Episode 86: Ted Lyde
Some find actor / comedian / filmmaker Ted Lyde’s honesty about being a parent refreshing, some find it off-putting. Ted talks about the sacrafices and compromise as a father and husband, that lead him to state, “I don’t recommend it and I wouldn’t do it again.” He also opens up about his disabled son who was born with Muscular Ataxia. Paul reads an email from a listener who found last week’s episode anything but inspiring.
Paul: Welcome to episode 86 with my guest Ted Lyde. I’m Paul Gilmartin. This is The Mental Illness Happy Hour, an hour of honesty about all of the battles in our heads. From medically diagnosed conditions to everyday compulsive, negative thinking. This show is not meant to be a substitute for professional mental counseling. It’s not the doctor’s office. It’s more like a waiting room that hopefully doesn’t suck. The website for this show is mentalpod.com. Please go visit it. Join the forum, you can there, you can read other posts, you can take surveys, I’ve got about a half a dozen surveys up that thousands of people have taken and you can see how each of them have responded to the survey. It’s quite fascinating. And, what else can you do? Oh, you can support the show by going to the website or you can just stare at a blank screen and masturbate. That’s always an option. Never, never leave that one off the table.
On a serious note, I want to send my thoughts and some love out to those of you on the East Coast scrambling to get your lives back in order. I can’t imagine how difficult what you went through and are going through is, but just know that those of us out here on the West Coast, you’re in our thoughts, you’re in our thoughts.
So where do I want to start here? Oh, you know I also wanted to give some thumbs up to the states that legalized gay marriage. God bless you. It is so nice to see our country beginning to head in that direction because, you know, people that are still anti-gay, you know, people have enough on their fucking plates mentally these days. They don’t need somebody making them feel shitty about their sexuality. You know, I’d like to think that the people of Maine, fifty years from now, when your grandkids say to you, “Was it really true that there used to be a time when gay people couldn’t marry each other?” and you’ll be able to say, “Yeah, there was a time and it was wrong but we were one of the first states to realize that it was wrong and we stood up for basic human decency and dignity.” All right. I’m now folding my soapbox. Mine, actually I got it at Costco and that’s the end of that riff. I thought there was gonna be more. Nothing. Just a fucking flat balloon.
All right. I’m going to read somebody’s survey. This was filled out by—oh, I know what this one is. This one’s kind of intense. I’m coming at you both barrels, right out of the fucking gate. For those of you that listened to last week’s episode with Brenda Feehery, about surviving trauma, I had the feeling that I was gonna get a couple of emails along this line and I felt like I should read it. And this is filled out by a woman named Anna. And she writes, “Hearing your most recent guest, the woman who was raped and stabbed be all strong and outgoing and successful made me feel like a piece of shit for not bouncing back from my father raping my mouth when I was little.” I apologize but these are her words. I know it’s kind of harsh. “Plus my brothers and their friends gang-raping me. Also I feel like a piece of shit for being angry at her for not suffering like I have. I used to think I was strong for not killing myself. Now I’m judging myself differently. Also I wish you had pointed out that her rapist was caught in the act by a cop. Most of us don’t get that lucky. Of course I’m most angry with my rapists, but when she said she didn’t want to give her rapist any more power over her, it made it sound like the rest of us do want that. Like we have a fucking choice. It was almost three decades before I started to remember, and in the meantime I’m choosing guys who treat me horribly. I’m so fucking pissed that she was the lucky one who had a family actually be on her side. Why couldn’t I have been born into a family like that and be all perky? Fuck.” Anna, I don’t know what to say but I had the feeling when I recorded Brenda, and maybe it’s one of the reasons why I held off on airing that episode for so long, is because her recovery was—seems so complete and so smooth, I was worried that people were then going to measure their stories against hers and feel bad about it. So anybody out there that feels like that is the norm, how quickly Brenda recovered, although I would imagine if you ask Brenda, you never fully recover from something like that, and I think she shared that at the end of the interview, that there are moments where he blood kind of still does run cold.
This survey is from the Shame and Secrets survey, filled out by a guy who calls himself Frustration Man. He’s bi, he’s 18, was raised in a stable and safe environment, never been sexually abused. “Deepest, darkest thoughts?” He writes, “I envy everyone. I make myself believe that everyone except me is experiencing emotions and feelings that are supposed to be felt like. I feel like I am a soulless, heartless bastard. Where I encounter people experiencing sadness, guilt, joy, euphoria, anger, yearnings, aches, I feel those feelings but in a range of 1 to 10, the are 2’s, maybe 3’s. I feel a cold distance between me and these feelings and I think that the only feeling I have is envy. I envy everyone, that everyone is feeling something.” I just wanted to read that because I wanted to let you know that I know how that feels. And for so much of my life that is how I felt and, you know, there’s another part to his survey that I wanted to read where he says, “I just hate myself. I hate my emptiness. I hate my cold, emotionless empty body. I am a hungry, fat, jealous piece of meat that devours food and people’s hopes every day.” You know, I have the feeling, and I could be wrong, but you’re 18 and it says that you were raised in a stable and safe environment, if you would have asked me at 18 if I thought my environment was stable and safe, I probably would have said so as well. I think therapy would be great place for you to explore a lot of these feelings that you have. Because I have the feeling that that numbing, that numbness that you feel, your brain has done that to protect yourself from things that you don’t want to feel. I know that that was the case for me. And now, for better or for worse, in my old age, I feel things so much deeper than I used to. The good and the bad. But I had protected myself for years, because it just, it was too painful to feel. So I encourage you, encourage you to investigate that.
This last survey that I’m gonna read before we get to the interview with Ted was filled out by a woman who calls herself Stars, she’s in her 20’s, she’s bi, was raised in an environment that was a little dysfunctional, never been sexually abused. “Deepest, darkest thoughts?” She writes, “Sexually abusing a child. When I was a kid and still played with baby dolls, I would act out spanking them and finger fucking them. I rarely I think about this any more, but I feel so ashamed when I do. I often wonder if I was sexually abused when I was child but don’t remember it or have blocked it out.”
“Sexual fantasies most powerful to you?” She writes, “Fucking a guy friend of mine in the ass with a big strap-on because he told me I was not bisexual and having sex with girls was wrong. It would be my way of punishing him.” I would actually be there cheering on the sidelines. I’m not sure what the cheer would be for pegging a dude that’s a dick.
“Would you ever consider telling a partner or a close friend your fantasies?” She writes, “If my friendship with the guy ever ends, I would tell him just so he would know.”
“Deepest, darkest secrets?” She writes, “I’ve masturbated with the handle of every butter knife in my house. I smile when I see one of my family members use one of the knives.”
Paul: I’m here with Ted Lyde, who I’ve known for, God, it’s gotta be going on 22, 23 years probably?
Ted: Yeah, thereabouts.
Paul: We met in Chicago; we were both standups in the late ‘80’s I guess it is when we would’ve—
Ted: Back when it was fun to do so.
Paul: Back when we were wide-eyed and hopeful.
Ted: And there was work aplenty for everyone.
Paul: Sixteen fulltime clubs in Chicago at that time.
Ted: Yep. You may not get rich, but you’d stay busy, you know.
Paul: You’d stay busy, yeah. And it was a decent wage. It actually—I don’t think the wages for standup comedians have even surpassed what they were in the late ‘80’s.
Ted: Oh no, if anything they’ve gotten, they’ve gotten more severe and worse.
Ted: They’ve gone down.
Paul: But that’s why we moved here to Los Angeles.
Ted: And that’s exactly why we moved.
Paul: Where would be the best place to start? Ted is married; he’s got two kids. Married to chemist.
Ted: Yes, I’ve been married to my wife for—this is our 23rd year. We’ve been married 23 years, so we’ve been together—she was 18 when I met her and she’s in her 40’s now, so I won’t divulge her actual age, but, uh, yeah, so we’ve been together a very long time.
Paul: Ted also does a lot of commercial work. You’ve definitely seen him in commercials. You financed and shot your own movie when it was difficult to do back in the early ‘90’s, before the advent of digital gear.
