On February 10-11 I will be appearing at The Comedy Works at Georgine’s Restaurant in
for the big Valentine’s Weekend shows. Since the theme of the weekend is love, I will be expected to have lots and lots of material on the subject. Right now I have about a minute and a half’s worth, and the clock is ticking. Bristol, Pennsylvania
Personally, I haven’t had a whole lot of success in the love department. I’ve had three really prolonged relationships in my life thus far, and for some reason, every single one of them has wound up like the end of the movie Braveheart. Just to refresh your memory, that’s the one where Mel Gibson plays the 13th century Scottish warrior William Wallace. He leads a ragtag bunch of warriors in opposing King Edward I of
, in what would become known as the First War of Scottish Independence. I’m guessing there were more wars of Scottish Independence since some felt it was necessary to name this one the First. England
Mel (and I guess, Wallace) didn’t fare too well against the King, probably because their chief camouflage tactic was to paint their faces blue, which only works if you’re planning a sneak attack on the Smurf kingdom. Anyway, Mel (and I guess, Wallace again) gets captured by the King and as an example, is sentenced to die by being tied to a big piece of wood and gutted in front of the entire kingdom. While his intestines are spilling all over the place, Mel, summons up enough strength for his final scream of FREEDOM!!!!” at which point the king’s subjects let out a final “Ewwwww, Icky” and Mel passes away.
That, in a nutshell is how all of my three relationships have ended. And if it were possible to speak to the actual William Wallace and ask him, as he was saying goodbye to his liver, if he’d do it again, chances are he’d probably say no; which is kind of how I feel about love. And I’m fairly certain that if you spoke to the three people with whom I was involved, they most likely would love to have acted as King Edward I did. Therefore, if this essay on Love seems to be a bit cynical, what can I say?
So my dilemma is readily apparent, I hope. How can I talk about love in a comical way when every waking and sleeping memory of my love life is a replay of the Hindenburg explosion with announcer Herb Morrison screaming “Oh, the Humanity!” in the background? But there’s no point in dwelling in the past... or is there???
“Director, cue the music please?”
Memmmmmories... like the corners of my mind....Misty water-colored memories, of the way we were...
1973-I am still living with the other tribe. I am also twenty-two years old, thin, cute and playing drums with a jazz quartet, making me a very cool cat. All of life is ahead of me, and my potential is limitless. The world is my oyster and. it’s full of pearls!
One night, as the band cooked in 5/4 Brubeck time, I spotted this real gone Irish-looking chick digging me on the skins. Her name was “The Anti-Christ”. No wait, I’m getting ahead of myself here. Her name was, well for legal purposes; let’s just call her Madam ‘X’. She was real groovy, if you dig my drift. When the set was over, I made my move... smooth-like, ya dig?
“Kerouac’s the name. Jack Kerouac. And you are?”
She smiled. “Me? I’m the person who isn’t buying your bullshit. Kerouac? Really?”
Right there and then, I had convinced myself that she was the ONE and that I was madly in love, even though I hadn’t the slightest clue as to what actually constituted love. But three months later, against the advice of everyone I had ever met in my life, including my best man and childhood friend, Ron, Sister Ellen Michael, my first grade teacher, and Angelo Garibaldi, the guy who read the gas meter, we were married.
Scattered pictures... of the smiles we left behind...smiles we gave to one another, for the Way We Were
1984- The horrors described by author George Orwell in the book of the same name paled by comparison to my marriage to Madam ‘X’. Twenty-eight years later, I am still paying this horrid, miserable, child of Satan monthly alimony, thanks to the genius lawyer I hired to negotiate my divorce settlement. Just to put that in perspective, here’s a historical timeline; Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush II, and Obama, six cars, eight different places to live, four years of college, twenty years of comedy, three wars, a dog and cat, both of whom died of old age, AND a sex change operation. All totaled, I’ve paid her over $110,000 and the number is still growing. Prisoners in a Russian gulag have paid less in bribery money for their freedom than that.
Can it be that it was all so simple then? Or has time rewritten every line? If we had the chance to do it all again, tell me, would we? Could we?
1985-I’m a working-class comic in a small bar in
North Jersey. A young, dark-skinned woman in a tight white dress comes walking past the stage and I am captivated once again. Knowing the power of the microphone, I make some inane comment to impress her in front of the packed bar. She walks up to the stage, and in front of everyone says, “Don’t ever fucking embarrass me again like that or I’ll kill you!” We spent that night drinking coffee with Sambuca at the bar. Afterwards, we walked up and down the main avenue, holding hands and talking until almost five in the morning. A year and a half later we were married. This time it was for real.
