Todd Glass (voted #1 ep of 2014)
The comedian and author shares about growing up with Dyslexia, OCD, being held back in grade school, his coming out of the closet in his 40s and the politics of language especially in regards to sexism.
The comedian and author shares about growing up with Dyslexia, OCD, being held back in grade school, his coming out of the closet in his 40s and the politics of language especially in regards to sexism.
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Gilmartin: Welcome to episode 195 with my guest Todd Glass. I’m Paul Gilmartin. This is the Mental Illness Happy Hour, honesty about all the battles in our heads from medically diagnosed conditions, past traumas, and sexual dysfunction, to everyday compulsive negative thinking. This show is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical counseling. It’s not a doctor’s office. I’m not a therapist. It’s more like a waiting room that doesn’t suck.
The website for this show is mentalpod.com. Go check it out, fill out a survey, let us get to know you, see how other people filled out surveys sharing their deepest, darkest secrets. You can also read blogs, you can support the show financially, or, as I like to say, you can go there, put your thumb up your ass and go fuck yourself, which may be a full day. So you might want to make sure you’re well rested if you’re going to do one of those.
I want to mention that I am coming to Toronto again to be a part of the Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival, and I’ll be interviewing former NHL goalie Clint Malarchuk. It’s going to be a live recording of the podcast, and it’s going to happen on Saturday, November 15th, I think, I want to say, around seven p.m., either late afternoon or early evening. If you just Goggle “Rendezvous with Madness,” you’ll find it on the schedule. I think I’ll also put a link up on my website to it.
What else did I want to mention? I think that’s about it. This is a survey I want to read.
Oh, one other thing I wanted to mention, too, in Todd’s interview we never got into the fact that—I’m not sure we even talked about the fact that he has ADHD, and there was so much other stuff to talk about, but as I told him when I was editing the podcast, it was like, wow, Todd definitely does have ADHD. His thoughts come a mile a minute. But he’s doing okay with it. He has a way of managing it outside of meds, and I haven’t been able to connect with him to find out exactly what that is because I’m a lazy piece of shit. Look at that! Look how I was just able to find a tiny opening and put myself down.
This is from the “Struggle in a Sentence” survey, and it’s filled out by a guy who calls himself Capital Mum, about having borderline personality disorder. He says, “Every interaction I have is intended to make sure that the other person will not neglect or leave me. Nothing is more important that feeling important.”
This is the same survey filled out by a woman who calls herself Smashley Ashley, and about her anxiety she says, “Constantly obsessing over the look someone gave me or the thing I said that I wish I hadn’t, and the more I obsessed, the more depressed and angry at myself I get.” Boy, do I relate to that one.
Having a physical handicap, being severely but not totally hearing impaired, she says, “It’s like my world belongs to other people and I cannot speak the language, and even though I’m very bright, I’m looked upon as an idiot because I don’t seem to catch the simplest jokes.”
Snapshot from her life, “I no longer trust my own mind to give me reality. For example, I will be at my daughter’s school to pick her up and start wondering if I’m really a mom with a six-year-old daughter or if it’s the year 2050 and I’m some elderly woman who’s escaped from a nursing home or other institution and am only imagining it’s 2014.” Thank you for that.
This one is filled out by a guy who calls himself Travis Mumbles. In a snapshot from his life, he says, “I often stare into the eyes of those who trust I know what I’m doing, looking to see if they can tell I’m not there.” I think I understand what he’s saying with that one. Either way, it’s fuckin’ deep and heavy. Thank you for that, Travis.
And then I wanted to read this email I got from—she wants to be called Cha Cha Cha, and she wrote me and she said, “I had a moment yesterday where I didn’t know where to turn, and you popped in my head. This has been a rough month. My father is ill, and I moved him to be with me. I have taken all the responsibility, and I still can’t do enough. He’s been sick for way too long, and I understand why he is depressed, but today he began to refuse treatment. He’s done fighting insurance, the pain, everything. I completely understand why he wants to, but then I can’t. He is committing suicide, essentially. Two weeks of no dialysis treatment, and that will be his end. This makes me sick. I’m going to get him to speak to a psychologist, and I have hope that will bring him relief. Anyways, I don’t know if there is much you or anyone else can say, but I felt like you would be someone who would understand, and, yes, I think I’m going to talk to someone as well.”
And I wrote her back and I said, “I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine what a burden that must be. I think talking to someone is a great idea, and I’d encourage both of you to do it. I don’t know if depression is distorting his reality or if he’s being realistic about it. Now, let’s assume it’s the latter, that he is being realistic about his choices. Here are my thoughts, although I probably shouldn’t weigh in on this because I’ve never been in a similar experience, but you know me, I can’t keep my opinions to myself.
“My feeling is it’s your dad’s life and it’s his choice. I think it’s healthy for you to let him know your feelings about it, how his leaving will affect you emotionally, and being aware that if you keep repeating it, that it’s no longer sharing your feelings but trying to change him, which we can’t. Not accepting his decision might be something that hurts whatever time you do have left with him. It’s possible he might need someone to say, ‘I understand. I’m so sorry you’re in so much pain and that you feel this is your best option. I can’t imagine how hard that might be, but know that I love you and I will be here for you in whatever way I can.’
“I think you can say he is committing suicide, but if the quality of his life is only going to get worse, another viewpoint might be that he is surrendering to a process that is human, inevitable, and universal. I don’t feel the same way about people who are in pain from mental illness and afraid to seek help or don’t believe it will help, because they have not explored all possibilities to get better. Of course, the difficulty with mental illness is that it tells us we’ve explored them all when we usually haven’t.
“I hope that you appreciate how successfully I’m adding to your burden by probably confusing you. It’s a talent I’m quite proud of. The important thing is, I’m getting to hear myself talk, and I think your dad would appreciate that.”
[Music] “Oh, god, I wish I didn’t need to take meds. Flat-out fuckin’ auditory hallucinations. I would literally wake up running from my bed.”
“I’m afraid that I’ll pass my anger on to my son.”
“I thought the gun man was my father.”
“I’m afraid of not being able to make a living.”
“That’s probably going to break his heart if he hears it, but that’s the truth.”
“They committed him to Bellevue.”
“There was this fear that if I feel this pain—.”
“I wish someone could see what was going on and just help me.”
“—that it will kill me, and I will die and I will drown.”
“You can’t think your way out of a thinking problem.”
“And I cried the way that a baby cries. I cried like an animal.”
“It makes me so mad at myself when I do that.”
“The burden of perfectionism.”
“And that’s when I got to therapy.”
“Let’s talk about that.”
“It was like, ‘Fuck it, I’m alive! I don’t give a shit about anything!’”
“You are a shining example of what is best about human beings.”
“I worry that the depression [unclear] is coming over the hill.”
“I know that, but, Alice, how ya feelin’?”
“Oh, pretty good. Pretty good.” [laughter]
Gilmartin: I’m here with Todd Glass, who I have to say is one of my favorite people to riff with. When you walk into a room, I truly get giddy, like, oh, I’m going to get to play. You truly bring an energy to a room that is not only infectious, but like in a good way it’s childlike, it’s—
Glass: Well, I love that you say that, because you know how sometimes like everyone likes to get compliments, it feels nice, but then sometimes it feels awkward? But like inside, I can say it this way better, like after all that inside, it always feels great because I want it to be like that, and I love it. And that’s—the word you used, “giddy,” is the word I always think—I love that word, because I feel giddy and also I giggle.
Gilmartin: You do. You’re such a good laugher.
Glass: Yeah, I love to be funny, but I also love to be the recipient of a straight person for somebody else. And I don’t have to have anything dramatic happen in my life to just—I’ve said this a million times—fuck, I get to hang out with comedians and act like I’m in seventh grade for the rest of my life.
Gilmartin: I love it.
Glass: Whatever grade you pick. You know what I mean, though.
Gilmartin: Yeah. Because it’s the reason we got into this, is to have that, is to be able to keep playing, to not have to—do you remember looking at adults and going, “God, when did they become boring?”
Glass: Well, and it happens to people at weird ages. Some people, it happens at twenty-eight, thirty, thirty-one. You know what I mean? People have it happen earlier than you would think. But I do remember my parents—now I understand why when anybody writes a book, they always go, “I talk about this in the book.” And I thought, “Well, why do I do that now, if it’s in the book? Am I afraid people are going to read—?” Maybe it’s because you’re afraid people are going to read the book and then go, “He talked about that in the podcast.” Like, you know, as a comedian, you would never do your material and you try to—
Gilmartin: But your book is different. But your book is different. It’s okay to retread that stuff.
Glass: But that’s why I think out of paranoia I always go, “So, as I talk about in the book.”
But when my parents, when we were growing up, they had us very young, and I remember some of their friends would come upstairs when we were sleeping and, like, jump on our bed and be silly with us. And I’m like, “God, when I get older, I want to be like that,” only in this case, they were probably like twenty-four. They were twenty-four years old, twenty-five years old. They might have been even younger than that.
Glass: But that’s—you know.
Gilmartin: You are originally from the East Coast, right?
Glass: For what it’s worth, if anyone’s a court stenographer listening to your show, they probably were about twenty-six. So just in case.
Glass: What were you going to say?
Gilmartin: You’re originally from the East Coast, originally from Philadelphia?
Glass: Philadelphia, yes.
Gilmartin: Your book, which I just finished reading, is called The Todd Glass Situation. And for those of you that don’t know, Todd, what his situation was, is that he was in the closet for forty-some years, maybe?
Glass: Yeah. Well, since birth. [laughter] I remember, too, someone asking me, “What’s your deal?” Yeah. And I think I also say in the book that that term—but that’s not one of the terms that I don’t like that I think other people have to stop using. No, that’s a fine term, and when you say it, everyone knows what you mean. Just it’s a thing within me. I said that I wish it was “bust out of the shed,” because it’s a little more manly. It’s like—
Gilmartin: You came out on Mark Maron’s podcast about two years ago, was it?
Glass: Yeah, almost two years ago.
Gilmartin: And you were very nervous.
Glass: I was. When I listen back—and, you know, so many things are in my own head, but for what it’s worth, I’ll put it out there. I didn’t talk about this my whole life. Although I didn’t want it to become my identity, I’m always paranoid that someone will go, “Well, he didn’t want it to be his identity, he sure talks about it,” because they happen to listen to two or three podcasts. Well, yes, I’m able to talk about it now, even though I’ve gone back to my regular life and I do my act, and my whole act isn’t about it, but I can if it wants to be. It can be if I want it to be. And I’m promoting a book and I’m on your show, and, yes, now in times like this, I can talk about it. And a little bit nervous, not now, but when I first started to, but it also feels really good. It’s like, yeah, you should be able to talk about your life.
But I was so nervous that when I listened back to it, I do get that some people, even from an affectionate point of view, if you listen to the opening, when I called him the day before it was going to drop. So we recorded on a day and then three days later dropped, I called him, because, I know, okay, we did it, but now it’s going to drop. And it sounds like I might be dying of cancer. I’m like really soft-spoken. I’m very—and, yeah, I get someone going, “God, I love Todd to death, but he’s not dying of cancer.” But I was scared shitless.