Ted: That was back in ’93 I think we shot that movie, ’92, ’93. And we shot it back in Chicago. We shot it in about 16 days. And I shot it with a bunch of actors and comics that I knew from back in the day, that I thought were the cream of the crop at the time, and they still are, they’re still great guys. And the movie played in one film festival back in Chicago, I think it was called the Black Harvest Film Festival, and that was the high point for me because it played in a theater, like full of people, so it was like over 150 people in the theater. And so seeing it play in front of a live audience and actually get the laughs and do the things you’re thinking it’s going to do while shooting it is the biggest reward. You know, we didn’t get the theatrical release, it went straight to video after that, but, you know, seeing that it worked, that’s all a comic really wants to do when you write a bit or you do anything, you can see—probably any artist, you know, is that you want the thing inside your head to live as well outside your head. And then that was the coolest moment.
Paul: Ted is African-American and when She’s Gotta Have It came out in 1986 I guess it would have been, did that register for you?
Ted: Oh, no, absolutely. I was like the biggest Spike fan in the world and Manny Rich’s Straight Out of Brooklyn too was a little more raw, but it certainly inspired me to try to do this. And Hollywood Shuffle was also, you know, a motivator to try to do this. And—
Paul: Which was done by Robert Townsend who financed the entire thing on credit cards and it was really the first time you heard a point of view of somebody, an African-American person outside of the system in Hollywood, what it’s like to go on auditions, what it’s like to be pigeon-holed as the pimp or, you know.
Ted: Yeah, just to be—to be stuck in this position where you’re visualized or conceived of as being this one thing and then not being able to ever, you know, play the lead, or, you know the hero.
Paul: And did it in a really funny way. In a way that wasn’t overly angry or militant, you know, really was kind of self-deprecating and launched his career, absolutely made his career.
Ted: Robert Townsend is, yeah—I think that he manages, and has managed to do—you know, Spike is brilliant and his films are brilliant, but there was always just a little more rage on the surface. And what Townsend did was he brought some of that rage, but he put it in like a nice silk jumper, a nice cozy—I feel a rage, but it’s not so bad, I don’t mind it. That was his gift, that was his trick.
Paul: I remember in 1986 I was working at an insurance company and I was one of maybe two white people in a pool of about probably 30 workers and the rest were African-American, and so I got to be friends with—and it was mostly women. And they said, “Hey, you wanna come see this movie with us after work?” And I was like, “Sure,” you know, and it was—I was the lone white person in a theater of 200 black people watching She’s Gotta Have It and I remember soaking it in and going, “This is a moment in history.”
Paul: This is pretty fucking cool.
Paul: The excitement in the theater of people seeing their story being told was incredible.
Ted: Well Spike was just that. That movie and Do the Right Thing are probably my two favorite, maybe Malcolm X, my two favorite Spike films but I think She’s Gotta Have It especially because he created his own—you look at Mamot or any independent filmmaker that creates their own language, their own style of speak, their own tempo and cadence. It’s so prevalent in She’s Gotta Have It and that’s what I was so blown away by.
Paul: Right out of the gate he had his own style.
Ted: Right, you’re like wow, what are you—every time he came on the screen—
Paul: He was really the star.
Ted: Right, you’re like what the hell?
Paul: Who’s the dude with the glasses talking to the camera?
Ted: What’s wrong with you? What’s wrong with you? He was like nuts just looking at the camera, he was nuts, he was bananas. And the fact that, you know, this woman, if you’ve seen the movie, this woman has three lovers and the fact that he is one of these, this woman is a phenomenal looking woman, and the fact that he is one the guys who’s scoring with this girl. It’s just—the fact that he can sell that and make it work. Woody Allen has done it for years too. But it was just remarkable.
Paul: But let’s get back to you. Where would be a good place to start with your story?
Ted: Oh man, you know, I don’t know, I’m not used to talking about myself.
Paul: Where were you born?
Ted: I’m from Akron, Ohio; I was born back in the ‘60’s when life was good and simple. Which is such a ridiculous concept considering how horrible it was for many people in the ‘60’s.
Paul: It was a nice fire hose, Ted.
Ted: Exactly, exactly.
Paul: People forget it was a hot day.
Ted: Exactly, but compared to today, you know, the standards of what passes as normal life today, you know what I mean? It was so much easier, you know what I mean? It was easier. You take away the racial strife and the segregation and all the horrible things that were at hand then, but being a kid, I remember being a kid and just being happy. And being, you know—my parents were divorced but, you know, my mom did the best she could and my dad, you know, did the best he could given his limitations, you know, but I was happy. And I felt loved. And I felt safe. And, you know, I could go out on my bike and ride for days and hours and no one cared.
Paul: You’d leave at ten in the morning, and you’d come back at six, no questions asked.
Ted: My daughter has never been outside this house for any length of time without myself or her mother or the nanny or one of the fucking dogs. She can’t go anywhere, cuz you’re like, “I’ll never see you again.”
Paul: Well also the neighborhood you live in is probably different from the neighborhood that you grew up in, just geographically, forget the era-wise.
Ted: No that’s true.
Paul: We’re close to the freeway, we’re in Los Angeles.
Ted: And it’s totally different, Los Angeles is stratospheres away from Akron, Ohio, definitely. But just the freedom, the sense of safety, you know, is something I think the children—and rightfully so, it’s been lost, it’s just not a safe—between what goes on out in the street and what goes on on the Internet. You’re barely safe inside or outside these days.
Paul: Do you think it’s because we’re—the world is the same, we’re just more aware of it now, so that’s why we protect the kids, or do you think it’s—the world has changed? Because I have people that fill out the surveys for the show, they go to the website, they fill out the surveys, and a lot of them dump their shame and their secrets, and a lot of really horrible shit happened in the ‘50’s, ‘60’s, and ‘70’s to kids. It just wasn’t really talked about. So should our parents maybe have worried about the guy that hired you, you know, to help clean out his garage and he showed you his dick, or, you know, whatever?
Ted: No, you’re absolutely right. I mean, I was lucky, I was one of the lucky ones and I’m sure, you know, not everyone has been as fortunate as me as far as being able to have the youth that I had and not be subjected to that kind of perversion or, you know, mistreatment. Absolutely. You know, as I’ve gotten older, I think, and now that I have children, I think back to when the Beatles and Elvis and all the uproar about these characters and these personas being exploded onto the psyches of the youth, and I remember thinking then, “This is a bunch of craziness, come on, these guys are just singers, they’re just doing their thing. You don’t get it.” But there was a fear of the curtain being pulled back, of the lid being pulled off, and once these worms escape, you’re never gonna get them back. And now that I have kids, I see that. I feel that. I feel like, you know, something will be on TV—South Park, which I love. I watch South Park in my room by myself with the door locked constantly, but the thought of my child just wandering through the room while Cartman is on one of his rants, there’s no reason—there’s nothing good that can come from my daughter learning what the hell Cartman is fucking talking about right now. You know what I mean?
Paul: How old are your kids?
Ted: My daughter is 11, and my son is 9.
Paul: Would it have warped you at 11 to have seen Cartman?
Ted: I think so. I think it would have changed me—that’s exactly my point. I grew up watching—
Paul: You would have prevented the eleven-year-old you from watching Cartman?
Ted: I would.
Ted: I grew up watching Bonanza and fucking Starsky and Hutch, you know what I mean? And The Partridge Family. These shows that were—had a wholesome drive to them and some sort of moral, you know, Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke. Those were every moralistic, you know, dramas and shows. That’s what I grew up watching. Now kids grow up watching, you know—
Paul: But also a phony portrayal of life.
Paul: Those shows. It was—life was not The Brady Bunch.
Ted: No, maybe not but I think, what I think—what I’m concerned with, the eleven-year-old Ted vs. the forty-year-old Ted, or the fifty-year-old Ted, is that the time of exposure is where the impact occurs. You know what I mean? Learning too much before it’s time for you to learn it.
Paul: What age do you let your kids start watching South Park?
Ted: Phew. Uh, I think 16, 17, I’m sure that all her friends—I know that a lot of her friends have seen it already. She comes home and talks about her friends watching shows that, no, there’s no way you’re watching that show.
Paul: How old’s your boy?
Ted: He’s nine. He’s nine. So, you know, I don’t know, Paul. I never dreamed that I would be that guy, that guy, (old man voice) “Oh no, come on now, we’re not—you gonna watch that? No, you’re not gonna watch that.” But I am, I’m concerned about reality TV, I’m concerned about the message the Kardashians and people like this send to young girls about what is important.
