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They say wondering if you're crazy is the first step of sanity. And when I say "they," I'm referring to the green men who live inside expired sour cream containers. There's about nine of them. One of them's Mexican. Anyway, the other day, as I was washing the bloodstains out of my Tickle Me Elmo doll, I wondered just how crazy I might be. I mean, I was a husband/father/productive member of society. I paid taxes and obeyed most traffic laws, so it seemed I was off to a good start. Still, I had to wonder: Am I nuts?

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Well, that's not a picture of me. Off to a good start so far.

So here's the deal. I compiled a list of the most insane things I do and then looked them up online to make my diagnosis.

5
Talking to Myself

Do you talk to yourself? I do. And not just because David Bowie doesn't take my calls. I speak to myself almost every day and almost always in the shower. I know what you're thinking: big deal. I mean, anyone who sees Gladstone naked and wet, including Gladstone, is bound to exclaim wild sexual approval, but those are not the things I say in the shower.

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Also not me.

Usually, they're sudden exclamations that I'm not aware of on a fully conscious level until I hear them leave my mouth. Really extreme things. Things like:

"Think I need to kill someone."

"God, I love you."

"You're the best."

"You're the worst."

"Everyone hates you, please leave."

"Oh God, that makes me die."

Then I'll hear it and say, "What the hell were you just thinking about?" I usually can't trace it. For the more negative ones, it's usually me remembering something I screwed up recently. Tiny mistakes. The type of things that someone would tweet about, like "Ugh, forgot to get eggs, fuck me." But in the shower it comes out extreme and crazy. Like most things I do. So. AM I CRAZY?

Well, the Internet Says ...

No. Now, you might not trust mental health decisions to unqualified Internet answers, but what if I told you that this response was considered "Best Answer"? Yeah, I thought that would shut you up. According to an unnamed dude, talking to yourself is only a problem if you hear responses or if you think you're talking to someone else. Now frankly, that sounds stupid to me, because if I were talking to imaginary friends, I would have Googled that, I mean Yahooed that, but I searched talking to "yourself." But what do I know? No one ever told me I had the "Best Answer." I'm just some guy talking to himself in the shower while he poops into his own hands. Oh wait, I didn't include that in my search. Whatever. Probably not a sign of anything.

4
Mentally Screaming at People Who Are in My Way

I hate other drivers and pedestrians. I should rephrase: I don't care about 98 percent of them at all. It's the ones I notice that drive me nuts. I've written about them in other columns, so I won't repeat the complaints here. We all know the other drivers we hate. Anyway, I know most people scream sassy insults out their window when they get cut off in traffic. They flip the bird or whatever. I know that doesn't make someone nuts (just a bad candidate for being an elementary school bus driver). I'm not talking about that.

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Here is someone I'm not talking about.

I'm talking about what I do. I engage in a nonstop, politically incorrect litany of hatred as I'm stuck behind someone in a vehicular or public sidewalk traffic situation. It's not even funny. Just a nonstop tirade of junior high school contempt. And when I say junior high school, you have no idea. You cannot comprehend the number of pedestrians I have mentally addressed as "Douchey McFuckface" as I laser-bore my contempt into the back of their skull. So. AM I CRAZY?

Well, the Internet Says ...

No. In truth, I had to do a bunch of searches, but ultimately I came to this site, which wanted me to take a whole bunch of tests. And although the tests did have things about yelling and being verbally abusive, I didn't see ANYTHING about silently calling pedestrians "Douchey McFuckface," so apparently I'm as right as rain. Mentally, verbally abusive rain that calls you "Douchey McFuckface" if you scurry in front of me when I'm in a rush and then suddenly slow down once I'm trapped.

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3
Checking the Alarm Clock Repeatedly

I have small kids, so I haven't religiously set an alarm for years. No need to. When someone's stepping on your head at 6 a.m., you have substantially less need for BEEP, BEEP, BEEP. But occasionally, when I have an especially early morning or something that just can't be missed, I'll set the alarm. And check it. And check it again. And then check it again, because maybe I unset it the last time I was checking. And then again. So. AM I CRAZY?

