Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Black Man by Association

On the day of Halloween – in the year 2003, which qualifies as modern times -- I was out with my friend who I will call Rhet since he insists on remaining nameless. We were dashing up to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine to get tickets for a performance later that night. Much Halloween Hoopla: Giant Puppets, costumes of course, music, and classic silent films.

We were in ordinary clothes and it wasn't even dark when we stood on the corner of 100th and Amsterdam to get a taxi up to the Cathedral. I am not a wealthy woman by any means, but I am well accessorized and as fair-skinned as a person of European descent can be unless s/he's completely Nordic. It has always been my job to hail taxis when I’m out with my Brown-skinned friends because it is well known that in New York City, no matter what neighborhood you are in, most taxi drivers see WHITE WOMAN LOOKING FOR A TAXI and cut across lanes of traffic. Viola, there they are – unless it’s 4:00 on a weekday then I’m as screwed as everyone else.

Rhet is a big black man – any way you look at it. His head was shaved bald at the time, too, I’m nearly certain. He doesn’t look a thing like a drug dealer or a pimp. As it happens, he's gay as a Christmas Picnic. A veritable Big Black Poofda. He waited on the side walk while I stood in the oncoming traffic with my arm at the appropriate angle. A few minutes later, a taxi glided to a stop right in front of me. I could perfectly reach the door handle, and had even started to open the door when the driver saw a big, black man coming to get in the car and damn near took my hand off as he sped away like Smokey and the Bandit.

I was shocked and insulted. I stood gaping at the vanishing taxi. Rhet said casually, “What? You thought it was a legend?”

I had heard about the bit on Letterman showing a black actor and a white ex-con getting taxis. It was like Denzel Washington gets ditched and Ted Bundy gets a ride. The story was all over town when it first appeared. Naturally, I was aware that my friends and neighbors of color were discriminated against by taxi drivers -- it's why I always hailed the taxis in the first place. But, in addition to being a white woman, I was even a blonde in 2003. No one had ever left me standing on the curb; it went against the laws of nature. I was stunned.

Rhet and I walked up to the Cathedral. He was very pleasant and didn’t say, “Welcome to my world, darling,” but I couldn’t help remembering the stories he’d told me about the looks he received when antiquing on the East Side and one particularly distressing episode with a shop clerk back when he was a kid.

It's 2007 now, and we still read about inequities in the Times. We go see Hairspray on Broadway and are satisfied at being enlightened and civilized - but racism is alive and thriving. Loving Gay and Lesbian couples can be together for years but don't have the same rights under the law as millions of tacky married couples - fill in the blank with your own awful relatives or any number of despicable celebrities.

Let's not forget the people who have gone to jail and lost their voting rights just for selling marijuana. Or those countless kids in the military getting shot at in Iraq while Halliburton employees drive by in better equipped vehicles.

No wonder I smoke dope and watch Pee Wee's Playhouse.

As much as I hate to get off the couch, I suspect it's time to fire up that protesting spirit while I'm firing up the bong. For the moment, I'm telling anyone who will listen that the world would be a kinder, gentler place if more people smoked a little weed. We all need equality under the law, and we need to stop this war.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Samhain and Halloween parties

Samhain is this week sometime. Mercury is also in retrograde, which always sucks, but that is irrelevant where Samhain is concerned.

Celts celebrate Samhain like we celebrate everything - bonfires, special herbs and drinks and wild fucking. Samhain is the time of year when this world and the other world are easiest to cross between. The other world is where dead people are and a bunch of other stuff anyone who has done the reading will already know. The Romans ran our pagan ancestors into the woods calling them witches, and now it's Halloween. They must have made money off it somehow. For a modern day Roman Imperialist Jackass see George W. Bush.

I'm off to a Halloween party. At the moment, I'm not strictly sober - but I had to stop for a moment to remember a dear friend named Lesley. She passed a while ago. She was only 31 when she died from a blood clot in her leg. Lesley had a little PR company called "No Screaming" that handled a lot of rappers. At her funeral in Newark, some of the rappers sang gospel so well that Lesley could soar on to Glory straight through the roof of the church on the strength of their voices.

