Buck, our Honda Element, wouldn’t start one day last week so I rolled up my sleeves, grabbed a few tools, and got my hands greasy. A few minutes later he was purring in the drive, so I came in, put things away, washed my hands, and touched up my eye liner.
See what I did there? Blurred those boundaries. I worked on the car, which was a brawny thing to do, and then fixed my face, which is a typically feminal thing to do. Which incidentally, I’ve been doing all my life, but I’m just now getting comfortable with the fact that I am all over the place when it comes to masculinity and femininity.
When I was a little kid playing with my older sister, we played mostly girly things like house and Barbies and made paper dolls, which all suited me just fine. My mom taught me to cook and sew. I enjoyed those things. I also had Hot Wheels and GI Joes and a big sand pile. I had the luxury of access to my dad’s work bench and tools, where I would build and deconstruct things to my heart’s content, and I eventually learned to maintain my own minibike. And I enjoyed those things. Read the rest of this entry →
So I’m working on a revision of the stage parody we produced 2 years ago, Go On With Your Wind. It was a huge undertaking and a ton of fun, but the show clocked at a good 3+ hours. It needs tightened and trimmed, but I was told by an objective someone whose opinion I value: this show needs to be published. One of the best parts about revision: making it better, funnier, sharper.
So I’m sitting in the studio at l’Auberge working feverishly on my script, and my husband, Khrysso, is sitting in the studio working on a piece of art, and he asks for my opinion and some technical input, and I send him a PDF of my latest draft for editing, and to get his feedback. I’m laughing at my own comedy, and marveling at his colors and his design, and we pause to discuss some plans for giving back to the community.
This is a dream come true. It’s so incredible, this feeling of rightness, of goodness, of well-being. It’s been such a long journey to get to this place that I never imagined existed. There is so much love in this world, safety in this home. Our daughter is chatting with her boyfriend and watching funny videos. Our best friend, Patti, our Mrs. Madrigal, is playing her dulcimer and we all break to watch some Father Brown.
This place has a flood of friends who do not feel the need to judge one another, who practice love without question, who cast the net of grace and charity and service wide. I am so blessed to be here. I don’t know how it happened, I don’t know how this dream came true, I only know I am grateful beyond measure.
So then, the rogue, Thrett Cutlet says to the vixen, Spoilitt O’Hairy, “Why? Maybe it’s because I’ve always had a weakness for hopeless causes, and you’re really hopeless. Or maybe, maybe there’s some other reason that’s been cut from the script. Who knows?”
When I was a kid I adored my oldest brother Tim and his wife Sue. They married when he was in the Navy serving in ‘Nam and she lived with my family for a year until he was discharged. It was like magically gaining another adult sister, and I’ve always loved her just that way, even many years later when she is no longer an actual in-law. She was beautiful and sophisticated to my mind, big eyes and makeup and teased hair. I remember them coming to surprise me at school when he was home on leave, and with pride how the other elementary age boys in my class ogled her.
I stayed with them in their first apartment for a weekend while my folks were out of town and made a pest of myself, teasing Sue like an 11-year-old little brother would. I remember that apartment and that weekend with special magical fondness: Sue making her fabulous scratch pizza, hearing my brother explain Iron Butterfly’s In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida and its horrible story late at night before falling asleep on their wicker couch.
The next day they took me home and my brother unveiled to us all a special painting he had had commissioned of Sue: an oil “Glamor Shots” of the day. Read the rest of this entry →
As I was visiting mom in rehab this evening an old familiar Rankin/Bass favorite came on the telly. Yes, it is that time of year again: ho, ho, ho, and I am compelled to share with you a story, a tale, a reckoning.
All my failures in life can be directly attributed to Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. It’s true. I was a very impressionable age in the sixties when Rudolph was new and magical, and I was a sucker for those claymation messages which seemed so benevolent on the surface.
The first misconception– Misconception? No, it really is an outright lie. If we’re going to be frank about the devastation caused by this innocuous children’s holiday entertainment delight, then let’s call it what it is. The first LIE is that it’s okay to be a misfit. This is not true. Rudy and his new best friend Hermey actually become heroes because of the quirks that make them different, and everybody loves them. And we know this is not how real life operates.
