Dear Grandma Jim, How do you let go enough to just walk around New York in a wig and a muumuu, as you did for the Ohio Edit reading? How do you let go enough to be that guy?
No one should want to know how sausage is made. And one of the things I learned doing a cartoon is that just because people like your sticker cats with the make-up and the funny hats that doesn’t mean that they’re going to like that you’re inside them. I met the guy who does Dilbert and he was OK but I like Dilbert better. I did an event with the guy inside BIg Bird and he was just an old guy. I wanted to meet Big Bird. At one point he reached in a plain-looking black bag and pulled out Oscar the Grouch. All the kids started crying. No one wants to think about someone’s hand being up Oscar’s ass. The world is depressing enough.
Why do I walk around town dressed as a granny? I don’t know. I have a crappy job at a bookstore, and sometimes you just want to feel half-alive. I dress as Santa Claus and fly on planes Christmas morning, telling kids that are travelling “I left my sleigh in Wyoming! Now I’m going to Atlantic City for a week!” No one cares who is beneath the Santa Claus suit. They definitely prefer Santa Claus to whatever beady-eyed jackass has decided to put the beard and hat on and parade through JFK at 8 AM. And when I put on a suit, it is on. Otherwise it seems like cheating.
So I bought a flannel thing and put on the Santa wig and a Cleveland Browns hat and across through Morningside Park and Harlem I went. To do otherwise would be fraudulent. Grandma Jim was invited and Grandma Jim would be appearing. I love that New York is still a place where some fat dude can dress like a Grandma and be completely ignored wherever he goes. It says a lot about our success as a society.
I don’t feel like it’s particularly brave or anything, to wear bunny ears around or whatever. I wore a President Bush mask to a Richard Hell poetry reading at the Poetry Project and some art show in Soho. A kid punched me in the face on 10th Avenue. It was all worth it, President Bush and I probably deserved it. My favorite caper ever was wearing a Friday the 13th mask around the Strand Bookstore on a Friday the 13th, helping customers. “You’re looking for Malcolm Gladwell’s books? Follow me!” I would shout through the mask. It is nice to sometimes not be yourself, at least when you’re me. Don’t sign me up for a Kennedy Center Medal of Honor or anything. Most of the time I just ride around in my normal Jim outfits listening to like Elliot Smith, hoping only to blend the fuck in.
Dear Grandma Jim, How am I going to get my mom to get me a Wii before I turn 18? Thanks!
Everything with parents is like some kind of sinister trade-off. Eat your vegetables and get good grades and maybe they’ll let you join the vast universe already in progress. Just be glad you’re not one of those kids that doesn’t know what a television is. They get to college and are like, what the hell is this thing? Turn it on and they lose their mind over “The Price is Right” like an Amish kid discovering The Big Lie of Everything. But parents constantly need to feel that they’re good parents. That they’re better parents than their parents and that they’re smarter than everyone else. Outsmarting them shouldn’t be too tricky.
There were no Wiis when I was a kid. Do kids still like wiis? They probably won’t next year. Hold out for whatever’s next, kid. My parents bought us a fake Atari when I was a kid. It had a little itty bitty controller on top and a weird dial on the bottom. It was like 3 years after every kid had already gotten the real Atari. And having an Atari when I was young was like Getting Laid for 10 year olds. It changed everything. We didn’t have to throw rocks at each other in the woods anymore.
Now every gaming system is kind of spectacular. Except the Wii. Why all the jumping around? If I wanted to jump around and hit things with a racket, I’d play squash in the 1970s. I only like the sports games that are completely unlike playing real sports, which takes practice and guts. Things I never had any of. Let your parents know that Wiis are the new books. And that Grand Theft Auto is the new Proust. And by not getting a Wii, you will probably live with them until you’re 40, because all the kids with Wiis are currently getting the job skills they need to survive in the rough and tumble 2020s. Our robots will do everything for us in the future, like change the diapers of our 40 year-old Grown Children Without Wiis. Wiilessness will definitely be featured heavily in the DSM-6 and DSM-7, and your parents will be on the cover of Time magazine, which will just appear when you cup your hands together in a dentist’s office waiting room. The cover will say “HOW COULD THESE PARENTS BE SO LAME?: THE ONES WHO DIDN’T BUY WiiS SUFFER INTO OLD AGE.” There will be a big photo of your parents looking like complete goons, I mean how much are wiis? As opposed to a useless college degree? If you don’t get to the 500th level of Halo 7 you won’t even get into a community college. Most of which will be in space.
To avoid conversations about sex they will pretty much do anything. So every once in a while ask them what a “rainbow party” is and you’ll be in business. Good luck!
Grandma Jim is an expert in all things. Email her questions at firstname.lastname@example.org