Laughing in the face of the ‘White Logic’: W.C. Fields & me

W.C. Fields with Louise Brooks, in It's the Old Army Game, 1926.
W.C. Fields with Louise Brooks, in It’s the Old Army Game, 1926. [Louise Brooks on W.C. Fields] “He was an isolated person. As a young man, he stretched out his hand to Beauty and Love and they thrust it away. Gradually he reduced reality to exclude all but his work, filling the gaps with alcohol. He was also a solitary person. Years of traveling alone around the world with his juggling act taught him the value of solitude and the release it gave his mind.”
I’ve often be incapable of reconciling certain paradoxes of my life, even found them slightly amusing at times, but also held them up as trophies of my alienation from society.

On the one hand, my adoptive father died of alcohol poisoning; on the other, my favorite job was tending bar. And, get this … My favorite comedian of all time is W.C. Fields, the man who played the ‘everyman’ that snubbed his tremendous proboscis at society, particularly the uptight conservative anti-alcoholic mainstream. I laughed at his portrayal of the inebriated ‘everyman’ inundated with life’s little problems — the same ‘deep belly’ laughs reserved for Monty Python — at the same time as my father was killing himself one bottle at a time.

Decades later, amusingly now in recovery, I’ve been forced to reflect on the things I do, the way I think, possibly for the first time in a couple of decades. I’ve beat myself up for smiling and even joking at my Dad’s funeral, but have now come to realize that it was merely a defensive reaction to protect me from feeling genuine emotions.

Sorry Dad, we had a lotta laughs, life with you was always exciting. I loved you. I hated you. But, I now truly understand you.


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