WHEN YOU LOOK BACK AND SEE ONE FOOTPRINTS! YOU KNOW THAT WHEN DRUNK HULK CARRY YOU!
1. WORST END OF WORLD! EVER!
Before I became Drunk Hulk online, I was Drunk Hulk in the real life, only less green and far less charming. This was St. Patrick’s Day of 2003. I was sloppy drunk at a pub in Tampa, Florida. There was a guy onstage playing covers out on the patio. It was hot and humid, even though it was past midnight. On all the televisions you could see President Bush letting everyone know that we’d be at war in 48 hours. In a strange way it felt like a party at the end of the world.
And it was the end of the world for me. I had received an email earlier that said if I really wanted the job, it was mine. All I had to do was let them know. You just need to ask yourself: is this something you really want? the email read. There was a catch – the job was in Poland. I had promised myself I’d be living in Europe by the time I was 30, but really, Poland? That wasn’t even on my Top 10 List. But I knew if I didn’t take this opportunity, this wheel-spinning that I called my life would continue.
I’d have to quit my job, sell everything I owned, put all my money together, leave all my friends and family behind, and move 5,000 miles away. What if the job isn’t real? What if it sucks? What if I end up in some kind of sex dungeon?
I walked the 30 second walk home (living next to a pub was the greatest and worst thing that ever happened to me in Florida), stumbled through the front door, crawled up the stairs to my bedroom, turned the computer on, and wrote Yes, this is what I want.
I woke up four hours later. It was a half hour ride on the motorcycle to get to work. I rode the Howard Frankland – a five-mile bridge across the bay – as the sun rose behind me and dolphins jumped in and out of the water, and I felt so fucking free I could cry.
2. YOU DRINK LIKE DRUNK HULK TOO! IF YOU HEAR SAD PIANO MUSIC EVERY TIME YOU WALK DOWN STUPID STREET!
5,000 miles and six years later, I was sitting in a coffee shop trying to finish a short story. This was one October morning in 2009. I was writing a horror story about a three minute video that was uploaded on YouTube and became the most popular video of all time; the only problem was that its viewers went insane after they saw it. The story was written as a kind of academic article about the phenomena and what was being done to stop it. When I finished the story, I was enormously proud of the piece, but my mind was still lingering in that apocalyptic world.
I wish I could explain to you the process of what happened next, but somewhere along the way I was thinking about the Hulk. I considered the idea of what he’d be like drunk and melancholy. I found some comic panels of the Hulk dizzy and then vomiting. I thought of Twitter. I saw that “@DRUNKHULK” was available. I created the account. All of this happened in a span of about five minutes. I say this to you to explain that I honestly put so very little thought into Drunk Hulk that it’s embarrassing.
At 11:19 am, I tweeted: HULK DRUNK!
I had a few other tweets in mind for later, but I didn’t know what he’d be saying the following day, let alone the following week. I figured that this would be a nice little diversion to clean out my head before starting the next short story I wanted to tackle.
I didn’t expect that by the end of the week a couple hundred people would be following Drunk Hulk, a thousand by the end of the month, and three thousand by the end of the year. I spent most of my life writing, hoping for readers to give my work a chance, and the moment I started writing in ALL CAPS in broken English, they started paying attention.
Three and a half years later I’m still tweeting with close to 200,000 followers with no end in sight.
3. NO GO CHASE WATERFALL! PLEASE STICK TO RIVER AND LAKE YOU USE TO!
I’m a fan of good endings, whether it’s the finale of my favorite television show or the last page of a good book. They’re so difficult to pull off as a writer, especially when you know they can sometimes make and break the story.
Some writers like to outline where they’re going with the story. I’m the kind of writer who likes to figure it out as I go along. But I’ve tried outlining. In fact, the outline of my novel has been on the wall of my office for over a year now, from start to finish, and I’ll be damned if I can follow it. Having a plan might work for some people, but it’s not for me. I’m the kind of person who prefers taking the long way home.
The best part of writing is when you’re writing so fast that you reach the place where even you don’t know where it’s going, and the surprises are happening in real time so you’re not only the writer but the first reader too. That’s where it becomes pure magic. But those moments are difficult to get to, which is why a lot of writers sit down every day like junkies in front of their computers wondering if this will be the day they recapture that first high.
I see writing as wandering through the wilderness until I finally find the river. Once I’m there, it’s just a matter of getting in and letting it take you where you need to be.
Bear with me here, I’m still trying to figure out where this is going.
