C.C., and Key Words, and Tropes, oh My!
Murder at McDonalds?
Fair warning: This one’s a long one, even for me.
I might have titled this essay: Sweet, Helpful Young Lady Throttled by Bitter Old Woman. Or perhaps: Leave Me Alone, I’m Not Dead Yet. Or maybe: Through the Mirror Birthday Darkly.
I call years when both digits match ‘mirror birthdays’. My first was when I turned eleven, my second at twenty-two, you catch the drift. This week I celebrated my sixth mirror birthday when I turned sixty-six.
In the past, I’ve use these years for introspection, examining my life’s journey, the direction I’m headed, and making sure I still have a dream worth chasing. Every eleven years seemed like a good checking-in point, and sure enough it has been. I’ve used them to recognize, react to, and finally accept realities in my life. They give me a minute to poke my head above water and reorient my place in the world. I’ve anchored myself to my past, willing myself into the future. Sounds good, no?
Yeah, and it worked for the first five mirror birthdays. But this one…this one feels vastly different. For one thing, by noon I wanted to murder someone.
I’ve tried to keep up with technology as I age, unlike my own grandparents who simply ignored all innovation past television, or my mother who refused to figure out how to work a cell phone. I wondered why they didn’t want to stay modern, chase the changes, become the future?
Now I know how much work it is to grasp new concepts, connect them to other half-understood ideas, and translate all of that into real world, right now, hands-on competence while also dealing with biological consequences that drain your health and mental well-being after sixty. I say that because I struggle with apps, well one app in particular.
Being a hip great-grandmother means I order from the McDonald’s app with fair regularity. After the first two years, I’d gotten the hang of it and then Covid…sigh. Another two years and I’m coping with their eat-in/take-out/drive-thru alternatives, no-healthy-options-menu (c’mon, apple slices soaked to tastelessness don’t count), restricted ‘deals’ that never change, and even a clunky points reward system. Okay, I’m still not ordering off the cool kids menu, but nuggets are good enough for me.
On the day of my birthday I gathered up my sweeties and headed to McDonald’s for lunch. While my wife drove I pulled up the app to start our order, but I’d been signed out. When we arrived, their Wi-fry was too weak to service their app, so I switched to 4G (see? I’m trying). I finally logged in and got our somewhat complicated order placed. (Trust me, even that nightmare beats ordering from bored pimply faced kids who hadn’t been born when I started eating where they now work, telling me they can’t do this or that can’t be done when I’ve had it that way for years.)
Except my order wouldn’t process. It hung-up and never completed the payment, just giving me a pop up that said they were sorry and to try again later. Frustrated, I tried three, four, five times before finally going up to the counter and telling the manager my tale of woe. She looked in her system and couldn’t find the order I was pretty sure I’d already paid for, perhaps multiple times. I was loitering near the counter tap, tap, tapping away on the app trying to make it work before giving in and placing the order verbally, when it happened…
A young woman in her mid to late twenties started ‘helping’ me by explaining how the app worked and reassuring me that she had trouble using it too. She threw a knowing glance at the manager over my head, and then
Yep, the day I’ve dreaded since the first time I watched it happen to my aging mother has arrived. A helpful young snot, totally discounting my experience or expertise, was going to ‘show’ me how to do what I wanted done.
Grr… A thousand feelings raced through me as I stepped out of her reach, angling my back and shoulder toward her in a very clear attempt to block her. Undeterred, the pretty blond reached around me and nearly grabbed my phone.
“See?” She showed me her phone open to the app deals. “You do it like this.”
I jerked away from her and turned to tell the sweet young thing off, when the manager announced my order finally came through and was already being prepared. I muttered, “Thank God,” which the blond seemed to assume included her.
“Oh good, you did it,” she said cheerfully as she placed her order for a coffee to go. I stalked back to our table. Lunch arrived a few minutes later and the day proceeded apace.
I look old. My possessions are old. I use antiquated words and turns of phrase (see?). I feel old with creaking joints and aches everywhere. I tell stories about people who are old themselves now, so I write stories about young people like the youngster I still am inside.
