The people who know me casually see me as someone who would seem quite normal. I don’t throw off this weird vibe (at least I don’t think I do). I tend to blend in and mirror the crowd I’m with. When I’m with people who want to have the usual “hi, how ya doin’” kind of conversation, I can small talk with the best of them. When I’m with a group of friends ready to party, I can party with the best of them. I guess I’m saying that the conversation I’m having in my head can be filtered and used for good, not evil. Sometimes, the evil slips out. I’ve been told that I tend to say whatever is on my mind without filtering it. That’s true now, but that’s not always been the case. I don’t always say everything I’m thinking. That would make my cloak of invisibility fall off and you would see how much of a nut job I really am!
When I was a young boy, I was surrounded by a large, loud family. I’m talking 13 kids, two parents, four cats, one dog kind of large, loud family! My only hope to survive was to observe how the older siblings got into trouble and I tried to do the opposite. That worked out until I was the older brother in the house. I found new ways to get into trouble! I figured out that the less my dad heard, the better off we all were. You could haul off and smack your brother in the head, make him cry, and Dad would come in and yell at the kid crying! I experienced this phenomenon from both sides. It was bizarre being the one making someone cry and then sitting there while Dad yelled at them. He gave a cursory yell at the offender, but the loud one was the one who was really in trouble. So I learned that quiet is good and keeps you out of trouble.
The problem with this is, you really can become invisible in a group if all you do is observe without adding to the conversation. It took me a long time to become more vocal in group settings. Even so, I’m not the most talkative or loudest of the bunch. When I’m with a group of friends, there’s usually one person who dominates the conversation. They can be loud and boisterous and make people laugh at how silly they are. That will never be my style. I will sit there and pay attention and laugh when appropriate. There comes a time in every conversation like this where something pops into my head that may or may not be appropriate to share. When I do share, and it gets a laugh, I learn that sometimes the weird thoughts in my head can be appreciated by others. I’ll never tell a “guy walks into a bar” joke, or clown around in a crowd. There’s too much of the “quiet keeps you safe” in me to be that guy.
At home with Alana, it’s a different story. Here, I have an audience of one and she’s a great audience! She loves the silly! I can be a clown with her. Everything I do that makes her laugh has to be repeated so she can laugh again. After being with her for over a year, I could record a “best of” album of my greatest moments in silly! When the wedding planning began, and we had to go meet professional photographers, DJs, and the Rabbi, she saw my professional persona for the first time. This is the persona I try to maintain at work, though I’m not always successful with that. She was surprised at how “serious” I was in those meetings. I just explained that’s just how I am in those situations. I can’t be myself in every situation. So, she gets to see all the crazy that’s inside my head because she loves that shit.
The battle in my brain is ongoing. If you’ve been lucky enough (cursed enough) to be on the receiving end of a snarky comment on facebook, you’re welcome. You’ve experienced the unfiltered version of me. The other me, the quiet me sitting on the sidelines is having an unbelievable conversation with myself! I really need one of those cartoon thought bubbles hovering over my head. On second thought, that would be really dangerous to your well-being! It’s in your best interest that I not say everything I’m thinking. I’m not really being quiet to protect me, I’m being quiet to protect you!
Yes, now stop making me think about my parents having sex!
What number are you?
I’m the 9th kid and the 4th son. While not technically the “middle child,” 9 out of 14 is close enough.
What was it like having such a big family?
Yeah, but you always had someone to play with, right?
And we always had someone to fight with too! During the blizzard of 1978, I spent more time at Shawn & Craig Honnerlaw’s house than my own. I walked through a blizzard with snow drifts taller than I was in order to keep myself from going crazy at home.
You guys could have fielded your own basketball team!
If by team you mean unathletic, uncoordinated people who were 5 feet 5 inches tall on average, then you are correct!
What did your dad do? Did your mom work?
My dad drank. A lot. For money, he worked as an accountant. We weren’t allowed to discuss money so I didn’t know how much he made until he co-signed my student loan. In 1984, he made $45,000. That’s roughly $93,000 in today’s money, so he didn’t do too badly. The house was paid off, so that helped. Mom worked during my teen years, but only as a way to stay sane. She could get drunk on less than one beer.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in the metropolis of Wilmington,Ohio. It’s located about 45 minutes from Tri-County and 45 minutes from the Dayton Mall. I always stopped at Dingleberry’s whenever I went to Dayton Mall. First, I went there because of their prices and selection of albums. Beginning the summer before my senior year in high school, I shopped more towards the front of the store.
Wilmington, huh? Did you live on a farm?
Fuck you and the stereotype you rode in on! Small town America isn’t all farms! I spent a summer detasseling corn, which was pretty damn tiring. I made good money, but I learned I’m not cut out for that kind of work! I think our house was the farm house before they built the Southridge subdivision, but that was before our time.
Are you married? Do you have any kids?
I got married at 20 and divorced at 35. We have three sons, 23, 20, and 17. I was married for 15 years and I’ve been divorced for 15 years! I love my kids and I’ve remained active in their lives. I don’t think I’ve been active enough, but they turned out to be extremely well adjusted, productive members of society. Remaining friends with their mother may have helped with that, but I’ll give her the credit she deserves.
Are you seeing anyone now?
In the 15 years since I’ve been divorced, I spent 6 years being the King of the One-Night Stand. I didn’t want to be in a relationship because, if I did, it would have been a horrible idea. I spent the next 7 years trying to be in a relationship with a woman who had two young children. That ended after many years of me trying to help raise her kids while she was their mother and also an expert in early childhood education. I was a fool to even disagree with her! I then spent about 6 months alone until I met the woman I love who wants to be the next Mrs. Whittenburg despite all warnings to the contrary! She’s like the character in the horror movie that makes you yell at the screen “DON’T GO UPSTAIRS!!!” She never listens, she goes upstairs anyway, and she dies a horrible death. Whittenburg men (with a few exceptions, maybe), don’t make the best husbands.
Why do you smile like that?
Like what? Like Two-Face from Batman? Like Sylvester Stallone? Like this? - http://www.chacha.com/question/when-you-have-a-crooked-smile,-what-does-that-mean-about-your-personality
My smile is a byproduct of a doctor using forceps to help speed up the delivery while I was being born. He severed the nerve that controls the right side of my face. I can’t raise my right eyebrow or the right side of my smile. The great thing about that is when I think I’m raising my eyebrows, I look like I’m intentionally raising just the left eyebrow. That trick comes in handy sometimes!
Are you really as awesome as you seem?
No! I’m way more awesome than that!
Is this the last question you’re willing to answer today?
Yes it is. Please use the comment section below if you want to know more.