"I used to be Irish Catholic, Now I'm an American..." those were the words that changed my life.
I was 14 years old, and my brother had just put the new (to us) cassette into the stereo of his car. The years before this moment had seen my sense of humor shaped almost solely by network TV and Bill Cosby albums. However, George Carlin's Class Clown was my graduation from the School of Cosby to the Working World of Carlin.
The weird thing is that George Carlin and I appeared so different on the outside. I have always been the the squeakly clean, crew cut honor student who never even considered a single experiment with drugs or alcohol. Also, my politics seemed nearly 180 degrees off of George's. However, George taught me timing, delivery, and he most importantly taught me that in my world it doesn't matter what a person looks like, thinks like, or acts like if he can make me laugh.
George and I did have some similarities though. We were peeved by some of the same pets. In one of his books he mentions how much he hates the fact that 99.9% of the world mispronounces forte. His response to the argument that the dictionary lists "for-tay" as an accepted secondary pronunciation is to say that the reason it is secondary is because it is not the PRIMARY (correct) pronunciation of "FORT."
I used the above example of forte in describing to my wife that 99.9% of the world doesn't understand damping of vibrations. To reduce or damp a vibration one would install a damper. If one desired to make something wet, he could reach for a spray bottle to serve as a dampener and could dampen the offending dry item. It bugs me that the repeated misuse of a word actually leads to its becoming an accepted usage. I recently saw in an Engineering dictionary that with regard to noise and vibration, dampen has now become an accepted substitute for damp. To paraphrase my late comedic mentor, the reason dampen is an accepted substitute is because it is not the primary (correct) word.
I may have always appeared to be the poster child for the nerdy, hard right, but when I would open my mouth and unleash a volume of sarcastic wit in the style I learned from George, it made me the life of the party. Thanks to George Carlin my circle of friends includes stoners, cripples, religious nuts, MILFS, doctors, immigrants, gays, convicted felons, soccer moms, truck drivers, professional athletes, former Captains of Industry and the legally blind. I love a variety of ladder climbers, under-achievers, and the comfortably uninformed and unconcerned.
I am a man of the people, and I owe a big part of that to a former radical, dope-smoking hippy who was willing to rip on anybody if he thought it would get a laugh.
The world is a sadder place today now that George Carlin is gone.
However, George will always be with me because he provided me with alternatives to consider when I reached the formative years of my adolescence.
George made me a classroom hero by providing me with the mantra I gleaned from his Class Clown album, "Well, I'm Bored...why not deprive someone else of their education."
It's good to know with people reading my blog at their places of employment depriving their bosses of the time they should be working, I continue to be the same apparently squeaky-clean smart ass 14 year old kid George Carlin turned me into.