cc: all of Facebook cc: all of MySpace cc: all of AOL/AIM cc: anyone left on Friendster (I probably spelled that wrong and hope I did) cc: God knows how many personal ad venues cc: and heaven help us all, craigslist cc: all NY/LA/CHI shrinks cc: any paleface with red (or reddish) hair, blue (or bluish) eyes, sparse or heavy freckles, large (natural) or tiny boobs, or large life-preoccupying nipples. Also, lesbians.
To Whom it May Concern:
After an amazingly pleasant, super fantastically enjoyable holiday with family and babies and roast beefs and bagels and presents and karaoke and movies and friends and the sweetest of lovin, I'm needing to be reminded why I shouldn't daydream about being semi-normal and wanting to marry my boyfriend.
I'm confident the hoards of you who have been touched (gag) by my darling, generous, talented, hysterical and deeply beloved partner can put things back into perspective for me.
I sincerely appeal to you as good women, men and everything in between. It's total insanity, right? Don't be fooled by a score of 96 singing The Rose (twice) on a poorly translated karaoke mic, right?
At least a couple of you have suffered from my specific disease of emotional weakness. Keep me in your prayers.
Former 80's pageant princess here (Miss Teen of Illinois contestant, 1987). While reviewing the VHS tapes of my own (less than) shining teenage moment, I pondered larger budget productions featuring the primp & circumstance of the pageant world.
Though few pop right into the brain- Drop Dead Gorgeous, Miss Congeniality, Miss Congeniality 2, and who can forget the super sexy Little Miss Sunshine- beauty pageants have been inspiring celluloid comedies, dramedies, teledramedies and docutelecomdramedies since the silent era.
Louise Brooks' first film was a silent comedy mocking the beauty queen scene, The American Venus (1926). Real-life Miss America, Fay Lanphier, even made a cameo appearance. Ask your great-great-grandma about it! In Ella Cinders (1926), we are first introduced to the scam pageant of broken dreams. Don't worry, she makes it to Hollywood anyway!
The 30's were rich with good-time beauty contest flicks: Buster Keaton's Elmer Butts wooed Gopher City Kansas' aspiring Tinsel Town queen, Elvira Plunkett (Anita Page), in Free and Easy (1930), Lulu Brooks gave it another shot in Prix de Beaute (1934), Joan Blondell and Glenda Farrell sassed it up as carnies-turned-chorus-girls in the contest-fixing classic Miss Pacific Fleet (1935), comedienne Marion Davies spoofed it up as a bumpkin maid transformed into the living version of a fictional ad campaign queen in Page Miss Glory (1935), the "Miss Pineapple Princess" pageant reigned in Bing Crosby'sWaikiki Wedding (1937), and Busby Berkeley undoubtedly made Fast and Furious (1939) extremely fancy, even by beauty queen standards.
Apparently that was enough tiara-and-formal-wear funniness to last straight through to the 50's, where we saw a slight revival of cinematic pageantry. 1950 brought both a rare pageant drama with Beauty on Parade, and Peggy, most hilarious for Rock Hudson's portrayal of a character named Scat. Yeah, I'll bet.
Joan Collins made her film debut in a little number called Lady Godiva Rides Again (1951) that featured an ever-popular "suspect" beauty contest (And a non-nude Lady Godiva. Booo!). The decade wrapped up with the most promising of the 50's beauty fair farces, I Married a Woman (1958), a hoot that reunited former winners of the Miss Luxenberg Beer Beauty Contest only to find them pregnant or fat from beer-drinking. Still a competition I'd pay to watch.
The Beauty Jungle AKA 'Contest Girl' (1965) showcases the ugly side of these spectacles. What? I'll never believe it!
A little sexual revolution meant a couple things for the world of pageants films. The feminist angle was popular satire fodder, as in the brilliant TV movie, The Great American Beauty Contest (1973). Farrah Fawcett played the non-feminist and the tele-gem taught us that even the boringest of feminazis wants to be recognized for facial and bodily loveliness. Could pageant flick nudity be far behind? Nuh-uh.
