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Lame Adventure 370: People, People Who Need Barbra …

Banner outside Avery Fisher Hall.

Banner outside Avery Fisher Hall.

Are the luckiest people in the world — if they have a friend like Milton. The Film Society of Lincoln Center held their 40th annual Chaplin Award fundraising gala in Avery Fisher Hall on Monday night. This year the honoree was Barbra Streisand. Milton is a HUGE Barbra fan, and I am, too. Both of us have been fans since the 60s when he was a boy in Nebraska and I, a girl in San Francisco, decades before we were destined to join forces in 21st century New York City.

It was a black tie affair with Liza Minnelli, Wynton Marsalis and Tony Bennett performing. The speakers included Michael Douglas, Catherine Deneuve, Pierce Brosnan, Blythe Danner, Ben Stiller and, oh yeah, Bill Clinton was presenting the award to Barbra. With such a superstar honoree and that cast of stellar supporting players, the price of admission cost $200 to $500. Seats at the post-show dinner ranged from $1,500 a ticket to $100,000 a table. On my meager alms, no way could I attend. Milton was resigned to going solo and that bothered him.

A lot.

He is a long-time Film Society member. In March, he purchased his Barbra ticket the second they went on sale to members — members get first crack before the general public. He selected Tier 1, Box 3, seat 5. His seat was close to the stage, directly across from Barbra. The event sold out quickly. It generated $2 million for the Film Society, a million dollars more than any other Chaplin gala honoree. I suggested to Milton:

Me: Maybe they should have held it in Yankee Stadium.

Milton: For those prices, she’d have to sing.

As the honoree, Barbra’s job was to appear, soak up the adulation, accept her award from the 42nd president of the United States and give an acceptance speech. Nice work if you have the resume that rates it.

Last Thursday, something extraordinary happened. The Film Society announced that they were releasing a block of $25 partial view seats in Tier 3. Milton happens to know the layout of Avery Fisher Hall about as well as his own living room. For example, he can point out exactly where he and his mother sat when they saw Sarah Vaughn perform there in 1977. Milton scrutinized the cheap seats and he knew that Tier 3’s, Box 3, seat 15, would not only rock, but it was not partial view. In fact, this was the absolute best nosebleed seat in the house for it was in the box two tiers above his. He pounced and yes, I was there.

The coveted ducat.

The coveted ducat.

Damn fine view.

Damn fine view.

Nerd inside with collector's item Playbill.

Lucky nerd inside with collector’s item Playbill.

I was sitting directly across from Barbra’s box, too. From my bird’s eye view, I could even see where Hillary Clinton was sitting — center orchestra row six on the aisle next to a bald guy that looked a lot like former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. I doubted that was who he was. Other celebrities that I thought I recognized were Bill and Melinda Gates. They weren’t sitting in Tier 3. I saw them riding up the escalator as we were people watching in the lobby.

No bland muzak here; guests were serenaded by this fine harpist.

No bland muzak here; guests were entertained by this fine harpist.

The event was bursting with the Swells of New York. Milton being Milton, he did have some qualms with the way some of the attendees were attired, especially the young woman in the short hot pink sheath with tall black boots.

Milton: Hideous!

He did give the two gay guys in matching skinny blue suits with brown dress shoes a pass.

Milton: They’re making a statement.

Me: Like what, they’re both colorblind?

We both agreed that this gent's red patent leather tassled loafers were great.

We agreed that this sockless gent’s red patent leather tasseled loafers were great.

The overall crowd was quite gay or as Milton put it:

Milton: I see a lot of men with their mothers.

There was a significant lesbian turnout, too.

The entertainment, as expected, was top notch. Liza Minnelli took to the stage first. Even though she now has hip problems and was supposed to perform while seated, she forced herself to stand and she belted her heart out.

Liza Minnelli

Liza Minnelli

Wynton Marsalis serenaded Barbra on his trumpet with Hello Dolly and 87-year-old Alan Bergman, who co-wrote the lyrics to The Way We Were with his wife, Marilyn, sang a very poignant version of that song to her. He wrote some new lyrics celebrating The Way You Are.

Wynton Marsalis

Wynton Marsalis

Presenters included some of her leading men. Omar Sharif and Robert Redford appeared on a screen in previously taped tributes. Kris Kristofferson, her co-star in A Star is Born was there. He recounted that “the bathtub scene” with her was “a lot of fun”. George Segal who starred opposite her in The Owl and the Pussycat, joked that he did not know what was more improbable in that film; his role as a failed writer or hers as a failed hooker. Amy Irving, who starred with Barbra in her directorial debut, Yentl, recalled that their kissing scene was, “The best girl on girl action a girl could hope for.” Meow!

