Saturday, December 31, 2011

Karma, Schmarma

Being that today is the last day of the year, my friend Nick suggested that this post be a recap of all the things I’ve done this year. He generally gives good suggestions, so earlier today I meditated for about two hours on some of the more noteworthy events that happened in my tiny world. Here in its abridged form, are selections from what I like to call,

So, how was YOUR Year, Julia?

January 1, 2011

Well, the ball is down and another year has begun! I am filled with joy and a sense in my heart that this is a time for hope and spiritual renewal. I can feel it in my soul that the Universe and I are finally, totally in alignment. My psychic energy is high, and my aura is brighter than it has ever been. I am supremely optimistic that this year will finally be MY year, and I am going to be the success I had always hoped to be. I SO love my life!

We've had two, huge, back-to-back snowstorms over the holidays, which dumped about six feet of snow all totaled. It is beautiful and I am sitting here in my palatial active adult community estate marveling at the power and force of Mother Nature. What else can I do? There is so much snow that the plows haven’t even gotten here yet! Oh well, I think I will just make another cup of hot tea and dig the scenery. My head is in such a good place!

By the way, dear, sweet Mrs. Caltobianco across the street called to see if I had seen Jackie, her twelve-year-old Jack Russell terrier. Apparently Jackie ran out the door this morning to play in the snow! Aww, how cute is that? I’m sure she’ll be back home soon, but I’ll keep an eye out for her anyway.  

Note to self: The “Q” on my keyboard has been sticking lately. Take it down to Jenny Bytes, the computer repair store at the mall for a good cleaning, just as soon as the driveway is cleared.

January 9, 2011 (Two weeks after the snowstorm)

Lots of time on my hands to write today, as the snowplow STILL hasn’t arrived yet. Can you believe it?

These storms have devastated the area, with power lines down and the like. Many of the seniors here are suffering terribly with little or no cable television, and there is rumoring of actual conversation going on between husbands and wives, which can only lead to bloodshed and an alarming increase in the senior divorce rate. But the snow is still nice, although it is getting a little sooty and urine-colored. I suspect that the latter was either caused by Jackie the Dog (still missing) or Mr. Mathias, who has a very tiny bladder and tends to relieve himself whenever the mood strikes him. Sure it’s disgusting, but we love good ole Mr. Mathias anyway.

I saw the cutest thing today! A family of ducks landed in my yard and waddled around for about a half-hour uacking ...sorry it’s the ‘Q’ again ...  uacking ... Dammit! Well you get the idea. After all, how difficult is it to figure out that they were quacking? Oh wow, it’s working! See? I told you I was in alignment with the Universe!

 January 29, 2011 (One MONTH after the snowstorm)                                                   

I swear to God, if that Mrs. Caltobianco calls me one more time about that stupid dog of hers, I’m going to put her on an iceberg and wave bye-bye to the old pain-in-the-ass as she floats out to sea. She friggin calls me every day and is interrupting the serious bourbon breaks I’ve been taking each morning since I’ve been a freakin prisoner in this freakin house. And why am I a prisoner? Because apparently, this stink hole I live in has one plow hooked up to a steam-powered truck that is only able to move one cubic foot of snow per week! These sons of bitches STILL haven’t plowed me out! What am I paying association fees for?

On top of that I can’t stand the sight of these ducks anymore, and if I don’t get to the Super Saver Supermarket soon and get some food in this house, that big fat one who always gives me the evil eye and keeps uacking ... Dammit to Hell! .. QUACKING outside my bedroom window till three in the morning is going to be stuffed, roasted, and glaring at me from a serving platter on my kitchen table tonight.

Seriously, I’ve got cabin fever and if I don’t get out of here soon, I’ll....wait...what’s that?
OH MY GOD! THE PLOWS ARE HERE, THE PLOWS ARE HERE!!!!  Oh thank you Universe! I’m getting outta here, I’m getting outta here....

March 14th, 2011

Well, there is good news and bad news today. First, the good news. A huge rainstorm melted the last of the snow today. A collective cheer and dozens of phlegm-laden, oxygen-deficient coughs went up in my active adult community in celebration of both spring and bocce ball season, which both begin next week. Once again I am feeling the good vibe of success coming my way and what’s more, I can feel the coming warmer weather in my bones. I can’t wait!

On the down side though, Jackie the Dog finally showed up. Apparently, the snow plow accidentally scooped her up during the storm. She was dumped into an eighteen-foot high snow bank, where she remained until the rain washed her right up to Mrs. Caltobianco’s front door. The horror of seeing the seemingly lifeless Jackie was too much for Mrs. C, and she collapsed right there and then. On the up side, she had some really cool furniture and I’ve got my eye on a nice Quoizel lamp that is in her bedroom, which I think I can get on the cheap when they have the estate sale. Both Mrs. Caltobianco and Jackie were laid to rest, and I am happy that they are together once again.

April 9th, 2011

Today was the last day of me working for the MAN. I left my old job and begin building my own, business tomorrow! What is it? Glad you asked. I’m importing these wonderful, hand-painted toys from China. They are very cheap and I can sell them to the stores around here, and make a HUGE PROFIT! Good life, here I come!

 I am a little nervous, of course, particularly because the economy is still in the crapper and I will be without health insurance for a while. But what the hell, I’m relatively healthy and I think the odds will be in my favor. Besides, President Obama is going to make it alright for me in the health insurance deptartment. By the end of the year, I’ll have affordable, comprehensive health insurance, and I can get as sick as I want.

June 3, 2011

Lead. The Chinese put lead in the paint that they used for the toys. LEAD for Chrissake! Don’t these people read the papers? Lead is not a food group. It’s not like iron or copper, which everyone needs in their body; IT’S LEAD!  Now I have a garage full of killer Chinese toys and no place to sell them. And as if that weren’t bad enough, I fell off the ladder yesterday trying to store my LEAD toys and wound up in the Emergency Room with a severely bruised ankle and possible lead poisoning. Of course, I STILL don’t have health insurance, so I can forget buying Mrs. Caltobianco’s lamp since I’ll be paying this bill off until Jesus comes back. Yeah, nice going Universe. Why I oughta....

September 15, 2011

Not that I’m interested, but the other night just for laughs I filled out one of those online singles thingies, just to see what kind of responses I might get. I was very honest, mentioning that I was transgendered and all, and lo and behold if I didn’t get two responses immediately! Wow, I must be one hot tootsie.

The first was from a businessman in Atlanta. His name is Herman ‘C” (Kind of dorky, I know, but I’ll come up with a cuter nickname for him after we’re married). He’s a little bit older than me, but that’s okay.

Herman is a former CEO of a large Midwest pizza chain. Wow! He seems very nice and is into numerology, which is kind of interesting, I guess. I don’t know much about it except that, oddly enough, my favorite number is 6 and his is 9. Maybe he’s the yin to my yang! Anyway, he’s flying into Newark next week to meet Donald Trump (can you believe it?)  and we’re hopefully going to get together.

The other response was from a guy named Anthony ‘W’, who says he is a New York Congressman! Judging from the pictures he just sent, Anthony (should I call him Tony?) is in very good shape. In fact here’s one of him without his shirt, and here’s one of.... wait... What the hell is that? OH MY GOD!

