Gay marriage again? Didn't I just go on about this two posts ago when the state of Texas unintentionally nullified each and every marriage in the state by accepting into law bad grammar? I guess gay marriage is just one of those issues that we're going to be hearing a lot about for a long time to come. Sort of the Brangelina of civil rights issues.
What finally got me off my keister to write this was the explosion of gayness in the news a couple of weeks back. The most recent was on my television when Portia de Rossi visited the ladies on The View. (Yes, I am almost loathe to report, that on occasion I watch the fem fest known as The View. But it's not a religion or anything.) And as one might expect in an interview with Ellen Degeneres's wife, gay marriage was brought up, to which Ms. de Rossi explained, "It's not a religious issue, or a moral issue. It's just simply a civil rights issue." Then Righty McTighty View hostess, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, pushed Portia into a corner about the necessity of gays using the word marriage, and wouldn't equal rights be enough. And Portia was eloquent once more, "Of course the word isn't more important than the rights. But without the word we don't have equal rights."
To hear a celebrity speak from a gay perspective and with such candor is both brave and refreshing. I was beaming with pride.
You are my new poster girl Ms. de Rossi-Degeneres!
Then, in an ironic twist, on the same day Family Ties mom, Meridith Baxter, came out of the closet to Matt Lauer on The Today Show, the New York state senate defeated a bill to legalize gay marriage. My friend Jason was incensed and printed the following on his Facebook status update:
Scott Sandoe was nice enough to point out the NY State Senate DEMOCRATS (and their phone numbers) who voted AGAINST a Gay Marriage Equal Rights Bill in New York State.
Joseph Addabbo (D) (518) 455-2322; Darrel Aubertine (D) (518) 455-2761; Ruben Diaz (D) (518) 455-2511; Shirley Huntley (D) (518) 455-3531; Carl Kruger (D) (518) 455-2460; Hiram Monserrate (D) (518) 455-2529; George O...norato (D) (518) 455-3486; William Stachowski (D) (518) 455-2426.
I wrote each of them an email and suggest you call or email them as well. The text of my email to each of them was this:
I live in California now, but I'm from NYC and when I saw that you were one of the few Democratic State Senators to vote against Gay Marriage, I was amazed. You claim to be a progressive leader? I'm a straight man who believes that the sanctity of marriage comes when two people are committed to a life together. Just curious why, as a Democrat, you think Government has the right to keep that from being true? Or is it that you are just scared of the homophobia that must exist in your community. A true leader stands up to hatred and teaches his constituents what the Constitution really means. Very disappointed in you. That said, I wish you and yours a warm and safe Happy Holiday season. I mean that. I also wish my gay friends the same. Too bad it will be completely different for them - Jason Singer
Jason, you kick ass. And your words are a gift.
As a pertinent follow up to Jason's letter, I read a piece by Sex in the City's Cynthia Nixon in Huffington Post. In it she talks about the wedding she and her girlfriend cannot have in their home state of New York. (Oddly, she could marry her girlfriend in Canada or Iowa and that marriage would be recognized in New York. What kind of mixed message is that?) In regards to the Democratic senators who voted against gay marriage, she drew this conclusion, "We have clarity about who's with us and who's against us. And we'll remember those yays and nays for next November and for Novembers to come. And there will be consequences."
She then tells of a meeting she had last spring with Ruth Hassell-Thompson, Senator from the Bronx and Mount Vernon. Senator Hassell-Thompson described herself as deeply religious and at the time believed that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. She intended to vote no on gay marriage. But after talking to numerous gay people her opinion shifted and long story short, she ended up voting yes.
Ms. Nixon ended article her by saying how important it is to get the pro gay marriage message out there. "Because you never know when a simple conversation can help change someone's heart and mind. Because if we keep at it "they" will finally realize that we're just people like them. Because time is on our side."
I want to believe that "they" will finally see the light. That the government will not dissolve my marriage. That my children's security will remain in tact, due partly because their parents will be able to remain legally married. It is our civil rights issue of the day. Homosexuals shouldn't have to sit at the back of the bus. And for those of you who need to take baby steps... We all bleed red. How bout we start with that?
Marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman.
These are the exact words the grand ol' state of Texas chose to add to it's constitution four years ago to prohibit gay marriage. But those Texan lawmakers are cagey. They knew they couldn't leave the language simple. Some smart-ass sissy boy might find a loophole by procuring a civil union, let's say, and then backdoor his way down the aisle with a welder named Clyde wearing Vera Wang, no less. Oh, the horror! So, to put a stop to the whole magilla, gay marriage, civil union and it's incestuous cousin domestic partnership, the following sentence was added...
This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage.
These changes were voted on, and not surprisingly, passed into law. That's right, it's in the books.
No gay marriage here. We're a football state, and we barbecue. So, take that, you pansies!
Hold up. Let's look at that again. "The state...may not...recognize any legal status identical or similar to..." Huh? How would that effect the legal status of a heterosexual marriage? For example, is the union between First Party Girl, Jenna Bush and Henry Hager recognized by the Lone Star State? Or has it been smashed to smithereens because of badly written syntax?
And even if Texas doesn't dissolve all marriages--although, truth be told, we all know some couples who would benefit from such a decree--I betcha we haven't heard the last of this.
"What do you mean I owe back payments in alimony? According to our very own constitution, I was never married."
"I'm sorry, since you're no longer technically his wife, the decision to keep Mr. Sourpuss on life support isn't yours. That belongs to his daughter from his first nonwife, and she has daddy issues and wants to pull the plug."
"Yes, if you were still legally her husband, her entire estate would have gone to you, however, since your marriage has been rescinded, all of Mrs. Richerthanshit's assets will go to the Gulf Coast Exotic Bird Santuary."
It tickles me greatly to see a fumble such as this. Nothing takes the bite out of discrimination like good old fashioned stupidity.
ANY STRANGER WHO WILL LISTEN: Your daddy eats Seder?
SEBASTIAN: (With increasing fury.) No. He's a satyr.
ANY STRANGER WHO WILL LISTEN: You mean a sailor.
SEBASTIAN: A satyr.
ANY STRANGER WHO WILL LISTEN: A settler?
SEBASTIAN: A satyr!
ANY STRANGER WHO WILL LISTEN: A senior? A sadist? A sitarist?
SEBASTIAN: No. You are not listening to me. MY DADDY IS A SATYR!!!
As a parent, I never expected to hear that uttered from my child's lips. The problem is twofold. No one expects a little kid to announce that his father is a mythological creature, and many folks don't know what the dickens a satyr really is.
So, let's start by demystifying. In Greek mythology, a satyr is a follower of Dionysus, and on vase paintings is portrayed with with a swinging horse tail and perpetual erection. It wasn't until Roman times when the upper body of a man was attached to the lower body of a goat.
For some reason, the above description reminds me of Danny DeVito. Who is more satyr-like than Louie De Palma, the smarmy dispatcher he played on Taxi? He was a smelly, foul mouthed, sex obsessed man in a cage, always making inappropriate advances to Marilu Henner. Which is probably why Disney cast him as the brow beating satyr Philoctetes, Phil to his friends, in their animated feature Hercules. Who better to eat shrubbery, chew scenery and chase after Nymphs.
Satyrs are described as roguish, subversive and dangerous. They are often depicted with beards and are lovers of wine, women and physical pleasure. (And if you exchange wine for vodka, and women for men, you'd be describing my husband to a tee.)