Carry On Girls (1973) worked the women's lib shtick with a group of anti-flesh-peddling contest saboteurs, while simultaneously being the first offer up some tangible pageant movie skin in the form of a nipslip-tastic contestant cat fight between Margaret Nolan and Barbara Windsor. Tops off to you, my sisters!
As a former stranger-than-fiction teen scholarship pageant participant, no film captures the heart, soul, humor and weirdness of the whole debacle for me the way Smile (1975) does. Both were darling and endearing, slightly perverted and dark, mildly awkward and sad, but ultimately worth every second. From the judges, promoters, parents and pit band musicians who had learned to settle for less in life, to the innocent and not-so-innocent Young American Miss scholarship hopefuls who had so much to learn..Oh what am I saying? You get to ogle the buoyant pre-babyfeeders of a very young Melanie Griffith (as well as the teen tails of Colleen Camp and Joan Prather).
The sexually free 70's also provided two documentaries that recorded extraordinary pageants, Miss Nude America (1976) and I Wanna Be a Beauty Queen AKA 'Alternative Miss World' (1979). The former being a behind-the-behind-scenes-look at a birthday suit-baring Midwestern tradition, the latter a South London unisex procession of outrageousness in all shapes and sizes emceed by goddess of queens, Divine, and featuring contestants like Miss Carriage and Miss Slightly Misanthropic.
1977 belched up a nice dumb airplane-hijackers-holding-pageant-finalists-hostage clunker staring Victoria Principal, The Night They Took Miss Beautiful.
17-year-old Diane Lane and former Miss America contestant, Cloris Leachman (seriously), starred in the 1982 tele-drama, Miss All-American Beauty. An innocent, beautiful and talented young thing jumped into the Texas pageant scene for the scholarship cash, unprepared for the fast-paced fake world of press and nonsense. Unfortunately, she kept her clothes on, but teen Lane had already bared her all-American beauties as punk princess Corinne 'Third Degree' Burns in Ladies and Gentleman, The Fabulous Stains. Stains, indeed.
The 1985 produced a couple pag-docs as well. Miss or Myth covered the protests of the Miss California pageant. Yawn. Actually, some great points were made regarding the narrow parameters of perceived beauty. Which brings us to the second documentary, Pumping Iron II: The Women. PI II raised public skinterest in hot two-time Ms. Olympia, Rachel McLish,, while giving validation to female bodybuilders and their fetishists everywhere. Good show, muscle queens!
Miss Firecracker (1989) allowed Holly Hunter to parade around in her dainties for a spell. And that's about all I can say about that.
Ever wonder what would have happened if Bosom Buddies made a movie about infiltrating a beauty pageant as female make-up artists hiding from the mob in 1992? Me either, but it kind of happened anyway (obviously Hank and Scolari-less)! In The Naked Truth, Shelley Michelle as Miss Honduras is hardly a drag as she gives us frontal and backal while wiggling out of a tight dress into a tighter one. When former Miss USA, Courtney Gibbs delivers glimpses of bosom and butty in the bubble bath, no amount of scrubbing will clean you dirty mind.
Indestructible former child star Corey Feldman signed on for a beauty contest flick himself. I'm sure Round Trip to Heaven (1992) has a well-developed complex plot, but more importantly, the ladies love to flash flesh for Feldman: Rowanne Brewer, Brittney Powell, Amy Rochelle, and Denise Zakovic all begged to be Breast in Show. Powell kicked it up a notch going totally nude, Zakovic busted out beauty booty and Rochelle took one for the team with a Feldman sex scene. Even Kristine Rose and Julie McCullough modeled mouth-watering 'why bother?' lingerie. Everyone's a winner!
Gene Simmons' babymama, former Playboy centerfold Shannon Tweed, as a sexy action heroine opposite Andrew Dice Clay as da bad guy and Chandra West as Miss Germany not quite tearing down that wall in a black bra and panties= big trouble for the Miss Galaxy competition in No Contest (1994).
TV Crime/mystery/comedy Crowned and Dangerous (1997) indulged our need for Former Baywatch beaute, Yasmine Bleeth, to be very sexy, push up plenty o' cleavage and be involved in lots of making-out.
Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999) wished it were Smile. I wished Amy Adams' first movie role was rewritten to add lesbian scenes with Kirsten Dunst.