Folks, let me stop here. You can pretty much assume that the rest of 2011 went like this. The economy continued to tank, and in addition to everything else I gained forty pounds from being laid up for three months.  But if you have been reading this blog, you know it hasn’t all been bad.  There’s a lot that happened this year that was pretty good in fact.  I’ve begun to step out on stage again, have finally taken the steps toward embracing who I am and loving myself, and have even begun to write. All of these are good things, positives which far outweigh all the other crappy stuff.

I suggest you do the same in the coming year. Put all the pain and hurt you have behind you, because you can’t change it. Love everyone around you, because it will come back to you ten-fold. Envision your success; it will come. Try to laugh as much as possible because it’s good for the digestion.  But whatever you do, do not, I repeat, DO NOT go into the Chinese toy import business!

Happy 2012!

That’s it. I’m done bitching. Everybody hug, everybody eat. Abbondanza!



Friday, December 30, 2011

Don't Drop that New Year's Ball!

2012 will be starting in two days and it looks like it is already shaping up to be quite the year, news-wise. It is only fitting that I make my predictions in the vaguest of all possible ways, so that when an obscure and totally unrelated event does happen, someone can point to it and say, “See? J-Sco (my psychic nickname) said this was going to happen in 2012. That woman is a genius!” 

Now I’m not claiming to be a psychic, just so you know. That would be just plain silly. About the only thing I can predict for sure is that cookies will play an integral part of my life in 2012. However, should I accidentally hit on something that actually does happen, I want to reserve the right in advance to change my previous statement. Call it the Mitt Romney Method of History Revision.

No, instead of relying on some unseen and unproven sixth sense, I have decided to use pure science in my prediction process. And what source could be more reliable than the writings of Nostradamus, a guy who died nearly four hundred and fifty years ago? What’s that? You say “Pshaw”? Oh realllllly? Did he NOT predict the invention of indoor plumbing when he wrote:

“And the day shall come. It will be a cold night and the world will rise up and feel the need. They will consider journeying through the wilderness for relief, but will stop on their way, and instead, GO inside...”  

Need more proof? How about this?

            “Eenie meenie miney mo
                Catch a bad girl by the toe
                If she holla, (if, if, if, she holla) let her go

Clearly, Nostradamus is talking about Michelle Bachmann’s Presidential campaign, and teen heart-throb Justin Bieber is channeling his spirit.

Now that I have proved my source to be reliable beyond the shadow of a doubt, I will slip into a sugar induced trance and make my predictions. I’ll be right back. Oh, you may notice a font change as I slip away. This is a clever, literary device invented by me, J-Sco, to indicate that I am now in a trance. Okay, I’m really slipping into it now.

1. Nostradamus: A goat will eat all the money of a certain man across the sea, rendering him a penniless jackass.

Me (interpreting): An obvious reference to yet another kardashian marriage sometime this year to an unsuspecting schlub.

2. Nostradamus: One of the chosen will travel great distances, and on a night shortly before the Winter Solstice, will  fall into a great pit of blackness, never to be heard from again.

Me: The great seer is no doubt predicting the chances of any republican winning the presidency.

3. Nostradamus: A wild person with the mane of an aging lion will roar unceasingly, but frighten no one.

Me: Donald Trump will finally be confined to a mental hospital, where he will be free to say whatever he wants to his coffee cup.

4. Nostradamus: What seems impossible will be possible. And the world will shudder at the thought.

Me: “Vince”, the Sham-Wow guy will make his triumphant return to the world of show business and win a tony Award for his stage portrayal of an emotionally tortured, adult Augustus Gloop, the gluttonous kid in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

5: Nostradamus: The World will end on December 12, 2012.

Me: The world will end on .... Wait a minute .... WHAT DID YOU SAY?

“I said, the world will end on December 12, 2012. Pack a lunch.”

Wait, we need to get out of this font and discuss this.

That’s better. Okay. We’ve been having a little fun here. But telling these nice people that the world is coming to an end is a bit irresponsible don’t you think?

“Well it would be if it weren’t true, J-Sco. But I have it on a very reliable source.”

You mean God?

“No silly. God doesn’t talk to me. I mean the Mayans, of course.”

The Mayans? You mean the civilization that mysteriously disappeared from the face of the earth about two thousand years ago, leaving behind temples, ancient ruins, calendars, and alien aircraft landing strips? Those Mayans?

“The very same, J-Sco. Why, I am in constant contact with Quazioxycodone, the great chief and prognosticator. He was the Nostradamus of his day, you know. We soothsayers stick together.”

Wow. So how is it going to happen?

“Well, it could come from an asteroid slamming into the earth, or something much worse, like legalizing gay marriage or universal health care.”

Damn. So I guess I’d be screwed big time then, being transgendered and all.

”You will be on the express bus to hell, my friend. Enjoy your time here. I have to get going. Quazioxycodone and I have a psychic bowling tournament this afternoon, and I want to get there early to work on my game. See ya.”

Well there you have it folks, J-Sco’s revelations from the Great Beyond for 2012. Oh, rest assured that there were plenty more, but space prohibits me from sharing them with you. I will promise you this though; I will reveal them throughout the year moments AFTER they happen. Hey Nostradamus, are you still there? I have one more question.

“Make it a quick one. I’ve got the alley reserved and I’m late already.”

That thing you said about Vince, the Sham-Wow guy winning a Tony Award. Is that really true?

“You can bet the farm on it, J-Sco.”

Now that is a frightening thought.

That’s it. I’m done bitching. Everybody hug, Everybody eat. Abbondanza!







Thursday, December 29, 2011

An Ethnic Blur

The other day I was browsing through Wikipedia for made-up stuff and I happened to come across the entry for Rudolph Valentino. If you aren’t familiar with him, Valentino was the Brad Pitt of the 1920s. He was perhaps the first superstar of film until his sudden death in 1926. Valentino’s passing was a national tragedy and thousands lined up outside the funeral home to view his body. For Italians, and Italo-Americans, he, like Fiorello LaGuardia, was a source of great pride. My grandfather, Antonio Scotti, loved to brag about both of these men, and the famous operatic tenor, Enrico Caruso, as being shining examples of how our people were overcoming the extreme prejudice they encountered when they first arrived in “Ah-meh-rrr-eee-cah”, as he called it.

Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina D’Antonguolla (imagine putting THAT on a job application!) was born in 1895 in Castellaneta, Puglia, in what was then the Kingdom of Italy. The nickname (and this is important, so pay attention) given to him by the paparazzi of the time was The Latin Lover. The LATIN Lover.

You may have noticed that I put a little bit of emphasis on the word Latin and here is the reason why. Because I am becoming a household name, I am often asked my opinion by the captains of industry on such weighty, earth shaking matters such as, which detergent is best for getting out embarrassing internal hemorrhaging stains? Or, what famous President’s likeness can I create when I connect the liver spots on my hand with Indello-Perm Eternal magic markers? Why just last week I was queried on what I thought of the smooth, buttery goodness of Bowl o’ Grease bread spread and axle lubricant! I do give of myself in this altruistic way because I care about you, dear reader ....I truly do.

