These days, Dave has just the right amount of spare time to write books at home, preferably in his underwear, but things weren’t always perfect. When he found himself pushing thirty while still living with his parents in Cleveland, unsuited for anything but what an “employment expert” vaguely called a career in “art, music, writing, or entertainment,” he decided to visit some friends in New York for the weekend and never left. However, getting his life together wasn’t as easy as he’d hoped, and even an illegally subletted, rent controlled fifth-floor walk-up studio apartment with a (for the most part) working toilet wasn’t glamorous enough to erase the fact that his four siblings were all married with steady jobs and actual human offspring. And in recent years, Dave’s father had grown tired of loaning him cash and living alone in the empty family home, neither of which made much sense to Dave, but whatever.
Through the process of his father’s eventual move to a retirement community, Dave and his dad bonded over the things in life that really matter: scorching-hot rock jams, the gluten allergy craze, eighteen-wheelers, Italian food (pizza and spaghetti), and whatever else could possibly be left after that. Meanwhile, Dave discovered his late-blooming manhood via experiences as disparate and dangerous as a visit to a remote Mexican prison, where he learned that people everywhere love the Eagles, and a martial arts class that pushed his resolve and his groin to their limit. In Dave Hill Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, Hill’s voice is sharp, carefree, laced with just the right amount of profanity, and he is—seemingly despite himself—deeply empathetic as he portrays a difficult time in his family’s life and grows up just enough to realize that maybe he and his dad aren’t so different after all.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected proof***
Copyright © 2016 Dave Hill
A BRIEF INTRODUCTION, OR HI, I’M DAVE
Sometimes you sit down on a couch and next thing you know seven years have gone by. At least that’s what happened with me anyway. But first, let’s back things up a little.
Hi. How are you? I’m incredible. Thank you so much for asking. And thank you for reading my book. It is my second. I realize, however—statistically speaking, anyway—odds are decent that you haven’t gotten around to reading my first book1 yet, so I should probably bring you up to speed, so neither of us gets completely lost, not unlike the time my friend Kevin made me go
1 It’s called Tasteful Nudes and there is no rush to read it, as it is a timeless classic. Take your time —when you are ready, it will be there for you. But if you have, by chance, already read it, please don’t get worked up or anything if you already know some of the stuff I’m about to tell you here in this introduction. It will be over soon enough, and then you can jump into this literary adventure with both feet.
see Hellbound: Hellraiser II with him, even though I hadn’t seen the first Hellraiser movie.
“Why does that guy have nails for hair?” I asked him.
“Shut up,” Kevin whispered. “I’m trying to watch the movie.” I was totally confused for over and an hour and a half and there was nothing I could do about it because he drove.
Anyway, my name is Dave and I come from the mean streets of Cleveland,2 the Paris of northeastern Ohio.3 Specifically, I’m from a town called University Heights, or “the City of Beautiful Homes,” as it is referred to on all the signs coming into town and I imagine on most official stationery, partly because it’s true, but probably also because all the other cool town slogans were already taken.
I come from a pretty regular family, I suppose. We never wore ascots to dinners served to us by uniformed maids struggling to balance fancy silver platters or anything. And when it came time for tennis lessons, I had to take group lessons instead of getting the one-on-one attention I so desperately needed, a situation that enraged me at the time but is now something I would like to think has helped make me the man I am today, a guy who understands that when it comes time to face off against the big ball machine of life, we should each get a turn to flail away with all our might.
I spent most of my life in Cleveland and never really planned to leave because—despite Internet rumors—it’s actually a pretty magical place, especially when you squint or blur your eyes just right. But one day back in 2003 I decided to go visit some friends in New York City and never left. You’d be surprised what you can accomplish by just setting your bag down in someone’s apartment and refusing to leave.
Then my mother died, and it was back to Cleveland I went, at least for a little while, anyway.
