Reg Naveen

Don't Rock the Bote*

Kids and fools I think, that’s who have it best. Maybe drunks too, but only the happy drunks, not the, “I could have rock hard abs if you ever paid attention to me, Janine, instead of constantly taking me for granite,” kind of drunks. Happy drunks are fun and usually approach all situations with a clean slate. 

It’s all too hard you know; all of it. We need a leader to run the place so we’ll select two to chose from, sure fine, simple enough, no need to discuss the broken road of sin and slaughter that lead us to those two, no, fine, this should be easy enough. Well, as simple as getting a full ride to the electoral college of fraud arts, anyway. 

We over combobulated everything. Dating. Theme parks. Medicine. The wacky and wooly world of Wendy’s hamburgers. Now with real, live yeti meat!

I don’t know what I’m doing. No one does. We’re all walking uphill backward to school with eels, the most unfriendly of sea-dwelling companions, especially if you charged them overnight. 

A little girl messed me the heck up. That’s what this is all about. Just a tiny little thing, safe or ignorant, depending on your perspective, to the chaos and moment-to-moment malaise of the unending news cycle. There’s a plague now, or something like it, jobs are fleeing town, convicted cookie thieves are crying victim in the hospital, alleging that the cookies were personal friends of his. 

This girl hasn’t seen anything of that.

As the world wrenched itself into an uncomfortable pinch, I performed my silly little job for possibly the last time, a tiny little voice came bouncing in on cotton candy bubbles that said:

“Excuse me, you’re really handsome.”

The interjection was such an oddity that I stopped everything I was doing, put the bote in neutral, cut off of the rest of the guests and the world around me, and dropped to my knee.

“Well hi there…” I began

“My name is Allie, and it’s short for Allison and this is my favorite thing today, and we did so many things, but this is my favorite. I love the animals. Do you love the animals? What’s your favorite animal? Mine is a seahorse. Do you know about the seahorse? They live under the water. This is mommy and…”

At which point the mother, crimson with embarrassment cut the wordy angel off. 

“No, no it’s okay,” I said, blown over by whimsical winds, caught off guard by the nothingsomething of it all. 

“How old are you Allie?”

“This many,” she said, holding up three fingers.

“Three? I was three when I was your age,” I replied bringing the rest of my guests to laughter while earning a bewildered gaze from my pint-sized muse. 

“Come here kiddo, let’s go see the animals,” I said helping her to the front of the bote.

I have a script, it’s likely about 100 pages deep with facts and puns and old jokes, and dad jokes that are really, quite apparent. I’m contractually obligated to use said material every trip, a simple task made tedious by repetition, like swimming the breaststroke with heels on your hands. 

I didn’t use any of it that trip, Allie was in charge, microphone in hand, rambling like a little kid, or a very, very tiny drunk, making less sense than a paycheck when you’re laid off, but having the most memorable experience possible. I’m a professional, yet nothing I could have conjured would have topped her charm. They say never work with children or audio-animatronics. 

I drove the bote around the corners and through a mystical temple, keeping an eye out for a seahorse that, at least for a few moments, I thought might actually be found. She got me, she broke the broken man in the best way possible. Just a little girl, politely interrupting me with the first thing that sailed across her brain.  

Life doesn’t need to be more complicated than that. 

The ride’s not operating now, though to be fair, not much is. The viral enemy that’s choking our nation isn’t even allowing a little cough for relief. I honestly don’t know if I’ll be compensated as we navigate this crisis. 

And that doesn’t matter. I found a seahorse I didn’t know I was looking for, and she thinks I’m handsome. 

*The author is a performer at a world-famous attraction involving lifelike animals and witty banter, and knows how to spell the word, "bote", thank you very much. A lot of people spell it B O A T, but that'd be pronounced BO-AT, and he doesn't speak French. 

Reg Naveen

I do this for the pun of it.

“My name? Oh, Skipper Brian, First name ‘Skipper’, last name ‘Brian’ and I’ll be your…”

“Skip, got it,” she said, casually ignoring my dramatics.

“It’s just that I’m an adventure guide on, oh, oh well,” I conceded. A coffee order doesn’t require an extensive backstory. 

It’s hard to tell where the act ends and the actor begins when the role he plays is a wildly overclocked version of himself. 

