How Did You Get Here, Part 2

margo martindale-thumbOne of the things that I love to do with this blog, is go through the list of search words or terms that has brought people here. Goodness knows, I spend a lot of time googling people or things, yesterday’s blog post being yet another example of such behavior. I am a curious type, some might even go so far to say I’m nosy. Others might call me Gladys Kravitz to my face. I once had a boyfriend whose nickname for me was Nosetta Barnhart.

But these search results confirm that I am not alone. I am not the only person who wondered if Rich Mullins was gay or watched Airplane on cable and had to know more about Stephen Stucker. There are others who share my devotion to Mary Tyler Moore and Eve Plumb and Faye Dunaway’s iconic post-Oscar photo by the pool. I am not the only person searching the internet looking for Herb Ritts’ pictures of Richard Gere in a Speedo.

Also, this may be bad, you tell me, but I like that folks have found my blog by searching the names of friends of mine. It’s like Michael and Michele and Linda and Kellum and Rupaul are all famous or something.

And finally, your searches will illicit my own searches. As soon as I post this, I am totally going to search the internet and find out what church Deborah Foreman does belong to. I want to know, IS Chris Kattan a jerk? Maybe I’ll find that topless Maureen Teefy photo as well as “themes for dorms for Christian guys.” DID Amy Grant and Joel Osteen ever meet?

The one thing I know for sure, is that we are all unique. Some of us are obsessed with 1970s sitcoms, others of us are obsessed with men in Speedos. The cool thing is, with only a few exceptions, this list could be a printout of the way my brain works. These people’s interests are my interests too. I always think, as imperfect as this blog is, I would love to be doing a search for Suzanne Pleshette and stumble across Easily Crestfallen. So, however you found me, I am glad you are here. Don’t take this the wrong way, but you are a bit of an oddball. You and I might be the only two people in the world who are obsessed with that song from the end of Longtime Companion, but that’s okay. We are in good company!

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A Whole New World

IMG_3731Eric and I returned from New York a couple of days ago. It was a cold, action-packed 6 days and as much as I enjoyed the adventure, I’m glad to be home. I might fantasize about living in New York again, I probably will for the rest of my life, but, first, I really enjoyed swimming in the 70 degree California sunshine the day after our return and second, our dogs would hate living in cold weather and probably try to pick fights with people and other dogs on their daily walks. Eric and I always marvel that we never see or hear barking dogs when we are in Manhattan. What’s the deal? Is it the water?

Anyway, Tuesday night, our last night, Eric and I tried to stuff as much into an evening as humanly possible. We had burgers at the Shake Shack in Grand Central, then drinks and clam chowder at the Oyster Bar. We walked up Lexington to 58th, popping into the various hotels along the avenue. I wanted to check out the East Side Marriott, formerly the Shelton Hotel, that was once the tallest hotel in the world as well as Georgia O’Keefe’s home from 1925 to 1936. The day before, we saw the painting East River from the Shelton Hotel at the Met and I read about the Shelton and wondered how I’d never heard about the hotel or O’Keefe’s inspired, lengthy stay there. Either way, the hotel is still glamorous and stately, even if a bit Marriott-ized. From there we walked into Bergdorf Goodman’s men’s shop where I could get one last spritz of my favorite perfume, Maison Francis Kurkdijan’s BG exclusive, 754. On every trip, I try to visit every day to spray a little. On Saturday, an employee, perhaps resentful that I wouldn’t try the fragrance she was trying to hawk, sneered at me, “That is a ladies’ fragrance.” “Oh, what’s going to happen to me?” “Nothing, I just wanted you to be aware of it.”

From Bergdorf, we walked along Central Park South to Robert in Columbus Circle. We had drinks in a lounge area that overlooked Central Park and the Upper West Side, specifically Broadway. We took pictures and Instagrammed them, talked about some of the highlights of our trip, the traditions like Barney Greengrass and Central Park and the Met and Mary Ann’s in Chelsea. We talked about the new experiences, discovering a great, new to us, hotel, The Roosevelt and seeing John Cameron Mitchell in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, from the second row, no less. We talked about the cheeseburgers at J.G. Melon. We talked about how much we enjoyed the snow. We talked about how much we missed the dogs, or as we call them, the babies.