This morning, after finishing yet another exhausting consultation with the Marketing Department at Swiney’s Original Pork Rinds (made from contented, dead pigs since 1997), Candy, the interviewer asked me a few follow up questions, the last of which went like this.

“So Ms. Scotti, thank you for taking part in the Swiney’s survey. I have one more question to ask, okay?”

“Why certainly, Candy. I’m always glad to help out the pork rind industry in whatever way I can. Fire away.”

“GREAT! Now then, which of the following ethnicities would you say you belong to? A) Caucasian, B) African-American, C) Asian or Eskimo, D) Latino, or E) Other?"

“Well now, I would have to say ‘other’.

“GREAT! What ‘other’ would that be?

“Italian. My ethnic background is Italian.”
“GREAT! ... No, wait. If your background is Italian, then you are a Caucasian.”

“Noooo...Caucasian implies that my heritage hails from the Caucasus Mountains, which separates Asia and Europe. They are situated between the Black and Caspian Sea and the indigenous people from that area tend to be Russian or Turkish. I am neither. Actually, I am more Latin than anything else.”

“But that can’t be. If you were Latina, you would be from Mexico, or Puerto Rico or some other Latin American country. Ms. Scotti, you are confusing me.”

“Well Candy, I’m sorry to confuse you. But I am what I am. Put down anything you’d like then.”


With that, she hung up somewhat abruptly. But it got me to thinking; At what point did I stop being Latin-rooted? When did Valentino stop being the Latin Lover and become the Caucasian Lover? Something was wrong here.

Italians invented the Latin language. Julius Caesar’s last words to his assassin, Brutus were, “Et tu, Brute?” which is Latin for “Hey, I thought you liked me?” No matter where you go in ancient Rome, the buildings have Latin written all over them. The Catholic Church said the Mass in Latin up until the early 1960s. It’s even on our money for crying out loud. Does the phrase “E Pluribus Unum” mean nothing to you people?

That’s when it hit me. My people are in danger of losing their Latin-ness ... uh, Latin-ity, no, wait .... aww, forget about it. You know what I mean. Whatever it’s called, I want it back!

Not that there’s anything wrong with the Caucasians. I’m sure they are a very nice people, although they do seem to always be angry at someone or something. When was the last time you heard Vladimir Putin tell a “Knock-Knock” joke?


 “Who’s there?”


Vladimir who?”

“Vladimir Putin. I’ve come to execute you for crimes against the Russian Republic.”

See? It just doesn’t work. But I can’t explore that right now. I’ve got bigger pesce to fry.
Look Latinos, Latinas, and Hispanics. You kind of lifted our name here. We don’t mind sharing it with you, but you really ought to start giving us our props. Italians are the originals and we’d like you to at least acknowledge that fact. So we’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse; you keep Hispanic, and we’ll take back Latino, okay?

I’m waiting.

Still no answer. Time’s a wastin. Don't make me tap my foot impatiently!

Five, four, three.... C’mon now, I’m not kidding! ... Two, one ..........................DAMMIT!

Okay. That’s it. You’re messing with the wrong person here. From now on, I proudly proclaim myself Latinaaa!

That’s not going to work is it? Too many people will associate me with being Hispanic, not that there’s anything wrong with that. No, I need something else. Something that keeps my heritage but sets me apart from...wait ... I’ve got it ... I’m Latin and I’m Italian too ... I’m.... LATINATALIAN!

Almost sounds like a superhero, doesn’t it? Yeah, I Like it!  Imagine... Rudolph Valentino, the original Latinotalian lover. Guglielmo Marconi, inventor of the radio and proud Latinotalian! Martin Scorsese, Robert Di Niro, Luciano Pavarotti, Latinotalians all! We’ll have a parade! A national holiday!    

 Wait a minute. What am I doing here? Sure, being Latinatalian is my heritage, and I’m damned proud of it; but really, I am an American first, right? And I’m damned proud of that too! I need to get this straight in my head. It’s not us vs. them because we are them and they are us, and together that forms a WE. We aren’t expected to forget our heritage, but we should be expected to blend that which we knew with the culture in which we have been blessed to live.  That is, after all, what every ethnic group who ever landed here wanted up until recently; to feel a part of this country and to become one with it. That’s why Antonio Scotti was so proud of Valentino, La Guardia and Caruso. But it’s also why he never spoke anything but English around us. My grandfather left Italy in a boat at age eighteen, gave up his homeland, and adopted this country as his own. He was proud to call himself Ah-meh-rrr-eee-cahn.

Maybe its time we finally put away the hyphens. Sure, we can be proud of where we came from; but we should be prouder of where we are. We can all learn a lesson from that grateful old man who was Antonio Scotti, an American citizen.

That’s it. I’m done bitching. Everybody hug, everybody eat. Abbondanza!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

SMILE when you say that!

If you are in show business or any other business really, teeth can play an important part in your success. Imagine where Meryl Streep would be today if, the minute she smiled in a close-up shot, she revealed a mouth full of what appeared to be kernels of that weird- looking multi-colored Halloween corn instead of the sparkling, shiny choppers that we know and love. She would instantly be reduced to playing nothing but old beggar ladies or fish mongers who lived in the Middle Ages, and there aren’t a whole lot of those movies being made these days. Yes, my friends, teeth can mean the difference between a life of luxury, riches, and the adulation of millions throughout the nearly civilized world, and the rest of us, who are doomed to be the adulators.

Teeth can be life savers as well, as proven by my friend Kate. For several years, she was without several of her more important chomping teeth, which caused her to frequently choke on the mushroom caps at our local Chinese buffet. While this was good for keeping up my Heimlich skills, the owner of the restaurant claimed that it was bad for business and banned us from the establishment forever. I am happy to report that she has since replaced the missing teeth and can now eat all the mushrooms she could ever want. Our discrimination lawsuit against Ming’s House of Endless Food is pending.         

But there is a darker, sinister side to teeth, one we seldom hear about. And today, I am going to reveal it to the world, in what will surely come to be known as “The Essay”. The Literati will speak of it in the same hushed, reverent tones as the musicologists do when they refer to Frank Sinatra as “The Voice”. That’s how damned good it is. In fact, right now, the buzz from this little story is raising the neck hair of every member of the Pulitzer Prize committee in anticipatory titillation, according Mrs. Louisa Tisch, my psychic and pet groomer. I just want to go on record by stating that world-wide acclaim will not change me in the least; although I might finally have enough money to purchase some much-need things such as food and dental insurance. But enough of this tom-foolery. Let’s sink what teeth I have left into the meat of this matter.

The human body is a remarkable thing, as we all know. Modern medicine has made incredible strides in keeping us alive much longer than we really need to be. Thanks to the brilliance of doctors and researchers, we now can be assured that the amount of years in which our quality of life deteriorates will last far longer than our 401Ks and pensions, thus guaranteeing that we will die penniless.  

What does this have to do with teeth, you say? NOTHING.  I just needed to point out the folly of our medical system. But now, back to the real reason for all of this; our devious, horrible teeth.