“Why did your voice change?” she asked, surprising me. 

“I’m sorry?”

“You just had a strange accent, it was cute. Weird, but cute.”

“It’s my trans-Atlantic radio voice for work. You know, my mother always said I had a face for radio,” I said, snapping right back into it with a tried-and-true bit I always use when people ask. "I tend to take my work home with me. Or my life to work. I do something."

“Stop it, I like it. You sound European.”

“Madame, I assure you, I am not, ‘a-peeing’, this is a fine, upstanding establishment.”

We both laughed at that one. If you can’t laugh at yourself…

“Well, enjoy your adventures, Skip.”

“It’s Skipper…you know what, never mind, thank you so much.”

I left the coffee shop with my White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino, the most dramatic of drinks, in hand, the next "act" of my day about to begin. 

“Alright, what’s your story?” she said, apparently beginning a smoke break near my car.

“Oh, I’m just a local actor who can’t quite…”


“No. Take me to Europe. Or somewhere equally exotic.”

“Wait, what…oh, OF COURSE, yes indeed. You know, the last time I had a coffee this good, I was backpacking through the lush jungle of the Congo, with nothing but a machete and a one-eyed ostrich named Beauregard. We stopped at a small village where we were served the local ceremonially beverage. Well, I convinced myself it was coffee, in the least. Beauregard had none.” 

“Wow, what an adventure,” she said with a grin.

“That’s life, take the adventure with you or live the fantasy of reality.”

“Thanks, Skipper.”

In the end, it turned out that not all fantasy stories are made up; unless they are. 

Reg Naveen


 Is this thing working? Is this thing on? I don’t know if you can hear me but the ringing in my ears sounds like Christmas mating with a cactus on a blistering August day in Topeka. That’s alright by me though, it makes drowning out the voice a little easier; not perfect by any means, but shutting him up is good for the soul. And trust me, my jambalaya needs tending to. With me so far? Is there anybody alive out there?

Now I’m sorry if I ramble, walk off the deep end, go to feed the dog and come back with a Buick, you know, if I start screaming, “I don’t have a message, I have a need,” and it really sinks in and says something to you that neither of us were expecting, and let’s face it, neither of us wanted to hear. But here we are. So hear here. 

Also, I don’t know how well you know me, but this isn’t really my sort of thing, opening the potatoes and peeling them in front of the Pope; I’m a private fella. But I’ll do what I can, since you did ask, I’m pretty sure you asked but we’ve got this far so small details burn up in the fryer. I can make out the tones of my voice, reverberating off of these, what I have to say, are dazzling coffin walls. They really outdid themselves on my behalf and…well, I might just be mad, perhaps. This is mahogany draped in the finest, well, you get the picture. Hope you’re still with me, partner, it’s a train I can’t bear engineering alone, new tracks and all. 

He always said I wasn’t good enough, and he was probably right, but also I was probably just a bit better than he gave me credit for, that guy being me, and the credit, not much but enough should have been pinned to my chest. I’d wake up like that you know, just thinking. My brain hadn’t even registered that I need to scratch my ass yet but that old mind of mine would sure on be telling me I was the black sheep, the fool, a windmill on its side facing a storm-less summer, plenty of cliché crap like that and I’d just sit there, not scratching my hindquarters, assuming the best of his worst was the least of what I’d deserved. It was like having a rabid prosecutor performing a song-and-dance for a jury already in agreement, mouthing along the same damn nonsense he was condemning me with like they’d all just left a revival meeting. Preaching to the damned, I suppose. 

I should have shut him up sooner, the voice, the bad drug, the walking through fields of freshly broken glass, the suffering I put myself through just to convince myself that I was right…that he was right; that I was wrong. 

Too late now though, seeing as how he shouted from the rooftops just how vile I was to a crowd already nodding along, watching my snapped neck sway back and forth in three-quarter time. 

He’s quiet now though. I have had, and in this luxurious mahogany, am finally, for all intent and purpose, well, damn it, I’m enough. 

