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Writing a Diner Menu – DELETED SCENE #12

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This passage was originally the ending to HOW TO FAIL's Footchapter 2:  "How to Go Insane and Garner Voices in Your Head."  It would have picked up on page 41 of the paperback edition.

I was starving.  I kinda wished my girlfriend was here so we could be starving.

I turned around having not noticed what had been behind me the whole time on the other side of the road.  A little quaint restaurant.  The View Diner.

I entered.

Seemingly no one in the place.  No diners, no cooks, no maitre d's (ha!), no hosts, no nothing.

By the end of 2009 the International Labour Organization had estimated that there had been twenty million lost jobs due to the global economic crisis.  Over 10% of the western world was unemployed.  Probably more in places like this.

Was that why no one was in this diner?

No expendable income for flapjacks?

What time was it?

I wouldn't have looked at getting laid off as a crisis.  I would look at it as...awesome!  I wanted to get laid off from my crummy job.

But I didn't have anyone or thing to support.

Simple people that lived out here surely did.

I felt sorry for them.  I never felt sorry for any one but myself.

"Someone'll be with ya' in a sec, fella."

I turned to notice a man I hadn't noticed before.  Well-dressed and well-kempt in what we in the big city would call "business casual," he sat in the large corner booth in the back drinking a cup of coffee and staring at his laptop screen.  I assumed he was the owner of this joint.  He smiled at me.

"Beautiful sunrise this morning, huh?"

"Yes.  The best I've ever seen."

"Certainly made my top 365 for the year."

I nodded.  Clever fella.

A waitress came and sat me in a small booth, a few down from the owner.

She slapped a menu in front of me.  No-frills.  Just crinkled laminated paper with a brief tale about how the diner came into existence ("One man had a dream...good food at a reasonable price...EST. 1964), food listings, no descriptions.  I studied it.

What was the difference between a Denver omelet and a Western?  They were the same, right?  I liked foods with fun names.  Clams Casino.  What was that?  I was just supposed to know?

"Originally from Narragansett, Rhode Island, the succulent cherrystone crabs are breaded and served on the..."

The old man owner was punching something into his computer as he talked aloud to no one in particular.

"...halfshell with a generous heaping of delectable smoked bacon and a brackish melody of seasonings and flavors including but not limited to:  butter, pepper, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, white wine, and shallots.  A magisterial tub of Tabasco, trademark, served on the side."

The old man look up and smiled at me.  "Perfect."

He went back to typing.  "Grandmama's Meatloaf.  Hmmmm..."

I persued my menu.

"A dish dating back to ancient Roman origins, we use a tantalizing combination of ground beef mixed with lamb and pork, bound with eggs and red-wine-soaked bread before being cooked in a loaf pan and topped with our ineffably tangy homemade tomato sauce."

He looked at his computer screen.  "Not bad.  Could use an edit or two and I don't like that  ambiguous use of 'ineffably.'  But not bad."

It had never occurred to me that effort was actually put into composing restaurant menus.  I mean, yeah, I suppose at fine French restaurants or something.  But here, at a podunk diner in the Poconos?

And Chaucer continued.

"Country fried steak.  Similar to the toothsome Viennese schnitzel, we start with tenderized cube steak coated with a breaded shell before being pan-fried to create a sublime taste sensation.  Slathered in an ambrosial peppered milk gravy."

Are the hicks that live around here really going to be impressed with his florid food language?  Will they really want to have to employ a condensed OED to know whether they want the ambrosial gravy or the brackish seasoning melody or not?

And this went on and on as I drank my coffee, tried to enjoy my Belgian waffles.

"Yeast-levened batter ironed into the..."

It was annoying me.

"Creamy ricotta and ragu spread between sheets..."

Why did he have to talk so loud to himself?

"You know what the B stands for.  And the L and T and we slap that between..."

Fucking old people.

"Cubed chunks of fresh white meat mixed with curry mayo..."

Then the craziest thing happened and I began to admire a guy for taking his job and his life so seriously.  So concerned with self-improvement.  Why couldn't I be like that?!  So focused, so motivated, so hard-working?  I sat back and watched him with great admiration, like a one-man stage show, as he off the top of his head composed each new menu item.

By the time he got to desserts...

"...and coated with a cumulo-nimbusly fluffy meringue"

...I had been in the diner for over an hour, had had nearly a whole pot of "artisanal" Fair Trade freshly-ground Jamaican coffee.  I needed to go.  Get on with life.  Back to the cabin, back to New York, I wasn't sure.  But back somewhere.

I was happy, content.

I was inspired!

I walked to the register to pay the meager bill.

"$5.29, honey."

"Wow.  Great deal."

"You're obviously not from around here, are ya'?"

"No, just passing through and enjoying the view and the View."

The waitress noticed me looking over toward the owner.

"Oh don't mind him honey.  He comes in every single day and we can't get him to leave. He's crazy.  Touched.  Got voices in his head."


Check out these other Director's Commentary and Deleted Scenes:

#1 -- "FUCK YOUS" (dedication page)
#2 -- "QUOTING BIGGIE SMALLS" (including famous quotes)
#3 -- "BLURBS" (cover blurbs)
#4 -- "CHAPTER ONE" (genesis of HTF idea)
#5 -- "THE FAILURE INTERVENTION" (deleted scene)
#6 -- "I'VE NEVER BEEN HAPPIER" (deleted scene)
#7 -- "HOW TO FAIL ON A DATE" (deleted chapter)
#8 -- "HOW TO MAKE GOD HATE YOU" (deleted chapter)
#9 -- "BENDERS" -- (deleted scene)
#10 -- "HATING NORA EPHRON" (deleted scene)
#11 -- "HOW TO PICK A BAD COLLEGE MAJOR" (deleted chapter)

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“How to Pick a Bad College Major” – DELETED SCENE #11

This is another HOW TO FAIL deleted scene that was actually an entire chapter.  It was originally Footchapter Twelve-B but in later edits it got shortened into just a small passage (pgs. 289-290) in Footchapter Eleven-A "How to be Aimless & Uninspired."

I thought it would be nice to run now, four years after lots of children picked bad college majors which they're now finding absolutely no use for in the "real" world.  Shudder.

You don't need to go to college to aquire most skills.  You can learn them on your own.  College should only be used as a trade school for white collar piece of shit jobs.

I didn't need classes to know how to write.  I either had it or I didn't.  And, you're already on pg X of this book so I must have it; or you randomly opened to this page; or you were assigned this for a class (seriously?!  Stuart Fish is taught in schools now?  How flattering!)

I majored in both film and English.  Perhaps the two most useless majors in America after general studies.

You see, the problem is, one can't major in the stuff you really want to major in:

*Being Awesome

*Becoming famous

*Picking up hot chicks

Meanwhile, there are countless worthless and useless things people can major in:

*________ Studies  (Women's, African-American, Rock 'n' roll)--These aren't "studies."  You're essentially paying money to goof around.  These colleges are tricking your parents into letting you party for four years under the guise of study.  Watch a documentary or two on said _______ or read a couple of books and you'll know more than enough on the subject.  And if you're a woman or an African-American, your life is your study.  If you're a man or white, you don't need to study those minorities "studies."  You're already a majority of fortune on planet Earth.  Even if these things interest you, you certainly don't need to spend 80 hours on it.

*Hotel/restaurant management--Seriously?  If this necessitates a major then why are so many restaurants running just fine under the helm of a nineteen-year-old college drop-out?  And hotels?  What's there to know?  Mexican women need to clean up the room and makes the bed.  Black men need to mop the floor and unclog the toilets.  White girls need to run the front desk?!  You don't need any ethnic studies classes to know those things.

*History--The major for lazy people that think they're intellecutal and like owning lots of books.

*Physical education--You must be kidding.

*Latin--Studying a dead language is always savvy.

*Teaching--Why would you need to major in this?  Can't you pretty much teach something the second you learn it?  A 2nd Grader could teach a 1st Grader how to be a 1st Grader, right?  And a 9th grader could teach an 8th grader.  A 12th grader could probably even teach like a 10th grade "honors" class.  Done and done.  Katie confirms as much.

My major in film was particularly useless considering my school was using equipment that DW Griffith would have laughed at, and that was a man that thought racism was hilarious so you know he's got a bang-up sense of humor.  So, perhaps, maybe I didn't even major in film but actually majored in something like Antiquated Filmmaking.

Wow, my major was even more useless than I thought.

As for obtaining a second major, I sure picked a great one:  English.  When English is your first language--and you don't even have a second one--you really don't need to major in it.  English in college is essentially just like being in a book club that costs $40,000 a year, has only annoying people you hate in it, offers no refreshments at any of the meetings, and a book club where people actually read the books.

No, to not have a useless college major, one needs to major either in a select trade (welding, nursing, massage) or a highly select set of knowledge (biology, rocket science, astrology).

Of course, very few people major in those fields, many major in as equally of worthless majors as I did.  Yet all of these people with all these terrible fucking majors, just like me, have managed to find work, to eke out a legitimate living, have a decent paycheck, some savings, be normal.

Why can't I?

What have I done wrong?

I think I went wrong in going to college in the first place.

I should have just skipped it.  Sure, I would ultimately have gotten laid less, probably, between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two, I would have played far less beer pong, known none of the intricacies of keg stands and that thing where you stick your key into the side of a beer can and chug, but I would have...oh, I don't know, had four more years of failure on my permanent record.  But at least I wouldn't have had a degree.

No one besmirches a NON-college grad that's a failure.

I'm glad I shortened this chapter, it wasn't very good. Having said that, Stu was prescient:  I AM taught in schools now!

Check out other "How to Fail" DELETED SCENES here.

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Hating Nora Ephron – Deleted Scene #10

For a brief while, earlier drafts of "How to Fail" presented a Stu Fish character who absolutely, and almost inexplicably, detested Nora Ephron.  He both thought her most responsible for the downfall of quality Hollywood entertainment and perhaps even society, all due to her chick flick troika of "When Harry Met Sally," "Sleepless in Seattle," and "You've Got Mail."

Things finally come to a head when Stu and his screenwriting friend Wesley run into Nora on a studio lot in Hollywood.  Afterward, Stu explains to Wesley (who greatly admires her contributions to the film industry) why he detests her so:

Things I hate about Nora Ephron:

  • I hate her fucking name.  It just sounds repugnant.  Both her first and her last name.  I hate that she has a sister named Delia too.  Delia?!  Give me a fucking break.
  • I hate that she was one of the few people that knew who Deep Throat was and held it over everyone like she was awesome.  No, you aren't awesome, you were fucking Bob Woodward.
  • speaking of that, I hate that she is now married to Nicolas Pilleggi.  How can the brilliant writer of "Goodfellas" and "Casino" be married to such a shrill, undertalented wench? Even worse, how can she have more career Oscar nominations than him?
  • I hate how she thinks she is so awesome.  A feminist par excellence.  A master observer of the the human condition.  Of female/male dynamics.  The relationship scribe of the century.
  • But most of all, and the only thing that truly matters--I detest her fucking movies.  We're talking about her trifecta of pussiness specifically.  I'm not referring to stuff like "Silkwood" or "Michael," though those are awful movies in their own right. I'm talking about "When Harry Met Sally," "Sleepless in Seattle," and, yes, your beloved "You've Got Mail.  "You've Got Mail" is just a rip-off of "Sleepless in Seattle," with a twist of "Shop Around the Corner," which was just a rip-off of "An Affair to Remember" which isn't particularly a great movie to begin with.