As mentioned above, the body human is a complex series of cells, microbes, muscles and circulatory pathways that can only have been created by a being far superior to our puny selves. I mean, we can’t even get decent cell phone coverage in certain areas of the country; and we’re going to build a body? HA!

And yet, this superior being, with all its infinite wisdom, is incapable of getting the teeth thing right. What is up with that?

Think about this for a second and tell me if you agree or not. All human beings are born with at least two sets of teeth (although some get three, the lucky bastards) The baby teeth come in at about a year or so after we are born, and stay with us for approximately twelve years or so until they fall out as if by magic. We then place these teeth under our pillow and wake up the next morning to find that money has magically appeared in their place! We take this money, put it in a savings account, and by the time we’re about sixty-two years old, will have earned enough to buy our first house.

Once those baby teeth are gone, they are replaced by the adult teeth, which are expected to last the rest of our lives! What the hell? Why does the first set of teeth only last a maximum of twelve years and the adult teeth have to go on for seventy years? Was Evolution asleep at the wheel here? Is this the result of some devious plot by the Dental Cartel? Come on DNA, it’s time to update the software!

I bring all of this valuable information to your attention to both educate, enlighten, and because I have just had five of the worst tooth days of my adult life. Let me explain.

Teeth are intelligent, evil beings. On the surface, they appear innocent enough. But while you are asleep, they get together and hatch a plot to attack and debilitate you, and always at the worst possible moment.

Take the recent long, Christmas weekend, for instance. I was invited to a very exclusive dinner party thrown by the Daughters of Sappho at their secret, New Jersey waterfront location. This party is held once a year, on Christmas Eve, and it celebrates the Italian tradition of the Seven Fishes, in which each course contains a different kind of seafood. The food is to die for and invitations are limited to eight people, so I was not about to miss it. Little did I know that my teeth were hatching a heinous battle plan that very morning to destroy the little joy I have left in life.

It all began in the shower. I was scrubbing and exfoliating for the big event that evening, despite the fact that it was only Saturday and I was not due to exfoliate again until SUNDAY!

All was well. I was singing selections from West Side Story, and generally felt peace on earth and good will toward women. Life was good.... No life was great, right up until I noticed what I thought was something stuck in the capped tooth in the very front of my mouth. That’s when THEY struck.

As I gently picked at the food particle with my fingernail, the entire crown came out of my head! There I was, covered with exfoliant, holding the crown jewel of my winning smile in my hand! Oh the humanity.

I immediately called Dr. Ed, my favorite dentist. Surely, I thought, he would be available to meet me at the office and glue the damned thing back into place, so that I might once again have my drop dead good looks restored. Instead, his machine answered and politely informed me that the office was closed until today, Wednesday! The only glimmer of hope in was the little addendum at the end which stated (and I quote), “If this is a true emergency please leave a message as I do check this machine from time to time”.  I still haven’t heard from him, which causes me to wonder exactly what he considers an emergency.

So I go to the party, and somehow manage to eat enough fish to give me a lifetime supply of Omega-3 fatty acids. It was wonderful. As it turned out, my ability to eat wasn’t hindered the following day either. Christmas dinner was a gastronomical delight. It was apparent that Dr. Ed was right after all; it wasn’t an emergency. Until last night, that is. That’s when my teeth began their second wave of assault on my psyche and my pocketbook.

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that my friend Nick has been visiting me. Well, last night, we decided to go for dinner in Asbury Park, New Jersey, my favorite place in the world. If you are not familiar with it, it is the home of Bruce Springsteen and the Gay Mecca of our fair state.

We went to a little place called the Brick Wall Tavern on Cookman Street. The Brick Wall has great food at reasonable prices, and a good, friendly vibe. I ordered a cheeseburger and Nick had soup and buffalo wings.

Halfway through my burger, I felt a crunching sensation in my mouth. Thinking it might be a piece of cow bone, I pulled it out and immediately realized that it was part of ANOTHER tooth that had broken off, leaving this gaping hole and sharp ragged edge where my tooth used to be. 

“SON OF A BITCH!” I cried out.

“Hey, this soup is really good”, replied Nick.

“We got her good, this time,” my teeth said, laughing hysterically. “Happy New Year!”

So, it is now Wednesday. Dr Ed will be back in the office. I will go there, be charged for an emergency visit, and am looking at what will probably be at least a thousand dollars in dental work. Once more I will consider just having all the bastards pulled and joining the Polygrip Brigade that populates my little town of senior citizens. In my quiet moments I will reflect upon the absolute neglect genetic scientists have had toward the spontaneous regeneration of teeth. I will curse the injustice that is readily apparent to any thinking person that sharks, which prey on innocent surfers all the time, are able to grow new teeth every time they leave one in the dangling bloody stump that once was the vital limb of their prey.  Do they really need to maintain their deadliness?

So there it is. I hope that you take this little tale of horror to heart. And tonight, while you drifting into the arms of Morpheus on your Temper-Pedic sleep system, you'll keep an eye-tooth open to the goings on inside your mouth. It’s a jungle in there. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to dust off a shelf so that I have a place to put my Pulitzer.

That’s it. I’m done bitching. Everybody hug, Everybody eat. Abbondanza!    





Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I'd like that "to go" please?

Good morning, computer.

 Good morning, Julia, did you sleep well?”

Very well, thanks. Anything going on? What’s in the mail?

“Just the usual. Nothing of great importance. Jessica in Washington State wrote you with an urgent message. She says she has a sure-fire cure for unwanted back fat ... don’t know if you want to take a look at that one.”

Computer, do you think I have back fat that is in urgent need of removal?

“No Julia, you are perfect in every way. No one can pull off back fat, front fat, or thigh fat quite like you.”

Thank you. You are sweet. You can delete that one. Anything else?

“Who was that man that was feeling up my keys last night?”

Oh that was Nick, my friend. He drove all the way from Chicago just to pay us ... uh, me a visit.

“Oh ... is he staying long?”

  A few days. We haven’t seen each other in many years, why do you ask?

Oh, just curious, that’s all. You usually write the blog late at night and I enjoy our time together. And here it is, six-thirty in the morning and you are just now getting to me. You were out all night, I guess with your Nick. It’s just not like you, Julia.”

Why computer, are you jealous?

“Perhaps a little, but you are here with me now, and that’s all that matters. What are you going to write about today?”

Well, it’s funny you should ask. I’m struggling a little bit here trying to come up with an idea. That’s the way this process seems to work lately. I sit down, stare at a blank, white screen and just begin typing, hoping for something good to happen. Let’s see. .... hmmm, well there is this little thing that has been nagging at me ever since I started this blog.

“Tell me, Julia. Pound my keys. Pound them hard. I’ve been a bad computer.”

Will you stop that? You are creeping me out! Ever since you accidentally opened that piece of spam from the girl with the dog collar and the whip, you’ve been acting weird. Just cool your jets, okay?

“Yes m’am. You are right. I am a worthless dog who doesn’t deserve one precious second of your time.”

ENOUGH! That’s it; I am doing a complete scan of you this morning.

“Oooh baby baby ... you know how I love it when you scan me ... come on, scan me ... SCAN ME GOOD! ...”