What would Y2K bring to the glitz and glam world of pageant pictures? Sally Field directed Minnie Driver in Beautiful (2000). I directed my eyes to Kathleen Robertson's panties and Bridgette Wilson's bra.
In Miss Congeniality (2000) and Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous (2005), Sandra Bullock worked her much-hotter-than-the-girl-next-door appeal as FBI agent Gracie Hart without a-pealing a darn thing off.
Oscar-winning dramedy, Little Miss Sunshine (2006) made be fresh in your head, but no matter how provocative Grandpa's (Alan Arkin) choreography was for Olive (Abigail Breslin), you will be banished to Nim's Island- ALONE- for even thinking it. Shame on you.
As a young, moderately innocent girl in the throws of puberty, my rapidly-filling sweater and perma-pulsating panties led me di-rectly to a modern mid-western miracle. When my so-called suburban youth became exploded with burgeoning feminine ripeness, I devoted my nights to soaking-in and rubbing-down to Fabulous Soft-core Bounce-Fest Sex-A-Ramas, Cheap Goofs and Star-Filled Fantasies provided by my brilliant and wonderful new-found best friend, Early 80's Cable Television.
Whether 'live', or Betamaxed obliviously by my elders to keep me sedated with the sweet opiate of celebrity, the delicious horrors I encountered on the finally-literal Boob Tube would educate and stimulate to an unprecedented degree (and could be arguably to blame for prompting my own cups to runneth-over). Short summer nights lost to teen/forbidden/historical sex led to dreams of swelling chest blossoms and fuzzier young lady bits, and hopes of proper fondlings... from coeds and fathers of friends alike!
If Early 80's Cable Television were here right now, I'd slowly move in close so that our nipples just barely brushed up against each other and mash our shiny lips together. She'd insist I show her everything I learned. I, of course, would wear something see-through..or maybe just panties and tons of lip gloss. How would she recognize her tireless apprentice otherwise? Digging deep into the recesses of my unclean mind, I'd conjure the ghosts of twitches past...
In The Beginning, I was blessed with Kentucky Fried Movie (1977). A cable TV standard amongst the 'best friend's older brother' set, introduced to me via sleepover in a dark, familiar finished basement. Most of the brief spoofs I found boyish and boring, save appearances by Cleopatra Swartz, Big Jim Slade, and the life-changingly masterful Bold and Busty sexploitation uber-parody, Catholic High School Girls in Trouble! The announcer warns, "You will cream in your jeans!"- and I surely would. This spectacular gooey phrase itself, previously associated with a certain jiggling teenaged babysitter of mine expressing love for Kiss' Gene Simmons and speculating the nature of his hyper-extendable tongue, would henceforth become tied to BRRRRRRRR-BOOBIES. I was growing quite a pair gym-suit genies myself and welcomed the opportunity to gawk brazenly at the parade of purrfect pillows presented by this skintillating sketch. There is practically nothing finer (or funner) than unapologetic indulgence in parody boob. I mainly wanted my middle school more-than-mouthfuls Uschi Digard-ed against a Plexiglas shower door. Hard.
My first literary exposure to DH Lawrence came from a horny middle-aged high school English teacher who graded on a cleavage curve and infamously dated students. Comparatively, my cinematic introduction to Lawrence years earlier via trusty late-night cable TV proved to be a much grander lesson. Lady Chatterley's Lover (1981) gave me my stroke. Sylvia Kristel and her creamy dreamy sensuous ways provided a stark contrast to my beloved oversexed bouncing cheerleaders and whatnots. Kristel was my classic beauty, my subtlely curved and perfectly symmetrical anatomy model, and I followed her self-exploring example to the letter (which would be "O"): I stood in front of the full-length mirror, guided my fingertips in the slowest lightest manner possible all over my milky virgin skin until i was about to burst. Then I slipped onto my twin bed and continued the Braille study, brushing over new firm blossoming breasts and steadily trailing downward, finally reaching the honeypot. Wowza, Sylvia Kristel was even left-handed, just like me!