Ultimately, I dropped the Nora hatred from the entire book and, aside from a few stray mentions of "You've Got Mail," you won't find anything about Nora in "How to Fail."  Nevertheless, I imagine Stu still hates her and, I suppose, I kinda do too, but it just felt weird to include in the book.  And, ultimately, it really wasn't all that funny.

I (as in Aaron) still think about Nora Ephron far too much though.  She's hard to avoid.  She always has a new movie or book or fucking Huffington Post commentary.  She's always quoted in stories and on TV and anywhere you look.  I sometimes even accidentally walk by the UWS coffee shop where "You've Got Mail" had some of its major scenes.  I just don't get it.  Perhaps I never will.  Perhaps I'm just insanely jealous of her insane success.  At least her last few movies have really, really sucked.

Check out these other Director's Commentary and Deleted Scenes:

#1 -- "FUCK YOUS" (dedication page)
#2 -- "QUOTING BIGGIE SMALLS" (including famous quotes)
#3 -- "BLURBS" (cover blurbs)
#4 -- "CHAPTER ONE" (genesis of HTF idea)
#5 -- "THE FAILURE INTERVENTION" (deleted scene)
#6 -- "I'VE NEVER BEEN HAPPIER" (deleted scene)
#7 -- "HOW TO FAIL ON A DATE" (deleted chapter)
#8 -- "HOW TO MAKE GOD HATE YOU" (deleted chapter)
#9 -- "BENDERS" -- (deleted scene)

If you’ve read "How to Fail" and haven’t yet left an Amazon review, please take 30 seconds to do so here and keep spreading the good word, even to your friends that can't read.

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The Presidential Easter Eggs of “How to Fail”

What job more exemplifies success (and perhaps ultimate failure too) than the U.S. Presidency?

Filmmakers sometimes like to have a little fun and add "easter eggs" for their most astute fans to discover.  I, likewise, decided it would be cool to subtly sneak a reference to all 44 presidents within HOW TO FAIL's 372 pages and see if any one caught on.  Unfortunately, edits led to a few references ultimately being nixed and only 35 presidents ended up being represented in the final work (36 if we count Grover Cleveland's non-consecutive terms).

(Bolded presidents actually appear in the book.  Other presidents are mentioned how they appeared in previous drafts.)

George Washington - In Chapter 2 while arguing with Keith about dentistry being "overrated," Stu notes that when he becomes a Hollywood success:  “They'll cap my teeth. Fill my facehole with a bunch of big, fake chompers. Like Ben Affleck or Hilary Duff. Gorgeous and pricey mouth Chiclets that’ll make Gary Busey, Mr. Ed, and George Washington’s teeth look subtle by comparison.”

John Adams -- Stu dreams of his "How to Fail" life becoming the stuff of legend, with a Hollywood producer one day telling him:  "We'll do How to Fail: The Major Motion Picture and a How to Fail HBO miniseries which will be bigger than that suckfest John Adams one..." (Chapter 13)

Thomas Jefferson -- "People love to overrate those that fail in the class president who dies in a car wreck who was certain to be the next Thomas Jefferson." (Footchapter 6-B)

James Madison -- Both Madison Avenue and Madison Square Garden are mentioned in the book in a fairly cheap reference to Presidente Numero Tres.

James Monroe -- The happy hour bar Stu and his ex-girlfriend Ash loved to drink at is called J. Monroe's. (Chapter 6)

John Quincy Adams --  In the "I've Never Been Happier" deleted scene, Stu speculates on how his life could have turned out if he'd taken the road of most successes.  He wonders if he'd have become more conservative John Quincy Adams, the kind of prude that doesn't even appreciate a woman's shorn pubic hair.

Andrew Jackson -- Though both Michael and Phil Jackson are mentioned in "How to Fail," Andrew Jackson does not appear in the book.  In earlier drafts, Stu occasionally referred to $20 bills as "Andrew Jacksons" until I realized that made him appear very douchey.

Martin Van Buren -- Ash's best friend, struggling actress Patricia, works at Times Square novelty restaurant First Ladies where she serves food while dressed like Martin's wife Hannah Van Buren. (Chapter 6)

William Henry Harrison -- (see below)

John Tyler -- Stu reflects on all the useless shit he learned in high school:  "We read The Great Gatsby and learned about derivatives and the Doppler effect and 'Tippecanoe and Tyler too...'"  "Tippecanoe and Tyler too" being an influential Whig Party campaign song praising the William Henry Harrison/Tyler presidential ticket, while denigrating opponent Van Buren. (Footchapter 6-B)

James K. Polk -- When Stu visits his highly successful screenwriting pal Wesley out in Los Angeles, they go to a cheesy Hollywood Boulevard nightclub.  Stu hates it, but Wesley digs the quasi-celebrity scene:  “Jesse Owens' great-grandkids party here. And that chick over there is related to James K. Polk.”  (Chapter 11)

Zachary Taylor -- At Stu's job interview in Chapter 13, his potential future boss notes that he needs to talk to his company's "big wigs" though not, he joke, "the big Whigs like Zachary Taylor."

Millard Fillmore --  In earlier drafts, Chapter 13's job interview took place at the Millard Fillmore office building, a made-up building in midtown Manhattan.

Franklin Pierce -- Stu's successful friend Danny does banking work for the Franklin Pierce firm.  Also a nod to "American Psycho"'s Patrick Bateman who does similar mergers and acquisitions for Pierce & Pierce.

James Buchanan -- Stu doesn't care a lick about his own sordid past, noting that it hardly matters:  "You didn't have to be good at anything to be a politician. You only had to be good at getting elected.  Taft was obese, Buchanan was a closeted friend of Dorothy, JFK was a philanderer, Nixon cursed heavily, Bush drank, Obama did coke."  (Footchapter 6-B)

Abraham Lincoln -- Mentioned as "Honest Abe" in an anecdote about Ulysses S. Grant (see below)

Andrew Johnson --  Stu notes that Ash's former and future boyfriend Trevor enjoys some hipster activities as "playing kickball in Park Slope, drinking kombucha at neo-beatnik coffee houses, showing off his dilettante harmonica skills at The Hole in the Wall Tavern in Harlem, and ranting in Union Square about there not having been a truly small-D democratic president since Andrew Johnson." (Chapter 6)

Ulysses S. Grant -- Stu notes that he'd always dreamed of being a legendary drinker like "Your Humphrey Bogarts, Babe Ruths, Jackie Gleasons, and your U.S. Grant who, legend claims, was once accused by President Lincoln's advisers of being a drunkard, to which Honest Abe replied, 'I wish you would tell me the brand of whiskey that Grant drinks. I would like to send a barrel to my other generals.'" (Footchapter 6-B)

Rutherford B. Hayes -- A strong advocate of not shaving himself, Stu considers Hayes to be in the top 1% of beard growers alongside Kenny Rogers, Ice Cube, and Sean Connery.  (Chapter 2)

James A. Garfield -- Keith's beloved cat is named James A. Garfield.

Chester Arthur -- "E-commerce came about so we'd never have to go into a bookstore and talk to the bookish nerds to acquire that well-regarded biography on Chester A. Arthur."  (Footchapter 12)

Grover Cleveland -- Stu is obsessed with knowledge, garnering most of it by relentlessly reading Wikipedia entries:  "I was so well-versed on so many topics. I read books and watched important films. If I didn't know about something, I read the Wikipedia entry on the subject. I hadn't known what subprime loans were. So I read the entry. Or, why Grover Cleveland was our 22nd and 24th president. So I read the entry. (He got screwed in the 1888 election.)"  (Chapter 2)

Benjamin Harrison --  In earlier drafts, Stu goes on a rant about how he eschews paper money (in favor of a debit card) and absolutely detests coinage, especially those of a low denomination:  "The penny's so worthless it doesn't deserve to have a great president on it.  Naw, it should have some presidential clown like Benji Harrison or Johnny Tyler."

William McKinley -- When Stu moves into the Ola Dubh building on the Upper West Side he finds himself living amongst people old enough "to answer 'where they were' when Czolgosz shot McKinley" referencing the 1901 assassination of the president.  (Chapter 8 )

Theodore Roosevelt -- In Part II when Stu works on improving his health by becoming a jogger, noting he's even thinking about running a half-marathon, his friend Keith wonders which:  "The Yonkers Fun Run? The Battery Park Classic? I've thought about doing the Teddy Roosevelt Road Race myself.”  (Footchapter 13-B)

William Howard Taft -- Stu's thoughts on perspective and how even being a president would have sucked back in the day: "I mean, if you or I was forced to live the exact same life that, say, President William Howard Taft lived back during his term, we would probably kill ourselves. He was the most famous man in America, probably one of the richest, most successful, and most coddled of his time, yet we would find his life utterly repugnant. No indoor plumbing, no cable television, no fast food, no porn. We would rather be a bum in the 2000s than Taft. Than probably every single president up to, oh, I don't know, JFK? Carter?! The internet wasn't even high-speed as recent as Clinton's second term."  (Chapter 3)

Woodrow Wilson -- In Footchapter 5-B "How to Live With Fucked Up Neighbors," Stu notes that his next-door neighbor looks just like a Dominican Woodrow Wilson, dubbing him "Maderow Wilson."

Warren G. Harding --  In earlier drafts of Chapter 2, after Stu discusses his theory of the "Catch 23," worrying that the Joseph Heller estate might sue him, he notes:  "I don't need any more lawsuits pending against me after that little kerfuffle I got into with the Warren G. Harding estate regarding the Teapot Dome Scandal."  Not funny.  Lame.  Nixed.

*Calvin Coolidge -- While a long ago drugged obsessed roommate of Stu's is named Calvin, old "Silent Cal" never actually appeared in ANY draft of "How to Fail."  That was to be my joke and he was to be the only president that didn't appear.  I was going to even give a prize to the first nerd who discovered this and emailed me.  Alas.

Herbert Hoover -- In earlier drafts of Chapter 11, Hollywood producer Mark Gordon notes that the "DON'T BE AN ARTIST" sign on his desk is his version of "The Buck Stop Here."  Though he makes an egregious error in claiming that buck sign was on Herbert Hoover's desk when it was, actually, of course, on Truman's.

Franklin D. Roosevelt --  Stu notes that The Great Depression look bearable:  "Those Depression-era movies never looked too bad to me. A lot of waiting on soup lines and drinking potato vodka while leaning against a building. I could handle that. Except for all of FDR's radio chats interrupting my favorite shows."  (Chapter 4)

Harry S Truman --  In earlier drafts, Stu constantly mocks politicians that roll up the sleeves of their dress shirts when they're out and about with blue collar folks trying to be "of the people."  Stu notes:  "Do you really think Truman was doing that shit [rolling up his shirt sleeves] during his whistlestops?!"

Dwight D. Eisenhower -- Ash's best friend, struggling actress Patricia, works at Times Square novelty restaurant First Ladies where one time bartender Mamie Eisenhower makes Stu a terrific cocktail.  (Chapter 6)

John F. Kennedy -- JFK is mentioned three times in the book, both as a notable philanderer and airport.  His brother Robert Kennedy is mentioned in the second line of the entire book:

They say some men see things that are and say, “Why?” Robert Kennedy dreamed things that never were and said, “Why not?” Well, I see my life unfolding and I just say, “Why me?”