Ben Stiller, who referred to himself as Barbra’s “cinematic son” — she played Mother Focker to his Greg Focker, in some of the Fockers comedies, introduced Bill Clinton. Clinton declared that every great person is driven, “But if that person has massive talent, big brains and a bigger heart, you want to go along for the ride.”

Barbra at lectern; Bill Clinton sitting behind her.

Barbra at lectern; Bill Clinton sitting behind her.

Barbra delivered an eloquent acceptance speech. She recounted tales from her youth, how she longed to be an actress who would perform the classics, but “no one wanted a 15-year-old Medea.” When she was 16, she had to perform a love scene opposite a guy she felt no attraction to. What she did to make the scene work was place a piece of chocolate cake behind him so she could look longingly at it.  She admitted, “Thank God I was given a good singing voice.”  She knew that her vocal gift was the key that opened the doors to her acting, screenwriting, producing and directing careers or, as she called herself, “a hyphenate.”  As she closed her remarks, she mentioned memories and added, “I feel like I should sing a song or something.” The audience went wild, hoping to hear her rendition of The Way We Were, but she quickly waved away that idea.

Former President Clinton returned to the lectern and delivered one more introduction. This was for Tony Bennett. He closed the event by singing Smile. Charlie Chaplin wrote the music to that song which was first heard in the film, Modern Times. Thanks to Chaplin’s contributions to film, this prestigious honor was started in 1972. He was the first recipient.

Barbra in center on stage at event's close.

Barbra in center on stage at event’s close.

Afterward, I joined Milton outside. We agreed that we had just witnessed 90 minutes of bliss.

Milton: I’m so glad we live in New York!

Me: I’m so glad I know you!

Barbra Streisand, 71 years old today and she still has it. (Invision — Photo by Charles Sykes)

Barbra Streisand, 71 years old today and she still has it going on. (Invision — Photo by Charles Sykes)

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Lame Adventure 368: Feel the Burn

Recently, I suffered the humiliation of looking at myself in a store’s dressing room mirror. I was even fully clad. This horrifying encounter brought to mind a tale I wrote a few years ago about defeating the battle of the bulge:

Feel the Burn

by

Lame Adventureswoman

The potency of interval training is nothing new. Many athletes have been straining through interval sessions once or twice a week along with their regular workout for years. But what researchers have been looking at recently is whether humans can increase endurance with only a few minutes of strenuous exercise, instead of hours? Could it be that most of us are spending more time than we need to trying to get fit? … There’s a catch, though. Those six minutes, if they’re to be effective, must hurt.

Can You Get Fit in Six Minutes a Week? The New York Times

While at work, boxing 18,000 blue plastic cats, my mind drifted. Fitness is very important to me. It’s such a challenge balancing career and home life with a daily exercise routine. In recent years I’ve fallen behind on exercise, as I’ve doubled my love for Pub Mix.

A fat-full foodstuff.

A fat-full foodstuff.

If I could master interval training sessions six minutes a week — a mere seventy-two seconds a day — and the end result is a body comparable to a swimsuit model’s rather than it’s current compliment, the Liberty Bell, this could surely renew interest in the intimacy department with Tulip, my inamorata of four sizzling months and 6 ¾ tepid years. Last night while spooning, I delicately removed her earplug and cooed, “Are we ever going to do it again or what?” Her response to this love call: a deep groan reminiscent of a dying antelope. Once again I failed to reignite her ardor. There’s no question about it, I am a woman who must get fit in six minutes a week!

Once I achieve a maximum level of physical perfection in six minutes a week, could the principle of interval training apply to other avenues of my life? At this moment, I am specifically thinking about how it could pertain to boxing 17,983 blue plastic cats. Might there be a high-octane approach to fulfilling one’s employment obligations? If my forty-hour workweek were reduced to six minutes a week, I would have so much more time to pursue my life’s goals. I would even have time to recall what my life’s goals once were.

With my life’s goals re-established, I could next focus on travel. Every year Tulip and I visit the same places — her sister, Iris, in spring; brother, Thorn, in summer; my Uncle Cuthbert for Thanksgiving; and our sole brush with celebrity, the prairie dog-whisperer, Agnes Dunk, over the holidays. The monotony of this routine is stifling.  We owe it to our faltering union to see more of the world.  Tulip is averse to any travel above 96th Street or below 14th, but if it were possible to cross the pond and absorb the cultural magnificence of the great cities of Europe in ten hours or less, I’m certain she would be on board to do so in a heartbeat.  A warp-speed tour of the western world would pave the way for a journey east.  Who could possibly resist absorbing the glory of the Great Wall of China in nineteen minutes (or less)?