About four years ago, Michael worked on a USC movie, in which he played...you guessed it...a satyr. From set, he emailed pics of himself in full costume and makeup. Sebastian, who's always had a fondness for monsters and evildoers, was immediately hooked. He wanted to see Daddy at work, a request he'd never made previously. So, of course, the next day, I drove him to the studio. Michael was waiting for us on the street in full satyr regalia, which in Hollywood isn't all that eye popping. And immediately, Bash FREAKED OUT. He clung to me and refused to look at Michael. What seemed kinda cool on the computer screen was quite overwhelming in person.
Today is Michael's birthday. Unfortunately, I am not with him to celebrate. And even though he had his own celebration last night, something to do with a hot tub and a chilled martini in a Styrofoam cup, I wish I were there.
Michael is crazy busy in Palo Alto. He's in rehearsals for a musical called A Civil War Christmas. As he explains it, "I'm playing the black person." Actually, all the actors are taking on multiple roles. So, I imagine he's immersed in memorizing songs, learning blocking and finding the intricate character nuance of Frederick Douglass, or Harriet Tubman, or W.E.B. DuBois, Aunt Jemima, Nipsey Russell, Oprah, or Usher or whoever he's playing. (Can you tell my hold on Civil War history is a little shaky?)
The point is that he is due north about three hundred fifty-two miles, and I am unable to give him a birthday kiss tonight.
And now a private note...
Happy thirty-sixth* birthday, my darling.
The LA Times's horoscope for today's birthday is: Your special charisma will be amplified. It benefits you to bring more to the table in relationships and work, and your enhanced offerings will attract major love and success. March brings a whirlwind of publicity. Your stellar reputation brings financial abundance. A family-oriented event is a must-attend in August. Libra and Taurus people adore you.
Well, when it comes to you, this Libra is over the moon, but Miss Taurus better back the fuck off! Your charisma, stellar reputation, financial abundance and enhanced satyr offerings are ALL MINE! See you in three days!! But for now, I send you a kiss...
*Objects may appear as a lesser value than they actually are.
One hundred sounds really old, doesn't it? Come to think, I don't think I've ever met anyone who was one hundred. But this isn't about anyone, and we're certainly not celebrating anything that has achieved one hundred status. I've not made a replica of the Hollywood sign with one hundred sugar cubes, for example, or swallowed one hundred fireflies. This isn't even my hundredth blog entry, it's my seventy-eighth for those of you who are counting. But this is a monumental anniversary, nonetheless. It's Mommy's birthday. And by Mommy, I don't mean Sally, my biological mommy, her birthday is Income Tax Day. No, today Mommy With a Penis is a spry one year old.
Birthdays are usually a time for self reflection, for looking back at the previous year and weighing achievements vs. missteps. It's a good time to create lists for the upcoming year, to meditate on future blog entries. For instance, do I reexplore the train wreck that is Carrie Prejean, or do I stick with anecdotal tales about my family? Do I continue to question the sexual orientation of a certain Maverick, or post more pictures of my son wearing tutus and sparkly shoes, which surely will require years of future therapy? So much to consider. It really is a great time for self evaluation, assessment, trajectory, conclusion.
But, fuck it, I'm not going to do any of that. Don't get me wrong, more than anything I'd like to be significant. I'd like to say something earth shattering about blogging that would make each and every one of you nod your head and gasp. But I got nothing. So, instead, I'm going to thank all of you for being fabulous and sticking with me. It's been a wonderful ride thus far. An E ticket ride to say the least. And it wouldn't have been as fun without all of you. (Well, let's be honest, which one of us really wants to write in a vacuum?)
I'll let you in on a little secret. Mommy With a Penis is going through a change. No, not the change...a change. It's time for a sprucing up. A spring cleaning. A full blown rhinoplasty. That's right, MWAP will soon be under construction. Up till now, I've been content with my stock Blogger template, but it's time to express myself artistically and create a new look. My look. Something bolder. Something more eye catching. Something...penisy. (If you have suggestions, please be sure to leave them.)
Besides the facelift, what does Mommy With a Penis plan to do to celebrate? I'm going to bake myself a cake...
Tuesday, I was killing time on Hollywood Blvd. while Sebastian was at speech therapy. And scattered amongst tranny wig supplies and bong accessory stores were numerous buildings all labeled with the same name. And in the middle of a Pinkberry-induced false sense of security, I had a disturbing thought. When will LA be renamed L. Ron? In Hollywoodland the words L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology are emblazoned everywhere.
My first brush with Scientology was in Brighton, England some twenty odd years ago. A guy on the street was offering free movie tickets. I didn't have the money to see Angel Heart at the real cineplex, so I thought what the heck. Little did I know it was a Dianetics promotional flick. I don't remember anything about it, except at the movie's end there was an explosion of some sort. Although an engaging special effect, I chose not to partake of the Scientology bundt cake.
In LA I've known many friends, including my husband, who have studied acting at the Beverly Hills Playhouse, which is connected to Scientology. Michael stuck with it for about six months. When he first started he was landing gigs on episodics, he won an Ovation Award, LA's version of the Tony. It was a fruitful time. And the Hubbites discretely kept their dogma to themselves. However when Michael's star wasn't shining as brightly as they would have liked, he had to be handled, which basically meant he needed a good talking to. They claimed he was blocked, and said, "You must not want it that much." It being success. It being mindfulness. It being a core foundation of Scientology. And that's all Michael needed. He was out of there faster than Tom Cruise could call Matt Lauer glib.
I just completed a six week run of the play, Mom's the Word, which was written by six women, and has been running successfully in Canada (as Mum's the Word) for twenty-five years. Our production had only five actors, and there was the noticeable alteration that one of the moms, yours truly, had a penis. And they didn't dress me as Lucy Ricardo. The producer wanted to include a gay dad's perspective into the mix.
Some tweeking was needed. It was wisely decided that I shouldn't do the monologue about giving birth, nor should I refer to lactation, raging hormones or chapped nipples. Also, my character on the page is Linda, which had to be changed. So I took the letters that are in Linda, threw them in a martini shaker, added an "e" for enigmatic, some vermouth, shook it like a Polaroid picture, poured it out and there was my character's new name... Daniel. Chilled with a twist.
I think I just had a 007/Daniel Craig fantasy.
In order to make the material seem more pertinent, we referenced current events, added familiar Los Angeles landmarks, and freshened up some of the jokes. (I hope I don't get anyone in trouble saying this.) For instance, I had a line that for the life of me I can't correctly remember. It went something like, "Raising children is about as natural as reciting Shakespeare in Japanese."
I'm not even sure if that was the original line or something developed for our show. Either way, it felt flat. And what occurred to me was that LA is the land of things not natural. At one point I changed the line to, "Raising children is about as natural as Joan Rivers' face." Then it was "...as natural as Joan Van Ark's bangs." Then, "...as RuPaul's eyelashes." "...Sandra Bullock's nose." "...Pam Anderson's boobies." You get the gist. It was a line I delighted in because I could pick on a different celebrity every performance.
I would usually get a chuckle which was comforting, but not the belly laugh I desired. I was unsatisfied. And then it hit me. "Raising children is about as natural as Tom Cruise marrying women." Belly laugh every time.
Let it be known that I don't have a deep motive for saying this other than landing the laugh. Really, I'm that much of a whore. It's not like I have first hand experience with Tom. He's never personally sucked my Top Gun. And as far as I'm concerned, his sexual preference is his business. That being said, what should it matter that I'm fouting him? (Fouting: fake outing for the sake of the laugh.) IT'S HUMOR, PEOPLE!!
