“Nice wallpaper. What is that, Nescafe?”

“What the hell happened?”, my girlfriend said as she entered the lounge.

It was a good question.

Anyone faced with a wall covered in coffee, a grown man lying on the floor in hysterics with an arm in violent spasm would have asked the same question.

“I can explain”, was all I could blurt out before I punched myself in the face…

– – – – – 

I don’t like templates, content planners and prompts.

There, I’ve said it.

I have no problem with other people using them, but, for me, it’s a no-no.

I’ve some history with this – I always like to do things the hard way.

Take magic, for example. The easy way to become a professional magician is to go on a magic forum, find out the 10 most popular effects, then sneak off to YouTube and learn them verbatim.

It’s easy and you can make a great living doing that.

Me? I went the hard way.

Just card tricks. Nothing else.

My theory for this was that I, the Great Holtini, should transcend the prop.

(mental note: add “Transcending the prop” to list of potential autobiography titles)

I didn’t stop there though. I also didn’t allow myself to use other people’s stock lines and jokes. I had to come up with my own.

There I go again, making my life needlessly difficult.

It was worth it though. I got remembered, and booked, by folk who recognised I was different. 

I did the same with comedy. The easy way would be to put some magic in the act, to stand out from the other acts.

“If you did magic, I could use you to open the show… and pay you!”, promoters told me.

Still, I opted for the “make my life hard” route by doing straight comedy.

(apparently, we can add “has an aversion to making money” to my list of weaknesses too)

That worked too. Sure, I don’t have a nationwide stadium tour planned any time soon, but I learned more about comedy doing it the hard way than I ever would’ve by taking the easy way out.

Maybe these explain my aversion to using planners and templates.

It just doesn’t sit right with me.

I wanna do the work.

I also think planner and prompts exacerbate the “coming up with content is hard” problem.

I get it. Coming up with ideas is hard, but, like most things, once you get going…

… it gets easier.

But you have to get going and do the hard work.

If you spend your life always looking for the easy way out, you’ll never get any better.

You’ll always be on the lookout for your next planner fix, and…

You’ll never create something that’s really YOU.

Sure, you’ll end up with something that’s different, but by using someone else as a starting point, you’re always measuring yourself by their marker.

Which brings me to the coffee-stained wall…

A few years ago, I thought it would be a great idea to shape up a little.

(My present shape of “amorphous blob” wasn’t working for me, though I plan on giving it 33 more years of rigorous testing before I jump to any rash conclusions).

I could’ve joined a gym, started running and eating right.

Those were all perfectly good options, but the fact that I used the word “could” in the previous sentence tells you something.

No, instead of doing the hard work, I looked for the easiest way possible.

I bought one of the Electric Muscle Stimulator machines.

(One of those straps that uses electric pads to “pulse” your muscles – it’s great if you need to lose weight, or your ab muscles are depressed and in need of electro-convulsive therapy)

It was a simple pad/battery hook up. All I had to do was attach it to my belly and hit the “PULSE” button.

Anyway, after trying it on my abs (hahahahahahaha – abs!), I thought I’d look for another body part to try and beef up…

(I’m waaaaay ahead of you, and, no – I didn’t…)

… so I popped it on my arm.

For some reason – and I’m still not entirely sure why I didn’t twig this – I hit the “PULSE” button while I was still holding my cup of coffee.

It only dawned on me two seconds later that this might cause a problem.

I stretched out my arm to pop my cup on the coffee table, thinking I’d have enough time, however, one inch before I reached the table…

BUZZZZZZZZZ!

The electricity shot through my arms, contracting my bicep (hahahahahahaha – bicep!) into a sharp right angle, sending coffee flying all over the wall behind me.

I tried in vain to put the cup down, but the pulses were so fast, I couldn’t get close.

At no point throughout this process did it occur to me to reach over with my other hand and turn the bloody thing off. 

No, instead I collapsed to the floor, laughing my ass off, attracting the attention of my girlfriend.

“What the hell happened here?”, she said, looking at the wall.

I tried to explain by lifting my arm to show her the pad, but the elevation only served to perfectly position my arm so that on the next pulse it would punch me square in the face.

I know that because that’s exactly what happened.

I’m pretty sure that, aside from the therapeutic value in sharing this, there is probably a useful lesson in here somewhere…

Let’s see if we can find it with a quick recap of the facts:

  • 1. If you want magic advice, I’m probably not the best person to ask.
  • 2. If you want comedy advice, I’m probably not the best person to ask.
  • 3. If you want weight-loss advice, I’m probably not the best person to ask.
  • 4. Warm soapy water is the best way to remove Nescafe stains off a painted wall.
  • 5. I don’t like planners.

See you Sunday,

John