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My first job was as a clerk at a ski and surf shop in Levittown, Long Island. My dad’s friend owned the joint, and I needed something to do one summer, so at the age of fourteen I was put behind a counter of surf wax and goggles, with the goal being to sell sun and fun accessories to unsuspecting suburbanites. The fact that I was a vicious little goth probably worked against me continuing on staff, especially after the sun started setting earlier and school started back up. I had never surfed, didn’t want to set foot in the sun, and basically hated people. I wasn’t employee of the year, to put it mildly.

Sometimes we have to pay our dues in order to get to where we want to go.  Ian Curtis of Joy Division began in a factory. Sophia Loren washed dishes. Benjamin Franklin worked for his father, who was a tallow chandler. Now, I don’t think I’ve set my path to greatness by hocking hang-ten habiliments , but I like to see that the people I admire didn’t come out of the womb kicking ass, inventing a music genre, or professionally polishing puns.

Maynard James Keenan: Interior design and set construction

I’ve never shied away from professing my absolute awe of Maynard James Keenan. I admit that this began at an early age, and that the flint was initially struck when he was recording with Tool, but the fact that he’s been at the helm of three bands, made countless recordings, played cameos in the phenomenal Mr. Show, eventually co-founded a vineyard, invested in a restaurant, and owns a produce market in Arizona  — all of this while raising his son and avoiding the limelight — has kept me smitten. You would think that his first gig would be with as a choral director, jujitsu fighter, or inspirational speaker, but he actually began by serving in the Army, a rumored result of watching Bill Murray in Stripes. This was followed by a move to Los Angeles, where he tried to pursue a career designing the interiors of pet stores and eventually set construction. Instead he wound up playing stadiums, and furnishing the interiors of many hungry and thirsty people. Maynard is a testament to multitasking, and I would find myself more inclined to enlist if the Army found some way to incorporate his multifaceted entrepreneurship into their abysmal commercials. Or at least pay to use his songs as a backdrop instead of that generic, soul-sucking quasi-rock. Also, celebrities that blog about something other than their fame deserve to have their paths studied.

Trent Reznor: Janitor and assistant engineer

Reznor on the right

Reznor on the right

Before being strung up and forever emblazoned into my thirteen year old mind as a masturbatory fantasy, Trent Reznor was a musically inclined student with a penchant for computer engineering. Living an example of “paying your dues,” Mr. Reznor got an early gig as a janitor and assistant engineer at Right Track Studios. As a result of disinfecting he could demo his music, and he developed a reputation of being one hell of a custodian, on top of being a wholly innovative producer. Perhaps the title for his latest recording, The Slip, comes as a result of remembering his  acquaintance with Wet Floor signs. Cuidado, Piso Mojado.

My dad: Button maker

It’s cheesy, but it’s true, my father is my hero. I’ll avoid oversharing, but suffice it to say, his job is harder than yours. He’s in his sixties and he works full weeks, filled with red tape and retinas, macula and management. He is, and always has been, a badass. This began with buttons. At the age of eighteen he worked for Emsig Button & Zipper in New York City, where he toiled away for one summer, producing the very things he was trying to defy with girls. Years later, with prestige and success in his elite professional field, he still remembers working for Emsig’s, stating that sending the orders from shipping to the office with the aid of “those vacuum tubes” was the best part of the job, ’cause “the sucking sound was awesome.” If any of you out there know a thing or two about phacomulsification and the way they remove vitreous gel, you will find this funny and slightly ironic. For the rest of you, I hope that your parents were able to get the security clearance to go to the button lab and scope the new designs. My dad never followed that thread.

Rita Hayworth: Toddler vaudeville dancer

I’ve always admired Rita Hayworth, ever since I saw Gilda and Cover Girl. Something about her moxie and sex appeal spoke to me, she was less abrasive than Mae West, less vapid than Marilyn Monroe or Jayne Mansfield. Of course, I don’t have anything against modern bastions of womanhood, and I certainly wouldn’t kick Beyonce out of bed for eating crackers, but the old guard of pin-up princesses has always been where I laid my trifling female reverence. And perhaps Ms.Hayworth elicited this adoration from me as a result of her long career of charming people that began at near infancy. At the age of six she became a member of her family’s vaudeville troupe, The Cansinos, and danced for ten years with her father and sister before being discovered by Fox Studios.

Simon: Non-Nintendo paperboy

Of course no comprehensive inspection of the CVs belonging to those I admire would be complete without Simon. My better half, who writes, DJs, and plays Scrabble, who has kept me with him by impaling my heart on the meat-hook of his gaze, who has caught me in the non-dolphin-safe net of his laughter, began his career as a paperboy here in Norman. He can do nearly anything on a bicycle, but early-era Simon couldn’t quite keep his newspaper route beyond the age of twelve. Inertia, puberty, swim team success, and growing tired of getting up at 5AM on the weekends led to his resignation. Hey, that’s better than some of his friends, who simply stole the Sunday coupon inserts instead of going through the hassle of delivering them.

Non sequitur: Even though the economy is forcing nearly fifty percent of consumers to reign in their V-Day spending, Consumer Reports has found that a majority of people haven’t had their sex life suffer as a result of the financial shitstorm.  I don’t know if this is a signal that our sex lives have collectively felt a recession for years, or if knocking boots is one of the cheapest activities you can partake in, so long as you don’t make a baby. I mean, really, why spend the money on a date when the good part costs under twenty bucks? Valentine’s Day post to come…heh, heh.

Drop me a line, tell me about your first jobs: Ainsley Drew at gmail dot calm. And thanks to all of you who donate. Being an Internet pan-handler wasn’t my first job, but it sure has been the most rewarding.

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