Memories may be beautiful and yet...what’s too painful to remember, we simply choose to forget.
1995- I am sitting in a holding cell, as a guest of the county, for being $140 behind in my child support. Apparently, this is not going to work out the way I’d hoped it would. We are divorced a year later after an eighteen month separation, and I am considering painting my face blue. I vow never to do this again.
“So it’s the laughter... we will remember...
Barbara, please, will ya? I’m trying to think here. Okay, where was I? Oh yes, love.
Lest you think my love life has all been a whirlwind of cancelled checks and arrest warrants, I do want to say that I did meet a wonderful woman named Kay with whom I shared fifteen glorious years. She was, in every way, my soul mate. In fact, if it were not for Kay, I might have never come to the realization that I was transgendered and would have continued to lead my secret life of misery. For that I am eternally grateful.
Ours was not a traditional relationship. We didn’t live together, but we were one in every other respect. We were each other’s ‘go to’ person in good times and bad, through sickness and in health. She knew my thoughts, and I, hers. We fit, if you know what I mean, in a way that I hadn’t known before or since. And while people who knew us collectively and individually occasionally saw us as odd, we saw ourselves as blessed and loved.
Kay and I have moved on, but remain good, close friends. She is less of a ‘go to’ person now as I am to her, but I think that we both know how special what we had was for both of us. I love her now, as then. I miss her the same way. But I also know that I experienced something with her that many people don’t ever get; a once in a lifetime, honest-to-God love affair that grew deeper over the years.
So I guess I answered my own question about the gig, didn’t I? And it’s a question most of us have faced. How do you know when it’s real love, and not a good sales job that one does to oneself? And I guess the answer is – you just know. I used to say about Kay that I knew I loved her because every time I’d see her or think of her, I smiled. I still do. And that’s it really. If someone makes your heart go from fluttering at the beginning of a relationship to burning warm inside you after years together, then that’s love. All the rest is lust, insecurity and fear of being alone.
As an older, hopefully wiser, woman of the transgendered experience, the prospects of love coming into my life have diminished so much as to be non-existent. My friends tell me not to be silly, that there’s a cover for every pot. And I guess they mean that, but I know better. I’ve been alone now for almost eleven years. I have friends, who I love dearly, but it is not the same. I had Booger Bear, my cat, who loved me unconditionally, but she passed away three days ago. So I guess the only person I have left to love me is...me. And that’s not so bad. Still, I miss the gentle sighs of serenity that come in the night from snuggling someone under the comforter.
I’ve made mistakes in life when it comes to love; but they weren’t intentional. Being transgendered, one must deal with an awful lot of confusion over what things mean, and we sometimes act in ways that baffle those around us. It’s not an excuse. It’s just the way it is. I knew I wanted to be ‘normal’, to be like most everyone around me. I wanted the white picket fence, and the kids, and to be a loving parent. I wanted to grow old with the one I loved. But you can’t do that when you are living a lie, as I was. I pretended at being a man, and consequently, I built a life of fraud, which is what caused it all to come crashing down each time. I was a Dad, when I wanted to be a Mom. I was a husband when I wanted to be a wife. None of it made any sense to me, and sometimes still doesn’t. But when those dreams, which most women have, weren’t fulfilled, I sabotaged it with the undeniable truth of what I was. Then, I denied it some more, and stuffed it way down deep in the hopes that it wouldn’t come back. But it always did. That’s the funny thing about Truth; it always gets its way.
Alright, so maybe I exaggerated a bit with the Braveheart analogy. Love can be painful to the point where you spill your guts all over the place. But it can be a joyous, comforting thing as well. Keep those memories inside; forget, but learn from, the bad ones, and you’ll never be bitter. And always be open to the possibility that you can love again.
I would enjoy hearing from you about some of the nuttiness you’ve experienced when it comes to love, both from the transgendered community and everyone else. Drop me a line; I’m sure we’ll have more in common than you think. Most of us have something to chuckle or cry about...
Whenever we rememmmmmber...the way we were.
You just had to have the last word, didn’t you Babs?
That’s it. I’m done bitching. Everybody hug, everybody eat! Abbondanza!