Then, there is the matter of nourishment and this patriotic habit I’ve acquired of consuming more calories than I expend. If I could both reduce and satisfy all of my food-related urges in fifty-one seconds a day, that would gift me with an additional eighteen hours a week, seventy-eight hours a month, or 936 hours per annum. That’s the equivalent of thirty-nine days in a calendar year. With so much extra time, I could achieve so much more. I could locate lost socks, read the classics, or develop a reality TV series about … time saving! It could strike such a chord with the viewing masses; there could be spin-offs of this series worldwide. As the mastermind, my name would join the pantheon of other legendary female media pioneers – Diane Sawyer, Rachel Maddow, Snooki.

Foolish me, I’m getting so ahead of myself! Now that I’ve completed boxing 129 blue plastic cats, and my work day has drawn to a close, I’m blithely heading to the fitness center for my first seventy-two second interval training session with Adolf, my trainer.  He is a buff young man with a shaved head reminiscent of a potato. It would be so nice to indulge in a piping hot plate of French fries right now. Before I can say, “Pass the ketchup,” he straps me into an exercise cycle, and is maniacally cracking a whip as I pump the pedals with the ferocity of a world-class competitor on performance enhancing drugs.  Within seconds, I am a cycling dynamo. Within seconds after that, I’m crying blood and screaming in agony for my mother. In fact, I’m certain that this pounding-pulsating sensation raging throughout my entire being must be comparable to suffering a massive stroke, a severe heart attack, and stage four cancer simultaneously.

Even though I am exerting myself as if possessed, the seventy-two seconds begin moving in slow motion. Reality reconfigures. I am no longer in the fitness center. I am standing in a shadowy tunnel where a light is shining in the distance and I am hearing voices from my past. I hear my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Glank, calling out to me, “Come here right now, you ornery brat!” She was run over by a bus in 2007 at age 93, confirming the old maxim that the good die young.

I hear our downstairs neighbor, Ira, crooning The Way You Look Tonight. He is still off-key and as three sheets to the wind as on that night his liver imploded. I conclude that alcohol is served in the afterlife. Comforting.

Who’s this shadowy figure? My nana! She’s wearing her orthopedic shoes and that dress in the print that reminds me of lentils. With her hands on her rotund hips, she bellows, “You eat too much crap and you watch way too much TV!  No fella will ever marry you!”

Just as I’m about to engage in defensive discourse with my ancestor, the training session is over. I fall off the bike, but before smacking into the floor, Adolf catches me. He declares proudly, “You did great! Look, no vomit for me to clean anywhere. Tomorrow, we do swimming, yah?” My exact response to his suggestion eludes me, but I recall the word Nazi figuring prominently.

I return home thoroughly discombobulated. I am unsure if I reached my sanctum sanctorum via taxi, the number two train, or ambulance, but I do know I am standing in my living room, albeit on my hands and knees.

Tulip is reclining on the couch in either a seductive pose or she’s hooked up to an IV. My vision is askew and I cannot tell if she is clad in a mint green body suit and our couch is flesh colored, or she is naked and the couch remains mint green. This is just too much information for me to process in my state of distress.

I crawl into our bedroom. She follows me. While lying on the floor, I pull off my clothes as best as I can. My Quisp cereal tee shirt is bundled atop my head keffiyeh-style.

Tulip is towering over me. I now have a lucid read on her state of attire. She is not wearing a single stitch, nary a throw pillow. She looks at me in a come-hither way I have not seen in eons. I mutter, “Don’t even think it,” and anemically tug the comforter off the bed. Before it puddles onto me, she draws closer and asks, “Wow, are those abs?” As I fade into a coma, I make a mental note to pack my swimsuit for tomorrow’s session — and a few Red Bulls for afterward.

Lame Adventure 360: In the Mood for Sap

I have been so busy working on the final stages of My Manhattan Project, a project that I will unveil in the not too distant future, that Valentine’s Day almost completely missed my radar … aside from the gourmet cupcake that my boss, Elsbeth, sprang for.

If I were inclined to marry a cupcake, this would be The One.

If I were inclined to marry, this would be my soul mate.

Back to the present, here’s a Lame Adventures-style love story for sappy romantics:

That First Kiss

by

Lame Adventures-woman

Even though I bear a striking resemblance to a Chia Pet, I have had a fair amount of success with the lasses that prefer their women fuzzy and awkward.  Currently, I am dating Marketa.  My father, who is deaf as a post, refers to her as Marketing, a name that has stuck in my head.  To avoid any possible slips of the tongue, I have taken to calling my beloved, M.  She has a term of endearment for me, too: Yawn.