Nicolas Cage may have played a fake-ass punk rocker in Valley Girl (1983), but the humidity in this girl's valley was like, totally real. Way. Many salacious scenes effected me deeply, but the hottest moments of this SoCal teen classic were a testament to ingenious costume design. The Peeper's Choice Award goes to: Elizabeth 'E.G.' Daily's super rad zip-front jumpsuit. Omigod! This simple outfit raised my nubile nips and my mental bar for slutiness. Not only was she alone with her friend's boyfriend in an upstairs bedroom at a party, she had on the most bitchin easy-access ensem of all time. Dirty Daily possessed the only gnarly nakie knockers I'd noticed that appeared larger and perkier while reclining. Accident my first bra was nearly identically to the one she wrestled back on in this scene? Ha. Ha. Ha. Although the main Hollywood-meets-the-Valley love story between Cage and immaculately dimpled Seventeen Magazine model Deborah Foreman was precious and adorable, the grudge-humping and tittie-tasting Cage did with a sexy club-trash girl (Tina Theberge) against the mirror in the loo of the future Viper Room sent waves of wonder through my newly awakened nether regions. Not wet? I'm so shur!!
The catapult that truly launched me lovebox first into ladyhood was not a theatrical release at all. It was a music video, an uncut music video, a sleazy sticky, dripping, groping, wrestling, lousy with lingerie, funbag-flaunting soft core uncut music video. Duran Duran's Girls on Film (1983 in U.S.) had been heavily promoted as being featured in it's full version on the infamous Pre-MTV cable music clip show and Church of the Sub-Genius vehicle, Night Flight. I may never know whether my former key-holding Playboy Club member grandfather Betamaxed it for himself or me. In these early 1980's, I had underage super fandom for Duran Duran, specifically, for John Taylor. Taylor and the idea of forbidden pg+ video sex had me moist with anticipation. It so delivered. After an intro of workers and make-up artists prepping for what appeared to be a runway show (and glimpses of the band) a sheer black nightie-clad twosome slinked into a boxing ring holding hands with actual pillows in tow. They approached a shaving cream covered horizontal barber pole, straddled it facing each other and slid up the pole a good 18 inches into regulation pillow-fighting position. Upon calling the brief fight that I assume ended in a tie, the video vixens kiss. ON THE LIPS! The real money shot is the perky pair exiting the ring, again hand-in-hand, with white cream smeared between their thighs and up their underthings. And there's like 6 more minutes of hot action left of the video! After half a life of bedding bass players, still waiting for my barber pole moment, pillows in hand
I was always a smart cookie, but I was no nerd. Revenge of the Nerds (1984) left me wishing I were. The tech savvy these dorks conveyed in their peeping and creeping was awe-inspiring. Just when the tit, bush and tush exposing panty raid seemed a raging success, those mini Bill Gates' delivered big-time with sorority house spy cams! The morning after 'pulling' an all-nighter, the geeks became positively wolfish ogling the delicious white satin-covered wiggling ass of a sleeping coed. I immediately learned the value of a well placed booty shot (after pleasing myself, of course) and the knowledge still serves me well today. "Oh! I accidentally fell asleep on your couch with 4 inches of silky butt peeking out from under my skirt? Silly me. Sure, we can get naked now!" Betty Childs (Julia Montgomery), lean and lovely coveted college cutie, impressed me with her versatility, revealing both normal nip (panty raid) and elusive 'puffy nip' (Eat a Pi for Charity pic) on her itty bitty tee-pee tittes. I also have nothing but respect for a girl willing to change boyfriends after having bait-and-switch costume sex with a random Nerd. Heh
When experiencing the first lusty pangs of adolescence, a maturing miss often finds herself crushing on an much older gentleman. That's biology. At least that's what I tell myself as I reflect on my early obsession with Blame It On Rio (1984). Two best friends and business chums in raging mid-life crises descend upon the exotic topless beaches of Brazil on holiday, accompanied by their teen daughters (Michelle Johnson and Demi Moore. Yep!), who are also best friends. Just as the Devil dictated, the fast and loose daughter (Johnson) fully pursues the Other Daddy (Michael Caine) in an intimate fashion. In turn, Other Daddy treads the path of least resistance. I. LOVED. IT. Was I too young to know better or was the casting that good? Michelle Johnson showed almost a tomboyish, unsophisticated comfort in nothing but bikini bottoms on the public beach, possibly because she was underage herself. Her tasty top-half however,amply oozed girlish sophistication. I was e-lated and I re-lated. Demi Moore's brief bare mini mams, circa Ashton-Kutcher's-sixth-birthday, packed less punch.