Gilmartin: How could you not be? And I have to say, after I listened to it, a couple of people that I talked to, I said this exact thing. That was an hour or so of the most powerful podcasting I’ve ever heard, because you were so transparent and you were just so human and real about it, and you expressed yourself in a way that was so beautiful. It was just beautiful. I just wanted to hug you.
Glass: Well, thank you. You know, I felt like there was so many—besides doing it for my own reasons, if it would make me breathe easier and I knew it would be better for me, I also thought I had a lot of things to say, so I felt good when I got in the car. You know how some comedians, like, I’m sure, some can—I’ll criticize myself, but I also have the ability to go, “I felt good.” And I did. When I got in the car, I felt like I felt heard, I felt like I got everything out that I wanted to get out. So it was—
Gilmartin: And touch on, if you would, one of the things that finally pushed you to do it, which you touch on in the book.
Glass: Yeah. Well, you know, in a podcast, I always don’t mind talking about this, but in print I hate it because it could come off as self-aggrandizing. Is that the word?
Gilmartin: Yeah. But it so doesn’t when you talk about it.
Glass: But I think in this context it does. It was for me, number one, obviously, because I had wanted to do it for maybe five years. I’d started really talking about it. But there was just a lot of kids in the media—look, it’s always happening, but it happened to be in the media, and social media a lot and the news—killing themselves. And I really remember going, “You know, you’re just giving validity to something worth hiding.” And, although, believe me, I understand anybody that is—you have to do it when you’re ready. I’m not one of these people that’s going to bust out of shed, now that we’ve established that term, and then give somebody else shit for it. You got to do it when you’re ready. But it did bother me, because I knew how much it made me breathe easier.
When I was—I forget what age—there was a baseball coach, I think a baseball coach or a baseball player who wrote a book, and I saw them talking about it on the news. And just that. I never bought the book because I was scared to go into a bookstore and buy it, but just that, because he seemed like a regular guy, not like overly masculine, not overly effeminate, that I could relate with. And that’s another thing that I would never—I don’t say in print, because I want to make it very clear, if somebody is effeminate—and, by the way, there’s a ton of straight people, too, not faking it. I know we all know there’s people that are effeminate because they’re not straight, but there’s also a lot of people that are effeminate that hide it that are straight. A lot of people hide their identity. So my point is, when I say that, it’s not because I think if somebody’s effeminate, I don’t want to be one of those people that go, “Oh, even I don’t—.” No. Whoever you are, there’s certain people that are effeminate, and if that’s who they are, they deserve to have a dignified life and be who they are and not fuckin’ hide it.
So my point is, but I didn’t relate with that. The baseball player, I did. I go, “Oh, that seems like me.” And I thought, “You know, there’s a lot of young kids that listen to podcasts and they go out to all the shows,” and I thought if it could help somebody else, then that’s the part that seems—so if I could just help somebody else. But let me tell you, watching the YouTube clips, no bullshit, because I was—
Gilmartin: The “It Gets Better” clip?
Glass: Yeah. “It Gets Better.” I was flipping around on that, and then when you get that, it brings up something else that’s related to that, and that was like, oh, wait, I think they’re helping me right now, thirteen-year-old kid. I remember one specific thirteen-year-old kid standing in front of his bed, his dog was laying on the bed, just laying there, didn’t care, obviously, you know. And he has a Hacky Sack, and he’s throwing it in the air, and he says, “Well—.” It’s like his video to all his friends. He goes, “Well, I’m gay. I like dudes.” He goes, “So I don’t know. It’s not really a big deal, but it works for me, I guess, so I’m going to go with it.”
And I was like, “Look at that fuck,” in a very affectionate way, “look at that little brave fuck.” Does that sound right coming out of my mouth? Because it sounds a little—
Gilmartin: Absolutely. It’s endearing.
Glass: Yeah, little brave—you know. “It just works for me,” and his dog, I think, lifted his head at that point, went back to sleep. So it was like I did it to maybe help someone else breathe easier, but watching the videos definitely helped me.
Gilmartin: Yeah. Well, there’s so much more. I highly recommend your book. As I said, it’s called The Todd Glass Situation. We’ve talked about having you come on as a guest, but I know there was like—after you came out on Mark’s podcast, I didn’t want to be one of the 500 people that were like, “Come on on my podcast and talk about it,” because while that’s certainly a part of who you are and a part of your story, there’s so much more to you and things that you struggle with that I want to talk about that I think are even more interesting: your OCD, your dyslexia, growing up the only Jewish family in a not very tolerant neighborhood. I love, by the way, too, that your texts to me, your address, you misspelled your address for me to come. I was like, “He really does have dyslexia.”
Glass: Because the autospell. It’s the autospell. They spell it—I sent it to Eddie Pepitone today, and I spelled my street, and he goes, “There’s no way you live at—,” and then he wrote it back. And I’m like, “Oh, looks like it’s spelling Ellesmere.” So Ellesmere, I don’t know, is that a bad—is that Ellis Island or something?
Gilmartin: I can tell you it’s in Seattle, and I was like, “I’m not driving to Seattle to record Todd.”
Glass: But, yeah, from when I wrote the book, it’s amazing how many things started to go—I would have never wanted to sit down and dissect my life. I’m happy, I know what I’m doing, because it happened indirectly. I wasn’t aware of how from—and one more thing, to get this off my head. Whenever I sit down and you talk about this stuff, I always think, like, why am I doing it? And I think, you know, it’s the opposite of what we did in the fifties and the sixties or whatever year, keeping everything in. And it’s good to talk about. I feels good. I sit down, I’m going to enjoy this hour. Whatever we’re spending together, I’m going to enjoy it. And it is, it’s very cliché, if that’s the right word. But then other people hear it and they go, “Whether it’s little or whether it’s small,” and they go, “Okay, I’m all right.”
Glass: So many stupid things. Today with my friend Nick, we were talking about the dumbest thing about, you know, when you’re little and your parents buy something or you’re embarrassed of your house or something like that, and you’re like, “Oh, yeah, I remember this and that.” And whenever you bare your soul to somebody, you know, it’s the opposite of what we did back then. Everything was shameful back then. No one talked about it back then. And that’s why I think a lot of people have the misconception of, “Oh, there’s all these labels today. There’s all these this, there’s that.” Yeah, but you know what? There’s a good part of that. I like that they can know what that there’s a word “Asperberger’s,” and there’s all types of autism, because we can pinpoint it down, and now these kids can figure out what they have and they can live great lives.
Gilmartin: And we can work through the stereotypes and the misconceptions.
Gilmartin: Talking about borderline personality disorder on this podcast has been hugely informative to me and to many people who suddenly go, “Oh, my god, my parent had that. Now it makes sense why they would do these things.” And then they have more compassion because they understand that person was dealing with a real thing.
Glass: Yeah. I always quote Mr. Rogers, who I really made fun of, like everybody else, when I was younger. It wasn’t until the last three years, I went, “Oh, my god.”
Gilmartin: He was a genius.
Glass: He was a genius. He was brilliant. He said, “If it’s mentionable, it’s manageable,” and I love that quote, because, again, that’s the opposite. Back then, I have a joke in my act where I go even underwear was called “unmentionables,” because that was how dare you mention something like that. So it was the opposite, and, yeah, if you mention it, then you can manage it. And it doesn’t have to be—hey, it could be as deep—as I’m sure you’ve done interviews where there’s child abuse done, someone that went through child abuse when they were younger, it could be that deep, or it could be like—
Gilmartin: We haven’t done one yet on the podcast.
Gilmartin: We’ve done 180 episodes; 179 involve child abuse. [laughs]
Glass: Wait. Say that again.
Gilmartin: I say of the 180, probably 179 have dealt with child abuse, yeah. I was being sarcastic.
Glass: Oh, you mean to themselves.
Gilmartin: No, somebody abusing them either emotionally, physically, or sexual. That was a little inside joke for the listeners, but thank you for bringing that to a halt. [laughter] Thank you for throwing—you threw the comedic equivalent of what those spike strips are when somebody’s got a car chase going on.
Glass: I really just didn’t hear you, but I’m sorry. [laughs] It’s like to get to the other side? What do you mean, to get to the other side? The chicken? Who’s got a chicken. Okay, stop it.
So anyway, you asked me about the—
Gilmartin: That was yesterday I asked you about that.
Glass: Jesus Christ. The cleaning and the—
Gilmartin: Yes, the dyslexia.
Glass: When I wrote the book I realized why I was obsessed with the people that lived across the street form us, because—and I really did have a great family. I’m not just saying it because they might listen. They’re really great. But there was a little chaos in our house, and I couldn’t handle it. I remember at a certain age my mom was still crazy clean, but let go of vacuum marks in the rugs. There could be dog-nose marks on the sliding door, and that didn’t bother her as much anymore. And, by the way, she was better for it. She tells the story like, “Yeah, you realize one day, like this is not that important.” But for me, things started to crumble. I mean seriously. Like I would come home and I needed that order, and the Nalibotskis across the street, they had a very lived-in house. That was the thing.
Gilmartin: What was their last name?
Glass: The Nalibotskis.
Gilmartin: I love that name.
Glass: Abram Nalibotski is in the business, so I always wonder if he’s going to hear how obsessed I was with his family. But when you talk about a neat home, not neat where not lived in, very lived-in house. You can go in any room, put your feet up on the furniture, it didn’t have—but it was fucking—it was neat. It was calm.
Gilmartin: What did you feel—you mean outside emotionally? You mean just to the eye.
Glass: To the eye.
Gilmartin: It was soothing to the eye.
Glass: It was soothing to the eye, and later I found out for two reasons. One, just because it was very clean and orderly.
Gilmartin: It wasn’t cluttered.
Glass: No clutter, very clean. But the thing that was the bonus, which I had no idea back then, I didn’t know till later I talked to my friend Albert, Albert Nalibotski, he’s my friend, I told his mom, as a full-grown adult, I’m like, “Oh, I was obsessed with your house.” I said there was a calmness, and I liked the way everything ran the same through the house. She said, “It’s funny you say that, because we had a decorator at the time that said there’s beauty in unity.”
Glass: So he did a lot of, like, if you were going to have a carpet, you ran the same Berber carpeting—Berber, they had, ahead of their time, no footprints—through the whole home. Some of the same things ran through the entire house, and then you go back into each room and then you give it personality, so it didn’t seem boring. But there was definitely follow-through with a lot of things. I remember wallpaper that ran in their foyer up the stairs, all in there, down the hallway, all—a lot of that stuff. The rugs were the same all—so I thought so it probably was, on top of being clean, also that. So my head just was great there. I really relaxed in that house.
Gilmartin: Is that what today they would call Feng Shui?
Glass: I guess so. But the thing about it, it’s funny about Feng Shui, I don’t not believe in it, but I don’t believe you have to follow someone else’s rules. In other words, they say have nothing under the bed. But if you live in a place and that honestly doesn’t bother you—now, if there’s stuff under your bed and it bothers you—by the way, this is my opinion. I get if you believe in Feng Shui, like you don’t rewrite the rules of it. But let’s say you live in a place you need stuff under your bed, and the way I picture it is you have really cool bins and perfectly folded shirts that you don’t wear in the summer, and they’re in there, and it’s clean and it’s neat and its organized, and it’s under your bed. Now, I don’t think—I think that’s fuckin’ fine. But, yes, that was probably ahead of its time, what you just said.
