Thomas Wictor

Life imitates art

Life imitates art

I thought of writing a book titled All the Really Weird Stuff I’ve Experienced That Makes People Think I’m Crazy. Now that I’m winding down my attempt at being an author, I’ll just post these things every now and then. They were part of what I thought would make me a desirable guest on the radio show Coast to Coast AM.

Most of the material they feature on the show is hooey. All you need to do to blow apart any government conspiracy is apply the Snowden Test. None of the really popular conspiracies can stand up to it. Also, most of the authors they have as guests are duds. They either monologue or reel out some horrific infomercial spiel.

“That’s a great question, George! In my book The Reptilian Reich, I answer that question, George! You can buy my book The Reptilian Reich at my Website, George, which is, where you can buy all my books including The Reptilian Reich, George!”

It’s not Coast to Coast Am’s fault that the vast majority of their author-guests are crap. The fact is most authors are creepy, unsocialized egotists who think that writing books makes them superior to everyone else. There’s an insufferability factor that makes writers of books really tough to deal with. For example, most set down ground rules about what they can and can’t be asked.

Since writing is by definition a solitary occupation, many writers turn into circus freaks without being aware of it. When they’re forced out of their lairs to be interviewed, the results can make your skin crawl. In August of 2003, I went to Gettysburg. I drove across the country to go to a World War I militaria store in a nearby town to buy rare postcards. When I got there, the guy told me the cards weren’t for sale. This was after he’d confirmed three times by e-mail that they were for sale.

“I don’t know how much they’re worth!” he screeched. “How can I give you a price? I might be ripping myself off!”

His plan was to say anything to get me there. Since I’d driven three thousand miles, I’d almost certainly agree to buy some of his overpriced helmets, belts, ammo pouches, uniforms, etc. Nope. I don’t collect militaria; I collect only postcards. So I walked out. He thought I was an idiot for having driven all the way across the country, and now I wouldn’t even look at his merchandise just because he’d lied to me about the postcards.

He didn’t know that I have an atavistic hatred of liars. Eleven years later my postcard collection is one of the best in the world. I now realize that his collection was rubbish. He’s a liar, a con man, and he has no taste. Are there any flim-flam men with real taste? I don’t know.

So that the trip wouldn’t be a total waste, I went to the Gettysburg battlefield the next day. It was a great decision. I recommend everyone visit Gettysburg. If you don’t believe in ghosts before you go, you will after you leave.

As I lay in the bed the last night in Pennsylvania, I watched C-Span Book TV. The author was some guy who’d written a book comparing the US to Rome. He and the interviewer sat in two chairs under two spotlights, the darkness surrounding them, and for an hour, the author spoke like this. It was one of the grossest things I’ve seen. I hate lack of self-awareness.

The publicist who I’m going to make famous sent me an e-mail on December 4, 2013.

Just rec’d a voicemail from someone at Coast to Coast - they want a copy of your press kit! The journey begins…

There was no journey. It was all lies. Nobody at Coast to Coast AM contacted him. What a shame; I’ve would’ve been the most entertaining author-guest they’d had in years.

Life imitates art

But still, a lot of really weird stuff has happened to me in my life. The scariest things have been those that cause loss of faith in reality itself, as brilliantly illustrated in one of my favorite movies.


A handsome Frenchman named Marc wakes up and impulsively shaves off his heavy mustache. At breakfast his wife says nothing. When he finally asks her why she hasn’t commented on his new clean-shaven face, the horror begins.

She looks at him with confusion and says, “What mustache? You’ve never had a mustache.”

Marc thinks she’s playing games with him, so he stomps off to work. His colleagues say nothing about his lack of a mustache; he asks them if they’re in on the joke with his wife.

“You’ve never had a mustache,” they tell him.

Slowly, one by one, all of Marc’s memories of the man he thought he was are proven wrong. He asks his wife if she remembers their favorite vacation. Of course she does. He finds the photos, and they depict him with a mustache. Putting the photos on the table, he goes and finds his wife, and when he brings her back into the room, the photos are gone, and she tells him that they never went on that vacation.

