Making lesbians happy – one book at a time

I was a precocious little kid. My mother says I was born able to read. I honestly can’t remember a time when I couldn’t read. The only bad thing about being able to read at an early age is that you can read words that you don’t know the meaning of. You can pronounce the words, but you lack the ability to discern whether or not you should say them. Out loud. In public.

Case in point: I was three-years-old. My mom stopped the car at a gas station because I had to go to the bathroom. She walked me into the restroom and I went into the stall by myself. To pass the time, I read the writing on the walls. When I came out of the stall, I had a whole new arsenal of words. Top this off with the fact that I loved to embarrass my mother. So, every time a friend of hers would say, “Oh, you have the prettiest little girl,” I would respond, “Fuck you.”

Mom would turn three different shades of red while I recited from memory: “Here I sit, brokenhearted, came to shit, but only farted.”

But the time I embarrassed her the most was at a family dinner. A lot of our extended  family was going to be there. All the relatives that we saw only every five years or so.

I used to love watching Mom put on her make-up and get ready to go places. I was four-years-old and sat on the toilet lid while Mom poofed her hair up into a big beehive. I coughed and sputtered from all the AquaNet filling the small bathroom. Then I saw a box I had never seen before. I read out loud the big word on the box.

“Ssshhh,” Mom scolded, “Don’t ever say that word. It’s not polite to say in front of people.”

Flash forward to the dinner. I am sitting between my mother and my grandfather. There are about twelve other people sitting at the table, all uncles and aunts and cousins. My grandfather looked at me and asked, “So, Layce, how have you been lately?”

“I’m good,” I said. I puffed up my chest and added, “I learned a new word today.”

I could feel Mom stiffen in her seat beside me.

“Oh?” my grandfather asked. “What word?”

“KO-TEX,” I said loudly, being sure to enunciate both syllables plainly.

There was a long silence. Mom threw down her fork, got up, and left the room.

It was my mother’s fault. She should’ve known better than to tell me NOT to do something. Did she learn nothing from the time she told me NOT to put peanut butter in my hair?

 

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The Great Chicken Theft

I live in a small town. It’s famous for being the birthplace and final resting place of Mr. Ed, the talking horse. He’s buried on private property so I couldn’t get you a picture of his grave. You’ll just have to trust me on that one.

Mr. Ed

Oooh, Wilbur!

This small town is also the home of the best pizza in these parts. The pizza is served up at Sam and Ella’s. You have to say that name out loud to get the full effect. There used to be a Mexican restaurant next door to it named E. Coli’s.  (You can’t make this stuff up.)

FUN FACT: Carrie Underwood used to be a waitress at Sam and Ella’s before she won American Idol.

Carrie

Carrie got those thigh muscles from waiting on tables!

Sam and Ella’s calls itself The Chicken Palace. I’m not sure why, other than the fact that they have tons of chicken knickknacks. Everywhere. Chicken tablecloths, chicken booths, chicken napkins, chicken pictures, chicken figurines, chicken lamps, on this farm there was a chicken, here a chicken, there a chicken, everywhere a cluck, cluck. You get the idea.

Sam_and_Ellas_Sign

Saxon and I went there yesterday and ordered the very delicious Rhode Island Red pizza. We sat in a booth that had a framed letter hanging on the wall. Saxon and I laughed our butts off as we read the letter.

Letter

Here’s what the letter said in case you can’t read it in the photo:

(several parts were redacted in Whiteout to keep the identity of the writer secret. And I know what redacted means because I watch Rachel Maddow.)

Dear Mr. Mullen,

I am truly sorry for the theft that occurred at your restaurant. I took the chicken as a joke and it got out of hand. I regret what I did. Please do not take this as a representation of REDACTED High School as a whole. I nor my friends weren’t responsible for any other theft that day. I am returning the chicken and am very sorry.

Sincerely,

REDACTED

P.S. That was the best pizza I’ve ever had.

I think the writer of this letter has a natural talent to be a lawyer. Notice how she emphasizes that her school had absolutely nothing to do with the theft. She also covers her ass about any other theft that may have happened that day.

On second thought, the writer of this letter is probably a future Republican. She obviously broke the law because of the encouragement of her party and her excuse is that “It got out of hand.” So, she brings the chicken back and expects to be absolved of the crime. (It’s a wonder she didn’t blame Hillary for the theft.)