Gilmartin: You don’t want to rewrite the rules of Feng Shui, why then did you put the book out rewriting the rules of Feng Shui with you dressed as an umpire on the front cover of that? [laughter] How much would I give to see that book in print?
Glass: Oh, wait, say—
Gilmartin: You putting a book out called Rewriting the Rules of Feng Shui, and you’re dressed as an umpire.
Glass: Oh, right, right, right, and the guy from the—were you talking about the—well, now I’m getting nervous here.
Glass: Because I thought you were referencing the umpire that came out.
Gilmartin: Oh, no.
Glass: Oh, okay, okay. Gee.
Gilmartin: No. Maybe that’s why the umpire reference was in—yeah.
Glass: Yeah, yeah.
Gilmartin: At about the hour mark, we’ll start clicking. [laughter]
Glass: Oh, you clicked the minute you walk in. Paul walks in, says hi to a friend of mine, and he goes, “Nick.” And he thought he said—what did you think he said?
Gilmartin: Mick. I thought he said, “Mick.”
Glass: And he goes, “No, it’s Nick.” You go, “Oh, you should call yourself Mick. It’s better.” [laughter] That’s what I knew you meant by bits. Like the minute you came in, it’s like boom, you’re ready to go.
Gilmartin: My favorite bit that we used to do is the guy who buries his brag inside a complaint.
Glass: Oh, Jesus, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt you, but this watch, 10,000 bucks for a watch, and it keeps time like a shitty watch here. Let me take this off. It’s always something.
That started from a girl I used to know in college years who would go, “How are your parents doing?” I’m very careful not to use names here, because I still know her.
“How are your parents doing?”
“Oh, they’re fine, because when you’re forty-five, you need to buy a bigger house now that your kids are out of college.” [laughs] We know what you’re doing.
“How’s your dad?”
“Oh, pretty good. Well, you know, he needs seven cars, so Mom’s thrilled.” [laughs] All righty, please. Everyone’s on to what you’re doing. Stop it.
Gilmartin: What would be a good—do you want to talk some more about the OCD? What specifically do you think it was that you needed relief from as a kid that the order, the visual order, gave you a sense of calm from? What was the chaos in the house?
Glass: You know, I sat next to a woman on the airplane once and she did a lot of study on that, and she said there’s different reasons for different people. So that’s the problem. When somebody finds out what it is for them, they might go—she goes, “But with you, it sounds like it might be there was so much clutter in your head, that you just needed things calm around you.”
And it’s different than being crazy clean. People think when you’re like this, that you’re a germophobe, which I’m not. I touch things. I try to keep things fairly clean, but I’m not a germophobe. People come in my house with their shoes on, and I can have a little disarray. I need organization, but I can—my brother is a teacher, and he watched me once while I was having people over, and he goes, “You know, you let more go than you would think for the label that you call yourself.” I guess OCD gets thrown around for like a million things.
But the clutter in my head, because literally when I have to—when numbers confuse me, like when something’s not adding up and maybe I get a statement and I don’t know where it’s at, and I call the bank or just anything like that, I will literally like scratch the crown of my head and just like hold my neck. And sometimes I’ll even say to myself, “Come on, Todd. Really? Is this really hurting you that much?” But it does. I’m, luckily, in a profession where I don’t have to deal with numbers, I keep my life pretty simple, so I don’t—but when I have to deal with it, the clutter in my head, or if I get too many things, or if I lose an email—you know, like I was very late to use email. Now, of course, it’s like, yeah, it’s great. Everything’s great about technology, and I want to utilize every ounce of it. But when I’m doing something with the phone—and I used to erase every email, every email. I didn’t want it, whatever it was.
Gilmartin: Oh, really?
Glass: Every email, I didn’t want it. But then I found when scrolling back through and needing it, I finally understood what everybody went, “Todd, just erase it, but don’t have to erase it from the trash too.” I wanted it gone. I wanted it just clean.
Gilmartin: I honestly thought when I walked into your house, I was going to walk into like Bill Curtis’ house, you know, where there would be like a—I always imagine, you know, Bill Curtis, the voiceover guy on A&E, “I’m Bill Curtis.”
Glass: Oh, right, right, right. Yeah, what a great voice.
Gilmartin: I always imagined him just having like a white carpet and very minimalist and everything in its place. But you wouldn’t—looking around, it’s certainly orderly, but it doesn’t look obsessive around your house.
Glass: Well, you know what? I’ve learned that, like, yeah, I want it to be comfortable and lived in, and I think also when people come over—I notice this, and this was the same way my parents were, as much as they weren’t as neat as I wanted them to be later in life, when you’re like this and somebody drops something, they always think along with being orderly means that you’re going to be upset if they break something. And I’m always like, “Oh, no, I don’t give a fuck. The home’s to be lived in. Don’t worry about it.”
But, yeah, I want it to be—sometimes I’ll obsess on like should I, like, leave like a blanket on the sofa undone so it looks more lived in? And then I’ll literally fold it back up, and then put it down again, and then unfold it, and go, “All right. Just leave it unfolded. It looks more lived in.” But I’ll let stuff go.
I’ve also learned—one of the kids that works on my podcast, he’s a comedian, Jake Adams, he said, “My dad was visiting me, and his new favorite thing is to obsess on all the silverware being in the same compartment in the dishwasher.”
So a week later, I go, “Hey, Jake, thanks for your little fucking thing you put in my head. Tell your dad to go fuck himself, because now—.” [laughter]
Gilmartin: They all have to be in the same one?
Gilmartin: How did that never get into your consciousness before now?
Glass: It didn’t bother me. It didn’t bother me. And you know what I did, though? For a week I was like putting all the spoons with the spoons, all the forks with the forks, upside, all the same way. And guess what I did? I was proud of myself. I went, “No, no.”
Gilmartin: You mixed it up?
Glass: I said, “Stop it.” And you know how I stopped it? When I would throw one in there and it wasn’t in the same compartment and I knew it, and I thought, “Go back, put it in the right compartment,” I thought, “No, leave and go to the gym.” And I did, and I got over it.
Gilmartin: Leave and go to the gym and work out in the number 77, make each thing add up so there’s a 7 and nothing carries over.
Glass: You know all that stuff with the numbers and the people that have all that, again, like—
Gilmartin: There’s different kinds of OCD.
Glass: Yeah, there’s different types. And I don’t know why, because if there’s any place to say it, it’s this show, I remember driving in the car and a friend of mine’s wife said, “Oh, everyone’s overly medicated and there’s all these terms.” And I said to her, I go—I’m friends, so we had a good conversation. I said, “You know, I’m willing to have that conversation with you, because there’s no doubt there’s kids that are overly medicated and adults not only overmedicated but on the wrong medicine,” sort of echoing what I said before. But I said, “I don’t want to have that conversation with you. But when we have it, I’ll do it for three hours. We’ll talk about it for three hours. We’ll talk about how everyone’s over-diagnosed and overly medicated if you’re willing to spend twenty minutes on how it changed people’s life miraculously.” And she knew what I was saying, like it’s okay to talk about other things.
Gilmartin: There’s good buried in that.
Glass: There’s good, and it’s not like it wasn’t there a long time ago. We just ignored it, and people were miserable because they didn’t know what was wrong with them. So when I said, “We’ll talk about it for three hours,” it’s not like I was being flippant. Like I get it when kids are overmedicated, some of them need a different medication, some of them don’t need to be on fuckin’ medication at all. So I hope the tone of my voice shows I get it and that—
Gilmartin: Why are you angry at me?
Glass: Because you don’t look— [laughter] But, again, like I’m willing to have that conversation, but some people—and I’ll bet there’s people listening right now going, “You fuck in bed. This changed my life. I found a medicine twelve years ago, and I’ve been on it and I’ve been good and I’ve been productive.” And by the way, I’m not on any medication, so I don’t defend it as a person that’s been on it; I defend it because I’ve known people that it’s changed their lives.
Gilmartin: Absolutely changed their lives. I was just talking to a guy yesterday in my support group who is sleeping sixteen to eighteen hours a day, and he’s wondering if he should go back on his meds. And I was like, “I’m no doctor, but yes.”
Glass: And when you say your “support group,” what do you mean?
Gilmartin: Support group that I go to for—I’m a recovering drug addict, you know, all of that.
Glass: I didn’t know that.
Gilmartin: Yeah. Oh, yeah, I’m addicted to everything, so I go to a couple, couple different support groups. But it’s a serious thing.
Glass: It helps and it feels good, you meet other people and—yeah. So I guess I say it over and over again. Sometimes on my podcast I’m paranoid that I say the same thing over and over again. And somebody wrote me a nice email, they said—
Gilmartin: Don’t worry. Nobody listens. [laughter]
Glass: To yours or mine?
Gilmartin: Yours. [laughter] Both. Todd’s podcast is very popular. It’s called the Todd Glass Show, and it’s—
Glass: Nobody listens to your podcast. [laughter] I just, I’m sorry, I don’t mean to interrupt the podcast. I just put in a $100,000 new air conditioner, and is this place—
Gilmartin: Yeah, you would think it would be doing better.
Glass: You would think it would work better than the window unit here.
Gilmartin: Yeah. You would think that the alligator boots that I have that are hand-sewn, you would think I wouldn’t be sweating in ‘em, but I’m sweating in ‘em.
Glass: You did some great ones. You would find these little things. You would come up to me and I wasn’t ready for you. You’d be like, “Oh, this shirt. You know what? You’d think you spend $500 for a shirt, it would breathe a little.” [laughter]
Gilmartin: Ah! Don’t even get me started on wasting money. I was in Vegas and it rained all week. You spend the money on the most expensive hotel room that you can get with a butler, and then it rains. Again, I can’t even spend any time on the roof with the best view in the strip. How do you explain that to models when they’re—because they’re from Sweden, they don’t speak. Could I have picked a more hack version of a model? [laughs]
Glass: It worked, it worked. How do you explain that to models? You’re not bragging.
By the way, the only person that believes what this person does, that we’ve created but also exists, so we’re just doing a parody of, is who are they fooling? Who goes—somebody the next day goes, “You know, Paul was really kind of bragging the other night about his roof.”
You go, “I thought he was complaining. I don’t—.” Like who’s it working on?
Glass: “That girl, she really brags about her parents’ cars.”
“No, I think you got her wrong. If I remember yesterday, she was [unclear].”
Gilmartin: Her dad’s having a tough time.
Glass: Yeah, she was complaining that it’s stupid that he has all those cars. I don’t think she was bragging. I think she was—like, who’s buying it? Who doesn’t know we know what you’re doing? Anyway.
Gilmartin: To go back to the chaos, the emotional clutter or whatever it was in your house, can you be more specific about what it was? Was it outside of you? Was it something your parents—was it them not expressing their emotions? Was it tension between them? Was it you not being popular?
Glass: You mean why they—what’s your question?
Gilmartin: You looked for this order in your life, this visual order was very soothing to you, because you said there was kind of chaos in your head. What was the chaos? Was it all within yourself, things about yourself, or was it dynamics inside your family?
