A sort of life

Revisiting ‘Gulf War Syndrome’

WASHINGTON — My parents are going to the Redskins game for the second week running. I, I’m sitting in my filth about to watch another episode of Judge Judy. I’ve got an Oct. 23 issue of the New Yorker on my lap and I’m seriously considering taking some lost time with an illustration of Kirsten Dunst. Didn’t I ever tell you my lucky number was 23?

But before I do, I check my voice mail. I attract many kinds in my life: friends, enemies, whatever. People I pay to keep me straight. These guys leave fantastic messages, and figure it’d be a disservice if I didn’t share them with you. So here are two memorable messages from the weekend. One might actually be from October, but I’m not sure:

From my shrink:

Hey Mike it’s [Name Redacted]. Um, I didn’t get a response to my email, so I’m calling to see how you’re doing. Um, my number is [number redacted], give me a call, let me know how you’re doing. Let me know if you were able to connect with [the list] I gave you. I look forward to hearing from you.

From my newly married pal Dan Reed.:

Hey man, it’s Dan. Calling to say whats up? Haven’t talked to you in a while, and I miss you. Want to see how you’re doing. In a subsequent question I’m seeing if you’re coming next weekend to the, ah, Christmas party. If you haven’t been invited you’re invited to our Christmas party next weekend. Ah, I actually might have some kids who, ah, might want to ride with you. I’m just thinking of this today because I know other Richmond people. But, ah, if you want to ride up with some hotties, let me know, I ah, I’ll call, I can give can them a ring, you can all meet up and head up, so yeah, just let me know if you’re interested.

I want to talk to you, been reading your [Web site]. You sound depressed like normal, so I’m trying to pick you up. I mean, I’ll talk to you later. Take it easy. And yeah. Go ‘Skins. Later.

“Revisiting ‘Gulf War Syndrome’” is from Volume One: Frank’s Wild Years (1983–2009). Written between 2003 and 2009, Volume One was this author’s attempt to find meaning from life as a young twenty-something. While this endeavor would ultimately fail, what remains is a comical tale of loneliness and debauchery.

Dick Starbuck

Dick Starbuck "Porno Detective"

Justin Young smokes a Davidoff cigarette in the basement of his home in Orleans, Mass. on July 13, 2006.