Time for some outlandish things to be written.
Today’s Google Doodle is for what would have been Marshall McLuhan‘s 106th birthday. He’s considered the father of communications theory by people of my ilk. The man knew that the Internet was coming and understood the impact it would have. “The medium is the message,” indeed.
When I saw that, I got the familiar cold rush I would get when I would check any of my grades in my communications classes. Not that I did badly in those classes (I’ll graduate with at least a 3.2 out of 4, which is an accomplishment given all other prior academic efforts), but it never took a classmate much to find themselves repeating a class. Those classes kept me focused on the prize of potentially crippling student loan debt and no guarantee of post-college success. Thanks, Marshall.
OJ’s getting parole in October. Get ready for him to show up in one-on-one interviews on 20/20, CNN, Fox, ESPN, and anybody else who sees the ratings bonanza. Watch him write another book. Watch him start a blog or a podcast when he gets out. Go ahead. Watch it happen. Watch him make people pay for it, then funnel all of the money through a Swiss bank account so Fred Goldman can’t get it. Just watch.
Also, that parole board was WAY too happy to be on TV. I mean, come on:
Yes, OJ killed Nicole and Ron. He also got taken back behind the woodshed in this kidnapping/assault/whatever else it was case. Of course, if he had been found guilty in 1995, we wouldn’t be talking about this because he already would have fried in the chair by this point.
I hate saying this, but I have to keep talking myself out of a Mets wild card run. It’ll just hurt less later. Time for NFL training camp.
I don’t know what to say about celebrities when they die, especially by their own doing. I used to be of the mindset that suicide was the coward’s way out; that someone who committed suicide didn’t care about the pain and suffering they would be leaving behind; that someone who attempted suicide was simply too stupid to finish the task. I know I’m not the only one who has thought like that, as the comment section of any news story or lengthy status update on Facebook will tell you.
That train of thought crashed to a halt the night I stopped someone’s suicide.
I’ve never told this story for mass consumption. I’ve never been one of those media personalities who puts everything out there for everyone to see. Much to the disappointment of some previous program directors, I’ve held listeners and fans at an arm’s length. It’s nothing personal towards any of you. It’s just that I have preferred to keep some things to myself. This has been one of those things, until recently. In light of the suicides of Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington, I think it’s appropriate to share this.
For privacy’s sake, we’ll call him Morley. None of my friends are actually named Morley, so don’t bother trying to figure out who this is. If Morley wants to come forward, that’s his prerogative.
Morley used to listen to me and everybody else at my last radio stop. He would call every single one of us religiously damn near every day. If we were in his neck of the woods, he would stop by our remotes, annoy us a little bit, but ultimately keep things lively. I don’t know how everybody else felt about him, but I just enjoyed the fact that I had an extremely loyal, albeit cynical listener. I would put him on every so often and he would make me use the bleep button A LOT. The guy is a poet laureate when it comes to fleeting obscenities.
One August night, Morley called me up. Then called again. And again. And again, and again, and again, and so on. In the first two hours of my show that night, I think Morley called about 20 times. After a while, I started to get a little annoyed because it had stopped being funny and I let Morley know by playing the silent game. When Morley would call, I would answer the phone, then say nothing the rest of the call. I knew it would piss Morley off, but I also knew that he would eventually stop. Plus, he wouldn’t be the first person I had done that to. So, that process repeated itself a couple more times and Morley eventually stopped calling for the night. Well, so I thought.
An hour goes by and Morley makes a post to my radio show’s Facebook page, trashing me, my friend Jay (who I would bring in to shoot with Nerf darts, because I ran a sophisticated radio show), and anything else associated with us. A couple of minutes later, Morley calls and he is out of it. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but something was off. Morley would often brag about his drinking ability, and I knew that he enjoyed smoking pot, but the way he sounded that night was different than I had heard him before. Not helping matters was the fact that Morley would either go silent for certain stretches of time or just hang up. I guess it was a little bit of comeuppance for me and my silent game. Still, something compelled me to keep him on the line as long as I could and get as much info as I could.
After some time, I was able to get him to put his mom on the phone. I asked her what was wrong with Morley.
“I think he took something,” she answered. “Maybe his medication with alcohol?”
I asked her if she had bothered to call 911 because Morley probably needed some help. “No… no, he’ll be fine, this happens all of the time,” she said.
I could tell by the anxiety in her voice that this was not something that happened all of the time. I’m not sure if she was scared of causing a scene in their apartment complex or if she was just scared and didn’t know what to do. By that point, all I figured was that Morley was trying to kill himself. I asked Morley’s mom for their address and told them I was coming over. She tried to convince me that I didn’t need to drive the half-hour to their place to check up on Morley. I was not taking no for an answer. I felt like I couldn’t take no for an answer. If Morley died that night and I had had a chance to try and stop it, I’m not sure I could have looked at myself in the mirror again.
The whole car ride over there, I was hoping that I wasn’t too late to help. That drive felt like two hours instead of 30 minutes. Fortunately, I wasn’t too late. Morley was still alive, but he was drifting in and out of consciousness. I knew he had to get to a hospital. Still, for some reason, his parents refused to call 911. They were sure he was going to be fine in a couple of hours on his own. Finally, Morley mumbled the one thing that I think they had been waiting for.
Within a minute, I got him in my car. I told his parents that if they didn’t follow me, I was going to press charges. That got their asses in gear. His dad followed us to the hospital and helped me get him into the ER. After he got his stomach pumped, Morley was held for observation for a couple of days. I heard from his mom a couple of days later that he admitted to trying to kill himself and that she was grateful that Morley had such a good friend.
“While I appreciate your gratitude, Morley needed your help that night,” I said. “You were there. You saw how bad of shape he was in. You damn near cost your son his life. Don’t you dare let it happen again.” I’ve never once felt bad for going in on her like that, but I felt it needed to be said.
A couple of weeks later, Morley thanked me. Since then, we’ve kept in touch. Are we close? I wouldn’t say that. In fact, I haven’t really talked to him in a couple of months. I haven’t even seen him in person since I left the radio station. I’ve used the excuse of having school and work and having a girlfriend and now fiancé from getting together for some wings for the last three years. I’ve been a bad friend to Morley the last three years. Honestly, I wasn’t really that great of a friend before that fateful night, either. But I still care about him. I want him to keep getting better at guitar. I want him to keep writing silly, profane things on Facebook. I want him to be the happiest cynic in the world.
We all need to do a better job of looking out for each other. Politics, sexual orientation, race, all of that be damned. If you know someone who needs help, help them. If that means having to drive to someone’s house and taking them to the hospital or just taking them to dinner, let that person know that they’re not alone. Let them know that someone does care about them.
If you are depressed and need someone confidentially to talk to, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is open 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.