4. YOU HAD DRUNK HULK AT JELL-O! SHOT!
I never planned on being Drunk Hulk. Then again, Bruce Banner never planned on being next to a gamma bomb when it exploded. Luckily for me, I don’t need to get angry; I just hit the Caps Lock and off I go. I use Drunk Hulk to comment on what’s happening in the world and pop culture, but mostly I do this because I really like making people laugh.
If you would’ve told me 12 years ago that I’d be living in Poland and that I was known for writing in ALL CAPS in 140 characters or less, I probably would’ve been extremely confused.
Why would anyone limit themselves to 140 characters or less?
That sounds awful.
5. DRUNK HULK BREAK UP WITH BARTENDER! SHE REFUSE BRING WORK HOME WITH HER!
You want to know what’s awful? Waking up in a strange bedroom with a hangover the size of Texas, covered in vomit. Not only that, but there’s vomit on the bed, walls, floor. Everywhere.
I immediately jumped out of bed in a blind panic. I was mortified that I could do something like this. Instead of fleeing, I started to clean up the mess because that’s how my parents raised me. While I was doing this, I saw pictures on the shelf that helped me to connect some dots. I met the girl in that photograph last night. This is her apartment. She probably freaked out when I started vomiting everything I’ve ever eaten in my entire life all over everything she values in life. She must have run out of the room in disgust. She was probably calling the police. Or maybe she was calling her friends to come over and kill me.
After 10 minutes of frantically cleaning up the mess with little success, the door opened. She was standing there with a bucket and a mop. She said the most amazing thing: “I can’t believe you’re cleaning up my puke.”
That used to be my life, before I became Drunk Hulk.
6. DRUNK HULK TRY PRACTICE POLE DANCING! BUT NEIGHBOR MR KIEŚLOWSKI NO ABLE SUPPORT DRUNK HULK WEIGHT!
Since I’ve become Drunk Hulk, I’ve had the pleasure to speak with agents, editors, publishers, television people and more. The calls always start off extremely positive. They seem genuinely excited to talk to me while I’m doing everything I can to stifle my own excitement, trying not to sound too eager. It’s a weird thing to go from being the person no one is interested in to suddenly the person everyone is interested in. They want to know what my plans are. What I’d like to do. They sometimes talk possibilities and money. And then it happens, the part I always dread; they ask, “By the way, where are you?”
“Poland,” I answer.
“Poland? As in the country?”
Sometimes they move the phone far enough away so I can’t hear the sigh.
7. NEVER QUOTE YOUSELF! IT MAKE YOU LOOK RIDICULOUS!” – DRUNK HULK!
Here is the thing. I’ve been publishing stories regularly since I was 16 years old. I still have the paycheck stub from that first published piece. I’ve written for free. I’ve written for empty promises. I’ve written for free copies. I’ve written for money. I’ve written just to be read.
I know I’m supposed to write for myself. And I do. When I’m writing a story, I’m madly in love with it in the true Bretonian sense. Writing is life for me, but being read is living. It completes the transaction.
For the first time in my life I have a small and amazing audience, but I’m so ridiculously removed from them it’s not even funny. The people who call don’t seem to know what to do with me. One television person told me that if I were living in New York City, my life would be dramatically different.
Maybe. The reality is, if I never moved to Poland, I’d never be sitting in that coffee shop on that October day and the idea of Drunk Hulk would probably have never occurred to me.
That door had to be opened at that specific place and time.
8. DRUNK HULK STEP ON DOVE BY ACCIDENT! PRINCE FULL OF CRAP! THAT NO HOW IT SOUND LIKE WHEN THEY CRY AT ALL!
Speaking of a specific place and time, let me tell you about the loneliest moment in my life. Years ago I flew from Asheville to Atlanta, and from there I took the last plane back to Philadelphia. There was a snowstorm systematically shutting down the northeastern part of the country. I was lucky to be in the air at all, but I didn’t feel lucky because a girl had just broken my heart.
I arrived in an empty Philadelphia International in the middle of the night. Because there were no buses, I had to walk in a foot of snow to my car in the long term parking lot, dragging an uncooperative suitcase. I was wearing a lot of layers, but that didn’t seem to stop the wind and snow in the least. It wasn’t until I finally made it to my car did I realize that my car keys were back in North Carolina, at her house.
I’d be lying to you if I said I handled that moment well. When I think of loneliness, I don’t remember the empty beds in my life or the feeling of being misunderstood, I remember that moment in Philadelphia in the cold, tired, broken-hearted, and unable to call anyone for help.
