Wednesday
Jun292011

News At 11

One of my favorite activities to do while passing time driving up north is to poke fun at the local "news" stories. These are events that have wreaked havoc and caused chaos in many of the small northern Michigan communities. These scandals pale in comparison to those that have occurred in my hometown of Detroit. "Kwami-Gate" and the "Underwear Bomber" both trump "Joe Bob Flugerheim Just Bought An '03 Chevy" or "Ted Konwicki Found Dear Tracks In His Garden".
As much as I make fun of these small town escapades, the truth is I secretly envy it. Wouldn't it be nice to live in a community where the crime rate is so low that the biggest news event of the week is the town drunk ran the only stop-light in the county-again. What women doesn't dream of being one of the local housewives in her best gingham housecoat gathered around Mrs. Peabody's kitchen table playing Bridge while gossiping about the local tribulations. What man wouldn't trade places with one of the local fellas who, dressed in their finest waders, gather in front of the local Bait-N-Go to debate whether or not the story on page three of the Presque Isle Advance is true- Did Clyde Owens really spot "The Monster", the fabled prehistoric size trout living in the depths of Long Lake?
One particular story Anthony read out loud to me as we were driving up north one day last summer had to do with the local high school's graduating class. It was a very upbeat, positive article reporting that 58 of the 60 students of the class of 2010 were planning on attending a university or community college. We both remarked how this was an excellent percentage for such a small farming town. "Good for them" I said as we drove past our 257th cow. We then proceeded to a more important story "Ten Girls Vow For Miss Potato Queen". I've accurately predicted the winners just from their pictures five years in a row, so the pressure was on.
The following day was absolutely gorgeous. The kind of summer day that Michiganders live for. Sunny, 80 degrees, no humidity and just enough wind to keep the mosquito's away. One lesson we learned through the years of going to our rustic cabin is to try not to forget anything. Since our only transportation is by boat, if we need to go to the store, it's quite an event. If we're lucky enough that the item in question is carried by the only store on the lake, all we have to do is pull the boat up to their dock and go inside, but if it's something hard to come by, such as chocolate milk, we have to boat to the marina, get into our car and drive to the closest I.G.A.   Immediately after breakfast we began to mull over dinner options. Pizza or cheeseburgers (yes, healthy eating is of the utmost importance on the island). Either way we'd have to go to shore as we didn't have pepperoni's or hamburger buns. Later in the day, when it was time to make the journey, I opted to stay on the island and do some chores, in other words, take a nap.
As Anthony was speeding away, I noticed the time, 3:00, a perfect time for my afternoon siesta. As I laid down on the hammock, the gentle sounds of the lapping waves put me immediately to sleep. I was out a solid hour before I woke up and realized Anthony had been gone longer than usual. Either the store didn't have what he needed and he had to drive into town or he was abducted by pirates. Another half hour went by and I was starting to think that maybe Captain Hook had indeed invaded Grand Lake. I was seriously beginning to worry. At 5:00, I heard the familiar sound of our pontoon zipping across the lake. Once docked I questioned what had taken so long. It turns out it wasn't due to pirates or a lack of pepperoni's, it's even better.....