Glass: It wasn’t—my family, in hindsight, I think maybe my mom had a lot of dogs because—I don’t know why she had a lot of dogs. I think it’s the way she dealt with things, you know, because she had a really bad childhood, and she turned around and didn’t—I give her a lot of credit. She had like not a normal crazy mom, but just really crazy, like certifiably crazy and nuts, and her dad left when she was thirteen. And I think maybe the dogs was a way—the nurturing of the puppies and everything.
Gilmartin: How many dogs did you have?
Glass: Well, we had probably some—and, by the way, sometimes I’m embarrassed that I preface, but other times I’m not, because I realize my mom might listen to this, and I really love her, and it’s worth taking the time to give her the clarity, if she would ever hear this, that the dogs were also the most awesome thing in the world, that I got to see puppies being born. And to this day I know a lot about dogs, and sometimes I’m proud of it, if someone’s talking and I pipe in, and it’s all that shit if my mom, if she was a fly on the wall, would be like, “Oh, he really did retain a lot.” But there was a lot of chaos sometimes, when you always have litters of puppies, because they showed dogs, and there’d be like maybe four or five adult dogs. They all stayed in the house. And then there could be two litters.
Glass: Yeah. So for me it could be like—and they were all in the house. And, again, even though I said my mom let stuff go, still the puppies were always immaculate and they had fresh water and they played every day and they were socialized and they were with us. They weren’t kennel dogs, by any sense of the imagination.
But it was that, and then the stuff in my own head was they didn’t really know a lot about dyslexia back then. They didn’t know about it till I got into high school. Then they started to really figure it out. By that time, I was so exhausted of being tested, I mean, it was—
Gilmartin: School was miserable for you, other than socially.
Glass: Socially, and then tenth grade it started being a lot of fun. It really did. I made some friends and started doing standup, and that became like, “Oh, you’re doing standup?” But before that, oh, it was just—
Gilmartin: And you bounced from school to school to school to school.
Gilmartin: How many different schools did you go to before things settled down in high school?
Glass: I would almost—every other year, we’d either move, just because my parents moved a lot, or get taken out of a regular school and put in a special school. And back then, like you would be in a special school, you’d be mixed with kids that were mentally retarded and they’d be a different classroom, but there were some kids even in the same class that weren’t mentally retarded but they certainly had—hey, I’m trying to say it right now, because as an adult, certain people you don’t call somebody the wrong name. There’s proper names. But back then, I just was a kid in sixth grade, I’d be like, “We have some weird people in my class. That girl’s fuckin’ crazy.” You just called it for how you saw it as a young child.
Gilmartin: Yeah, there were three words. You know. You were fag, loser, or creepy. [laughter] You know, it was a brutal world for anybody who was different.
Glass: It really was. And you know what? Even though there’s always going to be new people to be picked on—
Gilmartin: Oh, I’m sorry. And “dummy.” There were four words.
Glass: And “dummy.” Well, even, “Hey, dummy.” Don Rickles, right? Yeah.
Gilmartin: Did you particularly hear his line that he did? Todd is one of the biggest Don Rickles fans ever. There was a roast, and he looked over at Ed Sullivan and said, “Ed, keep moving or they’re going throw dirt on ya.” [laughter]
Glass: What was great about Don Rickles was like back then when he—well, he always looked older, but you see him back then, he was always telling—he goes, “No, I kid. Ricardo Montalban, lay down. You’re dead. Lay down. You’re dead.” [laughter]
What we were we just talking about?
Gilmartin: How there weren’t words to describe. There were these blunt—
Glass: “Slow” was one.
Gilmartin: Yeah, blunt labels that had no nuance to them, that were derogatory. They had no compassion for what somebody—
Glass: Yeah, they didn’t really know, and “slow” was a term used a lot, like, “He’s just slow,” or “special.” “He’s in a special class.” So it was like “special.” Even my brother sometimes, he’d go, “Special.” When they did it, it was brotherly stuff.
So when they finally started knowing in high school what it was about, by that time I was so exhausted. Oh, we had moved. So I went like from second grade into a regular class. I was in first grade regular class, second grade regular class, but then I flunked second grade. My teacher, Miss Zegler [phonetic], wanted me to stay behind and she’d work with me, but my parents felt it was better to put me into a resource room within there.
Then I went back into third grade, sort of flunked, the equivalent of—yeah, I flunked. Then in fourth grade, I went to an open space in the same school. Then we moved, went to fifth grade, regular class, didn’t do very well, but we moved and somehow I wiggled my way into sixth grade, didn’t do very well in sixth grade at all. Then went to a special school called Wordsworth Academy and didn’t like it at all, and then went back to seventh grade.
Gilmartin: You were seventeen at that point.
Glass: Yes. [laughs] I was thirty. I was thirty-five years old.
Gilmartin: There’s something about seeing somebody comb their chest hair while they’re holding flashcards that’s endearing. [laughter]
Glass: I’m fake-combing my chest hair, everybody. Hold on.
So it was in and out and in and out of classes. Whenever I tell this, like I still had, like, a lot of fun as a kid, so I never liked to make it “Woe is me,” but it was exhausting, and I hated going to school. I just hated it.
Gilmartin: It’s a fucking pressure cooker. If you are different, it is miserable. I was short for my age, very, very short for my age, and I dreaded—I was just in constant anticipation of somebody slamming me up against the locker or picking me up by my collar and swinging me around. I couldn’t wait until I grew, just praying some day. So I can’t imagine what it was like being as dumb as you were. [laughter]
Glass: There’s something great about knowing you’re in a safe space, so you bare your soul, and then anytime somebody hits this lob out and you don’t care. But to be as dumb as you were, how did you do it?
Glass: The—I forgot what I was going to say about the—I forget.
Gilmartin: It’s nice to have somebody else who loses their train of thought as much as I do. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve edited out me looking at a guest and saying, “There was something I wanted to say, and now I can’t fucking remember what it was.”
Glass: I do it a lot.
Gilmartin: We were talking about the blunt language to—you were skipping from school to school to school to school.
Glass: Yeah. I will reference the book again real quick as far as some of the verbiage that people use. Like I talk about it all the time. I’m not going to stop, because it’s like saying to somebody, “Why do you keep telling me to stop spitting?”
“Because you’re spitting. You keep spitting. If you stop spitting and I keep saying it, yeah, then punch me in my fuckin’ face.”
There’s still people holding on to verbiage. There’s still people holding on to using the word “retarded.” There’s still people holding on using the word “gay” as an adjective.
Gilmartin: Now, what’s the difference between somebody—you used the word “mentally retarded. That’s okay?
Glass: That’s a really good point.
Gilmartin: Yeah. What’s the difference between that and just saying “retarded”?
Glass: There’s two ways. One, just on people—look, I told someone this the other day, and I’m going to apply it to myself. When you’re trying to grow, no one’s looking at you from around the corner. Someone said, “What if you say ‘retarded’ by accident?” Then I’ll explain it, but I need to explain this first before I even explain it. There’s no one waiting for you around the corner if you slip and use the word “retarded” as an adjective. Someone asked me that, “What if I slip all the time?”
I go, “If I hear someone in another room say, ‘Oh, that’s retarded,’ and they go, ‘Ooh, I’m trying not to use that word,’ you know what I think? There’s a fuckin’ smart person in the other room. They’re trying to get it out of their vocabulary.”
So when I talk about it sometimes, even I got tied up with the words, but I know I have good intent and I know I’m willing to learn, and I will figure out the right word. But there’s two things. One, using the word as an adjective, you know what I mean; instead of “clumsy,” “retarded.” And then there’s when you are referencing people that are mentally retarded. Now I think the word is “mentally challenged.” Maybe the reason that I understand why sometimes people want to clear the slate, there’s two different things. So address just why they want to change it from “mentally retarded” to “challenged.” I think I’m right. I thought I understood that because, yeah, I’d like to get rid of the word “gay.” You grow up hearing the word “gay” as an adjective your whole life, gay, gay, gay, it’s gay, that’s gay, this is gay, I would love to have a new word. I would love to. I know there can be, and I get it, we’re just hoping the world doesn’t have [unclear].
Gilmartin: But it’s so loaded. It’s such a loaded—
Glass: It’s so loaded, and then you think—well, I remember the first kid I ever met that we discussed this, I was probably like twenty-two, and we said, “Oh, I hate that word.” We go, “Why don’t we call it something else?” Now, the word we came up with didn’t really work, because we’re like, “Call it cool. Like, hey, is that guy cool? I think that guy’s cool.” And then we go, “Wait, is he cool cool or cool?” and we’d get confused. But even then, we’re like, yeah, just get rid of it. Clean the slate, you know. So I don’t think the real problem—I think that’s what I’m talking about, when you’re using it as an adjective.
Gilmartin: That it’s about intent.
Gilmartin: Because clearly your intent when you said “mentally retarded,” that’s not intended as a putdown. If anything, it’s like when you would hear somebody who was older use the word “Negro.” It’s like you knew when that person first started using that word, that was not a word that was loaded in any way. So it’s like, okay, they’re just ready to die; let ‘em have their thing.
Glass: I agree with you. At one age you give people sort of a maybe get-out-of-jail-free pass, but then again, I’m sure older people that are continuing to grow and change hate that, because they’re like, “No, I can change. So can this dumb fuck.” It must be great being seventy-five or eighty and evolve or grow, because then you can really give other eighty-year-olds shit. You can go, “Fuck you. No, stop it.”
But, anyway, when using it as an adjective, there’s still a lot of people—and I was saying, I’ll keep saying it until I can rattle someone out of it, and that was one of the things I wanted to talk about on Mark Maron. And one of the main things about the book was to go if you want to know—and we’ll go full circle here—what kept me hiding, I was never around. In case you’re wondering the dangers of those words. I was never around what I lazily like to say is like “fuck faggots.” “I dragged that faggot,” or, “I’d fucking kill.” I wasn’t around that. So if you’re sitting home going, “I would never say that, no, no, no,” okay, well good. That’s not what kept me in the closet, never around it. But the word alone, using that word as an adjective kept me hiding. And I don’t understand, Paul, using it—
Gilmartin: The word “gay.”
Glass: —as an adjective and not understanding it. And the thing that is about it, is I feel there is one side being very fair, and there’s another side—here’s how fair it is. And I think most people that want people to stop using those words do feel what I feel. You did nothing wrong when you were using it. Now people are like, “What? I thought there was.” Nothing. But once someone educates you and then you choose to keep using it, I don’t get it, Paul. I really don’t get it. And I’ll say it again, I don’t get it. There’s a person, and you’re using their being as an adjective. Who’s listening to this right now? Even if it’s ten people going, “Oh, it’s no big deal. It’s not—.”
Gilmartin: Yeah, not to you it’s not a big deal.
Gilmartin: What kind of a big deal is it, though, to somebody who’s being told that their very essence is wrong, is bad?
Glass: Whether it’s “Jew me down,” and, by the way, the words, you can never use good examples, because they don’t like the examples that you give, because the examples that you give, even they realize they wouldn’t say, “Jew me down” or “N-rig” or “N-rich.” Some people, by the way, don’t even know what that term means anymore. Good. But, you know, it never stands the test of time. Or the one I was forgetting to use was—and, by the way, at first I thought, “I’m not going to talk about this in my podcast, because then people are going to be like when you pick too much, you lose the field? Todd, now you’re—.” But, no, fuck it. Women using—I’ll slowly stop saying “pussy,” “man up,” grow a pair.” It’s like what the fuck? Who wants to grow up as a girl and think your existence means like gay, lame? Your existence means lame.