Paul: But aren’t those kids gonna get it filtered through to them at school anyway?
Ted: Yes, yes they are.
Paul: So isn’t there, isn’t there some legitimacy to saying, let’s not have them be in the dark compared to their peers. I mean, when you were talking about the age to start letting them watch South Park, my thought was, “Sixteen, Christ, that’s pretty old!” By fourteen they’ve heard or talked about everything South Park has to talk about.
Ted: I know, I know. I don’t disagree. I don’t disagree.
Paul: You kids are paying me a retainer fee.
Ted: I don’t disagree. I—it’s a quandary. It’s a quagmire.
Paul: Is it that you’re afraid something is going to happen and then you’re gonna kick yourself for having let them—
Ted: Listen, I watched an episode of South Park the other day where everyone on the show was drinking Butters’ jizz. Somehow his jizz had become like a Red Bull commodity on the market and people were consuming it, and at the end of the day, people were like, “What is this now? What have we been drinking?” So you ask me what is the value of my daughter conceptualizing—
Paul: Sixteen, we’re good with 16. I haven’t watched South Park in a while so all right. All right.
Ted: I was just like mortified. It was hilarious but it’s mortifying. And you just wonder, ok so you go back to the Beatles, you go back to Elvis, you go back to that opening of that jar, with the gyration of the hips and people were going, “Ah! I don’t see where this is gonna help my kids.”
Paul: Well, I don’t—go ahead.
Ted: No, no, I’m just saying that it all drives back to there.
Paul: If they had been more genuine in their portrayal of life, we wouldn’t have had to rebel in the ‘60’s.
Ted: I agree.
Paul: Let’s talk about your son. Tell the listeners about your son.
Ted: My son is Jackson, his name is Jackson, Jackson Chase. He’s nine years old. He has muscular ataxia, among a couple other disabilities. Muscular ataxia is sort of the opposite of cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy makes your joints and fingers and arms and elbows and things really rigid and hard to move. What he has is the opposite – he has very loose muscle mass, very loose articulation of his joints and fingers and elbows and things. So he’s very wobbly, very noodley. And low muscle mass so he’s not very strong. It’s hard for him to climb up like even into the car, he can climb but his knees or his elbows, he can’t get the strength in his elbows, or his knees I keep saying elbows, but knees to rise himself up. So it’s a physical disability which makes it hard for him to speak because it’s also it’s musculature from head to toe, so he can’t operate his lips and tongue for fine articulation or his fingers. It’s hard for him to write. He can write but he cannot speak. It’s hard for him to form words. He’s—the irony for me is that I have a son that I adore and love and cannot talk but at the same time will not shut the fuck up. He is one of the most noisy, chattering, cooing, laughing, it’s just oh my God. We tell him sometimes after it’s gone on for a while, “Jackson – shh, shh, you gotta shh.” And give it back to you with a finger on his lips and he walks away for about a minute and a half and then he’s back to chortling and cooing and you’re just like …
Paul: I would imagine how could he not be, because all that stuff is built up in him whereas most people can let out all their thoughts at that age, his have been log jammed.
Ted: No, yeah, it’s a fine line to walk. Because we’re sympathetic and we’re supportive and we want him to, you know, to express himself and to feel that he’s in an environment where he can express himself, but there’s a point where, just as a person with ears, that—where you’re—in the car especially, that’s the place where Daddy has drawn the most severe line, is where I’ve turned around and literally just threaten to kill him, is that in the car, you’re all cooped in the car. And we’re taking, you know—we’re on our way to church, you know, for example. And it’s like a thirty-five minute drive to church and you’re trying to have a churchy attitude, but at the same time, you walk into church and literally within fifteen minutes I’m threatening to murder my disabled son because we wouldn’t shut the fuck up. Please pray for me cuz I’m a sinner.
Paul: Is he able to be quiet during church?
Ted: He, uh, we go to this church that—no, the short answer is. Uh, we go to a church that has a special segment of the church where they handle disabled children. So the children go in there, they read and talk to them, and they talk about—
Paul: Also known as the closet.
Ted: Yeah. It’s not an actual closet, but it’s a room where a lot of churches don’t have, where you can take your children and still you know, have a sermon and then come and get your kid and the kid’s happy.
Paul: It’s a great idea.
Ted: And, yeah, it’s a great church.
Paul: Is he 100% lucid?
Ted: Oh yeah.
Paul: So he comprehends things that children at his age do. He knows what’s going on.
Ted: He’s lucid. His comprehension is very high. He’s a very smart boy. But the problem that he has in life is that you can’t really tell because he can’t talk and because he’s constantly chortling and cooing, people write him off as an imbecile or an idiot or, you know, retarded, which is just such a terrible word that has become this mainstream word that you just toss around now. But he’s not, he’s lucid. He understands everything he hears and everything you say to him, he gets it, he gets it. And that’s the thing—he’s in a new class now at his school and his teacher is constantly coming our every day and goes, “I didn’t realize.” Every day he learns something else that Jackson gets and that Jackson does that’s funny or—the other day, I have a sledgehammer, I have a sledgehammer in my office, and we had a door that got jammed, the deadbolt locked and I had to use the it to knock the hinges off, and he saw me do this and I came and put the sledgehammer down. And he comes in the room and sees the sledgehammer, and he takes his hands and spits in both palms and slaps his hands together, Paul Bunyan style and grabs the sledgehammer and goes, “Oooo. Aaaa.” And pretends that he can’t lift it. You know what I mean? Just the fact that he knew to do the Paul Bunyan move, you know what I mean? I’m going to pretend that I can’t lift it, but first let me show you what does someone do when something’s heavy? It was remarkable. It was just remarkable and it floored me. And I tried to get him to do it again so I could videotape it, and he did it again but it was a half-hearted performance because he knows when you’re trying to get him to recreate something and he’s like, “Ah, Dad, Dad, I already—the moment is gone, Father. The moment is gone.”
Paul: So how does he communicate with you?
Ted: We ask him questions and most of them are yes or no questions so we hold up one hand Yes, one hand No. Do you want this? Do you want that? He does some sign language, he does I’d say maybe about ten or eleven signs that he does, so we know.
Paul: So he’ll hold up a hand yes or no.
Ted: Yeah, we’ll hold up a hand and then he’ll tap the hand that corresponds to what—and thumbs up, thumbs down is a big communicator. Do you want to do this or that? Thumbs up or thumbs down. How was your day? That’s a good one. How was your day? And he’ll give you thumbs up or thumbs down on how his day was. So yesterday he had a little episode in gym class and he didn’t want to participate and then he got a time out from the gym teacher. And apparently he launched after her and pinching, it’s not a hurtful pinch, but still a disrespectful pinch. Which is such an improvement because prior to this he’s gone through a biting phase, and a hitting phase and a kicking phase. So the fact that he’s melted it down, to when he’s frustrated, to a soft claw, is quite an achievement. So he did this yesterday and the teacher walked into the car and he was getting in the car and the teacher was explaining to me what kind of day he had, and about this episode, and Jackson while the teacher is talking, Jackson starts kissing me and hugging me and rubbing on me, kissing my hand, kissing my cheek, and just make me not hear anything negative, with all this affection. And it’s a tactic. It’s a perfectly normal tactic for a child to try to, you know, they don’t want to get spanked, they don’t want to get time out, they don’t’ want any of it, you know what I mean? So he knows keeping safe hands is a big deal for Daddy. And so the minute that the teacher started explaining he’s just trying to snow me. And we talked about it on the way home, we had a little time out. I told him, “I understand you’re frustrated but you can’t grab people, you gotta keep safe hands, you can’t hit people.” Because that’s the thing, you know, with a disabled child. He’s getting bigger and bigger and so the more he chooses to use physicality to demonstrate his—the fact that he doesn’t approve of something or doesn’t like something, the more dangerous it becomes for him and for the person he’s grabbing. Because someone who doesn’t love him is going to knock the shit out of him. That’s—they can’t wait. There’s someone out there who can’t wait to smack the shit out of a guy who he knows won’t be able to fight him and who crosses some line.
Paul: And is he mixed in with able students?
