The Elvis of Self-Help
A Short Story by Jeremy Benjamin
Written using the suggestion "Drink"
Originally featured on 11-28-2008
As part of our series "Holiday Fiction Drive (The Things Holidays Drive People To, The Things Holiday People Drive)"

I want to start by thanking everybody who is deserving of my thanks — you know who you are. At the risk of clumsily omitting someone, and hence driving that person to a suicidal malaise that will gnaw at their daily carryings-on until it manifests as an abyss of imploding dark matter in their breakfast cereal, I am naming nobody. Besides, gentle reader… If you derive your self-worth from seeing your name printed in the Acknowledgements page of a CD jacket that nobody reads — and, Kevin forbid, if you are so low as to flaunt this text at bars for the purpose of forwarding a sexual conquest — it is better this way. For those of you who are not familiar with my humor (in which case I can’t fathom why you’d strain your eyes to read the thank-you’s in my spoken word album), I use “Kevin” because it rhymes with heaven. If your instinct tells you to look for deeper and subtler meaning than that in anything that I say, then your mind must have drifted elsewhere while reading my books, in which case I would strongly recommend a more attentive re-reading, unless, that is, you’d prefer to stumble through life repeating the same self-eroding habits that led you to the bookshelves where you first discovered my wisdom in desperation. As much as I loathe that sarcastic legacy “The Elvis of Self-Help” the media seems to have inexorably dubbed me with, I have to concede that it does ring true in the particular case of- now that sentence just hangs there, and I don’t have the slightest idea of what I was going to say. I got distracted by my own thoughts, and — as you’d well know if you’ve read my work — it is your personal duty to yourself to follow every thought that juts into your mind at inconvenient moments, especially those ostensibly infantile thoughts that interrupt what you naturally take to be a narrative of far greater relevance. The mind — the true-self-mind, as I’ve taken to calling it — operates in tangents, and those tangents are always more important than whatever course of thought they derailed you from. Why am I lecturing? There’s no need to go into that here; just read my books. Or listen to this very CD (I’ve been told my voice has a lulling quality, tinted with a timbre of raw masculinity like flakes of chili peppers on a gourmet chocolate-covered slice of dried kiwi). I suppose then it is an insipid formality that I am bothering to compose a list of thank-you’s, especially considering four hundred and thirty three words and I still have yet to thank a single person. Such is the nature of my writing; it’s designed to frustrate. My first book, ‘THE PIT OF EMPTINESS NOW HAS TEETH’ made me into somewhat of an iconoclast in the canon of, what I like to call, figure-it-out-jackass literature, with my introduction of the concept of self-awareness through genital mutilation in the presence of leering clowns. It’s quite simple: once you break through your humiliation threshold (I wish I could take credit for coining that term, but I heard it in a pop song on the radio when I was stoned, and to this day I have no idea who sings it), you’re divested of limitations. I do nine things each day to debase myself in the crudest manner, and I drift to sleep with a smile on my face. The Pit of Emptiness made me damned near a millionaire, for putting that creed into words. But it was the release of my second book, ‘MY THERAPIST SAYS YOU’VE BEEN PLAYING HEART-HOCKEY WITH MY EMOTIONS…AND THAT YOU SHOULD STOP’ that made me a celebrity. Contrary to most celebrities the company of whom I’ve had the masochistic patience to endure, I have no dislike for the word celebrity. I comfortably own that word, because life is a celebration, and I celebrate myself approximately five times a day. As should you, gentle reader. Whom I am thanking. Although, to be more pertinent, it is you who should be thanking me, for articulating the simple truths that have spurred you to reevaluate your…shall I say, methods. I’m attempting to compose a thank-you list, and all I can see in my head is clowns with painted on grins that make their mouths look like giant U-shaped sausages. Speaking of- Hey, Rudy, when you get done dictating my thank-you’s on paper, get me a hot dog and a glass of tomato juice, wouldja? And Rudy, don’t write down hey Rudy get me a hot dog, just, um, stop at the U-shaped sausages line and then segue to an ending that smoothly wraps this up. How- I don’t know, you’re clever, and I’m paying you, so just think of something and get it done. Oh, and, when we’re done, maybe you can go through and edit to make me sound more like- y’know, like I sound in my books. And don’t forget my hot dog. Actually, Rudy, keep this in here, me talking to you now, bossing you around. What could be more embarrassing than printing rambling nonsense in a CD jacket? This will illustrate my point. Which is, everybody wants to take themselves seriously. Good fucking luck with that. No, seriously.

Thank you.

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