Tuesday, April 23, 2013

How Gay Are You?

Years ago on Saturday Night Live, they had a game show skit called, “Quien Esta Mas Macho?” They would put up a photo of two famous people, and you had to guess. For example, Kathleen Turner and Edie Falco. Ponder that for a minute. I remember Lloyd Bridges was considered more macho than Robert Conrad, but I don’t remember why. Maybe it had something to do with the battery on Robert's shoulder because it takes poise to balance a D-cell.

Personally, I wanted them to play “Quien Esta Mas Homosexual?” My friend Christian told me the word is the same in Spanish and English, just pronounced differently – in Spanish: “homoseksual” with an accent on “al” if I remember correctly. It sounds more like a lifestyle in Spanish and a choice in English even though I was born that way. I would then put up a picture of Tom Cruise and George Clooney. Tough choice.

The thing is as much as I don’t know about designers and flowers and Broadway, I come off as the winner in ninety percent of the pairings. I continue to lose to George Michael and Beiberbelieberassholeteenageslouchypantswearingnotalentlesbianlookingtwink.

What if there were a quiz you could take to find out how gay you are? Of if you are straight curious, whether you might in fact be a friend of Dorothy … or Lucy … or Barbra ….

For example. Who is your favorite Angel? If you said Gabriel. Why are you reading my blog? If you said Sabrina Duncan, you are in fact, very gay. Kate Jackson as Sabrina Duncan provides us with the most basic test for gayness. She is the favorite of both gay men and lesbians!

If you said Jaclyn Smith as Kelly Garrett, you are bisexual.

If you said Farrah Fawcett as Jill Munroe, you are hopelessly heterosexual. However, once she burned that bed, all gay men and lesbians glammed onto her. Who hasn’t wanted to burn an ex’s bed? You haven’t? Oh. Neither have I.

Here is another one, Chevrolet Vega or Ford Pinto? Pinto of course. Sabrina drove a Pinto!

How about Laura Ashley or Martha Stewart? Who gives a shit?

Here are some more questions?

Do you know the difference between a duvet and a sham? A duvet is a cocktail and a sham was when Tyra Sanchez won RuPaul’s Drag Race. Oh wait. That is Dubonnet. I told you I knew nothing about decorating.

If you were offered tickets to see Celine Dion or Barry Manilow, which would you accept? Barry Manilow, of course, so you could watch his face and see if it moves then dish on him with your friends after the concert. For the record, I am a huge Barry Manilow fan, but I still razz on his face. Come to think of it, no one has razzed on my face in years.

What are your pet’s names? I remember going to a gay comedy show years ago, and one of the comics said that gay men's pets run away because of the names we give them. Then he imitated a flaming queen running through the park screaming, “Lorna, Joey, Liza, come back!”

By the way, if you know who Lorna, Joey and Liza are, you are sooooo gay. My dogs were named after characters on Bewitched. Need I say more?

My favorites are the macho gays. I have an old friend into wrestling and boxing and mixed martial arts, and we used to date when dinosaurs roamed the earth and K-cars were all the rage. Needless to say, relations with him were quite active and sweaty with lots of grunting and tests of strength and growling and … excuse me for a second. It was getting warm in here. Anyway, once the session was over, he would start talking about movies from Hollywood’s Golden Age, and this hairy, muscular, macho ape would have nothing but purses and pearls flying out of his mouth. Some found it off-putting, but I found it refreshing.

I still talk to him on the phone every once in a while, and he can go from Lloyd Bridges to Tom Cruise in a heartbeat.

I have another acquaintance who talks like a creepy kindergarten teacher, rhyming every other word in a very high-pitched voice. At the insistence of several friends, we once went on an actual date, which in the gay world means you will end up in the bedroom at some point either before or after dinner. Once there, he turned into a dark dungeon master. To this day, I still can’t decide who was creepier, Mrs. Landers by day or Vincent Price by night – who by the way was not gay.

The worst part is when you find out that one of your most fem friends is a scary creature in the bedroom. I have an old acquaintance, who has a reputation for sleeping around, to put it mildly. By day, he is this happy go lucky accountant who makes light hearted jokes and loves to bake fruity desserts with lots of flair. However, I know of a few people who have had relations with him, and what they have told me creeped me out. In the bedroom, he either whispers or says in a very low voice, “Who’s my boy? Yeah. Are you my boy? Yeah. You want Daddy to …” I can’t go on. Just the thought of him acting like that gives me the willies.