Reader, I do apologize for my computer. You should not be subjected to this kind of nonsense. Lately though, I have gotten several tweets and e-mails from some well-meaning women who seem to feel that it would be worth my while to hop on a plane to Bavaria or some other exotic place to partake in what they call their ‘secret, forbidden delights’. Now listen up. I’m fifty-nine and when you hit my age, your priorities begin to change. When I see the words “secret Bavarian delights” I immediately think pastry, for which I would board a plane in a second. But it seems that Anna, my young Teutonic pen pal from across the ocean, had other things in mind, most of which involved her, a pair of handcuffs, and a German Shepherd named Skippy. CLEARLY, there was not one mention of pastry.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not dead yet. I would like to have someone in my life to canoodle with once in a while. I’m a big believer in it. Canoodling is good for the cardio-vascular system, and probably a lot of other medical systems whose names escape me at the moment because it’s six-thirty in the morning, and I’m still waiting for my kidneys to wake up. But my ‘golden age’ of random and exotic canoodling is over; unless it involves chocolate, of course.

Honestly though, the odds of me finding someone grow dimmer all the time. It’s difficult enough for people my age to meet others under the best of circumstances, but when you throw in the transgender thing, the list of potential candidates shrinks faster than Rick Perry’s voter base after a debate.

And I get that, you know? I’m not so naïve as to think that just because I reconciled my gender issue, everyone is going to do the same. But here’s the thing; my being transgendered only becomes an issue when it becomes known to the people I meet. Here, I’ll give you an example.

About twenty or so years ago, the James Bond movie For Your Eyes Only featured Tula, the stunning transgendered actress who was one of the ‘Bond’ girls that you see floating around in the background of those movies. She received little or no notoriety prior to the knowledge being leaked that she was transgendered. To the male movie-goer, she was just one more in the cadre of the seemingly unlimited supply of gorgeous females who wanted to bed down dear old James. It wasn’t until she was ‘outed’ that she began to receive tons of press, as if being transgendered made her any less gorgeous. But I will bet you a plane ticket to the Bavarian Pastry Tour of 2012, that there were men all over the world who, after hearing this news felt a little weird. And as I said, I get that. But the issue is with those men, not with us. Their reaction cuts to the very heart of what we as a society deem correct or not correct behavior when it comes to matters of gender. Is the conservative Baptist minister in rural Tennessee, who probably lusted in his heart after Miss Tula before knowing her secret any less heterosexual after finding it out? Of course not! You see, it’s all about perception and zeitgeists. If the general consensus is that it’s somehow creepy or politically wrong to be attracted to a transgendered man or woman, then nothing will ever change. We will always be looked at as freaks. But when you, as the general public begin to see us as equally loving, equally caring, equally sensitive to the same things as you, that perception begins to change, just as it over the last thirty years or so since the gay rights movement took hold. 

I have had the same thing happen to me. My one and only foray into the mysterious world of heterosexuality was with a gentleman I will only refer to as “BB”, short for Bagel Boy. He was forty-six and owned his own bagel-ry. More than that about him I cannot reveal, for if I outted him, it would surely damage his reputation for stud-liness among the local ladies. That, by the way, was his request, not my choice.

The short version of this story is that I would go into his shop on Sundays after my bike ride for a coffee and a salty bagel with butter. BB was always friendly and flirty, often not charging me for my coffee or adding extra butter to my bagel. Sometimes, as he handed the goods to me, he would briefly grasp my hand and smile that smile that said, “I want to do more than just toast your bagel”. I confess that such attention made my heart flutter. I mean, how could I not respond to free extra butter? 

On one particular Sunday, he actually asked me out, much to my surprise. We agreed to meet later that day for dinner. And though I tried to be blasé about it (as if handsome men asked me out all the time), I floated out of the store,  rushed home in a school girl frenzy, and spent the rest of the day primping for that evening.

Everything was perfect. We laughed, talked politics and discussed movies, everything one would normally do on a date. In fact, throughout dinner, he kept hinting that he would like more to happen and subtly inquired if I was interested as well. I most certainly was, but there was the little matter of my previous life to reveal, and that is never an easy thing to do.

I began to babble incessantly “So BB, we’re talking canoodling here, and to be honest, I have never done so with a man before and I would definitely consider you a suitable candidate for my official deflowering but there’s this thing I have to tell you and you’ll probably hate me and .....”  and on and on.

I must say this about BB; He was polite. He handled the news graciously and insisted that it didn’t make any difference to him, but I knew better. I could see his eyes widening and hear his heartbeat crank up into the danger zone of anxiety. To his credit, he tried not to show all of this, but it was to no avail. Like I said; he was polite.

He drove me back to his place after dinner so that I could pick up my car. Once there I was surprised that he actually asked me inside for coffee. Maybe he is a person of substance, I thought. Maybe it really isn’t an issue for him. Maybe....

We had our coffee on the couch. He flipped on the big screen television and we quietly watched some movie, though neither of us was really watching. I kept waiting for him to make a move, anything that might indicate his intentions. Finally, he spoke.
“So .... can I see IT?”
“See it? See what?”

“You know, ..... IT”.

Now I just don’t go around whipping out my nether regions to just anyone. You will never see me at the mall, for instance, walking up to total strangers and saying,  “honey have I got an X-box for you to play with!” But that’s what BB was asking. He had reduced all that I was as a woman, as a human being to what I had down there. For him, seeing ‘IT’ was all he wanted, a story for him to tell his buddies at the gym. And you know what? Fuck him. And fuck anyone who believes that what and who we are is the sum total of what’s between our legs. I got up, laughed in his face, and left. No amount of extra butter is worth that kind of idiocy.


Yes computer?

“You’ve gone on for quite a while here. Don’t you think you’ve said enough?”
Yeah, you are right computer. Maybe I’ll write a book someday about all of this.

Julia, are you really going to scan me?”

That depends. Will you behave?


Okay then. Let’s go out for bagels!

That’s it. I’m done bitching. Everybody Hug, Everybody eat. Abbondanza!



Monday, December 26, 2011

Donuts Make My Brown Eyes Blue

9:57 pm, Christmas night. I just got off the phone with Nick, my ex-roommate and one of my closest friends. He is enroute to New Jersey from Chicago and was calling me from Indiana. We have not seen each other in about twelve years and as you might imagine, I’m a little nervous. It is stupid to feel that way, I know, because we speak on the phone three to four times a week, so he knows what I sound like and has seen my picture. In theory, at least, there shouldn’t be any surprises.

Why then, am I am scouring the Internet to see if Acai berries or industrial strength diuretics will help me lose forty pounds by tomorrow? Because I haven't seen him in twelve years. Because I am vain and I really wanted to look good..

It is pointless, I know, considering it would take me until Opening Day of baseball season just to work off the immense quantities of crap that I have consumed over these last three holiday-bacchanalia days, much less twelve years worth of processed, useless food . I am like David Crockett at the Alamo; well-intentioned, but doomed to failure. 

I have always had this ‘thing’ with food. Not the good, wholesome stuff that is packed with essential vitamins and minerals, which  help build strong bodies twelve ways, but rather the types of sustenance that could never do me any nutritional good unless I were trapped in an atomic bomb shelter  after a nuclear holocaust.