Ted: He has been. This class—he’s in a full—
Paul: Is that the correct term?
Ted: The correct term is—what is it? Oh my god. The correct term is mainstream.
Ted: He has been mainstreamed for the last two years now. He’s in a class where he’s in with all disabled kids. The problem with the other classes was curriculum. He was frustrated that he wasn’t able to keep up, you know, with the writing and all the other things the mainstream kids could do. So he felt pressured and he was just a lot more frustrated. Which is where the hitting and kicking came from. Cuz he was frustrated.
Paul: That’s gotta be so frustrating to not be able to express yourself.
Ted: Yeah. And to be surrounded by people that aren’t your family, who, you know, have created a language that makes you feel comfortable and they don’t know him like we do so they don’t talk to him.
Paul: It’s like being dropped off in a foreign country, it’s like, “Let’s go.”
I get emails sometimes from parents who have children who might have a learning disability, they might have some kind of, you know, emotional issue and it’s—the one thing that I hear over and over again is, you know, they love their kids, and there’s this difficulty, kind of finding their way in the dark as to how to raise this kid, but then on top of it nobody—they feel like nobody understands the burden that they have to deal with in raising this kid and finding their way and the anxiety about making mistakes. Can you talk about, from the beginning, when he was born, kind of walk me through the arc of what you went through?
Ted: Kind of what you said first, is that’s true – is that you do feel isolated. And you do feel that you’re—you have a burden that no one else, you know, understands. And in my case, I felt that most people didn’t care about, you know, my friends across the board have abandoned this house and, you know, if I see them at all, I see them out in the world, they don’t—
Ted: Yeah, they don’t—that has been the most sobering reality or rationalization or thing to come to grips with, you know, on top of the disability, it’s not like in the movies where all your friends come and, you know, they support you and they tell you that you’re gonna be ok and the kid’s awesome and blah, blah. And in LA, that’s, oh wow, see ya. It’s that kind of energy.
Paul: Now I feel terrible that we’ve lost touch. We lost touch because I’m a self-absorbed asshole.
Ted: Yeah, I don’t really—I don’t think that you and I hung out since we moved to LA as much as we did back in Chicago, but, you know, that happened before the kid was born. So, you know, whatever division has occurred between you and I, you can’t—I can’t point to the kid for that. But there have been people that were thick as thieves in this house and were around us that are, you know, that are just gone. Gone. Poof.
Paul: How does that make you feel?
Ted: Fuck ‘em. Fuck ‘em. That’s how I feel. You hope for better, you know. And you invest your energy into friendships and relationships hoping for better. And that’s the risk of any investment, is that you’re putting something in hoping to get something in return. Friendship in my experience has been one of the dodgiest investments that a person can make, you know. All investments are dodgy, but the most dodgy is to say, “I like this person and I’m gonna donate and participate and support,” only to find that, meh, thanks for the support, thanks for the donations, see ya. Peace, I’m out. And, you know, I think that’s more—it’s human, but it’s more in LA.
Paul: I was just gonna say, LA is a very self-absorbed city. You walk down the street and people avoid eye contact.
Paul: People don’t say “hi.” It’s a very, very—it’s the most insular city I’ve ever been in.
Ted: Yeah, I was just talking to Lenny, uh, Lenny Schmidt about it the other day. I ran into him at an audition and he said that, you know, “I’ve been on a crusade, I’m saying ‘hello’ to everyone that I see,” and he says it’s just been dismal.
Paul: They almost look up as if you farted. You know, what?!
Ted: He said it’s been dismal.
Paul: You have nothing to gain from saying “hi” to me. Why would you do that?!
Ted: Why would you—exactly—why would you engage me when I don’t know who the hell you are. Yeah, yeah, so that’s part or LA. So you try to not take it personally, you know, and for me it’s been a question of just overcoming, you know, my ‘60’s, you know, Partridge Family sensibilities, my Bonanza/Gunsmoke sensibilities where we pull together and you’re my friend and I will fight the desperados with you and we will, you know, fuck that. You’re on your own.
Paul: So walk me through the arc of he’s born.
Ted: First of all, let me say I did not want children, I have children because I love my wife and all of her girlfriends were having children, so I believe that, you know, in any marriage, and this is what I tell, you know, people, especially about women, men and women, I say if you love a woman, eventually and ultimately if you really love her you’re going to give her what she wants, whatever that is. However it is that it is for you to acquire it, you will give her what she wants.
So I was happy being, you know, a selfish, you know, prick who had money and free time, so I didn’t really understand children. So our friends, Jimmy Rhodes—we lived in the same building with Jimmy Rhodes. He was a comic, a funny, funny man.
Paul: Sweet guy.
Ted: And he started having kids with his wife and we would go to their house when the kids were newborn, their first daughter, Lucy, was born. And it was just like hypnotic in that house. I mean, the sensation of just warmth and love, it’s addicting. You just feel there’s something addicting about babies. And so you walk home, you know, back to your apartment four doors away, and you sit in your little empty apartment and it’s, “The house kind of sucks, let’s go back over to Jimmy’s.” So that’s how it starts.
Paul: Did you feel that?
Ted: I did feel it.
Ted: I did feel it.
Paul: So it wasn’t just her then?
Ted: No, no. At that point it wasn’t. We’d already started talking about it and her kids, but that was the tipping point, fucking Jimmy and Marcie, who know I will never forgive them for what they did. (both laugh) So we started having kids. So we have Grace and Grace was born and she was healthy and happy and she was about six months old, and I came home from—I think I was shooting—I was working on a TV show at that point, I had just gotten back from shooting something, and, uh, Jamie comes to me and says, “You know we have to have another one, don’t you?” And I’m like, “What the—what? This one is just brand new, this one is six months old, what are you talking about?” “Well, you don’t want her to grow up alone. You don’t want her to be alone in the world, you know, when we’re old and we’re gone you don’t want her to …” And so you’re thinking, “Wow, I guess I don’t, I guess I don’t, you’re right, I don’t.”
And for a guy it means more sex, so ultimately what are we talking about, what are we talking about? We’re talking about more sex, so ok, ok, ok. So I’m in. So we have more sex. And the second baby’s a little harder to conceive than the first baby, but she gets pregnant and it was a really difficult pregnancy. A really difficult pregnancy for Jamie. She had trouble with her joints. In a lot of ways things that mirror what Jackson’s disability is now. She was walking on two canes and uh …
Paul: I remember.
Ted: She was very immobile and in a lot of discomfort. And I told her early on when she started to feel this pain and this discomfort to go to the doctor and talk about maybe getting the baby taken out prematurely, and, you know, cuz there’s something wrong. She, you know, was of the mind that you—the baby’s safer—the doctor says that the baby’s safer inside than anywhere else, so I don’t want to do that, I want to keep the baby inside and carry him to term and blah, blah, blah, blah. So now you have a fork in the road where the husband feels that this is not a good course that we’re on and the wife feels, you know, it is a good course and I’m gonna stay on it. And then when the baby’s born with disabilities down the road, which it took us about 18 months maybe to figure out that there’s something wrong with him. He was just slow in speech and one day, I think he was about maybe 14 months old when he stood, when he stood up. And he was standing in front of the TV watching Sesame Street and he was wobbling and he was constantly adjusting his balance. Constantly, just a constant redistribution of weight and I noticed that and I went, “Nah, doesn’t look right. He’s not standing still.” So we took him to a neurologist right away and he had blood drawn and they tested for all the, you know, all the different disorders and neurological disorders and, you know, genome deficiencies and he didn’t have any. He didn’t have any. He’s genetically sound. So the—two neurologists, and one neurologist said, “I believe that whatever his injuries were, they occurred in the womb.” And so that was like just, you know, my entire brain is on fire now. And, you know, the parts that aren’t on fire, there’s actual shit seeping through the walls. It’s just …
Paul: You’re enraged.
Ted: And I’m mad at her. “We have to have another one, you know we have to have another one.” “Maybe we don’t, maybe we don’t.” And maybe you’re not strong enough to carry another gigantic Ted Lyde baby, because they were big babies. She’s a small person. And I know it sounds horrible, but this is, this is the honest reaction, you just feel like, “Fuck man.” You know? We were doing ok. Fuck.
