I became quite perturbed when I phoned a friend at his office recently. His new assistant answered and demanded to know who I was and why I was calling, the implication being that she didn’t want to bother the big man with frivolous and unnecessary intrusion by nobodies. The “Why”I was calling was easy to explain. But the “Who” threw me into an existential tizzy that lasted days. I thought I knew who I was, but who am I, really? What is the essence of my being? Have I justified my existence on this planet? Do I matter one iota in this world?
What I do know about myself is this: I’ve been a cheerfully married man for many years; I’m a bit overweight and paying for a gym membership that I don’t use nearly often enough; I am a businessman with a long and varied resumé, a homeowner, an art lover, an ardent sports fan and I have a cat. I’m fairly tidy, reasonably optimistic, cook a little, am most comfortable in t-shirts and jogging shorts, and tell people I’m prematurely graying when it’s not exactly premature. And though I’m not much of a joiner, I am a card-carrying member of ebay who scours the site regularly for bargains. But shouldn’t there be more to me? Shouldn’t I be somehow more… significant?
To solve this cosmic quandary, I did what any intelligent, 21st-Century, right-thinking adult would do:
I Googled myself.
Hot damn! It turns out I am much more interesting than I ever knew.
For one thing, I am a retired Top Gun Hot Shot test pilot for NASA with more than 6,700 flight hours in 84 different aircraft who was the youngest graduate in the history of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Md. I was also the first pilot ever to conduct something called “multi-axis thrust vectored flight” and the first to test five new aircraft configurations. I even flew the high-altitude SR-71 Blackbird which cruises at Mach 3 for more than an hour (way cool). And NASA liked me so much, after I retired they inducted into the Aerospace Walk of Honor in Lancaster, California. Next to traveling at three times the speed of sound, it’s one of my proudest moments.
However, when I lived in Waterloo, Ontario I was considered eccentric. Sometimes on weekends I'd knock back a few, get out my tape recorder and improvise. Mostly it was just me talking and doing sound effects such as car noises or reciting old TV commercials or just giggling inanely. I used to wrap cassettes of my ramblings in colorful copies of original abstract paintings I’d painted and give them to the local campus radio station and anyone else who would listen. I put out about ten of these masterpieces and I’m proud to say they have become cult items not only in Waterloo, but as far away as Wilmot and St. Agatha. Because of my unlikely fame, I was invited perform at a Waterloo radio station’s mini-festival for bands who had no perceivable talent. I’m told people wondered what I would do live on stage, but I surprised them. I sat in front of the mic and proceeded to sing an entire radio show of Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, the Ramones, Commander Cody and hits from about ten other groups right off the top of my head. People stared in amazement. Or perhaps befuddlement. Sometimes when you’re eccentric it’s hard to tell the difference.
Unbeknownst to my tone-deaf Jewish parents, I was baptized as Catholic and began playing clarinet at the age of seven. I later played saxophone, flute and oboe in orchestras, jazz bands and chamber ensembles. But I switched to voice and choral conducting when I started my studies at the Cal State at Northridge and have since become the choral director of the First Presbyterian Church in Marietta Georgia, where I am an avid cyclist, runner and hiker with hopes to one day complete an “Iron Man” competition while playing Vivaldi on my oboe.
Like my parents, it might surprise you to find out that as Director of Evangelism of the AME Zion Church in Tennessee, I am a nationally known, entertaining and thought-provoking teacher of God's love and inclusiveness to all people who have answered the call to accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. I am the featured religion columnist for The OakRidger Newspaper as well.
My mother would be proud, however, if she knew I was a doctor, the Dean Emeritus of the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology at USC, in fact, and a published author of many titles, including my classic, Dr. Edward Schneider Reveals What Your Doctor Hasn't Told You, and Your Health Store Clerk Doesn't Know. It presents a detailed overview of the latest scientific and clinical studies on alternative treatments as well as offers a proven formula for the best integrative therapy available. You can pick it up at Barnes & Noble for $19.95. Just take your Ginko Biloba before you head out.
As it turns out I am quite a prolific writer. I authored The Botanical World, Evolution and Morphology of Vascular Plants, Live Well, Age Well: Discover the New Rules of Aging and Stay Youthful for Life, and CEOs and Trustees: Building Working Partnerships. The last one offers practical advice for working relationships between directors and the governing boards of museums, botanic gardens and non-profit organizations. Very handy.
I have also translated Roger Verge's venerable Vegetables in the French Style and authored a highly rated, very exciting adventure e-novel as well. It’s entitled Desert Ship ($9.95 at Mobipocket.com). Here’s a synopsis: Liz and Jessica had been looking forward to a European trip for years. They just wanted to visit the tourist traps, but instead found love and adventure that changed their lives forever. Trips into the Iranian desert, jail, the Dead Sea, and going 2000 years into the past. Jail, the Dead Sea, past-life regression? Do I hear Spielberg calling?
And as if I don’t have enough to do, I am a mediator in Virginia Beach Virginia, a Professor of Information and Communication Technology at SUNY Potsdam, and an Atari programmer with two titles to my credit. In Austin I am in semiconductors, in Dallas Aerospace, in San Francisco telecommunications, in Houston management consulting, in Columbus Ohio information technology, in Detroit market research, in Boston financial services and in my home town of Washington DC I appear to be in cosmetics.
I am also one of the whiz-kids interns at the Spiritual Counterfeits Project. This is a vital frontline ministry confronting the occult, the cults, and the New Age. As you are no doubt aware, this is a critical time. Sophisticated lies are being fed to unwary people and it’s SCP's mission to create crossover material to alert and inform them about the dangers of the latest deceptions.
And oh, yeah. A few years ago in Tampa, I was a cast member and assistant director of the Annual Rocky Horror Picture Show. Hot patootie, bless my soul, I really love that rock `n roll.