The drinking game:
1. Every time I agree with something Doug says
2. Every time Doug tells an outrageous story that sounds incredibly unrealistic
3. When the timeline jumps around in ways that don’t make sense
There will likely be more to come, so keep checking the drinking game section.
I’m not entirely sure it was he who wrote this. The cover reads that the story is “as told to Marilyn Tooker.” The copyright date is 1991. I’m not sure why Doug didn’t write this himself. Perhaps he had yet to start writing his own books? Maybe he’s better at non fiction than story writing?
In any case, here’s chapter one.
“I sat on the edge of my bed…and buried my face in my hands. Tears ran down my cheeks and seeped through my fingers.”
Doug Batchelor’s opening line really grabs us. I think Doug (Marilyn?) has the potential to be a good writer. There’s some talent here, but it needs more nurturing and a decent editor. The opening lines are good because they make us want to know more. Who is crying? Why is he crying? Why is he referring to his apartment as “my mother’s New York apartment” instead of “our New York apartment? Yes, his mom’s the one paying the bills, but most children refer to it as “our house” not “my parents’ house.”
Doug is crying because he is in trouble at school again, and that he “just can’t seem to control his temper.”
I have no idea if this “can’t seem to control his temper” comment is a slight exaggeration, or indicative of an actual condition that, nowadays, one can get help for. But of course, when he was a kid, such things may not have been readily diagnosed.
Doug’s thoughts turn to his mother. His mother was in show business, and at some point wrote songs for Elvis. I decided to Google this one. There’s a Wikipedia page that lists all of Elvis’ song writers, and there is a Ruth Bachelor on the list. I did some further googling, and even though the name is spelled wrong on the wiki, this does appear to be Doug’s mother.
Well, that’s kinda cool. I had no idea Doug B’s mother wrote songs for Elvis. I learn something new every day.
In case anyone was wondering, the songs she wrote are:
1. Cotton Candy Land
2. A Boy Like Me, A Girl Like You
And then I gave up because holy mother of GOD this list is LONG! Did Elvis write ANY of his own songs! Jeez!
Anyway, Adventists have an interesting connection, then, to Elvis.
Doug talks about meeting other movie stars. He name drops a few of them, but I’m too young to get the references. Except for the 3 stooges, I have no idea who these people are.
As I got old enough to understand, I noticed that a frightening number of them [the actors] were homosexuals, and it seemed like many were on drugs, or alcohol, or both, yet they weren’t happy.
Many of the actors were either on drugs or alcohol, or many of the homosexual actors? It isn’t clear in the statement.
Of course the homosexual actors wouldn’t be happy. They were homosexual in a homophobic world. Most of them were probably trying to pretend to be straight just to keep their careers. How could anybody be happy living that kind of life? If many of the homosexual actors were always drunk or high, I wouldn’t blame them one bit.
Why do they work so hard to achieve fame if it makes them miserable? I wondered.
It wasn’t the fame that made them miserable. It was being homosexual in an accepting world. As to the unhappy heterosexual actors, perhaps it was not the fame itself that made them miserable?
Hang on, isn’t Doug Bachelor famous? Is his fame making him miserable? If not, why does he insist other famous people are miserable?
Anyway, Doug’s mom used to have parties in their apartment all the time. Doug says that all they wanted to do at these parties was sit around and smoke pot. Um, yeah, Doug, that’s kinda what (some peoples’ definition of) a party is. I don’t actually care that Doug’s mom smoked pot. I have no issue with recreational marijuana usage, and think our drug laws need a serious overhaul. But this was written in the 1990s, and for an Adventist audience. For the target audience and in that time period, this was seriously wild stuff. This would have made his mom look, in their eyes, like a terrible mother. I’m not sure if Doug was trying for this effect or if it’s just a side effect.
Doug never comes out and says he thinks she was a terrible mother. I think, however, at least subconsciously, he is demonstrating things that would show that to his target audience.
I’m not going to say one way or another what I think about the subject, mostly because I haven’t decided what to think.
As Doug is sitting on his bed crying, his thoughts turn to how lonely he is. He relives the details of the fight he was in at school that day, the lectures and glares from his teachers, etc.
No, actually, he doesn’t. He tells us he “relives all the details,” without telling us any of it. All we ever get to learn was that he got in a fight at school, his teachers yelled at him, and he feels really low.
Why show when you could tell, right?
He immediately jumps from this to wondering who he is, where he comes from, etc.
I’d been told I was just another step in the process of evolution—an overly developed monkey. If that’s all there is to life, why not just get it over with?
Woe is me. I am evolved and have no creator, therefore I have no worth or purpose. I will now go and kill myself.
