A Clean, Well Lighted Place To Kill Yourself


Hemingway was wrong. The following is the correct sequence:

  1. Write drunk.
  2. Waste an entire day with a record-breaking hangover while you ponder the meaning of life trying not to kill yourself.
  3. Edit Sober.

I suppose I would bet a hefty sum that it was a hangover that did Hemingway in. Being drunk is fun. It’s the morning after you have to survive.


“Are all things good punishable in the end?” thought Ernest. He rubs the small rash on the inside of his thighs. “I can’t even enjoy rough sex anymore?” The previous night’s poison has left his vision blurry; his head throbbing; his testicles itchy. He apologizes again, to no one in particular, that his herpes has re-announced themselves. Luckily, he has the means for even the most horrible of sexual favors. He reaches for his trusty shotgun he has named Laquisha in honor of the African prostitute that taught him the three-hundred-sixty-degree scissor kick. He puts the butt of the gun on the floor and cocks the trigger.

“The good stuff always comes at a price…”


Why do we drink ourselves into the beds of total strangers? Why do we peg our neighbor’s boyfriend with our new Rhino strap-on? Why does a couple recite their vows to each other fifteen seconds after diving out of a propeller plane? And why is the best man shitting himself? The answer is easy. Because life is fucking boring.

Life is supposed to be harsh. The whole point of it is to survive this strange game. Kill or be killed. If you haven’t eaten in two days, and you have knowledge of a pack of hyenas that is tracking you, then life becomes interesting. You become super aware of your surroundings. Every turn and twist of your existence comes with a profound purpose. Because, fuck those hyenas. And, I don’t care if that is your little baby, Punxsutawney Phil. I’m gonna put it in my mouth.

Surviving those bloody battle fields was a very scary game. So we changed the rules. We caged our hunters. We caged our hunt. We sat between the two cages, smiling. Clever us… “You look angry over there, Mufasa,” we taunt. “Hey, Sebastian. Is that a pot I hear boiling?” we tease. Safe and full and super pleased with ourselves. We turned the tables on the dungeon master:

“So, I roll the twenty sided die and to see if I get to eat the lobster? Ok. No! I’m gonna summon a spell. SUMMON CLARIFIED BUTTER! Do I already have the lobster fork?”


So, now what? Now that the real drama is gone? I guess we have to manufacture it. Here are some examples.

I wonder if that fucking guy is looking at me?

Judge Judy is gonna tear that asshole a new one, two asshole mother fucker.

If Lou pulls his penis out again, I’m gonna contact H.R.

How many licks does it take to get to the center of the Tootsie Pop?

Is this strap-on too big for your wife?

All valid questions in our new, boring as fuck, civilized society. Hey. I wonder if I can blow off my entire face with one shotgun shell? Let’s ask Ernest. Hey, buddy. Over here. Will you look at OH MY GOD! THAT’S DISGUSTING! I CAN SEE YOUR BRAAAAIIINNNS!

I guess the answer is yes…


This is a small book in print, Kindle, and audio version. You can help by picking up a copy. I’d appreciate it.

Here are some audio essays in album form. They are cheap and you probably already have an Amazon account. The smallest amount of effort in the least invasive way. Thanks!

If you prefer iTunes:

Here is the audiobook.

Here are the audio essays.

If you wish, you can stay in touch on Facebook and/or Twitter. 

Beyond that, thanks for paying attention at all.

Hipster Gandalf (aka Aaron Atadero)

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