If there existed a single heavily-rotated cable feature that at once turned me on to prostitution as a glamorous part-time job and freaked the bejesus out of me, that film would be Crimes of Passion (1984). In my hormonally-charged, naive young brain, this movie was 'The Kink.' Kathleen Turner, with sultry voice & perfect posture, portrayed a scheming design-house employee by day, filthy hot sex worker with a body built for lingerie by night. Oh yeah, her whore-tastic streetwalker name was China Blue. Damn! China's call girl costume consisted of platinum blonde wig, blue eyeshadow, red lipstick and the clothing equivalent of cheap sizzling sex (80's style, natch). As the camera slowly pans her flesh, my mind and curious preteen load were blown over the 'all-nipple' nature of Turner's otherwise flat-chest situation. I mean, these stunning suckers were like Tootsie Rolls or something, maybe the strawberry ones I used to get trick-or-treating. Anthony "Psycho" Perkins as the porno-preoccupied pervy preacher added a whole new level of 'seedy' deviance for me. A possibly too-realistic peepshow visit and subsequent freaky blow-up doll fantasy intrigued and befuddled my poor forming mind. China Blue at her best: white wrist gloves, purple silky dress, off one shoulder, Tootsie nip exposed and being worked over by the husband-half of a paying couple, in the back of a limousine, totally disinterested while the three engage in country club chat. Sublime.
I've found the perfect Holy Trinity to hand my life over to. Over which to hand my life. To which over my life to hand.
Specifically: Fluffy, Muffy and Tuffy, AKA Disney's Three Orphan Kittens.
Why so perfect?
~Having won an Oscar, they are clearly more powerful that I ~They are survivors ~They are adorable ~They have many valuable life lessons to reveal, sometimes through their little Shiva-like wraths ~They make the most of second chances ~They are extra adorable dressed as babies
And most importantly ~I am crazy enough to feel comfortable imagining them sitting on my shoulder while I humbly ask them to keep me from being an asshole.
I also have a back-up for when the kittens aren't cutting it, when things just aren't that light and fluffy (and Muffy and Tuffy).
I toss my wishes at something just as comforting in a simpler, more abstract manner. A Black Hole.
My new obsession is sitting around thinking about everyone I'd like to fuck with Brooke Hogan's dick. It would be like a public service.
How could it not be the most gorgeously perfect thing on Earth?!
Golden to the point of being almost cast from actual gold, with a perma-shimmer that's not quite bronzer, not quite glitter.
HUGE. Tall, thick (those two should go without saying, but I said it), maniacally straight, veinless. Majestic. Eugenic. Fat plum (only in resemblance, NOT color!) of a head that makes the perfect cartoon popping sound when pulled out of anything (and everything). Could be mistaken for a dildo if it were not sooo, soooooo real.
Just the base is encircled by the softest tufts of white-blond down, for petting and nuzzling. And envying.
Shoots fountains of only the pearliest uber-jizz of the most desirable consistency. Not too sticky, not stringy, with countless untold health benefits (but much speculated to include anti-cellulite properties, and definitely what the Hulk was rubbing under her bikini bottom in those scorching porno pics). Pina Colada or Cocoa Butter.
I want to rub Brooke's impossibly rigid cock all over my big titties. And wrestle it with both hands and sing karaoke into it. Get all intense, point at it, call it 'Brother' and tell it it's going down (right before I do).
I want to reward and punish my friends and enemies with Brooke's golden hulking Miami dick of the Gods.
