Oh Mandy

If you’ve ever been to New York, you know there are a lot of shows to see and many great restaurants to choose from. The last few times that Anthony and I have gone, we’ve made it a point to go to a place called Feinstein’s 54 Below. Located in the lower lever of the famous and in some cases “infamous” Studio 54, Feinstein’s 54 Below is an intimate cabaret that headlines some of Broadway’s biggest stars who just want a chance to perform on their own.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, while visiting the city with another couple; Jeffrey and Harris, we decided to go again. This time, to a show called “Sondheim Unplugged”. Anthony saw a performance of this a few years ago and loved it, so off we went.

Sondheim Unplugged is a Broadway review of, you guessed it, Steven Sondheim songs. All performed by former and current stars of the stage.

Since it’s a small place, there isn’t a bad seat in the house, but this time we had extraordinarily good seats-front row. We literally could touch the performers, which Anthony actually did, by holding out his hand so they could balance themselves as they climbed the two, wobbly steps onto the stage.

The show was emceed by a very energetic and very funny Sondheim aficionado. Either before or after each performance, he would give a little background into the history of the song that we either heard or were about to hear.

After about the fourth or fifth performance, the emcee announced that there was someone very special in the audience tonight that he would like to introduce. Being easily star struck, I was thrilled to find out who it was. That is, until he walked across the stage to our table and introduced Mandy Patinkin, or in our case, Anthony Marsalese, to the crowd. It appears that since Anthony has let his hair go natural (silvery) and let his beard grow longer (and silvery), that he now bears a striking resemblance to the star of Homeland and Evita. He pulled Anthony up on his feet and everyone started to applaud. Anthony, knowing this was obviously a joke, took a bow and thanked him for acknowledging him and the emcee went along with it. After realizing the emcee was kidding, the audience’s applause turned into some light laughter and the show continued.

As the night went on, I noticed a few people were looking over at us. My guess was that we were either in their sight lines or they were trying to grasp the fact that Mandy Patinkin was gay. Either way, I was feeling like a celebrity’s housewife.

Toward the end of the show, the emcee again announced that we had yet another celebrity in our presence. Not sure if he was telling the truth or not, he asked for Charlotte Goodall to stand up.

This time an elegant woman, who must have been in her eighties, stood up and graciously took a bow. Miss Goodall was in the original “Night of the Iguana” in 1961. She was indeed a true star and got almost as much applause as Mandy/Anthony did.

After a couple more musical numbers, the show was over, or in our case, was about to begin. As soon as the lights came up, Miss Goodall came rushing over to our table to tell Anthony what a huge fan she was and how it was so nice to finally meet him after all these years. Not knowing exactly what to say, Anthony graciously told her that he wasn’t really Mandy Patinkin, but thanked her anyway. I’m not quite sure she believed him because she looked a little confused as she slowly walked away.

After this, Anthony excused himself to use the men’s room and said he’d meet us in the lobby. Jeffrey, Harris and I were making our way through the door when I looked up at the bar and noticed a small posse had formed around our star. I told Jeffrey and Harris that I’d be a minute as I had to save Mandy. As I made my way toward the excitement, I heard “Oh, I’m a big fan, can I please have a picture? followed by “Oh, I’m so excited to meet you”. It was really funny watching Anthony, who hates letting people down, try to persuade these people that he wasn’t really who they thought he was. I have to admit, that watching their looks when they realized their mistake was actually quite sad, but it made up for it in the glowing faces of the people that didn’t believe him. “Oh, you don’t have to pretend with us Mandy, we know it’s you”. One lady even went so far as to actually believe Anthony, because “he was much shorter than Mandy”, but insisted Mandy was still in the building and wasn’t going to leave until she found him.

I’m not sure how many people googled Mandy Patinkin that night or how many people will actually tell the story of the night they met Mandy Patinkin, but one thing is for sure, somewhere, there is a living legend that is probably getting pretty tired of being mistaken for the owner of a hair salon in Birmingham, Michigan.



Locker Room Etiquette?

Going to the gym is always a humbling experience. But what happened today is just plain embarrassing.

It all started when I was in the locker room after my workout…

I took off my gym clothes and since I’m not one of those guys who like to walk around the locker room naked for everyone to see, I rapidly wrapped a towel around my waist. I tend do this very quickly, so no one can see how often I don’t hit the gym and since there was an unusually large number of people around today, I changed in record time.

As I was wrapping my towel around my waist, I dropped my “second” towel (the one I use to wipe down the machines) on the floor, right behind a guy who was still dressed and facing his locker.

Since he was facing away from me and was busy texting on his phone, he was clueless that my towel was right at his heels. I considered leaving it there, but I was afraid he would take a step back and stumble on it. I tried getting his attention by saying, “excuse me”, but he wasn’t listening.

