Fish Tales, Part 1
This piece was written in 2008 for the website hotcars.com, where it appeared prominently, along with a photo of me in a diaper. May it – the website, not the piece or the photo of me in a diaper – and its parent company, Namemdedia, of Waltham, Massachusetts, burn forever in their own private circle of hell. See Epilogue.
I can’t tell you how pleased I was this past June when my friend, Eolian Sulks, invited me to write a few sets of syllables for Hot Cars, the very popular website he edits. As best as I can figure, the site is devoted to ‘Hot’ cars, a subject about which I know absolutely nothing. Or was the site “Dream Cars”? No matter. To me, “hot cars” are an unpleasant feature of the summer months and “dream cars” involve Everly Brothers’ music, hip flasks, and a waitress named Brandy.
Eolian, myself, and about ten other citizens were on an annual fishing trip at the time – our 20th, I’m told – and, after a day on the river, we were sitting around the campfire, savoring grilled game and pan-fried trout and otherwise enjoying the camaraderie of old friends and like-minded men. We were knee-walking drunk, in other words. Not blind drunk, mind you. Knee-walking. There’s a qualitative and a quantitative difference.
“Absolutely!” I yelled, some three full minutes after Eolian asked me to share my views with his sites’ visitors. “Absolutely what?” asked Eolian, kneeling on my chest, playfully slapping my face and frantically rifling my vest pockets. He was singing a traditional folk song, as I remember it, and the chorus went something like “Give me back my business card you drunken old fool!”
“HELLLLLL YES!” I roared, somewhere between four and seven minutes later. Eolian, lithe and doe-like – he’s considerably younger than I am – had strategically leapt to another corner of camp by then, leaving me to my own devices and, from reports I’ve heard, a lively one-way conversation with a small brush fire.
Months ensued, as they usually do, before I found Eolian’s card tucked into a seldom used quadrant of my billfold. “Ahhh, yes,” I thought, “Young Eolian. He needs me. The poor man’s desperate for help. He needs ‘content,’ by thunder, and I’m just the man to give it to him!” I called the number on the card.
“Who?” said the young woman answering the phone. “Michael Hudson, “ I intoned. “The lad’s like a son to me.” I was advised to hold, which I did. Moments – and pretty long ones they were – ensued, as they usually do, before the woman breezily checked back in with a “You’re holding for?” “Eolian Sulks,” I told her. “Who’s calling?” she asked. “Michael Hudson,” I answered. “Please hold.”
Weeks passed before I found myself – inexplicably, I should add – in the company of one Cerise La Stem, an exorbitantly pierced and magnificently tattooed Hot Yoga instructor from Westminster West, Vermont, who, as luck would have it, was well acquainted with A) Eolian “Mon petit chou!” Sulks, and B) his cell phone number. It was right there on her cell phone, along with some – oh, let’s call them ‘instructional’ – photographs starring Mr. Sulks, Ms. La Stem, and an assortment of organic fruits and vegetables that, if there is a God, never made it to the harvest supper. “Small world,” I thought.
And that, my friends, is how I came to write for these estimable pages. Hold on to your carburetors, boys and girls, it’s going to be a bumpy ride! Gadfrey, but I LOVE technology!
The One That Got Away
The fact is that Mr. Sulks (not his real name) did indeed ask me to write an occasionally occurring opinion column for hotcars.com, which is owned by a shyster organization out of Waltham, Massachusetts, named Namemedia. Mr. Sulks (still not his real name) was, indeed, an employee of Namemedia at the time and, as editor of hotcars.com, was responsible for the hiring of freelance writers and purchasing content.
We agreed upon a fee and Mr. Sulks had Namedia’s accounting department send me a W-9 form. I completed and returned the form, just like the doctor ordered, and wrote the piece above and shipped it off. Sulks and two other hotcars.com employees were attending a car show in New Jersey when he got the piece and he called me that night, from their hotel room, to say how much all three of them liked it. He posted it to the site immediately and asked for a picture of myself to accompany it (me in a diaper). He also asked me to send him as many similar pieces as I could as often as I could, and to send along my invoice, which I did.
The long and the short of it is, Sulks got canned and I got shafted. After numerous emails and phone calls, I was told that, you know what? Mr. Sulks, the EDITOR, never had the authority to commission the piece in the first place and, after reviewing the piece (which had been on the site for months, by the way), it was decided that it was not up to their standards. In short, I could take my invoice and my ire and shove them up my lilly white. And that, my friends, is why I referred to Namemedia of Waltham, Massachusetts, as a pack of shysters. Because they well and truly are.