Issue #209 – “The End” – September 17th, 2012

-In 2002, a high-level executive entered the elevator in the investment bank where I toiled. He squinted in recognition and then said to me, “Aren’t you the guy who sends those emails? Great work!” I was thrilled a big shot like him was a fan of Ruminations. Then I returned to my cubicle and my task for the day: generating a weekly financial report and sending it to a swath of managing directors across the firm. But when I hit Send, I realized something: those tedious reports were the emails the big shot was referring to. He didn’t know Ruminations from a hole in the wall and just considered me another hapless chump in a blue button-down. As I wrote today’s column – the final issue of Ruminations I will ever publish – I thought back to that encounter in the elevator. This column has been an integral part of my identity since I was eighteen years old, so much so that I get confused when people recognize me for anything else. And so as I say goodbye after all this time, I am eternally grateful for the opportunities Ruminations has reaped, as well as truly hopeful that dickhead in the elevator got laid off.

-Fifteen years ago today, unable to sleep in my freshman dorm room at the University of Pennsylvania, I sent an email filled with observations on college life to twenty friends, many from my hometown of Plainview, New York. It concluded with the exclamation “Fuck me!” That email spawned this column, which has since been forwarded around the globe, each issue ending with that familiar phrase: “Fuck me.” After today, I will continue to ruminate via Twitter and Facebook, though I will always regard email as the medium ideally suited to share my profanity-laced commentary. Indeed, longtime subscribers who want to read back issues need merely search for the term “fuck” in their email archive. Invariably, my name will sit proudly atop your search results.

-In the ‘90s, FedEx ran a commercial touting the “golden package” – an invaluable package that had to be delivered no matter what – but since no one knows which package is the golden one, each package must be treated as if it were. I adapted that concept into something I call the “golden email.” I never know when an email from a reader will result in something great – a friend, a job, a date – so for the past fifteen years I have replied to every single one. In fact, my mom often chastises me for spending so much time on email. But until that golden email arrives, it’s something I have to do. I just know that gorgeous doctor with a British accent who loves comedians is out there somewhere.

-While I love fan mail that has led to me getting paid, traveling somewhere exotic, or getting laid (or some combination thereof), what I truly savor is hearing my readers’ stories. Some of my favorites include those inspired to try their hand at writing or stand-up, military personnel reaching out from Afghanistan and naval submarines, and people who’ve used Ruminations to cope with personal tragedy or stretches of unemployment. That said, my primary role in your life is most likely as a source of procrastination. This was certainly the case with the governor of Pennsylvania, who referenced me during an interminable conference call in 2002, as well as the lawyer who spent so many billable hours reading Ruminations at work that she debated creating a new client code: “Karo.”

-If I could sum up in one word what Ruminations is about, it would be relationships. When people tell me something I’ve written has hit incredibly close to home, it’s usually about sex, dating, or marriage. One of my fans even gave his psychiatrist copies of all my books and simply said, “Here’s what’s wrong with me.” And if there’s one thing I’ve learned about relationships, it’s that when like-minded people meet each other, they end up fucking. I’ve lost count of all the couples who’ve met at my stand-up shows or via my website and subsequently started dating and even gotten married. Suffice it to say that when I first began ruminating I never thought it would spawn a trend known as “rumidating.” Though I do want to offer a reminder to all my friends and fans who are so giddy to have tied the knot: If you get divorced before I even get married in the first place, I win.

-When I’m faced with a difficult challenge and someone asks me, “Can you handle this?” my response is always the same: “Of course, I’m a comedian.” The truth is that once you’ve been on stage in front of thousands of shitfaced twentysomethings – something Ruminations has made possible – everything else just seems really easy. I’ll never forget the time when a wasted girl in the crowd in Charlotte would not stop talking during my show. Exasperated, a guy stood up and shouted, “Karo, tell this chick to shut the fuck up!” At which point the girl stood up and screamed, “That dude just needs a blow job.” To which I calmly replied, “Well, that would kill two birds.”

-I have given a talk at Harvard Business School about the economics of comedy and even been cited in a feminist textbook about menstruation (for describing how chicks claim they have their period to get out of sex), but I probably spend most of my time educating people on just what the fuck the word “ruminations” means and how to pronounce it. For the record, it’s pronounced ROO-minations, and to ruminate means to contemplate or ponder. So ruminations is basically a fancy term for reflections that I have co-opted to write a column about drinking until you puke. I actually have a trademark on the word Ruminations – so if you’ve done any reflecting or puking lately you owe me a nickel.