Lyndon B. Johnson -- Stu notes that the famous quote “Those that don't recall history are doomed to repeat it" has been incorrectly attributed to LBJ among others.  (Footchapter 6-B)

Richard Nixon --  Stu figures it was harder for Adam to not prematurely ejaculate with Eve being that he couldn't turn his mind to things like "baseball and walking the dog and Richard Nixon naked."  (Footchapter 6-B)

Gerald Ford -- Stu wonders if books will one day be written completely in emoticons, figuring  :O 😀 😛 :X 🙁 could eventually be an entire chapter from some new Gerald Ford biography, Swell Guy.  (Epilogue)

Jimmy Carter -- (see Taft)

Ronald Reagan -- Stu dreams of one day meeting his mysterious nemesis, film producer Mark Gordon, figuring him to have "a luscious head of Ronald Reagan hair even though he must be fifty-eight or so."  (Chapter 11)

George Bush --To appease his father, Stu makes the most over-the-top resume ever which includes "undergrad degrees from Princeton and Oxford, law school at Harvard, medical school at Columbia, business school at NYU, drama school at Yale. Personal recommendations from Barack Obama, George H.W. Bush, Coach K, and Ringo Starr."  (Chapter 12)

Bill Clinton -- In Chapter 6, Stu chastises himself for having such marriage-phobia issues when people such as Dennis Rodman, Kurt Cobain, and Bill Clinton were able to handle the institution.  Hillary Clinton is also mentioned in "How to Fail," most notably when Stu and his Lesbian Wingman go searching for chicks at Hill's presidential announcement party, meeting Brandi there.

George W. Bush -- From Chapter 3:  "Being middle class is the worst for a failure. If you're an upper class failure, your parents' wealth, connections, and pure unadulterated nepotism can still allow you to end up on top (see: Bush, George W.) or, at least, enjoying the good life of promiscuous sex and substance abuse (see: any of the twenty-first century reality show retards whose fathers worked their asses off at legit professions [attorney, hotelier, gold medalist, etc] so that their children could go to Hollywood clubs every night to do coke and fuck each other [see: Kardashian, Kim; Hilton, Paris; Jenner, Brody; et al])."

Barack Obama -- Mentioned countless times throughout the book (Stu notes of Ash's once and future boyfriend Trevor that he's "the kind of guy who still wears an Obama pin even though the election has been over for nearly a year, still so proud that he voted for the man."), the book was supposed to actually finish with this quote from our esteemed current president:

“Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a poverty of ambition.  It asks too little of yourself.  And it will leave you unfulfilled.”

Help make me some unfulfilled, unambitious bucks by buying "How to Fail:  The Self-Hurt Guide."


The How to Fail Literary Bar Crawl


How to Make God Hate You

The Failure Intervention

"Fuck Yous"



Benders – DELETED SCENE #9

I've posted eight deleted scenes from "How to Fail" which have ranged from as large as an entire chapter (or footchapter) to a "scene" that was some several thousand words.  But, not everything that is cut from a book is a giant chapter or scene that can be read and enjoyed separately from the work.  Sometimes, more often than not, deletions are of a few lines or paragraphs.  Doesn't mean they aren't still entertaining.  Here's such a deletion, on benders, that originally appeared in "Chapter 7:  How to Fail All the Way To Rock Bottom."

I heard lots of frat boy types in college, when asked on Mondays, "What'd you do this weekend?" reply with a, "Whoa, bro, just came off a total bender."

I wanted to shake those motherfuckers by their Polo collars!  You didn't go on a "bender" you moron!  What?  Cause you drank thirty or forty cans of Natty Light, did a kegstand or two, threw up once or twice, got blown by a slut twice or thrice, did nothing productive, you think that's a "bender?"

No.  Naw.  Uhn uh.  That's not a bender.  A bender is done by a man or woman with no hope.  It is usually done alone, not because solo drinking is ipso facto part of a bender, but because for two (or more) people to be on a bender and it still qualify as a bender, they would have to have their miseries synchronized, like sorority girls and their menstrual cycles, and the likelihood of two (and especially more) people having the exact same need to bend, that's just highly unlikely.  Binge-drinking is obviously a part of the bender, the only part inexperienced braggadocious youngsters seem to notice, but it's not the only part.

Now if you're asking, by my rules, if I had been on a bender since losing my girl, and then my job, my dreams, my mind, ain't life unkind...


I was just bored.

This was a new kind of bender.  One simply existing to fill the ennui in my life.

We all need a certain amount of pleasure in our lives.  We develop certain addictions because we do not have well-rounded enough lives.  That's at least what I believe, but it's not like I'm a scientist.

If we were getting a fair amount of everything we should, we wouldn't have voids that would need to be filled by addictions.  If we got the full pleasure of love, we wouldn't have a void to be filled with tons of sleazy, near-anonymous sex.  If we got a correct amount of love made to us, we wouldn't have a void that would need to be filled with alcohol and nicotine, drugs and chicken fingers, caffeine, reality television, sports, violence, and masturbation.  I needed to get my levels back in check.

What are your thoughts on benders?  What defines one?

If you enjoyed that you might also like Deleted Scene #7 "HOW TO FAIL ON A DATE" and #8 "HOW TO MAKE GOD HATE YOU."


“How to Make God Hate You” – DELETED SCENE #8

This is another deleted scene that was actually an entire chapter.  It was originally Footchapter Nine-B in "How to Fail" but in late edits it got completely 86ed.  I didn't need to bring God into the mix.  Unedited and unadulterated from when it got nixed, this scene is particularly ribald and transgressive.  Caveat fucking emptor.

"God will not forgive us if we fail."  --Leonid Brezhnev

On the Lord's Day?!  No, surely not on the Lord's Day.

God created the heavens and the earth in six days.  On the seventh he rested.

Humans created a lot of paper work and junk mail, unread inbox messages, memos, billable hours, and invoices in five days.  On the sixth day they watched college football, gorged themselves on highly-caloric fried, salted, and battered foods, drunk cheap American macro beer, and maybe got "lucky" with their own wives.

On the seventh day they put on business casual clothes and "rested" by going to listen to some virgin tell them why they should be so thankful for the previous six days.

(Despite the amount of accountants in their general population, Jews apparently can't count because they spend day six glorifying God.  This deficiency in counting might also explain why Jews typically prefer pro football to the college game.)

I've already extensively cataloged what I do on my first five days of the week up here on the UWS.  The sixth day, Saturday, is always an interesting day for me because I no longer feel...special.  Hey, there's not supposed to be so many people out and about!  Why is it taking me so long to get a sandwich at the deli?!  Why is this coffee shop packed?!  Get back to work people!  Return the UWS to me and me only!

I hate the sixth day.  Detest it.  Mainly because it makes me feel bad.  Everyone trying to show me up.

Have you seen how successful people spend their Saturdays?

How they get "everything out of" them?  These motherfuckers even seize the so-called day on the weekend.

When you don't have to!

Up early, as early as they get up for work because, of course, the single unfinished glass of Malbec they had last night doesn't make them too hungover too function.

They actually shower!

Who showers on the weekend?!

(Again) you don't have to!

And they have so many plans!

Danny and ME have a couples' shower to go to.

(Yeah, that's not what I thought it was either.  I envisioned some steamy wifeswapping key-party orgy, all taking place is some giant showerroom like professional sports teams have, but apparently a couples shower is just a boring and dry party to fete a expectant mother and give her a lot of tiny clothes.)

Jack and Kirsten need to go car shopping, finally making the upgrade to a van.

And Keith and Erin are at the cutesy quaint Sarabeth's for brunch with other successful couples (and their children) that also aren't hungover (and are waaa-waaaing).

Greasy bacon and eggs to sop up the excess stomach booze from Friday night? A Bloody Mary hair of the dog?  'course not.  Unnecessary.  Fresh fruit, a popover, and perhaps a single Bellini.  Can't get too tuckered out this early.

From there, who knows...

I'm still asleep at this hour, unless I'm on a walk of great shame...

Window shopping in Soho, picnic on the Great Lawn, bike rentals on the Hudson piers, maybe hit the new Inca exhibit at the Museum of Natural History, the special miniatures at the Guggenheim, rush home for a(nother) shower, put on evening gowns, a snazzy sports coat that makes you look ten years older than you should...


The night you actually tell people, brag to people, that you're going on a date with your own wife, and an expensive dinner, another glass of wine, he'll try a Scotch cause he's trying to get into that kinda thing to impress the muckety-mucks at his office, car service home to pay the sitter and prepare for the least sexy sex ever.

He walks to his closet, she walks to hers, they slowly, but not sensually mind you, remove their clothes, neatly folding up this, carefully hanging up that, delicately placing that delicate there, and the shoes in a tree, and they're recounting their day, and now he's in his boxer shorts with the lobsters on them, and she's in her best Victoria's Secret bra (and she even wore the panties that match) and he said, "You really want to do this?" like he's about to remove a splinter from her thumb, and she says, "Yes, but first I want to remove my makeup," and while she's taking forever in their giant two-sink bathroom, he's catching up on the highlights from the day's earlier SEC matchups that he wasn't allowed to watch live, and he's yawning, and she returns, and turns off the lights, and he hears her remove her clothes, the thick underwire of her bra clanking on the hardwood as she calculatedly casually tosses it to the ground, and she gets into bed and, "Oh your breath stinks, I brushed my teeth, honey, can you brush yours?" and he grumbles but gets up any ways ("Oh and gargle too!") because he wants sex and doesn't want a fight and also he needs to piss because even though he's only 30 he's been seeing those Flomax commercials and wondering if his body is betraying him too.

He brushes, he flosses, he gargles, real thorough.  When he returns, the TV is showing highlights of Miami romping the Jesuits from BC, and the glow of the screen is showing his wife asleep.

He shakes her.  "Honey, honey.  I thought you wanted to have sex...?"

She's not budging.  Did he use the wrong key word?

"Aren't we gonna make love?  We always do that on date night."

Shake, shake.  He's getting frustrated.

"It's very important that we fuck!"

He shakes her and she angrily moans, sleeptalking.  "Tomorrow.  Too...tired now."

But he knows it won't happen tomorrow.  They got church at 9.

So he goes to the bathroom and jerks off using her fancy goat's milk lotion.  Failures aren't the only ones that have to pull their pud.

Eight hours later, Keith and Erin sit in the elegant Church of Notre Dame on West 114th Street.  Keith noticed that his dick seemed to still smell like fragrant goat's milk, despite his morning shower.  Their newborn Bree, apparently not named after the cheese, Keith and Erin were more of smoked gouda or aged mimolette people, sat in a basinet on the pew beside them clad in her tiny white christening gown.

I sat one row back staring at a stained glass window of, I reckon it was Jesus, though all those old time Christian folks seem to look alike.  Similar fashion sense.  There must have been a lot of embarrassment at award ceremonies.  Who wore it better?

In the same row sat Danny & ME, and Jack & Kirsten and little Anna.  It was the first I'd seen them in at least a month.

"After the baptism, I want to show you the van we got.  Pretty sweet."

"You're saying a van is pretty sweet?"

"Does your car have a TV screen it in?"

"I don't have a car.  I ride the subway."


"You see those protestors outside?

"Yeah, what was that about?"

"Apparently the priest had no problem with homosexual parishioners, tsk tsk."

I was already zoning out.  In fact, I think I was still drunk.  I'd savvily decided to wear my church clothes out drinking the night before, just in case, and, wouldn't you know it, it was a great idea for reasons two fold:

1.  Dressed more high-brow than other drinkers at the Wee, I caught the eye of a drunk gal who had a fetish for CPAs (she thought I was one and wanted to be sexually audited.)

2.  I woke up late and would have had no time to rush home to My Lesbian Wingman's pad to chance into my church clothes.

Priest Raines came out and took the...stage.

"Baptism is the beginning of the story of Jesus.  Baptism is the context of the life of Jesus as the rest of his days on earth are the working out of his baptism..."