And I would do that. I would say sometimes, “I don’t mean to be a woman about it,” if I was talking about my weight. I want that out. I don’t need that. I don’t need that in my—but there’s still people—and I think what it is, they don’t see the path to the pain, because they would never walk up to someone and go—those people are going, “Oh, my god, I would never walk to someone and say, ‘Hey, faggot,’ oh, my god, no. I’m just using it as an adjective.”
Gilmartin: But they’re creating an environment that affects people. It spills over. I did a guy’s podcast, which will remain nameless, and we were talking about sports and he was talking about some hockey player. His daughter was hanging out in the studio, like his eleven-year-old daughter. And he said, “Oh, yeah, that guy’s a skirt.” And it saddened me because it was like, “What? How do you not see what kind of a message you’re sending to your daughter?”
Glass: Yeah, and it’s got to affect their lives other than that. Let’s say we don’t even give a shit. Don’t tell me—because whenever you widen the scope, you really see what it is, and then you go, “Oh, it’s not about the word ‘gay’ or saying ‘man up.’ It’s about an understanding.”
Well, let me ask you something. The words we’ve dropped in the past, if we said why do we not say the word “Jew me down” or “N-rig,” did we stop saying it because those people were sensitive? No, they weren’t sensitive; they were right. They were rightfully hurt. If you say, “Hey, you pile of shit, go fuck yourself,” and that person gets hurt, they’re not sensitive. You didn’t make fun of their hat. You didn’t make a little joke they’re wearing a lot of gel in their hair. Then they’re sensitive. But if you’re calling their being dumb or lame or cheap, they’re not sensitive; they’re justifiably annoyed at you. They’re not sensitive. Stop calling them sensitive. Makes it look like they’re the weaker person or they’re the insensitive one, when you are, the person throwing out those terms.
Gilmartin: Good point. Good point.
Glass: Oh, I never feel like I got that out as good as I did just then. By the way, anybody listening to that, let me—and I will say one—I’m sorry, and then I will—anybody listening to that, that’s got their earphones on right now and is wiggling out of that making sense, your life is not going to be good. Your life is—I mean that. Because there’s a blockage. I agree to disagree, and that doesn’t mean someone’s life going to go wrong because they disagree with me. In this area, you really need to say, “Why am I still fighting, wiggling out of it? But what about this? If someone said even ‘idiot’ is a bad term, well—.” Stop squirming and just go with it. Go with it.
Whew! Look at me sweating over here. Can I turn my air conditioning on?
Gilmartin: Are you warm?
Glass: Yeah. Just for a little—
Gilmartin: Yeah, yeah, go turn it on.
While Todd does that, I’m going to give one of our sponsors some love. I want to talk about PillPack, the online pharmacy.
Glass: What? What are you talking about?
Gilmartin: Oh, do you want to know a little bit about this, Todd?
Glass: Hold on. I’ll be right out. God, I forgot to order my medicine, and I’ve got to write it down. I’ve got to go to CVS tomorrow. Boy, does it suck having to go to the pharmacy.
Gilmartin: Todd, there’s a product here where you can get around having to go to your retail pharmacy. They’ll ship it right to your door.
Glass: Paul, do me a favor. This is Lipitor. I had a heart attack, and don’t make up—I understand we like to—
Gilmartin: Oh, no, this is a real thing. This is not a bit.
Glass: Oh, really? Oh, they just drive it to your house and they leave it on your door?
Gilmartin: They do, Todd.
Glass: Wait. Hold on. What?
Glass: Oh, oh, I’m sorry. Even if they do it, no. I’m cutting down on my budget. I’m trying to remortgage my house. I can’t spend more—
Gilmartin: Oh, no, it doesn’t cost you—Todd, Todd.
Glass: I can’t spend more—Paul, Paul. I don’t care if it’s a dollar more, I can’t spend it.
Gilmartin: It doesn’t even cost ten cents more. It costs not a penny more than an actual retail pharmacy, and they ship to thirty-three states, Todd.
Glass: Paul, I’m not looking to make excuses, but my doctor gave me specific orders that I have to take all name brands.
Gilmartin: Oh, these people, they’ll ship you name brands.
Glass: Well, on some of them I need generic, though, because it’s cheaper and my doctor says it’s all right.
Gilmartin: Todd, they do generics as well. [laughs] What more do you need to know, Todd?
Glass: Well, sounds like if I—
Gilmartin: Look, here’s a sample right there. There’s a pack that I got shipped to my house. They pull off in a roll each day.
Glass: Oh, I know who this isn’t for.
Glass: Some people don’t like convenience. Some people, they don’t have enough to do in their day. There are people like that, and they go, “If I don’t go to the drugstore, then—.”
Gilmartin: This is insulting to those people, and I apologize. [laughter] I apologize. It’s a slap in the face of people that need more stuff to do. It’s insensitive. It’s insensitive, Todd.
Glass: It’s insulting to them. [laughter]
Gilmartin: For Mental Illness Happy Hour users, go to—
Glass: One thing I didn’t appreciate you did, and it’s okay, obviously, just so you know, first of all, I genuinely want to do it, but don’t lie and say it’s not more. If it’s a little more, I think what you need to say, it’s a teeny bit more, but it’s worth it.
Gilmartin: It’s not. It actually isn’t even a penny more. A swear to you, yeah.
Glass: Well, I guess if—what’s the number, did you say, again?
Gilmartin: It’s called PillPack.com, slash—
Glass: Damn it, this pen isn’t working. Let me get another one. What did you say again?
Glass: Oh, I spent $700 on this pen, and it’s like a Bic pen. It keeps—just say it one more time, I’m very sorry. And I know it’s obnoxious at this point for your listeners.
Gilmartin: It’s PillPack.com/HappyHour.
Glass: I guess some things are—like they say, every term on the planet exists for a reason, and this is some things are just as good as they seem. [laughter]
Gilmartin: Todd Glass, everybody. Thank you for pitching in with that.
What else should we talk about? We’ve talked about the dyslexia, the struggle in school, coming out, OCD. Let’s talk about what—when I came into the house, this guy who is staying with you, Nick, and he’s a younger guy, and—
Glass: It’s so funny, because I’m half embarrassed to talk about that, but, hey.
Gilmartin: I think this is a perfect example of something, now that you’re out—
Glass: Yeah, how much of it was legitimate? Well, we didn’t even come up with a conclusion yet. So here’s what happened. I had lied so much in my life about like if I was living with someone, oh, that’s a friend of mine, or that’s my cousin. And Nick works on the podcast.
Gilmartin: Did anybody ask you why are you and your cousin blowing each other? [laughter] Right out here in the Jacuzzi. What kind of a family do you come from?
Glass: Back in the day, no one asked. They just figured, “Oh, it’s his cousin.”
Gilmartin: Yeah, they must be close. But anyway.
Glass: So for so long I did lie, and now—so anyway, Nick had to get out of his other apartment, and I met Nick originally at the Improv. He was working on a charity show, and we started talking, and I realized he took pictures, and the next thing—you know how in this business you meet people. And he would come by the podcast. He started taking pictures so we could put them up online. That’s how we became friendly. So he’s living here for a few months because he can’t live in his old place. He got thrown out, and that’s a long story. But—
Gilmartin: And he’s a straight guy?
Glass: He’s a straight guy. So we thought doesn’t it look paranoid when people come over—I’m always paranoid now while he’s here that they’ll think, oh, is he someone that I’m seeing.
Gilmartin: And Nick’s twenty, right?
Glass: Yeah, he’s twenty. And that’s the other thing, like, yeah, you reach a certain age where you can date people a lot younger than you and no one blinks an eye at it, especially in this business, because I really do think as a comedian sometimes you can play like someone that’s younger. You know what I mean? I mean, someone your own age sometimes in this business—
Gilmartin: Because you’re still silly and you’re still kind of childlike.
Glass: But at a certain age, you’re like, “Really? Are you being emotionally fulfilled? Is that somewhere that’s going to lead anywhere?” And I’ve known comedians over the years. I don’t want to be like Liberace, right? Maybe that’s my own paranoia. But I thought like when you came in, do I say—first of all, it seems like you’re lying if you say, like, “Oh, by the way, Nick is straight.” Or who gives a fuck? But then we were discussing maybe there’s an element of that that depends if you’re telling somebody because they give a fuck. I’m talking about people that could give a shit if I was dating somebody that was twenty. But let them know what his deal is right away, so they just know, and that they don’t think that I’m dating a twenty-year-old. That’s what went through my head when you were coming over here tonight.
Gilmartin: So Todd posed the question to me, “What did you think when you first walked in, and is this something that I should explain to people, or am I just being overly paranoid?” And I said, “Well, my first thought when I walked in was I wonder if these guys are dating.”
Gilmartin: But I think anybody would have assumed if I had walked in and it was a guy with a woman who’s living there.
Glass: Right, who’s living with a girl.
Gilmartin: I would have wondered. So it had nothing to do with you being gay. But then you asked that question, “Should I explain this?” And I said I think it depends on who. I think if it’s a close friend of yours and you know that that question is in their mind, at some point, maybe, maybe say to them—
Glass: Maybe just let them know—does it sort of matter? But, like, I guess that’s the only person would come over to my house is someone that I’m sort of friendly with. It wouldn’t be anybody. I certainly wouldn’t do it, like we said, if the plumber was coming in.
Glass: But I was wondering with you if I was being honest as far as why—I think it was more because I didn’t someone to think like—
Gilmartin: You were a lech.
Glass: Yeah. And even in the day, it seems like a lot of younger people are into comedy. Like you go to the Meltdown and you go to these shows, just younger, and it’s mostly guys. So even on my podcast, like my friends will tease me, I’m like, “Hey, I’m sorry. Mostly guys are into comedy.” Not always, but mostly. You know what I mean. The fans of comedy are notorious—are overwhelmingly men.
Gilmartin: Yeah, it definitely skews male and young and gorgeous. [laughter]
Glass: But there was so many—
Gilmartin: Why do they all have their shirts off, though, Todd? [laughter]
Glass: All the guys.
Gilmartin: And why do they do crunches while you podcast in your underwear? [laughter]
Glass: Paul, because that keeps them in good shape, and they’ve got to be in good shape for the podcast for the people who listen to it.
But I think there’s a little legitimacy to it. I really do. I hope that I’m not going reverse after I did so much progress. And I think there’s a legitimacy, and, again, I think you hit the nail right on the head with it’s one thing if you’re trying to explain it to somebody you think would give a shit. You and one other person—two days ago, two of my friends that I haven’t seen them in a long time, “Hey, we should get together and have some dinner on Sunday night.”
And when they came in, now, they said, “Oh, we didn’t care.”
But I was like, “People say that because they think it’s right.” I’m so glad that you said, “Yeah, I sort of did think that.”
Gilmartin: I was curious, but it wasn’t a burning thought in my head. It was just like, “Oh, hey, that’s a nice cabinet over there. Oh, look at the nice table, Todd.” It was literally like just a part of the flow of thoughts.