M and I met two years ago July in the upscale ablutions store she manages.  This is one of those stores where the staff wears white lab coats as they ring up a bottle of 8.4 oz oatmeal fortified shampoo to the tune of twenty clams.  A word to the wise: if you crave oatmeal on a chilly Saturday, but you’re too hung over to trot up the street to the store, so you nuke a third of a cup of your shampoo instead, suffice to say you’ll find yourself belching soap bubbles well into Tuesday.

Or, so I’ve heard that could happen.

When I met M on a Wednesday, she looked very thought provoking in her white lab coat.  Actually, I could barely concentrate on why I was there, ostensibly to replenish my significantly depleted bottle of shampoo, but I was so discombobulated ogling her I mistakenly purchased a similarly sized container of canine flea powder instead.  This gaffe proved fortuitous since it allowed me to return for another encounter with this vixen of my dreams.  To control my newly acquired white lab coat fetish, I reminded myself to think repeatedly of my similarly attired dentist, Ira Kluckhorn, who is also a dedicated practitioner of halitosis.  This helped me exchange the silly grin on my face for an expression akin to the gag reflex.

While exchanging the bottle of flea powder for oatmeal fortified shampoo, M and I shared a delightful dialogue.  Holding a pen in preparation for taking notes, M asked, “Is there a specific reason why you’re returning the flea powder?”

I offered, “For starters, I don’t have a dog. In addition, I keep my personal flea and tick problem under control with a sensitive skin unscented beauty bar.  Plus, I wanted to see you again.”

M scribbled, “TMI.”

She suggested, “We have an unscented beauty bar for dry, scaly skin like yours that I highly recommend.” Intrigued, she asked,  “Do you have any body piercings or tattoos?”

I reflected, “I have a single scar.  I once unintentionally crucified my left thumb with a staple gun.  I also happen to have a wide array of liver spots.  Do they count? One resembles a vuvuzela.”  Then, I wondered aloud, “Is your beauty bar available in a multi-pack for $5.99-ish?”

M matter-of-factly replied, “No.  Ours is only available by the three-ounce bar for eleven dollars each.  I love the vuvuzela.  It’s so melodic.”

I pondered her response for the length of a palpitation.  “Bargain.  I’ll take two.  Will you go out with me sometime, maybe to a concert featuring a vuvuzela-ist?”

She scribbled her number on the back of her business card and cooed, “I’m busy, but call me.  In November – after Thanksgiving.”

Encouraged, I spent the following four months organizing my humble abode into Venus Flytrap shape.  When Black Friday arrived, I called M.  The chat was overwhelmingly flirtatious.

“Hi!  Last July, you told me to call you after Thanksgiving.”

M asked, “Who is this?”

I reminded her about our flea powder exchange and her affinity for the vuvuzela. Then, I cut to the chase, “Would you like to see a film, concert, play or maybe all three in an evening with me?”  I considered adding “naked” but thought that suggestion might be premature.

M said she recalled my liver spot, and added, “Why would I go out with you?”  I explained that I was quite sure that she was a believer in love at third sight.  Then, I dropped the charm bomb, “I’m not a serial killer.  I’ve hardly ever been to Long Island.”  We started dating a week later, but M insisted on taking things slow.

I suggested that she don her white lab coat for it might be easier for me to recognize her were she clad in it.  M groaned, “You’re not one of those freaks that’s into me for that lab coat, are you?”  Quickly, I backtracked, “Wear whatever you like,” and suggested for added measure, “Or don’t wear anything at all!”  Maybe she’s a nudist!

For the next four dates, she wore a frock that distinctly resembled a burka.

Eventually, our relationship blossomed and I was confident that I could share a kiss with M without incurring too many of the maneuvers she had recently learned in a self-defense class she’d been taking.  Yet, I wanted that kiss to be magical and occur in a place with both privacy and lighting that would shave a few inches off my nose.

I recalled a quaint alley in lower Manhattan and surmised that if we were not mugged, she raped, and I murdered, this could yield a very romantic dividend.  Although we were heading to a play in Midtown, I insisted traveling there via this downtown alley would be resplendent.  As we neared the alley, I grabbed her hand and quickened our pace.  Just when I was about to pull her into a doorway for a Technicolor moment of bliss, we both slammed our brakes.  There was an unseemly splash of vomit that could have easily filled an Olympic-sized pool.  This prompted me to suggest, “Maybe it would behoove us to take a cab to the theater after all.”