I always wanted to see if I could get kindergarten teacher and happy go lucky together and record just the sound then play it in the background of a haunted house.

Somebody in a gym years ago said he could tell gay people by the shoes they wore. According to him, they all wore pointy-toed shoes. So, I guess Robin Hood was gay. Maid Marian must have been a drag queen.

Another theorized that you could tell if a guy was gay if he talked a lot with his hands flailing around. That means all Italian men are gay. If only that were true.

My favorite of course was the theory that all gay men had loud domineering mothers and emotionally distant fathers. That would make every Jewish man in America gay. Come to think of it, whenever they seek out a spokesman from a gay organization for the evening newscast, he is always somebody named Greenberg, Steinberg or Weinstein. He is also always some nebishy queen with a whiny voice. I wonder why I am never called for a sound bite. 

Here is one last one for the road.

You go to buy a car and you can have one of two options but not both – seat warmers or a sunroof.

Think about it.

That is so gay. Follow me, join my email list, buy my books: www.miltonstern.com.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Wiping Away the Years

Yesterday while unraveling my extension cord, I got to thinking. Get your mind out of the gutter. I was getting ready to use that evil lawn care tool – the Weedeater. What you are thinking about uses batteries. Otherwise, I would go crazy during a black out. Although I carefully wind up my extension cord after every use, I still end up spending at least ten minutes unraveling it and spreading it out, or I end up all tangled up while trimming. OK, that did sound a little dirty.

Anyway, that ten minutes could be spent doing something more useful, and before you suggest a gas powered Weedeater, I don’t like the idea of hanging an internal combustion engine off my shoulder and storing it in a shed that is only feet from two very large, space shuttle sized propane tanks. That is why my lawnmower is a reel mower with no engine. I already have a thirty-year-old station wagon that could spontaneously combust at any moment, I don’t need to worry about lawn care equipment as well. I once lent my extension cord to a neighbor back when I lived in Dutch Village in Newport News, and he returned it all tangled up. How inconsiderate. This is why I don’t like lending people my things. They do not take care of their stuff the way I do. Yes, I know, my mother rushed my potty training, and all of you are paying the price for it.

As I was saying before I interrupted myself, that ten minutes spreading out my chord could be put to better use. I am known for my time management skills. I can get more done by 10:00 am on a Friday morning than most can get done in an entire weekend, so I am bothered by those things in life that take up valuable time. I work two jobs, run a home-based business, write a column for a magazine, edit a newsletter for a car club, write this stupid blog for which I don’t get paid, and I am working on a book, yet I still find myself with time to clean, organize closets and cabinets, do laundry, wash and detail my cars, and do lawn work. Nana used to say I was busier than a blue-assed fly. I still don’t know what that means.

The cicadas are returning after a seventeen year hiatus, and in a day or two, they have to come out of the ground, learn how to fly, find a mate, have wild fly-like sex, enjoy a post-coitus meal, land on a leaf and die, leaving a shell that would make a fabulous earring. Once ground temperature reaches sixty-four degrees and they emerge, I will check to see if they have blue asses because they are busy.

There are a lot of things in life that take up time. For instance, eating. I have not missed a meal since 1962, which is why my safe word is “dinner.” I am like a panda. I eat all day long, I have sex once a year, and I usually don’t do it correctly.

Anyone who has had the pleasure of dining with me notices that I eat like a prisoner. I clean my plate before Manfred from cell-block B can come over and dump my tray over my head, then drag me back to his cage for wild fly-like sex. Thank God, I am a law abiding citizen. I always say I am too pretty for prison. Not to mention that I attract the crazies, so sit back and imagine that for a while.

Don’t worry, I’ll wait. Yeah, prison sex – everyone’s fantasy from straight guys wanting to be a guard in an all-female prison to gay guys wanting to be a guard when Jeff Stryker is incarcerated. That is until you think about how long the usual sentence lasts and you realize this is one fantasy that goes on and on and on.

Back to food. Yes, I eat fast. I have been known to clean my plate before the waiter finishes serving everyone at the table, and that is when it is just two of us. If you do dine with me, and you are a slow eater, be prepared to hear me say, “Are you going to eat that?” If you don’t answer quickly enough, my fork will be stabbing whatever that is on your plate. I once had dinner with Ed’s sister, and she didn’t eat her broccoli, so I used my fork, like a gentleman of course, and took one floret. She about went ballistic. This surprised me because I thought she was Jewish. If you eat dinner with a Jewish person, be prepared to have him take a bite of your meal before he takes a bite of his. Seriously, I am more concerned with what you ordered than I am with mine because that means I can taste something else from the menu.