It begins accelerating. They go to the house of a married couple for dinner, and the married couple tell him he’s never had a mustache. Marc and his wife go down to their car, and he complains to her that this is just too cruel, bringing their friends in on the prank.

Marc’s wife looks at him in fear and says, “I don’t know who you’re talking about. Who are these people you say are our friends?”

“WE WERE JUST UP THERE WITH THEM!” he screams, which scares her even more. He gets out of the car and goes back up to the apartment, and the people with whom he just had dinner no longer recognize him.

At home Marc finds a message from his father on the answering machine. His wife calls the father and speaks to him, and then hangs up.

“How’s Dad?” Marc asks her.

She pauses and says, “Marc, your father has been dead for two years.”

And on and on.

My greatest fear was of utterly losing my mind. It would begin to show itself the way it did in La Moustache. Well, it’s happened. I’ve become unmoored, and I now can’t be sure that anything is real. Tim and I talk a lot about the events of the past year. He and Eric are my hawsers. They keep me from drifting away completely.

So here’s one of the weirdest things that ever happened to me. I’ve never figured out the answer. For a long time I thought I was dead and in hell.

After my high school prom, I went to a party at the house of the most popular girl in school. My date was a gorgeous Colombian; she and I wrote tons and tons of notes to each other in class. This poor thing was the first woman to whom I said the L-word. I did it in writing. In fact, I still have that historic document.

Biology Note

Now, I understand having a physical type; the women I’ve loved deeply have had pale skin, dark hair, and dark eyes. But why would they all have rounded handwriting? It was only tonight, looking at this thirty-four-year-old document for the first time since I wrote it, that I see how similar her handwriting is to Carmen’s.

We went to the prom, but my declaration of love ruined everything. She just wanted to be friends. Her parents drove us to the party, which was in a house alone at the apex of a cul-de-sac. Though it was hard for the Colombian and me to talk, I didn’t drink or get high all night. At one point I went out into the woods and met a Canadian guy who was famous for walking six miles to school every day and six miles back.

I asked him for a cigarette; he unwrapped a new pack of Rothmans and gave me ten. I put them in a front pocket of my suit jacket. Eventually the party ended, and my date’s parents picked us up. I’m pretty sure I never spoke to the Colombian again. The whole night was awful.

After I graduated I stayed in Stavanger and got a job loading and unloading ships that supplied oil platforms in the North Sea. One day a guy picked me up to take me to his house to buy hashish. As we drove down a street, he pointed out a house.

“That’s where that bitch ______ lives,” he said, referencing the most popular girl in the school. “I hate having her live so close to me.”

“When did they move?” I asked, since the house was in the middle of the block, not at the end of a cul-de-sac.

He frowned at me. “Never. They’ve lived there for six years.”

“No, they used to live in a house at the end of a cul-de-sac,” I said. “That’s where they had the party after my senior prom.”

He smiled and shook his head. “Look, they’ve been here the whole time they lived in Stavanger. I should know, since I had to ride the bus with her every morning and watch her swinging that round ass like it was the best one in the world. Which it was.”

I felt the dreaminess that I later identified as dissociation, one of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder with secondary psychotic features. A few days later, I ran into the Canadian guy who’d given me the Rothman cigarettes.

“Remember the party after the prom?” I asked.


“We met in the woods behind the house, and you gave me ten cigarettes, right?”


“Well, was that house by itself at the top of a cul-de-sac?”

He gave me the same frown as the guy who’d sold me the hashish. “No, it’s in the middle of a street. It’s got houses on either side.”

I asked two more people and got the same answer: The after-party for the prom was held at a house in the middle of a street. But I clearly remember going to a party in a house at the apex of a cul-de-sac, with no other house to the right or left.

Like Marc Thierez in La Moustache, I’m apparently not the man I believed I was, and I didn’t live the life I thought I had.

I wonder if I fell asleep at the prom after-party, and all of this has just been a nightmare? Maybe I’m still eighteen, and I have my whole life ahead of me. Mom and Dad are still alive, I’m just about to begin playing the bass, and I’ll get another shot at being a music journalist.

Maybe this time I won’t meet gaslighting predators who make me doubt my very existence.