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Roy Sekoff was the brilliant and indispensable founding editor of the Huffington Post. Let me translate that: From 2005 to 2016, he was second banana to the founder, Arianna Huffington, who has never been described as a shrinking violet. When Sekoff and his colleagues cashed out in 2016, he was 56 years old and had no idea what to do. Let him tell you what happened:
As my always-revved inner motor slowly downshifted, I relearned what it was like to not place “respond to 50 emails” at the top of my daily to-do list — ahead of “brush teeth” and “empty bladder” — and to revel in the sublime satisfaction of snagging a prime spot in the carpool line at my daughter’s school.
I knew that before I could figure out who I was outside of my role at HuffPost, I needed the mental equivalent of the Master Cleanse—heavy on the cayenne pepper.
So, for months, I willfully resisted all creative urges, stubbing out even the spark of any idea that might grow into a concept or, perish the thought, an actual endeavor.
Eventually, my psychological detox accomplished, I began to contemplate what I might want to do next. And what I realized was: I had no freaking clue what I should do next! Free to consider anything, I came up with nothing.
Then, without warning, my unconscious decided to get involved. But it didn’t tap me on the shoulder and whisper Hi, Roy, have you thought about . . . ? No, it came rushing up to me like a crazy person on the street, shrieking in my ear: HEY, A**HOLE . . . DO THIS!!!
Every day for a week, I woke up in the middle of the night — often multiple times—my mind racing with ideas. It wasn’t a manic episode, but you could definitely see manic from where I was standing (or, more accurately, sitting up in bed). Not wanting to forget these late-night musings, I started sending myself emails with notes about stories I wanted to tell. Stories from my life.
Night after night, story idea after story idea. One night, I sent myself thirteen different emails between 2:00 and 5:30 a.m. I soon realized that if I ever hoped to get a decent night’s sleep again, I was going to have to get these stories out of my head and onto paper.
Consumer warning: Early profilers have written of Sekoff, who grew up in Miami, that he’s the next Dave Barry. (He’s not.) Larry David has praised him with faint damn: “I’ve read worse.” (Me too. For instance, Larry David’s “joke” on SNL: “I’ve always been obsessed with women, and I’ve often wondered if I’d grown up in Poland when Hitler came to power and was sent to a concentration camp, would I be checking women out in the camp? I think I would.”) Be warned: Roy Sekoff was once an adolescent male. He reveled in it — on a report card, a teacher made the suddenly prophetic comment, “lacks self control.” And so, though he’s now 58, he joyously serves up the R-rated tales of his youth. If potty-mouthed, sex-obsessed adolescent American males offend you, stop reading right now.
Still here? Then sample these…
From “Dirty Projectors”
When my puberty starter kit arrived in February 1972, I didn’t know whether to sign for it, mark it “Return to Sender,” or tear open the box like a much-anticipated birthday gift (Pubic hair? Just what I wanted!).
From “Church of the High Colonic”
For the first twenty-three years of my life, I never thought about sticking anything up my ass. At least not seriously. Then Tim became my roommate. No, this isn’t a story about my first homosexual experience. It’s a story about my colon, coffee, rubber tubing, water siphoning, and how I went from a guy with a “bad stomach” to a fervent acolyte, and sometime evangelist, at the Church of the High Colonic.
From “Oprah’s Tears”
My wife, Tammy, is the nicest person I’ve ever known. Bar none. And I’ve met Tom Hanks. I could count the number of times I’ve seen her be unkind to someone on Oscar Pistorius’s toes.
From “My Mother’s Ashes”
You know what they say: when it comes to disposing of your dead mother’s cremated remains, the three most important things are location, location, location. And we were stuck on Important Thing One. It’s not that the discussion between me and my brothers had gotten contentious; but we were finding it more difficult to come to a consensus on how or where to spread her ashes than the UN’s efforts to handle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And, yes, a Two-Urn Solution was discussed.
From “Keeper of the Collection”
After my father’s memorial service, my brothers and I gathered at the family house to divvy up the task of going through his things and deciding what to keep, what to donate, and what to throw away. My older brother picked photos, personal papers, and assorted collectibles. My younger brother got clothes, business papers, and books. I was put in charge of the porn. I think it was less because they felt I had a special affinity for the obscene, and more a matter of their not being in the right state of mind to confront the psychological implications of what the trove of X-rated material my dad had accumulated through the years said about him—and, by extension, us. Or maybe it was because I insisted.
Sekoff has told these stories over the years to friends over drinks and dinner. They have, he says, “produced shaken heads, tsk-tsks, and ‘I can’t believe you did/said that’ reactions. But they have also led to a lot of laughs and a bunch of stories I think are worth sharing.”
I found this book funny. Sometimes laugh-out-loud. I rarely say that. But at some level, I’m a guy. I understand: humor is subjective. You make the call.
Previously published on The Head Butler.
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