Reg Naveen


I don’t see why,
I couldn’t ask
Maybe once, or,
eight-hundred and sixty times,
If I’m ok,
Or at least enough,
Maybe what you wanted
Its seems, second nature,
but you don’t like trees
Or my attempts at humor
Maybe try laughing and for once,
See the forest for the trees

You call it, validation
Like it’s some sort of drug,
Something one shouldn’t seek,
When they’re in love
or something called so
I suppose

I’m a cat now,
In this verse
Maybe a Tabby called
Julius, or Frumplepizza
I’m not okay
I’m a ragamuffin
On my own porch
And there’s no milk,
Where there usually is,
Typically spoiled
But I never went hung-er-ung-erry

You call it unnecessary,
Like it’s some sort of crime
Something one should seek
A thing called nourishment
Or at least a metaphor for

I don’t see why,
I couldn’t ask
maybe once, or,
seventeen-hundred and twenty times,
If that was love,
Or even like,
Maybe what I wanted
It seemed, second nature,
but you hated trees
And so I buried you
Under a red-wood,
Now I can see the forest for the trees

You call it, execution
Like it’s some sort of crime,
Something, something, death penalty
But I’m finally free
Or something called so
Well-fed, in the penitentiary 

Reg Naveen

Skip This One

“I couldn’t make this up if I tried,” he said with a smile that concealed the truth, miles away, in the fog-engulfed fields of a dilapidated farm home that the locals no longer speak of. 

Fabricated out of a stunning collection of facial cues, a charming smile, flirtatious winks, all of which conjured up with use of levers and pulleys in the brain, the clown rarely reveals the lifeless drama draped over the unremarkable skin beneath all of the bold makeup. 

Consider myself as a prime, and noteworthy example. In a broad sense, I am a professional performer, an actor, a mimic champion, a joke slinger, a fake. If performing is the one good thing I’m good at, I’m going to take every opportunity to make the ground beneath my tired feet a stage. A more detailed examination will show that I am a Skipper on The World Famous Jungle Cruise. 

I am a Skipper on The World Famous Jungle Cruise. If you’re not familiar with this classic Disney attraction, allow me to pour Amazon river water over your ignorance to wash away the grime from whatever road has brought you to this story. The Jungle Cruise is a facsimile of an exotic adventure on some of the world’s most famous rivers, all home to a collection of zany, humorous, and groan-inducing situations involving animals and nature. The key to the entire experience is your Skipper, your “witty and experienced” guide to the operation, armed with enough dad jokes to kill a small gorilla, if that gorilla had exquisite taste in wordplay and an overactive asthma condition. 

It’s tongue-cemented-in-cheek, it’s an escape, it’s a Disney institution. 

It’s a lie.

I consider myself rather good at what I do. One part Indiana Jones, two parts Robin Williams, with a dash of Eddie Izzard on top, I attempt to get people to forget whatever brought them to this fantasyland, and even forget the hour they waited in line in a claustrophobic, khaki induced coffin of a queue to get to me. I try to make it worth it. Ten minutes at a time, 3 to 5 times and hour, six to fourteen hours of every shift, I am on that bote sacrificing my mind and body in exchange for the opportunity to make my guests buy into the lie. 

I AM Skipper Brian, there’s no doubt about it. He’s fun, and quick, and giving, and really, really quick kid, so you better be ready if you’re going to heckle me, and adventurous, and hopeful that we’ll laugh about it now, and just maybe survive the journey. The mastery of being a Skip is taking ten minutes to try and convince people you have no idea what you’re doing while driving a bote backwards, timing 50 year old dad jokes just right, based on scenes that may or not be functioning from one trip to the next. It takes a lot of talent to look like an imbecile who never crashes a bote or gets the guests drenched by a rogue elephant named Steve who is probably just in the college program and is overworked and barely paid and who can really blame him for….well, you get the picture. 

On dock, in the bote, I feel like I am both loved and despised by my peers. It’s something that I wrestle with, every hour of every day. 

I AM NOT Skipper Brian, there’s no other way to say it. For the good of the smile, or the recklessness of a brazen glance, you fell for it. It’s what I do. Brian is injured, he’s hurting. He loves people but has no idea how to let them in. His reserved side is seen as arrogance, and his mental illness takes that perception and turns into self-loathing. 

That’s not a joke.

It’s hard, of course, being real. Why even put on an act if you’re actually content with who you are originally? Do I do it for others? It’s likely all for me, I suppose. 

“Look at how great and clever I am!,” I say, hoping a new mark has arrived ready to purchase my lie. Then we do the play, the cyclical dance of love me then hate me as the real adventure of dealing with me unfolds. 

