Monday, August 22, 2011

Laughter is the Best Medicine

This week, Hallmark failed me completely. Though you can actually find numerous books about topics like, “Why mommy looks so scary after her face lift,” there’s nothing for boob jobs. Nada. Zip. Zilch. So, two days ago, when my dearest friend's daughter (BLZ) got a breast reduction, I took the matter into my own hands (figuratively speaking) and sent flowers instead.

Now, to completely understand the full horror of the following exchange, please put yourself in the position of the poor sales clerk who innocently asked, “What would you like written on the card,” and had to hear, “I hope you like your new boobs. I can’t wait to see them.” After the awkward silence between us passed, she cleared her throat, then read it back for clarification… to which I could only reply, “You know, I really hate giving you the name on my Visa card right now.” But I did... and worse than that, I did it from work... in my cube... and worse than that, as with each and every time in my life that I have been mortified, I felt compelled to explain.

Here is what that poor teenage cashier had to hear, “It’s for my friend’s daughter… Oh my God, but NOT LIKE THAT! I’m not some freak-pervert and I SWEAR I’m TOTALLY straight. It's just that BLZ wasn’t happy with her chest, and as someone who has hit forty – believe me, I understand what that girl is talking about... even though she's getting a reduction and I’m just a victim of gravity.”

They say that silence is actually God talking. I don't believe that. I believe that florist was judging me. At any rate, it ended OK... My friend's daughter texted me and said that she laughed pretty hard when she got the lilies. Hopefully it really is the best medicine and in some small way I helped a kid whom I’ve always adored.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

To quote the Bard, "Make war upon this bloody tyrant, Time."

In 1892, Walt Whitman published one of the most beautiful and poignant lines ever penned, "That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse." However, before he gave us that answer, he asked us this question first, "What good amid these, O me, O life?"

Enter Mr. Epenetus Dalrymple.

Now, before I continue, I should tell you that Epenetus Dalrymple was a real person... whose name I love more than Huckleberry Finn’s and whose life story I know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about... much like in 150 years, people will know very little about my tale - even though (to loosely quote the poet) I'm here today, my life exists, my identity is declared, and that… for as foolish and as faithless as I am (for who more foolish and faithless than I), I have a point to make. Granted, it’s convoluted and scattered as usual, but I swear I have one – so please bear with me.

You see, last month, I turned forty and married DB, my partner of two and a half years. Neither of which is insignificant. Nor is the fact that my mom ACTUALLY forgot the first point and called us back half-way through the second.

About my fortieth, when I told her that she missed my birthday (a big one no less), she simply said, “No I didn’t. I was helping you repress it so you could be thirty-nine for as long as possible.” Honestly, that woman thinks of everything. As for calling us back during the wedding - before I can tell you that part of the story, I have to tell you this part first. In 2005, my mom contracted a virus which severely damaged her heart. Fortunately… it was caught in time and the surgeon was able to repair the mitral valve. Unfortunately… during the procedure, she ended up with a Staph infection that devolved into full-blown septic shock and landed her in a coma for three months. After "coming to," she spent an entire year in physical therapy learning to breathe on her own, eat on her own, walk on her own, and live without assistance… only to come home in 2006 and bury the love of her life, my father. In essence, the heart she fought so hard to fix was shattered all over again.

When we told her that it was time to forgive our dad for dying and the universe for making her sick, she said, “I’m neither bitter nor a germ-a-phobe. I’m just a firm believer that Sartre was right “Hell is other people.” I guess the up-side of her deeply-held conviction is that everyone has to believe in something. The down-side? She will not travel anymore, period. She's like the Godfather. You go to her and pay your respects. She doesn't come to you... And if she does, things in your life are REALLY bad and about to get a whole lot worse now that she's there and she's pissed.

At any rate, in order to strike a balance where everyone’s needs could be met, my Uncle called her before the wedding… kept her on the phone... put his mobile in his tux pocket… then walked me down the aisle. As we got to the bottom of the stairs, and he handed me over to DB… my uncle’s slacks began vibrating. Yes, SHE GOT DROPPED AND ACTUALLY CALLED BACK… Since I wasn’t sure how to say, “I swear, my Uncle’s pants aren’t PULSATING because he’s excited to see you. That’s just my mother in his pocket.” I simply let it go. But I digress…

The point is that, later that week, DB and I left for upstate New York to decompress at a beautiful bed and breakfast on a private lake in the Adirondack’s. And, because there’s so much history there, we spent several hours perusing numerous Revolutionary War cemeteries. If that sounds like an odd way to spend a honeymoon, then I know more than ever that I married the right man. You see, graveyards don’t bother me. In fact, I find them peaceful, and I love speculating on the lives of the people buried in them… including Mr. Epenetus Dalrymple’s.

Here’s what I know about him for sure: He was married. He was widowed. He had children (some of whom he lost). And he died at sea as an old man… Here’s what I conjectured (to DB’s amusement):
1. Like Huckleberry Finn, Epenetus was a wonderfully naughty child. Can’t you just hear his exasperated mother shouting, “EPENETUS DALRYMPLE - GET YOUR ASS OUT OF THAT CREEK, PUT YOUR CLOTHES BACK ON, AND GO CUT THAT WOOD LIKE I TOLD YOU TO.”
2. He was ADORED by his wife, Josephine, who - on more than one occasion, must have said to her husband, “Why, Mr. Epenetus Dalrymple, put your wiener away. You will NOT touch me with that thing tonight.” And then she let him.
3. He worshipped his wife and never remarried. Instead, he was a loving grandfather who fished and told tales of his perfectly misspent youth.
4. He died at sea… in his skiff … in a storm… and was deeply missed by everyone who survived him.

Now, it should be stated again, I don’t pretend to be right. That’s just how I see his life in my head… which made me wonder, really wonder - what will people read into my life in fifty years when they see my tombstone, especially if it says what I want it to say, “I told you I was sick.” And so… because of a man I’ve never met… who rests in a New England cemetery I’ll never visit again… I’m going to try and contribute MY verse to this crazy play.

Yes, I entered a writing contest.

So, wish me luck – and not just because I'm more competitive than a Drag Queen and want to win, but because Shakespeare was right, 'neither marble nor gilded monuments shall outlive this powerful rhyme.' I want my loved ones (and their loved ones’ loved ones) to know that it’s OK to be crazy. It runs in the family… but so does a good sense of humor. I also want them to know how deeply they were loved, so no one ever has to wonder - not even 150 years from now.

Talk to you later (and rest in peace Epenetus Dalrymple).