As Anthony was approaching the marina, he noticed a motionless boat in the middle of the lake with two passengers waving their arms. Occasionally, boaters run into trouble and need assistance. We've been in this situation ourselves and when someone stops to help, it's like the cavalry has arrived. As Anthony pulled up, the two occupants admitted they had been out all day and simply ran out of gas. "No problem" Anthony said, and he proceeded to tie their boat to ours and helped the two teenagers onto our boat. He was heading to the marina anyway, so it just a small inconvenience on his part but a huge help for them.
At this point in his story, I started to really be grateful I wasn't there. I have a hard time carrying conversations with teenagers, especially "up north teenagers". They seem to speak in a special back-roads kind of way. It's a language I'm truly illiterate in. I get anxiety even thinking about the kind of conversation I would attempt:  "What is the pregnancy rate at your school?" or "Are your gym showers private or open?". I'm really much better just abstaining from these situations altogether. Anthony, on the other hand, has the ability to carry on great chats with this age group. "Where do you go to school?" he inquired. The girl in the Led Zepplin tee shirt and mullet inspired hair answered that she and her pal (see I say things like "pal") had just graduated from Posen High School. "Wow", Anthony replied "I just read that 58 out of 60 kids were going off to college". He went on by telling them how impressed he was by this number. "Can you imagine being one of the two that aren't going" he continued, "how embarrassing for them!" Now, I'm sure  you can guess where this is going. At that moment, the two prodigals proudly announced "Well, that would be us, we both got real good jobs at the local Wal-Mart paying ten bucks an hour". In a situation where I would have simply plugged my nose, jumped off the boat and drowned, Anthony  replied with "well, good for you, you're parents must be so proud".
A few minutes later (although I'm sure it seemed like decades) the threesome finally reached the safety of shore. The two grateful teens thanked Anthony and began filling up their gas tank. Before leaving them, Anthony being the kind Catholic that he is, went inside and secretly paid for their gas.

A year later these questions come to mind:
Do you think they are still at their dream job? Are the majority of the Posen High School Class of 2010 still in college? Does Wal-Mart really start out at $10 per hour and do they carry pepperoni?

Sunday
Jun122011

My Lines, My Lines.

Tonight is the second most exciting night in t.v. The Tony Awards. 
I have a secret wish to be discovered. I fantasize that the most regarded talent scout in the world is sitting in the front row the night I give the performance of a lifetime. He is mesmerized by me and immediately offers me a contract to star on Broadway forever. I move to New York, live in a 2000 square foot apartment, eat at the best restaurants and am recognized on every street corner. I eventually venture into film, win an Oscar or two, then go back to the stage so I can satisfy my fans.
So, until that happens I am very happy being a member of local community theatres.  Since joining St. Dunstans Theatre in 2000, I've had the honor of directing and performing in many productions. Every season, I make a promise to only work on one of our five shows per year. Being the addict I am though, that rarely happens. I've been in love with theatre ever since my first starring role as The Sun in my second grade production of "Spring Has Sprung".  I've made great friends, created  wonderful memories and yes, have filed away tons of stories.
It's really difficult to say which role or show has been my favorite,  I can however recall my most embarrassing moment.
My favorite playwright is Oscar Wilde and one of my favorite plays is "The Importance of Being Earnest". I have wanted to play the role of Jack Worthing since I could read. In 2009, I finally got my chance. I was given the opportunity to bring Jack "Earnest" Worthing to life at Village Players in Birmingham.


The plot of the play is about Jack and Algernon. Jack has been pretending that his name is really Earnest so the girl of his dreams, Gwendolyn will fall in love with him. Gwendolyn, you see can only love a man with the name of Earnest. It looks as though they will not live happily ever after as Gwendolyn realizes the man of her dreams is really called Jack. It isn't until the climax in the last minute of the play that Jack finds out his name really is Earnest and they can be together forever.  O.K., as I write out the plot, it sounds kind of silly, but it is one of Oscar Wilde's greatest masterpieces.
I don't usually like to know who is in the audience on any given night. Why add another reason to be nervous? On one particular night, however I was told that a group of friends were coming to see the show. Not just any friends, these these were the people who did the show eight years prior. A production, I auditioned for, but didn't get cast in. Needless to say, I was a little more than nervous.
Everything was going along just fine. No dropped lines, no costume malfunctions, I was really pleased. We were only a minute away from the end of the three hour show. I was home free, all I had to do was find out my name was really Earnest and we could take our bows and go home. 
Once I discover my true identity,  my character announces "I always told you Gwendolyn that my name was Earnest". Hugs-the end. For some reason, I decided to re-write Mr. Wilde's piece of art. I proudly stated with total confidence, "I always told you my name is GWENDOLYN" I was in shock, this was not one of those lines your fellow actor can cover for you. In one moment I had totally changed the ending of a play that has withstood the test of time and been performed thousands of times. 