Paul: This isn’t something that’s gonna last six months this is …
Ted: Right, right.
Paul: A child that you are gonna be responsible for certainly until they’re 18 but if they’ve got issues, maybe the rest of their lives they’re gonna be dependent on you.
Ted: Yeah, no I don’t …
Paul: So that’s all going through your head and you’re probably freaking out, I would imagine.
Ted: And mostly I told you to do something about this. I told you—that for me is my biggest cross that I was bearing, I just recently put down, was, you know, if you’d just listened. If you’d just listened to me maybe he’d be ok. Maybe they’d have gotten him out before he was injured or whatever happened to him, and he’d have been a preemie but he probably would have come out ok. But we’ll never know now because—
Paul: Oh, I thought you meant that you wanted the baby aborted.
Ted: No, no, not aborted, never aborted, just—I wanted—you know, when he was—
Paul: I see.
Ted: When he was six months in the womb and she couldn’t walk, I’m like let’s get him pulled out of there.
Paul: I gotcha. Ok.
Ted: No, no, no. And then he’s born, actually, like a week or two after the due date. So he stays a very long time. “No this is good, I’m good.” So that was where—there was a lot of resentment there that, you know, like God damn it, you know. You wrecked my fucking son. I got one shot at a son and you drove him into a tree. What the fuck?
So, uh, it took a long time to get over that. He’s nine now. I’d say I’ve on the other side of that bridge for maybe two years now, maybe.
Paul: How did you get over the bridge?
Ted: Him. He convinces you that you know, Dad, I’m as good as I’m gonna be. I’m smart, I’m funny, you know, I’m a good kid.
Paul: He’s special.
Ted: Yeah. He’s a good—yeah—I’ve got friends—the other side of that is like I’ve got friends with normal kids that are his age and older and there kids are fucking nightmares. You know what I mean? So it’s a roll of dice no matter what kind of kid you get. It’s a roll of the dice. And part of that, you know, is what happens to the kid and part of that is how you choose to raise the kid, what your parameters and boundaries are for that child’s behavior and what they’re going to learn and when they’re going to learn it. And, uh, it’s, you know, that was when I started to feel better about her and myself and him and Grace, all of this is when I started to feel like, you know what, he’s an awesome kid and all I can do is, you know, love him and protect him and try to help be a sound kid.
Paul: Do you remember was there an expression of this to Jamie? How aware was she of the anger and the resentment that you felt? I’m sure—I know you, you weren’t too good at hiding it.
Ted: No, no, no, yeah, I don’t, I don’t—that’s one of my weaknesses as a human being, I think, is that I don’t—it’s hard for me to mask what I’m feeling and thinking or it’s hard for me to bite my tongue, even when I know there’s nothing—my brain will say, “There’s nothing to be gained by watch you’re about to fucking say.” And I will say it anyway. I will say it anyway. My brain will say, “Do not light this match. Do not light this match. Do not—what are you doing? What are you—oh my God, you’re an asshole. You’re lighting that match.” And that—and so the answer to the question is, no, she knew. She knew. The minute I—the minute I knew what was wrong with him, she knew that I was—yeah, that I wanted to just murder her. But, uh, you know, and it was hard. It was hard for both of us. It was hard for her, she felt, you know, bad. She feels bad and has felt bad for the circumstances and what has occurred, but at the same time, you know, that’s, that’s the investment. That’s what we talked about, you know, you invest in a child, you invest in a marriage, you invest and you can’t crap out just because you didn’t get the ki—you know my dad left when I was—my mom and dad were divorced when I was barely one years old. They were, you know, they were done, you know, which is remarkable to me because my sister and I are literally a year apart. My sister and I—my sister’s birthday is September 16th, my birthday is September 25th. And my children are 18 months apart. This has been a tangent, but you don’t really understand what that means until you have kids. My kids are 18 months apart, which is—they were both in diapers and Grace was finishing diapers when Jackson—and they’re babies. But then when I realized that my mother was raising two children that were literally 12 months apart, that’s—it didn’t dawn on me until I had kids, I’m like, “Wow.” You know, and I called her on the phone, and woke her up, and said, “Hey Mom, I just want to tell you that one, it’s amazing that you did that—that you were able to raise us and not murder us and keep us alive and you did a great job, and two, you know, it was really kind of fucked up that you never talked about how fucking hard it is, and how murderous it is to do this.” And she’s, “Well, you know, grandparents want to be grandparents. And I’m not—no grandparent—“ that was her answer. “No, why would I tell you that? Why would any parent tell you how miserable it is to have kids?” (both laugh) Because they want you to have kids! They want to be—they want to be grandparents.
Paul: Please choose a different word than miserable. Please choose a word different than miserable.
Ted: Listen, I say this in my act and I mean it from the bottom of my heart. I have two children and they are remarkable and I love them, uh, I do not recommend it. I do not recommend it. It is—it is the most overrated fucking job in the world, and it’s the most difficult job in the world. And, you know, Jamie and I argue about it all the time, you know. She got mad at me recently cuz she said, “Hey, um, you’re happy and you love them and you’re happy.” “Oh, well, I don’t know.” “You’d do it again wouldn’t you? You’d do it again?” “I don’t know—no, I wouldn’t do it again. I would not do it again. I’m doing it now. I’m it well now I think. I’m doing it so much better than my dad did, and you’re better than your dad. Your dad was dead by the time you were 12. So I’m doing a good job now. So for me to have to promise you future fucking lives, I’m not prepared to do that.”
Paul: Well, let me ask you this then, is that—but that is not based on who your children are, that would be with any children?
Ted: Yeah, oh, no definitely.
Ted: I’m not—no, yeah, I’m talking about being a soldier. I’m talking about going out into the trenches. You could love America and you could want to kill terrorists all day. That doesn’t mean it’s a great gig. That doesn’t mean you want to do and you’d sign up to do it again. That’s what it’s like to be a parent. It is—you fight the good fight every day and you give your heart every day. Only a moron would say, “I’d sign up for this 100 times.” Why? Why? When there’s—if there’s an alternative life with me on a beach with Halle Berry and my feet in sand, why would I choose to do this again? I’ve already done it, you know what I mean?
Paul: But don’t you realize that five minutes into being on the beach with Halle Berry she’s gonna go, “I really wanna have kids.”
Ted: (laughs) Yeah, you know, yeah. Then it all starts over again. I don’t know, I honestly don’t know what I’m talking about except to say—
Paul: It’s tough.
Ted: It’s hard. And once you’ve been a standup comedian, where you wake up and go to bed at will, when you spend your money at will.
Paul: You work an hour a day.
Ted: You work an hour a day. To go from that to a life where you’re at their beck and call and every nickel that you have, you know, goes to them, and this woman that used to be, you know, the center of your universe, and you were the center of her universe, where you’re like lucky if you’re like third on the list. You know what I mean?
Ted: You know, i-i-it’s a hard thing to reconcile yourself with every morning when you know what your life used to be like. You know, like, wow, ok, all right, so, all right, fine, here we go. Here we go. Daddy loves you. Daddy’s here. Daddy loves you. Daddy’s here. And that’s the best I can do.
Paul: I appreciate your honesty, I really do. That’s—a lot of people wouldn’t have the balls to say that and be that honest about that because they’re afraid that they would come across as dislikable.
Ted: Yeah. Well, i-it’s not a popular position. And it’s not a popular reality, but it’s a reality and I think it’s a reality that a lot of people are living and—but won’t admit it.
Paul: Well, the surveys that I read, yes. That’s true. That’s true. I’ve read more than a few surveys of mothers that—and fathers too—that will even go so far as to say, “I don’t really like my kids. You know, I dream of driving away from—just abandoning my spouse and my kids.” That’s one of the most popular—one of the questions is, “What are the darkest thoughts you have?”
Paul: I’d say at least once a week I get a parent that writes, “I dream of just abandoning my spouse and my children and starting a new life somewhere else.”