Later that night, M took it upon herself to kiss me under a dogwood tree. It was a kiss that was memorably tender, caring and loving.  Such a nice offset to the five minutes of dry hacking I suffered afterward due to it being allergy season.

Lame Adventure 357: City Slickers in Crunchy-ville

If you write a blog long enough, as I have these past three years, you befriend fellow bloggers in different parts of the country and/or world. Susie Lindau is one of my blogger buds. She resides in Colorado. She’s a very upbeat person, a devoted wife, mother, sportswoman and nature lover — basically my complete antithesis, but somehow we click. Go figure. This weekend she emailed me from her smartphone:

Susie: I am skiing right now!

I emailed her back in-between trips to and from my Chinese laundromat

Me: Barf.

I utterly loathe skiing. I skied once in Vermont fifteen years ago with my ex, Voom. That trip was a near total disaster. I say I skied but to be truthful, based on one lesson that lasted half the length of a sneeze, I almost required airlifting off the bunny slope. As humiliating as inching down a minor grade was for me, the lodging was the ultimate nightmare.

We stayed at a lesbian-owned and operated inn populated by ultra crunchy women. They looked at us, two city slickers in J. Crew attire that arrived in a red convertible Miata in the dead of winter, with sheer contempt. The hate was so palpable we felt like the enemy, i.e., honorary heterosexuals.

Voom, possibly under the influence of one too many martinis, booked this lodging. When I saw that the sign outside the place spelled “woman” w-o-m-y-n, I had a sinking feeling. The house was inundated with cats. There was a cat in every room for every guest. I am fiercely allergic. Needless to say, kicking our cat out — an angora the size of Rhode Island — invited more resentment.

You stay on your side of the glass and I'll stay on mine.

You stay on your side of the glass and I’ll stay on mine.

The first thing we wanted was booze, but they were anti-alcohol. We couldn’t even pull a Kitty Dukakis and cut turpentine with Coke. They didn’t have Coke, for they were also anti-caffeine. If they had any alcoholic cleaning products on the premises, they probably locked them in a vault. There was no herbal essence, either. We couldn’t drink or smoke, and since I could barely breathe in that cat-infested environment, we couldn’t get frisky with each other, either.

Horndog me had the genius idea that we should just open the window so we could hump each other wicked fast. It was frigid cold outside so the temperature in our room plummeted from 70 to 10 in about three minutes. Voom couldn’t climax.  She was certain that someone was outside our door listening. A lifelong romantic with the gift of speaking in poetic verse, I said:

Me: You’re crazy. Relax. It’s probably just a fuckin’ cat.

She insisted I go to the door and check out what was going on. As soon as I opened the door, a pygmy-sized lesbian that probably lived in a bookshelf devoted to the study of mulch scampered down the hall. I seem to recall on all fours. I doubt that the sight of me in the altogether was what drove her away.  That was the time when I was still under forty, flab-free and fit, but I’ve always been alabaster white. Possibly the glow from my pelt was blinding.

The next day at the communal breakfast we learned that they only served goat’s milk. They raised goats. I recall making eye contact with one outside a window.

Not this particular one.

Not this particular one.

The pancakes they served were also made with goat’s milk. I like goat cheese, but the pancakes tasted gamey. It was an acquired taste that Voom lacked.

They only had herbal tea. Since I am a tea drinker, I was okay with that. Voom is a huge coffee drinker, especially first thing in the morning. She was nearing her breaking point. They dug up some Nescafé, but I imagined that it had been sitting deep in a well going back to the Carter administration.

One of the other guests, apparently a longtime visitor to this labor camp, said something stunningly insensitive about the Holocaust. The hosts agreed. That was the last straw. Voom is Jewish and even though I am predominantly Italian I am a bit Jewish on my mother’s side. I expect with my ever-growing schnoz I’ll soon be a dead ringer for the love child of Golda Meier and Lillian Hellman, but I digress. I knew the remark was aimed at us and I simply would not let that anti-Semitic crack slide. I detonated. They refunded our deposit and asked us to leave. When my significant other heard that, she finally had her long-delayed orgasm. It was so thunderous I recall snow shaking off tree branches.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t take off as fast as we wanted. What prompted the delay was the goat’s milk products combined with that ghastly instant coffee brew that they served my inamorata. The breakfast rocketed through her system at warp-speed. As I was packing our bags, she was in Sappho’s sitting room purging such a whale of a deposit she clogged the plumbing. As we drove away, Voom revealed the plumbing problem that awaited them, declaring:

Voom: Victory is mine!

I pointed out that they helped pack our car. I interpreted that gesture as our hosts being contrite considering that we did bat on the same team. My partner had a more jaundiced view of the last minute hospitality: she thought that they could not get rid of us fast enough. Looking back I think her take was spot-on.