The message about friendship that really stuck with my 6 year old self after watching Rudolph is that your best friends will betray you and call you names if you make any startling revelations about yourself, so it’s better to keep your piehole shut! I mean, come on, Hermey wasn’t an outcast because he wanted to be a dentist. Hermey was an outcast because he preferred to wear his hair with that stylish and rather attractive extreme half-bang, which swooped sharply over one eye, rakish and defiant, with a pointy edge that could lacerate the unwary if he wasn’t careful. In my first career as a hairdresser I emulated that bang on many old ladies, many, many old ladies. And of course it was impossible for Hermey to NOT like Rudolph when that lucky buck was styling bling like a neon beezer. We all know that Hermey’s real problem had everything to do with being a fussy little pansy, but nothing to do with teeth, and that Hermey found screen life later in the person of David Hyde Pierce.
I believed that one day I too would be rescued from my solitary melancholia by a similarly outcast fellow who would join me in a compulsively affirming choreographed song about embracing our nebbishy selves and spitting in the world’s eye! My constant efforts to engage others thusly reinforced my own image as weirdo and a person who fails to recognize personal space.
The next lie that was perpetuated by Rudolph and taken to heart by untold thousands was that there is always tomorrow. How many of us became a little deer named Clarice in our dreams, with those huge, impossibly soft deer eyes (which were probably so deer-like because she was a deer) singing sweetly about how you should believe in your dreams come what may. Yeah, just what my father wanted me to believe! The man is telling me at 8 years old to learn a trade, become a mechanic, and I’m pretending I’m Clarice wafting through frozen crystal landscapes like doe-colored chiffon. I clung to that belief through all the angst of my growing-up years, telling myself when the chips were down that “tomorrow is NOT far away!” Isn’t that just another way of saying, “I’ll think about that tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day!” Clarice was a beautiful dreamer, Scarlett was queen of denial. What a fine line between vixen and venison. Get your head out of the snow belt, Clarice! Tomorrow is TOMORROW, it’s always 24 hours away, and you’re not getting any younger waiting around for it. Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future, and one of these days your fluffy white tail will be droopy dried out jerky. Ditch that bubblegum bow on your head and SEIZE THE DAY, dear! And when you run away from that bully buck dad of yours, don’t go looking for Rudolph. You run and don’t stop until your little hooves hit Berkeley where you can learn to be a dissident and overthrow the tyrant Claus! (OK, it WAS the 60s, after all)
The third Rudolph lie cloaked in charming childhood innocence is that when you’ve run away from home and are lost in the wilderness, a kindly and forgivingly eccentric woolly wildman will come along to escort you to safety. You can excuse his oral fixation with his pickaxe and climb into bed with him, but stay alert long enough to beat feet when the Sandman claims your best friend the pansy who is obviously okay with the situation. Douse the light indeed!
And while we’re visiting the Island of Misfit Toys, I have to ask, because I’ve never been able to figure it out. What the heck is up with that King Dawntreader. Or Muckraker. Moonraiser. Whatever. That lion king, he wouldn’t let Rudolph and his friends stay on the island because it wasn’t a place for living creatures. So what was HE doing there? Hello! Was he some kind of Zombie master or something? Were the misfit toys DEAD? Is that why that little ragdoll was there on the island? It didn’t look like there was anything wrong with her craftsmanship. She looked normal. She didn’t have square wheels, or polka-dots, or even a wacko name like Charlie. They didn’t allude to any defect like an over-active betsy wetsy. So I think she must have been a lesbian.
And finally, we discuss the true villain of the Rudolph Holiday Hoax: Mrs. Claus. Beware hatchet-faced old women who deride others for their looks and encourage unhealthy choices. Sure, “Who wants to see a skinny Santa?” and “Eat, Santa, eat!” are the words of a harpy who is obviously so crippled with self-loathing that she must sabotage any self-esteem in the castle. It is my personal theory that Rudolph’s Mrs. C is actually Santa’s second wife, a harridan who befriended the lovely Jessica from Santa Claus is Coming to Town and then murdered her and took her place, feeding Santa’s eggnog addiction and terrorizing the North Pole. She is probably the sister of Miss Almira Gulch.
And in the end what we can take from Rudolph is that when faced with fanged annihilation, the best thing to do is be a pig and resort to violence. These lessons I embraced in my youth continued to loom as markers on my emotional landscape until years of intense therapy wore them grudgingly away. Happy day for me! and yet for generations of holiday viewers, the lessons still deceive. How else can we explain Honey Boo Boo?