But if you need me to be more socially relevant, if you need a reason other than humor, how bout this... Since this is a mommy show, imagine I said the Tom Cruise line in retribution for when he raked Brooke Shields over the coals for taking postpartum depression medication after giving birth. If it's none of my business who licks his Twinkie, then it's none of his business how Brooke Shields or anyone else deals with their depression.
One more thing... If Tom Cruise should ever announce he's gay I would hope our culture could accept him with open arms and not see him as an abomination. It would simply be a fact like Tom Cruise has brown hair or Tom Cruise jumps on furniture. He doesn't need to be defined by his gayness. It's just one part of the wacky whole.
For our second to last performance, I was asked by the producer not use the Tom Cruise line because her daughter's manager was in the audience, and he was a Scientologist. I acquiesced and picked on Meg Ryan's cheekbones instead. (Only a chuckle.) Then our last performance came around and once again the producer approached me. She said something like, "Just so you know, there are going to be about eight Scientologists in the audience tonight. And not that you shouldn't say the line, but I want you to be aware of it." And if not those exact words, something equally ambiguous. I decided she was warning me of possible crickets where belly laughs should be, but I decided to brave the Dianetics storm and fout Mr. Katie Holmes one last time.
The line was delivered. Beat. Beat. I thought it fizzled. Beat. Beat. Then there was a lone chuckle. Beat. And as I launched into the next moment, that's when I heard it, the loudest belly laugh of the entire run.
Fun performance, friends waiting for me in the lobby, I was flying high. Then I was ambushed. Three cast mates split me open and told me what for. "She told you not to say that line." "You offended some of the audience." "Those Scientology people are serious. They could go after the producer and make her one of them."
This begs the question, how much power do Scientologists really have? Will Mommy With a Penis be shut down because I've played my own cat and mouse with Mr. TomKat? It seems absurd, doesn't it? But Scientology is strong. It's arm wrestled with freedom of speech before and won. For instance, the following clip is from an episode of South Park that yanked from airing a second time. They deny it was their doing, but we all know something was behind it.
I'm being silly. Nothing is going to happen to me or my blog. It's not like someone dressed as a ninja is going to break into my home and indoctrinate me on the spot. What are they going to do? Sneak up behind me as I'm typing on my computer and...
Please disregard the above blog entry. I was having some sort of delusional break, but I've adjusted my tone scale and now I'm fine. Medication was not needed because I don't believe in psychotropics. Nor do I believe in psychiatry and Tom Cruise is really quite manly. Now, if you'll excuse me, John and Kelly are picking me up in five to take me to a Tupperware party at Kirstie Alley's.
My husband is leaving me...well, us. He's leaving us. On Sunday, he's getting on a jet plane to San Jose. (No, he does not know the way, Burt Bacharach, but thankfully the pilot does.) And for the next two months he'll be living in Palo Alto. It's work related. He's going to be acting in a Paula Vogel musical called Civil War Christmas. (Uninviting title if you ask me.) And as we draw near I find myself resenting having to accept his departure.
At first, I tried fiercely to ignore the inevitable. I was in such denial that I only asked him this morning, "What day are you leaving?" And when I look back over the last month, I realize that any time he brought up his encroaching exodus, my stomach tightened and my breath became labored.
We had friends over Wednesday night and Michael came into the kitchen having just read about his accommodations. He was visibly excited and had to share with all of us, "You won't believe this place..."
"Don't," I said, not using the scold voice, but something I had hoped would galvanize nonetheless.
But I could tell by his run on sentence that Michael was overcome,"It's incredible, there's private parking, and a pool, and steam room and sauna, and, look at this, a twenty-four hour gym..."
"Don't," I tried again. This time loud enough for him to glance my way. But he was on a roll.
"...and there's a doorman, and each apartment comes with..."
"No. Michael. Really. DON'T."
Michael stopped. I was finally heard. Michael cowed. The guests knew not to continue down this road. General kitchen discomfort. But my man is a veritable rubber ball, "Who wants martinis?" And so we moved on.
It was this particular episode that made me realize I've got issues. My resentment is real. I resent that he gets to go away. I resent that he gets to do a play and get paid for it. But mostly, I resent that there is that unfinished bit of business.
Michael and I can be humming along just fine, but when we hit that odd pothole we are thrown completely out of whack. We retreat to our corners and, too slowly for my liking, lick our wounds. When we are done licking, we sweep it under the rug. We've been doing this for years. The lump in our rug was unnoticeable at first but now, it feels as if there are so many its underneath that it takes up the whole room.
Even as I mix my metaphors, I realize the lump probably isn't the gargantua I imagine. Logic has been overtaken by emotion. But after taking a breath, I can assure you that my rug lump certainly must be the size of a double-wattled cassowary.
In regards to the meeting today, I put the wheels into motion. I was feeling really great about last night's performance and really shitty about Michael's departure. I was talking to myself, arguing with myself, debating, and that's always a sign I need to unload. So I left a message on his voice mail. "It's time," I said. "We've been dodging this for too long. Being busy is easy for both of us, but you're leaving soon and we need to be a priority for each other."
I didn't layer the facts with guilt. (Well from my perspective, I didn't.) I wasn't defensive. I didn't use the poor me voice. I stated what I wanted, which was time with my man, before he pushes open the bronze gates and heads due north to that mysterious land called Palo Alto.
He texted me back with a time. Ten o'clock today. We've successfully set up our future with voice mail and text messaging.
For those of you concerned, this is not a death knell. This is opportunity. This is clarity. And hopefully, this is a sushi lunch afterwards.
I don't think any mysteries will be uncovered, nor revelations made. We're not an episode of True Blood. But I do think, very possibly, we'll fall in love all over again.
A mom at my daughter's pre school was enthusiastically passing out lollipops for Halloween. She pulled me close and gushed, "These lollipops had to be special ordered. They're organic and sweetened with beet juice!"
Another mom who was eavesdropping leaned in conspiratorially, "Well, that's going to be a blog entry."
Have I become that transparent? Because, yes, when I heard sweetened with beet juice I immediately filed it away. It's a brilliant mommy moment. Probably only intensified by the fact that never in a thousand years would I consider special ordering lollies that weren't chalk full of sugar. To wit: Sebastian's fifth birthday was bug-themed, and each child left with a goody bag which included a lollipop that resembled hardened amber with an honest to goodness grasshopper caught inside. Maybe that speaks to my character: grasshopper/heaps of sugar, yes; organic/beet juice, no.
Maxie's school celebrated Halloween by going Trunk or Treat. On Friday the kids came to school dressed in costume and paraded in the school's parking lot where they trick-or-treated from some of the parents' car trunks and hatchbacks. Michael and I decided at the last minute we'd participate. After dropping Sebastian off at school, Michael was going to zip to Target, pick up a bag of discount candy and then hustle on over to Maxie's school. Luckily, I drove Maxie to school early, and saw not only were all the parking places taken, but the parents had decorated their trunks with cobwebs, police tape, witch's cauldrons and Styrofoam headstones, AND they were all in costume. (I often forget that we live in the land of set dressers, makeup artists, prop masters and costume designers, and they take their work very seriously.) I quickly speed dialed Michael and yelled into his ear, "Abort mission! Repeat. Abort! We've once again underachieved and if you bring crappy candy we'll look really, really stupid. For the love of Herman Munster, ABORT!"