I recalled around the time of Keith and Erin's wedding at this very same church when Keith told me about the procedure he and Erin had to go through.

"Yeah, every couple has to go to ten sessions of marriage counseling with Father Raines before they're allowed to get married at Notre Dame."

"Let me get this straight.  A sixty-one-year-old virgin is giving you advice on how to please a woman?"

"Uh...yeah.  I guess.  Technically.  But it's not so bad."

"'Not so bad?!'  I can only imagine:

"'Hello, Keith and Erin, I like to open my first session with newly engaged couples by allowing them to ask me questions.  So if you have one, please feel free to shoot.  Uh, yes, Keith?'

'You've never been married, correct?'

'By the law of clerical celibacy I, of course, can't be married, with rare exception.  I've been a clergyman my entire adult life.'

'And you've never had sex?'

'Nope, can't say I have.  Entered an all-boys youth seminary at the age of ten.  Well before my hormones had kicked in, though men of God likes yours truly certainly do not have the same puerile urges as most youngsters.'

'So never married, never dated any one, never had sex...uh, have you ever even kissed a girl?  Hugged one?  Watched a Nora Ephron movie?!'

'No, no, and an emphatic "yes!"  I found "Sleepless in Seattle" absolutely delightful.  Though a tad ribald at times for my tastes.'

'Yeah, I'm still disturbed by those scenes depicting Rosie O'Donnell as a straight women.'

'We don't discriminate here.'

'Maybe you should.'

'Very well.  Good.  Any more question?  Questions more about your guys' relationship?'

'Yes, Father, I do have one.  It's something we're always fighting over lately.  You see, I just don't feel like Erin gives me enough...ahem...blow jobs.  Nearly every time we...make love, within seconds I'm between her legs.  But, she never returns the favor.'

'You know I find the idea of a dick in my mouth disgusting!'

'But it's the dick connected to me!  The man you love!'

'Marriage is all about compromise, Keith and Erin.  As Exodus 12:4 says: "If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor."'

'Yeah, we're talking about oral sex, not ewes.'

'Believe me, Father, you might feel different if you'd ever had a dick in your mouth.  And though I love all of my future husband, I do not love his dick.  In my mouth.  At the moment.  You see, I have the decency to go to a professional and get my lady parts waxed.  A nice Ukrainian on E. 31st Street named Svetna or something does it for me.  But Keith is a huge mess down there.'

'I'm not going to a waxer, no way.'

'Then do it yourself.  Use that beard trimmer I got you as a stocking stuffer.  I thought you'd catch the drift considering you've never had a beard in your life.'

'I did catch the drift and it stunk.'

'Then that drift must have been coming from your sweaty, hairy balls.'


'And another thing, I hate swallowing your load.  It's just gross.  Texturally.  Worse than clams.'

'It's just part of the act.  Father, I think it's ridiculous that she won't swallow.  She either jerks me off onto my stomach or sprints to the bathroom to spit it into the toilet.  Talk about killing the romance.  How do you think I feel, honey, to see you so disgusted by my spunk?  The spunk that is going to one day produce our children?'

'And swallowing a thick gob of salty hot fluid is romantic?  Huh?  You agree with that, Father?'


'It's not about romance completely, it's also about good old fashioned cleanliness.  Which is next to Godliness, you know.'

'Not "officially," guys.  Nothing in the bible technically.'

'Don't you love this, Father?  All of the sudden my messy hubby is all OCD about messes and cleanliness.'

'Uh, as Leviticus 10:10 says:  "You must distinguish between the holy and the common, between the unclean and the clean."'

'Well, jizz is simply not clean in this fiancee's opinion.'

'Whoa!  Looks like we have only got time for one final question for today's session.  Something from you, Erin?'

'Yes, I do have something.  OK, you see, it's like this.  Keith can only...finish..when I'm lying flat on my stomach.  It's insulting to not have your future husband looking at you in the eyes when he ejaculates.  Like I'm some common whore.  Why do you think it is, Father, that he only wants to come in this manner?'


'I'll have to interrupt, Father, and tell you why that is.  It's because she still makes me use condoms.'

'I told you I won't switch to birth control until we're married.  Just how I was raised.'

'You can't tell the Father we use birth control!  It's against the church's teachings!'

'He's not dumb, Keith.  He obviously knows we fuck.'

'Not as much as I'd like, that's for sure.  But fair enough.  I have to put you on your stomach when we fuck because wearing a condom is like having a protective bubble suit around your dick.  You can't feel any sensation.  It's like wearing an airbag.  Why, you could probably have an enormous car wreck and if your whole body was wrapped in the rubbers I wear, it'd feel like nothing more than a fender bender.  Thus, I need you on your stomach and me on top of you to make your vagina a tighter fit around my protected shaft.'

'You're seriously going to tell the Father that your soon-to-be-new-wife has a loose pussy?'

'Just did.'

'If I may, Keith and Erin...I think Keith, you might just be masturbating far too much and desensitizing your penis...'"

Keith mockingly laughed at me.

"You really envision our meetings with a priest going like that?  You really think Erin talks in that manner?  Like some frat boy sailor?!  You know that even I don't talk in that manner!"

"It's just my fantasy."

It was just my fantasy.

It smelled like goat's milk or cheese...or maybe even lotion in the church.  Hmmm...would there be appetizers afterwards?  I sure hoped so, I hadn't had time to grab breakfast and the remnant booze was starting to hit my empty stomach hard.

Keith now stood near the front of the church with Erin holding Bree aside Father Raines who spoke.

Keith's mind drifted as he tried to count the number of times he had masturbated since he last had sex.  He had thought that Erin would want sex around the clock after giving birth, but that wasn't the case at all.  Her vaginal walls were still strained and healing, her hormones were wacky, and she "Just [didn't] feel sexy right now."  Her words.

They had last had sex one night off the cuff back late in Erin's second trimester.  Keith had been surprised by his wife's friskiness because, believe you me, it's hard to get pregnant chicks to fuck since they're never wasted.

They'd had it doggy style that night with Bree inside of Erin resting on a specially made pregnant love-making pillow they had purchased.  He liked how her contracted vagina felt on his dick that night.  That night some 110 days ago.  Keith figured he'd masturbated some seventy-five times since that night, nearly around the clock for the few days Erin was in the hospital and he had their pad to himself.

He worried now that his dick would be desensitized to vaginal touch.  Stretched-out vaginal touch.  He worried most of all that it didn't matter because his days of having sex were over.

Father Raines continued sermonizing:  "God sees our darkness and says, 'Let there be light.'  This is his poem about baptism, about the God who baptizes us, who makes new life possible in the midst of darkness and hopelessness.  That is our God: a God who baptizes, always making new beginnings, new chances for life."

I thought about Bree's life, the chances she would have in life.  Would her life be good?  Would she be a success?  Hopefully not a failure.  Would her life be interesting?  I hoped it would be interesting.  Certainly more interesting than her parents'.

Father Raines took Bree from Keith and Erin and held her above a tiny tub of water.

And so was about to begin her interesting or non-interesting life.  It was beginning, though, in a most uninteresting way.

Church was so boring.  So uninteresting.

There had to be a better way to do this.  A more fun, interesting one:

The priest stood focused.  Concentrating.  His bible in one hand.  He wound up with a high leg kick ala Bob Gibson and hurled his copy of "The Word" toward a circular red and white ring target.

King James smacked the bullseye right in the bullseye which connected to a dunk tank in which baby Bree sat on a hanging platform which swung open and dropped her into the bottom pool of holy water.


Now that would be more way more interesting.

People would love that shit!

You could even sell tickets to watch which could be used as you tithing for the week.

And wouldn't an interesting beginning to your life lead to an interesting life all around?

Yes, most certainly.  But the church seemed to hate interesting people.  The church wanted to suppress interesting people for the most part.  Gays and drinkers and promiscuous heterosexuals and Jews and profligates and people like me.

I mean, wasn't that who the protesters were protesting?  Interesting people?

I looked toward the Heavens and spoke to God.  I'd never done this before.  I didn't know how to do this.  But I would try my damnedest.

Later, as we excited the church, baby Bree now a Catholic, ready to get on with her life, I bypassed speaking with my friends and walked over to the protesters.

"Don't punch me!"


"Oh, I thought you were going to punch one of us.  Usually when someone comes over to us, they punch us."

"No, I'm not going to punch you, I'm going to commiserate with you."

"About what?" said a tiny geek in a "Jesus Freak" t-shirt.

"About the conversation I just had with God."

"You did not!"

"I most certainly did."

"You stink like booze."

"I took communion today."

"Communion with...*sniff sniff*"

"Gin.  Can't you smell the juniper?"

"This guy doesn't know what he's talking about."

"What?  You guys have never talked with the G-O-D before?"

"I saw the Virgin Mary in a bowl of matzo ball soup once."


"It looked more like Cher."

"Did not!  And that's blasphemy."

"So tell us, wiseguy, what did God say to you?"

"I was intrigued by your plight and I wanted to ask God about it.  So I asked God.  'God, why do you hate gay people and preach to your followers to hate them too?  Why do you hate all these other people too?  Drinkers and drug users and Jews and the profane people in society.  People that like to dance dirty and have lots of sex.  People that like to use the words 'fuck,' 'piss,' and 'shit.' These people you created no less!  That you let live on the same planet with your Christian followers.

"Why do you have such issues with the quote-unquote interesting people of society?

"And you know what he said...?"

The protesters now hung on my every word.

"He said, 'I don't.  I have no problem with any of these people.  I love them all.'  'Even me?!' I asked.  'Even me?  A Jew, an atheist, a fuck-up, a fuck-around, a curser, an alcoholic, a masturbator, a promiscuous man-slut, a layabout, and a non-believer.'

"And he said, 'Yes, even you.  I love you all.  Even the protestors down below totally perverting my message for their own agenda.'"

I turned about face and left the protesters shocked and torn.  Arguing with themselves.  One yelled after me, "You made that up!"

Well of course I did.  Why would God talk to me?  There's no story in the Bible about God to success a loser like me.

Three days later, while out on a jog, finally burning off some of that gin weight, I ran by the church and not only were those same three protesters there but the group had ballooned to a baker's dozen.

I was sad.  I guess my little made-up tale of a pow-wow with Chief Sitting God had not fooled them.

I glanced at their handmade posterboard signs, many of them with egregrious spelling errors.




I stopped my jog to talk to them again.

"What's going on, guys?  I thought I had convinced you to quit what you're doing."

"We have quit what we were doing.  We've just re-shifted our focus.  We need something to protest.  So we're protesting God now."

Oh man, protesting God?  God was going to be pissed at me big time.


So what did you think?  Should it have stayed in the book?

Check out these other Director's Commentary and Deleted Scenes:

#1 -- "FUCK YOUS" (dedication page)
#2 -- "QUOTING BIGGIE SMALLS" (including famous quotes)
#3 -- "BLURBS" (cover blurbs)
#4 -- "CHAPTER ONE" (genesis of HTF idea)
#5 -- "THE FAILURE INTERVENTION" (deleted scene)
#6 -- "I'VE NEVER BEEN HAPPIER" (deleted scene)
#7 -- "HOW TO FAIL ON A DATE" (deleted chapter)

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“How to Fail on a Date” – Deleted Scene #7

This deleted scene is actually an entire chapter.  It was originally Chapter 11 in "How to Fail" but in late edits it got completely 86ed.  It was just too similar to "How to Fail in Bed" and "How to Get Laid on a Couch" and it didn't really progress Stu's story in any way.

