Boyleing Points

There’s an old saying, if your neighbor is laid off, it’s a recession. If you’re laid off, it’s a depression.

It’s a matter of perspective —though some people have the perspective of a funhouse mirror. Always warped, always about them.

You know the type, their troubles are always worse than yours and anybody else’s.  They’re toppers. They’ve got to top you no matter what. You mention you got a bit of a sunburn and they have to tell you about the third-degree, skin-bubbling burn they got fifteen years ago.

Don’t say you have a headache because they’ll have to tell you about the time they went “literally blind” when they came down with a migraine.

A lot of times, they’ll cut you off and say, “Mine was the worst.”

You might gripe about a summer cold and they’ll say, “Oh, man, mine was the worst. I coughed for like three weeks and then my wife got it. And then my neighbor and…” You don’t hear what else they say because they’ve hijacked your cold and made it about them.

Sometimes they’ll even try and top you with somebody’s episode. I mean, sometimes you don’t gripe or even say a word. Your car could have a scratch. You might be wearing a Band-Aid. These unfortunate things are just a green light for a topper. “I see that scratch on your car. This guy I know flipped his car on the Jersey Turnpike. They had to get the jaws of life to get him out. You shoulda seen his car.”

If they see your Band-Aid, you’re about to hear how they or somebody they knew survived a gunshot wound. They can’t help themselves. You might mention that you visited the Bronx Zoo and they’ll respond by saying they went on an African safari.

But since I’m the worst, a hypocrite whenever convenient, I can engage in topperism.

Even worse, I speak before I think. But I was not a topper down south last week. And nobody can top how much restraint it took.

The son who remains nameless goes to college in Wilmington, North Carolina, where Hurricane Florence struck. He managed to get home for a few days, escaping the worst of the storm. After Flo moved out, a few days of sunshine followed and then he and I headed down to see what was left of his off-campus shack.

I rented a monstrous, big-ass pick-up truck to bring supplies. Well, supplies were really just a cover. I just wanted to go full redneck and show up in the south with my baseball cap and bright red pick-up. I wanted to blend.

My pick-up truck, my baseball cap, my work boots. I brought a generator so I could hook up a radio to play country music and bible call-in shows. Damn right. I thought I was legit but that coral, peach, whatever-color Rockaway Times t-shirt I wore gave me away. I got looks like I just came in from Mars, or San Francisco.

My son’s shack was a soaking mess. Mold was everywhere. He said it was no big deal. I said it was a disaster. And then he went and topped me: It’s not as bad as Sandy. Ok, just don’t say that to anybody around here. Especially while I’m wearing this shirt.

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