I'm just going to have to face facts, I'm not a mom who goes the extra distance. I'm a last minute Christmas/birthday present shopper and often times I regift from the back of our closet. I wish I was better at remembering significant dates, better at picking up meaningful thank you gifts, sending heartfelt cards and making casseroles, but it doesn't seem to be in my DNA.
Now, let's pick apart how I shortchanged Halloween...
I was not only content to buy the jumbo mixed bag of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Malted Milk Balls and Kit Kats, I felt accomplished in doing so. Our neighbor, however, created gift bags stenciled with the kids' names, and in them were toys, stickers and chocolates from Belgium.
Sebastian's school promoted homemade costumes, but we took the easy way out. Michael pointed the kids towards a rack of clothes and said go. Sebastian chose Wolfman, Maxie chose Ariel, both store bought, both made of flammable acetate. Maxie's best friend also went as Ariel, however her costume was painstakingly homemade; it was diaphanous blue and it draped beautifully with seashells hand stitched across the bodice.
And lastly, our stoop was pathetic. Of our four pumpkins only two were carved. And cheap cobwebs from the 99 Cent Store hung unsuccessfully, looking like cotton turds. The house a couple of blocks down did a twenty-two minute Michael Jackson tribute show on the hour. In front of a huge screen with Michael doing Thriller, professional dancers performed the same moves.
It's hard not to feel small.
Come to think of it, we were so late getting this year's pumpkins, costumes and candy that all of our Halloween paraphernalia was already marked down at a discount. Once again, picking through the dregs. When Bash was two, the only costumes available were an elephant and a Powerpuff Girl. (I chose pachyderm over Powerpuff.) It was a bit small, and when he put it on the trunk stood straight in the air like a misplaced erection. To this day, when my husband wants to illistrate my last minute behavior, he will cite this example.
Here's the thing... I'm not like the mom who is concerned about the contents of the candy she hands out. Nor am I like the mom across the street, who went to the ends of the Earth to fulfill her sixth grade daughter's unusual desire to be Dolly Levi for Halloween. That's right, the matchmaker from the musical Hello Dolly! made famous by Carol Channing on Broadway, La Streisand in the flick. The choice may have been peculiar, but the costume was impeccable. And I'm definitely not like the mom from around the corner who threw together a Halloween party at the last moment. The house was artfully decorated with witches and candles and masks, picante pumpkin soup simmered on the stove, and spooky sound effects played as kids bobbed for apples.
And not to reflect every exemplary mommy moment back onto my own novice mommy skills, but deep down, I do long to go the distance. Maybe it's baby steps. Last year, we didn't have 99 cent cobweb turds. Maybe next year I'll shoot for the candy bowl with the moving skeleton hand.
Yesterday afternoon, I was listening to KGIL, LA's self-proclaimed, retro AM radio station. You know, Harry Belafonte, Herb Alpert, Lena Horne. And to announce an upcoming song, the DJ said, "Sit back and enjoy Paper Roses by Anita Baker." What? Soulful, smooth-as-smokey-scotch Anita Baker did a cover of the country tearjerker, Paper Roses? Was this before or after Marie Osmond sang it into the top five with her "I'm a little bit country" vibe? As the music was swelling, even before I heard the vocalist, I knew the DJ had misspoken. And I involuntarily winced.
We all have that place in the back of our brains that stores all sorts of ridiculous trivia. Some of which are at the ready for witty repartee, but the more arcane facts are buried deep behind layers of rat turds and cobwebs. And when those buried facts are dusted off and brought to the surface, I am amazed at the mound of crap I know.
It seems at some point in my life I must have slipped my knowledge of Paper Roses away, like a phone number into a brassiere, possibly never to be seen again. Because I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that Anita Baker was not about to wow me with her chops. Instead, I was going to be met with the dramatic stylings of Miss America second runner up, orange juice hawker and homophobe, Anita Bryant.
And rightly or wrongly, Anita Bryant always makes me think of the following...
It's odd... I haven't put myself in many positions where I felt like a second class citizen for being homosexual. When Michael and I adopted, I imagined a whiff of discomfort from the social workers or other prospective adoptive parents, but there was none. Both times Michael and I got married (the big church wedding in 2001, and then the legal wedding last year) I wondered if angry evangelicals would show up brandishing protest signs and pitchforks, but no, only loved ones with flowers and confetti. So, personally, I've moved forward, marrying, having kids, taking them to school, gymnastics, speech therapy, what have you, and remarkably I haven't felt the hate. Granted, I've lived in San Francisco, New York and now Los Angeles, but still, that's an amazing admission.
Watching Anita Bryant pray for the men who pied her, hoping to deliver them from their deviant lifestyle really kicks me in the navel oranges each time I watch this video. Her misuse of the Bible is both breathtaking and dangerous. In her hay day, Bryant certainly lit fires with her rhetoric, "If gays are granted rights, next we'll have to give rights to prostitutes, and to people who sleep with St. Bernards and to nail biters."
Don't sell this beauty contestant short. Her mark was significant. In 1977, she helped the state of Florida to prohibit gay adoption. Sadly, this law was only overturned last year. Then, she successfully campaigned to repeal an ordinance in Dade County which prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation. In 1998, twenty years later, Dade County repudiated Bryant's campaign, and the anti-discrimination ordinance was once again in place. And even though it seems a no brainer that any type of discrimination should be illegal, in 2002 there was a ballot initiative to repeal the 1998 law! Thankfully, that was voted down.
I spelled out that last bit of Florida history because it shows how tenuous laws can be, voted in one year, repealed four years later. Just look at the mess California has made about gay marriage. There are eighteen thousand legally married gay and lesbian couples in the state, and yet at present it's illegal for homosexuals to marry. HUH? (And peculiarly, we have our own little beauty queen at the center of our controversy.) I understand each state has the right to have a certain amount of autonomy, however when it comes to human rights, we should be united in our thinking.
President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law this week. I may not have experienced any profound homophobia in my lifetime, but I doubt if Michael and I started our family in a different state, one with a decidedly red hue, we would have had the same experiences. There are certain places in this country where we wouldn't even think of holding hands for fear of what might happen. So, yes, this protection is necessary. Our whole country has to move collectively into this millennium even if it's kicking and screaming.
To boldly shift to one of my random thoughts... I wonder if Obama signed this into law before Halloween because he knew the haters cannot abide queens having fun. And when you think about it, what makes a queen more happy then a day that celebrates sparkly costumes and a bit of mascara?
For the record, I didn't change the radio station. I listened to the whole of Paper Roses, and Anita Bryant not Baker really has a beautiful voice. (Definitely not as reedy as Mormon Marie's.) It's too bad though, in the future when I recall Anita Bryant, I will not first think of her singing or her orange juice commercials, but that she spent a great deal of her life trying to do away with the homosexuals and the banana cream pie oozing down her face.
The NRA's been calling me. I'm not sure how I got on their list. Aside from squirt, I've never owned a gun, and for the most part am vehemently against gun ownership. Mostly because hot headed gun enthusiasts scare the crap out of me. And if I have to hear one more politician pander to the NRA saying how much they enjoy the wholesome, all-American sport of helicopter wolf sniping, I'm going to puke.
But I digress.