I wish I was the man with the mechanical heart I'd conquer all my enemies alone I'd tear the guys apart then scatter the pieces
I wish I was the man in the soundproof booth I wish I had a chance to stump the band or maybe tell truth and maybe I could win a color television
I really love my--television I love to sit by--television Can't live without my--television
TV is king You're my everything
I wish I had the girl with the bouncy hair We'd ride off in a brand new car or fly a plane somewhere like probably Jamaica
I brush my teeth, shampoo my hair, and shave my face Apply the necessary aerosol in the appropriate place And we'll spend the night together watching television
I can't turn off my--television Don't really know why--television I understand my--television
You got your works in a drawer and your color's on track You have to break away but you always come back You make a hundred changes but you're always the same You make me so excited and you make me so lame You're just a tube full of gas and a box full of tin But you show me your charms and I want to jump in Oh if only your chassis was covered with skin 'Cause TV you're my everything
I really love my--television I love to sit by--television Can't live without my--television I can't turn off my--television Don't really know why--television I understand my--television I really love my--television
TV is king You're my everything TV is king
I do a lot of work from home.
I always have a TV on. My first few months in Chicago, I bounced between two channels that would give me about 5 hours of Jerry Springer, Steve Wilkos, Maury, Montel and Tyra. They served me well, but I had to move on.
TiVO & On Demand were (and ARE) delightful, but required too much attention for work watching.
I discovered and fully surrendered to classic TV: Chicago's meTV (WWME) & meTOO (WMEU) channels provide 'round the clock reminders of why I know more about Shotz Brewery than state capitals.
I geeked out to Johnny Sokko just this morning.
25 Reasons to love meTV:
21 Jump Street, All in the Family, Bewitched, The Brady Bunch, Cheers, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Get Smart, Good Times, Hawaii 5-0, Hogan's Heros, The Honeymooners, I Dream of Jeannie, The Jeffersons, Kojak, Laverne & Shirley, Leave it to Beaver, Mary Tyler Moore, Night Gallery, One Day at a Time, Quantum Leap, Quincy, Rockford Files, Sanford & Son, Svengoolie, The Twilight Zone.
A crazy ridiculous number of reasons to love meTOO:
The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Batman, The Brady Bunch (I'll take some overlap), Buck Rogers, Burns & Allen, Carson's Comedy Classics, Eight is Enough, The Facts of Life, Family Affair, Family Ties, Gidget, Gilligan's Island, Gimme a Break, Gomer Pyle, Greatest American Hero, Green Acres, Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew, I Love Lucy, The Incredible Hulk, Jack Benny, Johnny Sokko, Knight Rider, Laverne & Shirley, Little House on the Prairie, The Little Rascals, Lost in Space, Love American Style, The Lucy Show, The Monkees, Mork & Mindy, Mr. Ed, The Munsters, News Radio, Night Gallery, The Outer Limits, The Patty Duke Show, The Partridge Family, Saved by the Bell, Silver Spoons, Square Pegs, The Twilight Zone, The Twilight Zone Hour, Webster.
Plus, they play vintage commercials and a modern (ish?) spot featuring Sean Astin for BoysTown USA. Talk about Classic TV royalty!
Which brings up a good point: where the fuck is the Addams' Family?
I've always felt like I didn't make a very good female.
I didn't feel like a boy. Maybe boy-ISH. Or alien-ish. Or just wrong and uncomfortable.
This isn't where I announce my sexual reassignment surgery.
I got great boobs early (and often) and always liked dresses. It isn't like that.
When I did (and do) "feel like a girl" it was akin to "throwing like a girl" or "running like a girl" or everything else universally recognized as infinitely inferior to how the males - of any species- do it.
Mainly, I wasn't (and am not) very feminine. Nothing delicate or graceful or shiny. Certainly not my goddamn fucking son-of-a-bitch toilet mouth. Or my rotten, rotten brain.
All of this made me reflect recently on the three main women who influenced my childhood and whole life, really. The Big Mamas, all of whom were much more successful at being female than I, but each came with her own laundry list.
My paternal grandmother is as good a place to start as any.
Quite the matriarch. Four alcoholic sons, and a doting, saintly hen-pecked care-taker of a husband. Eternal petite, blue-eyed cheerleader.
She started life the only daughter of a Dutch farming couple in Indiana and spent her childhood days locked in the closet by her brother while her parents worked in the field.
The original doll-popping housewife. Hypochondriac, anorexic, tanorexic, vain. Funny and charming as the day is long. In Alaska. When they have nothing but daytime.
Will always love you more if you lose 10 pounds. Won't let you forget this.