Glass: You know what? I think I just came up with the answer. I shouldn’t say anything, because it’ll come out naturally. Because you know me and you don’t give a shit, maybe two hours later you’d be like, “Oh, are you guys—?” And that’s my opportunity to go, “Oh, no, no, Nick’s living here for a few months.” That’s the opportunity to say—
Glass: There were years when I was in a relationship for fifteen years, and Chris was a manager. He managed talent. And when we met, I was probably thirty-two when I met Chris. Chris was twenty-two. And he had a lot of clients that were younger, too, and some of them were extremely good-looking. But you know what? When we met, we got along really well, because I’m a comedian, they came to see the shows, and inside I would love it if they wanted to come see my shows. But it’s so stupid when I look back. Chris would be like, “Hey, I’m coming to the show with Brian tonight.” And I was like, “Oh, no,” this model, good-looking guy. And I’m like, “Chris, you can’t bring him.”
Glass: Because he’s too good-looking. I don’t want people to know.
Gilmartin: Tell the story about when the helicopter was searching.
Glass: Yeah, we had a—and, again, we’re two reasonable adults. When it all settled, we’d always look—
Gilmartin: You were living together at this point.
Glass: We were living together, we’d bought this house together. And we’re not stupid, you know. When everything settled, we’d always look at each other and laugh, “Who the fuck?” We’d get it, like it’s stupid. But there was something that went on at a neighbor’s house where there was a weird package that’s delivered on their front door. It was right after 9/11, and all we knew is that the police were, like, outside everywhere, up and down the street, and they were coming up to our house. So, like, we ran out of the bedroom where we stayed, and I ran into the extra bedroom and messed the bed up.
Gilmartin: That breaks my heart. That breaks my heart, to think what it must have been like for years to live with that fear.
Glass: This would happen to me a lot. I would be fifteen and seventeen and, “Hey, did you hear blah, blah, blah was gay?”
And then they would go, “Oh, yeah, what did you do?”
“Oh, I don’t care. I told him I’m his friend.” You know, pretty, pretty—and then came the, “Can you imagine having two guys having sex?’ I thought once I tell people that I’m gay, all they’re going to do is imagine me having sex, like that’s what happened.
Glass: So that was a big deal for me, to go, “Oh, my god, I’m going to walk into a room and that’s all people are going to picture.” And I will say this, if there’s anybody listening right now, I think this is—do it when you’re ready, but I can tell you this, the good news is all that’s completely gone. No one does. I don’t feel like they do. I don’t feel like it’s taken over my identity at all. I feel it’s the same old Todd Glass that I used to be. Of course, in a situation like this when we’re discussing it, but overall, none of that shit happened. But it was my fear, like that that’s what would happen.
Gilmartin: In your book and in your interviews, you’ve explained so many things about fear of coming out, the things that you have to deal with in hiding it, that have helped me more fully understand the experience of somebody that had to live with that secret, and I am not somebody who is homophobic at all. So I can’t imagine how much—when there’s somebody like you, who’s able to articulate their experience in a way that is nuanced and human, I can’t imagine how many people’s minds you’ve opened since you came out. I can’t imagine how much positivity you’ve had in your sphere. Did you ever stop and think about that?
Glass: Well, I—
Gilmartin: God, are you full of yourself. [laughter]
Glass: You don’t even give me a chance. You don’t even let me answer. [laughter] Hold on. That’s why I’m mostly sweating, because, “Oh, are you full of yourself.” You’d never do that in a movie if they asked you to recreate that brilliant timing. Do that again, what you just did.
Gilmartin: I couldn’t.
Glass: I hope that when I speak that I try to do that. I try to get into the head. I know what people thought, because I lived as, what I say kiddingly, a secret agent, because no one—as many people knew about me in the comedy world, a shit ton of people didn’t, so people spoke very openly in front of me. So I tried to like think of what they were going to say and then come back at it, think of what they’re going to say to that. Sometimes I do a shit job and I hate it. Other times, I feel like I nail it. And I just try to picture someone at home trying to wiggle out of it and go, “No, no, no, you wiggle right. I punch. I got ya. My whole life I’ve lived. I know what you’re thinking. I know where you’re—.” And, again, like you said—
Gilmartin: You’ve been shadowboxing your whole life, at least since you knew that you were gay.
Glass: Yeah, you get very good at like—like I said, even to change the subject when people were talking about it, like if someone brought up a topic that I was—“Hey did you see that new movie about—there’s a gay guy in it.” And even if it wasn’t about me, I’d like—I said I’d spill hot coffee on a baby if that’s what stopped it. [laughter] I would try to just get out of it, no matter what I had.
But, yeah, I do try to think, like on a show like this, obviously, sometimes talking about yourself and with no message at all, just hoping it’s interesting. And other times you hope when you do this, you have a few things that people at home, even decent, kind people are going, “Oh, I never thought about that. I never thought about that.”
Glass: Okay. That’s like with the Michael Sam thing that just passed. I think there’s a lot of decent people that might go, “All right, well, I don’t care, but did they have to show them kissing?” Like, “I don’t care about people that are gay, but—.” Then really? You probably do care a little. Trust me. Because, yes, the men and women kiss and they kiss and it’s—you know.
Gilmartin: I was using the word “gay” as an adjective until probably about twelve years ago, and I’m sure I’ve even done it since then, and I have a lot of regret about having done that.
Glass: By the way, I always forget to tell people this, because it’s like, oh, wait, if I tell people this, it takes me off my soapbox. I use the word “retarded” and “gay” as an adjective, you know. And that’s why if you can meet one person—oh, here’s another, they go left, I go right, and I will use myself as an example. You can meet somebody that’s gay, that says, “I don’t mind the word ‘gay.’” Guess what. They’re wrong, and I was wrong. I did it. I thought, well, you believe it. Maybe you do believe it. I don’t want to make it sound like you just want to be accepted, but maybe it’s a little bit of both. You want to be the cool guy, “I don’t give a fuck.” That doesn’t mean you know. There are people that study and they know the path back to the destruction.
I used to do a joke about what if there was a gay cop, and go, “Oh, you come up—,” and I did a flaming cop coming up to your car. You might think, “Well, it’s comedy. Who’s it going to hurt?” I did it, but I was wrong.
Gilmartin: How many years ago was this?
Glass: Oh, it was probably twenty years ago.
Gilmartin: And ironically, after doing that bit, you were arrested by the comedy police and they had a good solid case against you.
Glass: [laughs] You know, whenever you tell the truth about what bothers you, you can’t get caught in the truth. If somebody goes, “To be honest, when I see two guys kissing, it might be wrong, it is wrong, I don’t know what it is, I’m sorry, it’s gross.” You can never catch them in that, and you notice there’s a calm in my voice when I say that, “Two guys kissing.” If someone goes, “It’s gross,” you know why I’m calm?
Gilmartin: They’re describing their feelings.
Glass: Because it’s the truth, their feelings. But when you try to make up reasons—
Gilmartin: That’s it’s wrong, try to say it’s wrong.
Glass: People that will do the egregious acts of hate, you know what I mean, that will drag a kid behind a car, you don’t align yourself with them, and you genuinely don’t. But let me tell you something. And it’s not fair, but life isn’t fair. When you don’t set a zero tolerance for any type of this sexism or racism, they align themselves with you.
Gilmartin: I just want to say one more thing before we wrap up, and I think this sums it up perfectly. A friend of mine, he’s a great guy, and he was telling me about a guy that came on to him when he was changing in the locker room, and it shocked him and it made him angry, and later he became really outraged and felt like he should have punched the guy.
A couple hours later we’re talking, and I swear to you, he describes a trip that he had to Europe where he went to a coed bathhouse, and there was a beautiful German girl who was changing her clothes and she was naked, and he came up and asked her if she would like to go out. And he said she freaked the fuck out, almost like if you walked in on somebody in the bathroom.
And I said, “Don’t you understand, that’s exactly—you did exactly to her what you were upset with that guy having done to you.”
And he paused. And here’s why he’s such a great guy. He went, “Oh, my god, you’re right.” And I think sometimes that’s the best that we can hope for is to stop beating ourselves up for having done something wrong and just say, “Now I have the information.”
Thank you for being so—I guess I want to thank you for having such thoughtful and articulate takes on these things, because not everybody is where you’re at, and it takes somebody—you’re not to say anything now. This is me. [laughter] And I want to thank you. [laughter]
Glass: You’re probably right.
Gilmartin: I want to thank you for—no, I’m not. I want to thank you for being so much fucking fun to hang around, and this is going to come across as kind of pathetic and needy, but I would like to hang out with you more. I always have such fun with you, and I would like to do stuff more, because I laugh so—
Glass: Well, this is two things, and then let me just say this, because, one, addressing what you just said. I’ve told this story many times. A long time ago, me and Dave Rath, we would always say, “We don’t hang out as much anymore.” And we’re both proud of ourselves. We were good friends, and then, you know, you go separate ways. And about ten years ago, we go, “No, I don’t want to be that,” and we started hanging out. So you can do it, and you can go, “Oh, yeah.” So if you just put it down, you go, that’s right, hang out, even if you have to cancel once or twice, eventually you will, because I have a few friends, we’re like when we see each other, I’m the same way with you. Like I see you at the Improve, I’m like I get—the word “giddy.” That’s right out of my vocabulary. I get giddy. I’m like, “I can’t wait. We’re going to do bits.” And then you think, “But then we don’t see each other that often.”
Glass: Then the other thing was I do read—this has to do with the deal of my podcast hangover, that’s what I call it, in the morning.
Gilmartin: When you have some regrets about stuff you said?
Glass: Regrets about what I said, or did I make myself clear. I’m going to be insecure and very secure. The secure part is—well, not secure, but I do read emails. People make great points, kind emails, and you almost go, “Oh, I wish I could go right back on the podcast and go, “No, I meant this and I meant that.” And, oh, just you really do because you don’t want someone to think, oh, like there’s someone out in the world that misunderstood me.
I do read emails and I do change my opinion and I do—and the other thing was that even if I might have not said something right, I have to have enough confidence to go “I think I’m heading in the right direction.” So I try not to do that, and so sometimes I get a little lost in my thought, but, overall, I hope that it’s towards going in a kinder, good, good direction.
Gilmartin: Yes, I think that’s very clear, which is so surprising from somebody who is so dumb. [laughter] Listen, I want to wish you luck in fifth grade. [laughter]
Glass: Thank you.
Gilmartin: I think it’s going to be a tremendous year. Clearly, you’re going to be a hit on the football team. You’re twice everybody else’s size.
Gilmartin: And I think I’ve worn this bit out. [laughs]
Glass: No, no. First of all, that never gets worn out, just gets funnier and funnier, especially when you’re in—what makes it funny for me is what we happen to be talking about in between. It’s like it’s so bare your soul, and then—so it’s all good.
Gilmartin: That’s what I was really looking forward to about this, about interviewing you, is I knew we would have both, and I think that’s why I want to hang out with you more, is because that’s what I look for in a friend, is somebody who knows when to be serious and knows when it’s okay to be silly.
Glass: Yeah. Well, the roller coaster is the best thing in life.
Gilmartin: Yeah. I just wish you weren’t on it. [laughter]
Many, many thanks to Todd. God, I love hanging around him. Be sure to check out his podcast, the Todd Glass—is it show or podcast? I’m not sure which one. You know what? Fuck him. He’s got enough. He’s popular enough. Let’s make it all about me.
