For a number of years, I had the unique privilege to work with T. M. Shine, one of the most amazing and talented writers I ever dealt with in 16 years in the publishing business.
I just re-read, for the umpteenth time, his first book, “Fathers Aren’t Supposed to Die: Five Brothers Reunite To Say Good-bye,” originally published in 2000 and still available here at Amazon.
It is a tour de force that will leave you in awe. I’m not his only fan; Bill Moyers wrote the intro, and our former colleague John Hughes said it best…”If Elizabeth Kubler-Ross met Carl Hiaasen, T.M. Shine would be their bastard child. This book is laugh out loud funny, except when it’s ripping your guts out.”
Terry also has published several books based on his award-winning weekly column, Timeline, which first appeared in XS/City Link Magazine in South Florida; I ran across one of his columns that appeared after our former art director left to rub oil on swimsuit models for more money. It’s totally worth repeating, with apologies to W Kelley:
Nothing to get excited over
T.M. Shine may have lost everything. That makes it hard to be
enthusiastic, even about the Monkeemobile.
“Wang Dang Sweet Poontang” – Ted Nugent
8:10 a.m.: Looking for a certain phone number. I am afraid if I lose it, I will have lost everything.
8:15 a.m.: Shit.
8:28 a.m.: Shit.
8:47 a.m.: Shit!
9:04 a.m.: I have lost everything.
10:12 a.m.: Marketing guy is standing outside our office building, smoking a dainty, brown cigarette and looking as if he is the most pissed-off person in a world full of very pissed-off people.
10:13 a.m.: He eyes me and says, “If the question of the hour is, ‘Deal or no deal?’ my answer is, ” ‘No deal.’ ”
10:14 a.m.: Fuckin’ A, I say.
10:14:12 a.m.: “Fuckin’ A.”
11:04 a.m.: Art guy announces he’s taking a new job with a swimwear catalog. Everyone wishes him well, and then, he comes over to my desk and says, “All I have to do is set up photo shoots of swimsuit models in front of palm trees, but they never use the same palm tree twice, so I’ll have to fly all over the world to exotic locales.” Sounds interesting, I say. “Tierra del Fuego. That’s where I report on my first day of work. It’s already set up. The models are meeting me at the Tierra del Fuego Starbucks, and then, we’ll go find a palm tree from there.”
11:05 a.m.: “It’s as if I spun the big wheel of life, and it landed on Utopia – or Fruitopia, even. You’re jealous, huh?” he asks. Sounds nice. I wish you well, I say. “These aren’t $150-a-day models,” he goes on. “These are $3,500-a-day models. And they’ll be undressing in front of me, because models do that. They just undress in front of whoever’s there, and I’ll be right there. And I’ll be telling them how to pose and bend over to pick up seashells and stuff. If someone asks a month from now what I’m doing, it would not be a stretch to say, ‘He’s an international-swimsuit-model choreographer.’ ”
11:05:40 a.m.: I’ll try to remember that if anyone asks, I say.
11:06 a.m.: I always thought you’d make a good choreographer, I add. “What do you mean by that?” he asks, not waiting for an answer before continuing, “Oh, and they have accessories like purses and shoes and stuff that have to be photographed too, but it’s not like they use ugly people who just happento grow gorgeous feet and hands. They don’t play that game. Even the elbow models look like Heidi Klum. I’m telling you: This year, I’m going to be decorating my Christmas tree with swimsuit models. Can you believe it?”
11:07 a.m.: Pretty unbelievable.
11:07:13 a.m.: “You,” he mutters. Me. What?
11:07:20 a.m.: “You could at least try to act like you’re impressed,” he complains. What do you mean? I said it was a very envious position. “It’s the way you said it,” he explains. How did I say …
11:07:38 a.m.: “Never mind,” he says, walking away.
11:08 a.m.: I don’t know what he wants from me.
11:23 a.m.: Maybe that number is around here somewhere. I start searching my desk.
11:27 a.m.: Shit!
12:12 p.m.: Go to lunch and eat alone.