It’s a strange thing when someone in your life dies. There’s the sadness and grief, of course. And also the mammoth disbelief that comes with any great loss. But all of that was multiplied times roughly a billion when my mother died. I couldn’t make sense of it, no matter how hard I tried and no matter how much time I might have had to prepare for it. It’s as if you are standing in the middle of a highway at midnight, and way off in the distance you see an eighteen-wheeler clearing the horizon, its headlights just starting to crack the darkness and bearing down on you. You stand there watching and waiting as the truck gets closer and closer, so close that you can almost make out the license plate. And then the truck runs right over you. Still, somehow, you just lie there thinking, “Huh—I never saw that one coming.” In short, it was awful.
The funeral and all that were a blur. My sister Miriam and I gave speeches.
“Keep it down to a minute or so each,” the priest told us beforehand.
2 Technically, I’m from the suburbs, which, the more I think about it, aren’t necessarily all that mean. But trust me on this one, they can get pretty irri- table sometimes, which is something, and I’ll take it.
3 Ask anyone.
“Screw you, pal” I wanted to say back to him before remembering how disappointed my mother would have been if I mouthed off to a priest like that, especially on his own turf. Still, it felt warranted. My mother was at that church pretty much whenever it was unlocked, as best I could tell—the least that priest could do was let my mom’s kids say whatever they wanted for as long as they wanted on her final visit. Regardless, my sister and I both ignored him altogether and spoke for as long as we felt like in honor of our mother and also to show that priest that the Hill kids are no pushovers.
The morning of the funeral, I thought back to when I was a kid, when my mom’s younger sister, my aunt Betty, was sick with cancer, and my parents and I went to visit her in the hospital after one of my Pee Wee hockey games. I was still young and clueless enough to think that no matter how old or sick someone was, a quick checkup, a glass or two of orange juice, and a couple nights’ rest at the hospital, and he or she would be back in action in no time. We stood in the room for about a half hour with me still in full uniform, the stink of my sweaty hockey pads giving any and all other strange hospital smells a run for their money, watching Aunt Betty struggle through dinner.
“Do you want to watch TV?”
“Are you thirsty?”
“Your roommate sure is quiet, huh?”
You know—the usual hospital small talk.
“Aunt Betty seems like she’s doing a little better today, huh?” I said to my mom as we walked back to the station wagon afterward.
“Do you know where your blazer is?” she replied, seemingly from out of nowhere.
“Why?” I asked, slightly annoyed. At the time I tended to associate wearing a blazer with doing stuff that I didn’t want to do.
“Because the funeral will probably be sometime next week,”she said.
My mom could be all business sometimes. It was a coping mechanism, I guess.
Back then, the blazer in question was a kelly-green sport jacket that had been handed down to me from my older brother, Bob. It made me look and even kind of feel like I’d just won the Masters, which was admittedly pretty cool in most settings, but not ideal for a funeral. “Look—it’s Jack Nicklaus,” some jackass would usually say whenever I wore it.
As I got dressed for my mom’s funeral all those years later, it occurred to me that the outfit I’d chosen—a black suit with a green tie I’d picked out mostly in a nod to my mom’s Irishness but perhaps also in an unconscious nod to that green jacket— marked the first time I’d gone to a funeral dressed entirely in clothes that hadn’t been borrowed. Even better, I’d paid for them with my own money. And perhaps most impressive, I knew ex- actly where they were ahead of time. I smiled thinking how proud or at least not annoyed my mom would have been about all that.
Once the actual funeral part of the funeral was over with, it wasn’t so bad, at least as far as unfortunate activities go, any- way. You hang out, eat and drink, and talk to people. It’s kind of like a wedding, only slightly less awful in that there’s almost no danger of anyone at any point asking you if you’re having a good time. And for the next few weeks after that, there are cookies and sandwiches coming from every direction, and all sorts of people telling you how they, too, think it sucks that your mother died without ever using those exact words. The distraction does wonders in temporarily softening the blow. It’s like a bomb that goes off, only instead of shrapnel flying everywhere, there are beautiful flowers, so many that it takes a little while to notice the gigantic hole in your chest.
