Thursday, January 17, 2008

How I almost killed my brother before he died

Saturday is my brother Ed's birthday. He would have been 55 this year. Double nickels. Riding the AARP train. Eligible for the senior discount. Eating the early bird special.

But it didn't work out that way. He'll have been gone two years come June. Not a week goes by when there isn't something that happens (or something ridiculous I see on TV) and I think, "Oh, man - gotta call Ed and tell him about that."

And then, I remember.

Can't do it. No more phone calls.

So, I store away whatever that tidbit is, hoping there's someone else who will appreciate it at some point.

Ed had a messed up sense of humor. When I was a kid, he was the one who enjoyed terrifying the living shit out of me, hiding in the dark under the stairs, waiting to grab an ankle, or bellowing outside my bedroom window at three in the morning in a demented basso-profundo, like some demonic opera singer, straight from the seventh level of Hell. He also enjoyed just the plain old weird shit this world offered us.

Like the spongmonkeys.

Remember the spongmonkeys?

Sure you do. You may have tried to block them from your memory - they were freaky-looking things. Creatures that looked genetically wrong and sang in raspy falsettos and wore silly hats.

Originally, the spongmonkeys were the totally random and messed up creation of Joel Veitch, an English animator. The world may never know why, but Joel crafted these things and had them sing a song called "We Like the Moon." If you missed it, here it is, in all its inexplicable glory:

Kinda f'ed up, huh?

But much, much, much more f'ed up is that a restaurant chain - Quiznos - actually made the conscious decision to use these vastly unappetizing critters to advertise their fast food. Now, I love Quiznos (they make a yummy tuna salad sandwich), but I would like to know just how much blond Lebanese hash had to be consumed by their marketing team before they all said, "Hell, yeah! The mutant furry baked potato animals with human mouths! Yes! They just say 'mmmmm, tasty!' America will LOVE them! LET'S DO IT!"

Judge for yourself. Here's the ad:

Now, most of America fell into two camps: the people who were totally creeped out by the Quiznos spongmonkey ad and people without TVs.

Then, there was me and my brother Ed. We thought this ad was freaking hilarious. In fact, in finding that clip on YouTube, I managed to laugh myself into a coughing fit. It's the words "THEY GOT A PEPPER BAR!" that makes me laugh like a moron. And it had the same effect on my brother. In fact, he used to call me and leave messages on my answering machine simply saying, "THEY GOT A PEPPER BAR!" That was it. Just that. Click. I would double over laughing. It was so ridiculous, and yet so damn funny.

After a week of these calls, I phoned my brother back and did my best spongmonkey impression for him. Now, the thing is, my brother was very ill already at this point, so he was almost always at home when I called. No answering machine, just my brother, struggling to breathe on the other end of the line. And this time was no exception. God help me, I could not resist it, even though I could hear he was struggling with his weak lungs and failing heart. I just went for it. I didn't even say "Hello" - I just started singing in this hideous high rasp. And, omigod, did my brother ever laugh his ass off. That's right - I tortured a dying man with laughter and a commercial jingle, screaming, "WE LOVE THE SUBS CUZ THEY ARE GOOD TO US!" until I could only hear him wheezing and gasping through giggles. By the time I got to "THEY GOT A PEPPER BAR!" he was begging me to stop, but laughing all the time.

"Oh my god, I can't breathe!" Ed wheezed and coughed. "Oh jesus, stop, please!" But through it all he was laughing so hard he was in tears. I stopped, thinking, "Holy shit, I think he's dying. Now, this is going to be hard to explain to the family..." But then he said, gulping in precious air, "Do it again!"


Ed struggled for air and gurgled and howled and said, "Oh shit, that's funny."

I hadn't heard him laugh like that in years. After that, I periodically called him and just yelled about that damn pepper bar and he would laugh and laugh. In time, his laughter became more faint, as he couldn't even find the energy to respond. Once he told me that, indeed, I had almost killed him with my manic spongmonkey call. You know, the truth is, I think Ed would have loved going out that way, giggling like a fool over a really messed up TV commercial. Hell, we should all go out laughing.

Silly though it may be, I think of Ed every time I go into a Quiznos. I see the pepper bar and have to smile.

Thank you, wee spongmonkeys, you twisted little bastards. You were a damn demented way to advertise a sandwich, but, bless you - you made my brother happy.

Happy birthday, Ed.


Sudiegirl said...

Ah yes...the spongmonkeys.

We love dem

Anonymous said...

Hello there. I’ve stumbled upon your blog quite by accident. (I don’t even remember what I was looking up now that led me to your site; I’ve been reading so many back entries.) Might I say you sound like a very intelligent, interesting, fun, and a nice person.

Would it seem too weird to send you an email with some of my personal information (age, location, etc.) to let you know who you’re talking to right now? (I’d rather not do it here in this comment for everyone to see.)

From what I know about you looking at your interests we do seem to have a lot in common. I also checked out our lastfm stats, and even though we seem to be at “low” for music compatibility, we seem to have a lot of similar artists mentioned, more than what I’m used to seeing when it says you don’t have much in common with someone.

If you think we mesh well enough, I’d be interested in friending you somehow. Even if it’s just through lastfm. I don’t have a blog for us to be equally connected that way (though I do have a livejournal if you ever use that for any reason.)

Hope I haven’t freaked you out any. I don’t usually approach people in this way, so I have no idea how I might be coming across to you.

Let me know if you would be interested in receiving that email from me. I’ll check back in the comments on this entry.


Claire said...

So that's what those things are.

Great post.


Merujo said...

Sudie - good to know other peeps love 'em. :)

Amy - you can get in touch with me via LastFM (send me a message) or via the info on my blog profile page.

Claire - I'm sure Ed is diggin' his pepper bar shout out. :) Thanks!

Chuck said...

Ah yes, that's the hardest thing when someone is gone, I believe...thinking, "Hey, I need to give them a call" and then realizing that you can't do that. Thanks for the very touching and amusing entry, and for introducing me to the Spongemonkeys. I might go to Quizno's for lunch...after all, THEY GOT A PEPPER BAR!

Cyn said...

Another great post -- leaves me wanting to laugh and cry at the same time (which totally fits into my generally schizoid personality - so thanks!)

Anyway, I can't believe I made it this far into my life with absolutely no awareness of the Spongemonkey. It's like my eyes have been opened to a whole 'nother creepy world I never knew existed! for that too.

Real Live Lesbian said...

What a wonderful post! Makes me wish I had a brother. Or sister! ;)

Anonymous said...

I still sometimes think of my cousin, heck, today I scheduled a meeting for his birthday this summer, and I had to pause. (He was like a brother to me.) That commercial sounds hysterical. Yeah, to die knowing you're cared about by a fellow humour-getter? Not the worst thing.
May he breathe more easily now, and your breathing improve!, so you can laugh for both of you.