-Of the many things I’m proud to have written over the years, a few stand out: popularizing the terms “gourmet” (to mean awesome) and “wideclops” (a person whose eyes are too far apart), as well as floating the idea back in 2005 of a beer label that tells you how cold the beer is (two years later Coors Light introduced cold-activated bottles). Perhaps my biggest accomplishment, however, is the one I refused to take credit for. I typically get defensive when people call Ruminations a blog. After all, it’s not a blog, it’s an “email column.” The thing is, though, the first blog is not credited with going online until December 1997 – three months after I started ruminating. I could have been a pioneer! Long story short: if anyone asks, I invented cold-activated bottles and the blog.

-The only person who reads Ruminations before it’s published is my sister and Editor-in-Chief Caryn. (Yes, our parents actually named their children Aaron and Caryn.) Quite simply, this column (or blog, as the case may be) would not exist without Caryn. For years she has donated time she could have otherwise spent drinking or napping to proofread and polish my incoherent drivel into the trademark (literally) brand of relatively coherent drivel you receive in your inbox. Much like a referee, Caryn only draws notice when an error slips through (you may recall in 2010 when I meant to write “such a cock tease” but accidentally wrote “suck a cock tease”), but on balance she has been invaluable as an editor, sister, confidante, and best friend. I cannot find the words to express my appreciation for all that she has done for me, but I’m sure she’ll have a suggestion or two.

-From the very beginning, my friends have served as unwilling muses for my comedy. My only rule is that I won’t write about someone if it will get them fired, maimed, arrested, or divorced, but everything else is fair game. I’m proud to say I’m retiring with a perfect record. I’m often asked about my buddies who have appeared most frequently in Ruminations, so here’s a quick update. Brian, my old roommate, is now married with a newborn. Shermdog, my lecherous fraternity brother, is married, too. Triplet #1 and Triplet #3 are both married as well, rendering Triplet #2, who is still single, the fifth wheel in his own family. And then there’s my old girlfriend from back in New York, who was known as simply “Girlfriend” in Ruminations. She’s also married now, but in 2005 when we were dating and fighting, I wrote her a personalized (“Circulation: one”) edition of Ruminations devoted strictly to our relationship – the only time I’ve ever done anything like that. We broke up two weeks later. Apparently I did not know my audience.

-When I announced that I would be ending this column, a lot of people wrote to wish me luck and ask what I would be doing instead. But the fact is that since I moved to Los Angeles seven years ago, writing Ruminations has really been my fourth job, after publishing books, doing stand-up, and writing scripts. There has been some overlap of course, such as when I wrote a sitcom pilot titled Ruminations and sold it to The CW. It didn’t get picked up, but rest assured I will continue attempting to impose my will on Hollywood. And although Ruminations as a column is concluding, its spirit will live on via my Twitter and Facebook. And don’t be surprised if you still get an email from me every now and again. All that being said, my success has always and will always hinge on your support. Please don’t stop forwarding me, retweeting me, switching my books with The Hunger Games at Barnes & Noble, and telling chicks on airplanes that you know me personally even though we’ve never met. That shit always gets back to me, always gets me exposure, and may even get you laid. Thank you for being the most dedicated and oftentimes the drunkest fans in the world. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

-And, finally, we’ve come to the end. In 2007, I was on tour in Minneapolis when I spotted an ad in the airport for a local MBA program. It read: “Your BS will only get you so far.” I’m assuming the ad was saying that your Bachelor of Science degree will only get you so far, but at the time I interpreted it to mean: “Your bullshit will only get you so far.” I took that message to heart. And now I know for sure: my bullshit has gotten me exactly fifteen years. A decade and a half after I sent that insomnia-fueled email from my freshman dorm room, and ten years after I was a Wall Street drone, I can safely say I’m now living a life I never thought possible. Throughout that time, Ruminations has been a constant source of both opportunity and humility. For example, this summer I was at a Cinco de Mayo party in Malibu: gorgeous house, beautiful women, and free-flowing booze. As I was getting a drink, a familiar scenario unfolded. A guy tapped me on the shoulder and asked, “Aren’t you the dude who sends those emails?” I paused, recalling the days when “those emails” could have meant regurgitated financial bullshit. Then he added, “I love Ruminations!” and I smiled. We proceeded to talk and drink. I gave him my card. It felt great knowing that, at some point, I had injected some humor into this guy’s life. As he was about to take off for another party, he came and found me, and shook my hand. And then he turned and left – but not before stopping to remark: “You know what, Karo? You’re much less of a douchebag than I thought you’d be.” Fuck me!