After Robert, we took the subway down to Grove Street, to Marie’s Crisis, the iconic Greenwich Village piano bar. Several years ago, I did a show where I talked about visiting Marie’s Crisis with my best friend Michele and her new husband Stan. It was a fun, special night and because it’s on YouTube, the evening has had an enduring glow for Michele and me.

When Eric and I walked into Marie’s Crisis on Tuesday night, it was to the accompaniment of 15-20 Broadway loving souls singing Everything’s Coming Up Roses, an apt welcome. We ordered a couple of drinks and found a wobbly table to sit at and enjoyed taking it all in. There was a shift change and the early evening piano player was replaced by a pretty, zaftig woman named Franca who, we came to find out, was enjoying a bit of internet celebrity because a few nights earlier Jimmy Fallon made a drunken, passionate, raucous visit and several people had posted videos from the evening.

There were men and women, gays and straights, young and old. There were boys in their early 20s belting out show tunes and I couldn’t help but think of my own 20 something self. I never went to Marie’s Crisis. I didn’t have the confidence to stand at a piano and croon Corner of the Sky, but I wanted to. Instead, I would frequent Uncle Charlie’s or Splash and stand in a corner and suck in my stomach and wait for someone to come up to me and introduce himself.

Of course, I thought about those nights as I sat there with Eric. It could have been the bourbon, it could have been something else, but I felt an ache for those days of my youth. That ache comes and goes. It’s probably, at this point, directly proportionate to my weight. When I visit New York, and walk down 8th Avenue in Chelsea or 7th Avenue in the Village, I just don’t feel as visible as I once did.

The song after Corner of the Sky was from Aladdin, A Whole New World. I know I don’t write about my sex life here, but I think that even if you are super conservative, you have deduced, at this point, that I am no longer a virgin. Still, if you are related to me, in any way, please skip the next two paragraphs. Don’t get tempted to disregard my plea, just scroll down. I don’t want to think about you having read this while we are feasting on Italian sausage and spaghetti at the next family reunion.

The first guy I ever had sex with was a guy I met at the 23rd Street YMCA. We met and he asked me back to his place and we fooled around and it was very vanilla and after, the two of us lay on his bed listening to music. Aladdin had just come out and the song was getting a lot of radio play. Before we went to his apartment, I had told my new friend, I’ll call him Milton, because that was his name, that I was very new to all of this. As Peabo purred, “I can show you the world, shining, shimmering splendid…”, Milton turned to me and said, “This certainly seems like the perfect song for this moment.” And it did.

My body might have been at 2015 Marie’s Crisis, but my heart was in that one bedroom apartment with exposed brick on one wall on 18th street between 7th and 8th, circa 1993. I knew before we tumbled into bed together, on another snowy New York day, that Milton was not going to be the person I would grow old with, but what he was, still is, actually, was my first. I wish he’d been cuter, I wish I’d been more attracted to him. Because of my upbringing, I suppose there is still, over 20 years later, a part of me that wishes that my first had been my only. But alas, that is not the way the years played out. And that’s okay, probably for the best, really.

After the A Whole New World, Franca played and everyone sang I Dreamed a Dream and I remembered another boyfriend from those early years, an Israeli atchitecture student who was only in New York for one summer. Then, You Could Drive a Person Crazy, then another song from Pippin, Morning Glow. And then, Eric and I decided to call it a night.

Eric and I splurged on a cab to our hotel and I asked the driver to let us off at 6th avenue and 41st, so we could walk around Bryant Park and the New York Public Library. We went to Duane Reade to buy some water and bedtime snacks. And as we walked back to our hotel, bundled up in scarves and hats and gloves, carrying our booty with us, one of us said, “The babies.” And the other said, “I know, I can’t wait to see them.” And we walked on and on, sideways and under, on a magic carpet ride.