"My success has allowed me to strike out with a higher class of women." --Woody Allen

I flipped open my cell, scrolled to her number in my Contacts, put my thumb on the “Send” button, and…paused.  I realized I had no idea what I was doing.  Shit, I hadn’t done something like this in years.

Despite being a failure in pretty much all aspects of my life, I've always thought I had pretty decent “game.”  Now I’m no Giacomo Casanova or anything, but I’ve always been a deep studier, a student, an autodidact, and a tinkerer and after a decade-plus of noticing my many failures in the world of women, my many failures just in the year since my girlfriend had dumped me, I thought I had developed some pretty decent skills.  In fact, I’d felt for the past few years leading up to meeting my last girlfriend, that I’d made these skills, these dos and don’ts, such an ingrained part of my persona that I could just successfully exist around women on autopilot, which is a great thing when you’re often loaded.  I’d gotten pretty damn good at soliciting reciprocal intrigue from strange women that I was attracted to, at culling contact info from them, landing dates and outings, which typically lead to in flagranteness.  Each of those steps a chance to flounder, to have the process aborted on me, yet I was still putting up both great contact and power numbers.  We’re talking a .350 AVG, maybe a .450 OBP, and a slugging percentage that would make Jimmie Foxx blush.

That is until I met Miriam.

My god was she gorgeous.  Just silly attractive.  About as good-looking as a girl could be without you thinking she must surely be an actress or a model, though, then again, when you actually meet actresses and/or models you’re often like, “That’s it?!”  But I digress.  I was in a piece-of-shit Murray Hill sportsbar killing some time one night before joining Dan and ME for an overpriced Thai dinner when I heard violent shouting to my right:

“Goddammit Ilgauskas, could you defend the fucking pick-and-roll?!  Big Baby is torching you!”

“Would a little hustle be too much to ask, Delonte?!”

“Yep, me too, Lebron, I’d be shaking my head in dismay too if I was playing with these failures.”

The shouting was female.  I turned and saw her.  5′2″, 110 pounds, flowing golden locks, emerald green doe eyes, high cheek bones beset on a flawlessly symmetrical face, the flattest stomach I’ve ever seen peekabooing from just under the bottom of her tank top as she pumped her fist in the air after Anderson Varejao took a charge.  Who was this divine creature?

I wanted her to be my girlfriend.  It was finally time to move on and get a new one.  Another one.  Someone to support me, mentally and physically.  Yes!  A new girlfriend would be the key to pulling me out of my failure doldrums and on the road back to success.

“Big Cavs fan, huh?  You don't see a lot of those in New Yorks.  Knicks fans sure, that's what I am.  Nets or 76ers maybe too.  But Nets?  Is it a Lebron bandwagon thing?”

She didn’t even respond to me, as if she was ignoring me completely.  But she wasn’t, because the second the game went to TV timeout, she turned to me with the sweetest smile on her face, and the softest, kindest voice.

"No, I'm not a Cleveland Cavaliers fan, not in the least.  I'm just an NBA fan.  I'm just an overall sports fan.  An addict!  I don't have any favorite teams or even players.  They are all my favorites!"

"You are my dream girl."

But I was also intimated.  Good lord.  Both by her attractiveness and sports acumen.  Now, I’m no chump in the sports knowledge department, not in the least, but when a 10-out-of-10 beauty turns to you and matter of factly says, “Am I crazy or is Mo Williams overplaying Rondo to the left?,” there’s not much you can do besides go, “Uh… so would you like a drink or sumpin’?”

Not that I usually ever buy drinks for girls because I am insensitive, not to mention unemployed, and I’m not a sap and I am a guy that always usually knows what to say and offering to buy a drink is the last refuge of the sap and guy with no clue and, shit, now I was a sap with no clue what to do.

"Thanks for the offer, that's very sweet, but I don't drink."

"You don't drink?!  Who doesn’t drink?  Uh...if you mind me asking?"

"I mean, I drink liquid, water and Gatorade and ginger ale, I'm in no danger of dehydrating don’t fret, I simply don’t drink al-kee-hawl."

"Are you religious?  Or maybe a recovering alcoholic?"

"Nope.  I'm just very much into fitness and energy and health and I don't find that alcohol fits anywhere into that lifestyle."

"But alcohol makes sure your blood is thin and pumping!  It's like pretty much health liquid!"

Miriam laughed hard.  She thought I was joking.

I awkwardly sat there trying to flirt with this teetotaling, gorgeous, sports savant, no clue what to do…but get loaded myself.  I drank so quickly and nervously that I don’t really recall much of how that night ended, but I guess she liked me somewhat because before I left she coolly handed me her card and said, “Call me.”

"Call you?!"

"Yes, call me."

Call her?

Shit, I hadn’t called a girl in years.  My modus operandi for the longest time, even dating back to my last girlfriend, had been to get girl’s e-mail addresses.  A lot of people make fun of me for that,  ME and Erin and Kirsten especially, but it’s so much simpler.  Besides the fact that I hate talking on the phone, I also don’t like dealing with things in a time sensitive manner.  Nothing better than shooting off an e-mail in the morning and giving the gal all the time she wants to respond for the rest of the day.

I first realized I had a power with words back in 11th grade.  I knew I was a good writer, even then, but I didn’t quite know the effect my words could have.  That was until the last day of class that year when during a yearbook signing period I quickly scratched out a message to a girl I had an unrequited crush on.  Now, I hadn’t written anything romantic or perhaps even creepy, if that’s what you’re wondering, I had just slopped down a nice, brief “good to know you” message.  The kind of message I would slop down for any one, guy or girl, that I honestly felt it was good to know.

I thought nothing of that message until later that night when the girl called me–she never called me!–to tell me that her and her mother had been rereading over my message all night, it had moved them so much, to tears even, and she just wanted to thank me for my beautiful note.  From that point on, I realized how I could affect people with my writing, and I began wielding my pen like an epee.

Fuck!  That stupid yearbook message and that stupid girl who was so touched by it had gotten me into this huge mess.  I'd probably have never even pursued, unsuccessfully so far, a writing career if not for that girl.  That girl who I could barely even remember.

But even if I was a good writer, just like that longaway girl thought, now I was being handicapped, one of my greatest skills taken away from me!  I hadn’t called a girl to ask her on a date since like 1999.  How did one even go about doing such a thing?!  I was actually getting nervous!  I don’t get nervous for anything any more.  It's hard to when you're a failure, I mean, what's the worst that could happen?  Just another failing to add to the pile.

Shit, what to do?  I went to Facebook to look at Miriam's page.  Maybe she wasn’t as good looking as I recall.  Perhaps she was not truly that interesting.  Maybe she listed her religious affiliation as Wiccan.  But she didn’t even have a page!  The hell?  What twentysomething chick doesn’t have a Facebook profile?  Well, at least I knew she didn’t have any children, cause no new mother nowadays can possibly avoid posting zillion of pictures and inane status updates about their miserable rugrats.

Should I just text her?  Naw, that would be cowardly.  And, I later found out, impossible.  Miriam didn’t even have a cell phone.  So I called the number she gave me, a landline, and fought through the nerves to arrange a date.  She had only one rule:  we had to go to a bar with plenty of TVs, and good ones, she wasn’t going to miss that night’s Nuggets/Lakers game.

Meeting up with her that evening, she was just as gorgeous as I recall.  I pounded How to Fail Ales while she drank cranberry juice.  I wondered if she had a bladder infection.  I quizzed her on her seeming lack of technology, her Luddite values.  She didn’t have a Facebook page because she thought it was childish, a time suck.  I couldn’t disagree with that.  She didn’t have a cell phone because she didn’t like to be reached at any time, any place.  She also thought it was rude to have your ears and eyes glued to a device while out with other people.  Again, couldn’t disagree with that.  As for e-mail, she only checked it once a week, so sending her messages was borderline pointless.

I soon realized, I had no fucking clue what to do.  Just like with all these other aspects of my life.  I’d followed a very simple pattern with the previous zillion women I’d dated:  get e-mail address, send pithy and humorous message the next day or so, meet at bar around happy hour, get loaded going drink-for-drink with a girl I outweighed by fifty pounds at least, be funny, be interesting, and by midnight or later I was usually in bed with said female.  I had a system, a damn good system, an innately New York City system, but now I was just flummoxed.  Especially, when at 9 PM, Miriam told me she had to get to bed.  As in, go to bed alone.  Seems she wakes up every morning at 4 AM to work out in order to be at her job by 7 AM.

Who was I dealing with?!

This girl was one of the most committed, focused, good, pure, and successful human beings in this entire miserable city.

Miriam quickly kissed me on the lips and sprinted from the place, leaving me there to reassess what went wrong.  Our chemistry had been solid enough, sure, but I never felt like we were making a full connection, she seemingly more interested in Carmelo Anthony’s shooting that night than in my hilarious anecdotes of a life of failure.

I typically wouldn’t even continue going after a girl like Miriam after such a modest failure of a first date, but she was too goddamn hot, and I was still certain we were destined to someday soon have the same last name.  Maybe she was just shy, nervous herself.  And did I always have to take the easy way out?

The easy sluts to sack or the tough nut to crack?  I'd always taken the former but now it was time to pursue the latter.

I needed to try to pick up my game, swim in the deep end without any floaties on my doughy biceps.  You can only get better at things if you challenge yourself, right?

Forced to call her again for a second date, I would have to show up and be as charismatic as I’ve ever been, and be aggressive and sexy and manly too.  I’d have to work quick, cause I’d only have til her witching hour of 9, but I could make it work.  I’d barely drink as well, flip the tables on her.  Yes!  Maybe she was only so intimidating, so cocksure, because she was a sober beauty dealing with drunken buffoons like me, each pint we drank knocking five points off our IQs until Miriam was dealing with a borderline retard.  My Lesbian Wingman and Brandi thought it was a great plan and even offered me a few tips of their own.  Boy they musta wanted me out of their hair.

But I would flounder again this time, too self-conscious at my behavior, my lack of drinking, her placid and sober demeanor.  Nothing had changed.  After we again chastely kissed goodbye at 9:00 on the dot, I knew it was over.

Walking home up Ninth Avenue, I came to the realization that I must have no game.  Sure, I’m good at meeting women, good at getting them to meet me out, and good at–I guess–taking semi-advantage of them while we’re both equally drunk.  And, once a women’s slept with you once, the hard part is over.  Even if she doesn’t like you once you’re already one of her “numbers,” a tally on her sexual abacus, she figures you guys might as well forge some sort of relationship out of this fact, whether you become as much as boyfriend and girlfriend or just sometime besotted bedmates.

In fact, it could be said that chemically, once you’ve slept with a woman that first drunken night, the bond has been formed for the immediate future as Oxytocin is released into the women’s nervous system during distension of the cervix and hopefully for her sake orgasm, causing her to have a mysteriously uncontrollable and intense need to bond with you.  Even for a night.

I was at the Wee Pub talking about my struggles with Lynn.

"My dealings with Miriam made me realize I have no game.  I'm not good with women.  Great, yet another thing I find I'm a failure at.  One of the few things I had thought I was good at!"

"Yes, y'are a failure with the birds.  Young guys like you got'it t'easy.  Back in m'day we act'lly had to woo the woman.  Y'know wut wooing is?"

I nodded.

"Yer whole life you've been using some fookin' thousand dolla' titanium driver that corrects all yer mishits.  Ha, ever notice how mishits sounds like 'my shits?'  I grew up using piece of fookin' shit wood clubs and hittin' rocks.  That's why my game's so tight now.  Better than your weak generation. When I grew up in Cork, rather than relying on textin', Face-fookin'-booking, e-mell, I had to learn my craft by doin' t'ings like making plans in advance, callin' birds on the kitchen phone with my fookin' parents in the next room. Try that!"

