I’d Rather Come Back A Cat Than A Dog Because….Pussies

“What does ‘He is risen’ mean?” asked my 9-year old, Levi, because it was Easter weekend, and he was looking over my shoulder as I scrolled through Facebook posts about Easter and Jesus and with all due respect to the Gentiles in the room, “He is risen” doesn’t make a lot of sense – unless you are like me and research the meaning behind weird words and phrases.

Bible_KJV“’He is risen’,” I told him, “is the King James’s version of the present perfect tense. It means that Jesus has risen and remains arisen having had reached arisen-ness. It’s old-school grammar that we don’t use anymore – like ‘The Lord is come,’ which means that the Lord has come and is still coming. Anyway, when it comes to grammar in the bible, we let go of our modern day rules.

“Let go, let God” is clearly a divine command to embrace whatever kind of funky language they used in archaic, biblical times.

Levi stared blankly at me wishing I had actually answered his question in a way he could understand. Parenting can be especially difficult when your kid wants to talk about Jesus rising, and you want to talk about grammar. “Where did he rise from?” he asked.

“So,” I said. “Some people believe that Jesus died and then he came back to life because he was no ordinary man. He was … is…the son of God … and the son of God can come back to life after he dies.”

This was a fascinating concept to him, the idea that someone could come back from the dead, and he wanted to know more about this “death loophole.” He gave it some thought and asked, “Do you have to be related to God to come back from the dead?” I told him that I thought it definitely helped.

He sat with that for a second as if he was trying to trace his lineage back to God somehow. I mean, it’s possible. According to a recent study, Jews are all 30th cousins, which means the chances are pretty high that we’re all a little bit related to Jesus, but probably not related enough to transcend from the general status of “We’re all God’s Children” to the death loophole status of “eligible to be risen.” To be honest, as 30th cousins, we probably wouldn’t even have made the invite list to Jesus’s Bar Mitzvah. I mean, beyond being very distantly related, Mary & Joseph did not have the cash to host a big party. They couldn’t even afford a crib for a bed let alone an event venue.

I could see that the finality of death was weighing heavily on his mind, so I decided to offer a bit of hope as an alternative.

“In some religions,” I said, “people believe in reincarnation – that we die and then we are reborn as another person or animal and in each life you correct the mistakes you made in the past or learn lessons about life that you didn’t learn the last time. And then life never really ends.”

Even though I don’t believe in reincarnation, I’ve often considered my possible previous lives and whether or not this life is a punishment or reward for my past. If this is a step up, for example, I may have once been an awful man who treated women like objects and had a foul mouth and a juvenile sense of humor. And he was definitely homophobic even though he had experimented with anal in college.

And just as it seemed that he would never be anything more than a useless douchebag, he did something really selfless like sacrificing his life to push a small child out of the way of an oncoming bus. And right after that bus flattened him into the pavement, he was reborn as a lesbian – a foul-mouthed, dirty-joke telling lesbian who occasionally pawed at women without repercussions and who could experiment with anal without being hypocritical – if she wanted.

Levi embraced this happy philosophy that he would keep coming back to life and he thought about who he might be next time around. “Maybe,” he said, “I’ll be a dog who gets to go out on walks and play in the dirt all the time and pee on trees.”

dogs-nature-animal-tree-dog-peeing-amusing-hd-wallpapers-736x460

“Well,” I said, “if that sounds like a better life than this one, I hope you come back as a dog, too.”

And then he added, “And we’d all be a happy dog family together!” What I realized at that moment was that death is difficult to accept not only because of its finality but because it’s devastating to imagine leaving all the people you love behind. No matter what kind of crap is going on in the world or how much you may have lost your faith in humanity; there is nothing more gratifying and life affirming than the power of love. A force from above, if you will.

“Yes,” I said, “we will all be a happy dog family together.”

I left it there. I didn’t need to tell him that even if we are reincarnated, the chances were slim that we’d be reincarnated into the same animal family – especially when I am not as keen to come back as a puppy when I much prefer the company of pussies. That said, if I could live another lifetime with my family, I’d be a dog.

Cause when I die, and they lay me to rest, I’m gonna go to the place that’s the best, and if that place is with my reincarnated dog family, so be it.