Guest Blogger, Michele Medlin Laikowski: Mr. Blue Sky

3451142218_b62b4a8380_zWhen I was at the William Inge Festival last Spring, I attended a symposium where the topic of 9/11 came up. A Kansas playwright posed the question, “Did 9/11 personally affect you?” Perhaps because I once lived in New York and have friends that still live there, I was shocked by the question initially, I believed that 9/11 affected everyone. But as the people in the room weighed in, I realized many felt that 9/11 was something very sad, a tragedy to be sure, but not something that affected their day to day lives.

On the morning of 9/11, my Mother woke me up with the phone call telling me that the twin towers had already fallen and that the Pentagon had been attacked. I remember my sleepy brain trying to process what she was saying, it was unreal. And one of my Mother’s most pressing concerns was whether I had talked to my good friend Michele, who at one time had worked at the World Trade Center. This is something my Mother reminded me of on Monday when we were talking about 9/11. So, prompted by the conversation with my Mother and remembering the discussion at the Inge Festival, I asked Michele if she would share on my blog, her memories of that day. Whether you were on Manhattan or 1190 or 2451 or any other number of miles away from that island, I still believe 9/11 affected all of us.

Mr. Blue Sky

On September 11th, 2001, I was early for work. Not particularly unheard of at the time but of note because otherwise, I’d have missed seeing the events come to fruition as they unfolded. I worked at JP Morgan. We had news on 24/7 because the bankers needed to see what the money would do that day. So, coming in, a little early – changing from my sneakers to my heels – sitting in my cube, I heard the panic first in the news reporters voices and then I heard it in the voices of the other employees who were watching and then, I went to the little screen and heard it from the voice in my head. You’ve all seen it, I’m assuming, so you know that feeling of horror and disbelief I experienced. Still to this day, I find it hard to believe. That kind of horror belongs in a picture show and it should have a giant monster behind it – not misguided men who have hate like a tidal wave, flowing out of them. No one should have that much hate. It’s ironic then that what they did that day while hateful bred love that is what I remember most from that period.

Anyway, the day went on and it became apparent that this wasn’t a mistake and the panic in my head made its way out to voicing my concerns to my boss that perhaps, staying put in midtown Manhattan, was possibly not the best option. He tried for business as usual for several hours until he realized that the trains were stopping to run out of Grand Central and he’d be stuck, like the rest of us, on this island. So he hoofed it to the train to his lovely home in Westchester. We got to leave around 10:30/11, my friend, Leigh, who was a temp for some clothing company was forced to stay until something insane like 2 … BECAUSE WHAT IF SOMEONE CALLED THERE. Her location was right next to the Empire State building. We were on the phone for hours until you couldn’t get a signal any more. In retrospect, it may not have been hours. Having a clear view of that day, years later is fraught with half-truths, I’m sure, it’s so hard to know a timeframe beyond once the towers were hit. She was also my neighbor so as soon as she got off, we got together and smoked a ton of cigarettes and drank beer and if it weren’t so awful, it would have been an amazing day. The weather was absolutely perfect. There wasn’t a cloud up in the sky. Well, except for the clouds of smoke that billowed towards us from downtown, the clouds of people grey people making their way home and the clouds of war eminent on the horizon. But, those clouds, were dissipated by the amount of pure love that we all felt for each other that day. I have never in my life seen or felt anything like it. It started on September 11th and it lasted for a month, 2 months – just this feeling of kindness flooding the streets. I don’t wish for this to happen again, it goes without saying, but I would adore to feel that love once more. This will be the 12th year since it happened and for the most part, the majority of NY’ers have moved on and brushed passed it but every year at 8:46 AM, a shiver runs through all of us.

Guest Blogger, Michele Medlin Laikowski: Underachiever

sc009d2f09A few weeks ago, I asked my best friend Michele if she would be interested in doing a guest blog. Lucky us, she said yes.  She is a funny, talented actress and writer and she’s also the subject of one of my first blogs.  Also, she is a wonderful wife and mother and the second most popular person I know on Facebook.  And not for nothing, she is a person on whom I can and do always depend.  Enjoy:

In an effort to show the world that I am no better than you, despite all reports, I just went into the executive bathroom at work with a roll of packing tape and tried to “wax” my upper lip.  You see, I’m 42 and at 42, I discovered that I now get mustaches.  Late bloomer, some would say, except that I’m a 42 year old woman so I say right-on-time bloomer. 