I've turned into one of those people who almost always uses his cell phone. My home phone is becoming a dinosaur. (I'll probably be dropping it off at the Tar Pits by the end of the year.) We'll receive no calls on our home phone all day and then dinner time rolls around and ring! One glance at the caller ID showing me an 800 or 866 number confirms my suspicion: people selling shit. I become smug as I spoon mac and cheese onto plastic plates, letting the call go to voice mail, where a message will never be left. I'm not going to be your survey bitch today, asshole!
When I first saw the letters NRA on my caller ID screen, I thought, "Nah, couldn't be them. Perhaps it's some other organization with the same initials; Niagara Rafting Adventure for instance. Or Northern Rodeo Association. Or Nascar Radio Affiliates." After ignoring NRA's ring for three nights, my curiosity got the better of me and I answered the home phone. A woman with a faux chipper voice, ironically named Harmony, informed me she was indeed calling from the National Rifle Association, and not Nascar. I stood shell shocked as I do when witnessing a gruesome traffic accident or botox gone bad.
Harmony asked if I would listen to a prerecorded message from Wayne LaPierre, one of NRAs muckety mucks, and then wait on the line to answer one survey question. I numbly mumbled uh huh thinking I was a phony for agreeing to this. I hung up on the Policeman's Fund but I stayed on the line for the NRA. I felt dirty.
In his message, Wayne equated guns with freedom. He then pulled out every tactic to inform me that our freedom was about to be taken away because leaders in Washington want to illiminate all handguns entirely.
This isn't my understanding of what the Supreme Court Justices are evaluating, but Wayne was testifyin'. Now it's my turn...
According to you, Wayne, it's my God given right to own a gun, no matter how negligent a gun owner I may be. And my freedom will be stripped if my unconcealed 38 Special is made illegal. Well, Wayne, here's my personal take... I believe my freedom is imperilled as long as psychologically disturbed youth are able to waltz into neighborhood Super Ks and purchase semi automatic guns without too much of a background check. My children's freedoms are compromised when they enter their schools through metal detectors. My husband's freedom is impaired as long as hate crimes are not fully prosecuted. And what about the friends and families of the thousands slain each year by gun fire in this country... Certainly their freedoms were not taken into consideration. But the biggest injustice must belong to the innocent person caught in the crossfire and shot dead. Freedom has been revoked for him indefinitely.
After Wayne finished his fear laden argument, a gentleman with an Andy Griffith accent got on the phone. I thought he was going to ask should we get rid of all handguns in the US of A? And to make sure my voice was heard by the NRA, I was ready to loudly and proudly to give a definitive yes. Instead, this Byzantine question was asked, "Do you think leaders of third world countries and Hillary Clinton should have control of whether our handguns are banned?"
This reminded me when I was a whipper snapper, and some smart ass kid with a shit eating grin came up to me and said, "You have to answer the following with a yes or a no. Do you like being an douche bag?"
Answering with a definitive yes was out of the question. Of course, I don't want third world leaders to decide anything for Americans. And Hillary Clinton... (How did she become the NRA's voodoo doll of hate?) No, I wouldn't want it to be solely Hillary's decision either. Or Newt's. Or Oprah's. Or Howie Mandel's. Or Elmer Fudd's, for that matter. But the presumption is ludicrous. Hillary doesn't have that kind of power. Only the president can sign his name and create national legislation. No one else. Although, Oprah may be close.
But to answer no would only feed the NRA with false statistics, and give Rush Limbaugh ammo to bluster his blather over the airways.
I told the gentleman, who honest to God sounded like he should be hawking Ritz Crackers, that his question was badly structured. He responded in a neutral-as-Switzerland voice that he couldn't sway me towards yes or no, but they were my only choices. I had to try again, "But it's unanswerable." We were at a stalemate. We parted ways. My voice was not heard by the NRA. And I'm pissed off.
News stories involving small children in peril always seem to make our insides go kerfloppy. Baby Jessica trapped in a well drew our collective attention for days. The international fight over Elian Gonzales tugged at our heart strings. And the high courts of Malawi finally allowing Madonna to adopt little Mercy sparked all kinds of controversy. So, of course we spent a day last week following the peculiar tale of the Jiffy Pop looking, homemade, hot air balloon perilously floating thousands of feet above the environs of Fort Collins, Colorado, carrying, quite possibly but not certainly, the precious cargo of six-year-old Falcon Heene.
On a completely almost-unrelated topic, I recently found out that decades ago Michael Jackson was a student at my son's school. In commemoration of his vast success the school's auditorium was named after him. After his various encounters with male youth and then subsequent court appearances, his name was removed from the building. Now that he's passed away, the school is thinking about reversing that decision, and I'm trying to figure out where I stand with this. Am I against a non convictedpredator's name splashed across the building where my son invariably will play the all important role of Candied Yam for the Thanksgiving Pageant? Would The Michael Jackson Auditorium bother me? Would The Mary Kay Letourneau Youth Center? The Roman Polanski Taqueria and Carwash?
I first heard about Balloon Boy on Twitter. (This was confirmed by updates on Facebook.) And all I could think was, Where the fuck were his parents? Because my son would absolutely want to get into a balloon and release it from its mooring. Sebastian is a boy boy and does stupid boy boy things. And when you ask him why he did whatever stupid thing he happened to do that day, his response is the same. Doesn't matter if he cut the dog's ear with garden clippers or hit his sister in the face with a fly swatter, he will shrug his little shoulders and say in a high pitched voice, "I wanted to see what would happen."
It's what boys do. Even I, on my birthday last week, had a stupid boy boy moment. I had just finished a chilled martini on the beach at sundown, when I noticed a water source flowing from the shore to the ocean. There seemed to be an embankment on either side of this small stream and I couldn't figure out if it was a permanent structure or made of sand. I walked over, put my foot on the edge, applied weight and immediately the ground gave way. Of course, it was sand. I lost my balance and was about to fall into the water and ruin my suede shirt. My only other option was to torque my body and throw myself on the ground, quite possibly causing injury. I chose pain over soaked suede. The "pop" echoed down the beach and my body promptly went into shock. As I write this my knee still hurts like the dickens and my limp is prominent. Why did I do this? I wanted to see what would happen.
So, there's no way in Bikini Bottom I would allow my six-year-old son anywhere near a hot air balloon. As the story unraveled I found out that the Richard Heene, the boy's father, said something idiotic like, "I told him not to go near it," and I about shit myself.
Hey, Richard, some parental advice... You never tell a kid to stay away from something and then think your parenting is over. You have to keep a sharp eye out because boys are stupid. And while I got your ear, what are you doing building a hot air contraption in your back yard where your kids have easy access? Are you that big of a numbnuts? And if you really don't want your kid to go soaring into the sky, then don't name him Falcon! You should have chosen a more earthbound sounding name like Colt, or Prairie, or Peninsula.
Now, of course, we all know the kid was never in the balloon, and the parents probably set the whole thing up as a publicity stunt to get their own reality series. I guess the fame they tasted when they did two episodes of Wife Swap wasn't enough. And since it looks as if Jon and Kate are imploding, I bet the Heenes saw this as a good time to jockey for the next first family of reality TV.
What gets me most is not that they pulled the wool over our eyes, but that Richard and MayumiHeene thought nothing of including their kids in the hoax. These mini Heenesblatantly lied to newscasters, police and Larry King alike. What's the lesson here? It's okay to lie to the authorities as long as you get air time. When did getting on reality TV becomes more important than one's integrity?