Lynn left to tend to a customer and I thought about what he had to say.


Yes, I would start wooing women.  Courting them.  Like all men had done from Adam til circa 1995 or so.  Before cellphones, Facebook, Twitter, texting, and the brilliant drunken social mores of the 21st century.

Wooing and courting.  When was the last time a man had done that?  When was the last time a man had used those words?

Technology and the mores of the 21st century has made dating so impersonal.  You meet a girl at a bar, you hit it off, but forget to exchange info.  You look her up on Facebook, find her, friend her, e-mail back and forth a time or two.  Ask her if she wants to grab a drink.  She agrees.  Gives you her phone number.  Tells you to text--don't call--the day of to confirm.

You meet at a loud bar, you both can barely hear each other over the music and chit-chat of others.  That doesn't really matter because you've both memorized everything there is to kow about each other.  Or, at least everything facile there is to know (her favorite movie:  "The Princess Bride"; your favorite book:  "American Psycho.")

You get drunk, go to her place and fuck, soon you've doing this 2-3 times a week for the last 2-3 months yet you barely know each other.

I wanted to change that.  Really get to know a girl.  That would net me happiness.  I was certain of it.


Besides the now-dated Lebron references, I kinda like that passage.  But it killed the flow of the book, I was right to cut it.  Oh well, at least I got to share it here.

Check out these other Director's Commentary and Deleted Scenes:

#1 -- "FUCK YOUS" (dedication page)
#2 -- "QUOTING BIGGIE SMALLS" (including famous quotes)
#3 -- "BLURBS" (cover blurbs)
#4 -- "CHAPTER ONE" (genesis of HTF idea)
#5 -- "THE FAILURE INTERVENTION" (deleted scene)
#6 -- "I'VE NEVER BEEN HAPPIER" (deleted scene)

If you’ve read "How to Fail" and haven’t yet left an Amazon review, please take 30 seconds to do so here and keep spreading the good word, even to your friends that can't read.

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“I’ve Never Been Happier” – Deleted Scene #6

This deleted scene was originally in Chapter 12 "How to Have a Negative Net and Self-Worth" in "How to Fail."  The scene would have begun at the bottom on page 313 or so of the paperback edition.  This is unedited and unadulterated from the day it was nixed from the book.

What went wrong in my life?  I surely wasn't in as bad of shape as the people around me, but I'd surely begun life with a head start over them.  Wealthier, healthier, more provided for, better education, opportunities, everything.

Nothing went wrong with them.  They just did what was expected of them.  Failure.

But something did go wrong with me.  I wasn't supposed to fail.  I wasn't supposed to necessarily wildly succeed but I wasn't supposed to fail.  What went wrong?

Is it that I didn't take the "normal" way to do things?  Should I have just been satisfied to live a normal life?  Actually attend those career fairs at school.  Become a businessman.  If I wanted to write, do that on weekends, lunch break, after work.  Instead of hitting happy hour, watching reality shows.

Meet a nice girl, not try to fuck anything that moves.

Always be making connections, updating my Rolodex, acquiring lifelong associates.

Not burning bridges.

Not drinking too much, most all the bad decisions of your life have been made drunk.  I've made plenty brilliant ones drunk too I devil advocated.

Be honest, with others and with yourself.

What else went wrong?

It's my fucking mental makeup.  I'm lazy, I don't like to do things.  I don't like to do, I don't like to suck it up, I don't like to suck up, I have a defeatist attitude.  I think the world is pretty damn stupid and unquestionably worthy of my scorn.

I'm arrogant, I think I'm great, I think I'm special.

Fame and fortune should just be handed to me.  Can't you see I'm a genius?

That a confederacy of dunces is against me?!

Would I have been happier if I'd just taken the normal route?

Let's see, I'd have gone straight from college graduation in May 2001 to working for, not just any man, but THE man, in June.  Entry level position.  I'm smart, a fast learner, and in this case I'd be a hardworker and a buttkisser so I'd move up the corporate ladder.  Not overly quickly or nothing, but at a slightly faster than "correct" pace.

I wouldn't have scorn for my coworkers and I'd actually be friends with them.  Go to happy hours with them, lunches, befriend the fat secretary and join her at happy hour since she always asks, play on the company coed softball team and not even try to break up double-plays with a hard slide into the shortstop.  At the office Christmas party I'd meet a great girl who works in HR.

"How have I never seen you around the office before?"

"Oh, I work in the midtown branch."

"Then you must know, Doug!"

"Yeah, I know Doug!"

"Great guy that Doug!"

And I'd actually be sober enough to remember this all because, despite the open bar of topshelf booze, I'd exercise good judgment and have a judicious two or three glasses of egg nog, heavy on the nog, light on the grog.  One an hour, offset by plenty of glasses of water and finger foods (which I eat with silverware) to offset the intoxicating effects.

We'd begin dating, of course, first OKing things with HR just because we're the kinds of people that do thing by the book.  Always by the book.  We own several copies of the book in both hardcover and soft, even a limited edition coffee table one with stunning photographs, and we often refer to it.

On our first official date we'd go to a nice but trite French restaurant near Union Square.  Afterward, we'd see a trite movie at the nearby mega-theatre.  After that, we wouldn't want to call it an evening just yet even though it would be getting late (11:05!) so we'd stroll around the park, taking lap after lap, as we discussed our hopes, dreams, fears, plans for the future, and thoughts on "weirder" ethnic foods.  They will be copacetic.  We will not realize that they are so ambiguous and non-risky that of course they will jibe.  Kinda like how horoscopes literally describe everyone.

The night will end with a ten second kiss.  No tongue.

Date 2 would end with a tongue kiss.

Date 3 would end with me being invited upstairs for some heavy petting of her and some mild petting of her cat Mr. Pretty.

Date 4 would be the first date we sleep together but not "sleep" together.

Date 5 would be the first time we see each other fully naked in dim lighting.  I am  more conservative than John Quincy Adam and like that she clearly does not have her pubic region professionally sheared.  That would make me uncomfortable.  The thought that some illegal immigrant handles her lady parts on a monthly basis.

Date 6 would be the first date I come.  Via her hand.  Nothing like being twenty-four and getting a handy.

Date 7 would be the first date I come via her mouth.  She sprints to her bathroom to spit it out.  I am not offended like most men would be that think a woman should love their spunk.  I wouldn't want that in my mouth either.

Date 8 she asks what date we're on.  "You don't know?" I say, "I thought girls obsessively track that kinda stuff?"  "Oh I know.  I was just testing you."  "8!" we both say at the same time before making a lame joke about jinxes and owing each other a Coke even though I prefer Diet Coke and she likes seltzer.

Date 9 she says, "Screw my ten dates rules" and we finally screw.

We are officially in love.  We change over our Facebook statuses.  We get a lot of congratulatory wall posts from friends and family.

Meanwhile, we're both flourishing in our jobs.  She gets promoted to Assistant _______, I get contacted by a headhunter who gets me hired as a Vice-______ with a pay bump of $__,000 per.

After two months of dating we say, "I love you," like that's a big thing, like I'm Chandler Bing.  We meet each other's parents.  I'm not even annoyed by her father who thinks he's a badass.

After six months we're spending every night together.  After eight we decide to move in together and begin syncing our expiring leases up.

We quit seeing any of our friends that aren't couples.  We go to nice restaurants that are well reviewed.  We drink wine that is discussed in "Wine Spectator."  We wear sweaters.  We talk about politics.  We discuss marriage.

I use the calculator function on my phone to see how much two month's salary is for me because I'm highly influenced by DeBeer's.  A part of me wonders if their corporate honchos ever went:  "Did you see how easy it was to get them to buy this 'two months' BS?!  We coulda pressed for three!!!!"  Thank God they only went with two, though, as that comes to nearly $18,000 before taxes.  For the first time I realize I'm making a lot of money.  By God, am I rich?

I take a friend in the know to the diamond district and I buy a flawless $17,850 after taxes "G" coloring marquis cut 2.5 caret ring from some yarmulked-clad, sidelocked old man.  I keep it hidden in my sock drawer next to the condoms I've quit using ever since she went on the pill.  It has made her fatter, more acne-riddled, and crazily hormonal, but I don't care because I'm a sensitive guy and I love her.

We plan our two-year anniversary vacation to the Bahamas.  One week before we leave, I ask her father out to brunch.  He razzes me that brunch is "gay" and Manhattan has made me soft.

Even though this is American in the 21st century and not India in the 17th, even though I will most likely not get a dowry, even though I find it an odd custom that we act as if fathers own their daughter's vaginas, I ask for his permission to marry her.
He grants it.  He also picks up our chicken salad triple-deckers and Heinekens.  Perhaps a small part of my dowry?

On Paradise Island, during an "authentic" Bahaman luau, we sneak off and I put my sunburned knee in the sand.  She accepts.  I spend the next six hours smoking fat Auerbachian cigars and drinking minibar Scotch on our hotel room's balcony while my now-fiancee makes countless tears-of-joy phone calls to literally every single person she knows, all the while admiring her ring.  I try to calculate how much all this international calling from the hotel landline will cost us.  Probably more than that $19.99 PPV porn "Firehose Facials" she wouldn't let me order the previous night while I was trying to spice up our dwindling sex life.

Back in America, my life becomes dedicated to yes-ing or no-ing countless invitation samples, flower displays, cake makers, reception halls, etc.  You can really spend a lot of money on a lot of completely pointless stuff when you're getting married.  I think this but don't say this.

Now, she decides my career path isn't quite good enough for her future husband.  She forces me to agree to go to get my MBA at night.  That sounds like a lot of unnecessary work but I agree.

On our three year anniversary we marry.

We are pulling in a combined income of $350,000 per.

We move to the suburbs.  Opt for Westchester over CT, Jersey, or Long Island.

We own cars for the first time since our senior year of college.

We are now commuters.  We wake up at 5 AM to drive to a parking lot and then take the Metro North south.  We leave Grand Central together in the evenings on the 6:17 except on Tuesdays and Thursdays when I have B school.

We pay lots of money for an organic catering company to drop off a week's worth of ready-to-eat, just-needs-to-be-heated-up meals on Mondays.  I find them rather bland and can't believe how much they cost.  But what choice do we have?  Neither of us has time to cook and all the "quaint" local restaurants (all owned by Jews no matter the cuisine) are closed by 8.

On weekends we travel to other suburbs to visit other friends living the same life we are.  These people weren't either of our friends when we were cool, single, and living in Manhattan, but now they are our besties, simply due to the fact that they too are married, have a big mortgage, and a backyard that needs to be mowed.  The same Mexican crew mows all our lawns and does a bang up job on the edging.

I begin going bald.  Getting a beer belly despite the fact I rarely get to drink beer any more.  What kind of cosmic practical joke is that?  I rarely exercise.

The only real fun I ever have is on the three weeks a year we go on vacation.  Sometimes to Europe, sometimes The Tropics, occassionally back to the Bahamas where our current life started.  These vacations bleed our bank account and force me to pose for hundreds of similar pictures.  But it's still better than the other forty-nine weeks of my year.

We hang with our collective parents for every and I mean every holiday.  Christmas, Arbor Day, President's Day, Dr. Seuss's doesn't matter.  If we get a Friday or a Monday off from work we make a quick jaunt to visit one set of parents, always on an alternating basis.  I've never seen my parents so much.  But this is what I'm told you're supposed to do.

Upon visiting our relatives and in-laws, we are constantly hectored with the same question:

"Are you guys trying?"

As in "trying" to have kids.