I’m sitting at my desk, which is in a cube, hoping that people will avoid talking to me for the next hour or so as my lip goes from the crimson I just made it to my usual pallor, at the same time exacerbating things by pulling at that one VERY black hair.  You say eww, I say, eew too.  It’s really gotten out of control. 

And here’s the reason I didn’t just pluck it like a normal. Because my dam ass husband used my dam ass tweezers to superglue some dam ass super hero figurine back together after my dam ass kid broke it—the figurine, not the tweezers.  The result is that my tweezers now have super glue residue, which is not conducive to getting that one very black wiry hair on the left part of my lip. 

Which leads me to the whole reason I’m writing. I have a tendency to blame others for my failings as a person.  I just saw this buzzfeed or nerdist or something blah blah (lifehack) that listed 13 reasons I’m not successful, and one of the reasons is that I blame others for me not succeeding. 

Now I blame that stupid post by whoever (lifehack) that I haven’t succeeded because maybe if I hadn’t taken the time to read it, I would have sent an agent something that would make them reconsider their decision to cast me aside with the words “Move to LA; you’ll be successful there.”  NOW I AM BLAMING THE AGENT!  And, yet, lifehack, you’re right.  I am lazy. I blame. I am fearful. I don’t want it enough. I do a lot of social BS (are having babies social bs? [is this a blame]). I make excuses (is the fact that I have children a blame or an excuse? are blames and excuses the same?) and don’t BELIEVE.  There are thirteen reasons for my lack of success, and I don’t feel like all 13 apply, but I do feel like I’m in my own dam ass way…not my husband and the ruination of my tweezers or my baby who has yet to sleep through the night even though he’s 13 months and totally should by now or my four-year-old who has the potential to be funnier than I am, but me, Michele O Medlin Laikowski, I am to blame. 

So, I’m going to go back to pursing my dreams of being a voice over star, and I’m going to run that half marathon that I signed up for, and I’m going to be a better mother. Just as soon as I get 8 hours sleep.

 

For more Michele Medlin, check out her blog at http://seeyounexttime.typepad.com/

Morning Swim

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If I’m lucky, every morning I start my day with a swim.  About four years ago, I joined a gym with access to an outdoor pool and ever since, swimming has been a regular part of my life. Because I swim, I tend to have a bit of a tan year round and at least once a day, someone will ask me where I got my tan.  I’ll tell them I swim regularly and they will always respond, “Oh, I loooove swimming.”  It amazes me how every time I start my first lap, I instantly feel like a child again.  I’m not a doctor or scientist, (insert best joke here) but I believe we love to swim because it subconciously reminds us of swimming in our mother’s bellies as fetuses.  Feel free to quote me on that.

The other reason I think we love swimming is that it’s sensual.  This blog adheres to a strict PG-13 guideline so I won’t elaborate too much further, but swimming is sexy.  People with attractive bodies look hot in swimsuits. 

I’ve compiled an album of swimming pools, please peruse, comment, if you feel compelled.  Summer’s here, it’s time to dive into the pool!

Ray Barnhart Likes Girls

It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since I posted this video. This is from a night I produced called Ray Barnhart Likes Girls. Five of my favorite storytellers (Sarah Taylor, Rebecca O’Brien, Amy Scribner, Traci Swartz and Linda Bailey Walsh) joined me to share tales of the relationship between gay men and their straight female counterparts. It was a fun night and the rush I felt at the end of the evening I still carry with me. My best friend Michele is still my best friend Michele and it’s exciting to think about how much her life has changed since 2008. She is the busy mother of two toddlers, at least one of whom has inherited his parents’ performing gene. Her husband Stan is no longer new on the scene and he has turned out to be as special as I suspected he might be. And me, my life has changed in a few ways, too, but I’m still the kind of guy who can spend a Friday night in front of the computer drinking chardonnay, eating pizza rolls and reliving a favorite memory.