Rod Serling Knew We Would All Color Our Hair

Taking my lady spouse to the salon to color her hair for the first time in her life felt like I was a parent dropping a child off at prom knowing that the next time I would see her, she would be different, forever changed, innocence gone, violated. I felt sick to my stomach. She was not as upset, though it would not have been her choice to color her hair. When you’re a … mature … woman forced to look for a job in a young man’s world, you have to color that shit up.

I have been coloring my hair since my early 30s. Months before my wedding day, Reuben, my stylist, suggested I might want to do something about those grays at my temples. “Sister, you are serving some Bride of Frankenstein realness.”

“I don’t know,” I hesitated. “Do I really need to do that now?”

He put one hand on his hip and with his other hand waved his index finger at me. “Do you need to color your hair?” he asked back at me. “Well, do you need to wear control-tops under your cocktail dress? (These were the dark ages before Spanx®.) Do you need to wax your upper lip? Do you need to wear a bra?”

Still not convinced, I followed up with “Won’t I get cancer from the dye seeping into my brain?”

“Sure,” he said “but by then you won’t have enough working brain cells left to care.” Ask a stupid question…

I started coloring my hair and never looked back.

Gabriella, on the other hand, was never so inclined. Her grays grew in slowly and evenly and were hardly noticeable, until they were. It seemed as if overnight her hair became more salt than pepper. Those salty grays are practically neon when you have to start interviewing for jobs, and they all scream from the roots, “I’M AS OLD AS DIRT!” So she booked an appointment to color her hair.

Did you ever see that Twilight Zone episode, “Number 12 Looks Just Like You?” In the future, 18 year olds willingly and happily go through The Transformation. They select a new body and face from a catalog of models. Ultimately, everyone looks the same, wearing nametags to distinguish themselves from each other. They are all ageless and conventionally attractive and happy because all the ugly has been eradicated from the world.

Twilight Zone models

One brave girl named Marilyn resists The Transformation. She stands up for difference, however ugly it may be, but in the end she succumbs to all the pressure and transforms, body and mind. She chooses Number 8, and she could not be happier to look like everyone else and spend the rest of her days walking around in a leotard and tights – hopefully with a snap-flap somewhere so they don’t have to completely disrobe just to pee!

I first saw that episode when I was a kid, and it freaked me out. And now, we don’t have to look very far to see that The Transformation is real. Hollywood, South Korea, Brazil – we’ll do anything to look younger and prettier so that we feel better about ourselves and so others feel better about us, too.

When I pulled up in front of the salon to collect my violated spouse, she was sipping the last drops of the red wine they provided, anesthesia necessary for The Transformation. She gave the colorist a full-bodied hug, almost forgetting to give her the check made out for Too Many Dollars. She practically skipped to the car while I sat fuming in my seat because Rod Serling knew that the world was whack and getting whacker by the minute.

“You’re hooked now, aren’t you?” I asked her as she admired her very brown hair in the mirror.

“Not at those prices!” she assured me. “I’m done after I get a job,” she said. “But it looks good, right?”

“Yes, but you were hot even before The Transformation.”

“What?”

“Never mind.”

We shall see if the dye has taken hold of her senses by the time the grays return. Perhaps, she will resist the power of The Transformation and perhaps we can both avoid a leotarded future.

Old Gay Films and Why I Love Them

Remember “The Hunger?” No, neither did half the people who showed up to a screening of it at my local theater the other day. They had never seen this 1983 Tony Scott film starring Catherine Deneuve, Susan Sarandon, and David Bowie…and the incomparable performance of a young Willem Dafoe as 2nd Phone Booth Youth.

the hunger willem defoe

Local non-profit North Jersey Pride hosted the screening after the sad passing of David Bowie and served up some 80s realness with a side of vampire immortality and soupçon of girl-on-girl action. I braced myself for 96 minutes of torture that I hoped would at least be comical after all this time and considering how far queer film had come. Yet, I actually appreciated the slow-paced, stylized fantasy world that Scott created and the walk down 80s lane. But more than anything, watching “The Hunger” reminded me of my budding lesbionic self.

I had not seen the film in 1983 when it first came out. In 1983, I was 15 (yeah I’m old, whut?), and I wasn’t even loving ladies then, or gentlemen, or scoundrels for that matter. I did feel a fond affection for a special pillow during those sad and lonely days before I left my parents’ house. It was the best I could do.