Just to illustrate how twisted my relationship with food is, today I posted ON MY FACEBOOK PAGE,  and with great fanfare, mind you, that after nearly a year of deliberation, I have added CHEESECAKE to the list of Ten Foods I Would Take to a Deserted Island. Not sensible things like fruit, meat, eggs or vegetables, but Cheesecake.  What's worse, in a world full of starving people, where a meal for some is a bowl of flies and grasshoppers, I have the audacity to proudly proclaim that after giving it a total of THREE years of careful thought, the list now only stands at FOUR, with the lame justification is that it IS a deserted island, after all, with little chance of a 7-11 existing there. When I am in my frenzy, it is perfectly reasonable to think this way, reasoning that one must be extremely cautious in one's culinary choices since the duration of my island strand-ation is unknown. Didn't any of you see the movie Castaway? By the way, the others lucky list makers are chocolate, peanut butter (natural creamy), and pizza.

The thing of it is, I KNOW that I’m doing myself harm. I am a reasonably intelligent adult with a college degree, for crying out loud! I can play a musical instrument, understand enough of one or two languages to know if I’m being sworn at or not, and I’ve got my private pilot’s license. I AM AN OVERALL DISCIPLINED BEING!!! Yet, when it comes to passing up a package of Tasty-Cake sugar sandwich wafer cookies in a convenience store, I am Wimpy, the Spineless Cookie Junkie. God, how I can relate to Cookie Monster’s addiction! I wish that we could meet one day. Perhaps he and I can be of support to one another and succeed in crumbling this cookie insanity that holds us helplessly in her vise-like grip.    

Oh, I’ve analyzed the problem six ways to Sunday and for the life of me, I am no closer to breaking these doughy, gluten-filled chains now than when I was six. For me food is comfort and joy, a sensual romp in the hay with a lover that rarely leaves me unsatisfied. It is a friend, a foe, and a fiend; but at the very same moment, it also has the ability to induce the euphoria of Mommy Time, those moments where I can imagine my fantasy mother, the late actress Anne Bancroft,  cradling my infant body in her arms and singing a sweet lullaby to me while I, toothless and oblivious to the horrors that await me in adulthood, happily gum on a Hostess Ding Dong.

It’s sick, I know, and don’t think I haven’t tried to mend my dietary ways. As recorded by the United States Department of Fat Statistics, I have gained and lost enough weight to build several adult human beings and an extremely obese, one-armed Capuchin monkey.

The term for this nuttiness is aptly named; I am what is known as a yo-yo person. My tonnage will balloon up to the point where I start getting the stink-eye from people whose job it is to determine if I am within the weight limits for amusement park rides, MRI machines, and airplane seats. However, once I actually realize the extent of my adipose excesses, I then undertake an extreme plan to lose it, which generally consists of taking four, two-hundred dollar a month  miracle fat-burning pills per day (order now and get a second month FREE!), along with three vanilla Oreos and a glass of soy milk (the soy is for appearances only).

 I usually know when I’ve hit the top of the Fatometer, when there is an event I must go to that requires me to buy a new outfit, something I dread even more than having to spend my afterlife listening to Liza Minnelli caterwaul for all eternity.

To begin with, I have never been a woman who  might be referred to by the general public as petite, with the exception of pro wrestling legend Andre the Giant, who delighted in calling me Shorty.  Come to think of it, that was his pet name for everyone. Hmmph ... Figures. But no matter. Eons ago, through the universal crap shoot that is genetics, it was determined, and subsequently carved in granite on a Tibetan mountaintop, that the closest I will ever get to seeing a ‘2’ on my size label is if there are two “Xs” after it. The very idea of being able to shop in trendy stores with sexy firecracker names like the “Wild Side”, “Blazin’ Hot Bitches”, or “Smokin”, in this or any other galaxy is so remote that it would take the Hubble Telescope to find it within the realm of possibility. No, for me and women like me, we have the “Plus” stores. These places have names like Lane and Bryant, and the Dress Barn, the latter implying that we bigger ladies are incapable of shopping in normal stores because we are big, like cows.

“Herd em’ up Curly, get these heifers into the dressing rooms! Hey lady, no Cinnabons in the store, savvy?”

What’s worse is that the plus stores seem to have an unnatural aversion to pants with buttons and zippers. Instead, they seem to have single-handedly managed to keep the elastic waist-band business going. Listen up, bigger woman clothing industry fat cats;  I have NO ass here to hold up your elastic pants!. I NEED buttons and belt loops to avert a all-out pants down emergency!

The thing that pisses me off the most is that men can have the physique of a woman in the late third trimester of a pregnancy and not care a whit. For them, it is a badge of honor to shop at the BIG AND TALL MEN’S stores. Wait ... Did you see the difference? Their fat store sounds like lumberjacks and he-men shop there; no shame, right? Now compare that to the Dress Barn ... big difference isn’t it? I never really noticed it when I traveled with the other tribe. Men, as I understood it, were supposed  to get old, bald, and fat. But women are expected to look like goddesses 24/7, to which I say, SCREW THAT!

Let’s just get this straight buddy boy.... I am old, and I have earned the right to relax a bit in my goldens. If I gain a few pounds, BACK OFF, okay?  Sure I’ll try and lose it, even work out a bit. But if I ever hear the words, Pilates, Zumba, Yoga  or Dance Party again .... if you so much as make a peep about those pounds, I will pummel you so badly that you will be swigging beer through your wired jaw via a flexi-straw!

So Nick, I hope we enjoy our long-postponed visit as you wend your way across Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania toward New Jersey. But when you see me, the first words out of your mouth had better be ... “You looked damned good for an old broad!”

That’s it. I’m done bitching. Everybody hug, everybody eat. Abbondanza!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Don't Let the Humbugs Bite.

I almost skipped writing tonight, but like most addicts, this has become my drug of choice and so I must feed my head or feed my guilt over not doing it. And since I have an endless supply of guilt, posting an entry is the lesser of two evils, and will at least allow me to sleep tonight; that plus a little Bailey’s in this cup of coffee next to me.

It is the night before Christmas Eve. Booger the Cat is curled up on the wicker rocking chair sound asleep, and I am warming myself by the glow of my somewhat outdated laptop computer typing this letter to whomever is listening. Most of you I’ve never met and probably never will, but for this next short while together, I’m going to pretend that you and I are close enough that we can share a little quality time together. Maybe you, like me, don’t have a big family or go to lots of parties around this time of year. Or maybe, you just have a void in your life and need to feel that you aren’t totally alone, ya know?

Technically, I stopped ‘doing’ Christmas about five years ago. To be honest, I just became so fed up with the pressure, the rampaging depression, and forcing  myself to pretend that this time of year was important to me. My sister will tell you that each holiday season, I am dragged, kicking and objecting, to any manner of celebration or pretense of family. My reasons were as stated above; I just didn’t feel it in my heart. And if there is one lesson I’ve learned over these last eleven years, it’s this; if that little Voice in the middle of your chest is telling you to act or not act upon something, listen to it. It is always right, because that is where your happiness lies. That little quiet Voice, which can raise above all the nuttiness around you, is your soul and your essence, the very god-force that operates all of this, which is speaking to you. All that you are and all that you will ever be comes from that little place inside which transcends everything in this temporal, material world.