We headed to a bed and breakfast run by a warm British woman named Ruth that brought to mind Mary Poppins. We gushed our tale of woe. She made us hot cocoa and knit us both mittens.

Charcoal and black - perfect colors to highlight the bloodshot in my eyes!

Charcoal and black – perfect colors to highlight the bloodshot in my eyes!

She made us feel so welcome that we asked her to adopt us.

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.

Lame Adventure 318: The Lion in Summer

This week, on Wednesday, my close personal friend Milton bade farewell to the coveted 18 – 49 age demographic six days ahead of his obvious counterpart in the hairline department, Tom Cruise.

Milton.

Milton had a good day.  He had entered the ticket lottery for one of the handful of front row $26 seats to the matinee performance of Wicked, the always sold out musical on Broadway.  He won!

Milton loved the novel written by Gregory Maguire that is the basis for this show, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, but he was certain it would be watered down.  During intermission he emailed me.  I asked:

Me: How’s the show?

Milton: It’s empty, but has its moments.

Me: Oh, it’s the story of my life!

Afterward, when we got together at Bettibar, an adorable theater district pub upstairs from the Hourglass Tavern, Milton admitted that he was very impressed with the show’s overall production.  Had he seen it when he was nine he thinks he would have been in such a state of bliss he would have instantly become obsessed with Broadway shows.  He seemed pretty happy about it at the half century mark or maybe it was the shot of tequila he had just pounded talking?

Initially, Milton was afraid to get together with me for he was with a few other dear friends the night before celebrating at the Cheesecake Factory in Westbury, Long Island.  They arranged to have Happy Birthday sung to him.  He was now irrationally worried that I might subject him to the same fate, something he could not endure twice.  What could I say to assuage his fear?

Me:  Are you insane?  Do you know me at all?  Is this the first time we’ve met?

Only if faced with the prospect of torture that would lead to certain death would I ever subject anyone near and dear to me, or even someone far and loathsome to me (yes, I’m referring to you Dick Cheney), to that dreadful public humiliation.  I would not want to be subject to that pain myself so why would I inflict it upon one of my VIP-level friends?  If I had past lives, I highly doubt that any of them included me being a sadist.

Yet, I will admit I did have one noisy trick tucked in my satchel.  When we had moved to a table, I gave him the sound effect birthday card that I bought for him three years earlier in anticipation of his milestone.  One glance at those glitter-coated Audrey Hepburn eyes and I knew this was the perfect card for him.

Audrey Hepburn eyes.

I had no choice but to get it then and there and proceed to wait over a thousand days to give it.  In the intervening three years I misplaced his card twice and I lived in fear that when I would finally present it to him on his natal day proper the battery would be as dead as Rafa Nadal’s 2012 Wimbledon hopes but fortunately, Papyrus uses some fantastically long shelf-life ultra battery.  When Milton opened his card to read the caption, “The Big 50!”, our corner of the establishment was consumed with the sound of a woman shrieking in terror at the top of her lungs.

He liked that.

I was not feeling so confident about his gift, a DVD of one of his favorite films, Fellini’s Casanova.

A slender slice of snafu?

Although he frequently lamented about it not being available on disk, he is a blu-ray aficionado.  Right now it’s not being produced in blu-ray so I anticipated one of two things – he already had it since it’s release last November, or he’d be disappointed that it was not in his preferred blu-ray format.  Much to my surprise he wasn’t even aware that it’s now available on DVD, and he didn’t care that it was not on blu-ray, he was so elated to finally have it.  Score!

I will end this post with a trademark Miltonian observation he shared with me last weekend. Milton was expounding on one of his favorite topics, the male animal, after reading an article in The New York Times called Normal as Folk written by David M. Halperin.  Halperin expounds that the current generation of gay men are blending in more in mainstream society as opposed to their elders.  Milton observed:

Milton: Gay people are not less gay.  Straight people are more gay.  They know it’s sexy so they’re now embracing it.  You can’t tell who’s gay … You can’t ask anyone out any more!

The next day we were in Greenwich Village waiting for the Pride parade to start when Milton discreetly confided to me:

Milton:  Look at that guy over there.  Oh my God, he’s so gay!  But he’s not; he’s straight — with his girlfriend.  Exactly what I was talking about.

I dyslexically looked in the wrong direction at the wrong gay-looking-straight-guy that was standing with his arms wrapped around a woman wearing a sundress.

Me:  He sure looks gay to me.  I feel for his girlfriend.  What’s that about?

Milton: You’re looking at a woman!