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This is a picture of an alarm clock. At least I hope it is. It was an alarm clock when I uploaded it,
but maybe I selected the wrong image off my desktop ...

Well, the Internet Says ...

OK, I was a little worried about this one. Because checking something obsessively over and over again? Yep, sounds like a telltale sign of claustrophobia, right? But I checked. Apparently, being obsessed with details and repeating actions compulsively are not the signs of a claustrophobia disorder! Yep, and I was so worried. Just like I am after I touch a public restroom door and I have to wash my hands 300 times to prevent illness.

2
Forgetting Basic Words

So as I get older, I notice I forget more words. Cool, right? "Um, do you want to pack some, um, uh, wow, I want to say 'sumptuous'? But it's a noun, not an adjective. But with an 'S'? Uh, fuck. Do you want to bring ... OH, SANDWICHES! Do you want to pack some sandwiches?" On the plus side, speaking like this is clearly panty-peeler, so, y'know, the picnic keeps getting delayed for hours of sweet loving, but still, forgetting words is alarming. So. AM I CRAZY?

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The condiment jar is lube.

Well, the Internet Says ...

Well, if the Internet is "you," then you're probably saying, "Crazy? Sounds more like illness." Good point, Internet, but it's still kind of brain-related and I'm trying to establish a theme. Anyway, apparently forgetting words happens and it doesn't have to be senility or early onset Alzheimer's. Sometimes, it's just a matter of ... fuck. What's the word? Shit, I looked this up. Give me a second. Starts with a "T," I think. Ugh. Um ...

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1
Getting Annoyed by Public Grief for Celebrities

James Gandolfini, most famous for portraying TV mobster Tony Soprano, died last week. I didn't know him personally. I thought he was a good actor. My favorite Gandolfini role wasn't flashy like Tony Soprano. I liked him best as the neighbor of a grieving mother in the movie A Civil Action. (Incidentally, that movie also contains my favorite Robert Duvall performance.)

When I heard that James Gandolfini died, my first thought was heart attack. Each time I'd seen pictures or footage of him over the last decade, he seemed to be heavier, and I remember being worried and thinking it would be a shame for him to die earlier. He passed, and I was sorry to hear the news. Steven Van Zandt, who worked with him for years, tweeted his sadness about the loss of a man whom he considered a brother. I got that. I was touched. It was personal.


I have no problem with this, obviously.

But then came an outpouring of condolences online and for reasons that weren't immediately clear to me. I got vaguely annoyed. Then I realized, I usually get annoyed by public displays of grief for celebrities. Mind you, not just in the cases of the Cobains and Winehouses, who played such an integral role in their own demise. I've written about that before. Just generally, there's just something irritating to me about people's public displays of grief for someone they don't know.

The more I thought about it, the more important I realized the "don't know" part was. After all, Stephen Colbert lost his mother the same week Gandolfini died, and his public display of emotion had me in tears. He was honoring his mother, just as Van Zandt was honoring the memory of his dearly departed personal friend.

But most of the stuff filling my Internet feed? I don't know. I can't shake the feeling that so much of it has a subtext of "Dig me! I'm caring! I'm grieving here." Why not tweet about people we don't know?

Around the time of a celebrity death, people hungry for good-guy points swarm to the corpse, dropping platitudes. It makes me think of every good man, woman, and child who died, perhaps under more horrific circumstances, that didn't create a massive outpouring of public grief. It just seems somehow disrespectful to their memories to lose your shit over someone else because they had a job that came with fame.

Of course, people can miss the work even if they don't know an artist. They can pay their respects to what that artist has accomplished and lay condolences for the family. I'm not saying it's wrong to publicly grieve for celebrities under any circumstances or in any way, but I don't know. I know false shitty sympathy when I see it. It's the condolences delivered publicly with an eye for doing more for the speaker than the bereaved. And it bugs me.

So. AM I CRAZY?

Well, the Internet Says ...

Not checking. Who cares. It's the Internet.



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