Before I take it out with some surveys, I want to remind you there’s a couple of different ways to support the podcast if you feel so inclined. Go to the website, mentalpod.com, and you can make a one-time PayPal donation or recurring monthly donation, which I really love, because it helps keep the podcast going. You can sign up for as little as five bucks a month, and it means the world to me.
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Let’s get to it. This is from the “Shame and Secret” survey, and it was filled out by a guy who calls himself Roll Acosta, and he is in his twenties, asexual. We get quite a few people—well, I suppose quite a few compared to how many I—I don’t know if I’ve ever come across somebody who considers them self asexual. So it’s infrequent that people fill it out, but it’s more than I would have imagined. Anyway, he was raised in a slightly dysfunctional environment, never been sexually abused. Physically or emotionally abused? “Not sure. I was labeled the black sheep of my family at a very young age, so much so that my siblings treated me differently. I wasn’t the focus of admonishment. I was not the focus at all. Often ignored and grounded, I spent most of my time sitting in my house avoiding eye contact.” That sounds like more than just slightly dysfunctional to me.
Any positive experiences with your abusers? “My parents aren’t bad people, just people forced to be parents to a lot of kids at a young age, and I think that took the toll on them. I don’t like to spend time with them because they never have anything for me, just their weekly gossip about my siblings.” I think there was a typo.
Darkest thoughts. “I’ve thought about driving off a cliff. I’ve thought about all different ways of dying. I wonder what would be said about me. I have a good life résumé, veteran, college grad, working on a master’s, volunteer work, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, but nobody really knows me.”
Darkest secrets. “I’m asexual. I’m a good-looking guy, so people assume that I’ve been with many girls. I don’t deny these assumptions when presented, and I’ve perpetuated them before by not saying it happened, but a sly smile can be convincing of a romantic conquest. So no one knows about my sexual status. I really don’t think anyone would understand.”
Sexual fantasies most powerful to you. “Just making someone happy sexually is a dream, going back in time to all my failed relationships and being able to show those people some type of satisfaction. I was always happy, but I knew I would never be the kind of happiness they were looking for at the end of the night. If only.”
What would you like to say to someone you haven’t been able to? “I’m sorry. I wish I was able to, but I can’t. It’s not you. It’s me. Seriously. I don’t think they would understand what goes on in my head when they are thinking about sex. I just want them to know that I meant everything I said.”
What, if anything, do you wish for? “To be normal.”
Have you shared these things with others? “I did once. She thought I was just saying it to get out of the relationship. Then she said she often thought she was.” Then she said she often thought she was. I wonder if he meant she often thought she was. “Knowing how frisky she could be, this was obviously a lie, and she just couldn’t understand why I had to end things. This experience was with someone I only kind of care about. I could only imagine how this would go with someone I loved.”
How do you feel after writing these things down? “I’m crying. I’m glad I’m alone in here. I think I want a slice of pizza.” God, do I love the listeners to this podcast.
Anything you’d like to share with someone who shares your thoughts or experiences? “There has to be a light at the end of the tunnel, right?”
Thank you so much for that. I can’t imagine how difficult that must be, being asexual and wanting a relationship. And I think most people would be surprised. They would assume somebody who’s asexual doesn’t want a relationship, and it had never occurred to me, actually, until I read your survey, that you could want one but not the other. Sending you some love.
This is from the “What Has Helped You” survey, and this is filled out by a guy who calls himself Name of A Cat. And what helps him deal is—well, his challenges are opening up and letting people into his life. He always feels as though people don’t actually like him, but they pretend to. And what helps him deal with it, he says, “I enjoy regressing to an age where I was completely free. This would be called age play or infantilism, if you want to use the clinical term. I think about being a coherent two-year-old. All your needs are met, shelter, food, etc., and there are no demands put on you. It’s not a sexual role for me; it’s just a way to unwind, escape from stress, and enjoy life with a different mindset. At two years old, you are the boss. Want to be fed? Cry, and you will be. Want a nap? Cry out. Wanting to be changed? The same. At the same time, there are no real expectations from you. It’s a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours, put everything out of your mind and find peace. This sort of role play has helped me open up a bit more, to feel less vulnerable, and gives me something to look forward to. It’s also cheap, physically safe, and doesn’t involve drugs or anything else harmful.”
Thank you for saying that. And I wonder if—I don’t want to try to write this for you, but I’m always so encouraging people to feel vulnerable, and you writing saying, “It helps me feel less vulnerable,” I wonder if a more accurate way would be that it helps you feel less unsafe, because vulnerability can feel unsafe, but vulnerability is so awesome. I hope that wasn’t pushy of me.
This is an “Awfulsome Moment” filled out by a woman who calls herself Liberation Road. She writes, “When I was first diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, I started going to group therapy. I was in my early twenties and really had no idea what was going on with me, so I was reluctant and nervous to go to therapy. In the first session, the group was going around introducing themselves and giving a summary of why they were in the group. Midway through, the lady sitting next to me introduces herself and says her strongest phobia is that someone will randomly throw up on her. I bust out laughing, which you can probably guess was highly inappropriate. Everyone in the group was staring at me like I’d just killed their dog. So now it’s my turn to introduce myself and share something. I proceed to tell the group that my most uncontrollable and impulsive thought is that I will randomly throw up on someone. Everyone in the group snickered and saw why I had burst out laughing, except for the lady next to me. We never saw her after that first group session.” Oh, I’m sorry she didn’t come back, but that’s fuckin’ funny.
This is a “Shame and Secret” survey filled out by a woman who calls herself Secret Drunky Mom. That is an awesome name. She’s bisexual, she’s in her thirties, raised in a pretty dysfunctional environment. Ever been the victim of sexual abuse? “The classic some stuff happened, but I don’t know if it counts.” She writes, “I had a babysitter who found my mom’s vibrator. She, quote, showed me and my brothers how to use it. I can recall her masturbating in front of us. There was also an older boy in the neighborhood. I remember my younger brother and I playing outside with him. There was a big hill with some woods on the other side. No one could see you from the apartments when you were on the woods side. We were rolling down the hill with the neighbor, and he kept kissing me on the mouth. It made me feel really weird, and I didn’t like it. I went inside, but I left my brother. I think I thought that he was safe because he was a boy. Shortly after, my little brother came in, distraught and crying, and said that Ronnie had made him suck his dick. My parents went down and confronted his parents. They said they would handle it. No police were called, and nothing happened after that.” She’s also been physically and emotionally abused, and she did have positive experiences with her abusers.
Darkest thoughts. “I have sexual thoughts about children and young people. They are intrusive. It’s not something I feel like I want, but sometimes thoughts pop into my head, and it seems the more I try to stop them, the more they won’t go away.”
What are your deepest, darkest secrets? “Pressuring my cousins and peers to do sexual things. I could tell that they often didn’t really want to. This one haunts me. I try to remember that I was also a child, but I still feel shame and guilt about this one.” You should definitely forgive yourself for doing that when you were a child. It’s so fuckin’ important for us to heal, no matter what, no matter what we did to people.
Sexual fantasies most powerful to you. “Imagining that I’m in a barn masturbating and some farmhand hottie is spying on me. He makes a noise, and I hear him, and then we start doing it.” Would that still count if the noise was [farting sound]? Just a thought. Just want to know. I just want to—what’s the word they use in the political spheres? I want to vet. I want to vet your fantasy out.
What, if anything, do you wish for? “Peace in my own mind.”
Have you shared these things with others? “Yes. People are supportive.”
How do you feel after writing these things down? “It’s been strange to reflect upon these things. I may be more sexually dysfunctional than I realize.” Thank you for sharing that.
This is from the “What Has Helped You” survey, and it’s filled out by a woman who calls herself Hoping for Hope. Her issues are depression, anxiety, binge eating, grief, and being overly emotional. What helps her, she says, is “going out into nature, walking by the beach, running in the woods, surfing, anything to do with nature and non-manmade things.” Say that fast ten times. “Makes me realize how small my issues are, not in a way of invalidating them, but that there’s so much more in the universe.” So beautifully put. Thank you so much for that. And I love when you guys can just condense something into like a beautiful sentence.
This in an “Awfulsome Moment” filled out by a woman who calls herself Orangey Red. And she writes, “My dad died a few years ago. We didn’t have a very active relationship, but I made a lot of peace with his emotional unavailability years ago, and I could see he was increasingly shutting down/aging very quickly/prematurely, which I took as a sign he was checking out at some level. So I wasn’t that surprised by his sudden death. He had a heart attack, his third, and died instantly at age sixty-two. His new wife and my extended family are all very religious, while my mom and I are not, at least not in the very traditional sense of that whole churchgoing world. My mom and boyfriend were there with me at the service, which was quite lovely, but then ended bizarrely with some students of my stepmother’s doing a barefoot interpretive dance to contemporary Christian music. They swirled scarves around and hobbled around the way only Bible School-attending eighteen-year-old religious girls in a religion where dancing is a sin can do. It was all I could do not to burst out laughing, and instead I squeezed my mom and boyfriend’s hands, and we all got the held-in laugh sweats for the excruciating five-minute number. At the reception thing, my stepdad, who is hilarious and irreverent, said to me how moved he was by the service. He said, ‘I hope when I die I have seven virgins dancing on my grave.’ I laughed so loud, all of the gray-hairs turned to stare at me. I really had quite a good time at that funeral, and think about those dancing virgins all the time. Tim and Eric couldn’t have done it better.” Thank you for that.
This is from the “Shame and Secret” survey filled out by a guy who calls himself Mr. Lee. He’s bisexual, he’s in his twenties, raised in a slightly dysfunctional environment. He was the victim of sexual abuse and never reported it. He writes, “I have a faint memory of being in a dark basement when I was little. I know my mind has blocked out the painful memories, but it still doesn’t stop the chills I get when I think about how young I was.” Not sure if he’s been physically or emotionally abused. He writes, “I’m an adult. I know that people lose their shit every now and then. If I was emotionally or physically abused, I don’t blame them. Life’s hard.”
Any positive experiences with your abusers? “There’s tons of positive moments, which is why it’s easy to see past the bad and forgive them.”
Darkest thoughts. “I constantly think about causing people pain. Currently my roommate is sitting on the couch, and I want to stab him in the leg with a pen, taking him out of his virtual computer world and into the realest thing he’s ever felt. I feel like we all live in a world where we’re so far detached from our true emotions, whether it be fear, love, pain, or joy, everything has been dulled down.” Then he write in caps, “I JUST WANT TO LIVE LIFE TO ITS FULLEST.”
What are your darkest secrets? “My deepest secret is that I don’t care what happens to people. In every relationship where I’ve said “I love you’ or ‘I miss you,’ I’ve never once cared. I play games with people’s hearts and emotions because I need to know what it’s like to give a damn.”
Sexual fantasies most powerful to you. “I’ve written maybe twenty fantasies out, then erased them. I feel a little too fucked up to submit them.”
What, if anything, would you like to say to someone you haven’t been able to? “To my father. I feel sick to my stomach every time I have to say my last name, because it reminds me that I’m your son. I thought when I was little I wanted your love. Now that I’m not being manipulated by you, all I want is to read your obituary in the newspaper while I have my morning tea.”