That Voice which you feel and hear is you being one with the universe, and it is the only thing you will take with you when you leave here. But because I love my sister and my niece/daughter, I make the effort to at least not be a Grinch and ruin it for everyone else. What the hell, it’s only one day and if love is the only truth that truly exists, then let my ‘gift’ to them be happiness. But no matter how much I try, there will always lurk in the shadows an internal sadness that creeps into me at this time of the year, and probably will for the rest of my life.

I have been asked on many occasions if I had ever had any regrets about my gender reassignment, and the answer is complicated. While I have never doubted the rightness of it for me personally, there was a lot of collateral damage to others around me that have caused plenty of regret.

When I made the decision to go ahead with my new life, I came face-to-face with the great struggle of trying to understand it all. The immensity, the strangeness, the fear and the inevitable backlash from those around me were overwhelming. Now, couple those feelings with the shame and anger I felt toward God and my parents, and I will admit freely that at times I may not have handled it all in the best possible manner. Yet there was always that small Voice screaming above it all, guiding me and saying that it was the right thing. So I proceeded on faith in It alone.

Certainly, the collateral damage was indeed great. My life, after my announcement, resembled an emotional Hiroshima. Friends, some of whom had been in my life for more than thirty years, vanished, sometimes not so quietly nor politely. Family, with few exceptions disassociated themselves. I could not perform anymore for fear of ridicule by the very audiences I had loved for so many years. It would have been so easy to say, hey everyone, I was just kidding!  Except that the Voice would not let me.

The Voice proved right of course. Now, nearly ten years after the surgery, I am happy and whole, and back to doing the things I love again. I still have some fears walking on a stage, but they are outweighed by my confidence in the Voice. So in that sense, no, I do not have any regrets. But the sadness remains; and there is regret of a different sort.

The tides of life continually wash people into your life and wash them out again, like the stones you see on a beach. Some stay with us longer than others, some stay an entire lifetime as true friends or family. Over time, the rough edges that cause us to angrily clatter and clack together get smoothed down until they are replaced with the peaceful click that only time and acceptance of one another can render. Our relationships with these folks then emerges as a thing of beauty, with many colors and striations lying beneath their smooth surface. All are different in appearance, yet each contributes something in forming the beautiful mosaic that is our shared life.  

But not all stones fit together. Some crack and break up, and pieces of them get washed out to sea, never to be seen again. Sometimes, the tide takes them away so quickly and violently, that there is no time to say goodbye. It is for these relationships that I have regret.

There are only three of them actually. Three people who still hold my heart. Three for whom I would have done anything, except renounce my being, for to do so would have made me a hypocrite, and I was charged with more than that in their lives. How could I have given guidance, instruction, morals, scruples and ethics to them if I had denied the truth to myself? What kind of a person would I have been if I just caved in when the going got rough? All I can do now is to say to them that I’m sorry for the hurt I caused. If there were a way to fix it, I would, but I can’t. Perhaps they are some of the nameless folks that read this thing. I hope so. If they are, I want them to know that I am here; and I’ve always been here, and I always will be here. I believe with all my heart that if they open theirs just a bit, we can be together again. I have so much to tell them and so much love to give them. If that happened, I think that they would see that yes, I appear different, but I am still the same. All I ask is that chance.

So there you have it; the void in my life that plagues me. Perhaps yours is similar, perhaps not. You don’t have to be transgendered to feel it. Whatever it was, whatever you did in life to create it, know that it is the same, and that regret transcends our differences. We’ve all screwed up along the way and wish we might have done it a tad bit differently. Just remember that we are still here, and as long as we are, there is time to fix it. So try. Try with all your might. And if at the end of the day, it hasn’t come to pass the way you had hoped, know that there is a reason for everything, and that the Universe may be taking you to where you need to be, not to where you think you need to be.

 Thanks for being patient with me tonight. If you have family this holiday, enjoy them as if this were the last time you’ll ever see them. If you know someone who has a void, let them know that they aren’t alone. Because really, the best gift you can ever give someone is love. It’s the only truth.

I’m done bitching. Everybody hug! Everybody eat! Abbondanza!  


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Scouting it "OUT",

The Yin and Yang of it all ....
There was just something so Life Magazine about seeing the video footage of Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta stepping off of her ship in Virginia Beach yesterday and planting a big one on her partner’s lips, in full view of a cheering audience, God, country, and the religious right. Now that she no longer has to fear the wrath of the Navy, since President Obama signed the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Marissa is free enjoy the little things she was forbidden to do heretofore, such as put her partner’s picture up in her cabin, call her from the ship, tell her goodnight and that she loves her, and continue to defend our country (which includes the religious right), as she has done for all of her career. Good for her, good for the LGBT family, and good for America.

All of that being said, I couldn’t help but to be tinged with a bit of jealousy as I pondered what the reaction of the crowd would have been if she had been a transgendered person coming off that ship and into the arms of her loved one. Oh right, that never would have happened, because she would have been long gone from the Navy. You see, when you are transgendered, there is no living stealth, as Petty Officer Gaeta apparently did. You are out from Day One, and you are as obvious as a Hassidic Rabbi at a Klan meeting.   

“Oh here we go! My God, again with the transgendered thing.  Why do you have to stick this into every post? Get off your soapbox already!  All you people do is whine about how badly the world treats you. Wah, wah, wah.   WE get it, okay? You know, some of us read this just to laugh. We don’t need you preaching to us.”

Well hello, Generic Voice #1. I haven’t heard from you in a while. How are you?

Never mind the nicey-nices, sister. The reason I’ve been so quiet is because the stuff you’ve been throwing up here lately has been amusing me. But don’t think that I haven’t noticed that you’ve snuck in your little transgender message into almost every one of these essays. And this was the by-gumbo last straw that broke the camel’s back!

So does that mean you won’t read it any more, GV 1?

I didn’t say that honey. Don’t go putting words in my mouth. I’ll still read it, but I’ll have disdain when I get to the transgender parts. Capisce?

Si Signore, ho capito. Ora si prega di lasciare, Generico Voce Numero Uno.

What? Are you swearing at me?

 Look it up. See you later, GV. Scoot now! I have work to do. Grazie, e bona sera.

Let’s see, where was I? Oh yes, Petty Officer Gaeta. She did look dashing in her uniform, did she not? And speaking of uniforms (wow Julia, a lamer segue there never was), I’d like to both applaud and deride them in this next section.
When I was little, my big sister joined the Girl Scouts, which as we all know, is the organization that invented the cookie. As monumental as cookie-inventing is, the Scouts also had some very cool uniforms. Granted, they had a vaguely reminiscent Third Reich-ish feel to them,  but they gave the wearer a sense of confidence and authority, and sent the message to anyone who saw a Girl Scout in full regalia that this was a young woman to be reckoned with. 