Which in effect means we are being asked by our parents if we're fucking each other a lot sans condom.  Rawdogging it as the rappers say.  Barebacking it as the gays say.

And we actually are.  We've hit a dead end in life and kids are the key to opening up the road.  At least I'm finally getting laid again, though we aren't allowed to fuck in positions like doggy-style or reverse cowgirl because my wife says she doesn't want to conceive in a "gross" way.  "The kid will be guaranteed to be born a pervert!" she thinks.

On nights I know we're going to "try," I secretly keep my hot laptop on my testicles for a few hours straight, hoping to sabotage our efforts by killing my sperm, allowing me to get a ton of sex for a little longer.

Alas, it doesn't matter because somewhere between try #9 and #15 I impregnate her.  I suspect she has secretly been on fertility drugs.

She balloons fast.  Everywhere we go people give us kudos like we're the first people ever to create life.  Like we're gods!  We begin thinking that same thought ourselves, constantly bragging, flooding our friends' inboxes with the most minute updates ("We just painted our office baby blue in anticipation," "We just bought the most darling crib," "We just sold off all of our firearms," etc), photos, and ultrasound results (it's twins!).

We read baby name books because apparently three decades of living on planet earth just isn't enough research to give us any ideas ourselves on the topic.

Baby Dylan and Grace are born healthily, somewhere between five and seventeen pounds if I'm eyeballing things.  My wife will never work again until she takes a volunteer job at age fifty-two.  She will also never be thin again.  Now I'm the sole breadwinner.  Luckily, going to business school worked and I am earning $250,000 a year with performance bonuses that can go anywhere from $25K to a whole $200K more per year.  Lump sum.  I dream of a flat tax, wish I could go back in time and vote for Steve Forbes.

My wife buys the babies the most expensive and best of anything, even though all of it is only useable for maybe two months due to the rapidity of a youth's growth.

She spends all day at places like the playground, the park, and Kiddie Gym with other moms, pushing their state-of-the-art strollers around and being yentas.  Her IQ drops rapidly as the only workout her brain gets is in calculating for how many minutes long the twins have sucked her teets dry.

I'm now working sixty hours a week.  We have a third kid.  Another boy this time.  We consider naming him Ringo but settle on Paul.  Better name for a future businessman.

We think about moving even farther out into the suburbs, to a bigger house, near better schools.  We decide private is better than public because it costs more.  We make most of our decisions based on that standard.

Later that year I return home from a Saturday golf outing with a neighbor I don't much like to find my backyard set up with tiki torches, decorations, a full spread of food, and good wine.  And my friends are there.  Friends I haven't seen since...well, since my wedding come to think of it.  I can't believe they traveled from the city all the way to the suburbs.  They all look so much younger than me.

My wife has arranged it all.  A surprise birthday party.

I have just turned thirty.

I look at my friends, the same age as me, but single.  They probably get laid a lot.  The probably still get to stay out til 5 AM, do a lot of drugs and drink.  Sleep in late on the weekends.  Eat at great restaurants.  They look so happy and successful.  I compare their lives to mine.

An old chum rubs my bald head, another pats my fat belly.  "So how ya' been?"

I consider things.  I try to smile.

"I've never been happier..."


I actually really liked that passage, but, as Faulkner said, sometimes you have to kill your "darlings" and this section needed to be nixed from the book.  Oh well, at least I got to share it here.  It kind of works as a short story in and of itself.

Check out these other Director's Commentary and Deleted Scenes:

#1 -- "FUCK YOUS" (dedication page)
#2 -- "QUOTING BIGGIE SMALLS" (including famous quotes)
#3 -- "BLURBS" (cover blurbs)
#4 -- "CHAPTER ONE" (genesis of HTF idea)
#5 -- "THE FAILURE INTERVENTION" (deleted scene)

Also, if you’ve read "How to Fail" and haven’t yet left an Amazon review, please take 30 seconds to do so here and keep spreading the good word!

Follow me on Twitter and LIKE me on Facebook!


The Failure Intervention – Deleted Scene #5

This deleted scene was originally the ending to Chapter 7 and Part 1 of "How to Fail."  You could essentially imagine this scene beginning on page 183 or so of the paperback edition.  This is unedited and unadulterated from the day it was nixed from the book.

Wait just a darn second!  What was a smoking hot girl doing in the Wee?  This never occurred.

I approached her and told her my analogy about cats.  I jokingly wondered if she could help me fail more in my life.  Rob me of even more of my possessions and dignity.  She must have thought I was funny or cute, because within less than an hour she was asking me if I wanted to get out of there.

I winked, gave the thumbs up, and A-OK hand signals to Willy and Tristan as she escorted me from the bar.  Was this the key to succeeding in life?  Just assume you're going to fail and go for it?  Perhaps.

Maybe my life was turning around.  I was starving, for vagina and a meal.  I hadn't eaten all day.  You forget to do things like that sometimes when you're a failure.

"It's alright, I can make you some mac and cheese at my place."

"My favorite!"

"It's everyone's favorite."

We stumbled down Tenth Avenue and hailed a cab which took us cross town to a fairly ritzy building near Grand Central Terminal.  Doorman, revolving doors, five elevator banks, the whole shebang.

We made out in the elevator while behind her back I slyly waved at the security cam in the corner, certain the sicko doorman got his rocks off by watching drunken couples going at in the lift after having returned from a night of boozing.  If he sold those tapes bootleg, I wanted to be sure I got some royalties.

We walked down her hall arm and arm, hand and hand, lip to lip.  Touching each other, grabbing each other, tickling each other.

I immediately noticed the light under Girl X's door when we got to it.  I had that immediate moment of clarity movie mafiosos seem to have that second before the realize they've been set up and are about to be whacked.  ("Just not in the face guys.")

"You have a roommate or something?"


She unlocked the door and there, sitting on a sofa and chairs were gathered Danny & ME, Jack & Kirsten, and Keith & Erin.

A white markboard lay on an easel aside the television.

Fancy finger foods were laid out on silver platters on the coffee table.  Those gathered were drinking glasses of white wine.

I looked at Girl X.  "What the hell is going on?"

"It's an intervention for you," noted Erin.

"Then why are you guys drinking?"

ME stood and walked toward me, put her hand on my shoulder.

"Erin explained it poorly.  It’s an intervention.  But not because we think he’s an alcoholic."

Erin looked mad that ME had kinda insulted her.

"I mean, we DO think he’s an alcoholic, but that’s not the issue."

"Today at least."

"Then I guess I can have some wine too."  I grabbed a bottle and took a swig straight from it.  "I'd hate for you to have to do any extra dishes on account of lil' ol' me."

I looked at Girl X.  "Wait a"


"Then who are you?"

"[Redacted]'s a friend of ours."

"You set me up, [Redacted]?! You don't really like me?"

"You pick up a girl in a matter of minutes and go to her home to have sex with her and you don't even know her name?! That's our point!"

"That's your problem."

"No, that's her problem for being willing to sleep with a drunken guy that doesn't even know her name."

[Redacted] scoffed, went to her kitchen and made herself a Bombay Saphire and diet tonic.

I was still flustered.  "OK, so why now?  Why this now?"

Danny stood,  "You called me about this last night.  You wanted an intervention, recall?"

Keith nodded.  "You called me too.  You kept saying, 'Intervene me!  Intervene me!"

Jack:  "And was someone with you?  I heard someone that sounded like Don King yelling behind you."

My eyes bulged.

"I was really drunk.  And high.  I think I had been kidnapped too." I tried to explain.

ME touched me on the shoulder.  "You called most of us last night and told us you finally wanted help becoming a success in life."

"Oh boy."

"You woke little Anna up," Kirsten glared at me.

"I'm sorry."

I noticed some platters of food.

"Mmmm...I’m famished.  What’s that?"

Erin pointed, "Let’s see, we have crab cake wedges, those are crepe suzette, and these are miniature croque monsieurs."

"Croque monsieur?"

"'Crunchy mister.'"

"I know what it means!  Jesus Christ! I guess putting out silver polished platters of Frenchy-named finger food whilst entertaining is part of being a success?"

"Indeed it is," noted Erin.

"Well I was promised some mac and cheese and some blow and jobbing.  And...I take it there’s no beer in the fridge, but, rather, a nice pinot noir or two."

Danny nodded.

"Please sit down."

I plopped in the middle of [Redacted]'s large sectional couch.  Danny, Keith, and Jack stood and walked to the marker board.  I whisped to the wives, "Can’t believe you carried a marker board all the way here.  Adds a very authentic feel."

Erin smiled and nodded at me.

"OK, we’ve outlined the things that you need to change in this year so that by the time we're celebrating your thirty-first birthday next year..."

" are a wild success."

I threw the crunch misters in my face, chugged some wine.

Jack:  "There’s three key points."

Keith grabbed a marker and began writing on the board as Jack announced each point.

"'Women.'  Rather, a woman.  And a relationship.  Successful adults have relationships of lengthy periods of time."

"And so did I for the previous two years.  Now I'm having fun."

"'Fun' would be you getting back into a relationship.  An even better one than your last.  With a girl that truly appreciates you."

"60 percent of marriages end in divorce."  I stared at all the couples.

"You know you just make up stats to fit your agenda," Danny snapped.

"No.  I read it on...Wikipedia."

ME:  "So if you’re going to become a success by year’s end, you need to fall in love with a girl."

Kirsten:  "And she needs to fall in love with you back.  You're not John Hinckley."

Keith:  "Right.  And then you have to have a committed, monogamous, 'I love you, honey' relationship with each other."

"Yuck.  I feel sick.  I think I'm going to throw up and I don't know whether it's because of all the booze I poured down my gullet or because of all the sappy pap you're shoving down my throat."

Jack ignored me and continued, "Second.  Your career."

"You will get a good job.  One where you wear slacks to work and have to shave every day."

"Successes shave!"

"And shower."

"And brush their teeth."

"Twice a day."

"Don't forget flossing and waterpicking."

"A career you relish waking up every morning for."

"A career with health care.  And benefits."

"And business cards!"

My six friends each proudly displayed their business cards.  I looked at Kirsten, who proudly held a French blue business card aloft.

"No offense, Kirsten hon, but why do you have a card, you're a homemaker."

"And that's a job!  You know, some studies have shown that homemakers are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars per year," she was getting frazzled, "We're chefs and maids and butlers and valets and nurses and bakers and teachers and..."

"Relax Kirsten, sweetie, our friend was just trying to get your goat."

"Sorry Kirsten," I appologized, even though I thought her logic was specious.

"But back to business cards.  Yes, business cards.  Won’t it feel nice to give the new women you meet--"

Keith taps the marker board.  "See point one..."

"...your business card instead of drunkenly scrawling your e-mail address on a cocktail napkin?"

"That's my move!"

"You’ll attract a classier lot, for sure."

"And once you have an adult job, you have to work at being a success at it."

"Getting 'atta boys' and promotions and raises."

"Moving up the proverbial corporate ladder."

I clapped my hands together loudly.  "I love cliches!"

But Jack soldiered on.

"Finally.  Point three.  This is the big one..."

Keith scrawled something on the marker board.

"You can never again have your parents, family, and friends, utterly disappointed in you for your actions."

"That’ll be admittedly tough."

Erin patted my hand.

"We know."

"Well shit.  I never realized I DID disappoint y’all."

"It’s not exactly thrilling to walk down the sidewalk and see your best friend sleeping in garbage next to Toothless Teddy the bum."

"I had been mugged, I swear!"

"Or exiting a rub ‘n’ tug massage parlour."

"I thought it was a pool hall!"