When I finally did discover more reciprocally satisfying bedfellows, I saw “The Hunger” a few years later, and it was a revelation. Sexual fluidity, boobs, A-list straight celebrities playing gay, more boobs, and hot women making the love – but not in the spray-tanned, impossibly long nailed, drugged up porn way produced for straight men. To be fair, the sex scenes were unsurprisingly tame, the bloody vampire feedings far more graphic than the sex scenes, but that didn’t stop me from swearing off pillows once and for all – I mean except for the memory foam pillow that provides me with exceptional neck support.

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The lesbian required viewing in the ‘80s were films like “Lianna,” “Personal Best,” and “Desert Hearts.” These were the cream of the crop, but they were creamy crops in a very small field. I couldn’t help but feel super old considering how much things had changed. The field is so much bigger and, indeed, so much creamier. That’s right, queer film is a veritable field of creams.

Field of creams

After the film, a bunch of us gathered to debrief. Those who had never seen the film before that night were not impressed. There was too much blood, not enough sex, and some raised questions about the ethical treatment of animals after a few scenes with irate monkeys. I had to agree that the monkey scenes were disturbing but only because I had been traumatized after watching “The Wizard of Oz” and had nightmares about long-fanged flying monkeys imprisoning me in a box – before being held in a box was a happy thing.

I realized then that I will always love “The Hunger” and all those queer movies of yesteryear in a way that ‘kids today’ will not. Those films of olden days may have been low-rent or poorly acted or depressing stories of love that could never be or blood-sucking vampire fantasies, but I can’t help but love them because they were the films of my baby-dykehood. I love them because I can relive those years of awakening without all the fear and crap that came along with them. And, I love them because they remind me that we have, indeed, come a long way.

Your Husband’s Character

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What resources did a homemaker have at her disposal in the 1930s and 40s before the Internet could provide endless collections of helpful hints and life hacks? How was she to know that if she failed to clean the rubber seal around the door of her refrigerator properly, she slowly poison her family with exponentially reproducing mold spores?

Or that one could revive old and tired skin with lotions made with radium?

Or that if you are choking on a fish bone, it is, contrary to previous notions, perfectly acceptable to leave the table in order not to disturb dinner guests?

During those dark days, well before the Internet could inform the clueless housewife of her hygienic, aesthetic, and culinary obligations, booklets were published to help America’s homemakers from their linoleum tiled kitchen to their dusty rose colored bedrooms.

One such booklet contained a handy questionnaire for housewives to answer entitled: What Kind of a Husband Have YOU? which read as follows:

Answer Yes or No to the following questions to determine your husband’s character:

  1. Is he eager to get ahead?
  2. Does he think faster than others?
  3. Does he find it hard to get the day’s problems out of his mind at night?
  4. Is he continually dissatisfied with himself?
  5. Is he a light sleeper?
  6. Does he like to be on the go?

If the answers to most of these questions are NO, you are married to a calm, reserved, rather phlegmatic person. If most of your answers are YES, your husband is the energetic “racehorse” type. Like the racehorse, he is quick, high-strung eager to win. Like the racehorse, he is excitable, nervous, sensitive. One thing may stand in the way of his success – his nerves.

The homemaker of the 1950s may not have concerned herself with the fact that these questions reveal more about the kind of provider a husband might be than the kind of partner. There are no questions that have to do with listening skills, supportiveness, and whether or not he likes anal.

Today, there are plenty of questionnaires we can find in magazines and online to tell wives about the mysterious men they’ve married. That doesn’t entirely negate the scientific method used in this 6-question checklist, however.

In fact, an updated version was recently discovered, which had been published in 1986. The questions remained the same but the analysts, Professors Mary Jane Dank and Dr. Rock Gank, had revised the conclusions based on research they were conducting at the time. Dank and Gank’s notes read as follows:

If you mostly answered YES to the above questions, and your husband thinks fast, can’t sleep, and is constantly on the go, he’s probably doing a lot of cocaine.

Should your husband be bumping snow, he’s most likely bumping beavers due to an increase in sexual desire, and you should get him checked for STDs. That said, while he may be banging box, the chances of procreating are low as cocaine often impairs ejaculation. Furthermore, his constant chatter about himself followed by increased hostility will prevent any love interest from pursuing a long-term relationship with him.