What, if anything, do you wish for? “To feel emotions. I’m so full of anger that I can’t feel compassion, love, sorrow, or joy.”
Have you shared these things with others? “No, I put up a great front, and I don’t think anyone would believe me if I said I have problems.”
How do you feel after writing this stuff down? “Still dull, slightly elevated heart rate.” I’m sending you some love, buddy. I know what it’s like to be angry and numb to anything else except anger or dread, and I suppose in some ways that’s why getting sober, hitting my bottom with drugs and alcohol was the best thing that ever happened to me, because it forced me to really go deep and unearth all that uncomfortable shit. So I encourage you to find a mental health professional and start opening up.
This is from the “What Has Helped You” survey, filled out by a woman who calls herself Motor Mom, and her issues are loads and loads of anxiety and suicidal thoughts. And what has helped her, “Being able to reach out to people, not feeling like I have to carry the burden on my own.” Fortuitous that this is right after Mr. Lee’s survey. I hope he listens to this episode and what you’re writing. “Being able to reach out to people, not feeling like I have to carry the burden on my own. Spending lots of time in the sun, eating a sugar-, carb-, processed-free food diet, finding activities and work that help me feel fulfilled and trying to just be in the moment, even if it’s painful or distressing. Working through it instead of trying to escape helps tremendously. Working on grounding myself instead of being in my head all the time.” I should post that up and lacquer it and frame it. That is well put.
This is from the “Shame and Secret” survey, filled out by a guy who calls himself Nervous About This. And he only partially filled this out. He’s bisexual, he’s in his thirties, raised in a slightly dysfunctional environment, which I would disagree with, and you’ll agree with me after I read the part he did fill out, which seems much more than slightly dysfunctional to me.
Have you ever been the victim of sexual abuse? He writes, “Yes, and I never reported it, and some stuff happened but I don’t know if it counts.” And under that heading, he elaborates—or actually maybe one of these is supposed to be in the “Yes, it was,” and I think this stuff with his mom is “not sure if it counts.” Anyway, he writes, “I was sexually abused at a daycare when I was very young. I remember it vividly and am triggered by the point of vomiting by certain smells related to those memories. I’ve told my wife and brother about this, and no one else. I was so young that I don’t know whether my family is aware of what happened, although we did leave that daycare abruptly, and they were hyper vigilant about letting me be alone with unrelated people. We have never discussed it.
“On the other end of the spectrum, I had some experiences with my mother and grandmother that crossed boundaries and made me feel uncomfortable, but I don’t think they got sexual pleasure from it. My mom would tickle me on my upper thighs, play footsy under the table, or rest her hand on my upper leg when we were sitting on the couch. She would make comments about my body, including the size of my package if she saw me in my underwear around the house.” By the way, that is sexual abuse. There’s no two ways about that. Sexualizing a child overtly like that is no less damaging than touching them, because she’s touching you with her eyes, and it’s gross.
“This continues to this day. I am thirty years old. Her mother, who lived with us, would casually brush her hand on my crotch occasionally and make no comment about it. She would claim that I had gotten too dirty playing outside and make me undress, including underwear, before coming in the house. She once insisted on giving me a bath when I was about eleven, even though I’d been bathing alone for years. She then made veiled comments to other family members about how much I had, quote, ‘grown.’ It felt humiliating and emasculating, which I think was the point. My grandmother was on a power trip.”
I agree with you completely about all those things that you’re thinking. The only thing I would disagree with is that you say it was slightly dysfunctional. I think a home where there’s sexual abuse is more than slightly dysfunctional. But I really relate to what you experienced very, very deeply, and it’s taken me decades to call what happened to me—to give weight to it. And I hope you can, again, go talk to somebody, and I’m pretty sure they will validate my thoughts on that.
This is an “Awfulsome Moment” filled out by a guy, transgender female to male, who calls himself Rosstifer. Let’s see. He is thirty and he writes, “I called my dad to ask if he would be out, with the unarticulated intention of using his garage to leave the car running in order to finally kill myself, after considering the option for decades. In a rare moment of overt empathy, he asked what was wrong. In a way that can only be described as verbal diarrhea, I explained myself and why, finally at the end of my rope after spousal abuse. He suggested I go to an emergency room for help, and he let me hang up without an ‘I love you’ on either end. It was so sad. My dog came in to be with me as if to stand guard, so I decided to call the Mental Health Line I programmed into my phone in case my mentally ill sister needed it, another long story, as a last-ditch effort before finally ending it all, you know, just so I could say to myself that I tried everything. I pressed ‘send’ and quickly heard a sexy voice instruct me to give my credit card number before getting started with our fun. I hung up and realized I had programmed a 1-800 rather than 1-866 into my phone. I snapped out of the acute need to die. I couldn’t kill myself knowing my last call was to a sex line. I haven’t been that close to an attempt ever or since. Thanks, awfulsome moments.” [laughs] Oh, buddy, I want to give you a hug.
Some of these really good awfulsome moments, I feel like I should pay you guys for these, because they bring me such happiness. I think that’s why I’ve always hated musical theatre, is because I can handle the happiness, but it’s got to have some darkness in it, because happiness, just saccharine happiness is like, uh, I just can’t stand it.
This is a “Happy Moment” filled out by a guy who calls himself Sake in Aluminum Cans, and he writes, “I’ve just returned from holiday in Japan. While there, I went into a traditional bathhouse. There’s an etiquette to these places which involve thoroughly cleaning yourself beforehand, not letting your hair touch the water, and, most frighteningly to me, being completely naked in the bath. I am very, very unhappy with my appearance, and I was nervous about doing it, but forced myself to do it. There were quite a few Japanese men there, but they basically ignored me. I stripped down, cleaned up, and got into the very hot water and sat. It was uncomfortably hot at first, but I quickly acclimated, and it was an oddly neutral sensation and completely enveloping. Soon it was like I was in space. I sat there with steam rising and Japanese chatter filling the air and felt, as paradoxical as this may sound, an exciting calmness. It was freeing just sitting there. I don’t know if I was not being judged or was being judged and just didn’t care, and it didn’t matter which of those was true. Afterwards, I told my wife it was the most fun I’d ever had in a room full of naked Japanese men.” I love that. I love when you guys paint a picture that’s just so sublimely peaceful. Just love it.
This is our last one, and this a couple of “Happy Moments” from a listener who calls herself Nim Harper. She’s in her thirties, and she writes, “I’ve been a huge fan of Maria Bamford’s for quite some time. In my early twenties, when my depression was so severe it seemed impossible for me to smile or laugh ever again, there were only two people that could make me forget the fact that I was scared and sad all the time. She was one of them. Conan O’Brien was the other. She saved me from myself more times than I can count. I do not know if I would be here if it hadn’t been for Maria Bamford. I’ve struggled with severe anxiety and depression my whole life, and there’s a huge stigma against it in my family. My dad used to say that mental illness didn’t exist, except in extreme cases, schizophrenia, dissociative identity disorder, etc. This is a guy who believed that all gay people are gay because they resented their parents for something or were molested. I later found out that he was molested and he’s since dealt with it and with his antiquated thoughts towards homosexuality and mental illness. I’m very proud.
“One day after listening to Ask Me About My New God for about the sixth time,” that’s the name of one of Maria’s comedy albums, “I Googled tour dates, and on a whim found out she was coming to the Improv, five miles away from me. As always, I laughed hysterically, not only because she has the most original voice I’ve ever heard, but because when she spoke about what she calls her mentals, I feel less alone in the world. To know that someone I admire understands something with which I’ve struggled my whole life is one of the most validating, hope-inducing things I’ve ever experienced. I was so excited, I was vibrating. I decided that I had to thank her for everything she’s done for me without even knowing it. I was kind of dizzy and feverish and terrified, but it became the most important thing in the world to me.
“I waited in the lobby, and the moment she came out, I just sputtered, ‘Hello, hello,’ and then forced myself to tell her just what I think of her. I told her she was awesome and to thank her for making me laugh when I felt like I’d never laugh again. She asked my name, then shook my hand, then I said something else I can’t remember, and she hugged me. She hugged me, completely unbidden. She hugged me because she wanted to.
“My brain turned into an excited eight-year-old who has just been told she’s going to Disneyland instead of school. I don’t normally like to be touched by strangers, but she wasn’t a stranger. Her voice and thoughts have been in my life so much and for so long that I felt like I knew her already. I was ecstatic. My face hurt from smiling. I felt like everything was awesome and I belonged in the universe. I had to go to the bathroom and cry a little bit, do some slow breathing, and get myself together.
“By the time my friend and I left the bathroom—she was so supportive, I’m lucky to have her—people were lining up for pictures and autographs. My friend asked me if I wanted a picture. I said, ‘No, I can’t bother her again. She’ll think I’m Mark David Chapman.’ After some convincing from her, we got in the picture line. When it was my turn, Maria said, ‘Oh,” and said my name, and then I almost died. I started giggling uncontrollably, and because I’m super smooth and sophisticated, I said, ‘My name just came out of your mouth.’ And she laughed. I made Maria Bamford laugh. Then I asked for a picture and we took one. I’m not smiling that hard in any other picture I own. I don’t think I even smiled that hard in the pictures when I was kid. My whole brain was full of happiness. I almost didn’t know how to deal with it.
“Before we parted ways, she asked me if I listened to the Mental Illness Happy Hour, and I said yes. Full disclosure, Paul Gilmartin, I had only heard the Maria Bamford episode. However, when I got home that night, I downloaded a bunch of episodes and have been hooked ever since. Happy moment number two.
“The Bamford happy moment led me to countless happy moments listening to your podcast, laughing while listening to other people who cope with my same problems, being happy in being told that I am not alone all at once. Listening to this podcast has done so much for me, and it also inspired me to research low-fee mental health care in my area. I now officially have a therapist, and that’s the third happy moment.
“My whole life, I’ve felt like a can of soda that someone shook up really hard and then didn’t open.” That is such a fantastic image. “Now I know that I get to talk to someone every week about my feelings in a safe environment, with no judgment and no chance of it being thrown in my face later. I’d been thinking about joining a support group as well, and on Thursday my therapist told me about a self-esteem support group, which I need because I do not like myself, starting up next Wednesday. Happy moment number four.
“Also, I was given a list of medical facilities that charge on a sliding scale, and I’m taking the first step towards getting a psychiatrist and medication. Happy moment number five. Whoa. I feel like Dory in Finding Nemo, when she can’t saying P. Sherman’s address because she’s so happy she can remember it. I feel like Grandpa Joe in Willy Wonka when he gets out of bed and sings ‘I’ve got a golden ticket.’
“Obviously, it’s not going to be all sunshine and lollipops, but knowing that I’m being proactive and taking steps towards getting better rather than just curling into the fetal position and listening to Billie Holiday makes me feel hopeful. I feel happy. I feel like someday I might get better. Sorry this was so long. I really jabbered on and on, didn’t I? However, I know you like happy moments, so I hope you enjoyed reading it.”
I enjoyed reading every word of that. That was beautiful, and a perfect note to end this episode on. I hope hearing the podcast, and especially her happy moments, you realize how much help and love there is out there in the world if we’re willing to get out of our comfort zone. And I’m so glad I did, because I know I’d be dead if I hadn’t. And I know I say that all—
[End of recording]