Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
This is one of my favorite cartoons
I've done lately, because it's not really funny. Or, if it is, it's funny
in a heartbreaking sort of way. At least I hope it is. I love and pity the
two guys in this drawing. They're (sort of) caricatures of me and my friends
as we'll someday look if we turn into aging barflys (as well we may), but
they're also guys I've spent eight thousand hours of my life drinking with
in the cheap cruddy dives of Baltimore and Harford and Cecil counties. Every
depressingly familiar detail is drawn from my own beer-dimmed memory: the
chintzy holiday decorations, the ersatz wood wall paneling, the video poker
game, the bikini bimbo in the beer ad, the losing Keno cards. Next year isn't
going to be a better one for these guys. In fact, the more I look at them,
the more I worry that the one on the right (who looks more like me than I'd
intended him to) isn't going to make it through this year. The guy on the
left's life isn't really any better than his friend's, but he'll be all right,
I think, because he has a better attitude about it. I am indebted to Boyd
White for the suggestion that this guy should have a pompadour, which instantly
defined his character and somehow pulled the entire drawing together. Boyd,
looking at the finished drawing, said, "Also, you just know those
two guys are the only people in the bar." I'm afraid he's probably right.
Let's all admit it: the holidays are a fucking awful time. It's not just depressed
or bereaved people who hate them--everyone does. The only people who really
seem to look forward to them are retailers and children, because they're crazy
with greed and don't care if they drive the rest of us to the brink of blowing
our brains out as long as they can get something out of it. How did this happen
to us? I'm certain that if we could just put it to a public referendum we
could abolish the holiday season, or least restrict it to once every four
years, like those other meaningless vestigial rituals, the Olympics and elections.
New Year's Eve isn't as cruel a holiday as Christmas, because you're at least
allowed to get drunk with your friends, but it's still an unavoidably melancholy
occasion, a memento mori when you can't help but think of the time
you've squandered and the opportunities you missed and all that you've lost
and how much time you've got left, and really the only way to get through
it is to drink until you black out.
Several of my friends have had a hard, sad year this year, lost people they
loved in one way or another, and still have a lot of sorrow ahead of them.
This cartoon is for them. And it's for the aging barflys in cruddy dives everywhere
who'll just be forgotten when they die, even the ones who called me a fag.
I really do hope this year will be a better one, my friends. Cheers.