12:17 p.m.: Get text message from art guy: forgot to tell ya. know how on law shows the judge will be in his chambers and reach down into a drawer and pull out a decanter of whiskey and two glasses? at the new job every desk comes with a decanter of whiskey.
12:19 p.m.: Get second text message: With 4 glasses!
12:44 p.m.: I dated a model once. She undressed in front of me, but she threw stuff at me, too.
12:45 p.m.: Heavy, bulky stuff. Without warning.
1:28 p.m.: As soon as I return to the office, art guy comes rushing over.
“The job comes with a fat paycheck,” he says, holding his hands apart, about two Big Gulps high. “And they don’t have direct deposit ’cause the boss thinks it takes all the fun out of getting paid. So they just have this girl Cindy come around and hand you neatly wrapped stacks of cash.” That’s unique, I say.
1:29 p.m.: “And mixed in with the money are tickets to major sports events and concerts. The owner buys them in bulk for charity and then just gives them out because he believes sports and music should be shared equally with your neighbor.” That’s a good corporate attitude, I say. “Oh, and the string they use to wrap your money is edible. Kind of licorice-y.”
1:30 p.m.: Mmmmmmm.
1:30:28 p.m.: “Did you hear what I just said? I’ll be getting paid in fat bricks of money ribbon-wrapped in licorice? I’ll be making so much moola I could buy and sell your whole family.”
1:30:34 p.m.: To who? I ask.
1:31 p.m.: “Oh, and they give you a company car, and mine is the yellow 1971 hemi ‘Cuda that Don Johnson drove on Nash Bridges,” he says. “Yeah, the president of the company is a car nut, and the whole fleet is show cars from TV series and movies. He drives K.I.T.T. The VP tools around in the Munster Koach. You ought to see that thing loaded up with swimsuit models.”
1:32 p.m.: “When I went for my job interview, they took me to lunch in the Monkeemobile.”
1:32:21 p.m.: Where’d you eat? I inquire. “Where’d I eat? Forget you!”
1:33 p.m.: Most people have, I say.
2:11 p.m.: Marketing guy comes over and says, “I’m still counting on the jerk factor.” His girlfriend broke up with him a month ago, and he figured she’d realize how many jerks were out there and come crawling back.
2:12 p.m.: “It’s all jerks out there. We know that. Wall-to-wall jerks. I
wasn’t wrong, was I?” he asks me. “I mean, it’s been a month. She must have met 800 jerks by now.”
2:13 p.m.: “I once met 910 jerks in one month,” Tiara says.
3:10 p.m.: Art guy is back. “I’m going to have a huge office. Humongous,” he says, getting in my face. Sounds spacious, I reply. “It’s a bungalow, really – a bungalow on top of a skyscraper overlooking the city.” I’m happy for you. “With a soda fountain and soda jerk named Victoria who will make me milk shakes whenever I wish.” It sounds ideal. “And a shower with 44 heads and sleeping quarters with a racecar bed – and not one of those kiddie Rooms To Go racecar beds. A king-size racecar bed.”
3:11 p.m.: That’s neat. I didn’t know they made them that big. “They don’t. It’s custom.”
3:11:09 p.m.: Well, I hope the transition goes well. “Do you hear what I’m saying?” he yells. “My office is a bungalow on top of a skyscraper with a soda jerk named Victoria, a 44-headed shower and a king-size racecar bed – with working headlights. The headlights work.”
3:12 p.m.: That’s a nice option, I say.
3:12:18 p.m.: He glares at me. What? I ask. I don’t know what you want from me.
3:13 p.m.: “Fuck you!” he says, storming off to a new life in Fruitopia where paydays are fat, Flaming Lips tickets are slipped in with the cash, decanters of whiskey are always at the ready, no two palm trees are alike, midday naps can be taken with the brights on, swimsuit models change outfits while hanging from Christmas trees and everybody rides to lunch in the Monkeemobile.
3:14 p.m.: Fuck you, too!
3:14:04 p.m.: You lucky bastard.