Do you think there was a moment when either Richard or MayumiHeene thought, "You know, this might be a really bad idea." Perhaps when friends and family called with concern. Maybe when the National Guard got involved and sent two helicopters to search for the poor lad. Or perhaps when the Denver Airport had to be shut down delaying thousands of passengers. But no, neither parent spoke up. They played upon the concern and goodwill of those of us closely watching. Ladies and gentlemen, we were punked. And here's where I sense an incredible disconnect. Let's say this stunt gets Balloon Family their own reality show. Who of us would really want to watch it?
In regards to punishment, I think jail time seems wrong, since it would leave the three boys parentless. Fining them the maximum of $500,000 for conspiracy seems exorbitant, especially when that money could go towards educational funds and Italian sports cars. I think they should be made to pay fifteen thousand dollars for rescue services, and then Richard and MayumiHeene should be forbidden from ever being on television again. Make the message clear... Hey starfuckers, your fifteen minutes are over!
I am up Shit Creek. No exag. I'm doing what everyone else is doing, running around in my little hampster wheel feeling as if I'm making headway, but in reality I'm in the same plastic habitat with wood chips strewn about. I mean, can it really be October?
This week was picture week at my son's school. We always have to pack an extra shirt in his backpack, because invariably his pics are shot after lunch. I get his teeth brushed, my husband combs his hair. (But really, if his shots are after lunch, what's the point?) We tell him once again what to expect and with an air of professionalism he says, "Will they take only one picture or is this a photo shoot?"
Well, excuse me, Miss Desmond. I didn't know you were so particular about your close up.
Living pert near on top of Hollywood has been a concern. I don't want my kids to be Southern Californian cliches, acting as if they just stepped out of the movie Clueless. I don't want them all knowing about the business, and blase about reality. I want our kids to be normal, everyday, dirt kicking kids. Photo shoot? Where did he get that?
Two weeks ago, my three year old daughter was having a time of it. She'd cry if the sheets on her bed didn't match her pillow case, or her underwear had the wrong cartoon character on it. Stuff like that. Well, one morning, she broke out into huge sobs. Out of her line of vision I raised my eyes pleading, please don't let this episode go on for forty-five minutes. I readjusted my expression to one of ultimate mommy concern and went to her. And she said to me, "My vagina hurts and I need my nails done!"
If this is the problem at three, what can I expect at thirteen? This complaint did two things. It pointed out to me that we had no idea what we were getting into when we wanted to adopt a girl child. And is it too late to give her back? Okay, I admit, that last query was fantasy. And I'm probably projecting the teenage horrors to come. It's just that Maxie isn't necessarily a breezy spring drizzle when she's unhappy, oh no, she's a category five hurricane with a tsunami chaser.
My husband has been putting a lot of pressure on himself. The fate of the world weighs heavily between his scapulae. It's money. It's job. It's lack of artistic expression. It's diminished residual pay for work on NCIS for $56.13. Consequently, he doesn't sleep well. He's a tosser, a turner, a talker, and a grinder. Thus, I wake up as if I've been caned, with neck pains and backaches.
Perhaps we are all going through stages. Perhaps they will pass. Perhaps Bill Maher is the true Prophet. All I know, is that I will escape today. I will finish this entry and drive south on Interstate 5, to a coastal hotel where I will be pampered. It's my birthday and I have a couple of kinks to get rid of.
And when I return, Shit Creek may have receded. Maybe not. Either way, I will be rested and prepared. I will smell of lavender and bring a paddle.
It may be years old, but please enjoy the following fifteen seconds of foot in mouth...
Poor Cynthia Izaguirre. You can practically hear the egg oozing down her face. After going to commercial, I imagine her slapping her head in an I could have had a V-8 manner, followed by a big Homer Simpson Doh!
Aside from wondering if she received bushels of hate mail from fags, dykes and physically challenged mountain climbers, I had to ask, What was going on in this distracted newscaster's personal life? I mean, it's a peculiar mistake. Gay does not look like blind on the cue cards. Perhaps she just found out her fiance was gay? Or what if he recently became blind? Or maybe he became both gay and blind? And what if he lost his high paying job as a fashion consultant to boot?
I certainly hope Miss Izaguirre was not forced to make one of those uncomfortable, pseudo heartfelt "I didn't mean to receive a hand job from the hooker" apologies. Hugh Grant set the tone for this highly unnecessary, public mea culpa. And lately we've been inundated with Kanye and Serena and Joe Wilson and even good ol' Dave apologizing before rolling cameras. I can't help but judge their hollow words of regret. They end up degrading me with their watered down "the devil made me do it" excuses. From now on I flat out refuse to be the moral compass for anyone. All you out-of-control rappers and moral lapsing Republicans will have to flap your gums to someone else, because I will not take heed. Except for you Mark Sanford. You really fucked your shit up. Soul mate, indeed!
To push forward with the gay slash blind confusion just a little bit further, I had to ask, "Might homosexuality be seen as a disability?" Poor Doug, he lost his vision. Poor Suzette, she's a muff diver. On the same level do you think? Now, I have heard, Poor Cher, her gay daughter is about to become her straight son. But really, that just takes me off topic.
Then, perhaps perversely, I posited what if everything blind became gay? For instance, gay as a bat. (That would both explain homosexuals' fascination with vampires and bats' love of fruits.) Then there's gay man's bluff, gay faith, Three Gay Mice. "...You've never seen such a sight in your life..." And here's a biggie, "Don't masturbate! Hair will grow on your palms and you'll go gay." When you think about it, that, more than blindness, would be more effective when scaring Christian youth.
And then there's that annoying inflection. We've all heard it from various newscasters for years. The juicy catch phrase that keeps us tuned in for the next segment, always delivered with an upward inflection and an exclamation point. And if Miss Izaguirre had trumpeted the word blind as intended, it would have been tantalizing...fluff, but tantalizing. But she didn't. She blasted gay and it sounded strident and shrill. Certainly I have seen news stories about people who happened to be gay: gay pride parades, for example; gay marriage, certainly; Rosie O'Donnell. But I can't think of an instance where someone's gayness was the center of any news story. It's like singling out blackness or femaleness or Jewishness. It's just not done. Could you imagine...
This just in. Anderson Cooper, Neil Patrick Harris, Rupert Everett, Harvey Fierstein and Clay Aiken were in a barroom brawl. They were arrested for disturbing the peace and locked up in the county hoosegow. Not surprisingly, they are all GAY.
Six weeks ago, my little family drove north on Interstate 5, hung a right at Highway 14 and drove into Antelope Valley. Sounds like a pretty place, doesn't it? Almost mystical. I would bet most of you, if you were to take out your own personal mental snapshot of California you would be looking at Rocky Mountains or the roiling Pacific, majestic redwoods or overpriced amusement parks. I'm sure none of you pictured Antelope Valley. Although it sounds like a lush savanna bounding with chipper quadrupeds, in fact, Antelope Valley has no antelopes. The poor creatures were obliterated by hunters in the 1880's, and replaced with prefab homes, out of date strip malls, alfalfa fields and the second largest Borax pit mine. Antelope Valley also has the distinction of being the crystal meth darling of the Mojave.
This is where my daughter, Maxie, was born. (Interesting to note, the nurse in charge of Maxie's care for the first two days of her life, told us an increase of meth users in the area coincided with an unprecedented baby boom. Thankfully, Phylis, Maxie's birth mom, did not partake of the pipe.) And on that day, six weeks ago, we braved scorching heat and unrelenting fast food temptations to visit with Phylis and Maxie's two half sisters, Cheryl and Taryn. It was Taryn who insisted on seeing her younger sister again. And who are we to thwart a ten year old's wishes?