 
As luck would have it, the audience was paying close attention. I heard this loud roar of laughter. It slowly rolled like a wave from the back of the house to the front row. At this point I had two choices and I had to think quick. I could either run off the stage crying vowing never to do another show again or do what I did-break down in hysterics. I broke character for the first time. It seemed like forever before I finally stopped and mutter out the correct ending. 
Since then I have done more shows and flubbed more lines, but it all pales compared to the night I turned Jack Worthing into a drag queen.

 

Monday
Jun062011

The Proud Papa

Pride!
The Motor City hosts it's annual Gay Pride festival the first weekend of June every year. I don't usually attend it because we are normally out of town. This time, we stayed in the D, and decided to go.
The event was moved this year from the trendy suburb of Ferndale (Detroit's version of West Hollywood) to our Riverfront in Hart Plaza in downtown Detroit. I wasn't sure what to expect, it has been a while since I last went to one.
As we entered I was really struck by the amount of people. I had no idea there were this many gays in the city. I've been open and proudly out for 30 years (don't you dare do the math) so I thought I knew every gay in the city.  I've been involved in social groups, theatre, political groups, I'm even a hairdresser. I thought I had the gay market cornered. "Where did they all come from" I asked Anthony. I really had no idea that there was an entire population of proud gay people from Detroit that I have never met.
I love to people watch and this was the perfect place to do it. It was really a melting pot of gold at the end of the a big gay rainbow. I saw everything from drag queens to grandfathers with their grandchildren. Well, let me say, we thought they were grandfathers. You see, sometimes, we say the wrong thing and wish we could go back in time.....
I found the perfect perch to watch the crowds. It was on the second step that led to a platform right in the middle of all the action. Just high enough to see the action, but close enough to be a part of it. Anthony and I grabbed a beer (yes, a beer) and sat on the steps to observe all the fun. We watched people go by, chatted with a few, we were just enjoying a great day. After about a half hour, we noticed an older gentleman with a baby. "Look", I said, "isn't that great, a gay grandpa and his grand-kid". I remarked how times have changed even since I first came out.  "You would never have seen that 30 years ago". We both thought this rainbow grandad was pretty cool and decided to tell him so.
Throughout our conversation with this proud grandpa, I noticed he started to get a "funny" look on his face. I wasn't sure why. We were telling him how cool it is that today's society is finally embracing everyone. We continued by saying that seeing an openly gay grandfather who is comfortable enough to bring his grandchild to event such as this is truly inspiring. We were being really complimentary.  As we went on, his "funny" look evolved to more of a "perturbed" snare.  I couldn't understand why he would be getting mad, we were saying really nice things. Then it hit me, I started to think that maybe this gay grandad wasn't gay at all, maybe he was just taking his grandson for a walk on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.  I was in the middle of trying to find the right words to get out of this, when he made his announcement. An announcement that made me swear never to talk to anyone ever again. "This is not my grandson, he is my SON! I'm only 45! I was shocked, inside, I thought "wow, he should really stay out of the sun". Outside, I was speechless. There really weren't any words to fix this one. "He's got your eyes", came to mind, but I think it would have only made it worse.
We were thoroughly mortified and stumbled out an "I'm sorry" and a "he is so cute, he totally takes after his daddy". "Blah, blah, blah" I think our embarrassment was satisfying enough for him as he chatted with us for another minute or two before he politely went on his way.
We stayed on our perch for a while longer. We decided that maybe it was better to just watch the people and keep our conversations to ourselves.