Ted: Yeah. Yeah, two thoughts on that. And it’s a reasonable feeling. I think that the mistake that most parents make that feel that way is that you have to understand you are raising a person that, at least in a limited portion of time, have some control over what kind of person that person’s going to be. So it’s up to you to create a person that you can tolerate. It’s up to you—you have a limited window to create a person that understands, ok, this is my dad, and this what he likes, this is what he’s going to put up with, this is how far I can go before he loses his mind. You have to teach that child to be a good roommate in the house. And to live, you know, and to be a good band member. You know what I mean? You play the drums, you keep your beat, I’m gonna play the guitar, we’re gonna sing the song and nobody’s gonna get murdered. That’s your job. So if you have a kid that can’t carry a tune that you want to drop off and kick out of the band and get a new—then part of your—part of that is your responsibility. Part of that is your responsibility. There’s a point where, you know, nature takes over and the kid’s gonna be what it’s gonna be. But while the kid is young, you have a chance to make them someone that understands you and that you understand.
Paul: Or certainly influence who they’re gonna become. I would imagine that there are kids genetically that even the most well-intentioned, hovering over them (in a good way) attentive parent, it’s beyond their, it’s beyond their control, you know. There’s just something with the kid that has emotional problems, maybe some screwed up brain chemistry. I would imagine there are those kids too and that has got to be, for that parent, they, I can imagine, want to scream to the world, “You don’t know how hard I’m trying.”
Ted: No, I totally, I agree. I agree. And, you know, I have to—I have had to deal with that with Jackson, because you don’t, you know, you don’t know where his baseline is or what—how far off he is or what’s going on. But what you do have to do and what you can do is let him know, you know, this is what is expected of you and this is what is tolerated. And the rest of it is, you know, you have to cross your fingers and try to be nurturing, but I believe, you know, I’m just old-fashioned in that way, in that I believe that I love my kids and they’re spoiled rotten. My daughter doesn’t do a single chore in this house. If you ask her to do a chore, it’s a production. She’ll wash the dishes but she’ll let you know, “Oh, I can’t believe I’m washing dishes.”
Paul: This is so beneath me.
Ted: This is a pretty big deal. I can’t believe. Oh, all right. But when I was a kid, you know, we mopped every floor in the floor in the house was mopped by me, and, you know, everything was done by me and my sister and we did it all. My mother worked, she came home, and she didn’t expect to have to work at the house. You know, she cooked us dinner, but we cleaned. And so, but my point is, that you indulge your children in one way but at the same time you say no. You say no, this is not gonna work.
She got a shot yesterday. This is just yesterday. And Jamie came home—in the past Grace has always gotten her shots with Jackson. They’ve always been little and they go together and they get their shots. And I tell her, “You’ve got to be brave for Jackson because Jackson’s gonna freak out when they try to give him a shot.” And I tell Jackson, “You’ve got to be brave for Grace because she doesn’t like needles and she’s gonna freak out. So you guys have to be brave for each other.” And they go in the room, and they get shots, and everyone was cool. Everyone was cool.
Paul: That’s genius, by the way.
Ted: Everyone was cool. Thank you. So, yesterday Jamie took her for the first time and the ages they are, she got a shot without Jackson, and Jamie told me she kind of freaked out. They put the needle down, they were preparing the shot, and Grace kind of went through a little, “No, no, no,” kind of thing, and they came hold and told me about it. And I told her, “Grace, listen, nobody likes shots. Daddy doesn’t like them either. I—when they give me a shot I look away. When they draw blood I’m looking away. I can’t—I don’t like it, but I don’t want to hear another story about this with you. I don’t want to hear any more about this. You’re a big girl. You’ve had 100 shots. They’re not gonna kill you. You know what it’s like to get a shot. I don’t wanna hear any more about you freaking out when someone wants to give you a shot and that’s that.” That is my position. That is my position on this. There are things that I will endorse that you should be afraid of, it makes sense for you to be afraid of but we’re not going to build up phobias and waste time with things that are inevitable and things that you can’t get around and things that nobody likes. Nobody likes this so don’t—let’s not make a big deal out of it. Let’s just get the shot and keep it moving. But in the future if I can I will try to continue to let them get their shots together.
Ted: If I can. So, but a lot of people say, “Well you’re such a—you’re just an asshole. You’re gonna tell her not to be—you won’t tolerate her being afraid of shots.” I don’t know, maybe I am an asshole, but I think I’m allowing her the wisdom to know that some things are a waste of time.
Paul: There are certain things you just gotta suck up and…
Ted: Right. Don’t waste the doctor’s time with this.
Paul: Go ahead.
Ted: No that’s all, that’s it.
Paul: I don’t even know where to weigh in on that because, you know, there are people that have phobias that don’t make sense, that aren’t logical, um, and then there are things that people, yeah, you’re being kind of a baby about this, you’re being a child. Who’s to know which is which? Is it something that …
Ted: I agree. But—
Paul: Try to tell somebody, “Don’t be afraid of spiders.” You can tell them it all day long but …
Ted: One of my kids loves water. Jackson loves water. He’s not a swimmer but he loves water. Grace has been taking swimming lessons since she was three years old. She was—we were doing Mommy and Me when she was one year old. Me and her. Grace—Jamie was at work. Grace and I would be in a pool at the Y. Me, the only 200 pound black guy in the water with a little white baby with a bunch of little white women in the pool, teaching her not to be afraid of water. She turns six and she’s in her first legitimate swim class and she—
Paul: Jamie is white, by the way.
Ted: Yeah, Jamie’s Irish.
Paul: She’s as white as they come. A porcelain doll was really the only whiter option that you would have had.
Ted: Exactly. So, so, uh, so Grace, yeah, so she’s in swimming class but she’s not doing well. She’s not prospering, she’s not moving forward and she’s being held, basically being held back. And each session’s—so I tell her, I go, “What’s going on with you and swim class, Grace, you’ve been in the wa—“ And she says, “I don’t like to my face wet. I don’t like to get my face wet.” And I’m like, “You’ve been in the water since you’ve been alive, now all of the sudden you don’t like to get your face wet.” I’m like, “Ok, fine. You don’t like to get your face wet. Here’s what I want to point out to you – you do what you want to do but I want you start looking around you, when you’re sitting there on the side of the pool with other kids and you’ll notice that you are the biggest and old big kid in the class and all the other kids are essentially babies. And the reason that you’re surrounded by babies is they’re moving all the big swimmers forward and they’re holding you back and you’re staying in the baby class because you’ve chosen to not get your face wet. So I just want you to—point that out to you, you decide how you feel about it.” And she went to class and looked around and that was the last session she was held back, she was moved forward after that. So I—what some people might call me being an asshole was just—
Paul: I don’t think that was being an asshole. The way you phrase—you didn’t belittle her by saying that, you just pointed something out, showed her what she had control over, and left the decision up to her.
Ted: Right. And that’s how I feel about the thing with the shot. It’s the same type of mentality, is that there’s—you know, I can indulge you and tell you that it’s ok for you to act that way, everybody gets afraid, it’s ok, or I can tell you, you know what? No. It’s—sometimes in life things suck and you’ve gotta go through them anyway. So that’s, that is what I think is missing from the arsenal of so many parents that I go—Grace goes to school with. I deal with parents and I watch their method and I just go, “All right, you’re dealing with this kid like, you know, like you’re trying to buy a car from them and you don’t want them to feel badly about you, so you try to get a good deal, and you’re not. You’re not trying to get a good deal.
Paul: Are there any—before we go into the fear-off and love-off, is there anything you want to touch on, any seminal moments in your life?
Ted: One thing that I wanted to—that came to mind was about the—me being an asshole about parenting, taking the unpopular opinion, is I have two friends that are about to have kids, and this if after Jackson was born. And they came to me and Jackson was not even a year old, and I had two kids and we were at the park, we were still living in the valley at that point and they came to visit and talked to me about babies because they just recently married so they wanted to know. And I knew the guy for ages, we’re still friends, and the wife was a new commodity, so she didn’t know me and I didn’t know her. But they were both there and they asked me what it was like, you know, to be a dad. And I told them flat out. And this was before Jackson—before I knew he was really even diagnosed with anything odd. I said, “No, no, no, you don’t want to do this. You don’t want to do this.” And I was completely dead serious, you don’t want to do this. And so they drove away and my friend called me and said, “Yeah, she was pissed.” She was like, “You know, your friend’s an asshole. Why would he say those things? What kind of a guy is he? Why would he say that? He’s just a dick, blah, blah, blah.” Ok. Well, I’m sorry you feel that. Cut to them two years later after they’ve had their kid. She comes to me and says, “You know, do you remember when we were at the park that time, you said, blah, blah, blah?” She goes, “I thought you were such an asshole for saying that, but now I totally get what you were trying to say. I totally get it.” And that was like a moment—one of those rare moments of vindication in life. It doesn’t mean you don’t love your kids, it just means frickin’ do you want to be up at 7:00 every day for the rest of your life now, because if that’s what you want, that’s what you’re signing up for. Because if you want to never have privacy or never have money, or never—then that’s what you’re signing up for. And it’s just a way to get used to it. Everyone gets used to anything. Ask people what’s it like on Death Row? Well, you get used to it. (both laugh) But, but if you ask someone, “Do you recommend it?” if they’re honest, they’re gonna say, “You know what? I love my kids but it’s fucking murder.”