I didn’t know what to do, I could take a chance that he’d just step on the towel and everything would be fine or I could pick it up and spare this guy from a potential gym related injury. I only had a moment to think about it, so decided to go for it.

Then it happened…

At the very moment that I stealthily bent over to pick up the towel, he abruptly pulled down both his gym shorts and underwear in one fall swoop and since I was in his space, his elbow knocked me right on the top of my head. And if that wasn’t bad enough, I then proceeded to fall back onto the bench where my “big” towel (which was barely covering me to begin with) came untied, exposing my pale and very un-gym-worthy body to everyone.

I was so stunned that I couldn’t say anything. I mean, how do I explain to a man why my head was eye level with his now, bare ass and close enough to kiss it?

So, I did what any other person would do when faced with this situation-I stood up, re-wrapped the towel around my waist and confidently walked to the showers like nothing happened.

Next time-I think I'll just leave it.











The Great Pizza Caper

If meals are served in Heaven, I’m quite sure it’s pizza.

Recently, my friends Paul and Frank had a group of people over for an impromptu pizza party. They are the premier party hosts in the Detroit gay social world. If you are invited to one of their parties, you do everything you can to attend. I’m not sure if it’s their talent for putting together the best guest list, or the party games mixed with wine, but everyone at their parties immediately turn into alcohol induced five-year olds on their first day of kindergarten.

This particular party was on a Thursday night and was very casual. We work late on Thursday’s so we arrived at the same time as the pizza delivery man-perfect timing!

There were about 20 people, so they had ordered six large pizzas with various toppings; Pepperoni, Pepperoni and Onion, Sausage, Cheese, Vegetarian (which hardly anyone touched) and Chicken, Onion with Barbecue Sauce.

Anthony and I had been dieting that week, so not only was I starving; I was craving pizza. When Frank put the boxes and salad on the kitchen counter, I played the “wait twenty seconds to see who is going to go first” game before I ran to the counter to dig in. It’s always good to be the first person in line at a pizza party; you have full choices before all the good ones are gone.

I grabbed my plate and made my way along the buffet line. First, I piled on some salad (just to make it look like I care about healthy choices), and then I made my decision-Chicken Barbecue. My friend Bill was right behind me and was eyeing the same pizza. Since I was first in line, none of the pieces were taken yet, so not only did I have my choice of pizza; I had my choice of slices too. My mouth was watering and I was so excited to finally eat something decadent. I took my fork and gently lifted up the perfect slice, when something mortifying happened; as I was transferring my piece of pizza to my plate, it was somehow connected to the toppings on half of the pizza and they all slid off and onto my plate. I now had one tiny piece of pizza bread and an entire mountain of barbecue chicken and onions (plus my salad) covering my plate. Bill gasped as he saw what happened. “You have to put some of that back", he said in quiet but definite voice. “I know”, I replied, “but how?” “I don’t know, just figure it out, you can’t take all those toppings”, he continued. And he was right, I had to do something fast, because there was now a line of people behind us waiting to get to the pizzas.

I was desperate, so without thinking it through, I picked up the toppings and began to quickly reassemble the mutilated pie. “Don’t use your hands”, Bill said as I was trying to spread the glob of mozzarella cheese and chicken along the top. “Well, I don’t have any other choices” I whispered back, “it’s not like I’m frosting a cake”. After I did my best to hide my mishap, I knew one piece wouldn’t be enough, so I decided to take another piece from the other side of the box. This was a HUGE  mistake; this one was connected to every single topping on the entire pizza. By the time I was done, I had a plate overflowing with gross looking chicken and cheese and the rest of the pizza was left in a pathetic looking state, void of everything except a splatter of pale red sauce.


By now, the mob of angry people wanted to get their hands on the rest of the pizzas and I was holding up traffic so I panicked. All I could think of to do was close the lid and hope no one saw what happened and make Bill promise not to say anything.

I almost got away with it too; until Paul made his way into the dining room, holding up a bald slice of pizza announcing, “Look what someone did! They took all the toppings from my favorite pizza”.  And with that, other guests started chiming in about the mysterious pizza thief. I knew I was in trouble; I looked around the table and everyone had empty slices of pizza on their plates while mine was piled up to the ceiling.

I had no choice but to blame Bill. “It was me”, I announced, “but Bill encouraged it; he saw what I did and he didn’t stop me from taking it!” I could tell they weren’t buying it, so I decided to try and blame Paul “I knew you wouldn’t like it if I manhandled all the food, that would be gross, so I had no choice”. This didn’t go over very well either. “Fine”, I said in another desperate attempt of pointing blame, “it was the pizza guys fault. He probably drove so fast that all the toppings got all mixed up and made he made it impossible to take a normal piece”.

None of these excuses worked and my friends love me anyway, but I’m sure I won’t be invited over for pizza anytime soon.