Will I figure it all out one day, or will I keep going in circles telling the same old jokes just to be alone at the dock again? At this point it doesn’t even feel like I simply want to perform, it’s that it’s all I’ve got and I have no other choice than to put on a show. 

So, welcome to my farmhouse, I believe you’ll find it has character, though it’s clearly falling apart. If you’ve made it through the fog, you must really have wanted to see me, to really see me. I hope it wasn’t too much of an inconvenience.

“If I can, I’ll make it up to you if I can,” he said, with a tear rolling down a bare, but smiling face.  

Merry Exorcistmas!

Okay, I think I’ve got it. I’ve got a scary story for you. Well, scary depending on how you see it. Like I think if you look at it the right way, it’s scary. So look at it like, “AH SO SCARY!” I mean it’s not like you’re going to need an exorcist or anything. Though, those are fun. Mother Mary and I had a poltergeist one Christmas and needed a special priest. We called it “exorcistmas” because what else are you going to do when the soul of an old tugboat captain is trapped between this world and the one betwixt this one and he can only communicate by rattling your cabinet doors and flinging your underpants into the toilet. Merry Exorcistmas!

Still it’s kind of scary.

Did you know that I’m afraid of the sound of the telephone ringing? Oh my Gob, that sound. It’s what I imagine the devil’s farts sound like; chilling, sudden, deadly. The phone doesn’t ring in my scary story, but I figured it was worth mentioning since there is a phone in my story.


Sorry. That’s not the name of my scary story, but OMINOUS!

I didn’t want to leave my apartment that day. Sure, there was work to do on my invisible phone booth, and, obviously, most of my worries live in my head and not outside the house, so I should be out. But I was stalling. That’s when I saw the delightful part of my story. Ducks! No, not just ducks. BABY DUCKS! Little waddlers! You probably know I really like cute things. Baby animals, pieces of lint, Janine Werner in the third grade. And I’m not ashamed to tell you that I squealed and jumped up and down at the sight of them. The baby ducks were headed for my porch! It was the most innocent thing that could have happened out of all of the innocent things that very well could have happened on that day. In April. In the scary story.

Jordo just laughed at me. I was living with Jordo at the time, but that hasn’t been established in our tale until just now. Surprise!

So yeah, Jordo laughed that I was making such a bid deal out of the troop of baby duck faces headed towards my face. But I didn’t pay her any bother. I didn’t pay her any rent either, but that’s a scarier story for a day that’s not this day. There they were, doop boop wooping straight to my door. Like, the sun was out, but my stupid smile must have been brighter than its rays. If they had a device to measure the sun’s power compared to that of a big dumb grin, it would have broken. “Too much glee,” it might say if it could talk. If it existed.

Come to think of it, I might have been the one throwing my underpants into the toilet bowl.

Now I know what you’re thinking…because I’m a physicist. “This story’s not scary in the slightest or whitest, Billy Wylde.” And that may be true.

But do you know what happened next?
I said, “do you know what happened next?”

(no one answers)

If you do, tell me, and I’ll shut up.




Jordo stuck her big dumb phone in my face and said, “Look at this rare ottoman from a different time period. It would hold cheese” It was some stupid thing that some stupid body posted on the stupid world-wide-heckall and she just had to show me. What is it with people who are so eager to show you everything? Like, I know everything is out there. It’s all going to come to me eventually, or it isn’t. I don’t need you to go find antique furniture owned by Sir-Moth-For-Face and interrupt my very special duck moment, Jordo!

That’s the scary part…

People don’t live like they’re standing in the spot they’re standing. They live like there’s another spot that’s so much better than the spot they’re in. And if they ever try and venture out of the spot they’re in, well, they usually trip on the boa constrictor that nuzzled up to them when they weren’t paying attention.

And then the snake constricts them and they die and dying and snakes are scary. So is not being present. And interrupting my duck time.


Has a nice ring to it.

(the telephone rings)

(Billy passes out)
Reg Naveen

Little Screens


You’d think they’d have a name for the moment when a good man, after a life of proper deeds, is actually ready to commit murder. For when the unforgettable letting go that sees him envision a throat crumpling in the might of his own hands instantaneously comes to life.  I’d call that moment “now”.