Paul: Let me be a dick for a second and, like it’s the only time I’ve ever been a dick, when you talked about your friends leaving, is it possible that some of those friends were chased away by the rage that you had for seven years of Jackson’s life?
Ted: Very, yeah. That—I hadn’t thought of that. Very, very possible.
Paul: That might have been really uncomfortable for them to be around.
Ted: Yeah, no, I hadn’t thought about that, that maybe it was the fact that they could tell Ted wanted to murder his wife, and yeah.
Paul: I mean I would want to leave that room if I saw a special needs kid and a dad resenting that kid, I wouldn’t want to be in that room.
Ted: It was never the kid so much as it was the mother. Let me make that distinction. I don’t think anyone would ever walk away saying, “Ted doesn’t like his kid.”
Paul: But you don’t know that. You just see a kid that’s difficult and a dad that’s pissed and most people are just gonna put those two together. They’re not gonna see that you’re pissed at the wife, they’re just gonna think, “This dad is upset that this is his kid.” That’s why I would …
Ted: I know we had breakfast at Pete and Romy’s (sp?) once when Jackson was little and it was a very uncomfortable, awkward breakfast because he was misbehaving and inconsolable and I was still in my, you know, kill Jamie phase. And so I—they would be some people to ask, “What was that day like with—how much steam was coming out of Ted’s ears that day?” But I stand by the fact that anybody that has been involved or seen me they—it’s very clear. Just like anybody that’s listening to the conversation that you and I are having, it’s very clear that he’s not—it’s never been directed at the boy. Never been directed at the daughter. It’s been directed at the person who said, “You know we gotta have another one, right?” That’s the person it’s always been directed at her.
Paul: And are you guys good today?
Ted: As good as we can get, you know, it’s …
Paul: Marriage is fucking work. It’s work and a lot of compromise.
Ted: And, yeah, and the thing that she and I have talked about that is the biggest red herring, the biggest thing for me, is sex, is—back when we met in college, sex was at a premium, but there was nothing to hold me there, there was nothing—sex was the thing that kept me in the relationship and kept me driving forward. I loved her and sex was great. But there was nothing really at stake except for the relationship. Now that everything is at stake, you know, thousands and thousands of dollars and these two children’s psyches, and, you know, the future is all at stake, and now all of the sudden sex is not…. Do you know what I mean? Now sex is like this thing that is on—it’s a special order from the cook, you gotta go and ask him, I don’t know if he’s gonna—he doesn’t like to put the sausage on the thing with the thing, so maybe he’ll do it, maybe he won’t. You know what I mean? That is the irony.
Paul: That’s why God gave us thumbs.
Ted: Yes. I agree, I agree. So ….
Paul: Let’s do a love-off—or a fear-off.
Ted: Oh boy. Let’s try. I’ve written down some things.
Paul: Go ahead.
Ted: I fear that no one likes me, or worse, no one likes anyone, really.
Paul: I’m gonna be reading the fears, finishing up the fear list from M, she’s a listener. She writes, “I’m afraid I’m becoming an alcoholic.”
Ted: Oh my. I fear I will die alone in a hovel like my father.
Paul: Your father died alone in a hovel?
Ted: Yeah, he did, he died alone with like six kids, yeah, two marriages, and he died alone in like a one bedroom apartment. Yeah, perforated his bowel and he bled out in his own house alone.
Paul: I so want to end the show right now man.
Ted: So I’m afraid that after all is said and done, my children will not be able to abide me when they’re 30 and my wife will have left me and I will be living in the basement of this house.
Paul: M writes, “I’m afraid I’m becoming—“ oh, I already read that one. “I’m afraid my significant other will eventually get tired of dealing with my insecurities and give up.”
Ted: I’m afraid that after I die my son will be at the mercy of a world that thinks “retard” is a funny word.
Paul: M writes, “I’m afraid I’m being manipulated into obsessing over menial things such as wealth and consumerism and will continually be distracted from the things that matter in life.” That’s a good healthy fear.
Ted: Say it once more?
Paul: She is afraid of being manipulated into obsessing over menial things such as wealth and consumerism and will continually be distracted from the things that matter in life. Like she’s buying into the capitalism that things are what make you happy.
Ted: That is good. That is, yeah, that is good. And that’s one of the things you have to try to teach your kids early too is that crap is good but it’s not the only thing.
I’m afraid my daughter is too much like me. She has a big heart and a lot of opinions and sometimes she puts more on the table than is to her benefit.
Paul: M says, “I’m afraid I will never overcome my arrogance and fear of asking people for help.” That’s a good—that is a really good thing to be aware of because it keeps a lot of people stuck, the fear of asking for help.
Ted: That’s true. That’s true. I, um, I don’t have any more fears. I have a wish list that I made a little—a couple of wishes.
Paul: Let’s hear them.
Ted: I often wish I was dead, not so much because I am eager to die, but more because I’m curious to see what it’s like to have a wish come true.
Paul: You could pick a better wish to test the waters on than you gotta be dead?!
Ted: I’m pretty sure that this is one that’s gonna cash in. So I’m gonna continue to make this wish every now and then, just so I feel like a winner when it finally fucking happens.
Paul: Any other wishes?
Ted: That’s pretty much it, that’s it.
Paul: I love your honesty, Ted, it’s so great. You’re a great guest.
Ted: My pleasure.
Paul: Let’s do some loves.
Ted: You know, my love list is short.
Paul: That’s ok. Short and sweet.
Ted: I love my family. I love my children and despite everything you’ve heard if you’ve been listening to this, I grumble and I complain, and I only do that because I’m miserable. But I don’t believe that you cannot be both miserable and love a thing. I think that love and misery often go hand-in-hand, so I love my children, I would not trade them for anything, I would lay down in traffic for them, even though I would not do it again.
Paul: Ok. I’m gonna be reading loves from a listener named Kate. Continuing with her list, we were about halfway through it on a previous podcast. She writes, “I love deep, meaningful discussions with my mother.”
Ted: Wow. I have to call my mom. I don’t love conversations with my mother. I love my mother, but man, she, uh, yeah. My mom has diabetes and I have Type II diabetes but my mom has diabetes, so whenever I go visit her she has actual pie in her refrigerator which is—she should never have pie, but she’ll have like a whole fucking apple pie in the fridge, like a big, giant Costco apple pie. And she lives alone, with her and that fucking pie, it’s just, she just drives me nuts.
Paul: In her defense, have you ever had Costco apple pie? It’s the best apple pie, I swear to God I’ve ever had. It’s so good.
Ted: It is good. I shouldn’t eat it either, every now and then I’ll have a slice, but …
Paul: Did you have any more loves or is that it?
Ted: No. I’m gonna listen to her loves and if something sparks me I will comment.
Paul: “I love watching my mother bloom into a fuller, happier person since my parents’ divorce.” Well that’s an interesting one.
Ted: That’s good.
Paul: “I love waking up to a good day after having a truly trying day when my depression is trying to take control of me. It gives me hope it is not in charge.”
Ted: That’s good.
Paul: “I love a really satisfying book that you weren’t expecting to be fantastic.”
“I love waking up in the middle of the night after a nightmare and finding my husband is still awake and that he’s there to instantly comfort me back to sleep.”
Oh that’s a sweet one. Let’s go out on that one.
Ted: That is very cool.
Paul: Ted Lyde, thank you so much for your honesty and I’m glad that we were able to do this and it’s been too long.