I almost expected her to gaslight the owner of Sam and Ella’s by telling him that it was his fault she took the chicken. If he hadn’t had so many free-ranging chicken statues sitting around, she wouldn’t have been tempted it in the first place.

Anyway, Saxon and I are just glad that the chicken is back where it belongs and the person who allegedly took the chicken saw the error of her ways and returned it to its rightful owner.

And she is right about one thing: the pizza is the best I’ve ever had!

Want a great series to binge on? Heart to Heart, the first book in the True Heart series, is on sale for only 99 cents!

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The Big Apple

Saxon, Emma and I went to New York City over Christmas vacation. We accomplished almost everything on our to-do list. We mastered the subway system, visited Central Park and China Town and the East Village, admired the windows on 5th Avenue, visited the Guggenheim, MoMA, The Museum of Natural History, and saw three Broadway plays—The Phantom of the Opera, Kinky Boots, and Wicked. (I put a photo album on my Facebook page if you’d like to take a look.)

I have to say that Kinky Boots is now my new favorite play. We lucked out and got to see the two original actors, Billy Porter and Stark Sands, come back and recreate their roles. It was amazing!

At MoMA, I was overwhelmed by Van Gogh’s Starry Night. It’s one of my favorite pieces of art ever, and I never dreamed that I would get to see it in person. It brought tears to my eyes. There was also an entire roomful of Picassos! There was a huge Andy Warhol depicting The Last Supper with several brand names silkscreened over it. That send a pretty clear message on the state of religion.

At the Guggenheim I was more into the building itself than the exhibit. While I was waiting on an elevator I saw a woman digging through her purse. She was probably in her thirties and quite pretty. She turned to me and asked, “How much does a ticket cost to get in?”

“Twenty-five for adults,” I said.

“Damn,” she said. “I only have twenty-two.”

I handed her three dollars. “Here, take this.”

She was so thankful she almost cried. She told me she would Paypal the three dollars back to me when she got it, but I told to just give it to a street musician instead. I felt good that I had helped somebody go see a museum- like it was my little way of helping educate America.

We actually went to Macy’s on Christmas Eve. That place was packed! Shoulder to shoulder packed. I lost Saxon for an hour and a half. By the time I found her I was having an anxiety attack and flop-sweating all over the place.

But Macy’s was just the beginning of my anxiety attack. We wandered the streets, packed together like cattle. I couldn’t help but think that Temple Grandin should make a more humane design for the NYC streets.

We were in the middle of Gap on Times Square when I realized my wallet was gone. I had it in my back pocket and it was gone!

I started to panic.

The last place I had seen it was at Abercrombie and Fitch. We headed that way. My heart was pounding, my pits and butt were sweating, and Saxon kept bleating in my ear, “Never put your wallet in your back pocket. Always have it in your front pocket. Never put it in your back pocket.”

I wanted to strangle Saxon.

Emma linebacked her way through the crowd, pulling us along behind her. Three blocks later we were back at Abercrombie and Fitch. I cornered a sweet, little salesgirl and said, “I think I lost my wallet in here about an hour ago.”

She said, “What color was it?”

I said, “Purple.”

She pulled my wallet out from under the counter and said, “It looks more hot pink to me.”

I was so ecstatic, I hugged the girl. I couldn’t believe that I had lost my wallet in the middle of New York City, in the middle of hundreds of thousands of people, and not a single person had stolen it.

I had two hundred dollars in cash in the wallet and even that was still there!

As we continued our journey through Times Square I realized that Karma had rescued my wallet. I had given that woman at the Guggenheim three dollars and had been paid back many times over.

I also realized that New York City is one of my favorite places on earth. I’m already making a list of things I want to do when we go back!

The final book of the True Heart series is here!

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My Promise

I’ve kept my mouth shut way too long. I need to speak up. When I was voting for Hillary – my god! what a proud moment that was – I look over to my right and see a woman sitting next to me at the table. We had these cardboard partitions sitting on the table top, supposedly to keep us from seeing each other’s ballot. They were only a pretense at privacy because I could see her ballot plain as day.

Standing behind the woman was a man. Her husband or her boyfriend or whatever. She was sitting in her chair, looking at her ballot, and this man was standing close, like really really close, like pushing his crotch into her shoulder in some type of aggressive male dominance thing. He reached over her shoulder and tapped the little box that had trump’s name next to it.