I wnn’t…

From the second balcony in this hockey arena, your precious, shaky cell phone video of Bruce Springsteen performing ‘Rosalita’ is going to look like an underwater aquarium shot filmed in outer space, dude. That blinding little screen is what gets me. It’s like Hell’s beacon crying out for one last soul. And right now I’m plenty open to fulfilling its request.

I won’t* do… (*Auto correct –Click to undo)

I’m not interested in if that makes me sound psychotic, all’s I’m really interested in, is you putting the phone down Mr. Kubrick.  No one is going to watch your little film. In fact, I’ll probably delete it to make room for me filming your death, and then burying you and that wretched piece of technology with you. The fools who stream their lives away, I swear…

I won’t do anything stupid

Because they’re everywhere now, right? You can’t go anywhere without the glow of one of those little screens deteriorating your eyes, mind, and in fact, your soul.  You’re afraid of being alone, right? The present just drives you batty, what, with all it’s potential and promise. Let’s just stare at Facebook a little bit longer. Maybe then you’ll discover your true purpose.

I won’t do anything stupid tonigght

If you’re not going to do anything with your life, why not let me waste it for you, in my own special way.  Do you think your parents will feel guilty? You know, for raising such a bum? What if you were inside of a little box, because they didn’t have the guts to instill better values into you? Hmm? How would you feel then? I hope it makes you feel like the lowliest human that ever sprang from a mother onto this fertile soil to grow absolutely nothing.

I won’t do anything stupid tonight*, (*Auto correct – Click to undo)

But…but I can’t do that. This is fucking stupid. I’m sorry, man. Maybe if you knew loss; maybe then you wouldn’t take this life for granted. Ya know? The only one I ever hurt is myself. It’s why I live with this guilt. If I had just taught her to be more responsible. If I had just said, “honey, be more careful behind the wheel.” Then maybe that text message wouldn’t have ever have been written. And then, maybe, God, I wish it were true, maybe then my daughter wouldn’t be dead.

I won’t do anything stupid tonight, daddy…
Reg Naveen

Billy and Lucy on Raccoons and Song Interpretation

The newspapers will likely say that the raccoon had it coming. From my perspective, he really sacrificed himself for the good of mankind. Or at least, Billy-kind.

But that’s not a good place to start the story.

And neither is Lucy, the lovely, phambostic, smarter than smartly, British girl that I’m proud to call my, well, Third-date-friend. She’s more of something you lean in and whisper in someone’s ear hole, well after you’ve already captured his or her attention.

No. It all started with a song. ‘Quixotic Muffin Jam’ was a kind of cyber-punk/folk number. I’d say, “you had to be there,” but where there is, would still be a mystery to us.

“This tune is totally mental, like, almost enough to not be mental,” Lucy said. “Know what I mean?”

“I do,” I said.

Though I did not.

“Oh, that is such a tremendous lyric, Billy. It totally takes me back to –“

“Right? It does, I think,” I said, just trying to keep up.

“There’s this place over in –“

“Yes, I totally know it,” I continued, further digging myself into a pit of well-intentioned fakery.

“It reminds me of there, which of course, my love, makes me think of –“

“How could it not?”

I was done for.

In truth, I had no flerkin idea what she was talking about.  As it relates to song interpretation and Lucy, all I knew was that there was a song and a Lucy. And Lucy is luxurious, my hands were on her hips, her lips were near my ear, and my ear covers a hole that would reveal to onlookers that there is no brain inside of my melon if they cared to look.

“You’re my most favorite duck,” she said.

“Oh, that, I do know.”

I didn’t know that either. My confidence tends to come and flow like a soda that spilled out of a wine glass it wasn’t intended to be captive of.

“What do you say that I go home and feed Mr. Spinkers, wash the Billy off of my face, put on an outfit that I just now started fitting into, and we’ll meet back up at that place. It’s amazing. You’ll love it. Then, perhaps, if you’re a good duck, we can work on getting those lips back on this face.”

“I like that face. And if your face is at that place, I could see myself there. I can picture it now. Well, your face at least.”

“Mr. Wylde, what am I to do with you?”

“Hey, you know I’m game for anything but voodoo.”

“Is that true?”

“I have no idea. But I am just realizing I left my medication somewhere.”


“If I know anything, I’d say you’re lost, young man,” Raccoon* said to me as I collapsed by the dumpster.

