Once, my only dream was to own a spice shop in the Farmer’s Market called The Old Man and the Seasoning. It seemed like such a great idea. I could see myself retiring there, laughing along with customers as they inquired into what was new in smoked paprika, and reminding young people who dream of being artists that there really is no hope for them. And if it wasn’t for the cruel “organic “ business practices of my main competitor, Oregano with the Wind, I might still be living that spicy little dream. But, it was not to be.
But did I take this sad twist of fate lying down? Well, for two and a half years, yeah, I kinda pretty much solidly stayed in bed everyday. I mean, seriously, it got to the point where my neighbour developed a screenplay about my life called Count Napula: The Sleepiest of Horror Villains. “I vant to suck your bloo . . . no, vait, I’m really sleepy, I think I will lie down. “But, after those two years in “Count Napula’s Castle” and, then, after a three year tumultuous relationship with a feisty Olive Garden waitress who let me call her “Tina “ even though her name was Francine, I was ready to take on the world.
So, you ask, what was my secret to becoming this human dynamo of positive feeling that has inspired my world-wide chain of Self-Esteemiology Clinics and my award-winning lecture series It’s Okay: Now, Let’s Make Fun of Your Ears? My secret, bub, was confidence. If I didn’t have confidence I would have never finished my degree at Buford Business College (Go Bu-Men!) and I would have never summoned the courage to pursue a relentless series of nuisance lawsuits against GOP jingle-writer Bruce “The Boss” Springsteen which netted me the profits that saw the establishment of my first Self-Esteem workshop in Santa Monica, California in 1996. And it was from that office, after a brief recrudescence of my “Count Napula “phase (where I even developed a comfy “napping cape” which I hope to market one day), that I launched Esteemocorp, the publicly traded self-esteem-raising and bauxite-mining company that now has its eye the Utah Blaze, everybody’s favorite Arena Football League team.
Of course, that’s just the dollars and cents part of how I made my fortune. But, in retrospect, it wasn’t all about material decisions. There were spiritual and life lessons along the way that require my gratitude. I have to thank my childhood pastor, Reverand Darlante, who could quote all the lines from Goodfellas and who took peculiar pleasure in repeating the classic line “Janet Rossi is a whoore. Janet Rossi is a whoore “. I learned a lot from Rev D – with him I was keenly reminded how Karen Hill in Goodfellas thought her husband’s mistress, Janet Rossi, was no better than a prostitute. That’s something everybody’s got to know. I also have to thank my High School art teacher, Mrs. Haddock, who taught my brothers and sisters before me and who, upon first looking at my drawings of Justine Bateman, went to the school office, got me a brochure titled “The Beauty of Contraception” and she gently said “Please pass this reading on to your mother.”
Of course, I did not pass that brochure along to my mother – who I knew took a certain old-world delight in, as she called it, “kicking a Princeton bitch up into Yonkers” – but I appreciated the interest. I have had a lot of special guidance along the way, from the drifter who taught me that hot water, oregano and a packet of salt was a passable soup (inspiring my love of the spicer’s art) to all those people who see me just as regular ol’ Count Napula.
Does that mean I never made a mistake since I got over my first tragically failed business? No. Obviously not. Consider all the fuss the L.A. Times made when I had to apologize for psychologically counselling a beset teenager that having less than 228 Facebook friends is a “sure sign of mental illness. “That was obviously a mistake (opinion is now that having less than 74 friends is the sign of “borderline personality”). You see, life take its turns and you sometimes have to feel grateful for the discouragements because they lead you to the true path you were meant to be on, the way a heroin addict thanks an earlier addiction to pixie stix.
Confidence is the key to it all – though some say it can radically change you. I know it’s changed me. Ask me: do I still watch the Oscars and make lascivious comments about Gwyneth Paltrow? Not as much as I used to, bub. Not as much as I used to.