>>> The Hard Way
By staff writer Mike Faerber
March 16, 2005

Nothing gold can stay. The brightest stars burn fastest. Even the mighty mountains lament the days they reached their peak. It’s lonely at the top, but even lonelier on the way down…on some girl you randomly met. The bittersweet taste of nostalgia. Prickly regrets assault my face as the moans of lost glory echo around me, almost as if they weren’t my own.

Is this to be the fate of an internet columnist? No…but only because I’m not so lucky. Here’s where it all went wrong: Abstract wording got lost in the confusion, boner puns grew stage fright with repeat performance, and there are only so many angles to not show your penis from. Yes, it’s true. The Hard Way turned silver, and not a moment too soon (with this issue, it finally has gone Over-the-Hill at 40). If you miss him as much as I do, you can find him at Luby’s. “Cut your hair, ya damn hippie!” he’ll yell, then proceed into a story about his better days. No one is for sure what he’s talking about. But what is for sure is that he’s not wearing clothes.

Getting It Right

Thanks for the memories…most of which were naked, confusing, and directly in front of the bed in your dorm room.

It’s sizing up to be a disaster if you keep talking to this man, but you feel a pang, and get the feeling that he needs you. His words strum a beautiful melody that you just cannot ignore, your ears hanging on for every chord. He recounts the days when he had friends, even girlfriends, and life was but a dream. He says he was once a beautiful woman, but that can’t be right. He corrects himself, saying that he is just a lonely man who wishes that just once he had spent all night making soft, sensuous love to a beautiful woman. It never worked out that way, however, and he is everything but content with his life.

You start to feel bad for the old man, clearly everything in his life has been a struggle. His name was The Hard Way for crying out loud. You take a good, hard look at all the things in your life that you’re taking for granted. You have no trouble picking up women. In fact, you even had sex last night…on the beach…while your trophy girlfriend who you’ll throw away next week screams your name out loud, not serenely or lovingly but rather in an throaty growl of anger-filled hatred. Why? Because you’ve effectively shown her the glory of a cloud-laden afterlife, and then rushed her back to the miserable earth like a revolting spiritual flow-back. You would have felt sorry, but you were too engulfed in the mind-numbing throes of orgasm…multiple ones.. that alternate between ejaculating huge exploding fireworks that light up the night sky from inside her, and precious rare gems, pre-cut and refracting the light into rainbowy ribbons of Aurora Borealis. The only downside is, you just crapped yourself…

And Jacksons came out instead of Franklins.

Getting It Wrong

You snap back to the here and now, and find that same forlorn look on the old man’s face. His eyes are shiny with the constant threat of tears, flickering as if an old film of all the happy moments of his life passed them by. His brow sits heavy over them. Like an awning weighed down with snow, it exists as a catalog of rejection and drama. His beard, grown out over the years, breathes with stories of drowning sorrows in strange drinks, and living with strange people. This man is in serious need of some hygiene.

The old man rambles on with conceited monotony, but you are entranced with the notion that there may be something to learn from his woes. He continues, purging himself of stories long locked away. His years have been spent toiling endlessly on the internet, making people laugh, while never letting himself crack a smile. People loved him, but he never loved himself, nor ever let himself be loved. He tells you that he was foolishly obsessed with his dreams of being a star. He wanted all of Hollywood to know his name, and exhausted himself in the process. He tells you that he hit bottom…rock bottom…rock on the ocean bottom at its deepest point. And then he hit molten rock bottom swirling beneath the earth’s crust. He has known personal hells that make the Great Depression look like Christmas. As you feel the sadness radiate from his soul, you have to wonder if this man’s haunting life is due to his birth under some cursed zodiac. You walk away from this man confused because he literally sat with his junk out the entire time, and didn’t notice…

When you touched it.

Getting It At All

Who was that old man? Why is he affecting you so much? What was the point of meeting him? You go back to your college life, and try to have fun with your friends, but it just doesn’t feel right. You barely even touched your dinner, and a wrenching feeling has sunk into your stomach. You wish you could have done something for that poor, decrepit old column, but it’s just his time to go, and you start to compile a mental list of why:

– His articles were infrequent and runny.
– His father abandoned him.
– He was tired and drained.
– He had gone farther than his legs could carry him.
– Even now the reader is getting annoyed.
– Being male, how much more abstract can you get?
– Being female, how much more in the clouds can you get?
– The pictures, how much more naked can you get?
– Girlfriends, wait does that mean that he has one now?
– Yes, it does.
– He grew jaded with fame, thought he was hot shit, and then lost touch with his audience.
– He mocked the other columns, and it became too self-aware in a modernist sense in which the writing itself, rather than merely the content, became part of the humor. The result was a work which was readily more difficult and time-consuming to produce, with an audience that just could not latch on to the evolving state of his self-absorbed notion of humor. In essence, his standards became so high that he could no longer write to make anyone laugh but himself.

Mike: Guys, I’m sorry, but I’m retiring The Hard Way.
Fans: Please, Mikey NO! We love you!
Mike: Look it’s not you all, it’s me. I’ve got some things I need to work out.
Fans: But what about all the great times we’ve had?!
Mike: I know, I know. I just need a break. Maybe someday I’ll start writing again.
Fans: My friends were right. They warned me this day would come.
Mike: You think I like this any more than you? Well I don’t, okay! It’s hard enough leaving this behind without you putting all this on me. So you just take your guilt trip with you and show me tail lights.

Mike: Guys, I didn’t mean that. Come back here. I’m sorry.

Mike Faerber is now assistant editor for PIC.