Ted: It’s my pleasure. I had a great time. And anybody listening that wants to talk to me about any of these issues, special needs children or just whether or not you disagree with anything I’ve said, you can find me on Facebook and I will talk to you on Facebook if you are so inclined.
Paul: And Lyde is spelled L-Y-D-E. Thanks Ted.
Ted: No worries. Thank you.
Paul: Many thanks to Ted Lyde for one of the most honest interviews I’ve done in the last year-and-a-half of doing this podcast. Really, really appreciate that. I want to give a shout out to all the people who make this podcast possible. We’re not done yet, I’ve still got some surveys that I want to read but I wanted to give some shouts out to the guys that help keep the spammers out of the forum – Michael, Manny, Dan and John, thank you guys. To the transcribing team, you guys know who you are. There’s like 15 of you, I appreciate it. And the podcast—the podcast—these meds that I’m on sometimes make searching for words really difficult and I apologize. It’s actually quite embarrassing sometimes. I used to be able to have words right on the tip of my tongue but a little dumber, a little happier. The audio clip collection team, I want to thank those guys for doing the job that they do, especially Matt who heads up the team.
I want to remind you there’s a couple of different ways you can support the podcast, you can do it financially by going to the website mentalpod.com and making a one-time PayPal donation or a recurring monthly donation for as little as $5, and the recurring monthly is really music to my ears because it helps me know kind of consistently how much money is coming in and whether or not I have a real shot of making this podcast a fulltime gig for myself, which is, as many you know, my dream. You can also support it financially by shopping at Amazon through the little search box on our website, that way Amazon gives us a couple nickels when you do in fact buy something. And you can also buy a T-shirt on the website. And you can support us non-financially by going to iTunes and giving us a good rating. That boosts our ranking and brings more people to the show. And you can also spread the word through social media. That really, really helps cause the more the show grows, the more of a pompous ass I become. That didn’t turn out right.
All right. This first survey that I’m gonna read is filled out by a woman who calls herself Abby, she’s a teenager, she’s bisexual, and this is from the Shouldn’t Feel This Way survey. And “What would you like people to say about you at your funeral?” She writes, “She was good at drawing.”
“How does writing that make you feel?” She writes, “It makes me feel like all they will say is I’m shy, quiet and average. All of that is true, but I wish it wasn’t.”
“If you had a time machine, how would you use it?” She writes, “I would replay the nights when I was a child, when I was lying in bed, mum or dad about to fuck me, and they would lift the sheet—“ Oh my god. (laughs) It says, “Mom or dad about to tuck me in,” and I thought it said, “about to fuck me!” I have been reading too many fucked up surveys. Oh my God. And I gotta get the prescription on my glasses changed. Cuz the first time I read this, I wanted to read this because it’s super sweet and then I read this, you know, as you can tell, 30 seconds ago, and I was like, how did I miss mom and dad wanted to fuck me? But that was me misreading it. All right.
Here is how it should have been read from the beginning, “If you had a time machine, how would you use it?” She writes, “I would replay the nights when I was child, when I was lying in bed, mom or dad about to tuck me in, and they would lift the sheet and let it float down all over me. Then they would get my favorite hand puppet and make it move and it would seem so real to me.” And then they would jizz on my face. No, I added that last part.
I just thought that was sweet. When I hear people describe moments of their parents just really being invested and being present and playful with their kids, that just really moves me. So I wanted to read that one.
This next one is also from the Shouldn’t Feel This Way survey, and this was filled out by a girl named Nikki, she’s gay and also a teenager. “What would you like people to say about you at your funeral?” She writes, “That I was kind and warm, that I was smart and creative, that I helped people, that I was happy.”
“How does writing that make you feel?” She writes, “That none of that is actually true about me.”
“If you had a time machine, how would you use it?” She writes, “I’d go back and observe the life of Oscar Wilde or Sylvia Plath.”
“Please write as many of these as you feel like: I’m supposed to feel <blank> about <blank>, but I don’t, I feel <blank>.” She writes, “I’m supposed to feel happy about being at university, but I don’t, I feel like I’m not good enough and that I don’t belong.” Nikki, I cannot tell you how many people’s surveys I’ve read, college students, that say that exact same thing. The most common that I get reading these surveys, the I Shouldn’t Feel This Way, is people feel like they should be happier than they are, and that they should be more grateful about something and so then they beat themselves up for not feeling that way. And if there’s one thing that I’d like to get across to people out there, whatever you are feeling, you are feeling, and there is no wrong feeling. There are just healthy and unhealthy ways of expressing it, in my opinion. I cooked food on TBS, I know what I’m talking about. All right, so shut the fuck up and listen.
“How does it make you feel to write your real feelings out?” She writes, “Scared.”
“Do you think you’re abnormal for feeling what you do?” She says, “Yes.”
“Would knowing other people feel the same way make you feel better about yourself?” She writes, “I think so.” Well, Nikki you just heard me confirm that tons of students feel that exact same way. And the other thing that students feel, the ones that are about to graduate, are terrified. And guess what? Most of the adults out there living their lives with careers, with families, also terrified. So I got a news flash – most people walk around terrified. And that’s why I started this show.
All right. The last survey I want to read is also from Shouldn’t Feel This Way survey. It was filled out by a woman in her twenties, bisexual, calls herself Slater, and “What would you like people to say about you at your funeral?” She writes, “That I changed their life in the most positive way. I want to know that I’ve been valued, will be missed, and made a difference.”
“How does writing that make you feel?” She writes, “Terrified it won’t happen. That the people I touch won’t extend beyond the immediate circle of friends and family.”
“If you had a time machine, how would you use it?” She writes, “Assuming I can use it more than once, I’d want to see the interesting things I’ve missed. Observe dinosaurs or the genesis of life, hang out in the biblical times just to see how inaccurate the Bible is. Go to Woodstock or see Nirvana live. Attend a speech by someone like MLK or Gandhi or Harvey Milk. Be there when Kennedy was assassinated, knowing what to look for. Watch my dad the night he tried to kill us.”
“Write as many of these as you feel like: I’m supposed to feel <blank> about <blank> but I don’t, I feel <blank>.” She writes, “I’m supposed to feel terrified about knowing my disease will kill me but I don’t, I feel oddly soothed by it. A calm acceptance. I’m supposed to feel confident about my marriage but I don’t, I feel horrible that I’m always wondering if I’d be better off without him and should leave or if it was a mistake. I’m supposed to feel unconditional love towards my mother, but I don’t. I feel pity, frustration and sadness. I’m supposed to feel hatred towards my father for what he did, but I don’t. I feel like that singular, violent act has done far less damage than the cumulative affect of my mother’s misguided actions.”
“How does it make you feel to write your real feelings out?” She writes, “Relieved. And hopeful that it can help validate someone else’s feelings.”
“Do you think you’re abnormal for feeling what you do?” She writes, “Not in the least.”
“Would knowing other people feel the same way make you feel better about yourself?” She writes, “I know that they do. Knowing that they’d be comfortable talking openly about it and that it was socially acceptable to do so would make me feel better about the world.” And that is why I read that beautiful, beautiful survey. Man, you know what I loved about that survey, other than the honesty, was the deep level of acceptance. And it’s such a realistic view of the world, and, you know, I think we get spoon fed so much Hollywood bullshit that we think everybody else is living that Hollywood happiness, and most of us are just confused, often sad, a lot of times angry, and feeling like the world’s three steps ahead of us. When in reality we’re really right there along with each other, trying to figure out this thing as best we can. And I think her survey perfectly summed it up. And she’s got a disease that it sounds like, is eventually going to kill her and she’s made peace with that. That takes my—it takes my bad breath away.
I love you guys. I’ll say it again – I’ve never been fatter, made less money, or been as happy. So thank you all for helping be a part of this community that we’re growing together. Right now my brain’s going, “Cheesy! Cheesy!” Fuck it, I don’t care. Feels good. Feels good to be a part of something that has meaning. And if you’re out there and you’re stuck, don’t give up. There’s so many of us, there’s so many—most of you that were probably feeling stuck at the beginning of this episode, after hearing some of the surveys and some of the stuff I’ve talked about are probably, “You know, actually, I’m alright. I’m good.” Anyway, you’re not alone. And thank you for listening.