I’m old and that’s HORRIBLE. Right? I mean, isn’t that what I’ve been watching in horror happen to those before me? I wanted to ask my neighbor when she was fighting her third bout with breast cancer what it felt like to watch her beautiful face crease, blotch, sag…and then she died and I couldn’t.
I remember watching older co-workers fanning hot flashes, plucking hairs from once softly rounded cheeks, fingers and backs growing crooked and painful. Did they know it was happening as it happened, or did they wake up one morning to find an old person staring back at them from the mirror?
The beautiful celebrities of my childhood disappeared from view, discarded as worthless once their sex appeal waned. I (and everyone else) would gasp to see two photos in their obits always side by side: one of them at the height of their beauty and one of them taken shortly before they died. “Tragic,” we’d mutter.
And now here I am, the quirky old lady I’d always hoped I’d become just without the fame, fortune, and thick silver-gray braids hanging down to my waist. Let’s face it, this might be my very last mirror birthday so I’d best use it wisely. Time to take stock of my life, tally totals to measure wins and losses, defeats and recoveries. And if I’m going to have a last hurrah it’s time to knuckle down.
I’mma get my kicks on my Route 66. Com’on along for the ride or get outta my way.
For All the Youngsters Still Wondering: I’ve known for twenty years that my body is changing and not for the better. It did hurt to watch my face crumbling each morning as I washed it. I agonized over every new wrinkle until I finally got used to it or a new one showed up to focus on. Still, I sometimes get startled by the stranger in the mirror and way too many times I’ve ducked cameras for family photos that now I can’t be remembered in. Not to mention I’d have looked younger in those pics than at any time since.
No snotty blonds were injured or insulted in an actual McDonald’s. Daydreams of an author, however…
CuCu#1 – or – Current Cunundrum Number One
Can a transperson be accurately labeled a TERF?
I know, of all the things in the world to worry about, why has my brain latched upon this one worrisome point? Maybe because of all the things in the world to worry about. I needed a distraction and an anonymous poster but fire to the flame and lit my curiosity.
I wrote a piece in praise of Richard O’Brien and their LGBTQ+ masterpiece The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I noted the writing, casting, and production they’d produced and that transitioning seems a major part of it all. O’Brien commented at one time that it was an exploration of their emergent sexuality.
Many people responded favorably to my words, but one poster angrily denounced O’Brien as a TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) because in 2016, when asked for an opinion, O’Brien said that trans women could only “be an idea of a woman”. When asked for clarification in 2020 following J.K. Rowling’s anti-trans rhetoric, they doubled down by insisting, “You and I have to be very careful here,” he said. “We’ve seen what’s been happening with J.K. Rowling.
I think anybody who decides to take the huge step with a sex change deserves encouragement and a thumbs-up. As long as they’re happy and fulfilled, I applaud them to my very last day. But you can’t ever become a natural woman.”
“I think that’s probably where Rowling is coming from. That’s as far as I’m going to go because people get upset if I have an opinion that doesn’t line up with theirs. They think I’m being mean-spirited and I don’t want that at all.”
O’Brien has identified as transgender since 2009, claiming a third, or gender-fluid identity. “I believe myself probably to be about 70% male, 30% female… I think of myself as a third sex and it makes things easier.”
Okay, so who would be O’Brien’s authority for their gender identity? They claim and live life as ‘transgendered’ by their own definition. Can they really be trans-exclusionary? I mean, I’ll accept that they’re a feminist. I’ll even consider their point as radical. But I balk at the labeling of a transperson as anti-trans.
Now, I know I’m a cis-gendered lesbian of a certain age. I know who I am because I live as authentically as possible. I believe each of us who’ve had to find a label to authenticate our existence have searched far deeper into self-exploration than those considered ‘the norm’.
I also accept and admit that because I am not trans, I cannot speak in the voice of transfolk or claim knowledge outside of sensitive reasoning. BUT in this instance I must insist that anyone who willingly identifies as a member of a certain group cannot, by definition, be anti-that group, or exclusionary of it.
It’s taken me three weeks to mull this over from every aspect of which I’m capable and I’ve reached this conclusion:
Richard O’Brien is free to identify in whichever way is appropriate for them and within that identity to search for answers, seek definitions, question their existence and that of others. Period, end of story.
Do You Know Why They Don’t Say Gay?
