Lame Adventure 320: Me in Drag

Last month when I was visiting my family in the San Francisco Bay Area, my 17-year-old niece, Sweet Pea, wanted to go mall shopping, specifically to Urban Outfitters.  This is one of those stores where I half-expect to find myself carded and then denied entry because I am so beyond their target teen to 20-something age demographic.  Unfortunately that didn’t happen.  There I was, aimlessly wandering the aisles while Sweet Pea was trying on a mere 693 outfits.  Several times clerks invaded my reverie and asked:

UO Clerk:  Can I help you?

Me:  No, not really, and never.

Approximately three hours into this sentence, I noticed a table full of books.  One called Awkward Family Photos caught my eye.

Crappy cell phone photo.

I pointed this tome out to my sister, Dovima. We each grabbed a copy.  We laughed.  We devoured it whole. We belched.

During a subsequent Father’s Day visit to my dad’s house in San Francisco, I thought of one of my own loathed family photos.  Although it was not particularly awkward, this portrait my parents had taken back in the day of their three offspring, my siblings, Dovima and Axel, and me, was one this trio despised equally.  It was taken so far back in the day I think Lincoln was president.

Les Miserables.

I have known Dovima my entire life.  I have never known her to look like that.  Ever.  Axel looked a lot like that.  Briefly.  As for me, who is that?  Someone out of a Brontë novel?

I don’t recall much about the photo shoot, but I vividly remember the photographer trying to force me to cradle a baby doll.  I objected with hurricane force fury.  His issue was what I should do with my hands.  I improvised.

From the earliest age, even the immature me was showing prominent signs of the finely honed wicked personality I have now.  That cherub in the pink poofy party dress enjoyed peeking up store mannequin’s skirts, not sure what I was looking for, but I recall considering using a flashlight for a better view.  When taking breaks from playing with Mr. Potato Head, this little horn dog liked masturbating under the mirrored glass coffee table, positioning my pint-sized self in such a way my rotund four foot ten 200 pound caretaker granny could not possibly get hold of me.  As I’d rub myself into a frenzy she’d scream in Italian:

Granny: Maiale!

Translation: pig.

I loved to joke around. I was fascinated with actresses, especially Sophia Loren, Julie Christie and the singer Dusty Springfield.  I could not get enough of Barbra Streisand, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.  By age ten, Woody Allen and  Andy Warhol were added to that list.  Axel was my #1 playmate.  He invented brilliant games.  One of my favorites was Crash, Bang, Boom where we’d slam our bikes into each other.

I only played with boy’s toys – cars, guns and the Marine G.I. Joe. I loved comic books, but graduated to Mad magazine and by adolescence, The National Lampoon. I was obsessed with gags including plastic vomit, rubber dog-doo, whoopee cushions, and in a sure sign of my budding sophistication, positioning a dollop of fake blood out of a nostril.

I also made my own gags.  One of my crowd pleasers was when I carved a finger-sized hole into a little cotton-lined box, I’d coat my finger with chalk (stolen from where else? — my Catholic grade school), insert it into the hole and then open the box.  The sight of my dead-looking finger always guaranteed a gasp and then when I’d wriggle it, the freak-outs would come.

I loved that.

When asked if I wanted to be a wife and mother, I’d say:

Me:  No.  I want to be a cartoonist.

When I was told I’d change my mind when I’d meet my future husband who’d give me a litter I’d say:

Me:  No, that’s never gonna happen.

This troubled my mother who thought if she tried hard enough to make this tiny terror into a girly girl in ringlets and pale pink taffeta, she could stop my snarky soft butch nature. I’d suddenly transform into someone else instead of me.

Fat chance.

27 responses to “Lame Adventure 320: Me in Drag

  1. You have no idea how much I was laughing at the part about you putting your finger in the box (that sounds naughtier than it was meant, sorry) to make it look dead. I wish I had thought of doing that–that’s a gag for the ages. I think you and I would have been good friends if we had been kids together.


  2. Thanks for the trip down your own little memory lane. We have some shared experiences, albeit from different coasts. Especially approve of your taste in reading materials, the mannequin fixation, and your propensity to pleasure yourself. I also share the Urban Outfitters experience and have spent time leading through the very same book as kids # 2 & 3 spend countless hours shopping.


    • Of course it was leafing through the dang book. Not sure what leading through it would mean. Also the self pleasuring has rarely if ever been a public spectacle as physiology suggests more privacy. Or more accurately Catholic Guilt.


    • I think another reason anyone over thirty is allowed entry into UO is the possibility that those are the visitors that will fork over the plastic for the under twenty and thirty set.


  3. Snoring Dog Studio

    Family portraits are disturbing. There’s no getting around that and I truly dislike them. My parents have a portrait of me done at Olan Swills (Mills, I mean) and my mom loves it. I loathe it and want to destroy every copy she has. I didn’t know it was possible to make a twenty-something look eighty without using makeup.


  4. HAAAAAAA As a squirt you look like an italian Shirley temple – very cute! But get e a photo of you as a fidget Superman!


  5. I remember Urban Outfitters out in Bay Area when i was going to school out there. It was too cool for me. I think I just bought key chain, once. But I’m glad it sparked a trip down memory lane for you 🙂 Good post.


  6. So funny …. and all that torture for self and grandmother. 😉


  7. Hahaha! Loved it. My mother, too, tried to make a girly-girl out of me. I hated dolls (boring), played mainly with the boys on our street (Army war-type games). I had a nice collection of toy Western six-shooters and rifles (didn’t need no stinkin’ orange safety tips in those days) and my Dad carved a wooden tomahawk just for me. At age 7 I almost gave my mother a heart attack when I was found walking down our street with a dead snake draped around my neck, a la Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. When I had to have some teeth extracted for braces at age 10, I requested a first baseman’s mitt as a consolation prize. Got it too. I was wearing black high-top sneakers before, believe me, it was cool for girls to do so. At holidays I would wear the itchy petticoats under the dresses that were de rigueur back in the late 50’s, and then as soon as my grandmother got to see me, I’d run into my room and change into more comfortable attire: pants.

    And Mad Magazine and comic books were my Bible. Sistah!


  8. You are so funny! I have had a wild week and KNEW I had missed some posts….
    I just found a family photo taken in the 80’s. I was living on my own and complained the whole week before, during and after the shoot. You should see it. I am not very photogenic and I am snarling in the photo. My 80’s hairdo does go well with my Smurfette jumpsuit.
    Your poor grandma. You must have given her a heart attack and then she probably crashed right through that glass top table!
    Glad I didn’t miss this!


  9. Oh hey, that’s nothing. Have you read My Most Mortifying Moments???? Feel free to delete the link after you read this, but it would take a while to find it on my blog. I am not sure if it is confidence or lack of shame! Hahaha!


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