Tuesday, March 29, 2005


In the car one day the man of the house declared “I’m going to change my name”. This is something he has been doing for years, ever since basket ball players started converting to Islam in mid-career. “From now on,” he would declaim, “my name is Acccchmed Hamid Jamarrr bar Icccchhhmbenrabi” or some such, which included many difficult guttural choking sounds. On this particular occasion he decided that his new moniker would be Portulaca Tollplaza. I inquired if this name would be hyphenated: Toll-Plaza like some African American Debutante, but no, he thought that just the one word would do. Will you change your sisters’ names too? I offered; they could be Ovaltine, Lavoris and Binaca (her father being of Hispanic descent.).
One of his sisters once related a story to me of a boyfriend who called her butt face. I told her that this was an indication she needed a new boyfriend. This was a girl who could have been on the cover of a magazine, and yet she settled for a really bad pet name from a guy who turned out to be every bit as good as that name.
My friend Tess has always had names for everything, including inanimate objects such as stoves (the Mighty Viking) and cars (the brick). Most people are happy if they find names for all of their children, but Tess has named children that she does not have: her son is Hiawatha Boulevard, and her daughter, Terracotta Statuette.
We have neighbors who we tried in vain to make friends. They remain friendly but aloof, and when we think about inviting them to something we say how about calling Chickie and Willard, or, do you think we should invite Fontaine and Brevard? Those are not their names, we know the real ones, but continue to invent new ones, and we always know whom we mean.
It is a rare day in the house when we don’t give the cats new names. It’s not that the cats don’t have good names, although in the case of Skippy, nee Farafluff, it kind of was, and they both still manage to recognize their own names or the names we have chosen to call them at that particular juncture.
Many of us do not care for our given names, but they often fit particularly well. My sister and I never liked our names because they were different from any one’s name that we knew. Children will make fun of anyone’s name just for the fun of it, and because it makes another person miserable, but when your own parents give you a bad name it just seems cruel. As it happens, I do NOT have a bad name, I just needed to grow into it. My other sister was named inadvertently by me, and every girl born that year seemed to have that name. That also is a burden to a child. “I will not be Hennifer 2, she told the Spanish teacher; make the other girl number two”. I think that showed moxie. I should have named her Amanda which was someplace on the list, but I was under the gun with less than 30 seconds to make a pronouncement, and that is the reason for my sister’s very normal name.
To review, odd name, not appreciated, normal name also unappreciated. I don’t know how to fix that, and as I said before, we become the name we were given.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Television Shows of my Dreams

Having a lot of time on my hands, I tend to read a lot, but I also watch too much TV. Sometimes the shows are so ludicrous that besides not watching them I think up alternative shows that at the very least could be no worse.

Freudian Slips:
This show is a panel type quiz show sponsored by Victoria’s Secret. I have not decided firmly whether or not all contestants will be required to wear women’s undergarments, but it is humorous to imagine say, Mandy Patinkin wearing a satin chemise. The celebrity contestants, would sit behind a table so that the underwear showing would be above the waist, and therefore not completely untoward.
The questions would all be about their personal lives, and the answers could be true or false. The opposing team would try to catch them in their lies.

Wheel of Misfortune:
In this show there would be a big wheel to spin. The “prizes” on the wheel could be a trip to Bermuda with your legs broken, or simply get pushed off a curb. The contestants get to choose, and the lucky winner would appear on consecutive shows until completely disabled. While this does seem cruel, it would attract the same crowd who go to tractor pulls and wrestling. This contingent is known in the business as TWBBM, or tattooed women and beer bellied men. It is not known why the less money you make, the more noise you prefer in your entertainment, opera not completely withstanding, but it has been proved to be true.

Queen for a Day:
This show would be to take up the slack in the dearth of shows for gay people. It would work the same as the older show with the same name, but would have gay contestants vying with each other for the most egregious sob story. In addition to washers and dryers, the winner would be given a makeover at Frederick Fekkai, or some other prestigious Salon.

Another version of this show would be Queens (NY) for a Day, in which the unfortunate contestants would have a race from midtown Manhattan to Queens by public transportation or cab. The winner would receive an all expenses paid “Day in Queens”, whether they already lived there or not.
This show would be televised like a marathon, with cameras following each contestant as they jump turnstiles, argue with cabbies, dodge shoppers at rush hour and stiff arm the homeless in their frantic race crosstown.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Phone story segment

So, said Sadie, so maybe everybody is not Beethoven.
This seemingly offhand remark drove Jake into frenzy. “Yeah, and maybe everybody is not even Liberace.”

Dolling, God forbid I should break you the news but Liberace is dead, and at least he was a nice boy, good to his mother.

MOTHER! He was SO gay, not that you noticed, and further, not a very good musician, which you obviously missed and which is why I mentioned him . Thank you so much for padding the blow but God forbid, Beethoven is also dead.

Nonsense dear, just yesterday he was on the radio; I don’t know why you insist on trying to upset me all the time.

This has been a lovely chat mother. I ‘m so glad I called you in my hour of need; maybe I should have called Liberace’s mother, she would have made me a bundt cake or something and told me was a wonderful guy. Yes, I know she passed form this earthly vale before the death of her beloved son. Thank you for your support. He imagined the defunct Bartles and James deadpanning the remark from their T.V. porch, and goodnight! He slammed the receiver back on to the phone. I am so grateful that technology has not bypassed this receiver angle. Pushing that tiny dot on the cell phone just does not allow one to vent his emotions.

Jake used to have great heart rending phone slamming arguments with his girlfriend Nory. Both of them would bang the receivers down on their respective rotary phones. Sometimes Nory found herself banging the damn thing about 12 times before the crashing crescendo finally ending the call.
On one particular occasion he called her back, shrieked “You can’t do that to me!” and then he slammed the phone as hard as he could. On her end Nory threw the whole phone across the room until it jerked short on the 20 foot cord. Then she lay exhausted and furious on the bed until that beep beep the phone is off the hook noise drove her nuts and she crawled across the floor to replace both pieces quietly upright on the floor.

Jake’s cat came and rubbed against his legs. Phinny, as the cat was named this week was tiger striped and came from a farm with another impossible name. Actually, he, like all cat owners, changed the cat’s name as his fancy chose, and the cat chose whether to respond. Actually Jake had two cant but the other one (Elizabeth) was a surly grouse who only responded to the sound of cat food poured into a bowl. Elizabeth was a gift from one of his exes and no named by her although it was a male. “Angel, he said, I know this animal is only 8 weeks old, but it definitely has testicles”.
“Well, I don’t care, it looks like Elizabeth to me” she insisted. Calling the cat by a misgendered name may have made the cat grousy, and perhaps it was just in the animal’s makeup. Meanwhile, Jake’s vet has a field day with the misnomer, calling in colleagues for consults, asking whether the cat had cross -dressing tendencies and so on.
So Phinny the cat was his only real ally at the moment but it did help to have someone, and he pulled the limp feline to his lap where it settled until her next hyperactive impulse.