Said no atheist, ever.
Also, evolution does not see humans as “overdeveloped monkeys.” Humans did not evolve from monkeys, we share a common ancestor. Monkeys are our cousins, not grandfathers. /tangent.
Doug finds his mother’s sleeping pills and thinks about using them to kill himself. He is unsure which are the sleeping pills, so he freaks out, and thinks:
“What if they were some kind of pills for ladies? What if they just made me really sick?”
I’d like to point out that a small child could eat a whole pack of “pills for ladies” and wind up only mildly nauseous (or so says my doctor, at any rate) but he was right about the pills possibly just making him really sick. He aborts the suicide mission, thank goodness.
Doug states that he was 13 years old at this time. But don’t go getting any ideas about his age and what year it is, because the timeline in this book freakin’ jumps all over the place. In the next chapter, he will be 11. This book does not go in chronological order and it’s kind of confusing.
I’m also not sure why he sticks his age into the suicide attempt #1 scene. Is he trying to go for the shock factor of “I was so young?!” Because, uh, that’s more than twice as old as I was when I first thought about suicide, and I’m not the only one I know who can say that.
Doug jumps back to talking about his mother again. In case you hadn’t noticed, the book is not organized very well. I’m getting whiplash from all the jumping around.
Looking back, I wonder how I could have been so blind to the clues that mom cared. She tried to express her love to me in her own way. She would write a musical for our class, and put me in the starring role. She put a lot of work into it, even conducting the rehearsals herself. This meant more time away from work, and smaller paychecks
I can identify with this. I used to think my mom didn’t love me because she didn’t show love the way I wanted it shown. As an adult, I can’t believe how stupid I was not to see that of course she loved you you IDIOT!
She would write a musical for our class, and put me in the starring role
This isn’t love.* This is putting your child on a pedestal. I wonder if this was why Doug was getting into fights at school?
That Doug! Festus thought to himself angrily. His mother wrote the play, so of course he’s the star. I’ll never get to play Rolfe in The Sound of Music. That cute girl I sit next to is playing Lisel, and he gets to kiss her. I think I’ll go punch Doug’s brains in after school. That’ll teach him.
Another way Doug’s mother showed she cared: Falcon had cystic fibrosis and couldn’t smoke pot, so his mother would make him cookies. Hashish was very hard to get ahold of, and instead of keeping it for herself, his mother would put it in Falcon’s cookies. I agree with Doug (drink!) that this is an act of selflessness.
I know Marijuana has a lot of medical uses, but is Cystic Fibrosis one of them? If so, did his mother know that? I’m not sure how old Falcon is in this scene, but I’m going to assume Doug is still 13. I do not think I would smoke pot with my 13 year old children. And of course, the target audience would find the idea horrific.
Some time after the big fight at school, Doug gets his grades back. They’re terrible, so he tries to jump off the roof of the apartment building.
I actually do sympathize here. I studied hard in school, very hard. And yet, the best I could do in most subjects was a C. And yeah, it did make me want to kill myself.
I would like to state, for the record, that I am glad Doug didn’t succeed in killing himself. I don’t like the guy, but I wouldn’t want him to kill himself. I may hate him and everything he stands for, but I don’t wish him any harm.
Anyway, back to our story, Doug obviously (he’s still alive) doesn’t throw himself off the roof. He figures that that’s a painful way to die, and realizes there is a small chance he might survive and wind up a quadriplegic.
The nice thing about suicide is that you can always postpone it.
Take a drink, because I agreed with Doug on something. I’ve been postponing my suicide for a little over 20 years now.
Doug then tells us about his father. He owned an airplane company and loved planes so much he named his kids: Falcon and Douglas, after airplanes. Doug thinks he got the better name, and take a drink because I agree with him.
He grew up a Baptist, but religion had been thrust upon him by well meaning family and friends, and he wanted no part of it. …. He lost his first wife and baby son in a plane crash…he lost all his faith and considered himself an agnostic.
I wonder if this is accurate or if Doug just doesn’t believe in Atheists, because we’re all just really agnostics. According to most SDAs, true Atheists don’t really exist, after all.
Instead of learning from his dad, Doug decides to become a celebrity in a world where religion is constantly thrust upon people. I have no doubt Doug does some of the thrusting himself.**
In any case, teenage Doug steps back from the roof, and decides that when he goes, he doesn’t want to go out with a whimper, but a bang. He only gets one life, so he’s going to milk the shit out of it while he still can.
Take a drink, because I agree with this attitude.
*I’m not saying Doug’s mother didn’t love him, I’m saying this is a terrible example.
**I didn’t realize what that sounded like when I wrote it, but I’m not going to edit it because that I’m 12.