I remember that moment, and more importantly, I remember what happened next.
I found the last taxi in the planet back at the airport. The driver was an old man who agreed to drive me to my apartment in New Jersey, wait as I broke into my place to retrieve my extra set of keys, and drive me back to the airport in a blizzard (I was really hellbent on getting my car back home).
We talked. He listened as I dumped all of my problems on him. I liked the way he laughed. On the way back to the airport, we stopped at a gas station. I bought him a cup of coffee. We started talking about his life. And somewhere along the way, he said, “I love my wife. Loved her since the first time I put my eyes on her. I could tell you good stories. The kids are all grown and now it is just her and me again. I want to retire. I want to spend more time with her. Every night I get into bed with her, I know that someday this is going to end. The good things never last as long as you want them to, as you know. The kids grow up and leave. We get old. Nothing you can do to stop it. Like trying to beat a river with your fists. That’s how I see it: like a river rising on you. Flooding everything you know and love. You can fight it all you want. Break every bone in your body. Give up and drown if you like. Or, you know, you can swim.”
When I was finally home and warm in the early morning, I wrote down what he said. It’s been in one of my writing notebook for 15 years now.
I never got his name, which is a shame, because I feel like he saved my life.
9. BARTENDER SAY DRINK ON HOUSE! IF THAT TRUE! DRUNK HULK NO BE HERE! AND BE HOME ON ROOF INSTEAD!
As Drunk Hulk, I’m what you call Barely Internet Famous (BIF). This means that if you came across my website and noticed that I’m the writer behind Drunk Hulk, you might spend 10 more seconds than usual before clicking back to porn.
In Real Life, however, being Drunk Hulk means absolutely nothing.
Here is an example: TIME called Drunk Hulk “one of [their] favorite funnymen.” That quote had me feeling like a million dollars. A week later, I made a joke with my wife and she said, “You’re not funny, Christian.” And I said, “You’re wrong because TIME said I’m funny.” She stared at me for a long time, and said, “That’s not how that works.”
That said, Drunk Hulk has created a few opportunities. Last year I did two TEDx talks because of Drunk Hulk. At the one I did in Warsaw, I stood in front of a thousand people and said, “Hello, I’m Drunk Hulk.” Later on there was a party and everyone kept buying me drinks – a steady supply of vodka and beer – as if I was expected to live up to my name. “I’m not really Drunk Hulk,” I said. And they would all laugh and say, “You’re funny.”
“That’s what TIME said! But my wife doesn’t believe me.”
I drank all night without paying.
I felt like the prettiest girl at the bar.
10. YOU CAN HAVE YOU CAKE! AND EAT IT TOO! ESPECIALLY IF YOU BAKE IT YOURSELF IN SECRET!
When I stepped off the plane for the first time in Poland, I had two large suitcases full of everything I owned. In my passport, I had a folded piece of paper that was a copy of the email which proclaimed that I had a job in Poland. I still had no idea if the job was even real.
At that moment, I had nothing and I had everything.
I didn’t know a lot then. I didn’t know about how happy the job was going to make me. I didn’t know how amazing Poland was. I didn’t know about the woman I was about to meet and eventually marry. I didn’t know about the twins we’d create. I didn’t know about Drunk Hulk. I didn’t know about the stories I was going to write. And all the rest that’s still to come.
But I did know this: I was tired of doing jobs that I hated; tired of making the wrong people happy; tired of stressing out over bullshit; tired of being lonely; tired of not knowing where to put my heart; and just tired of being tired.
Most importantly, I knew in my heart that I had finally left the wilderness. I had stepped into the river and I wasn’t going to fight it.
I was going to let it take me home.
Now let’s see where this book takes me.
[Cue sad piano music]
While Drunk Hulk’s larger-than-life presence online is a story in itself, the most amazing story is what happened behind-the-scenes. Christian A. Dumais was just another struggling writer drinking his way through a quarter of the planet in search of love, happiness and everything in between before finally ending up in Poland. One day Christian accidentally stumbled into a gamma-explosion of inspiration and discovered that he transformed into Drunk Hulk whenever he hit the Caps Lock. In the process he changed his life and writing forever.
BEING DRUNK HULK is the book fans of Drunk Hulk have been waiting for: a collection of funny drunk stories, unbelievable anecdotes about living abroad and being a so-called “internet celebrity”, and lots of inspirational advice on writing and using social media – with or without the Caps Lock.
Are you interested in reading this book? If so, let me know. And more importantly, tweet, update and share away!