I spent the two days after the AT&T in Pebble Beach shooting Cobra commercials in Palm Springs. I had to bounce on a trampoline in a cheerleader’s outfit, and was worried that something might pop out, you know, like those female Russian weightlifters in the 1970s, so I had doubled up and worn a pair of men’s briefs underneath my big yellow panties. As it turned out I needn’t have worried; the panties were industrial polyester, designed to keep zitty teenage boys out, and so tight it was all I could do not to yodel.
Later, back at the hotel, I was in the bathroom to take a pee, which didn’t go well. You see, it felt soooo good to take my panties off — men: it’s almost as good taking your own panties off as someone else’s, really — I forgot I was wearing the safety pair underneath, and had slipped my boxers on over them, and then my jeans. Having to dress as a teenage girl all day had been traumatic enough, but when I went into my jeans for little Dave and found nothing, I screamed, and wet myself a little bit too. It was the end of a long strange day, and tomorrow didn’t look like it was going to be any better: I was going to have a nude photo taken.
And welcome back, sorry if you’re disappointed. Few people my age ever see a mirror they like even when they have their clothes on. I’m almost 48. Given the way I’ve lived my life, I have the face I deserve. If you factor in the 12 years of sleep I’ve missed, I look a net 60. So I was worried about this photo. A large format film camera with a one-second exposure is designed to reveal flaws in brutal detail. I had an irrational fear I might get one of those dreadful four-hour erections and no one would notice, but the main thing was that I can’t do serious expressions — I’m too self-conscious. If I try to be serious, I look exhausted by constipation.
Before the shoot, my ruthless agent, Basil O’Turdlington, pointed out that this is the last year of my current contract with CBS, which may or may not make it the best time to admit a long struggle with mental illness. But as I told Basil, my outto- lunch-ness probably hadn’t escaped the attention of my employers. Why not flop out the wobblies for the camera just for good measure? I informed every relevant party of my intentions to bare both my soul and my ass, and there as on why. Not everyone, actually. This is where the wisdom left me, for because I was sore afraid, I neglected to tell She Who Must Be Obeyed one tiny detail: that I was taking my clothes off. It’s no big thing, I thought. Just a photo. Of me. Naked. It’s symbolic. Artful. She might be a little miffed at first, but it’ll be nice, and it’ll help people, and, dear God, please don’t let her kill me.
I thought she was going to kill me. Turned out I had left out another tiny detail, that the photo grapher, Karen Keuhn, was a woman, and, worse still, a female one. I had incurred the wrath of my 95 pounds of Mississippi madness before, but when she saw the first photo, I felt like I was in a scene from The Exorcist. Her eyes turned plutonium-rod-water green, and I thought she was going to vomit at me, but it was much worse than that. She went straight for the woman’s weapon of mass destruction. She pretended to be fine. It was quiet a round our house for a while, but after three weeks, my best friend — which is why she must be obeyed — finally looked at the stack of 8-by-10 photos, and picked out the twisted one that appears on page 153 of the magazine.
Turned out all she wanted was to know the truth, and to be included. If you read the story you’ll realize I owe her a lot more than that?my life, for a start.
So, to review: I had dressed up like a cheerleader (think Molly Shannon, but hairy), wet my pants and then got naked on a photographer’s set that was closed about as often as Lee Trevino’s mouth. I also thought that my wife wouldn’t be upset about it, and some of you might be surprised to hear I have struggled with mental illness. And this is my life when I’m well? I must need my f—ing head seen to.