Freudian Slips: @Ripley'

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Location: Irony, New Jersey, United States

Life takes us many places. It's a box of chocolates and a Hansel and Gretal trail of candy wrappers. I have filmed as an actor in The Happening, Invincible, The Lovely Bones, The Bounty Hunter, The Greek American, Bazookas, Limitless, TV's Its Always Sunny in Philly, Outlaw, New York, The Warrior, The Nail, Game Change, Cold Case, & commercial work includes The Philadelphia Eagles, Septa, Coors, Turbo Tax & Carnival Cruises. Freudian Slips spotlights irony in short story format.

December 15, 2004


I have come to realize that any incoming email from a stranger hosting an email address with a suffix grabs my attention. I have been immersing myself in interesting projects lately and my story reached the International Property Manager for BION. My association with Ripley's Believe It or Not has always given me the jitters but International Property Manager for BION sounded so Terminator-ish.

Low and Behold, my profile and a picture of my Cyborg T2001 Series beekeeper's suit has been accepted for publication into the 2005 Ripley's Believe It or Not hardcover almanac. This is not small potatoes. It is a sack of Red Bliss potatoes in an Irish famine. This book sells millions of copies worldwide. It is part of Scholastic Books, the leaflet every school age kid in America takes home to pester their folks into shelling out $19.99 to read about the Bee Man from Blackwood, New Jersey.

I was instructed to complete some paperwork of an urgent matter and send off three preferred pictures and a synopsis using a FedEx account number to an address in the swamps of Florida no later than December 17, 2004. This must be an editor's return to work because this was the second writing deadline I had to meet by Friday.
I emailed the dubious BION Property Manager that my property was for sale. I asked for a few
reasonable demands and got little more than a sympathetic ear. I concentrated my efforts into retaining control over the exact text next to my almanca picture. If you ever receive a business email soley in capital letters, you know negotiations are not going well. Strike one for Mastocytosis sufferers everywhere. I then argued for a couple of "Blues Clues" key words for the reader to learn about my disease. Strike two for funding and research for Mastocytosis. BION finally obliged me enough to allay "send me what you got". The truth of the matter, I just finished a writing deadline at 2:23 am the previous night and still was writer weary. I had no pre-fabricated words of Mother Mary wisdom or acceptance speech cued on the hard drive waiting for a Book of Oddities to shout "Come Hither my tortured soul".
I could just let others determine my fate in print. Not a freaking chance. My wife caught me in the panicked throes and prose of preparing my Ripley's acceptance speech. I was leafing through a file so thick I once used it as a shabby step stool to change a lightbulb. A 2001 coorespondence letter appeared on top of the scrap heap. I could feel my lovely wife's lovely eyes enlarge wider than Marty Feldman's ever did.
"Are you crazy?" she pointed to the signature area of the page.
My 2001 signature included "The Anaphylactic" as a byline. I gave it a double take myself, as if the document had been pirated by forgerers.
"Uh, well you see, I was kind of working out the kinks in my nickname back then." I said sheepishly. I grabbed the document and headed for the grinding wheels of the shredder.
This admission impressed upon me as stupid, even to a wife who held my most private confidences. I began to think of my sports memorebilia business to which I answer to "The Plaque Doctor", my "Bee Man of Blackwood" cult identity which Ripley's has marketed to the hilt, and my Clark Kent existence as a family man and social worker. How many personas can I carry in my travel bag before bumping into a raised eyebrow psychologist who wants to label me schizophrenic?
Have no fear Bee Man appears and I type into the night, crafting my woeful tale to be read by millions of readers. The only advice here can't be a pawn in life. You got to be a player. Along with the pictures and a plea bargain for page layout not to have me next to Jo-Jo the Dog Faced Boy, I included the following human interest story slated for book shelves in mid-2005.
Four percent of the population are allergic to bee stings and some people die from their bee stings. In 2001, two separate yellow jacket attacks four weeks apart nearly proved fatal for Joe Tornatore of Blackwood, New Jersey. EMT's saved his life after the first attack. Joe's bodily reaction to the second bee attack proved worse so waiting for an ambulance was not an option. Joe stumbled into their minivan, falling unconscious. His fianceée started to drive him to the hospital but a detour right outside their housing development thwarted rescue. His fianceée drove through the detour. Believe It or Not, she found a spare ambulance parked at an automobile accident scene. Joe was rushed to the hospital in that ambulance and placed on life support until the intense swelling over his entire body subsided and he could breathe again on his own. Joe recovered and married two short weeks after his hospital discharge.
In the aftermath, allergy immunologists discovered that the real trigger for Joe's anaphylaxis was caused by Mastocytosis, a rare skin disease striking only one in a half million people. Mastocytosis is the proliferation of mast cells, which produce histamine. Excess histamine can cause the release of tiny brownish-red lesions on the body, lesions resembling chicken pox in appearance and itchiness.
Joe wore a beekeeper's suit outdoors to increase personal safety until the University of Pennsylvania Hospital completed a complex immunotherapy program to mute his reaction to bee stings should he ever fall prey again. While wearing the beekeeper's suit from 2001-2003, Joe was confused in public as an astronaut, chef, Amtrak worker, dog catcher, and circus performer. Joe was once mistaken for a World Trade Center cleanup worker and a terrorist...
on the same day. His humorous adventures are told in his autobiography, Stop and Smell the Silk Roses. Joe can be found on TV' Ripley's Believe It or Not episode #315, as a comic strip panel, and as an exhibit in the Ripley's museum in Atlantic City, NJ, where his book is sold.
This is a wonderful biography but my careful analysis of the last three editions of the book till midnight indicates only select company garner a full page layout. Hey, shoot for the stars until the meteor lands! The first item exorcised will be my cleverly placed book endorsements. I also know a thing or two about editing and space considerations in print. An extra word is like adding a full length sitcom to a Super Bowl commercial. So expect to see nothing more than my King Bee garb alongside the caption "Who is this joker?"



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't keep up! What next? A movie deal? Post by ET

12:10 PM  
Blogger PaxRomano said...


This is wonderful news I am very happy for you.

I foresee a major Broadway Musical!!!--“Once Bitten”. Music and Lyrics by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

With Kevin Bacon in his first All Singing, All Dancing, All Anaphylactic Role as Joe, The Bee Man!

Sure to rival The Lion King and Hairspray as the must see show of the season!!!

11:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was recently contacted by a distressed copy editist asking for my assistance in skinnying-down a certain human interest story that was submitted to him for review. He works for a widely-read publication noted for scouring the globe in search of images and stories of absurds and oddities. He described his delema as being the equivalent of having to condense a gallon of weak lemonade so that it would fit into a shot glass. After careful study and scholarly preparation, here is what I believe will become the contents of that shot glass:

"Appearing opposite our regular feature stories (Sparky, the Dog-faced Boy and Willie, the farm hand who sired his own grandchildren) is Joe Tornatore, A.K.A. "The Bee Man of Blackwood." Joe suffers from a rare skin desease that just has too many letters to mention here by name. Suffice to say that Mr. Tornatore is not wearing that bee-keeper's uniform out of a keen sense for naturalist fashion. Joe's autobiographical book, "Stop and Smell The Silk Roses" is a best-seller amongst Ripley's readers in Atlantic City, and is soon to be followed up by its sequel, "How I Parlayed 15 Minutes Of Fame Into A Life-long Pursuit Of Semi-greatness" (published in Canada under the title, "Being Part Of A Sub-culture Is Better Than No Culture At All."
--John Tornatore

4:55 PM  

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