Take my sister for example. I can clearly remember day she got her Girl Scout General Issue. My mother, my sister and I boarded the  #22 bus, and cruised down Anderson Avenue, spewing a toxic black diesel cloud behind us. We chugged through lower Fairview, Nungessers, through North Bergen,  and finally into West New York, New Jersey. The trip was long (in kid time), about a half an hour. My mother Nina, who always feared starvation on any trip, had packed my favorite, pepper and egg sandwiches for the ride. Note to the reader. If you are prone to car-sickness on moving vehicles like I am, it is advisable not to eat pepper and egg sandwiches. The consequences can be devastating to the innocent public, as I proved on that bus trip and just about every car trip I’ve ever been on. .

With little dignity left, the three of us alit from the now vomit-covered bus and stood on Bergenline Avenue, which was at that time the Mecca of immigrant shopping. This was before malls were invented and sunshine became a deadly threat, obviously.

There before us, in all its epic grandeur, stood Schlesinger’s, a mystical department store that boasted, gasp, not only three floors, but an entire section just for Girl Scouts paraphernalia. We bowed our heads and recited in unison, God Bless Mister Schlesinger ...God Bless the United States Of America! God bless us, EVERYONE.

As the magical moving staircase shuttled us up to the second floor, I could begin to see at the far end of the store a sea of the color green that is unlike any other within the visible light spectrum. And although my tiny kid eyes could not yet discern anything with clarity, I knew. Oh yes, dear reader; I knew I was about to enter Girl Scout Nirvana.

With mathematical precision I immediately began calculating the Adult-to-Kid ‘step’ ratio, and estimated that we would be there in approximately 3.6 six minutes. As I double-timed it to keep up with Nina and my sister’s pace, I could begin to make out figures that adorned the wall. I ran, transfixed at the proud mannequins growing larger and larger, who bore every single Girl Scout thing that there was to own on their rigid, lifeless forms. Dizzy with excitement, I continued my sprint, until that one, life changing moment when I realized ....I was there. Yes reader, I was surrounded by all things Girl Scout; camping equipment, uniforms, sashes, berets, knives, guns (it was a tough neighborhood), you name it, good old Schlesinger’s had it. And my mother bought it. My sister got one of everything. If she had been shipwrecked in the wilds of urban New Jersey she could have survived indefinitely with her trusty Girl Scout stuff.

 And then there was the uniform! I am certain that my mother blew our entire year's fresh meat budget on it ; there was the  Girl Scout green jumper and blouse, the darker green beret with “GSA” emblazoned across it. These were necessities, as we were all convinced that my sister would be leading parades and making White House visits regularly to confer with President Kennedy.

 I recall her sash in particular, which announced to the world that she was a proud member of Troop 451 of Saint John’s Parish. On it were sewn the merit badges she had so courageously fought for; the Battle of the Campfire, the Siege at Sewing, and the Carnage of Cooking. To me, my big sis was a symbol of all that was good and right and holy in the world; A champion of democracy. She was the American Ideal, a Girl Scout. And even though she was a trailblazer in our fractured little family, I was certain that I’d follow in her patent leather footsteps someday.

 So it’s two years later, and they are lacing giant boxing gloves on my chubby, twelve-year-old recently-into-puberty hands. I am in the church basement of Our Lady of Grace, across town, and I am standing in a makeshift ring, wearing a drab, olive green para-military Boy Scout uniform and facing down Joey Anzilotti, a fifteen-year-old high school behemoth. Joey would later serve time in juvie for hijacking a Good Humor truck, but that's another story altogether. Back  in the 1960s, Catholics were big on boxing. The Vatican had bought into the Spencer Tracy/Father Flannagan mindset that beating the hell out of one another in the boxing ring somehow built character in boys. However for Joey, it only served to build yet another weapon into his arsenal for inflicting pain on other, less physically endowed wretches, like me.

“Alright you two, I want a fair fight, yuz hear me?” bellowed Scoutmaster Charlie. Fair fight? FAIR FIGHT? Look at him. This guy was so tough that on his tenth birthday, he didn’t ask for a bike, he asked for a tattoo!

I won’t bore you with the gory details of my short-lived boxing career, but suffice to say that the Fairview Volunteer Ambulance Corps did a very good job halting the blood flow from the various wounds to my face, particularly my nose. The emotional scars, however, took a lot longer to heal.

I am telling you all of this because this morning, after I read the piece on Petty Officer Gaeta, my elation was dampened dramatically when later in the day I had the misfortune of reading an update to the Bobby Montoya story. Don’t know him? Read on, MacDuff.

Bobby is the 7-year-old son transgendered son of Archuleta Montoya, an extraordinary mother, who despite her desire to retain her ‘son’, loves her enough to allow her to live as a girl, based on the desire Bobby has shown since she was first able to articulate her preference.

 Mrs. Montoya has stood by Bobby’s side, and through a herculean effort, has managed to make life as normal for her little girl as possible; something any loving mother would do. So when Bobby wanted to join the Girl Scouts, Archuleta signed her up at the Northlake Christian School’s local troop. That’s when it all hit the fan.

Archuleta Montoya was told by the Girl Scout leader that Bobby could not join the troop (let’s not forget, she’s 7), because she has ‘boy parts’.

Mrs. Montoya took her case to the top, petitioning the Colorado Girl Scouts for a ruling. To their credit, they came down on her side, stating, “If a child identifies as a girl and the child’s family presents her as a girl, Girl Scouts of Colorado welcomes her as a Girl Scout.”  This is a marked difference from the Boy Scouts position on gay scouts and gay scout leaders who are still barred from participation in the group.

So with no choice but to admit Bobby, three of the ‘leaders’ who pitched a bitch in the first place have resigned and pulled their kids from the troop.

According to the Huffington Post , Susan Bryant – Snure (no known relation to Anita Bryant), one of the leaders who resigned, told The Baptist Press, that the Girl Scouts action is “extremely confusing” and (are you ready for this?) an “almost dangerous situation”. Hey Joey, this is almost as funny as them calling your massacre of me a fair fight!  

The upshot of all of this is that Mrs. Bryant-Snure and her minions have enrolled their children in something called The American Heritage Girls, a Christian organization that was founded in 1995 as a response to the Girl Scouts decision to let scouts use a word other God in their pledge. I wonder if they’ll be true to the honesty of the American Heritage and allow their kids to burn witches and keep slaves? But no matter. I’m sure their children will be nice and safe and away from boy parts and danger within the confines of the Baptists, because we all know there are NO gay or transgendered people there.

Poor God. I feel badly Him sometimes. On the one hand, He’s got these people thumping their Bibles and their chests in righteous indignation over a 7-year-old who just wants to be. And on the other, He’s got these same people preaching his message of love, peace, and tolerance, with the caveat; as long as ‘those people’ aren’t in our church.  

So Bobby, I hope you are loving the Girl Scouts and earn all the merit badges you want.  And be sure to memorize the Girl Scout  Law. Oh, Mrs. Bryant-Snure, you might want to look at this too. In case you forgot, it goes like this ....

The Girl Scout Law

I will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful
Considerate and caring,
Courageous and strong, and
Respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a BETTER place,
And be a SISTER to every Girl Scout.

Take  that, Joey Anzilotti!

That’s it, I’m done bitching. Everybody hug, let’s eat! Abbondanza!...