She would want to know that I bought a fabulous outfit for her funeral which I'm wearing to the party. Black skirt and top dripping in black lace - very pricey but in the dressing room I could hear her voice telling me to get it.

For Halloween this year I'm going as myself - I've never done that before. It's been especially hard to be myself at all these last twenty years or so on account of being married to Buzz Kill. I can't get into that now, though, or I'll be very late to the party. I will say this, though: On the first Christmas we spent together as a married couple, he presented me with a Leona Helmsley outfit: a terry cloth bathrobe, tiara and a long wand. If I knew then what I know now about his sexuality, I would have (Censored in case my kid finds this). The point, however, is that the tiara he gave me has always been too small which I believe is a metaphorical summation of our entire marriage. When someone wants you to wear a tiara that is too small - you need a new tiara.

PS: Next weekend the party's at my place. We're celebrating the successful run of a dear friend's Off-Broadway play AND Samhain. Blood Orange Martini punch and Special Herbs for everyone.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Granny the Ho

Granny the Ho is moving in with my mother on account of she's fixing to die (Granny - not my mother). Granny went into the hospital last week because she couldn't breathe. They found fluid in her lungs which was the result of a little heart attack she'd apparently had a week or two earlier but hadn't noticed. My cousin and fellow menopausal stoner went with Granny to the cardiologist in Carson City yesterday where they were told that Granny would be better off in Houston because the altitude in Tahoe makes breathing more difficult for old people. Never mind the petrochemicals, car, truck and SUV exhaust and swamp gas in Houston.

I can't decide whether Granny or my mother will be more miserable. Not only is Houston ugly as hell, but Mother will also be checking Granny's pulse every time she takes a snooze. She'll be holding a compact mirror under her nose to see if she breathing all the while wishing she'd hurry up and die. Mother's been holding a grudge against Granny ever since she was in the 5th grade when Granny and a Girlfriend went into a bar and left Mom in the backseat of the car babysitting the girlfriend's two kids. Mom was also pretty pissed off at Granny when she got a phone call from her bio-dad in 1966 - over 20 years after Granny told Mom he was dead.

My father, whose actions and words have become more random since he stroked and fell off the ladder two years ago after Hurricane Rita didn't hit Houston, is the wild card here. He may very likely kick Granny down the stairs after six months of this foolishness. He'll sing his favorite Roger Miller song, "You can't roller skate in a buffalo herd, but you can be happy if you put your mind to it," as he puts his foot to Granny's backside. Fortunately, they're all in Texas where you can get away with that shit.

If we're lucky, Granny will pass in much the same way as Mashu did. Granny has circulation troubles in her legs so whenever she has visited Mother in the past, she "runs laps" around the swimming pool in the back yard. Poor old Mashu was taking his morning constitutional out by the pool when he had a heart attack and fell into the jacuzzi. Dad fished Mashu out, and Mom took the dog to the vet for an autopsy to make sure they hadn't let him drown. Here's Mashu in 1986, rest his doggy soul:

Granny the Ho has already made it clear that once she's dead, she wants her ashes scattered over the mountains around Tahoe. The family agrees it is much more practical to cremate her in Houston, then send Granny back to Tahoe in a jar. I was telling my son about these developments, pausing occasionally to sob, when the boy told me that I sounded like a crazy Southern aunt. It then came to me that we're getting set up for another Tennessee Williams play. Thank Heavens this one centers around the substance abusers and sluts instead of the violent drunken pervs on my dad's side of the family - although now that I think about it, my uncle Jenifer's funeral might be entertaining.

NOTE: For those of you not familiar with my Granny the Ho who had five husbands, my scandalous Uncle Jenifer (pictured left) and other sundry Southern Gothic relatives: you're just going to have to wait for my book. There is entirely too much to this story that should not be said on the Internet - not only because my own kid might read this blog, but also because I don't want to be the one spreading the sacred female secrets of Menopausal Stoners to other people's children. It's much more fun to save certain topics for after the kids have gone to bed.