"Or when you lived off illegally-collected unemployment checks for a full year.  Think that made us proud to be your friend?"

"That was a great year.  The next year when I didn't file taxes was even better though."

I paused for a second and looked at the somber faces around me.

"I’m sorry I disappoint you guys so much.  Maybe you guys should mind your own fucking business, though.  And not worry about how I live my life.  I’m having fun."

I stood and headed to the door to leave.  I spun at the door knob.

"As Lily Tomlin said, 'Sometimes I worry about being a success in such a mediocre world.'"

There's some decent stuff there, but I was wise to strike it from the record.  It was too hacky, too dark, and made Stu appear as really too big of asshole.  There's a reason deleted scenes often become deleted.

If you enjoyed this, check out these other Director's Commentary and Deleted Scenes:

#1 -- "FUCK YOUS" (dedication page)
#2 -- "QUOTING BIGGIE SMALLS" (including famous quotes)
#3 -- "BLURBS" (cover blurbs)
#4 -- "CHAPTER ONE" (genesis of HTF idea)

Also, if you’ve read "How to Fail" and haven’t yet left an Amazon review, please take 30 seconds to do so here and keep spreading the good word!


CHAPTER ONE — Director’s Commentary and Deleted Scenes #4

As mentioned in my director's commentary, I wrote a first draft introduction to "How to Fail" all the way back in 2004 or 2005 on the actual day I first thought of the idea for a self-hurt guide.  Below, I've reprinted the original draft of that intro and detailed how little it had changed five years later when it appeared in print form.  The strike-throughs denote stuff that was eliminated from my original draft; the boldings stuff that was added.



They say some men see things that are and say, "Why?"  Robert Kennedy dreamed things that never were and said, "Why not?"  Well I see my life unspoolingfolding and I just say, "Why me?"

I shit where I eat. I dip my pen in the company inkwell.  I bite the hand that feeds me, and I never take my vitamins.  Often, I’ll drink beer before liquor, and I always take the easy way out.  I frequently take “No” for an answer, but, conversely, I rarely say “No” to offers of greasy food, cheap drinks, and sleazy sex.  I hemorrhage the little money I have on frivolous items that are only tangible ‘til they are poured down my gullet and filtered through my poor liver.  I rarely capitalize on promising offers.  And I’m lazy.  My God, am I lazy.  Oh yes, I AM FUCKED UP.

I am thirty years old and a failure.  But lest you worry, dear reader, dear successful reader, I wasn’t always that way.  I once was a success—or at least headed on your typical American path towards success.  Examining my life, I can easily show you how to become an adult failure in a matter of years.  If not months.  (That may require more narcotics.)
I used to be a success—hell, a wild success—relative to my age.
A high I.Q., honors classes, a high school class Presidency, good athletic skills and accomplishments, science fair awards,  writing prizes, a happy disposition, a winning smile, 99th percentile SAT score, "Most Likely to Succeed" senior year, the adoration and love of my friends, family, adoration of friends and the opposite sex, and scholarship acceptance to a top 50 private American university.

And then it went all down hill, right?  Wrong. My successes continued in college where I graduated magna cum laude (Latin for “only drinks five nights a week,” summa cum laude must meaning “only drinks three nights a week”), won more plaudits for my writing, co-edited the school's "alternative" newspaper The Cock of the Walk, made countless friends and acquired sexual partners, and, if I wasn't the BMOC, then I was at least the "Kinda Large Guy on Campus." Though, seedlings of bad habit and eventual thirty-year-old failuredom had already begun rearing their ugly heads.

Oh My life used to be so promising.  I used to be and I so idealistic.  So Positive of my guaranteed future successes.  And, in fact, I still am.  Kinda.  Oh, I’m jaded as a motherfucker by now, but still somewhat sure of success. I still have wild delusions of grandeur, of wealth, fame, screenwriting relevancy, and Scarlet Johansson on my arm at some cool club in my local urban environment that I’m currently not cool (successful) enough to know about the existence of.  It is this megalomania, though, that paradoxically led toward a life of current failure.

Ruining your life is easy when you’re the kind of arrogant, delusions-of-grandeur fuck that always thinks he’s a day away from pulling himself out of the doldrums and becoming a legend—and rich—and.  Nothing else matters.  Oh yeah, and you’re frequently intoxicated.  Living “in the moment” is often a really bad thing, I must say.

I haven’t given up on life per se, but I certainly behave that way.  There's a subtle difference between the man that lives his life like each day could be his last on Earth and the man who lives his life like there's no tomorrow.

If I committed suicide my note might read:  “I was bored.”  Though I couldn’t afford a gun though and have no idea where to buy hangman’s rope (Bed, Bath, and Beyond?)  And I don’t even have a bathtub to electrocute myself in. (Manhattan apartments are tiny!)

Current failure doesn’t mean I will be a failure forever, but it’s certainly possible.  And Probable.

In the almost decade since I left college I have failed at everything.  Job-wise, earnings-wise, savings-wise.  I’ve failed at snagging frequent sexual congress, failed at finding love, failed at keeping love, failed at holding down jobs, failed at making a livable wage,.  Failed at maintaining many old (now “successful”) friends(hips), at holding down jobs, at making a livable wage, and failed at even coming close to achieving my dreams.

I’ve squandered promising chances with good girls, and risked sexually transmitted disease acquisition from bad girls.  My body has morphed from a taut athletic figure into one of decadence—cheap $1 drafts and 10 cent wings from 4 to 7 “decadence”—and sloth.  Cheap one dollar drafts "decadence" and ten cent wings from four-to-seven "sloth." And, I’ve gotten into tons of trouble with all sorts of authority figures.  Probably Disappointed my loving parents too.  If not yet, soon, very soon.  Soon as I answer the phone next time they call.

But, but, but, failure can sometimes be fun, you say.  At least it ain’t that hard of work.  Succeeding’s hard motherfucking work, but ruining relationships by not answering the phone because you’re on a three-day bender, man, that shit’s fucking simple.

In many ways, I am to be admired.  You have your nice 62" HDTV and your lovely fiancée (save the first weekend in May ‘0611!), your good job that you never call in sick/hungover for because you’re responsible (responsibility and success go hand-in-hand), your purebred Cornish Rex hairless hypoallergenic pet cat named Sadie, and a promising future of routine, sober, lights off, missionary styleposition, rhythm method, 500 thread-count sheets, Saturday-nights-only “love-making.”  And, I’m sure that’s all well and good, but wouldn’t you like to just be a little bit of a failure?

Wouldn’t you just like to get arrested once and have a mug shot?  Wouldn’t you like to know the fear inside that you have after a condomless screw session with a girl you met wasted at 3 in the morning in your local urban environment’s dive bar section? Wouldn’t you like to take out stupid cash advances with 1925% APR interest charges just so you can to get wasted? Wouldn’t you like to know the fear inside that you have after a condomless screw session with a girl you met wasted at 3 three in the morning in your local urban environment’s dive bar section?  Wouldn’t you like to not remember saying the wrong thing to the wrong person—not remember that—and wake up in the morning with inexplicable bruising, cuts, and gashesWould you like to have a mug shot? Wouldn’t you like to lose a brand new cell phone three weekends in a row due to massive inebriation and have even the minimum wage workers at Best Buy thinking you a world-class fool? Wouldn’t you like to spend all day Saturday alone watching an “Intervention” marathon on A&E instead of going to Bed, Bath, & Beyond with your fiancée (“You can speak at the wedding, Stu, so long as you promise to not drink beforehand, and absolutely promise swear you'll not to say anything offensive.  My eighty-nine-year-old grandma’s gonna be there, dude.”)  Wouldn’t you like to just skip shaving on every weekday mornings?!

Wouldn’t you like to have the passionate love/hate relationship with yourself that I have with myself?

Even if one day I become a success, I will always live the life of a failure. because I now realize I have always been was predestined to be one.  I will always be brash, and stupid, and impetuous.  It's in my chemical makeup.  I will frequently be chemically-impaired in environments where that is shunned and around people that will be doing the shunning.  It's in my DNA!. I will often screw up shit that’s going good.  My RNA, too!!! Even if I become a success one day, all that means is that my fall from grace back to the point I’m currently in will be even faurther.  Funnier too, no doubt, to the passive outside observer or the hack who writes my biography.

“Shoot for the stars because even if you miss at least you’ll still end up in the sky.

Fuck that.  I’d rather be a failure.  And I don't really like air travel much either.

And, that’s the best part about it.  As a failure, things can’t get much worse.  I mean, yeah, they can, but not much worse. I’m not a ticking time bomb.  There will be no climactic point at which said bomb explodes and I kill myself accidentally or get busted for shrooms at Newark International Airport I mean, yeah, maybe that shit could happen but I doubt it. I’m not Len Bias or Darryl Strawberry or Courtney Love or Keith Moon.  I’m just your garden variety fuck up.  Failure. I’m haunted by demons but they aren’t very potent demons.  They’re lazy, fuckup, failure demons just like their possessor.  They kind of just stand on my left shoulder and goad me into drinking massive amounts of booze, impetuouslystupidly spending my little money, falling ass backwards into unpleasant intercourse with fatties and uglies, screwing up job interviews, and into calling the wrong kinds of people “douchebag.”

Thus I have decided to write this—quite possibly the first ever—Self-Hurt book, the utter opposite of a Self-Help book, to in which I will teach you gentle soul how to ruin your life as much as I have ruined mine my very own.

There are hundred of thousands of self-help books released per year.  Probably millions, I'm almost surprised there's not a special Self-Help Annex at Barnes & Noble Self-Help Annex.  Millions of self-help tomes on subjects such as gaining self-confidence to conquering your inner demons to mastering women to not being afraid of your pet cat.  AndWhere has it gotten us as a people?  Nowhere.  Everyone's as fucked up as ever.  Probably more so if they're following the "expert" advice of said books. Unconfident, haunted by demons, bad with chicks, and scared of Sadie. So what do you possibly have to lose by not following my advice?

William Randolph Hearst said (I’m obviously too lazy to look it up verbatim):  “I am a man that could have been great, but wasn’t.”  (Maybe Joseph Pulitzer said thatactually.  Or was it Charles Foster Kane?  Wait, he's not real, is he?)

Well, I am a man that could have been somewhat decent, but who chose to go to happy hour instead.  Who chose to not meet his girlfriend's parents.  Who chose to call in sick for work on the day of an important meeting.  Who chose to fail.

Speaking of famous folks and famous quotes, there's a funny thing about that RFK quote that I lead off this introduction with.  Most people think his bro JFK said it.  No, that's not the funny thing.  The funny thing is:  He didn't originate it.  Not in the least.  Yet he gets all the credit.  Totally something a successful person would do.  Hell, Kennedy didn't even quote it correctly.  The better written line actually comes from a George Bernard Shaw play, Back to Methuselah, where it's delivered by a snake. A fucking snake.

Gentle reader, ignore the snakes and follow my examples and you too will become a failure at life.


And, here, mentioned in the director's commentary, is the first (and so far only) draft of the screenplay to "How to Fail:  The Self-Hurt Guide":  The Major Motion Picture.  Written circa 2005 or 2006 I would guess, I made it to about page 50, but this is just the opening scene.

If you enjoyed this, check out these other Director's Commentary and Deleted Scenes:

#1 -- "FUCK YOUS" (dedication page)
#2 -- "QUOTING BIGGIE SMALLS" (including famous quotes)
#3 -- "BLURBS" (cover blurbs)

Also, if you’ve read "How to Fail" and haven’t yet left an Amazon review, please take 30 seconds to do so here. Thanks for your feedback!