My father used to cough on his brother’s food when he was a kid, so he could have a double portion. I have yet to reach those classy heights.

Another thing that takes up a lot of valuable time is sleep. I don’t nap. I have never been able to nap. When I try to nap, all I think about is all the things I could be cleaning and folding. Then I get up and clean or fold something. You have been warned if you ever take a nap with me while naked. Think about it.

Years ago, I read David Brenner’s autobiography, Soft Pretzels with Mustard. Did you know he has made more talk show appearances than anyone in history? Do you even know who he is? Did you know he has been engaged to Tai Babilonia for eight years? Do you know who she is? In his book, he talked about how he only slept for three hours a night because he hated wasting time in bed. I tried this. First thing I found out was if you call your friends at three in the morning to see if they want to go grab a bite at a diner, they get a little annoyed. These were the days before cell phones and caller ID, so ringers usually weren’t turned off. The second thing I learned was that no one can live off three hours of sleep a night. For the one and only time in my life, I took a nap. Unfortunately, I was also driving. No one was hurt, and there was no damage to the car, which is surprising since I was about seven hundred feet into that corn field when I woke up. Have you ever tried to drive out of a corn field quickly while being chased by an angry farmer on a combine?

The one thing that takes up too much time is going to the bathroom, especially the paperwork. I dated a guy who only evacuated his bowels once a week. Thank God I was never around when that happened. But seriously, once a week? Obviously, he was not Jewish. Eight-seven percent of the people who have irritable bowel syndrome are Jewish. The other thirteen percent are converts.

I go at least three times a day, usually five. I know, too much information, but I calculated how much time I spend in the bathroom. At fifteen minutes a trip, and five a day, that is 1,368,750 minutes, which works out to 22,812 hours or 950 days. Half that time is spent wiping my ass, so I have spent 475 days or 1.3 years wiping my ass. How many of you work in an office where they have the John Wayne toilet paper? The kind that is rough as hell and won’t take shit off anyone. You can double your wiping time, unless you do what I do – carry a bag of baby wipes with you every time you go. I am not kidding.

Every time I have one of those evacuation orders that requires extra paper work, all I keep repeating to myself is, “I don’t have time for this! I don’t have time for this!” Now that I realize I have spent 1.3 years with my hand back there cleaning the remnants of yet another prisonlike meal, I am even more annoyed.

Do you know what I could have accomplished in 1.3 years?

Has anyone invented a portable bidet? Can they install a bidet in a mobile home?

Are you reading this on the toilet? Follow me, get on my email list, buy my books: www.miltonstern.com

Monday, April 8, 2013

You Know What You Should Do?

On an episode of Seinfeld, he had to deal with a heckler, so he went to her place of employment and heckled her. I loved it.

While certain jobs invite heckling and criticism, not all heckling and criticism are welcome. Just saying.

As a writer, I understand being criticized and reviewed and trashed by strangers. If you don’t have a thick skin, don’t go into any creative field. You will also have to deal with those who are close to you sometimes being your worst critics.

Acquaintances have called me on the phone and spent an hour telling me how much they hated my books. Yes, that happened twice. One explained every sentence that bothered him, and the other explained to me how I should outline my book and create profiles of my characters. Funny thing is neither of them are writers or creative. Then there was the one who came up to me before Shabbat services to tell me how much she hated my book. I asked her if she bought a copy, and she said she borrowed it. I yelled at the woman who lent it to her. If I am going to be criticized, I at least deserve my 73 cent royalty!

In each situation, I just listened and said thank you and hung up, or with the cheapskate, who didn’t buy a copy, walked away and yelled at the book loan officer.

I know all of them felt as if they were doing me a favor, but Mother would always say, “Don’t do me any favors.”

I have friends who are artists and writers, and I have never walked up to or called one of them to criticize his work. I know what it takes to create, so if I really have nothing nice to say, I keep my big mouth shut. As caddy as I can be, I do draw the line with people I know personally.

This does not mean I won’t say something behind their backs, but I am sure to say it to someone who doesn’t know them for obvious reasons. If you know me and have nothing nice to say about my writing, say it behind my back. I don’t need to hear it.  

Recently, I was offered a paying writing job, and one person’s reaction was, “It’s more than you get for writing that stupid blog.”

You know how I always repeat what Beverly Sills said about how you will have two to three good friends in life and the rest are acquaintances, and how you need to get rid of all the negative influences, too? Yeah, it’s like that.