The upside of his cocaine use is the fact that he is eager to get ahead in order to support his coke habit, but that’s only going to benefit you in the end. Your husband’s career advancement will allow you to stay home or find a part-time job with Avon or Amway or the like until he has a heart attack, and if you’re lucky, experience that heart attack on top of one the whores he’s fucking.

If, on the other hand, your husband is of the phlegmatic variety, it is likely that he prefers weed to cocaine. Your pot-smoking husband may or may not experience sexual arousal from cannabis as results differ between husbands and between strains of marijuana.

A stoned spouse is less likely to engage in extramarital affairs not due to lack of interest, but because he will rarely find the motivation to leave the house, nor will he be able to locate his car keys. Should he make it out the door, however, be aware that doing the doobie does reduce inhibitions, which can lead to irresponsible behavior, and you should have him checked for STDs. If you suspect that your husband may be considering putting that pipe where it doesn’t belong, try spreading some Duncan Hines chocolate frosting on your lady parts, and you’ll make for an irresistible treat that is also naturally gluten free.

A reprinted edition of the questionnaire was published in 2011 but spoke not of Dank nor Gank. There is, however, a curiously unreferenced footnote that simply reads:

If you do need to answer six YES/NO questions to figure out who the man is sleeping in your bed, perhaps you should begin by examining your own character, and regardless of your answers, and do clean out your refrigerator thoroughly.

Morning Journal Entry from Remote Office aka Coffee Shop

8:45 AM: Approach counter at local café and order a large tea to nurse for the next two hours while working at said café. Barista tells me they are out of my green tea but would I like to drink a spiced tea that tastes like the three way lovechild of potpourri, cayenne pepper, and dish detergent instead of the standard everyone-should-always-have-in-stock green tea. Because I am already at the café and have already plugged in laptop at the table near the one outlet in the whole place, I agree to the stupid tea because buying disgusting tea and drinking it at this café is cheaper than renting office space.

8:53 AM: Sit down at table and discover that the tabletop is wobbly. I Google “Why are café tables always wobbly?” and discover a solution from “Scientific American.” The secret is turning the table. I turn the table on myself and feel slightly sad that there’s no one there who can share in the irony.

9:16 AM: Ear buds wedged in ears with the help of three-day old wax build up listening to ambient coffee house noise on coffitivity.com to drown out the sound of actual coffee house noise which tends towards an unreliable cacophony, an acquaintance approaches my table to chat. She places her large mug of cappuccino down on the corner of my wobbly table at which point I discover that Scientific American is not so scientific, and then I question its patriotism as I spend the next 8 minutes cleaning up spilled coffee foam and praying my keyboard still operates. Acquaintance leaves for a manicure. I consider my excoriated cuticles and berate myself for not chewing gum even though I can’t help cracking it constantly when I do and I also tend to chew so hard and fast that the inevitable ache in my jaw reminds me of one of the many reasons I do not care for blowjobs.

9:42 AM: Put coat on after the front door of the café is mysteriously stuck wide open and no one else seems to notice or care. I put my hands around my hot cup of Pepper Detergent Tea and discover that the porcelain mug is colder than my hands. I Google “office space to rent within 5 mile radius,” and then I close the tab when I find the rental fees.

10:09 AM: Friend in Freelance joins me as we have at our keyboards, grateful for the company and motivated to out-tap the other, as opposed to tap the other, which I would do because my Friends in Freelance ooze creative hotness.

remotely working

10:22 AM: Friends of friends arrive. They assume that my Friend in Freelance and I are socializing because all people who wear ear buds, stare at screens, type furiously, and make no eye contact with each other are clearly up for a chat. They approach and initiate conversation. We do our best to politely explain that we are working and they pretend to understand our words. “You mean you just get together and write things?” Yes, we explain. The café is our remote office. “And you don’t talk to each other and you work on different things … together? How adorable!” We stare at them speechless.

10:38 AM: The friends of friends have finally gone, but I am still fuming from the “How adorable” comment, grateful that I did not try to stab anyone in the throat with my pen because I would have probably knocked the table with just enough force that it would have wobbled my Pepper Detergent Tea all over my computer. My Friend in Freelance and I agree that people should simply respect the invisible walls that go up when ear buds are in position.

11:05 AM: I gather my things to go so that I can get some grocery shopping in and grab a bite before the kids get home. I try to feel good about what I was able to accomplish all things considered.