Unfortunately, I do – and the ramifications are staggering.
#DontSayGay #NoHomoPromo #StopBullying
Anyone who’s lived through real bullying knows that it is anything but ‘kids being kids’. Sure, it starts in childhood but carries on throughout lifetimes. Some childhood bullies become adult bullies. Some victims remain with that mind set their entire lives.
Today’s bullies still use traditional techniques of torment, but they’ve expanded their skill set to include cyberspace and social media as well. They don’t contain their cruelty to their immediate peers anymore, they spread proof of their inhumanity around the internet and sometimes the world, receiving anonymous support and encouragement.
I know this because of the research I did in 2010 following a rash of suicides in the Anoka/Hennepin school district in the counties next to mine. Each news broadcast about another kid dying by their own hand broke my heart.
As I learned about their lives and the bullying they suffered with no help from teachers, staff, and administration, my anger deepened. As I read articles like this MinnPost article: Bullying Gay and Lesbian Kids are How a School District Became a Suicide Contagion Zone my anger turned to rage.
When my emotions get out of control, I create something that uses up that energy. In 2012 I published The Boxer Shorts Rebellion. In vulgarity laden scenes taken directly from real life, I unflinchingly described the vicious reality that surrounds kids living in Don’t Say Gay school zones. It was incredibly difficult to write, and harder to read. That’s the way with unvarnished truth – it glares.
But, as much as slapping people across the face once appealed, when I heard about new Don’t Say Gay policies popping up around the country, I began an immediate rewrite to make the story more palatable so it might reach a wider audience, one that could help stop them. I left in about twenty percent of the original vulgarities, but did not tone down the bullying for the very purpose of letting you know the truth about Don’t Say Gay policies.
I’ve released the 2nd edition, significantly rewritten: Don’t Say Gay in Tranquility Bay, and during the first ten days of publication I’ve listed the book for free every other day and alerted as many LGBTQ+ celebrities as I could so they could download, read, and possibly endorse the book.
Alternate days and thereafter Don’t Say Gay in Tranquility Bay will be listed at author’s cost to encourage easy gifting to libraries and school districts across the country.
Unchecked bullying creates desperation in today’s kids, both online and in schools. I wrote Don’t Say Gay in Tranquility Bay! in response to the growing frequency of school shooters and the ‘suicide contagion zone’ created by a Minnesota school district’s decision to enact such a policy. My heart broke each time as eight suicides were reported in two years, knowing others tried without succeeding and still more self-harmed instead. No more. I am putting student risk ahead of financial gain and will make this book free immediately – not to promote sales, but to encourage its spread to those who don’t understand how dangerous such policies can be.
This book NEEDS to reach influencers, school board members, politicians, and anyone who can and might help stop the Don’t Say Gay legislation being enacted in America’s school districts today. It should be available to any student who must live through it.
To take fullest advantage of Kindle’s 5-free-days promotion, Don’t Say Gay in Tranquility Bay! will be listed as free every other day, in hopes your word of mouth recommendation (which understandably takes time) can spread the news farther. So please, get your free copy and then encourage anyone who might be interested to download a free version on the day after and urge them to let others know who might help fight the evil of Don’t Say Gay and No Homo Promo legislation. Don’t Say Gay in Tranquility Bay! (Kindle version) IS FREE on:
Thursday, May 26 12:00 a.m. (PDT) until a minute before midnight.
Saturday, May 28 12:00 a.m. (PDT) until a minute before midnight.
Monday, May 30 12:00 a.m. (PDT) until a minute before midnight.
Wednesday, June 1 12:00 a.m. (PDT) until a minute before midnight.
And Friday, June 3 12:00 a.m. (PDT) until a minute before midnight.
The in-between days, and thereafter until further notice the book will remain available for author’s cost.
If you’ve ever been bullied or stood by helplessly watching it happen, this novel is your next must read. If you were once a bully, or helped someone else to bully, this book offers redemption. If you stood by then but wonder now if you can make a difference, DON’T SAY GAY IN TRANQUILITY BAY! will bring you inspiration.
Sneak a Peek
We Don’t Say Gay at Tranquility Bay
WE DON’T SAY GAY AT TRANQUILITY BAY
Expected Publication Date: June 1, 2022