Thursday
Jun022011

Bad Willy

        If I were a puppy or kitten and looking for a family, I would put on my best "cute" face and really work hard to impress the children-less couples that come into the pet store. If two men came in together, I would play dead, sit, stay and do every command possible to convince them I am their chosen one.
Anthony and I have always had two dog-children. To say they are spoiled is an understatement. Jack and Willy go on vacation, sleep in our bed (really it's their bed and we are invited in), attend our parties, eat gourmet food, and have a wardrobe that includes a kilt and a really cute Santa suit.
As with most parents, I feel my dogs are the best at everything. In my mind, they are the best behaved, cutest and smartest dogs on the planet. That is until my recent visit to the vets
I had to take Willy, our four year old miniature long haired dachsund, in for his checkup. I don't know what it is, but dogs seem to know the minute they get in the car if this is a going to be a fun trip or a visit to the doctor. Why they are afraid of the doctor is beyond me, it's like they can smell the fear as soon as they walk in.
As I was waiting to be called in, there were two other parents with really sweet dog-children. One was a medium sized fluffy white poodle, the other was the cutest baby Lab. The Lab was playful and not shy. He went up to the other dog and  quickly became friends with him. Both their tails were wagging and it was obvious they really liked each other. The parents, thought it was really cute how much their kids liked each other and decided they should made a play date. 
I have to admit I was jealous, I wanted to be included. Willy and I had never been invited on a play date. Maybe this would be my chance. If I could entice the Lab over and Willy charmed him, we would be in. "Come here", I beckoned, "you are so cute, awe, come on, come on". The popular dog in class finally came over and  I put out my hand to pet him. This was going to be great. Willy and I would finally be members of the canine in-crowd. It was going really well, until Willy decided he didn't want any new friends. As this cute baby, innocent Yellow Lab let me pet him, Willy suddenly snapped at him. I had no idea he had teeth, let alone this snippy-dog attitude. At first I was stunned, then totally embarrassed.  The Lab's Mom called her baby back to her and held him close. Willy didn't just stop there, he began barking at him as if to tell him that he hates him and not to ever come closer or he'd eat him.
I was mortified. My dog was the bad one. The one other people had to protect their babies from. I asked the receptionist how much longer it was going to be and she quickly escorted me and Willy into the exam room. I've seen this done before, usually when a dog is misbehaving and terrorizes others in the lobby.  It was a puppy time out and we were being punished.
Needless to say, Willy has never been included in play dates. He prefers staying home and protecting his dad's. What a good boy!

Sunday
May292011

Will the real Lori please stand up.

Someone told me once that everyone has a twin somewhere in the world. I've never quite believed this, or at least not until yesterday.
My work day begins at nine on Saturday mornings. I love Saturdays at work, it is much more casual than the rest of the week. Clients are generally more relaxed and that vibe gets transferred to me.
I parked in the parking structure as usual. The structure has been under construction and parking has been at a minimum. If I arrive past 9:00, I usually end up on level five, but yesterday I got lucky, I got a prime spot on level 3. I thought, this is a  sign that the day was going to be a good one.
After parking my car, I grabbed my McDonald's burrito (yes, I stopped at McDonald's, but I did get the only un-fried thing on the menu). The weather had finally broke, just in time for Memorial Day. It was warming up and I even saw some sunshine, something we haven't had for a few weeks now. I was really in a great mood. Which is probably why I did the following:
I crossed the street and headed up the alley behind our salon. As I got to our back door, I see my friend Lori walking on the sidewalk at the end of the alley. "She's up early" I thought. Because I was in an extra good mood, I decided it would be nice to make her day by yelling (I mean yelling) HEY SEXY! Lori and I always have a great banter, so I was awaiting her witty reply back. As I stood there thinking how charming I am, my friend Lori turned to me with a horrified look on her face. I was mortified. The person I thought I was amusing was not Lori, it was a total Lori looking stranger!
I, of course went into my usual mode of muteness when I make a complete ass out of myself. I just stared at this stranger for what seemed an eternity until I finally broke the tension by not saying a word but running away.