I'm pretty sure seven years ago, when Michael and I started the adoption process, we did not anticipate trekking to Armpit, USA to visit with the birth family. I probably went into it thinking we'd do the same thing my aunt and uncle did when they adopted forty years before, which was to slam a very heavy door on anything relating to the birth mother and bolt it shut.
All my preconceptions changed when Michael and I went to an adoption fair, sponsored by the Pop Luck Club, an organization of gay dads in the LA area. There were many brochure covered tables with all sorts of folk from the adoption industry. There were representatives from adoption agencies, adoption lawyers and surrogacy providers (my favorite, Ova the Rainbow.) And we met a wonderful woman who told us about open adoption. It was her belief that the bolted door is pretty much old school. She said that it's more psychologically sound and in the child's best interest to fling that door wide open and invite the birth family to come on in and set a spell. Mind you this is a slow get-to-know-you process. Think of the birth family as in-laws. Consequently, we bought the whole concept hook, line and sinker and attached ourselves to Kinship Center, an adoption agency based in Santa Ana.
Sebastian knows four of his half siblings. And Maxie, as I stated, is in contact with her birth mother and two half sisters. And it's fun to see their family resemblances. Sebastian's people are small with expressive eyes. Maxie comes from a long line of long legged females with fierce intelligence and dry hair. (You can smear my daughter's head with Vaseline and by the end of the day all evidence of petroleum jelly will have vanished.)
Add to her genetic hard wiring, Michael's and my very special brand of poison (our gestures, our humor, our turns of phrase) and you have my daughter. (Take a gander at my previous post Poisoning My Kids.) It's hard to describe but a bond is formed between the hard wirers and the poisoners. Sort of a "your looks, our mannerisms" bond. To a certain extent we are all responsible for this little girl. So when Taryn said, "Come on, adults, I haven't seen my little sister for over a year," of course we all hopped to and made this get together happen.
Our afternoon in Antelope Valley was spent in a park. A much needed breeze wafted as Maxie reconnect with her birth family and we ate greasy fast food. When in Rome... Aside from the drug bust next to the playground it couldn't have been lovelier. An intoxicating commingling of nature and nurture.
Two pictures of siblings. One with a strong biological resemblance, the other without a drop of shared DNA, and yet, an undeniable sibling bond nonetheless.
It's been awhile, folks, I know. I've allowed myself to sink into the delicious oblivion known as summer. I didn't have to get the kids to school. I didn't have to force my son to do mind numbing homework. (Sebastian's loathing of homework is only surpassed by my loathing of his loathing.) There was no speech therapy, no gymnastics, no car pools. Hell, there was no set schedule of any kind. Oh, sure, a smattering of birthday parties and a luau or two, but besides that, nada.
I woke up late, watched black and white movies, and occasionally sauntered into the kitchen for food. I'd prepare it, eat it, throw some at the kids, and then go back to my room to see what hijinks Cary Grant was up to.
I'm shamed to admit, some mornings I woke late due to an overindulgence in vodka the night before. But what's more natural then watching Bette Davis movies with a glass in hand? I must admit, on those fuzzy mornings, I developed a new found appreciation for the snooze button. Go ahead my children, clog the toilet with pretty ponies, color the dog with indelible ink and eat pudding for breakfast. Just let Papa get another ten minutes of shut eye.
Last Friday, a writing buddy of mine gave me the stink eye for not blogging. She informed me that Mommy With a Penis has been MIA for an entire month. No. It isn't possible. I wasn't living in a somnolent haze for a month. Was I?
Evidently, I was.
I did do a show at the Comedy Central Stage in Hollywood, and that took some of my time. And Mother Nature distracted me with raging fires and clouds of ash. But more than anything, the unrelenting heat is responsible for my nonblogness. I swear, some days I melted into a puddle of maple syrup. It's a marvel someone didn't scoop me up and eat me with their waffle. So, I blame my withering blog on the heat. Followed by lack of schedule. Closely followed by copious amounts of booze.
On Wednesday, school started. (Los Angeles starts after Labor Day. How sophisticated, I say with Bette Davis martini in hand.) Barack Obama has officially started the school year with his awesome speech. (And shame on you parents who thought our president would say anything divisive to school aged children.) And so, it's time for me to come out of my syrup filled cocoon. No more flirting with the snooze button. It's time to be active.
To me, September has always seemed a beginning of sorts. Something to do with new school clothes, unsharpened pencils and blank notebooks, I'm sure. And so, yesterday, I went to the gym. First time in months. Perhaps I'll buy fresh fish from the outdoor market on Monday and hike up Runyon Canyon on Tuesday. The options are limitless.
Both our kids have the annoying habit of waking up a smidge after sunrise. Doesn't matter what time they went to bed or how blacked out their curtains are, at five forty-six they're wide awake demanding attention.
At one and a half, Sebastian would climb out of his crib and come into our room. Michael and I would invite him into our California king where he'd refall asleep, allowing us to catch that forty-first and perhaps even forty-second wink.
After a while, Bash needed a sippy cup to get back to sleep. I revised the routine. We added a beverage center (fancy schmancy terminology meaning small fridge) in the island when we redid our kitchen. Instead of coming directly to our bedroom, I taught my son to go to the beverage center, where his sippy cup would be waiting, filled with PediaSure the night before, and then come to our bedroom, slurp himself silly, and fall back asleep between the snugly warmth of his two daddies.
And it was cute until Bash started growing and kicking. And when my daughter came into the picture, forgetaboutit! Sometimes toys are brought with them. Sometimes they come as a pair. More often than not, I am kicked out. Of my own bed! Where I was spinning happy dreams about being twenty-three again and becoming an acclaimed disco dancer.
This doesn't happen every morning, however, this morning, yes. Banished from the boudoir. Deported from the duvet. Exiled from the Enchanted Kingdom. Relegated to a couch or forced to start the breakfast no one will eat.
I used to be a morning person. I'd pop out of bed at six, get myself to the subway, find myself a corner seat, fall back asleep and miraculously get out at Columbus Circle, never sleeping through my stop. Then I would walk the couple of blocks to John Jay College, which emphasized criminal justice, passed display cases of confiscated shivs made by prison inmates from old tooth brushes, and headed into the bowels of the building where I swam. I belonged to a Masters swim team. I DID LAPS. In New York! I trained three to four times a week, and competed at swim meets.
This would probably be a good place to mention in regards to sports, I embarrassingly fit the stereotype. I could not do ball sports (pun intended) to save my life. I could not hit, catch, or go out for the long pass. Swimming was survival. I held my head up high because I had a dolphin kick that could eviscerate and could hold my breath longer than Houdini.
But no longer. Once we moved to Los Angeles, the land of the swimming pool, I haven't said boo to racing. And the more out of shape I get, the more I'm secure that this body shouldn't don a Speedo. I blame my husband. Because of his schedule the only time I get to spend with him are the wee hours. We go to bed at one, maybe two every night. There is no way in Hades that I'm going to set an alarm for five fifty to get out of the house by six for an early swim. This mommy needs her sleep...
...Which invariably gets interrupted anyway. I imagine at some age my kids will not want to come into our bed.This is both what I long for and yet it saddens me. Maybe it's best to focus on the now. Well...now, I've created a nice dent in our couch that fits my body perfectly.