 

Photo credit: Canadian Business

The Degenerate and Degenerative Sport of American Football

Last Sunday night, the Pandora Chanukah channel blared festive tunes into the living room as the Chanukah candles burned bright and wrapping paper lay crumpled in a bag after revealing the evening’s bounty. And I sat alone writing a post for VillageQ while the boys stole away to play with their new toys, and my wife snuck away to watch football. I am not a fan.

When I was growing up, I watched football with my father. I was not a fan then, either. But Dad always had the chips and salsa. If I wanted chips and salsa before he polished them off, I had to eat my share while watching football with him. I am a fan of chips and salsa.

Our children have never been into team sports. Asher attempted Kiddie Soccer when he was in preschool, which was disastrous. I had to bribe him with treats to get him on the field at all, and I had absolutely no expectations for his performance once he got there. Since then, the boys have opted for individualized sports like swimming, Tae Kwon Do, and fencing. I am a fan of indoor sports that do not require sitting outdoors in inclement weather, and I am especially a fan of not having to buy special chairs to sit on the sidelines in inclement weather.

It is admittedly easy for me to turn my nose up at American football because my children have no interest in it. It used to be even easier because my wife never seemed to have any interest in it, either. But something happened after over 20 years together for which I have no explanation. She now watches Sunday Night Football. I am not a fan of this new development.

I think I’ve become more sensitive to it as our nation becomes more numb to violence. The increase numbers of shootings has ripped off a scab that never healed since Newtown. I am not trying to make any kind of attenuated connections between shootings and football. Honestly. I’m saying that violence in this country and the world has made me question how evolved humans really are. Football is a violent sport. It just is. And people love to watch the violence. People love watching a game that is all about hitting hard, tackling, sustaining blows, and doing serious damage to each other – like brain damage kind of damage. I am not a fan.

Photo courtesy: Phoenix Art Museum
Photo courtesy: Phoenix Art Museum

We need less violence in the world right about now. I am not a fan of gladiator sports that expose our bloodlust rather than celebrate athleticism. Once I became a mother, it became even more difficult for me to understand how parents justify putting their kids in harm’s way. Dr. Omalu said in a recent New York Times article said we have a responsibility to keep children out of high-impact sports while their brains are still developing.

If a child who plays football is subjected to advanced radiological and neurocognitive studies during the season and several months after the season, there can be evidence of brain damage at the cellular level of brain functioning, even if there were no documented concussions or reported symptoms. If that child continues to play over many seasons, these cellular injuries accumulate to cause irreversible brain damage, which we know now by the name Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or C.T.E., a disease that I first diagnosed in 2002.

Depending on the severity of the condition, the child now has a risk of manifesting symptoms of C.T.E. like major depression, memory loss, suicidal thought and actions, loss of intelligence as well as dementia later in life. C.T.E. has also been linked to drug and alcohol abuse as the child enters his 20s, 30s and 40s.

Dr. Bennet Omalu

Dave Meggyesy played for Syracuse and then for the Cardinals for 7 years. Here he is on the Dick Cavett show talking about how football (“Middle America’s theater”) glorifies violence. “The raison d’etre of football is violence.” Check out Gentle Giant Dave talking to Dick Cavett and Janis Joplin about football.

Here are some fun interviews where Malcolm Gladwell says the NFL is socializing young men into a culture of violence and that football is a moral abomination. Moral abomination? That’s pretty hard-hitting there, Mr. Gladwell! Then he compares American football to dogfighting, where vulnerable animals attack each other in the name of loyalty to their owners. Charming.

Here is the Dr. Bennet Omalu interview on Frontline. He believed that the truth will set you free. Apparently, the NFL doesn’t want to set anyone free because no one wanted Dr. Omalu to mess with America’s national pastime. Whistle blowers are just not the heroes that addle-brained sports figures with early onset dementia are.

CTE brain scan comparison

From the Frontline Interview:

From your analysis, from what you’ve seen, what would your estimate be of how many NFL players that are playing the game right now probably have CTE?

OK. Based on my experience, there has not been any NFL player I’ve examined that did not have CTE.

Now, the degrees of advancement of the disease will be different, and they have different types. So my opinion is, based on my experience, is all of them.

Did you say all of them?

All of them. All the NFL players I have examined pathologically, I have not seen one that did not have changes in their brain system with brain damage.

