Do you secretly enjoy all the paparazzi attention?
I must. I always feel the need to "entertain" them. Fifteen to 20 years ago was a different story. Especially before I got sober. Living a lie is hard enough without those bastards lurking around but the truth is, sadly, the embarrassment of public humiliation was one of the reasons I went back into rehab. I mean, I still do embarrassing things but I do less of them because I'm sober, which allows me to feel things like shame, humiliation self hate; sprinkle in some gratitude and flickers of joy and you've got my typical morning.
Proust section, a la Vanity Fair: When and where is your idea of perfect happiness?
Anytime, anywhere my gal Ashley starts laughing uncontrollably. I usually have no idea why but it's infectious and the next thing you know we both have tears in our eyes, laughing like idiots and when she finally does start to explain whatever was funny the whole cycle starts up again and she can't tell me because she's laughing so hard she's choking and fanning her face. That's my bliss.
What is the most despondent you've even felt?
4:15 a.m. on Oct 10, 1981. I was drunk, naked, sitting in the Wapello County Jail. I had just been fired from my job at the Hormel meat packing plant, charged with public nudity after being arrested while streaking through the Jefferson Square Manor (an old folks home) in Ottumwa, Iowa. The sheriff had just told me, with his shit-eating grin, that my old man would be down with some clothes. I was completely naked, surrounded by bad-ass railroad gypsies, as soon as he mowed the back 40. The same back 40, I'd promised to mow the day before. That and 3:15 p.m., March 6, 2009, my 50th birthday. I'd just gotten my mail and my AARP Card was in it and realized I'd blown everything. That my life was one failure after another and worst of all, I've had every opportunity to succeed. My life was at least half over and I'd screwed up the dream I had since I was 4 and my mom left: Wife and Kids = Unconditional Love, but unfortunately, Ashley doesn't let me wallow in it too long. "You've got me." "I know, I'm so fucking lucky but you're screwed. You should've got me when I was 30" and then she started uncontrollably laughing and so did I think it was because we both realized that I was kind of a crazy idiot at 30, so maybe this was God's plan after all. I'll ask her what's so funny when she quits crying.