Her pencil hovered over the box, not moving, and the man pumped his pelvis, his crotch, his dick, into her shoulder and tapped the box again.

She filled in the box.

He patted her shoulder like she was a good dog.

Then they got up and left.

I was astounded. That man had just forced his wife to vote for trump. And nobody said a word. Not even me.

So here’s what I’m promising: I won’t stay quiet any longer. Next time I see a man poke his dick into a woman and tell her who to vote for or what to do, I’m gonna cut that appendage off and throw it across room into the waste basket. Nothing but net!

Okay, maybe I won’t cut off his dick. But I will speak up. I will raise my voice. I will point out injustices that men commit against women as I see them.

This blog is my promise to do that.

Me, too. Me, too. Me, too. Me, too.

 

Heart to Heart is now an audiobook!

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Fun at Wally World

There’s not a lot to do in this small town. Walmart is the epicenter of our social hub. When I’m lonely, I go to Walmart. When I’m bored, I go to Walmart. When I want gossip, I go to Walmart. When I need groceries, I go to Walmart. You get the idea. I go to Walmart a lot.

Every time I go to Walmart, I see somebody I know. This is both good and bad. Good because you get to catch up on neighbor’s and friend’s lives without actually having them come over to your house. That would mean cleaning my house, and I hate cleaning my house. Bad because people you know are going to see your bad hair day or the slippers you accidentally left the house wearing.

So, Saxon and I were at Walmart yesterday. Mission: Groceries. Saxon was pushing the cart down the aisle when I spotted our daughter, Emma. She was with her boyfriend, Maddox.

I quickly dropped to all fours and dragged Saxon down to the floor with me.

“What’re you doing?” Saxon asked.

“I see Emma and Maddox over there. They didn’t see us,” I said.

“So?”

“Let’s play a joke on them,” I said. “For fun.”

“What will we do?” Saxon asked.

I crawled over to a gigantic Halloween bin of fake heads. These fake heads were huge and furry. There were dinosaur heads, kitty heads, racoon heads, every type of head imaginable. I handed Saxon a T-Rex head, saying, “Put this on.”

She put it on. She looked like the tiniest T-Rex ever. She stuck her arms up in her shirt so only her hands were hanging out of her shirt sleeves. Now she had little flipper arms just like a T-Rex. “Good job,” I said. “That’s what I love about you. Your ability to take something and run with it.”

I put on my own huge, furry head.

“Thank you,” she said. “What kind of animal are you?”

“I’m a cat, I think,” I said.

We stood and resumed our positions at the cart. Saxon said, “You have to push the cart.”

“Why?”

“I can’t push. My arms are too short.”

“Geez,” I said, “You really get into character, don’t you?”

“I’m a method actor,” she replied.

I pushed the cart. We walked right by Emma and Maddox. We were only ten feet past them when Emma yelled, “Omigod! That’s my parents!”

I laughed. Saxon giggled and flapped her flippers. Next thing I knew, Emma and Maddox were putting on big, furry heads and we’re all taking pictures.

family photo

Emma and I had a little argument. She told me her head was a sloth and I told her it was a raccoon. I told her that nobody would actually make a sloth head. It was too weird.

She pulled out her phone and googled a picture of a sloth.

sloth

 

Emma was right. It was a sloth head she was wearing. My bad. I guess I underestimated the popularity of sloths.

The moral of this story is: You can have lots of good, clean family fun in a small town. All you have to do is go to Walmart.

fam photo2

 

Our True Heart Series is available!

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The Circle of Time

I was 14 years-old when the sitcom Barney Miller first aired. I loved that show. I thought it was hilarious. My favorite character was Officer Levitt. Remember him? He was the short cop with the big booming laugh, played by the actor Ron Carey.

Ron Carey

Here’s how freaky time is…

After I graduated college, I moved to Hollywood. Like a million other young women, I had dreams of being an actress. I was in several plays before I found my home theatre. It was Celebration Theatre, the LGBT theatre in Hollywood. I auditioned for the play, The Well Of Horniness. Yep, its title is an irreverent nudge to Radclyffe Hall’s book, The Well of Loneliness.

Radclyffe Hall

radclyffe hall

(Does anyone else think Radclyffe Hall looks like Oscar Wilde? Separated at birth, maybe? I love this picture! Mainly, for the cute Chinese pug she’s holding.)