Me:  Huh?  [focusing my myopic eyes better on a very androgynous butch lesbian with her femme girlfriend] You’re right!

Pictured below is Milton’s straight metrosexual guy that personifies someone who’s embraced the gay male style.

“Does this French sailor shirt make me look fat?”

Happy birthday buddy!

Lame Adventures 317: New York City Gay Pride March 2012

As we have done every year since I started writing Lame Adventures in 2010, Milton and I have watched the Big Apple’s Gay Pride parade from the sidelines.  We watch it from the sidelines because we have not been tagged to serve as the grand marshals.  What a shock!  This year we arrived armed with two cameras, three camera batteries, and his iPhone.  By the time the event ended, approximately five hours after it began, we had three dead batteries and one bar of iPhone power.  We shot over 2000 pictures and missed so many perfect moments due to our digital cameras’ slow shutter speeds.   We now have a whole new appreciation for sports photographers.  My fellow lesbian New Yorker and blogger-bud Natasia over at Hot Femme (who covered the Dyke March on her site) admires our fortitude.  She is unaware that to cap off the event, I broiled my formerly Casper-white left arm.

Ow.

Enough of my blathering, these pictures will tell the story of Gay Pride 2012 here in Gotham City.

Beautiful weather and blue sky on lower Fifth Avenue in Green Village.

Crowd waiting patiently for parade. Line in street was painted lavender.

Two nice guys that were next to us that were photographed endlessly prompting Milton to observe, “They know how to work it.”

First yike on bike for all you types that love your girls in uniform? The parade is about to start.

The parade is starting and the crowd is screaming.

The usual start – the yikes on bikes!

Lone rider.

Caped crusader.

Strutting his stuff.

Mr. Pansy is here wearing a live bird on his head.

Heritage of Pride marchers.

Rainbow balloons.

Grand Marshal Cyndi Lauper.  You rock Cyndi!

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, looking like he’d rather be elsewhere.

Maybe she’s why Bloomberg is scowling?

I suppose this sign is targeting Milton and me.

On second thought …

Flaunting her Pride!

Diet Coke float boys dancing.

Lady Liberty flies in with the Delta Airlines marchers.

Big cheers for LGBT hero Governor Andrew Cuomo marching with his partner Sandra Lee.

We love our governor!

30 years together and finally allowed to marry thanks to Governor Cuomo.

Pretty boy.

Butch and Femme lesbians.

Star Trek star, gay activist and 75-year-old Boy Scout George Takei.

Hollaback girls.

Dignity marchers.

Raising the rainbow flag.

LGBT Catholics.

NAACP marchers.

Smiling gladiators.

Be yourself in blue chiffon.

Pride chapeau.

Here comes the fuzz.

Faces in the crowd.

Proud NYPD marchers.

Hot yikes on bike, but ladies you’re way behind the pack! Maybe they planned it that way?

Firetruck Pride!

LGBT firefighters marching.

The King and I all-in-one package.

Marching Fido Pride.

Girl Pride.

Pumped!

Flaming Saddles Saloon float blasting “Thank God I’m a Country Boy”.

Tattooed chick.

Hipster hat boy and friend.

News to Milton and me.

“I like that idea … I think.”

Soft focus hot chick.

Striking a pose.

Obama 2012 contingency — yes, we can again (we hope)!

Obama marchers chanting, “Four more years!” Not adding to chant, “Or else we’re screwed!”

Pride and joy boy.

Waving flag in crowd. Milton said, “Thank God we’re not by them.”

Exuberant girl ignores me and high fives Milton. He asks, “What the hell was that for?”

Mercy for all animals, not just gay ones.

Seriously WTF?

Thank you for posing for us Naked Cowgirl and my number is 1-800-LUNATIC.

Here comes the Mr. Natural guys!

I know a good waxer … just sayin’.

Whole Paycheck Pride.

Food float!

Rainbow legs.

Drummer girls.

Jock strap Pride.

Pouting Pride, or maybe the crummy photographer just missed her smiling?

Mastercard happy guy.

Babelicious girl with flag.

Good idea — get rid of DOMA!

Gay dads with their kids.

Log Cabin Republicans — all five of them (the rest read the memo).

Sewing party hat marcher.

Oooooo!

Fairy tale fellas.

Even Snow White and the Wicked Queen showed up!

Letting it all hang out.

Stilted Pride.

Pride is the time and place to wear your pink hair!

Or your pink short shorts.

Pink short shorts with rearview message.

A nurse like no other.

For anyone that forgot his or her bath salts this marcher’s prepared.

Congratulations!

“Let me climb up here for a better view.”

This chap is a wizard with a baton.

Swinging her necklaces.