When you have the super powers of certain mental illnesses, raccoons and other woodland creatures often become very talkative. I had a dear friend in the circus when I was a young Billy. Hell of a guy, that lion.

“Well, between you and me, I may never have been found. There’s no map that contains Billy Wylde, Mr. Raccoon, sir.”

“You’re here, and that’s as good as place as any. I have it on good authority that the vessel you’re leaning on contains a half-eaten sandwich platter. A half a platter is better than two empty platters.”

“That’s some dodgy math, Raccoon.”

“All I’m saying is, why be anywhere other than here, exactly where you are?”

“Because she’s there. Though I have no idea where there is, I’ve been out looking for her special place fore hours. All I know is that she is the most vanktantious girl I’ve known. I sometimes catch her sighing at me. Not like in a disappointed way, either. It’s more of a, ‘well this’ll do’, kind of way. I don’t think anything has made me feel as special as that kind of settling.”

“That girl sounds like your uneaten sandwich platter. What receptacle did you leave her in? I have a far-reaching family, and I’d be happy to put the word out that this girl is in someone’s trash.”

“I hope she’s not in the trash. She’s just in a special place. A place special to her at least. I pretended I knew exactly where she was talking about it so that she wouldn’t think I was a fricklindube.”

“I’m sorry, a-what-did-you-say?”

“Doesn’t matter. I am one. She’s too good for me. I’m like the cheese in the back of the refrigerator that you thought sounded good, but then left it to grow weird things in it because you never really wanted it to begin with.”

“Yes, yes. Let’s come back to that moldy cheese, shall we? Do you have any idea where this place special to this girl might be? Did she leave the slightest hint?”

“Oh, I got a hint alright. Some song. Called, ‘Quixotic Muffin Jam’. Like I have the brain to truly interpret a song.  What was  I not thinking?”

“I see, muffins as well. Fascinating.”

“This is probably the end of the Billy and Lucy Timeless Adventure Show. I might as well head home and forget it ever existed, which, it likely didn’t. I have a strange way of facsimileing corncobs out of nothingness.”

“Yes, yes, indeed. I was just about to say. Go home, young Billy. You will find your love there. Or somewhere. The important thing to remember is that you take your trash out this evening. Perhaps something in the way of the aforementioned cheese, muffin, and corncob? Yes. That will do nicely. All of your problems will be there. In that refuge bin. I like it. I’m glad we’ve come to this decision.”

There was something oddly both correct and wrong about that raccoon.


Songs are weird. You can love a song, and still have no idea what it’s about. It just hops up and down inside of your head, bouncing off of memories, and dreams, and whatever knowledge you have actually acquired, and just makes itself at home; a rambunctious brain-guest, but a pleasant one still.

“I can tell you’re deep in thought when you have your, ‘I’m deep in thought’ look going, my dearest duck,” Lucy said as she crawled through my bedroom window.

“Whoa there, ambixious and delicious, what are you doing here?”

“Your flat mate Claude has the deadbolt fastened, so I wasn’t getting in that way. So here I am. Who says fat girls can’t sneak into houses?”

“But you’re here?”

“You are quite the detective. Add that to the bounty of reasons why I’m decidedly fond of you.”

“But I left you hanging. At that place. I just –“

“I found your meds. They were in my car. I figured you weren’t going anywhere without them. So, as the Knightess that I am, I’ve been out looking for you. And now I’ve found you. When did you get in?”

“A few minutes ago. I’m sorry if I smell like trash.”

“One of your finer qualities, I assure you.”

“So you, you’re not upset? I had no idea what that song meant to you.”

“That’s okay duck. It’s just song. But you, you’re just a Billy. Just a flamtastic, beautiful, lanky, charming Yank, that I happen to be rather fond of. I’d much rather hear your voice, wherever it is, than any song, at any time. “

“I love it when you use my words.”

As promised, faces were covered in kisses. Words, both real and not-so-real, were whispered in nearby earholes. For a date that never happened, it was the best 3rd date in history.

Oh, yeah, and the raccoon story I promised? I saw the cops carting him off of our side street for stealing trash. I like to think he was making sure we were doing al lright, but he had muffins in his eyes.

*For this performance, Raccoon is performed by Mr. Stephen Fry