superheroes in the comic books weren't much help; they generally got their powers through accidents, being born different, or after being motivated by some horrific tragedy. 

I looked elsewhere, and found inspiration in men's adventure books.

Now, really, they weren't much more realistic than the super hero comics. They tended to feature lone men battling the mafia, terrorists, or both, while living by their own codes. Tough, independent, and occasionally outright assholes, they nonetheless captured my imagination.

They traveled widely, banged a lot of hot babes, and fought evil. What's not to like?

You need to be more like these guys, I thought.

Well, I never got around to fighting evil, but otherwise, I didn't do too bad.

From this book, I got an exercise routine that I liked. My dad lifted weights, but I disliked it then and I dislike it now. Hawker used a bodyweight workout, which I considered another sign of how awesomely independent he was. He didn't need no stupid gym.

Now this one, I actually was inspired by the bad guy, who was an assassin called Vancouver. He was so awesome he lived alone on an island in the Philippines, where he had actually put a price on his own head so that the local natives would try to kill him constantly, giving him lethal opportunities to work out on them.

 (The first scene has him killing three of the local natives, who are of course pygmies, and he does it while blindfolded.)

Well, this badass only drank water. That was mentioned specifically; he only drank water.

Being as there was no way to put a price on my own head, I started drinking only water.

My skin cleared up and I lost weight; prior to that, like most early 80s kids, I'd drunk about a liter of Coca-Cola or Dr. Pepper per day.

It was a fucking revelation, I tell you. I felt a lot better just from that.

Anyway, sadly, I eventually fell under the influence of the anti-self-help masters, like Bukowski and Hunter S. Thompson, but I still traveled a lot and banged a lot of babes, though I've still never gotten around to fighting any evil.

Maybe one of these days, huh?


Anonymous said...

Fascinating insight into the origins of X. Did your early love for reading lead you on to college and then the wider world, or was this inevitable, ie, everyone in your family and circle was college educated?

Am I wrong in thinking that you took a completely different path from your peers?

englishteacherx said...

I'm going to write more about this; consider this part 2 of my early years autobiography. Look for more blog posts on high school, college, and early backpacking.

I was the first person in my family to graduate college and I never actually even met anybody who had travelled abroad until I was about 20.