Photo credit: New York Times
Photo credit: New York Times

And now for something completely, but not entirely, different for those of you who would rather have a laugh before Sunday’s game:

Gabriella and I have had more than a few conversations about whether or not I should tolerate American football in our house. I have not yet succeeded in outlawing it completely. But while someone was watching game was on last week, I did find the time to compose this post. And this afternoon, someone is watching football – as in soccer. Baby steps…with helmets fastened tightly.

Staceyann Chin’s MotherStruck! Strikes All the Chords

MotherStruck! graphic

Traveling over every inch of stage and weaving in between aisles and making eye contact with audience members, Staceyann Chin will take you with her on a journey from menarche to motherhood in her autobiographical show MotherStruck! at The Lynn Redgrave Theater. You’ll bear witness to all the hardships and obstacles that she, a single, Caribbean, Asian, lesbian, poet faces along the way to motherhood in New York City.

Directed by Cynthia Nixon (Sex & the City), MotherStruck! is Staceyann Chin’s ode to women who want to be mothers but discover how difficult it is when your healthcare system and your wallet and your body conspire against you.

Author of the memoir, The Other Side of Paradise, Chin is no newcomer to the stage. Upon moving from Jamaica to New York City, she quickly found her place at open mic night at the Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe. She co-wrote and performed on Broadway in Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam and performed in three one-woman shows before creating MotherStruck! It is no surprise that Cynthia Nixon chose to work with her on this most recent project.

Staceyann and Cynthia

She is leading a remarkable life that is fascinating to hear about because of the many seemingly insurmountable obstacles she has overcome, but it is also fascinating because of the way in which she chooses to tell you about it – the humor, the drama, the poetry, the political backdrop, the jaw-dropping specificity – that compels you to listen as long as she is speaking.Cynthia Nixon

Staceyann Chin’s experiences and observations about pregnancy and motherhood expose a society that smiles upon the young and wealthy, hetero-married while making motherhood painfully difficult for those who do not have both womb and sperm or cash to cover the cost of fertility treatments.

From insemination to pregnancy to birth, we are a part of Chin’s journey, experiencing the frustrations, disappointments, and triumphs in every scene. We hold our breath until she gets pregnant, exhaling to laugh at the absurd and comical-grateful for the humor embedded even in the most stressful situations. Some of my favorite scenes combine vivid imagery with acrobat-like physical comedy as she moves and contorts her body so that we can fully appreciate each message and every emotion.

You’ll most likely connect to a number of Staceyann’s experiences as a woman on a mission to mother, and you’ll certainly understand the reality that sets in for all mothers after a baby is born. “Now what?” she asks after she realizes that the real work begins when we take responsibility for another life. Are we good enough? Will we make the same mistakes that our mothers made? Do we have to sacrifice all that we are for all we want for our children?

A scene that speaks to the priorities that change once we have children is the gentrification reality check. Chin describes what happens when wealthy, white people move to “up and coming” neighborhoods. She tells us how they inflate rents and force the less affluent, brown people out, and the audience bristles with disgust. And then she tilts the prism to reveal another reality. Gentrification brings a variety of shops and restaurants, sure, but it also brings cops who actually protect the neighborhood, making it easier to be a dyke and safer for dykes to raise children, even though all of the children are white. What’s a cash-poor, lesbian of color with a child supposed to do?

We feel the power of MotherStruck! when we connect to Chin’s truth and to each other in the process. Publishing VillageQ has always been about connecting a community that so often feels disconnected. VillageQ provides an online space where we can share our queer stories, validate our experiences, and inspire conversation. I am grateful for Staceyann Chin who shares her story with fierce, unapologetic words. I hope that the VillageQ community and Peaches & Coconuts readers are able to check out MotherStruck! and further connect with each other as well as support a talented poet mama!!

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CLICK HERE FOR DISCOUNTED TICKETS!

Opening Night is Monday, December 14 at The Lynn Redgrave Theater, 45 Bleecker Street (at Lafayette), New York City.

Showtimes:

  • Tuesday through Thursday at 7:30pm
  • Friday at 8pm
  • Saturday at 4pm and 8pm
  • Sunday at 5pm

In the meantime, treat yourself to LivingRoomProtests featuring Staceyann and spectacular daughter Zuri! Here’s the first installment:

I participated in the MotherStruck! blog program and received compensation but all opinions are my own.