I have gone from gamely chortling at the silly applications on Facebook to patently ignoring them. This happened sometime after I took the quiz to see which of the fifty states I was. I remember clicking that I like large bodies of water and living near big cities and somehow with Facebook wizardry the state that is most me is Nebraska. So I haven't indulged further in these random quizzes, and truth be told am fascinated that others seem to take them all the time. Which Lost character am I? Really?
But I'm about to whole hog embrace this craziness in the guise of scientific discovery.
A couple of months back, in a moment of whimsy I decided to find out my Vampire name. The gobbledygook that spewed out was, The Great Archives determine you to have gone by the identity Beno Fey, known in some parts of the world as Incubus of The Lamiae, the offspring of a goddess - beautiful, powerful and ruthless. Beautiful, Powerful, Ruthless and Fey? Sounds like a law firm for drag queens.
Beno Fey must be the gayest vampire name ever, but for whatever reason, it's stuck with me. So much so, that I reprinted my findings as a possible blog entry last ides of March. (Those screwy ides.) Does this mean that all my regenerated names would be as faggy? Would this homosameness somehow help me with life choices, or validate who I am? Only one way to find out... I will enter my name into each of the name generators Facebook has to offer.
My Earth name is Richard Hutchins Foster, Jr. Growing up I was Rick. But there was already a Rick and a Richard Foster in the acting unions. So, as an actor I took on Hutchins. (Most people today call me Hutch. If anyone still refers to me as Rick they must be family or someone who's known me longer than two decades.)
As for its meaning: Richard is powerful ruler, Hutchins is a pet form of Hugh which means 'bright in spirit and mind', and Foster is one in charge of the forest. I imagine if I lived up to my name I'd become the King of the Woodland Fairies, Smokey the Bear or a Buddhist Robin Hood.
My first step on the Facebook name generator page was to choose a name to regenerate. I couldn't use my entire WASPy moniker. Only two fields were offered. I decided upon my latest incarnation, Hutchins Foster. Next, I wanted to know if random words would create my Mobster name, my Filipino name, my Cute name, or was some (forgive me) science involved, some method to the virtual madness.
In my test run I typed in my actor name to determine my Soap Opera name. (Although, what really could be more soap opera than Hutchins Foster?) The result? Romeo Vanderbilt. (Okay, perhaps it's the teeniest bit more soap opry.) I submitted my name again to see if the name generator was consistent. Once again, Romeo Vanderbilt. (Hmmm. The name is growing on me.) When I submitted Richard Foster, I became Harlan Vanderbilt. Hutchins Smith became Romeo Fitzgerald. Indeed, there seems to be some method in place.
Facebook has 125 name generators, and I soon discovered that not all of them were pertinent. For instance, the nationality names (Spanish name, Serbian name, North African name) gave me absolutely no insight to myself. What do I care if I'm Gomez del Toro, Darko Markovic or Kutu Labdouni? Also, once I found out my Harry Potter name was an actual Harry Potter character (Neville Longbottom, sigh) I had no desire to find out my Sponge Bob, Twilight or Star Trek name. I even side stepped my Shakespearean name for fear I'd be Malvolio or Caliban. So, no nationalities, no characters, the rest I made up as I went along.
And my results...
There seems to be an eating theme running through my generated names. My Romantic name is Muffin, my Nickname is Honey Buns, my Presidential Code name is Clam Chowder and my Prank Call name is Igor Beaver.
Also there's an animal theme. My Mafia name is Danny "the Weasel" Costello, my Villainess name is The Shrivelled Tiger, my Drag Queen name is Kitten Kaboodle, and once again, Igor Beaver.
And I'm not trying to do this, but there also is a punani theme. My Dog name is Mama Trouble, my Stripper name is Diamond DeepTight, my Prison name is Booty Call, and yes, Igor Beaver.
In three lists! Igor Beaver. And the last time I actually gored beaver was eighteen years ago. Might I have taken the wrong path?
Lately my daughter is gaga obsessed with My Little Pony. For you neophytes, there isn't just one little pony like the singular title offers. There are many. And they are all girl ponies, not a steed in the stable. Actually, there are no stables. Come to think of it, they are very non horselike, these ponies. They are the color of fruit sherbet and are always prepping for some gala at Celebration Castle. Maxie has only three of their books and in each of them a major festivity is taking place. One book is about a golden egg hunt, another is about a royal costume party, and the last is the ultimate tea party.
I bring up the ponies because along with their lives of party throwing leisure, they have outlandish names. I can barely turn a page of the book without Maxie pointing to each pony and labeling them. Crazy insidious names like Sunny Daze, Twinkle Twirl, Pinky Pie (which sound like the newest designer drugs) are all part of this equine fantasy. And each pony has a tattoo on her haunch. Sparkleworks has a mini fireworks display, Meadowbrook a dragonfly, Wisteria a sprig of wisteria, etc. My favorite pony has four leaf clovers on her haunch...why Serendipity, of course.
Last night, while I was reading Pony Party, for the second time, I had this sudden image. A grouchy group of elderly people sitting around a table, smoking menthols, hopped up on pain killers, thinking up all these crazy ass pony names.
OLD FART #1: I like Minty.
OLD FART #2: Minty? What the hell kind of name is Minty?
OLD FART #1: My Ben Gay is minty. And I like Ben Gay.
OLD FART #2: Fine. I'll let you have Minty, as idiotic as that sounds, if you let me call a pony Dazzle Surprise.
OLD FART #1: Sound like a big sissy to me, but okay. Let's shake on it.
OLD FART #2: Can't reach across the table. Just put your dentures back in and call it a deal.
And I bet I'm not far off on how the My Little Pony names are created. And it's probably similar with the name generators dudes. Might not be the same group of people. Instead of old farts, the name generators might be just out of college pimply, but it's the same concept. Name by committee.
And if that's the case, it makes no nevermind that my Witch name is Gwendolyn the Drunk Witch, my Burlesque name is Caresse Royale, or my Superhero name is The Incredible Albino. It's all hogwash. And to waste time finding significance in the similarities between my Celebrity name and my Christmas Elf name (Viggo Mortensen/Zippy O'Leary) is complete folly. It's as serendipitous as wanting the Pacific and being designated Nebraska.
But even so, let me keep the original. Allow me Beno Fey.
Romeo Vanderbilt signing off.
THE COMPLETE LIST
Goth name: Galindus the Immortal
Fantasy name: Blind Man
Italian name: Antonio Rossi
Hippy name: Autumn Blossom
Spanish name: Gomez del Toro
Romantic name: Muffin
German name: Dieter von Metzger
Rock band name: Batter Buckwheat
Nickname: Honey Buns
Bond Girl name: Heidi Taunt
French name: Gaston Fornier
Trailer Trash name: Marlboro Man
Prison name: BootyCall
Japanese name: Akihiro Aburakoji
Royal name: Prince Hutchins the Clean
Dog name: Mama Trouble
Witch name: Gwendolyn the Drunk Witch
Korean name: Young Min Yoon
Drag Queen name: Kitten Kaboodle
Redneck name: Dwayne Houston
Pirate name: Captain Smelly Beard of the pirate ship Not-so-jolly Roger
Elf name: Kanhel
Cute name: Moogliebabycakes
Soap Opera name: Romeo Vanderbilt
Viking name: Eirik
Angel name: Ooniemme the Angel of Gratitude
Serbian name: Darko Markovic
Superhero name: The Incredible Albino
Princess name: Hutchins the Gracious, Princess of Merrimont