Doctor Jeff Saves the Day

Last week, Anthony had hernia surgery. Before I begin, I have to commend the staff at Henry Ford Hospital in Downtown Detroit. The whole experience couldn’t have been better. Not only did his surgery and recovery go well, but everyone, from the Doctor cutting him open to the person parking our car was very professional and more importantly, friendly.

His surgery was scheduled for 7:30 in the morning, but we had to be there at 5:30. Knowing that it wasn’t all about me, I only commented twice about the early appointment and only once about it being the coldest day of the year (-24 degrees according to my car’s thermometer).

Other than that, it was Anthony’s day.

As he was called into Pre-Op, he was allowed to bring in one family member so he had no choice but to let me in.

The whole thing was sort of surreal. They brought us into a tiny cubicle with nothing but a thin curtain with a terrible plaid pattern separating us from the other inmates. And you could hear every word they were saying. I think the man next to us was having some sort of brain surgery and the lady across from us was having some kind of metal plate inserted in her stomach. But for whatever reason, both of them seemed to be getting much more attention than we were and we were starting to feel neglected.

The man getting the brain surgery was asked so many questions, you’d think he was a candidate for the Nobel Prize and “Stomach” woman was extremely needy. “Seriously, how many doctors does she need, ” I whispered to Anthony as the fifth person asked her about her allergies. “I think she’s making it up, how can one person have so many things wrong with them”, I continued. It also didn’t help that the doctors were leading her on. “You don’t have any sensitivity to penicillin, doooo you?” one of the attending physicians ask the hypochondriac, in which, she of course replied “why yes doctor, I think I might” then “You aren’t feeling any pain in your lung area are you?” “Oh, only when I breathe, Doctor” We hadn’t even been seen by a nurse yet, and Little “Miss Over-Reactor” was holding court with every doctor in southeast Michigan. 

This went on for some time and we were both starting to get a little jealous, until our Anesthesiologist came in to introduce herself. I think of all the people you don’t want to make angry, it’s your Anesthesiologist. They literally are in charge of putting you into La-La Land and making sure you don’t wake up at the precise moment when the Doctor begins slicing and dicing.

 She seemed like a friendly person, so I started off with a little humor by asking her if she knew Michael Jackson’s guy and if she did house calls. It worked because she laughed. At least I think she thought I was funny, it’s either that, or she was evilly contemplating putting Anthony out of his misery so he wouldn’t have to live with me. But my guess is she liked me.

Following her entrance, many people suddenly surrounded us. One was taking Anthony’s temperature, another was checking his blood pressure, another was sticking in his I.V and a fourth (I think the head nurse) was asking him all about his medical history. I looked over at little “Miss Plate in Her Stomach” and she didn’t look very happy. For the first time in an hour, she didn’t have even one person giving her attention and we had tons. “Ha! Not so fun now, is it?” 

Anyway, finally it was my turn. The head nurse asked me if I was the person who’d be waiting during the procedure. “Yes”, I said. Then she asked me for my number and assured me that they’d call me as soon as he was in recovery. I asked how long the whole thing would take, where I should wait, etc. It was all going very smoothly until she told me how nice it was that I accompanied my DAD to his surgery.

“Oh yes she did. DAD!”

Anthony was too busy being poked to hear her, but I did.

 I had to think quickly and try to correct her without Anthony knowing and without her feeling embarrassed. He was just moments away from literally being turned inside-out, so the last thing I wanted was to make her feel uncomfortable, but I also thought it was important for her to know that I was his spouse. I had to come up with something fast, that was both witty and understanding. I don’t know how or why I said it, but somehow the words, “I think it’s illegal to marry your Dad in Michigan” came out. I then put my fingers to my mouth like saying “Shhhhh, he didn’t hear you, so let’s keep this our little secret” (wink-wink).

Long story-short, Anthony is still alive and doing well and he hasn’t a clue that it’s all due to my quick wit and charm.


Isn't that Special?

Today, as I was headed to my Botox appointment, a nice woman with two kids was walking into the building at the same time as me. For those of you that don’t get Botox, when you’re due for it, your wrinkles appear deeper than you like and you just feel old.

Anyway, she had the nicest little boy; not only did he hold the door for his mom, who was carrying his younger brother in her arms (at least I think it was his brother), he came back and held it open for me. Mind you this sweet little boy was only four or five. Then as we all entered the elevator, he asked me what floor I was going to and pushed the button for me. I remarked to the lady how polite her son was, and then I asked her is she ever seen the movie “Elf”. I told her that his pushing the button for me reminded me of the scene where Elf pushed all the buttons on the elevator for the man riding with him making it stop on every floor.

Then she looked at me funny and asked, “Has anyone ever told you that you look like Dana Carvey?” I said “NO” and then her sweet little boy turned into a demon and started jumping up and down chanting “CHURCH LADY! CHURCH LADY! CHURCH LADY!”

When the elevator door opened on the fourth floor, I ran to the office and demanded extra injections.