Baring All to a Bosom Buddy

I’m not gonna lie. I love a good tan. I will also confess to incorporating the act of tanning into my day. As soon as the weather turns and I can be outside in the sun, I make a point of catching those healing rays, defrosting myself from winter. In so doing, I become a happier, browner me. I love a little color…Or “culuh” as one might say in the New York area.

I often feel pressure to lie about being a purposeful tanner because it seems a waste of valuable time – time that could be spent writing, working out, balancing a budget, de-cluttering my house, engaging with my children – a host of things that most would consider a better, more productive use of my time. I run into friends, and our exchange goes something like:

Friend: Have you been away?
Me: Away? Me? No.
Friend: But you’re so tan!
Me: Oh, well, I’ve been out and about, and you know – Semitic. Our people and the desert, and you know, we’re quick to tan.

Of course, I’m Jewish, but I don’t know how Semitic I am. I mean, I’m Eastern European from way back, which could indicate that I come from Eastern European converts, and there’s nothing Semitic about me, but for the purposes of small talk, my answer seems to suffice.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that the sun makes me happy in a way that all of those afore mentioned, supposedly more worthy things make other people happy. Just a small dose a day puts me in a good mood.

By the end of the summer, I can’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment for having achieved a noticeably darker complexion than my sallow, pallid norm, so much so that when my good friend noticed my summer hue, I decided to share with her my tan line.

I pulled down my tank top so she could marvel at the BEFORE and AFTER except that what I had not considered was that the tan line was lower than I remembered and the bra I was wearing that day uplifted with extreme proficiency. I accidentally flashed my friend my boob. Total tata. Areola and a hint of nip.

She laughed, and I laughed, and that was that, and yet I felt that much closer to her. How could I not? I mean, it’s not every day your share full breastage with your friends.

Because she did not whip hers out in return, you may wonder if I feel that our friendship is somehow as lopsided as two breasts sitting in opposing positions, which you only discover in the bathroom when you look in the mirror and you see that your nipples are pointing in different directions and the ladies are latitudinally divergent. As a matter of fact, I was relieved that I had not been in her shoes. I guess I’d rather be the exposer than the exposee. It doesn’t have to be a … tit for tat situation … to understand our deep friendship.

bosom buddies showI think it’s appropriate to say that my friend and I are genuinely Bosom Buddies. Note that the expression only incorporates one bosom, which feels authentic considering the fact that only one bosom was revealed. But even if there were many girls playing Peek-a-Boob, we would never be Bosoms Buddies – plural. In addition to being way too difficult to say – go ahead and try it – the bosom in Bosom Buddies does refer an actual boob.

Originally, the English term was Bosom Friend, but the Americans, who appreciate alliteration substituted Buddy for Friend. The first usage cited was in 1590 when the breast or bosom was “considered as the seat of thoughts and feelings.” You would only share or “unbosom” your deepest thoughts to your closest friend.

Well, Dear Friend who is undoubtedly reading this post, know that I have and would unbosom myself to you any day. I am confident the feeling is mutual – though flashing full hootage is completely optional.

The Sadism of School Supply Lists

My school supply for two children list reads longer than a 2 week vacation packing list for a family of four during which time they will be traveling to the mountains and the beach and at some point will have to attend a wedding.

magic rub eraser“4 large pink erasers“ Why? Why do they have to be pink? Do pink erasers erase better than purple erasers? And what of the Magic Rub® eraser? Nothing I can erase all your mistakes and make you feel good as new like a magic rub, amiright?

“6 ball point pens: 2 red, 2 blue, 2 green, medium point.” What? No black? Blue pen ink is like blue eye shadow – only to be used ironically. 3 highlighters: 1 pink, 1 yellow, and 1 orange – chisel tip.” What will happen if we send them to school with … BLADE tipped highlighters? Will they be sent home? Fined? Shamed? “Clear water bottle” Why? Because they want to make sure they’re not filling they’re water bottles with Gatorade or Red Bull or Jack Daniels? They’re only forcing them to learn the difference between clear and dark spirits at an earlier age (though I can neither confirm nor deny that our children may have some basic knowledge already).

parts of pencilThe list is long and the cost staggering – even when I try to piece together all the supplies that we have left over from years past. What if the box of 24 crayons only has 19 left, of which 2 are grey? And the 1 dozen sharpened pencils they want? I’ve got lots of pencils. Most of them are sharpened down to the pencil ferrule. Yeah, I said “ferrule.” Yeah, I searched for it. Just like you probably just searched for “aglet” or “frenulum” because I sent you on a mental scavenger hunt for useless words you always forget.