As awful as losing my mom was, though, it surprisingly came with a few positive side effects. For starters, somehow in losing her, I realized we were also weirdly inseparable and, in fact, al- ways had been. My mother’s death also presented me with the opportunity to get better acquainted with my dad, this mysterious man I’d been running into down in the basement all these years. Who was he? Where did he come from? And, perhaps most important, what would our lives be like now that our middle- woman was gone and there was no one to tell us what time we’d be leaving for P.F. Chang’s? And while I was at it, it was an opportunity to also learn more about who I was and how the hell I wound up sitting here writing to you in my underwear right now. I mean, sure, it’s a lot of fun and my hair looks great and all. But weren’t things supposed to be different?
Anyway, these are just a few of the questions I’ve attempted to answer in the pages that follow. And while many of the essays in this book focus on these last few years since my mother died, I also dip into my more distant and at times even sordid past to share some as-yet-untold tales, some of which have profanity,
some of which do not. I go to prison,4 get pizza with my dad, learn a thing or two about kung fu, and a bunch of other stuff besides that stuff. In short, this book pretty much has every- thing, so if you want to go ahead and throw all your other books in the trash, I’m sure as hell not going to stop you.
I hope you enjoy it so much.
What People are Saying About This
Some people think of Dave Hill as one of the all-time great comic minds. To others, he is nothing less than a rock god. Still others regard Dave as the leading light of men's fashion. To me, he is all of these things, but also a writer of such fierce intelligence and wit that we may never see his like again. (I am exaggerating, but only a little.) Dave Hill Doesn't Live Here Anymore will smack you straight across your stupid funny bone, but then turn around and stroke your wretched heart with such gentle grace and goodwill that you may find yourself, as I did, choking back both laughter and tears. I also choked back a little vomit, but that's because I had some bad shrimp salad just before picking up the book. --Michael Ian Black
In this time of cynical sarcasm, Dave Hill's magickal humor shines like a light. If you love David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs, Dave Hill Doesn't Live Here Anymore belongs on your shelf. --Damien Echols
I won't cheapen the greatness of Dave Hill by calling him a “messed up dude” or a “lovable fuck-up.” Those terms have been dumbed-down and monetized by the Hollywood power brokers for years; the results of which are now oozing from a TV or wireless device near you. No, Dave Hill is the real deal; a genuine character in a world full of posers, and his book is one of the smartest, funniest, most original collections of fucked-up-guy essays I've ever read. Plus, it's incredibly moving. In other words, save your phone call, Hollywood. Dave Hill doesn't want your money. This man's an artist. --Adam Resnick, author of Will Not Attend
The next president's first official act should be to declare Dave Hill a living national treasure. He is a major figure among American comic writers, past and present. When reading his stuff, I laugh so loud the neighbors complain. --Dick Cavett
Dave Hill Doesn't Live Here Anymore was delicious. No I didn't eat it. I just licked it a bunch. --Jim Gaffigan
For those who look to everything Dave Hill wears with eager expectation, be aware that this long overdue collection of essays does not have any photos. It does not list his current address or contact number. But I have seen Dave wandering around lower Manhattan and he looks really witty and engaging. --Janeane Garofalo
Just when you think Dave Hill is going to take the easy way out and comment soberly on the human condition, he makes a fart joke and stands up courageously for heavy metal. --Malcolm Gladwell
Dave Hill's new collection of essays proves he's one of today's most skilled purveyors of walking the line between hilarious and heartbreaking. --Kelly Oxford, author of Everything is Perfect When You're a Liar
Dave Hill paints a self-portrait of a maddeningly irritating slacker, but what keeps you from wanting to wring his neck are the many moments of profound insight and beauty. Dave Hill Doesn't Live Here Anymore is damn funny and he mentions the band Foghat. What could be better? --Laraine Newman
In recent years Dave Hill has lost several friends to gluten, and in this new tell-all he opens up about that and other tragedies. Dave Hill Doesn't Live Here Anymore is very sad. Oh, wait! No. It's completely insane and hilarious. --Simon Doonan, author of The Asylum
Dave Hill is truly one of the funniest writers around. I know he wants to be considered one of the sexiest, but that's not my area of expertise. I promise this book will really make you laugh and for most of us that's much less complicated than sex. --Tom Papa