The Well of Horniness was originally written as a radio play. It was written by Holly Hughes. She won an NEA grant for writing it. Then the grant was taken away from her because of its lesbian content. You may remember Holly Hughes as one of the NEA Four who made national headlines for being denied a grant. The artist Robert Mapplethorpe was another of the NEA Four.

I auditioned for and got the lead in the play. It’s a slapstick adventure about a naive straight woman who is introduced to the lesbian lifestyle. The play was a smash success, running past its originally scheduled four weeks. It ran to sold-out audiences for over a year and was nominated for a score of awards.

One of my favorite memories was being onstage and hearing a loud, booming laugh that brayed above the rest of the audience’s laughter. I recognized that laugh, but for the life of me couldn’t figure out from where.

Backstage, during intermission, the director told the cast that Ron Carey was in the audience and was laughing his ass off.

It struck me then that just a mere 15 years ago I had been laughing at Ron Carey’s performance in Barney Miller and now he was laughing at my performance.

Funny how life moves in circles like that.

Ron Carey came backstage after the show to meet me. From that moment on, I became friends with him and his wife, Sharon. They came and saw me in several other plays I was in. Some of my favorite Los Angeles experiences were when I met them for gelato at their favorite Italian hangout on Robertson, Al Gelato. It was there that Ron introduced me to several other artists I greatly admired: Joe Bologna (he passed away only a month ago) and his wife, the fabulous actress and writer, Renee Taylor. In fact, Renee was inspirational in getting me to start my own writing career.

joe and renee

I was living back in Oklahoma when I heard that Ron passed away. That was a sad day. I truly hated to think of a world without him in it. But, I swear, every time I think about Ron I can hear his loud booming laughter. It’s enough to make me smile. Every single time.

Have you read books 1 and 2 of the True Heart series? Book 3, Change of Heart, is coming soon!

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Time in a Bottle

Yesterday, Saxon and I were listening to a Jim Croce album. Yep, you heard that right. An album. A vinyl album.

Anyway, Saxon looked at me and said, “Why did rock stars and musicians stop dying in airplane crashes?”

“What d’ya mean?” I asked.

“You know, musicians used to die in plane crashes a lot. Lynyrd Skynyrd, Buddy Holly, Otis Redding, Patsy Cline, Jim Croce, Ricky Nelson—

“Wait! Back up. What? Jim Croce?”

“Yeah, he died in a plane crash. He was maybe 30,” Saxon said.

I buried my face in my hands. I began to weep. Openly weep.

“You okay?” Saxon asked.

I shook my head and sobbed. “No, I am not okay. I didn’t know Jim Croce was dead.”

Saxon said, “He died like forty years ago. You’re crying now?”

“I didn’t know he was dead!” I blubbered. “To me, it’s like it just happened!”

I continued to sob while we listened to the album. I cried all the way through Operator, Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown, and Time in a Bottle.

Now I understand how my daughter felt when she was younger. At the tender age of five, Emma developed a crush on Elvis. She loved Elvis so much it was all she would talk about. She had posters of Elvis, Elvis bobble heads, Elvis CDs, she even dressed up for Halloween as Elvis. She loved him so much that I was beginning to worry that maybe she was a reincarnation of a teenager from the 1950s or something.

Her Elvis stage was something I hoped she’d grow out of in time. Until that day, I decided to humor her. It was easier.

One day we went to the library and Emma found a book on Elvis. It had a lot of photos in it and she went nuts over it. So, I checked it out. She couldn’t wait to get home and read all about Elvis.

Later that night, I heard screaming coming from her bedroom. I ran into the room. “What’s happening? Are you hurt? What’s wrong?”

Emma was splayed across her bed, ugly crying, big time. She yelled, “Elvis is dead!” She threw the library book at me.

“Yes, honey. He died a long time ago. Like 1978 or something,” I said, sitting on the bed beside her.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” she asked through tears.

“I thought you knew. I thought everyone knew that.”

“Well, I didn’t!”

Yep, now I know how Emma felt when she found out about Elvis. I couldn’t believe I had spent the past forty years thinking I was living in a world with Jim Croce in it. The world that was once warm and cuddly, now seemed cold and barren.

Saxon handed me a tissue and sat down on the couch beside me. “Honey?” she says.

“Uh huh.”

“I have some more bad news.”

“What?”

She hands me the whole box of tissues and says, “It’s about John Denver.”

 

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