Cheer leading squad.

Marching band cymbal player, also a good excuse to wear white gloves.

Happy marchers.

Feathered friends.

In case anyone was wondering, there was confetti.

Evita rolls into Pride, but without Ricky Martin.

Feeling confident.

Top hat and blue feathered boa, dressed for Pride success.

Yes, those are umbrella skirts.

“Do you want a piece of this?” Ask Milton.

Spreading his wings.

Anyone need an Adonis? They’re right here!

Gold lame ensemble (note: not wash n’ wear).

Naughty shameless flirts – and this float went by much too fast! Our interest was purely historical (hysterical?).

Dry clean only.

It’s not on a chain!

Ah, a friend of Dorothy’s!

Talented Asian drummer boys.

Frisking concerns.

In case anyone at home is wondering if she’s a lesbian and why she’s marching.

Miss, you on the right, is your name Deborah Harry?

Flaunt those blue lips and Mondrian influence.

Who is this masked man?

Impressive plumage requiring significant doorway ducking.

Winged creature but he did stay grounded.

Was this a do-it-yourself ensemble?

The Roadrunner look works well on this bloke.

Altogether say, “Ahhhhhhhhhhh!”

The very entertaining Flaggots are here!

He caught it! (But it surely would have poked my eye out.)

Flaggots are gender inclusive!

Here she comes, Miss Texas!

Not the type of frock or hat one would wear around the house.

Sunshine on heels.

Blue swirl.

Princess Leia’s hair-do lives on right here at Pride!

Mr. Mermaid or may we call you Neptune?

Gay Peruvians take their float very seriously.

Pants-less feathered pride, a CEO’s wish.

Bill de Blasio marching for votes.

Anti-fracking marcher’s poignant message.

New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney.

The Alien.

New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. getting his groove on with the missus, Peggy McDonnell.

If you guys insist.

Who needs vanity plates?

To each her own.

Little sleepyhead with Mom. Milton and I know how you feel kid.

Crown available at your local florist’s.

Bear Pride!

Alright, smile for the camera!

Cycling for Pride to be followed with pounding water for Pride and scarfing a sandwich for Pride.

Is that a feather duster she’s wielding? Hm, there are a lot of feathers flying.

No longer closeted Segway rider.

Actual live singing and this guy was great!

Charlie the Matchmaker!

Are these the latest boy band heart throbs? Think again.

Whoever he is, he’s here!

“I gotta go, I can’t hold it. Sorry!”

Hello New York City!

Got sunglasses?

Lambda marchers.

Peacocks on parade.

Skipping a.k.a. how to twist an ankle where I come from.

She does not need to carry her flag on some stinking pole.

Google courts the LGBT crowd.

Crowd member (not Milton or me) pummeling Google Girl with questions.

Gay guy and gal pals.

Running for Pride to flaunt fitness.

Channeling Rock Hudson.

Pride-wear from the circus.

Fitness is no joke with these guys.

Milton and I could do this … in our dreams.

Milton’s shoelace voluntarily untied just watching those guys.

“C’mon, Milton, tie that shoelace!”

“Leave Milton alone, he tied it!”

Dalton school marchers.

Manhattan borough president Christine Quinn and possibly the first lesbian to be mayor of New York City. Go Chris!

Putting her best black boot forward.

Flirt with me – try black boot girl.

Suddenly, I’m in the mood to hear Spanish guitar.

Look, a quartet of matadors!

Never the matador, always the bull.

Olé!

In the event of a rainbow stripe shortage, here’s the reason.

Translatinas float (yes, we can read, too).

Macy’s shilling for shoppers in the name of Pride.

Multi-tasker – both photographer and marcher.

Merry Zip Car studs.

From Logo’s A-list: New York – Ryan Nikulas & Rodiney Santiago. Who knew? We didn’t.

Roman Empire boys.

We’ll keep that in mind.

Pretty young people.

Fabulous showgirls!

You came to the right parade fella.

At least they’re not nerds.

Definitely a geek.

Geek taking a bow.

Gay puppet Pride.

In case anyone missed seeing the 9,843 earlier rainbow flags, here are two more.

LGBT Bikram yoga lovers.

LGBT Russians!

Lez Factor (not related to Max Factor) marching.

Israeli guys marching.

She brings offerings but it’s not food so we pass.

Go girls.

Go Magazine float.

Occupy Wall Street marcher with Madonna issue (must prefer Lady Gaga).

Pride in a rainbow gown.

LGBT Mormons.

Pole dancer making it look uncomfortable; I’ll take the stairs.

Chief.

Mr. Pansy at the end returning to his own planet until we reconvene in 2013.