Digression for my Midwestern Lady Friends of a Certain Age. Remember Chandler’s assignment notebooks? Remember affixing all the markers to the top in rainbow order and then covering the cover in so many puffy stickers that it looked more like a pillow than a book? I don’t remember needing anything else but my Chandler’s. I do remember going school supply shopping, so I’m sure that there were other requirements. I am sure, however, that my parents did not have to choose between buying school supplies and the cable bill – mostly because there was no cable, which explains why I was aware that there was a televised soybean report at 6am.

I also remember going clothing shopping with my mother. I did not look forward to that at all. I was not allowed to wear jeans to school until middle-school when I put my foot down. And when I put my foot down, it was as if I was wearing tap shoes because I was also not allowed to wear sneakers or any kind of shoe that did not provide foot support. Oh how I yearned for Docksides! When I walked down the halls at school, I could hear children in their classes saying, “Shhh! The teacher is coming back!!” because of the clip-clip-clipping that my hard-soled, non-sneaker shoes. From a distance, I could have passed for a teacher with my clip-clip shoes and my slacks and my color-coordinated ensembles.

My children are not so bothered about clothes – possibly because I allow, nay encourage, them to wear jeans AND sneakers. They can stand out in other ways – ways of their choosing. My mother always used to say to us, “Why be in sitting when you can be outstanding??” All well and good until your mother makes you dress like a 40-year old. That’s not the kind of standing out any child should endure.

I suppose I don’t need our kids to stand out with their purple erasers, blade-tipped highlighters, and tinted water bottles filled with Jack either. They’ll just have to make their own mark…washable marks from their boxes of 8, fine-tipped markers.

 

 

 

If Only Rachel Dolezal Recognized the Power of Allies

dolezal“At least she isn’t queer!” we agreed all too quickly, inviting the gods, goddesses, and gender non-conforming deities to descend upon us and smite us with the Rachel Dolezal’s crazy when she came out as bisexual. Hashtag RayCray.

Wait, is there a position available at GLAAD?!? Might she have resigned from the NAACP knowing that there was a gig there? Must she appropriate ALL the institutionally oppressed or disempowered identities?? Can I at least predict with some amount of certainty that she will not come out as Jewish, as well? I mean, it’s debatable that our people are really oppressed, what with controlling all the financial institutions and the media and whatnot. Can I at least go to bed tonight knowing that she drew the line at black bisexual single mom who is the survivor of abuse? That she doesn’t foster a child of Native American descent with special needs?

It has all been a fantastic story, of course, because no matter what our race or identity, we can all come together and agree that this Czech, German, and Swedish woman born to and raised by Caucasian parents who sued Howard University for discrimination is a lying liar pants. We may differ about the degree of damage that she has done and some may even go so far as praise her for her work in the NAACP, but everyone can sit around the Thanksgiving table this year without fear of heated arguments now that Rachel Dolezal has provided us with minimally controversial absurdity.

I’m not going to hate on her. I feel sorry for her. For all the good work that she has done, she will be remembered primarily for her lies and how she went to great lengths to become someone that she was not. What disappoints me is the missed opportunity to become a powerful ally and demonstrate how to fight for civil rights from a position of privilege.

Living in a progressive community as I do, I am surrounded by straight allies who do much more than tolerate their LGBT neighbors. They rally for marriage equality and sit on the boards of specifically LGBT organizations. They teach their children all the many ways to make a family and they read them books featuring gender non-conforming characters. They take Eldridge Cleaver’s words to heart: “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.” These straight allies show their kids and their communities how to be a part of the solution, and I love them for it. They understand that we all have the power and the responsibility to change hearts and minds.

Look at Donald Harris; a 77-year-old Jewish guy from Brooklyn who heads up the Maricopa County chapter of the NAACP in Arizona. His story about his commitment to the NAACP and racial equality inspired me to become a member. Imagine what white Rachel Dolezal could have accomplished. I’m not saying that she didn’t do good things as a black president, but she didn’t have to be black to do good things. I wish she had recognized the good she could do as a white woman fighting for racial equality. And I hope I don’t see her waving from a Pride float any time soon.