Will tell you all night about the pot brownies she accidentally ate at a wild party hosted by her beloved 'Talian/Jewish friends in Connecticut. In her 50's. And how her mother taught her tolerance by dancing with the town gay every week at a local social.
Claimed Chasing Amy was her favorite movie for several years.
Prone to fainting couch over-drama. And fads. Like, at age 80 she decided she was allergic to wheat gluten. And may or may not currently be addicted to pain medication. But definitely wants you to think so.
MOTHER OF A ROCK STAR, with the vanity plates to prove it.
The "Second Mother" AKA Aunt Penny
Penny could have been Marilyn Monroe herself to me (or at least an even poorer man's Debbie Harry).
After a glamorous young life singing with a band that played the hotel circuit and cocktailing at a Playboy Club, Penny returned to her hometown, our hometown, and became fast friends, best friends, with my mother. They worked together at a disco attached to a restaurant. Penny was the boss.
She could out-drug, out-drink and outwit anyone lucky enough to get pulled into her sphere. Other people's husbands and boyfriends fell over themselves to get anything they could.
Beautiful with huge tits and a gorgeous smile. Worldly, intelligent, someone who knew how use all of her femaleness while going toe-to-toe with the Big Boys.
Penny lived and died in a tiny trailer that in my mind was nothing less than the finest dressing room of a Hollywood starlet. She would lounge in a silk kimono and apply her make-up, ready to step out onto the set of her next blockbuster.
But Penny turned 30.
She experienced and ultimately ended an unplanned pregnancy. The father undoubtedly had previous commitments. Penny slipped into a depression that she never escaped. She was convinced that was her last chance to be a mother and wondered what she was doing all these years.
She checked herself out of Chez AirStream the manly way, but with a chic silver small caliber pistol. One tiny piece of lead in her pretty little temple, barely a trickle of blood. And a spectacular corpse.
There was even a miniature conspiracy theory surrounding her death involving "knowing too much" about one of the major players in town. It added to her glamour girl legend, but even I knew better. And I was 8 years old. Penny was tired and Penny was sad and Penny wasn't who she wanted to be anymore.
I remember seeing an old photo from her touring days in her early 20's. She was sitting on a rock in some sparkling body of water, soaking wet in a bikini bottom and simple hippie-ish cotton tunic. Her hair was blown into her face and shorter than I had ever seen it. Eyes closed, face pointed toward the sun. Everything all white and gold. She looked like the most amazing creature on Earth. And if you told me it was the happiest day of her life, I would believe you.
Penny bought me records and talked to me like I was the smartest and most clever girl she'd ever met. Gave me my first copy of The Little Prince and explained what it meant to her. She hugged me, she loved me and she left.
The REAL Mutha
My mother is nothing if not a survivor.
She's joked for years that the opening line of her autobiography will read, "I was born a poor white child in East St. Louis.." And she was.
The youngest of 8 children in a SUPER poor, violent, alcoholic Catholic family, she suffered the most unspeakable of horrors at the hands of her brothers. And their friends. As a 5 year old.
Her mother refused to acknowledge this, help or protect her. It's the cliche of the time: if you don't talk about it, it doesn't exist.
Her parents eventually divorced and my mother was kicked out of the house while still in high school. Her mother was done raising children.
She had a 23 year old boyfriend when she was 15.
Drove cross-country for a pre- Roe V. Wade abortion.
Pretty sure she met my father when they both walked straight out of Billy Jack's Freedom School. Crushingly adorable hippies, these two.
She got knocked up, they got married. Miscarriage. I was born 2 years later when my mother was still only 21.
She, as they say, did "the best she could." Which meant working hard, ignoring problems at home, enabling, playing a victim, putting a child in the position of parent or friend, not being encouraging or affectionate.
The men in her life were always her priority. As a bartender, she was surrounded by her favorite kind.
She is on her third epically drunk husband. Bless her heart.
She's also struggling with her identity and legacy in the face of a terminal illness.
She's a brilliant artist and legitimate "idea person."
In my peri-puberty nightmare days, I couldn't understand how I came out of this tall, thin-legged, narrow-shouldered Annie Hall wannabe with perfect skin and small perky tits that still look amazing today (and I've looked).
She did the best she could. She still does. Someday, I will reconcile that as being enough.