None of these people bother me. They are just a bunch of unhappy, ugly, old, bitter, musty smelling queens who have nothing better to do than belittle other people to make them feel better about themselves and their insignificant lives.

I do have one good friend whose only comment was, “The sentences are too long, and I don’t understand them.” Poor thing can only read a coloring book. I forgave him because one should always be kind to the intellectually impaired.

He is pretty, but can he type?

If you are a negative person, you will dwell upon all the criticism. Most waiters only recall every lousy, rude and nasty customer but cannot remember any of the nice ones even though only about five percent are rude. I waited on tables for twenty years, and I can understand this.

Those three people and a couple of assholes on Amazon are the only ones who extensively criticized my books. For the most part, I received good comments – to my face.

However, the people who do bother me are the ones who say, “You know what you should do?”

I always respond, “Oh God, what?”

After my first book was published, a co-worker came up to me and told me I should write a book about the man who designed the sewage system for Baltimore City. He went on and on for an hour about how wonderful this book would be. When he finished, I said, “How fascinating. I have been to Baltimore, and from what I could tell, they don’t have a working sewage system.”
Why on God’s green earth would I write a book about how excrement flows through the Charm City? My first book was about President James Buchanan. How did he go from the White House to shit? Nevermind.

Get this. He never read my book. He just thought he was doing me a favor by suggesting the topic for my next book. I didn’t feel like telling him I had been commissioned to write a book about Harriet Lane, President Buchanan’s niece. That is the weird thing about me. As much as I like to brag, when someone comes up to me and says something that deserves a “put you in your place” comeback, I weigh whether they are worthy of it. Usually, they aren’t.

That was my first experience with someone telling me what I should write. But here is the thing. What if I came to your job and told you what to do? A friend of mine is an artist, and it would never occur to me to tell him, “You know. You should paint a bowl of fruit. There aren’t enough paintings of fruit.” If I did that, I would imagine a paint brush sticking out of my eye in my immediate future.

Among my favorites are acquaintances who have what they think is an extraordinary sexual experience (a common trick if you will) and insist I write an erotic story about it – under one of my three pseudonyms of course. My response, “Yes, I already have a title. ‘Sex – It Isn’t for Everyone.’” Why should I write about how you picked up a guy in the doctor’s waiting room, took him home, had sloppy sex for three and a half minutes and noticed your iPad was missing after he left?
Meanwhile, while I am spending my weekend writing an erotic story about your lame sex life, you are attending another party or brunch where my invitation was lost in the mail. Facebook pictures of all of you holding red plastic cups to follow.

A day doesn’t go by when I am not told I should write about this or that. Even with this stupid blog for which I don’t get paid, I am often told what my next topic should be.

As Mother also said, “Who asked you?”

Bitter, party of one!

If have a topic you want me to discuss, tell anyone but me, but get on my email list or buy my books: www.miltonstern.com.

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Cleanest Oven in the Trailer Park

When I managed a restaurant in Delray Beach, Florida, I was always amused by my tribe-mates who would entertain by taking their guests out to dinner for the early bird special. Seriously, they would call to make a reservation, and the conversation would go like this:

“This is Mrs. Feinstein. I am entertaining my friends Saturday night. We would like a round table for ten at 5:30.”

“I am sorry, Mrs. Feinstein, our largest round table only seats eight.”

In the background, and quite loudly: “Artie, tell the Greenbergs we decided to go out of town this weekend,” then to me, “We will take a round table for eight.”

It was always funny when the Greenbergs would show up at the same time on the same night.

Mrs. Feinstein told me she had the cleanest oven in Boca. She never turned it on.

At the time, I could not understand entertaining your guests outside your home. Over the years, I had thrown my share of dinner parties, many, many dinner parties. I would cook and serve and clean up. I couldn’t wait for my guests to arrive, and I couldn’t wait for them to leave. I also threw my fair share of Mary Richards parties. Last year, I threw a party and instead of cooking, I ordered trays from the grocery store, and for once I enjoyed myself, and for once my guests didn’t spit food into their napkins and toss them into the houseplants. Once, a plant spit it back. Even my cooking makes bad fertilizer.

That is when I came to a realization. Not all Gay men have to be great cooks or even like to cook or DVR Barefoot Contessa. I don’t consider myself a cook. I consider myself a survivalist in the kitchen. I cook like a Mid-Century Modern housewife, which if I had my way, I would be, complete with Thursday afternoon Mah Jongg games and a pink and white 1960 Ambassador by Rambler Cross Country station wagon in front of my split-level, three bedroom, two and half bath home with all the newest Westinghouse appliances

I can roast a chicken, make a tuna casserole, boil pasta, bake fish, and make a cake for your birthday if you wish. However, I have never blanched, braised, pureed or even emulsified. My spice rack is a section of the cabinet with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and Italian seasonings. I have never bought a garlic clove. I worked as a sous chef at one time, and I learned how to sauté and other things I have no idea how to pronounce. While I enjoyed my work, I didn’t love it or want to make a career of it. I just threw whatever they told me into the pan and served it up.

However, I am surrounded by people who love to cook, and while at a time I felt inadequate, I have come to accept the fact that this is one more hole on my Gay card that can’t be punched along with knowing the names of flowers, designers and the cast of Glee. Although, I dare you to name all the actors who appeared on Bewitched!

While I admire their love of the culinary arts, it can become quite annoying to have so many kitchen mechanics in my social circle.

My brother loves to cook, and he is very good at it. I don’t know where he gets this. Alex is always trying new recipes, and he watches the Food Network. His marriage is a perfect one because he cooks and Julie cleans.

We were convinced that our mother was a good cook, mostly by our mother, but she wasn’t. Between the oily cakes and burnt offerings of chuck roasts to the God of fire, the only dish she made well was chicken cacciatore. But, one dish does not make you a good cook. Grandma baked great mandel bread, but her tuna salad was made with butter! The only thing Nana ever made was a reservation at the Hot Shoppe. When people tell me about dinner at their grandmother’s house, I just look at them with wonder at such an occurrence.

Every day, I discover one more way I am Nana redux. As I always say, I look like her in drag, and I am only one Kent cigarette and a Reed’s mint (I finally mentioned the Reed’s mints, Alex) from saying “Oh My God” and ordering custom made wigs from Don’s Wig Shop in Newport News. If the Hot Shoppe were still around, I would eat there every night.

I used to watch Rachael Ray’s show, but I soon realized that to make one of her thirty-minute meals, I would have to shop for thirty days to get all thirty ingredients. Who has that kind of time … or patience? And if you cook one of her meals, do you have to be as equally annoying? 

My friend, Ed, is a good cook, and if you don’t think so, just ask him. “I made a marvelous mushroom lasagna, and it was a hit. Everyone wanted to know who made and it and asked for the recipe.” I once hosted a Passover Seder. After cooking everything for the main meal, he made homemade macaroons. They were to die for, but I was not happy. While everyone was oohing and aahing his goddamn macaroons, they had completely forgotten about the crappy meal I prepared. I put a Sephardic curse on all of them, and his macaroons didn’t pass for twenty-eight days.

I wasn’t bitter.

My friend, Ted, is apparently a great cook with the most beautiful presentations ever. I say apparently because the only thing he has ever served me was tepid water. He is going to be pissed now! He posts more pictures of the food he has prepared than Paula Deen. All of the pictures are works of art. He keeps promising to cook for me. We did go to a fundraiser together where they served expired appetizers from the Costco freezer. I hadn’t spit out that much food since my last dinner party.

Frank, whose house looks like a centerfold from a 1963 issue of Architectural Digest, is probably the best of them all. He is the Martha Stewart of McLean. If you tell Frank you are having an impromptu cookout in two hours, he will show up with a gourmet side-dish made from the rarest of ingredients he just happened to throw together along with a homemade chocolate cake. There isn’t a supermarket within ten miles of his home, so I am convinced he is a warlock. He also has an extra oven, refrigerator and freezer. And, I have never seen him sweat.

I used to cook for boyfriends to show them how domesticated I was. Ironically, I wonder why I am still single. However, since moving to the trailer park and having what is the largest and most efficiently laid out kitchen of my lifetime, I have stopped cooking for other people. I make all my own meals, which are simple fare, but no longer do I subject the innocent to my gastronomical atrocities.

I am comfortable with the fact that I really do not enjoy cooking. After all, if God had meant for me to cook, I would have been born with aluminum hands.

This past weekend, I had dinner with a friend of mine from my Newport News days, who recently moved to the area. He had been a guest at more than a few of my dinner parties back in the day. When I told him we would go out to eat, his response was, “Thank God.”

Mrs. Feinstein, upon reaching age fifty, I finally get you, and I will no longer make fun of old Jewish women who entertain their guests at the early bird in Delray Beach.

I have the cleanest oven in the trailer park. I’ve never used it.

If you hate to cook, follow me, join me, get on my email list, buy my books: www.miltonstern.com